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services or course of fleshly ordinances can at all answer to this end." Hence Paul further charges Timothy to entrust to faithful men competent to instruct others that which he had learned of him. This competency (we learn in 2 Corinthians iii. 5, 6) is of God, who, Paul says, hath made us competent as new covenant ministers.
We can look back, in the close of Acts ii., to the church in its early bloom, when great grace was upon them all (iii. 33), and there see how grace wrought in the assembly itself. Then in Acts xx. we have a further picture of an elect vessel to minister this grace, and how it wrought in one who desired to finish his course with joy, and the ministry he had received of the Lord Jesus to testify the gospel of the grace of God. What a picture of its working in a man we have here. Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and
A service carried on in such
grace, that “by the space of three years he ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” Then what
self-abnegation--his own hands ministering unto his necessities, and not his own merely, but to those that were with him. Again, if we thus see after what
he had been with these Ephesians at all seasons from the first day that he came into Asia; we learn from 2 Corinthians i. 12 that it was his habitual manner. He could boast in this, with the full testimony of his conscience to it, that in simplicity and sincerity, which were of God, and so produced by Him in Paul, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, he had conducted himself in the world, and more abundantly towards these Corinthians. It was a great thing to say, but true even when rebuking them in his first epistle. The man Moses was very meek above all the men which were upon the face of the earth, yet he spake unadvisedly with his lips in calling the people of the Lord rebels. He thus failed to sanctify the Lord in His character of grace, of which it was his privilege to be the channel by means of the priestly rod that budded. A saint of God, who lived two hundred years ago, wrote, “I rejoice that I am grace's freeholder," and the closing words of inspiration assure it to all the saints. What other ministry could assert the supremacy of good over evil ? Hence the confidence with which Paul appealed to the Corinthians in the assurance that they recognised what he wrote to them, as well as the writer; and that they would be his rejoicing in the day of the Lord Jesus. Thus his conduct towards them was characterised by divine certainty. If he purposed to visit them, it was not yea, yea ; nay, nay. There was no may be or perchance, for he well knew that the Christ he preached to them was Yea and Amen. If all is failure on the part of the saints, the Christ whom Paul preached is the verification of all the promises of God. He preached Him as Son of God, declared to be so in power, according to the Spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead. This leads into a new scene beyond man's sin and failure, and consequent judgment, where not only the supremacy of God's holy nature as light and love is seen to be above the evil, though fully recognising it and dealing with it, but where all the divine purposes are made good in glory to God by us. It is sweet to think of this
supremacy of grace ministered in the unfailing power of the Holy Ghost in a scene where all the sin and break-down of the saints have manifested the need of it, so that the top-stone shall be brought forth with shoutings, crying “Grace,
It is needful that evil be detected and rebuked, but recovering power is in grace. Rebuke or judgment deals with me if I err, and exposes my emptiness. Grace brings me from its own fulness what I need it ministers Christ to Elijah judged the evil of Baal among the people of God, but his journey to Horeb could bring no remedy. The Lord's question “What doest thou here, Elijah ?” must have told him this. He must journey in a different direction
grace unto it.
altogether---through Jordan and upward, and then Elisha can pursue the ministry of grace with the mantle of the ascended Elijah.
Now, it is all treasured up in the Son of God whom Paul preached. What an unfailing spring of power is there—"strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus." And yet it has its own ways. It was to spare them, lest he should have gone with a rod, that Paul had not gone to Corinth. He had purposed, not with yea, yea, and nay, nay, but in the certainty of the actings of grace, to go to them, that they might have a second benefit (grace or favour). His not going was but the same grace acting in another manner. We
well ask as we ponder its exhibition in the servant, what must be the heart of Him from whom it flows? The Lord give us to know better His own blessed ministry of grace, the washing of our feet in the supremacy of His own holy love, which can allow no spot upon us. We
e are poor channels of such love, yet if we taste it, He would have us so to