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Volume 33 - Page 143 of 253 Index | Zoom | |
leaning to abstention from marriage "for the present necessity" (or distress)
(I Cor. 7: 26), because of the then possibility of the Lord's return. He prefaces his
remarks with the words, "I speak this by permission, and not of commandment"
(verse 6). And again, midway through his advice, he says, "now concerning virgins I
have no commandment of the Lord, yet I give my judgment, as one that has obtained
mercy of the Lord to be faithful" (verse 25), and finally at the close he says, "But she is
happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the spirit of God"
By these concessions a lesser man than Paul would have so weakened his authority as
to render his advice valueless. Paul's magnanimity, however, was such that what he lost
by right of command he more than gained by sympathy and affection. Where the
Corinthians might have rebelled against hard and fast rules, they were persuaded that the
Apostle had no designs upon them but sought their highest good.
After such a mighty revelation of truth as is contained in Rom. 1:-11:, it is almost
disconcerting to find the Apostle beseeching us to present our bodies as living sacrifices
(Rom. 12: 1). Or, again, in Eph. 4:, instead of demanding a worthy walk, the prisoner
of the Lord beseeches us to walk worthy. How clear a portrait we have of Paul in this
respect when we read the letter he wrote to Philemon.
"Wherefore, though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is
convenient, yet for love's sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged,
and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ . . . . . But without thy mind would I do nothing
. . . . . albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides.
Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord . . . . . I wrote unto thee, knowing that
thou wilt also do more than I say" (Philemon 8, 9, 14, 19, 20, 21).
It looks as though the Apostle of the grace of God was a gracious person: that he who
had received so much love and forbearance, showed love and forbearance: that in
dealing with others, he who had known the burden of the law, avoided using terms of
law, even when he had the right to command or to instruct. How few, O Paul, are thy