Slike strani

human scientific systems rise up with the smoke from the abyss, and at last, like cavalry troops, march and destroy all that comes in their way.

For many members of the Church this book will appear somewhat strange, and thus perhaps somewhat hard to understand. This I trust is ascribable rather to the contents than to the style in which it is written. The manner should not bear the blame, when the matter is unfamiliar. Let the reader make the latter familiar by repeated perusal of the book. Then, after a general survey and insight into the connection has been gained, by degrees all becomes intelligible and clear.* The importance of the subject lays this obligation upon every Christian.

What prompted me to write it was the necessity of furnishing members of the Church some insight into the Apocalypse and clearer views concerning the last things and times, of helping to remove the obscurity which veils the people's mind regarding the heavenly world; and of counteracting, by means of a correct view of our times, the all-destructive worldly-mindedness, which is making such terrible inroads both upon our social and ecclesiastical life. That God may richly bless the effort by making it in some measure the means of advancing His Kingdom and promoting His glory is the prayer of

FOGELSVILLE, PA., May, 1891.


"Those only suffer the misery of guessing as to the meaning of the Apocalypse, who voluntarily incur it.”—(Hengstenberg). Lord Bacon (Adv. of Learning, Book II. Sec. III. 3.) tells us he thinks this "misery may be avoided." God's secret will is so obscure as for the most part it is not legible to the natural man,―no, nor many times to those that behold it from the Tabernacle."




MORE than thirty years ago I happened to be at a Dunkard meeting, the first of the kind I ever attended. I was impressed by the patriarchal appearance of the older men, the sober neatness of the women in their plain attire, and the decorous behavior of the young people in the congregation. The simple worship was also impressive, the singing and praying evidently most sincere and earnest.

All this was well calculated to prepare the mind of a stranger for the pastoral instruction that was to follow, and to excite his expectation in regard to it. The praying and singing were good, and it was reasonable to expect a good sermon, or exhortation. In this, however, I was somewhat disappointed. A rather bright-looking and nervous sort of a man, with a sharp, penetrating voice, stood up and read the second chapter of St. Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians; after which a very solemn old gentleman began to speak (as the Spirit gave him utterance, it was supposed) on the Scripture lesson just read. He said it was perfectly plain, according to that Scripture, that Paul and the other apostles were not learned men; were only common men, like himself, with perhaps no more education; knew nothing about "excellency of speech," and depended entirely on the Holy Spirit to teach them what and how to preach. That, spun out in bad English, was the whole bill of fare, so far as the preaching was concerned. The services closed with the beautiful hymn,

"O for a heart to praise my God,"

and I wondered what those good people would say or think, if they were told that the hymn they sang with so much religious fervor had been composed by a learned man, a graduate of the renowned University of Oxford. It was well for their spiritual peace of mind, perhaps, that they were ignorant of that, as well as of some other things. It may be well to say here that our Dunkard brethren are to-day far removed from such childish ignorance, and that many of them believe in an educated ministry.

And yet there are a good many people whose lot has been cast in Christian denominations having a learned ministry and corresponding conditions who are of opinion that St. Paul here speaks disparagingly of human eloquence and learning. “When I came unto you, I came not with excellency of speech, or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the mystery of God." Hence it is that we hear so much about lay preaching and lay evangelism, and schools for the training of men for such work; schools in which only such studies are pursued which are considered of absolute practical necessity for the preacher's work; in which no time is lost in digging for classic roots, or in searching the deep places in science and philosophy; and in which the entire course may be traversed in about the same period that is usually required in a "Business College" or "Commercial Institute." It would not be passing strange if, in time, a new sect would be organized whose priests were graduates of such schools, for already we hear such proclaiming, that they come not with the eloquence and useless learning of the great colleges and seminaries, declaring unto men the pure and simple Gospel of Christ.

But it is sufficient to know that St. Paul's proposition here was, that the wonderful truth and power of the gospel, as set forth in the doctrine of Christ crucified, in no way depended, for accomplishing its design, on the merely human and artificial means that were employed by heathen orators and philosophers to amuse and captivate their hearers. Then, too, it must not be forgotten, that the wisdom of the Greeks, especially at that

time, and their whole theology, rested on fundamental error, and was therefore foolishness with God. And besides, when Paul wrote those words the philosophy and oratory of Greece had greatly declined, both as to substance and form, from their higher conditions in a former age. The Greeks of his day were frivolous, of vitiated literary taste, full of self-conceit, superficial, delighting in high-sounding periods and bombast; and so, of course, they would regard Paul's "presence as weak, and his speech contemptible." Paul feared and trembled when he first addressed the Corinthians in public, not because he regarded himself an inferior among superiors, but because he feared that they in their miserable conceit of wisdom and fine culture would treat his heavenly message with derision, to their infinite loss. St. Paul's whole career affords abundant proof that he never trembled much on his own account when he addressed public assemblies, whether composed of would-be critics, howling mobs, or royalty with its thrones, crowns and awe-inspiring magnificence.

The "excellency of speech," which Paul did not indulge in when he addressed the people of Corinth, was in high favor with them, and he used a strong term in designating it, as if acknowledging that his own diction was poor in comparison. The word rendered "excellency" really means surpassing excellence-лεроxηv; and yet the well instructed part of his Christian readers of Corinth would now understand it as indicating a striking contrast between the meretricious eloquence of the Greeks of that day and the pure and simple presentation of divine truth by the apostle. So his grand aim in speaking could be seen to be, not ὑπεροχη του λόγου, and the pleasing of the natural man, but, the triumph of the truth as it is in Jesus, resulting in the salvation of his hearers. Both the substance and the form of Paul's addresses, or sermons, fell far below the standard of what the Greeks of the period so much admired, and yet they accomplished their high purpose, that of raising men up to the highest plane of well being and dignity. And in that age of literary and philosophic decline-if only

the Greeks had known it-there arose, in the person and literary productions of St. Paul, a new era in the realm of thought, speech, letters and wisdom. This new and strange man came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, according to the Greek's highest conception of it at that period, and yet with an excellency of speech and of wisdom that would begin forthwith to overshadow the most brilliant productions of the Greek mind of all previous ages.

If we then take Paul's statement about "excellency of speech" in a purely literal sense, and descriptive, without qualification, of his speaking and writing in general, it must be said that his literary productions, especially certain portions of them, including this very chapter in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, disprove his assertion. But Paul knew what he was saying, and spoke the truth; for he did not speak at all of his own idea of what constituted excellency of speech. He has, however, given us some very fine specimens of it. In this very Epistle, in which he seems to place a low estimate on eloquence, there are passages that would probably have delighted and thrilled the old Greek masters, if they could have seen and read them. What would such grand and solid men like Aristotle, Socrates, Plato and Cicero have thought of the second, twelfth, thirteenth and fifteenth chapters of this Epistle? What would those logicians and intellectual giants have thought of the logical and argumentative Epistle to the Romans, or of that wonderful literary gem, the Epistle to the Ephesians, of which Grotius has remarked, that "it expresses the grand matters of which it treats in words more sublime than are to be found in any human tongue?" They could not have sounded their spiritual depths, being uninstructed in the Christian mysteries, but they surely would have recognized in them some wondrous power, beauty and literary excellence surprising even to themselves and surpassing their own high standards. Allowing here for honest and learned difference of opinion, it may be safely asserted that the Epistle to the Hebrews (which is Paul's, even if he did not write it himself) may at least be placed side


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