When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.
evidential of the divineness of the gospel. It was a "demonstration of the Spirit and. of power." Of what avail that the "Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom"? Give them the "sign" and the "wisdom:" what then? The belief, or "faith," if you so call it, is the man's own product, standing in his own strength, the pride of his own intellect, the joy of his own vanity. Not so the doctrine of "Christ crucified." The way it comes to the soul proves its infinite truth. It does not approach a man on the sense side of his nature, but on the spiritual side. Unlike education and culture, which begin with the intellect of the senses and develop upward, Christianity arises from the instant of its initial contact with the human soul at the highest moral capacity, and recognizes this soul as it stands related to God its Father, to Christ its Redeemer, to the Holy Ghost its Convincer and Sanctifier. Man as the image of the natural universe is regarded subsequently. Therefore the emphasis of St. Paul on the "demonstration of the Spirit and of power," and therefore the strength and glory of faith, which stands, not "in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." - L.
And I, brethren,... came... not with excellency of speech or of wisdom.
I. A DECISIVE TONE OF PERSONAL CONVICTION. It was "the testimony of God," not an opinion. He does not say, "I think so," but "God says so." So in Galatians 1:11, 12. St. Paul was no hired, official expounder of a system. He felt that his words were eternal truth: hence their power. Hence, too, arises the possibility of discarding rules of oratory. For it is half-way towards making us believe when a man believes himself. Faith produces faith.
II. A SPIRIT OF SELF-ABNEGATION (ver. 2). There were no side glances at his own prospects, reputation, success. And this sincerity and self-forgetfulness was a source of power. It was so with the Baptist, who declared of Christ: "He must increase, but I must decrease." In any work which is to live, or be really beautiful, there must be the spirit of the Cross. That which is to be a temple to God must never have the marble polluted with the name of the architect or builder.
III. A SPIRIT OF PERSONAL LOWLINESS (ver. 3). Partly this refers to his infirmities and disadvantages; but partly, too, it means deep humility. Now, remember who it was who said this — the daring St. Paul, whose soul was all of flame, whose every word was a half-battle, who stood alone on Mars' Hill, and preached to the scoffing Athenians "Jesus and the Resurrection." How little they who heard his ponderous sentences could have conceived that "weakness, and fear, and much trembling" of the invisible spirit! But again: see how this tells on the tone of his ministry. St. Paul did not begin with asserting his prelatical dignity and apostolic authority. He began with declaring truth, and that in "trembling." Then, when men disputed his right to teach, he vindicated his authority, but not till then. And this is a lesson for modern times. Each minister must prove his apostolical succession by apostolic truthfulness, sincerity, and courage — as St. Paul proved his — and by his charity, and by his Christ-like meekness.
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
I. HIS MATTER. —
1. He excludes all that is foreign to his purpose.
2. Knows nothing but Christ.
II. HIS MANNER.
1. He is modest in the consciousness of his own weakness.
2. Plain in the conviction of the presence and power of the Spirit.
III. THE EFFECT.
1. Faith not in the man.
2. But in the power of God.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)
I. IS THE CRUCIFIED CHRIST, because —
1. He is the highest, revelation of God's love for men.
2. He is the most thrilling demonstration of the wickedness of humanity.
3. He is the grandest display of loyalty to moral rectitude.
II. SOUL-ABSORBING (ver. 3). The man who has some paramount sentiment looks at the universe, through it, and values it so far as it reflects and honours that sentiment. Hence to Paul Christ was "all in all." All other subjects-political and philosophical — dwindled into insignificance in its presence; it swallowed up his great soul
III. MAKES HIM INDIFFERENT TO ALL RHETORICAL CONSIDERATIONS (ver. 1). The theme was infinitely too great for it. Does the splendid apple-tree in full blossom require to be decorated with gaudy ribbons? Christ crucified is mighty eloquence.
IV. SUBDUES IN HIM ALL SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS (ver. 3).
V. INVESTS HIM WITH DIVINE POWER OVER MAN (vers. 4, 5).
(D. Thomas, D. D.)I. HIS MESSAGE.
1. The testimony of God.
2. Concerning Christ.
3. Divine, therefore true.
II. His METHOD OF DELIVERING IT.
1. Not artificial in style, matter, or manner.
2. But plain, simple, pointed.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)
1. That the proper method to convert men in any community, Christian or Pagan, is to preach or set forth the truth concerning the person and work of Christ.
2. The proper state of mind in which to preach the gospel is the opposite of self-confidence or carelessness. The gospel should be preached with a sense of weakness and with great anxiety and solicitude.
3. The success of the gospel does not depend on the skill of the preacher, but on the demonstration of the Spirit.
4. The foundation of saving faith is not reason, i.e., not arguments addressed to the understanding, but the power of God as exerted with and by the truth upon the heart.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
1. Deny himself (ver. 1) and exalt Christ (ver. 2).
2. Feel himself weak (ver. 3), yet strong (ver. 4).
3. Ignore the human and magnify the Divine (ver. 5).
(J. Lyth.)en chef of the empire how many times he had performed a certain wonderful feat of surgery. He replied that he had performed the operation thirteen times. "Ah, but, monsieur, I have done him one hundred and sixty times. How many times did you save his life?" continued the curious Frenchmen, after he had looked into the blank amazement of Sir Astley's face. "I," said the Englishman, "saved eleven out of the thirteen. How many did you save out of one hundred and sixty?" Ah, monsieur, I lose dem all; but de operation was very brilliant." Of how many popular ministries might: the same verdict be given! Souls are not saved, but the preaching is very brilliant. Thousands are attracted and operated on by the rhetorician's art, but what if he should have to say of his admirers, "I lose them all, but the sermons were very brilliant!(C. H. Spurgeon.)1. As the gospel is the foolish thing of God, so the apostle had no wisdom or utterance of his own (vers. 1, 2).
2. As the gospel is the weak thing of God, so the apostle came to Corinth in weakness, fear, and trembling (ver. 3). But as Christ is the power and wisdom of the gospel, so the Spirit is the power and wisdom of the ministry (ver. 4).
3. As the gospel is the mystery of God, and therefore a Divine power, so the ministry is a Divine power, and therefore the manifestation of Divine wisdom.
The Study.relation to it: — Consider —
I. THE THEME. "The testimony of God," which has to do with "Jesus Christ and Him crucified(ver. 2). The "declaration" of this theme, in all its manifold relations and aspects, is the preaching of the gospel. The gospel is characterised by —
1. Wisdom (ver. 6). Perfection of moral character is seen only in the character of Jesus Christ.
2. "Hidden wisdom."
3. Ancient wisdom. "Ordained before the world."
4. Glorifying wisdom. "Ordained unto our glory."
II. THE DECLARATION (ver. 1) was —
1. Simple in its character. "Not with excellency of speech— "not with enticing words of man's wisdom."
2. Convincing in its arguments. It was "in demonstration of the Spirit."
3. Powerful in its effects (ver. 5).
4. Of exclusive importance (ver. 2).
(The Study.)— A friend said to Archbishop Whately on his death-bed: "The Lord has heard your prayers and preserved your intellect unimpaired." He replied: "It is not intellect which can avail me now, but faith in Christ Jesus."
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