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Limits of Conformity.

Limits of Conformity.

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Published by glennpease
BY REV. EDWARD PATTESON, M.A.



1 Cor. IX. 22.
I am made all things to all men^ that I might by all means save some.
BY REV. EDWARD PATTESON, M.A.



1 Cor. IX. 22.
I am made all things to all men^ that I might by all means save some.

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Published by: glennpease on Aug 06, 2014
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LIMITS OF COFORMITY. BY REV. EDWARD PATTESO, M.A. 1 Cor. IX. 22. I am made all things to all men^ that I might by all means save some. It is a fact, of which it is impossible to doubt (though no sincere Christian can contemplate it without pain) that there are persons, who never take up the Bible for any other purpose, than to search for grounds of objection or cavil ; — ^to discover some fact or doctrine, capable of misre- presentation or perversion ; something, in short, s^;ainst which the venom of audacious sarcasm, or profane ridicule, may be directed with effect. It is easy, then, to conceive, with what malicious ¦». exultation such persons must contemplate this assertion of St. Paul — ** I am . made all things to all men." ** Surely," say they, " this is, at least, a plain admission of dishonesty : this is professing, without disguise or apology, the versatile discre-* 90 SERMO V. tion of mere worldlings and time-servers : — pru- dent and plausible impostors, indeed ; but not the less impostors on that account ; nay, rather, the more base and abominable impostors : — hypocrites, who make no scruple to wear the livery of the times, and adopt all varieties of taste and hu- mour, that by all means they may gain some ;—
 
that is, — may contrive to insinuate themselves into every man's confidence, and obtain their own ends at th6 general expense." "And this," remarks the infideli *^ is the confession of an apostle : these, if we may credit his own account, were the means, by which his opinions were to be propagated, and his party strengthened ; and this is the pattern, which he holds out for imitation." 1 A most serious imputation, indeed, would this be, were there a particle of truth in it. But St. Paul, my brethren, you may safely believe and insist, had no ends to be so gained. He neither professed nor recommended such detestable du- plicity : nor would he have sanctioned the use of  €uch means, were the ends in view ever so lauda- ble. The charge, in fact, like every similar charge against the first preachers of the Gospel, bears LIMITS OF COFORMITY. 01 intrinsic marks of improbability. They, trtio lie in wait to catcb men for ^vil purposes, do not usually make a public display of the traps whic^ they employ* What the Apostle here means by "saving some'^ is evidently — saving their souls from everiasting perdition, by turning them from sin to righteousness : and the methods, be assured, of which he {m>posed to avail himself fbr this truly benevolent and glorious end, could not involve tt)e sacrifice of honour and truth. To his purpose it was essential, that he should maintaiQ the moral dignity of his own character : and be could not but be aware, that, bad he set about tki^ conversion of sinners^ by flattering their follies> aiid conforming to their lilies, he w^uld fifklj have convinced them^ that he Was no better than them-^ lielves.
 
Such conduct is natural enough in those, Who have no better object than to establish a party ; that is — ^in efiect — who have only themselves and their own consequence in view. But the conduct of this Apostle (himself by birth a Jew, and by education a Pharisee, though afterwards chosen and set apart of God for the conversion of the Gentiles) was that of a man losing sight of himself, in the extent and magnitude of his concern for others — that God might be "found of them that sought him not," ' and that " the Gentiles might re-  joice with his people."* "Unto the Jews," says he, '* I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews ; to tbem that are without law, as without law ; (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak : I am made all things to all men, that I might by ail means save some."' And, accordingly, it appears from the narrative of St. Paul's proceedings in the Acts of the Apostles, that, while he continued personally to conform himself to various Mosaic rites and regulations, to avoid offence to the proselytes of his own nation, he strenuously resisted all attempts to subject the ^^^^ Gentile converts to that burthen. ^^^B Whether amidst his own nation, therefore, or ^^V amongst the heathen ; to declare the glad tidings r of salvation through Christ crucified; and not only ¦ * Rom. X. ^0. * Bom. xv. m 1 Cor. ix. 20—23.

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