(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "St. Paul's ethical teaching"

! i!il! 






I- 1 "" 1 :' 1 



ST. PAUL'S 
ETHICAL TEACHING 







Cornell Imuersitg ffitbrarg 



Sttjaca, Sffem $prk 



THE GIFT OF 



ALFRED C. BARNES 



1889 



Cornell University Library 
BS2655.E8 M38 



St. Pauls ethical teaching / by , WijHarn 



olin 




3 1924 029 293 580 




Cornell University 
Library 



The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 



http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924029293580 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING 



ST. PAUL'S 
ETHICAL TEACHING 



BY 



The Rev. WILLIAM MARTIN, B.D. 

RECTOR OF BKINGTON, NORTHAMPTON 



LONDON 
ARTHUR L. HUMPHREYS 

187 PICCADILLY, W. 
1917 



PREFACE. 

' I V HIS short treatise was not written with a 
view to publication ; but, at the instance of 
several friends, I have ventured to offer it to the 
public, deeply conscious that it only touches the 
fringes of a most important subject. The War 
has directed attention to many ethical questions, 
which will be the subject of much discussion in 
the future. The broad principles which underlie 
Christian ethics are fully stated in St. Paul's 
Epistles, and no apology is necessary for restating 
them in these critical days of our national life. 

I take this opportunity of expressing my grati- 
tude to the tutors of Wolsey College, Oxford, for 
the help they have given me in preparing the 
work, and for their wise criticisms. 

William Martin. 
November^ 19 1 7. 



SYNOPSIS OF CONTENTS. 



Preface 
Bibliography 



CHAPTER I. 



Sources of St. Paul's Ethical Teaching . 1-23 

I. Sources of Teaching . . I-I 5 

(a) Gneco-Roman Influence . . 3-6 

{b) Jewish Influences, especially the O. T. . 7-9 

{c) Life and Teaching of Jesus . . . 9-12 

(d) Working of St. Paul's own Mind 12-15 

II. Documents . . . 16-23 

CHAPTER II. 

General Characteristics of St. Paul's Ethical 

Teaching 24-36 

(a) Emphasis on Passive Virtues 27-29 

(b) Breadth . . . 29-32 
{c) Symmetry and Balance . 3 2_ 34 
(d) Centre in Christ . . . 34-36 

CHAPTER III. 

St. Paul's Psychology . . . 37-46 

vii 



SYNOPSIS OF CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER IV. 





PAGES 


Pagan Morality 


47-66 


Pre-Socratic 


48-50 


Post-Socratic ..... 


50-51 


Pauline Scheme of Virtues compared with the Platonic 




and Aristotelian 


52-66 


(a) i. Wisdom . 


52-54 


2. Courage 


54-56 


3. Temperance 


56-58 


4. Uprightness 


5S-59 


(6) Humility and Love 


59-61 


{c) Superiority of Christian Ethics 


61-65 


Present Need of Ethical Revival 


65-66 


CHAPTER V. 




The Passive Virtues 


67-75 


I. Tcnrti votpporrvi'Tj 


69-71 


2. avrdpKtta 


7i 


3. V7T0fl0Vrj 


72 


4. (jaKpoBufiia , 


72-73 


5. irgavrriQ 


73 


6. £7Tl€lKEia 


73-74 


7. xPf ff ™r*K 


74 


8. dv^tKaKO^ 


74 


Forgiveness 


74-75 


CHAPTER VI. 





The Pauline Ideal . . 76-79 

CHAPTER VII. 

Divergence of Pagan and Christian Ethics estab- 
lished by the Christian Law of Forgiveness 80-83 



9 6- 


•109 


96-98 


9 8- 


•101 


IOI- 


■104 


104- 


■105 


106- 


-109 



SYNOPSIS OF CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER VIII. 

PAGES 

The Intellectual Virtues . 84-95 

Lecky's Charge against Christianity 84-86 

(a) St. Paul as a Thinker . . . 86-91 

(<5) Place of Intellectual Virtues in Church History 9i~93 

(tr) Place in the Life of the Church To-day . 93 - 95 

CHAPTER IX. 

Ethics of Speech 

St. Paul's List of Sins of the Tongue . 

(a) Idle Words 

(b) Evil Speaking 

(c) Corrupt Speech 

(d) Untruthfulness 

CHAPTER X. 

Ethics of Controversy 1 10-126 

(a) Need for Controversy . . 110-117 

{b) Dangers to the Controversialist 117-123 

(c) St. Paul as a Controversialist 123-126 

CHAPTER XL 

Anger and the Self-assertive Virtues . 127-136 

(a) The Passive Virtues must not be abused . 129-132 

{b) Must not be omitted . . 132-135 

(c) Warnings against Abuse._of ' A^ger' . . 135-136 

CHAPTER XII. 

Asceticism — True and False . . 137-154 

(a) Asceticism of Dualism . -_, .---■ 141-146 

{b) Asceticism of Self- discipline . . ■ 146-149 

Its Subseqient History in the Church . 149-154 

ix 



SYNOPSIS OF CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

Cases of Conscience 

(a) St. Paul's Teaching to the Weak . 

(b) St. Paul's Teaching to the Strong 

(c) St. Paul's Teaching on 'Judging' 



IS5-I65 
158-160 
160-163 
163-165 



CHAPTER XIV. 



Ethics of Social Life . 
(a) Social Order 
(6) Benevolence 

(c) Purity 

(d) Marriage 

(e) Relative Duties 

The Christian Home 
Parents and Children 
Servants 
Slavery . 



166-198 
166-168 
168-177 
177-183 
183-191 
191-198 
191-194 
194-195 
i95- ! 97 
197-198 



CHAPTER XV. 

St. Paul and Church Organization 
Appointment and Duties of Elders, &c. 
Qualifications of Church Officers 
Commissions to Timothy and Titus . 



199-208 
199-203 
203-205 
205-208 



CHAPTER XVI. 

The Influence of St. Paul's Ethics in the 

Post-apostolic Church . 209-222 

In the sub-Apostolic Age .... 209-213 

Ethics of Apologists of Second Century 213-215 

Ethics of Early Greek Fathers . . . 215-216 

Augustine and St. Paul . . . 217-218 

Pauline Influence in Reformation Period , . 218-219 

St. Paul's Ethics and the Present Age . . 219-222 



BIBLIOGRAPHY. 



Bartlet 
Bethune-Baker 

Cambridge Biblical\ 



Essays 

conybeare 
Howson 

Deissmann 

Ellicott 

Forsyth 

Harnack 

Hastings 

Hatch 

Hobhouse 

Knight 

Knowling 

Lightfoot, Bp 

Luthardt 
McGiffert 
Moffatt . 
Oakesmith 
Pfleiderer 



The Apostolic Age. 

Introduction to The Early Mislay of Chris- 
tian Doctrine. 

Art. Jesus and Paul. 

Life and Epistles of St. Paul. 

Bible Studies. 

Ephesians, Pastorals. 

The Work of Christ. 

History of Dogma (especially vols. I. and II.). 

Dictionary of the Bible (various articles). 

Organization of the Early Christian Church. 

The Church and the World. 

Christian Ethics. 

Testimony of St. Paul to Christ. 

The Apostolic Fathers. 

Galatians i Philippians. 

History of Christian Ethics. 

The Apostolic Age. 

Paul and Paulinism. 

The Religion of Plutarch. 

Influence of the Apostle Paul on the Develop- 
ment of Christianity (Hibbert Lectures 
1885). 



BIBLIOGRAPHY. 



Rackham . 




Ramsay . 




M 




Renan 




Sabatier 




Sanday & 
Headlam 


>■ • 


SlDGWICK . 




Smyth 




Stevens . 




Stone 




Strong 




Weiss 




Werule . 





The Acts of the Apostles. 

The Church in the Roman Empire. 

St. Paul the Traveller and Roman Citizen. 

Les Apdtres. 

The Apostle Paul. 

Romans. 

History of Ethics. 

Christian Ethics. 

The Theology of the New Testament. 

Outlines of Christian Dogma. 

Christian Ethics. 

Paid and Jesus. 

The Beginnings of Christianity. 



References to other sources are given in the footnotes. 



xn 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

CHAPTER I. 

SOURCES OF ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

' I "\HERE are two preliminary questions to be 
considered in connection with the ethical 
teaching of St. Paul : Whence did he derive this 
teaching? In what documents has it been pre- 
served ? 

I. Sources of Teaching. 

The first of these questions is important ; 
because Pauline ethics, even more than Pauline 
doctrine, stands in a certain lineal succession, and 
bears the traces of its descent. The morality of 
the New Testament was not an entirely new thing, 
and although it would be wrong to regard it as a 
mere development, yet it had a close connection 
with the morality of the Old Testament and 
Apocrypha. The late Dean Church in a well- 
known work 1 has sketched the gradual unfolding 

1 The Discipline of the Christian Character. 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

of the Christian character from its initial stages 
to its culmination in Christ. The reader who 
does not look back cannot understand the full 
significance of the teaching of St. Paul. Our 
information regarding the early life of the great 
Apostle is meagre ; and this makes it more 
difficult to measure the influences of the various 
i forces which bore upon him. Three great civilisa- 
! tions met in him : he was by descent a Jew ; was 
born in a Greek city ; and was a Roman citizen. 
His life, therefore, was influenced by streams of 
thought issuing from Palestine, from Greece, and 
from Rome. Each of them can be traced in his 
teaching. It is necessary also to take into account 
elements in his teaching which were due to his 
r remarkable personality. 

We may now proceed to examine the sources 
of the Apostle's teaching under four heads : 
(a) Grasco-Roman. 

(d) Jewish, especially that of the Old Testa- 
ment. 
(<:) The life and words of Jesus Christ. 
(d) The working of St. Paul's powerful mind 
upon the morally fruitful idea of the 
believer's union with Christ. 
Our inquiry commences therefore at the cir- 
cumference and works towards the centre. 



SOURCES. 

(a) Gr^co-Roman Influence. 

The extent of this has been warmly disputed. 
Sabatier can find no traces of it in St. Paul's 
teaching ; on the other hand, Ramsay regards it as 
constantly present in his words and writings. The 
facts are clear. 

(i) St. Paul was not a Palestinian Jew, 
brought up in particularism, but a Hellenistic 
Jew. He had the wider thought which came 
from a knowledge of the Greek language, and 
a consequent introduction to Greek literature, and 
to Greek ideas. The result of the conquest of 
the Eastern world by Alexander the Great had an 
enormous effect upon Asia Minor and Syria. 
' Even in Palestine itself/ says Canon Hicks, 
' there were Hellenists, who not only read their 
Scriptures in Greek, but who also prayed in 
Greek/ 1 The Jews of the Diaspora might en- 
deavour to train their children in strict adherence 
to the Law, but they could not keep them apart 
from the prevailing ideas of the peoples among 
whom they dwelt. The Septuagint was the ' Bible ' 
of the Hellenistic Jews, not only in its birthplace 
in Egypt, but also wherever the Jewish race had 
spread. These Jews were also greatly influenced 
by the works of Philo. The allegorical method 

1 Studio. Biblica et Ecdesiastka. Vol. IV. : St. Paul and Hellenism* 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

of Old Testament exegesis adopted by this writer 
is found in St. Paul's Epistles, e.g., in Gal. iv. 
22-26, but is used sparingly. 1 Another influence 
was the universalism taught by the Book of 
Wisdom ; this influence can be clearly traced in 
St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans. 2 

Although St. Paul must have been acquainted 
with the Hebrew Bible, yet it is from the 
Septuagint that most of his quotations are taken, 
which shows that its text was the one most 
familiar to him. 

(2) Not only was St. Paul a Hellenistic Jew, 
but he was a Jew of Tarsus. This city was in 
his day famous as a centre of learning. 3 In its 
University, which, Strabo says, rivalled in some 
respects the sister Universities of Athens and 
Alexandria, a long line of famous philosophers 
taught their students the principles of the Stoic 
Philosophy. Ramsay believes that St. Paul was at 
one time a student in the University. Certainly 
it was from a Stoic poet (Aratus, a Cilician) that 
St. Paul quoted at Athens. We do not know at 
what age the young Saul left Tarsus to receive 
instruction from Gamaliel, but we do know that 

2 See Jowett's Essay, St. Paul and Philo, Epistles to the Thessa- 
lonians, Galatians, and Romans, vol. i., p. 382. 

2 See Sanday and Headlam's Epistle to the Romans^ pp. 51, 52. 

3 See Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible, article ' Tarsus.' 



SOURCES. 

he spent at least ten years in that city after his 
conversion. With his receptive mind he was not 
likely to be uninfluenced by the prevailing tone of 
his place of residence. The addresses of the 
Apostle at Lystra and Athens show that he was 
ready to acknowledge all that was good in 
heathenism. His open mind made it possible for 
him to gain the friendship of the Asiarchs at 
Ephesus, and to secure the respect of Festus at 
Csesarea. 

(3) St. Paul, the Tarsian Jew, was also a 
Roman citizen, and therefore occupied a position 
superior to that held by the ordinary provincial. 
His consciousness that he was a citizen of Imperial 
Rome is manifest in the ease and dignity with 
which he bore himself before Roman officials. 
That he approved of the great ideas of the Roman 
Imperial Government is witnessed by his adop- 
tion of those ideas in his teaching. The welding 
of the Empire into a unity under Roman law 
and custom, 1 the introduction of the cult of the 

1 * One of the most remarkable sides of the history of Rome is the 
growth of ideals, which found their realisation and completion in the 
Christian Empire. Universal citizenship, universal religion, a universal 
Church, all were ideas the Empire was slowly working out, but which 
it could not realise till it merged itself in Christianity. Paul from the 
first directed his steps in the path the Church had to tread. He was 
beyond doubt one of those great creative geniuses whose policy marks 
out the lines on which history has to move for generations and even 
centuries afterwards.' — Ramsay's Paul the Traveller^ pp. 138-9. 

5 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

Roman Imperial power, incarnate in the Emperor, 
may have given St. Paul the ideas, of winning the 
Roman world for Christ, and of uniting all the 
Churches in one great unity, obedient to one 
Head, and inspired by one Spirit. 

While these facts must be taken into account 
among the sources of St. Paul's ethical teaching, 
their importance should not be exaggerated. 
St. Paul himself regarded Jerusalem and Gamaliel 
as the great formative influences of his younger 
days. 1 

It is upon these that he lays the greatest 
emphasis ; but yet it cannot be denied that there 
are striking ideas in St. Paul's ethics, which show 
signs of having their sources in Greek philo- 
sophical literature. Of all the Apostles with 
whose works and writings we are acquainted, 
St. Paul stands pre-eminent in his interpretation of 
the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a message to the 
whole world, and delivered that message freed 
from the restrictions of Jewish particularism. 
The seed from which sprang the wonderful moral 
and spiritual teaching of St. Paul must be sought 
elsewhere ; the soil, in which the seed grew to life 
and beauty, was certainly Grasco -Roman. 

* Acts xxi. 39, xxii. 3 ; Phil. iii. 5, 6 ; Gal. i. 17 ; Acts xxvi. 4, 5, 

6 



SOURCES. 

(b) Jewish Influences, especially that 
of the Old Testament. 

No one who has studied St. Paul's career, as 
recorded in the Acts and in his Epistles, can doubt 
the enormous influence which Judaism exerted 
upon him. Sabatier. who denies Graeco-Roman 
influence, says: 'It is not the citizen of Tarsus, 
but the Pharisee of Jerusalem, that accounts for 
the Apostle of the Gentiles/ 1 No Jew in history- 
valued his position as a Jew more than St. Paul. 
^To the multitude in Jerusalem he said": 'I amr 
verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a 
city of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, at the 
feet of Gamaliel, instructed according to the strict , 
manner of the law of our fathers.' 2 \C He says on 
another occasion : ' My manner of life from my , 
youth up, which was from the beginning among 
my own nation and at Jerusalem, know all the 
Jews .... how that, after the straitest sect of 
our religion, I lived a Pharisee/ 3 In his Epistles, 
he gives the same testimony : ' Are they Hebrews ? 
so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they 
the seed of Abraham? so am I. H To the Philip- 
pians he writes : ' Circumcised the eighth day, of 
the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a 

1 Sabatier : Apostle Paul> p. 48. 

2 Acts xxii. 3. 3 Acts xxvi. 4, 5. 4 2 Cor. xi. 22. 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

Hebrew of the Hebrews ; as touching the law, a 
Pharisee/ 1 These passages show that St. Paul 
was proud of his Judaism, and recognised all that 
he owed to it, in spite of his opposition to the 
false interpretation placed upon * the Law ' by the 
sect to which he belonged. Nothing diminished 
his sense of the privilege he enjoyed as one of 
the people to whom were entrusted 4 the oracles 
of God.' His epistles show that he had deeply 
studied the Old Testament, a right interpretation 
of which could make the student * wise unto sal- 
vation/ The wonderful array of texts he mar- 
shals from the Old Testament numbers more than a 
hundred and eighty. Every part of it, the Law, the 
Psalms, and the Prophets, was evidently familiar to 
him. The importance of what he calls c the Holy 
Scriptures' 2 is manifest in his ethical teaching. 
They brought him into close contact with the ethical 
monotheism of later Judaism. He had learnt that 
the God worshipped by Israel was ' exalted in 
righteousness.' The lofty morality of the pro- 
phets, the important place given to conscience in 
the religion they taught, the devoutness of the 
Psalms, were all impressed upon him. These are 
not mere conjectures, they appear constantly in 
his writings. It may be urged that St. Paul was 

1 Phil. iii. 5. * 2 Tim. iii. 15. 



SOURCES. 

a Pharisee, and that the sect of the Pharisees 
stands condemned in the Gospels, as exhibiting a 
religion devoid of moral worth. Yet Nicodemus 
and Gamaliel were both Pharisees, and shine out as 
striking examples of exceptions to the general 
hypocrisy of the sect. We cannot suppose that a 
man, so sincere and upright as Saul of Tarsus, 
ever descended to the moral baseness so severely 
rebuked by our Lord. 

(c) Life and Teaching of Jesus. 

It has been asserted that St. Paul knew little 
of the life and teaching of Jesus. It is admitted 
that he was fully instructed regarding His cruci- 
fixion, and His resurrection ; but it is denied that 
he knew much about the historical life of Jesus, as 
portrayed in the Gospels. It is true that St. Paul 
does not present us with many parallels with the 
Gospels, and seldom quotes words used by our 
Lord. But it must be remembered that St. Paul's 
Epistles were written to converts, who had already 
been instructed in the main facts of the Christian 
Gospel, and whose knowledge of these facts might 
be assumed. When he appeals to them to re- 
member ' the meekness and gentleness of Christ/ 
they must have known the general outline of our 
Lord's ministry. Further, a close study of the 

9 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

Epistles proves that St. Paul, and his converts, 
had a considerable knowledge of the historical 
Christ. If St. Paul does not often quote the 
words of his Master, yet he lived Christ, and 
strove to imitate Him. It is unthinkable that he 
should have been ignorant of the life and teaching 
of the One whom he made the great example of his 
life. Dr. Knowling has carefully gathered up details 
from the Epistles, which prove an extensive ac- 
quaintance with the character and teaching of our 
Lord. It is impossible to give all the particular 
points dwelt upon by Dr. Knowling. It must 
suffice to illustrate briefly St. Paul's indebtedness, 
as an ethical teacher, to the moral precepts and 
example of our Lord. 

( i ) In his address at Miletus to the Ephesian 
elders, St. Paul says : ' Ye ought to remember the 
words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, 
It is more blessed to give than to receive.' * 

(2) In his teaching on marriage and divorce 
(1 Cor. vii.) he distinguishes between a command- 
ment (itTLTayrj) of Christ, and a judgment (yz'w/xTj) 
of his own. ' Unto the married I give charge, 
yet not I, but the Lord, that the wife depart not 
from her husband (but and if she depart, let her 
remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her 

1 Acts xx. 35. 
IO 



SOURCES. 

husband), and that the husband leave not his 
wife/ 1 The allusion to our Lord's words regarding 
divorce is unmistakable. 

(3) Respecting the provision for the ministry, 
St. Paul says: 'Even so hath the Lord ordained, 
that they which preach the Gospel should live of 
the Gospel/ 2 

(4) In his statement about the Lord's Supper, 
St. Paul quotes the words used by our Lord on 
the night when He was betrayed. 3 

(5) In his Epistle to Timothy he speaks of 
4 wholesome words, even the words of the Lord 
Jesus.' 4 

(6) In other passages there is a striking paral- 
lelism between the words of St. Paul and the 
words of Christ. 

Rom. xii. 14. Bless them that Matt. v. 44. Love your en- 

persecute you, bless and curse not. emies and pray for them that 

persecute you. 

Rom. xiii. 7. Render to all Matt. xxii. 21. Render there- 

their dues, tribute to whom tribute fore unto Caesar the things that 
is due. are Caesar's, and unto God the 

things that are God's. 

Rom. xiii. 9. And if there be Matt. xxii. 39. And a se- 

any other commandment, it is cond like unto it is this, Thou 
summed up in the word, namely, shalt love thy neighbour as thy- 
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as self, 
thyself. 

The most important passages, which bring out 

1 1 Cor. vii. 10, 11. 2 1 Cor. ix. 14. 3 1 Cor. xi. 23. 4 1 Tim. vi. 3. 

II 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

the dependence of St. Paul for his ethical teaching 
upon Christ, refer to Him as an example. To 
the Corinthians he says: c Be ye imitators of me, 
even as I also am of Christ/ 1 To the Philippians 
he writes : ' Let this mind be in you, which was 
also in Christ Jesus/ 2 He prays that the Colos- 
sians may ' walk worthily of the Lord.' 3 He 
commends the Thessalonians, because they were 
imitators both of him and of Christ. 4 These 
passages indicate that before the eyes of St. 
Paul there was an objective and historical 
model, to which he was ever turning. When 
he speaks of Him that ' knew no sin/ 5 when 
he reminds his readers that Christ ' pleased not 
himself/ 6 can we possibly doubt the store of 
knowledge regarding our Lord which St. Paul had 
gathered up and regarded as a most precious 
possession? It was from this store that he drew 
largely in his ethical teaching. 

{d) The Working of St. Paul's own 
Mind on the morally fruitful Idea of the 
Believer's Union wtth Christ. 

Hellenism, Hebraism, the life and example of 
Jesus — all these, like the entwined strands of a 

1 I Cor. xi. I. 3 Col. i. 10. 5 2 Cor. v. 21. 

2 Phil. ii. 5. i l Thess. i. 6. 6 Rom. xv. 3. 

12 



SOURCES. 

rope, are to be found in St. Paul's ethical teaching. 
But there is still much more which cannot be 
traced to this threefold source. When Prof. 
Huxley declares that ' Christianity inherited a 
good deal from Paganism and Judaism, and that, 
if the Stoics and the Jews revoked their bequest, 
the moral property of Christianity would realise 
very little,' 1 he ignores the root of all New Testa- 
ment morality — the believer's union with Christ, 
and the rich fruit which has been manifest in the 
moral ideas of the race, in consequence of that 
union. 

Huxley, and others like him, write as though 
the whole question of the moral superiority of 
Christianity can be determined by a table of parallel 
columns. In one column, the chief tenets of 
Judaism are entered ; in the second, those of the 
Stoics ; in the third, those of the New Testament. 
The tenets common to the third, and to each of 
the others, are struck out, and what is left is the 
measure of morality's debt to the New Testament. 
It is very simple, but very misleading. Though, 
as Bishop Lightfoot says : ( The Gospel is capable 
of doctrinal exposition ; though it is eminently 
fertile in moral results, yet its substance is neither 
a dogmatic system, nor an ethical code, but a 

1 Science and Morals, reprinted in Essays, Ethical and Political. 
*3 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

Person and a Life.' 1 And it is the omission of 
this vital fact that makes all such comparisons as 
those referred to absolutely worthless and vain. 
Christianity stands apart from and above all other 
systems of religion and philosophy, not by the 
excellence of its moral precepts, great as it is, but 
by the new fellowship with Christ which it pro- 
claims. Such certainly was the Gospel, as it was 
apprehended by St. Paul. 

When we have stated the various outside influ- 
ences which affected St. Paul's ethical teaching, 
there yet remains much that is the outcome of his 
own wonderful personality. Ramsay, who has 
devoted most of his life to the study of St. Paul, 
speaks of him as a man of transcendent genius, 
standing in line with the greatest thinkers of the 
world. We naturally expect to find in the teach- 
ing of so great a man ideas worthy of his person- 
ality. Nor do we seek in vain. In the foreground 
of the Pauline Ethics is the revelation of a new life 
of fellowship with Christ. He used no extravagant 
language when he said : c It is no longer I that live, 
it is Christ that liveth in me.' He had the mind 
of Christ, and Christian morality was the applica- 
tion of that mind to the necessities of the age in 
which he lived. 

1 Preface to first edition of Epistle to Philippians. 



SOURCES. 

As Sabatier well says : ' St. Paul and the other 
Apostles did not think of the teaching of Jesus as a 
collection of sayings, an external law, or written 
letter, to be constantly quoted. Christ was to 
them an immanent and fertile principle, producing 
new fruit at each new season/ 1 We do not expect 
that St. Paul will present us with a complete ethic, 
to meet all the contingencies of life ; but he does 
reveal the * spiritual' principle, working in himself, 
and in every one who enters into the new fellow- 
ship. c The imitation of Christ ' is the great 
watchword of the Christian ethic, but the phrase 
needs explanation. It does not mean a servile 
following of Christ — an exact reproduction of His 
life. Imitation in that sense is impossible. Social 
conditions are entirely different to-day from what 
they were in our Lord's time. The moral task of 
the Christian to-day is, ' Not to copy after Him, 
but to let His life take form in us, to receive His 
spirit, and to make it effective.' 2 This St. Paul 
understood. He taught that in Christ we find our 
example ; in Christ, our new life. He Himself 
gives the life which He reveals and demands. That 
Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith ; it is in 
the answer to that prayer that we find the root of 
all true Christian morality. 

1 Sabatier's Apostle Paul, p. Si. 2 Smyth's Christian Ethics, p. 78. 

1 S 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

II. Documents. 

Having shown the sources from which St. Paul 
derived his ethical teaching, we have now to con- 
sider the documents in which it is contained. 

The principal documents are the Acts of the 
Apostles and the thirteen Epistles alleged to be 
written by him, included in the Canon of the New 
Testament. If it is decided that these Epistles are 
genuine, we are in possession of evidence regarding 
Christianity commencing in or about the year 
51 a.d. ; that is, little more than twenty years 
after the Crucifixion. At that date many persons 
were living who had known the Historic Christ, 
and were in a position to correct any mis-state- 
ments. As the Epistles were written by a man of 
genius and integrity, not likely to be misled as to 
his facts, we may be tolerably certain that he does 
not present a false interpretation of those facts. 
The consciousness of the importance of the Epistles, 
as evidences for the truth of the Gospel, has led to 
concentrated attacks upon them, with the object of 
minimising their evidential value. After more 
than seventy years of close criticism by thoroughly 
competent scholars, the genuineness of most of the 
Epistles has been established. The following is a 
brief statement of the present attitude of the best- 
known critics : 

16 



SOURCES. 

Harnack accepts all the Pauline Epistles except 
Ephesians and the Pastorals, but thinks that much 
may be said in favour of the Pauline authorship of 
Ephesians. 

Jiilicher and Deissmann agree with Harnack. 

Clemen accepts the same nine Epistles. 

Wrede of Breslau accepts eight. 

Weinel accepts six, but acknowledges that most 
critics add two more, Colossians and Philemon. 

The great conservative critics, such as Zahn 
and B. Weiss, are positive that at least ten should 
be accepted. Thus we find that the number of 
Epistles admitted to be Pauline is more than double 
the number accepted by the Tubingen school in 
1 845. Among Continental scholars there is 
practically a unanimity in rejecting the Pastorals 
as legitimate sources for a knowledge of St. Paul's 
teaching. The defence of these Epistles has been 
very ably carried out by Dr. Knowling in his 
valuable book on 'The Testimony of St. Paul to Christ. 
He points out that certain admissions are now 
made: 

(1) They are based upon genuine Pauline 

letters or fragments. 

(2) Many of the phrases, even in the parts 

alleged to be of later date, are Pauline 
in style. 

17 c 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

(3) The ecclesiastical organization, and the 
heresies opposed, are not necessarily later 
than St. Paul's time. 1 

These are important admissions, and greatly 
modify the attack upon the Pastoral Epistles. The 
greatest difficulty arises from the impossibility of fit- 
ting the historical statements into the period covered 
by the Acts. Bartlet, in his work The Apostolic 
Age, attempts to do this, and supposes that St. Paul 
left Titus in Crete, when his ship was at Fair 
Havens ; and that he wrote the Epistle soon after 
he reached Rome, in reply to questions addressed 
to him by Titus. He supposes that when St. Paul 
visited Miletus, on the voyage to Jerusalem, he left 
Trophimus there, and wrote 1 Timothy soon after, 
when on board ship ; 2 Timothy being written 
shortly before his death. He rejects the tradition 
of a second imprisonment. This theory is not 
satisfactory. There is no proof that Titus was 
with St. Paul on his voyage to Rome, and Tro- 
phimus was with St. Paul at Jerusalem. 2 The 
rejection of a second imprisonment is opposed to 
the general tradition of the early Church, and 
contradicts the express testimony of Clement of 
Rome, who says that St. Paul went to the boundary 
of the West. It is also opposed to the testimony 

1 Testimony of St. Paul to Christy p. 121. 2 Acts xxi. 29. 



SOURCES. 

of the Muratorian fragment, which states that 
St. Paul went to Spain. It is also in conflict with 
St. Paul's confident expectation of a speedy release, 
expressed in Phil. ii. 24 and Philem. 22. If the 
release of St. Paul is admitted, the historical diffi- 
culties of the Pastorals disappear, for the events 
referred to would belong to a period not covered 
by the Acts. 

The other objections to the Pastorals are as 
follows : Harnack, while admitting Pauline frag- 
ments, points to passages which he considers to be 
interpolations, inserted about a.d. ioo, and adds 
that these were worked over by a redactor about 
a.d. 150 in the interests of ecclesiastical order. 
He is inclined to favour the opinion of a release 
after the captivity mentioned in Acts, because the 
policy of Rome before a.d. 64 would not be adverse 
to Christianity. Harnack's theory of interpola- 
tions is too intricate to be reliable, and the same 
may be said of other writers who adopt a com- 
posite theory. Another objection is, that Marcion 
excludes the Pastorals from his canon. But there 
were good reasons for the exclusion. He held 
definite doctrinal views, which led him to mutilate 
St. Luke's Gospel and reject the other three. In 
the Pastorals, the value set on the Old Testament 
(2 Tim. iii. 16) ; the statement about the Incarna- 

19 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

tion (i Tim. ii. 5) ; and the general attitude of 
the Epistles against a false spiritualism, would all 
be distasteful to Marcion. 1 Another objection is, 
that the language of the Pastorals is not that used 
by St. Paul in his other Epistles ; but the differ- 
ence of language has been greatly exaggerated. It 
is true that there are many a7raf Xeyo/xe^a in the 
Pastorals ; but there are also many in each group 
of St. Paul's letters. His residence in Rome would 
account for the Latinisms found in the later 
Epistles, and it is always to be expected that a new 
environment will lead to new modes of expression. 
The objections urged against the portions of the 
Epistles dealing with heresies are gradually being 
withdrawn, as it is becoming clear that the errors 
opposed are mainly Jewish, the false teachers 
being teachers of * the law ' ; * the endless genea- 
logies,' 2 c old wives' fables/ 3 'genealogies and 
fighting about the law/ 4 are an accurate summary 
of The Book of Philo concerning Biblical Antiquities^ 
known as the Pseudo- Philo, which has lately been 
republished ; and of the Book of Jubilees, which 
magnifies the patriarchs by giving legendary pedi- 
grees to them, the names and numbers being 
entirely fanciful. In opposition to the criticism 

1 See Pullan's New Testament, section on the Pastoral Epistles. 

2 1 Tim. i. 4. 3 I Tim. iv. 7. 4 Titus iii. 9. 

20 



SOURCES. 

of the Pastorals, much may be said for their 
genuineness. 

The external evidence is excellent, both i and 
2 Timothy being quoted by Polycarp (a.d. 
no). 

The internal evidence is also strongly in favour 
of a Pauline origin. The Pastorals are evidently 
the writings of one who felt his responsibility for 
men whom he had placed in high office in the 
Church, and with whom he sympathised in their 
difficulties. The known relations in which St. 
Paul stood to Timothy and Titus exactly suit the 
relations of the writer of these letters to the 
recipients. They manifest a tender affection in 
the writer for his children in the faith. They are 
the kind of personal letters we should expect St. 
Paul to write, under the special circumstances 
indicated in the contents. 

It is not possible in a short treatise to give in 
detail all the internal evidence in favour of Pauline 
authorship ; a full account is given in Dr. 
Knowling's Testimony of St. Paul to Christ} A 
careful study of the evidence, both external and 
internal, will satisfy most minds that no apology is 
needed for admitting the Pastorals as genuine 
writings of the great Apostle. We therefore asso- 
1 pp. 129-147. 
21 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

date them with the other ten canonical epistles, 
as sources of St. Paul's ethical teaching. 

Before passing from the sources to the matter 
of St. Paul's ethical teaching, it is worthy of notice 
that the various influences which operated in St. 
Paul made him a fitting vehicle for the teach- 
ing of Christianity to the world, and enabled him 
to do a work which could not have been done by 
the older disciples, so far as we can judge of their 
capacity from their speeches, writings, and actions 
known to us. His Hellenic training made him 
quick to recognise the liberal spirit of the Judaism 
of the Diaspora, compared with the spirit which 
prevailed in Palestine. This liberal spirit naturally 
led to a more attentive hearing of the Gospel 
message and to a more tolerant attitude towards 
the missionaries of the new faith. But there were, 
as we discover from the Acts, among the Jews of 
the Diaspora, men who retained all the bigotry and 
narrowness of orthodox Judaism ; and when the 
work of St. Paul was hindered by the opposition 
of the extremists, instead of giving way, as St. 
Peter did at Antioch, St. Paul saw at once that if 
Christianity was to be anything better than a sect 
of Judaism he must appeal at once to the Gentile 
world. He had not been wrong in offering salva- 
tion through Christ to the Jew first, but when the 

22 



SOURCES. 

Jew rejected the offer, he definitely turned his face 
towards the Gentiles. This was no sudden step. 
The Epistle to the Romans shows how deeply the 
Apostle felt the pang of turning his back upon his 
compatriots, and how he looked forward to the 
ingathering of the Gentiles as a stage in the con- 
version of the Jews. 

There was much in Hellenic culture which 
made it a promising field for the Gospel. Although 
religion was at first largely ceremonial, yet the 
teaching of the philosophers had purged away 
much of the superstition and immorality which 
stood for religion in the popular mind. The best 
culture was reaching out towards a pure and lofty 
morality. Stoic philosophy was obtaining a firm 
hold on the Gr2eco-Roman world. Religious 
mysteries, combined with the idea of moral purity, 
could not effect the regeneration of man ; but they 
prepared the way for the Gospel by showing that 
the pure soul alone could hold communion with 
the gods. 



CHAPTER II. 

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF ST. PAUL'S 
ETHICAL TEACHING. 

TT is often urged that St. Paul's ethical teaching 
A is fragmentary, and does not seem to spring 
from any definite system. The answer is, that the 
extant writings of St. Paul are all Epistles or 
letters, written in response c to some definite 
impulse in the diversified experience of the young 
Christian churches,' l or were written to personal 
friends on account of particular circumstances. 
There is no trace in his writings that St. Paul 
thought of them as literature or of the place they 
would occupy in universal history. ' No one/ 
says Deissmann, ' will hesitate to grant that the 
letter to Philemon has the character of a letter. 
It must be to a large extent a mere doctrinal want 
of taste that could make any one describe this gem, 
the preservation of which we owe to some for- 
tunate accident, as an essay, say, " on the attitude 
of Christianity to slavery." It is rather a letter 

1 Deissmann's Bible Studies, p. 44. 
24 



GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS. 

full of a charming, unconscious naivete, full of 
kindly human nature.' Probably Deissmann goes 
too far in regarding all St, Paul's writings as letters, 
intended to serve a merely temporary purpose. 
The Epistle to the Romans, for example, is a 
carefully prepared doctrinal treatise, written to the 
Church in the Imperial City, and setting forth the 
faith as St. Paul taught it. The question discussed 
by Deissmann is one of deep interest, but is beyond 
the scope of a treatise. It is sufficient to point to 
the fact that the elements, which are purely local 
and temporary in St. Paul's writings, are over- 
shadowed by those elements which are universal 
and abiding. That the early Church recognised 
their value is proved by their admission into the 
Canon of Scripture from the earliest date of its 
formation, and from the practice of reading them, 
as Scriptures, in the services of the Church. 

Even when St. Paul treats of local matters, he 
lays down principles of conduct which have served 
as a guidance to every subsequent generation of 
Christians. It will be seen, moreover, that it is 
possible to gather together a considerable volume 
of ethical teaching from the * fragments ' of his 
teaching : teaching preserved to us, not merely by 
the instinct of the early Christian Church, but also, 
we believe, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. 

2 5 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

In the use of the material provided in St. Paul's 
Epistles, each age must apply the principles of 
conduct he laid down to its needs, keeping in mind 
the wide differences of social and religious life 
which result from the lapse of time. It would not 
be wise, for example, to bind the hands of the 
Church to-day by St. Paul's regulations concern- 
ing the position of women in Christian assemblies. 
At that time the position of women was entirely 
different from what it is to-day. Also different 
countries have their different customs. In Corea 
it is regarded as ' indecent ' for a man to take off 
his hat in public, hence men always keep on their 
hats in church. In Japan, women never cover 
their heads, hence their heads are also uncovered 
in church. The Apostle's own disregard of the 
decision of the Council of Jerusalem, regarding the 
eating of meats offered to idols, should warn us not 
to confuse injunctions which were temporary with 
those that have lasting value. It further follows 
from the epistolary character of St. Paul's 
writings that he does not treat of some subjects 
which Christian ethics must treat of to-day, but 
concerning which he is silent. In spite of the 
inevitable fragmentariness, and admitting that the 
moral utterances of the Apostle ' do not spring 
from any consciously developed system of moral 

26 



GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS. 

ideas,' 1 it is still possible to speak of St. Paul's 
ethical teaching as a whole, and to lay down two or 
three of its leading characteristics. 

(a) Its Emphasis on the passive Virtues. 

It has already been remarked that Professor 
Huxley states that Christianity inherited a great 
deal of its teaching from Paganism and Judaism, 
and that if the Stoics and Jews revoked their be- 
quests, the moral property of Christianity would 
be very small. McGiffert also states that there is 
comparatively little difference between the ethical 
principles of the Christians, and the principles of 
the best men in the pagan world. 2 It is strange 
that both these writers should have failed to 
recognise the entirely new element which Chris- 
tianity brought into the moral life of the world. 
The pagan philosophers held lofty views regarding 
virtue, and subsequent ages have been eager to 
honour them for their services to morality; but 
Christianity, when it laid emphasis on the virtues 
of humility, patience, forbearance, pity, and kind- 
ness, struck a note which was entirely new to the 
ears of men. 3 To the fierce, hard, Roman world 

1 T. B. Strongs Christian Ethics, p. 77. 

2 McGiffert's Apostolic Age, p. 506. 

3 6 (iTnictov Trj 5ei$ diotterjcti tarta Taneivog, lorw SovXog, \viruffQi*i 9 
tpQovEiTuif i\«*rw. Epictetus, Diss, in. 24, 43. With the Stoics tXeog 
was reckoned as a defect or vice. 

27 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

it proclaimed : ^Let all bitterness, and anger, and 
clamour, and railing be put away from you, with 
all malice, and be ye kind one to another, tender- 
hearted, forgiving one another, even as God also 
in Christ forgave you.' * M 

The ancient world could value kindness among 
friends, but it had no element of mercy for ene- 
mies. Christianity, as interpreted by St. Paul, 
taught : ' If thine enemy hunger, feed him ; if he 
thirst, give him drink.' 2 Nothing illustrates more 
clearly the contrast between pagan and Christian 
ethics than the prominence given in the latter to 
such virtues as humility and forgiveness. In St. 
Paul's list of virtues, they rank as among the 
highest ; to pagan philosophers, they were of little 
or no account. The significance of this new ele- 
ment in morals has been recognised by few writers 
more clearly than by Mr. Lecky. He says : ' In 
antiquity the virtues which were most admired 
were almost exclusively those that were masculine. 
Courage, self-assertion, magnanimity, and above 
all, patriotism, were the leading features of the 
ideal type ; and chastity, modesty, and charity, the 
gentler and domestic virtues, were undervalued.' 3 
But it is these latter that the New Testament 



1 Eph. iv. 31, 32. 2 Rom. xii. 20. 

3 History of European Morals^ vol. ii,, p. 36. 

28 



GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS. 

exalts and honours. Christianity has practically 
reversed the order of pre-eminence among the 
virtues, it has exalted humility and meekness above 
courage, and even patriotism. Nevertheless we 
must avoid the error of supposing that the New 
Testament exalts one type of virtue at the ex- 
pense of another. What is really done is to make 
human character complete. It does not dethrone 
courage. 

St. Paul himself was the bravest of the brave : 
no danger could daunt him. In the riot at 
Ephesus, his friends had difficulty in restraining 
him from rushing into the amphitheatre to face a 
frantic mob ; but with his courage was associated 
the tenderness and meekness which befitted the 
bond-servant of Jesus Christ. 

(b) Its Breadth. 

No Jew in history was more profoundly 
patriotic than St. Paul ; his heart's desire, and 
supplication to God, was for the salvation of his 
nation. 1 He was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, and 
had associated himself with the strictest sect of his 
religion, he lived a Pharisee. It had been his 
earnest endeavour to find peace through ' the 
Law/ the cherished possession of his people. Its 

1 Rom. x. I. 

29 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

convicting power had been fully realised : i I had 
not known lust (en-tdv/na) except the Law had 
said, Thou shalt not covet.' 1 The Law was to 
him the revealer of sin. But he had found not 
only its power, but its weakness. The most com- 
plete obedience to its precepts could not relieve 
his soul from the burden of sin, or give him peace 
with God. A wonderful array of texts from the 
Old Testament shows how he had searched the 
Scriptures in order to find in them a pathway to 
salvation, and yet he had searched in vain. He 
had studied the fall of man, the lives of Abraham 
and the other patriarchs. He had read the Pro- 
phets and the Psalms, and had learnt that the 
problems of life could not be solved by the inter- 
pretations of Pharisaism. While never yielding 
his patriotism, he had come to the conclusion that 
Judaism could not be the permanent religion of 
God's children, nor the Old Testament the final 
revelation of God's will. When at last he found 
in Christ the solution of all his difficulties, he was 
ready to carry the good tidings of salvation, which 
had penetrated his own soul, to the Jew first, and 
also to the Gentile. The particularism of the 
Pharisees was swept away and disappeared in the 
universalism of Christianity, and the voices of the 

1 Rom. vii. 7. 
30 



GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS. 

Prophets sounded in his ears as proclaiming the 
Light to lighten the Gentiles, as well as heralding 
the glory of his own people Israel. 

Henceforward ' universalism ' becomes a cha- 
racteristic in St. Paul's ethics. He taught that 
the appeal of Christianity was to no exclusive race, 
but to all men. i Admonishing every man, and 
teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may 
present every man perfect in Christ* — the emphatic 
reiteration of * every man' being a designed protest 
against any narrowing of the Gospel message. In 
this protest we see, not only opposition to Pharisaic 
particularism, but also to the intellectual exclu- 
siveness of heathen philosophy. Heathen philo- 
sophy had set forth two standards of conduct : a 
high one for the rich and well-born ; a lower, for 
the poor, who had no leisure for study or medita- 
tion. The ethical teaching of St. Paul knows no 
distinction ; never once, in his loftiest flights of 
moral appeal, does it seem to occur to him that 
he is mocking the slave and the outcast with 
visions of the unattainable. Cicero, in his De 
Officiis, drew a distinction between the ideal 
morality of the wise man and the morality of the 
common people. 1 The same temper meets us in 
Philo. ' His Gospel,' says Jowett, c is not that of 

1 Luthardt's History of Christian Ethics, p. 16. 
3 1 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

humanity, but of philosophy and asceticism.' l 
' The temper of Stoicism/ says Dr. Lightfoot, 
1 was essentially aristocratic and exclusive in re- 
ligion, as it was in politics. While professing the 
law of comprehension, it was practically the 
narrowest of all the philosophies.' 2 No such 
limitations are found in St. Paul's ethics. He 
speaks to all, because he has a message for all. 
His whole conception of morals moves inwardly. 
Instead of the ' provincial edicts ' with which pre- 
Christian morality was so largely concerned, we 
have now ' imperial laws ' which are meant to 
govern the whole moral universe. 3 Even when 
St. Paul treats of questions which seem to us 
trivial, there is nothing trivial in his treatment of 
them. His large-mindedness, his moral sanity, 
his resolute appeal to the loftiest Christian prin- 
ciples, bring even the matter discussed by him in 
i Corinthians to the level of object-lessons for all 
time in the delicate task of adjusting the rival 
claims of Christian liberty and expediency. 

(c) Its Symmetry and Balance. 
A writer in the Spectator says : ' Since all 
ethics are a delicate equipoise, it is possible to 

1 Essay, Si* Paul and Philo, Epistles to Thessalonians, Galatians, 
and Romans, vol. i., p. 429. 2 Epistle to Philippians, p. 322. 

3 See Prof. Knight's Christian Ethics, p. 51. 

32 



GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS. 

incline the balance too far, and, in overdoing a 
virtue, to make it first cousin to vice.' 1 Aristotle 
had seen this clearly, and regarded virtue as a 
mean between two extremes. Thrift is good, but 
how often it degenerates into miserliness. Tender- 
ness is a Christian virtue, but often becomes culp- , 
able weakness. Veracity is essential in the Chris- 
tian character, but how often it is used to hurt i K* ,M 
the feelings of others, because not accompanied by ,V5i^/$ 
love. In St. Paul's teaching we find tenderness 
without weakness, strength without harshness, 
meekness without cowardice, speaking the truth, 
but in love. In the old conflict between culture 
and restraint, between Greek and Hebrew ideals, 
St. Paul holds the balance even. As a Hebrew, 
he could not fail to see the value of self-restraint, 
and even of asceticism ; but he is no preacher of 
asceticism, as having value in itself. He says, ' I 
buffet my body, and bring it into subjection/ 2 but 
it was with a distinct purpose, for he adds, ' Lest 
after that I have preached to others, I myself should 
be rejected/ 

Self-renunciation is practised as a means for 
self-development. What a wonderful ideal is set 
before the Philippians in the words, ' Whatsoever 
things are true, whatsoever things are honourable, 

1 July 23rd, 1904. • 1 Cor. ix. 27. 

33 r> 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are 
pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever 
things are of good report, if there be any virtue, 
if there be any praise, think on these things.* 1 

(d) Its Centre in Christ. 

St. Paul's ethics owes its greatest distinction to 
the person in whom it centres. To those to 
whom Christ is only a moral ideal, ' a brilliant and 
primitive illustration of the religion which bears 
His name,' a great part of St. Paul's teaching must 
be unintelligible. The key to all that the Apostle 
taught is to be found in his favourite expression, 
c in Christ.' He had learnt that by faith in Christ 
the moral consciousness is brought under the 
power of a personal example. The life ' in 
Christ ' was to St. Paul, a life controlled by 
Christ. A life not subject to merely impersonal 
laws, but responding to a spiritual principle ; a 
life which, though hidden in the soul, yet mani- 
fested itself in the restraint of all tendencies to- 
wards sinful acts. To the Colossians he writes : 
' Ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 
. . . Mortify therefore your members, which are 
upon earth, fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil 
desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry/ The 

1 Phil. iv. 8. 
34 



GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS. 

old life lived ' in the flesh ' had passed away ; the 
new life in Christ was to be marked by the de- 
struction of all those evil practices, which would 
hinder its development. Thus in St. Paul's teach- 
ing Christ is the great inspiring force which 
moulds the human character. He was to St. Paul 
the great Ideal by following which men could 
attain to the likeness of God ; and what He was 
to St. Paul, he still is in the world. ' It was 
reserved,' says Lecky, * for Christianity to present 
to the world an ideal Character, which through all 
the changes of eighteen centuries has filled the 
hearts of men with an impassioned love, has 
shown itself capable of acting on all ages, nations, 
temperaments, conditions. Has been not only the 
highest pattern of virtue, but the strongest in- 
centive to its practice, and has exercised so deep an 
influence that it may be truly said that the simple 
record of three short years of active life has done 
more to regenerate and soften mankind than all 
the disquisitions of philosophers, and all the exhor- 
tations of morality.' 1 

That Christ remained the norm of the Christian 
life, in the history of the Church, is thus stated by 
Bishop Lightfoot : ' One might have thought it 
impossible to study with common attention the 

1 Lecky, History of European Morals, ii. 8. 

35 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

records of the Apostles and martyrs of the first 
ages, or of the saints and heroes of the later 
Church, without seeing that the consciousness of 
personal union with Him (Christ), the belief in 
His abiding Presence was the mainspring of their 
actions, and the fountain of all their strength. 
This is not a preconceived theory of what should 
have happened, but a bare statement of what 
stands recorded on the pages of history. In all 
ages, and under all circumstances, the Christian 
life has ever radiated from this central fire. 
Whether we take St. Paul or St. Peter, St. Francis 
d'Assisi or John Wesley, whether Athanasius or 
Augustine, Anselm or Luther, whether Boniface 
or St. Francis Xavier, here has been the impulse 
of their activity and the secret of their moral 
power.' 1 This important truth still needs restate- 
ment, because there is still an endeavour to mini- 
mise the value of the spiritual principle introduced 
into the world by Christianity, and to magnify the 
results attained by heathen philosophers, as though 
nothing could improve their moral scheme. 

1 Epistle to Pkilippians, pp. 324-5. 



36 



CHAPTER III. 

ST. PAUL'S PSYCHOLOGY. 

\^/E do not expect to find in St. Paul's writings 
a connected system of Psychology, any 
more than v/e expect to find a definite system of 
ethics. The character of the Pauline literature is 
not such as would be likely to include scientific 
discussions ; but yet we can gather that he had 
received some training in the Jewish schools 
regarding the nature of man. 

The basis of his psychology is found in the 
account of the creation of man, described in 
Gen. ii. 7 : ' And the Lord God formed man from 
the dust of the ground, and breathed into his 
nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living 
soul/ the Hebrew word for soul (ttf'p?) is trans- 
lated in the LXX., ^njyyj. Thus man is partly 
earthy (^ot/cds) and partly sentient ; the two 
elements constituting his personality. It is notice- 
able that in the Hebrew account of man's creation 
in Gen. ii., nothing is said about the spiritual part 
of man, but we cannot deduce from this that the 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

Hebrews did not recognise that man was possessed 
of a spiritual nature, for that is implied in the 
Creation narrative in Gen. i., in which man is 
stated to have been created in the image of God. 
That there was no very clear idea regarding man's 
nature may be gathered from the words of Ecclesi- 
astes regarding men and beasts, ' they have all one 
breath (spirit)/ 1 'Who knoweth the spirit of man, 
whether it goeth upward ; and the spirit of the 
beast, whether it goeth downward to the earth?' 2 
The uncertainty thus shown gave rise to different 
theories in the various schools of Jewish thought, 
some holding a bipartite, and some a tripartite 
nature in man. 

Discussion on such divisions ignores the main 
idea of the Jews that the material part of man, and 
the spiritual part, constitute thei/w^ (living soul). 
This * soul ' is dissolved by death. The material 
body returns to the earth, and the spirit returns to 
God who gave it. 3 The soul is not regarded as a 
separate substance, which is joined to the body at 
birth, but is matter animated by God's spirit. 
When Greek philosophy influenced Jewish thought, 
we find the Platonic doctrine of the pre-existence 
of souls expressed, as in the Book of Wisdom ; 4 and 

1 Eccles. iii. 19. 2 Eccles. iii. 21. 3 Eccles. xii. 7. 

4 Wisdom vii. 19, 20. 

38 



ST. PAUL'S PSYCHOLOGY. 

it is thought that there is a reference to this 
doctrine in the words addressed by the disciples to 
Jesus concerning a man who was born blind : 
' Rabbi, who did sin, this man or his parents, that 
he should be born blind?' 1 But this doctrine 
does not appear in St. Paul's psychology. Man is 
considered by him to be a unity of matter and 
spirit, thence, in the doctrine of the resurrection, 
the body rises ; but it is no longer a natural 
(y\sv^(iKov) body, it has undergone a change, which 
makes it spiritual {irvevixariKov)} The spiritual 
body being a body conformed to that of the Risen 
Christ. The natural body was an inheritance from 
Adam, the spiritual body is a result of union with 
Christ, the Second Adam. 

Two passages in St. Paul's writings suggest 
that he held a threefold division in human nature. 
The first is, i Thess. v: 23^ where spirit, soul, and 
body are mentioned. The body : being the tem- 
porary casket, 'the earthly house of our tabernacle.' 3 
The soul : expressing man as endowed with affec- 
tions, passions, reason, and moral sense, but con- 
sidered apart from his relation to God. The 
spirit: expressing the principle of the higher life 
derived from a definite relation to God, realised 
through union with Christ. 

1 John ix. 2. 2 I Cor. xv. 44, 46. 3 2 Cor. t. i. 

39 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

The other passage is Phil. i. 2 7> in which 
there is the same distinction between soul and 
spirit. But, in general, St. Paul speaks of man's 
personality as c flesh ' and * spirit/ 

The ' flesh ' is not regarded as essentially evil, 
for the Apostle says, ' The life which I now live in 
the flesh, I live in faith/ 1 In many passages 2 * flesh ' 
is opposed to "spirit/ In this opposition the flesh 
is regarded as the seat of sin. *The mind (<f>p6vy}fjia) 
of the flesh is death ; the mind of the spirit is life 
and peace ; because the mind of the flesh is enmity 
against God/ 3 Also the ' works ' of the flesh are 
contrasted with the fc fruit ' of the spirit.* Although 
the flesh is usually the element in man's nature 
which is affected by sin, yet St. Paul considers that 
the spirit may also be defiled. 5 The opposition 
between flesh and spirit is therefore not one which 
follows psychological lines, but rather indicates 
religious ideas. The flesh stands for the lower 
nature of man, fallen through sin ; and the spirit 
for the higher nature to which man rises when he 
is redeemed, regenerated, and sanctified by union 
with the Spirit of Christ. Christ in man brings 
about the true glory to which humanity can attain ; 
for, according to St. Paul, Christ adds to human 

1 Gal. ii. 20. 2 No less than twenty- three. "' Rom. viii. 6, 7. 

4 Gal. v. 19, 5 2 Cor. vii. 1. 

40 



ST. PAUL'S PSYCHOLOGY. 

nature a new spiritual element. He is the start- 
ing-point of a new humanity. By virtue of his 
union with Him, man becomes ' a new creature.' 1 
He is renewed in the spirit of his mind. He puts 
on the new man, 'which after God hath been 
created in righteousness and holiness of truth/ 2 
Thus, regenerated man is capable of a higher moral 
life than can be lived by the ' natural ' man. 
Although this higher life is potentially divine, yet 
it is subject to infirmity. It is still * a body of 
death ' 3 ' The corruptible body presseth down the 
soul/ 4 and hinders its full development. St. Paul 
felt the pressure in himself, but looked forward to 
deliverance from the body of death, and to the 
complete triumph of his spiritual nature. His 
idea is a progressive advance from a lower stage to 
a higher : 'As we have borne the image of the 
earthy, we shall also bear the image of the 
heavenly.' 5 

Never, even in the closing years of a life of 
complete surrender to Christ, was the great Apostle 
satisfied with the progress he had attained. In 
writing to the Philippians from Rome, he speaks 
of his constant struggle towards the supremacy of 
his higher nature. ' Not,' he says, * that I have 

1 Gal. vi. 15. 2 Ephes. iv. 23, 24. 3 Rom. vii. 24. 

4 Wisdom ix. iS. 5 1 Cor. xv. 46. 

41 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

already obtained, or am already made perfect ; but 
I press on if so be that I may apprehend that for 
which also I was apprehended by Christ Jesus.' 1 

Having considered the most important psycho- 
logical terms used by St. Paul, body, soul, and 
spirit, we can now consider other terms that 
require explanation. The word ' heart ' (/ca/>8ta) 
continually meets us in the Pauline writings, 2 and 
is used to express the seat of w thought ' as well as 
of fc feeling ' ; it covers the intellectual, emotional, 
and volitional functions of the human life, but 
never stands for the whole nature of man. 3 

Another psychological word used by St. Paul 
is vovs. He speaks of the mind (vovs) of Christ, 4 
and adds, ' we have the mind of Christ.' It is 
clear that he means ' intellectual activity ' in this 
passage. In the first Epistle to the Corinthians, 5 
he contrasts prayer and praise which is ecstatic, 
with that which is intelligent. ' For if I pray in 
a tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding 
(vovs) is unfruitful. What is it then? I will 
pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the 
understanding also : I will sing with the spirit, and 
I will sing with the understanding also.' 



1 Phil. iii. 12. 2 Fifty-two times. 

3 See Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible, article on ' Psychology. ' 

4 I Cor. ii. 16. 5 I Cor. xiv. 14, 15. 

42 



ST. PAUL'S PSYCHOLOGY. 

The only other psychological term which re- 
quires explanation is ' Conscience ' {crvv€L8r}<TL<s). 
It is invariably used by St. Paul for the Kantian 
1 Practical Reason,' man's moral consciousness. 
He speaks of the conscience of the heathen, as 
a law operating in their lives, and judging their 
actions. 1 In himself conscience was always active ; 
he appealed to its witness when he wrote regarding 
his love for his own people. 2 In his defence before 
Felix he says, ' I also exercise myself to have a con- 
science void of offence towards God and man 
always.' 3 Even before his conversion, he had 
followed the dictates of conscience. ' Brethren/ 
he says to the Sanhedrim, ' I have lived before 
God in all good conscience until this day.' When 
he recognised any course of conduct as right, he 
followed it instinctively. The convictions on 
which his conscience depended were not always 
right, and led him to persecute the Church ; but 
when, by faith in Christ, his conscience was 
brought under the power of a personal example, 
then it was obeyed, not as an impersonal law, 
but as a new power given by Christ to direct his 
life. 

In his ethical teaching he requires men to 
follow conscience, even when it was weak and 111— 

1 Rom. ii. 15. 2 Rom. ix. 1. 3 Acts xxiv. 16. 

43 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

instructed, 1 and speaks of the danger to the whole 
moral and spiritual life when the conscience be- 
comes insensitive or defiled. 2 

It is evident that a Christian conscience was 
to St. Paul a known and luminous power, of a 
high and spiritual order. The importance he at- 
tached to it is an instance of the Stoic teaching 
which, Ramsay thinks, he received at the 
University of Tarsus. 

The distinction between the moral functions 
of personality, as exhibited in conscience, and the 
intellectual functions is the nearest approach we 
have in St. Paul's writings to the modern science 
of psychology. 

Before passing from the Pauline psychology, a 
ftw remarks may be made upon the distinction St. 
Paul makes between his true self and the self of 
sin. Every man is conscious that at times his 
actions fall below his usual standard of conduct. 
He may be carried away by strong feelings, which 
overpower the resistance of his judgment. To a 
man with strong religious yearnings, lapses into 
sin cause intense distress, and he constantly strug- 
gles to be delivered from the bondage of his lower 
nature. St. Paul tells us that when he would do 
good, evil was present with him ; and he ascribes 

1 I Cor. viii. 10, 12. 2 i Tim. iv, 2 ; Titus i. 15. 

44 



ST. PAUL'S PSYCHOLOGY. 

the evil to indwelling sin. Hence he is conscious 
of a higher self, his true self (avrbs iyo>) ; and a 
lower self, a self of sin. Again, he appears to 
identify himself with the lower self when he says, 
' It is no longer I that live, but Christ that liveth 
in me/ In this passage ' I J refers to the lower 
self, the Pauline ' flesh ' ; while the new life is the 
Christ-life in him. His true ' self was therefore 
the * self created and controlled by Christ. The 
old 'self which was carnal, and not spiritual, 
although subdued, and kept under control, was 
not slain, and continued to exert an influence over 
his actions. The moral struggle he describes as 
follows :— ' For that which I do (/carepya£o/Acu), 1 
know not : for not what I would, that do I 
practise (Trpdcro-o)) ; but what I hate, that I do 
(iroieco).' 1 It should be noted that preceding his 
account of the struggle, there is a strong sense of 
the unworthiness of any action which is prompted 
by the flesh (the self of sin), and a fuller deter- 
mination to persevere in the higher life, which is 
' in Christ.' He is conscious of being impelled in 
two different directions. His higher self, the 
inner man, the avros iy<o impels him towards the 
good ; the lower self, the fleshly nature, draws him 
towards the evil. He describes both the struggle 

1 Rom. vii. 23. 
45 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

and the victory : c O wretched man that I am ! 
Who shall deliver me out of the body of this 
death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our 
Lord/ 1 

1 Rom. vii. 25. 



46 



CHAPTER IV. 

PAGAN MORALITY. 

T T is sometimes charged against Christian 
teachers that they under-estimate the moral 
ideas attained by the heathen, in the desire to base 
morality upon a distinctly religious foundation ; 
and there is some ground for the charge, for, by 
many Christian teachers, it is overlooked that long 
before Christianity was taught, and in places where 
Jewish influences had little weight, a lofty morality 
was evolved from the meditations of some of the 
noblest thinkers of the human race. In the last 
century the services rendered by these teachers 
were regarded by some philosophers as superior 
in moral value to the teaching of Christianity, and 
an attempt was made to formulate a system of 
education which excluded all that the world had 
learnt from the teachers of Christ and His Apostles. 
There is a well-known passage in John Stuart 
Mill's Autobiography in which he describes the 
education he received from his father. It was 

47 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

that of a well-trained pagan. James Mill, his son 
tells us, had framed his life on pagan ideals. In 
his personal qualities, the Stoic predominated ; in 
his moral standard he was Epicurean, although 
scarcely any believer in 'pleasure.' John Stuart 
Mill adds : c My father's convictions were wholly 
dissevered from religion,' and 6 were very much 
of the character of those of the Greek philosophers 
. . . my father's moral inculcations were at all 
times mainly those of the "Socratici viri"; justice, 
temperance, veracity, perseverance, readiness to 
encounter pain, and especially labour, regard for 
the public good, estimation of persons according 
to their merits, and of things according to their 
intrinsic usefulness, a life of exertion in contradic- 
tion to one of self-indulgent sloth.' 1 This is all 
pure paganism, but it cannot be denied that it has 
moral worth. The question is in what respect 
was the Christian ethic superior to the pagan ? 

Before considering St. Paul's teaching in rela- 
tion to the morality of the heathen world before 
his time, it may be well to consider the progress 
which had been made through the moral reflection 
of the great Greek teachers. There was no 
abrupt commencement of ethical speculation. 2 In 
early times, Homer held the place in Greek 

1 Autobiography, pp. 46-48. 2 Sidgwick, History of Ethics, p. 12. 

48 



PAGAN MORALITY. 

literature which the Scripture held among the 
Jews ; but in Homer there is no blame attached to 
men for actions which were regarded as defective. 
If a man actedi wrongly, he was supposed to be 
temporarily deranged, or under the malign 
influence of some offended God ; yet in sketching 
his characters Homer gave examples of human 
excellence or defect, which challenged attention, 
and drew forth liking or aversion from those who 
read his poems. 1 The 'gnomic' poetry of the 
seventh and sixth centuries b.c. gave wise precepts 
for conduct, which are often referred to by later 
writers. In like manner, the * seven sages ' of the 
sixth century influenced ethical thought sufficiently 
to make their maxims worthy of the attention of 
Plato and Aristotle. The first of the original 
thinkers before Socrates was Pythagoras, but in his 
case it is difficult to distinguish between fact and 
legend. Concerning his teaching, Sidgwick says 2 : 
1 In his precepts of moderation, courage, loyalty 
in friendship, obedience to law and government ; 
in his recommendation of daily examination . . . 
we may discern an effort, striking in its originality 
and earnestness, to mould the lives of men as much 
as possible into the likeness of God.' This 
summary shows that at a very early period there 

1 Sidgwick, History of Ethics ', p. 19. 2 Ibid.,, p. 13. 
49 e 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

was a power of insight in man sufficient to mark 
the distinction between right and wrong conduct, 
and to point the path towards higher and purer 
ideals. 

The great work of Socrates cannot possibly be 
told in a few sentences ; it was not so much con- 
structive as destructive. He charged the Sophists 
of his day with teaching justice, temperance, &c, 
without understanding what these names meant. 
Aristotle says that his chief service to philosophy 
consisted in introducing inductions and definition. 
To most people his value seems to be that he pre- 
pared the ground for his great successors, Plato 
and Aristotle, by drawing attention to the need of 
knowledge in the attainment of virtue. 1 It seemed 
to Socrates that if a man knew " the good ' he 
could not possibly choose the evil ; and he gave an 
impulse to the acquiring of knowledge, which bore 
rich fruit in his pupils. To Plato, the disciple of 
Socrates, we owe the first statement of the four 
cardinal virtues : Wisdom or Prudence, Courage, 

1 ' I hold that Socrates, as all are agreed, was the first whose voice 
charmed away philosophy from the mysterious phenomena over which 
Nature has cast a veil, and with which all philosophers before his time 
busied themselves, and brought it face to face with social life, so as to 
investigate virtue and vice, and the general distinction between good 
and evil, and led it to pronounce its sentence, that the heavenly bodies 
were either far removed from the sphere of our knowledge, or con- 
tributed nothing to right living, however much the knowledge of them 
might be attained.'— Cicero, Acad. Poster. , i. 4 (Reid's translation). 

50 



PAGAN MORALITY. 

Temperance, and Justice. These virtues embody 
an ideal which was constant in all subsequent Greek 
ethical schools. ' A Greek was expected to de- 
velop these virtues.' 1 However wide the diver- 
gence between Greek theory and practice, the 
' ideal ' remained as an abiding witness to the 
power of the natural conscience of man. 

From Plato we pass naturally to his greatest 
pupil, Aristotle, who first made a scientific study 
of ethics. His power was in analysis ; and he 
discoursed in masterly fashion on virtues such as 
liberality, high-mindedness, gentleness, truthful- 
ness, &c. He strongly opposed the Socratic 
maxim that virtue was knowledge of the good, 
and held that it was the habit of right choosing. 
' Virtue differed from skill, in involving a delibe- 
rate choice of virtuous acts, for the sake of their 
intrinsic moral beauty, and not for any end external 
to the act.' 2 Of all the writers of antiquity none 
has so powerfully influenced later Christian thought 
than Aristotle. Dante saw in him ' the master of 
the sapient throng/ 3 and Aquinas endeavoured to 
combine the ethical teaching of Christianity with 
the system laid down by the great Greek philo- 
sopher. 

1 T. B. Strong's Christian Ethics, p. 116. 

2 See Sidgwick's History of Ethics, p. 59. 

3 Inferno 9 iv. 12S (Cary's translation). 

51 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

The Pauline Scheme of the Virtues compared 
with the Platonic and Aristotelian. 

(a) The four cardinal virtues of the Platonic 
and Aristotelian scheme have already been stated ; 
they are Wisdom (or Prudence), Courage, Tem- 
perance, and Uprightness (or Justice). To these 
were added Truthfulness and Honesty. Although 
there is no list of cardinal virtues laid down in St. 
Paul's writings, yet the virtues of Plato and 
Aristotle are in different forms continually appear- 
ing. 

(i) Wisdom {<To$ia). St. Paul distinguishes 
between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom 
of God ; and charges upon the wisdom of the world 
the defect, that the world through its wisdom had 
been unable to attain a knowledge of God. 1 
Owing to this defect the wisdom of the world 
is foolishness with God, and the reasonings 
(SiaXoyitr/Aot) of the wise are vain. 2 A wisdom 
which could not even discover God had no attrac- 
tions for St. Paul ; but he declares that there 
is another wisdom, not of this world, nor of the 
rulers of this world. This wisdom is the eternal 
purpose of God to redeem the world through 
Christ. 3 It is taught to men by the Holy Spirit, 

1 i Cor. i. 20, 21. " i Cor. iii. 19, 20. 3 1 Cor. ii. 6-8. 

S 2 



PAGAN MORALITY. 

operating in the Church, and is manifold, i.e., it 
manifests itself in the various forms of the divine 
purposes, which all co-operate towards a single 
end — the salvation of all mankind. 1 It brings to 
the Christian a true understanding of God and of 
His redemptive purpose in Christ. It was the 
prayer of St. Paul that this spirit of wisdom 
might be given to the saints to enlighten their 
heart, and to enable them to realise their calling. 2 
From this we gather that the wisdom which 
St. Paul teaches is entirely different from the 
(ro(j)La of the Greeks. It was never * speculative 
nor uncertain, but something definite, learnt in 
the school of Christ, who was to him c God 
manifest in the flesh.' Only once in his writings 
does St. Paul mention <£iXocro</>ia, and this he 
joins with " vain deceit/ 3 Ellicott does not think 
that there is sufficient ground for thinking that 
St. Paul referred to Greek philosophy in this 
passage, but thinks that he was rebuking the 
theosophy of Jewish birth and Oriental affinities, 
which was so firmly rooted in Phrygia. 4 This 
view is probably correct. The Apostle's silence 
regarding Greek philosophy must not be construed 
as the result of ignorance or indifference. His 

1 Eph. iii. 10. 2 Eph. i. 17. 3 Col. ii. 8. 

4 Ellicott, Epistle to Colossians, p. 152. 

53 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

work at Athens is a proof that he was conversant 
with the regular Socratic style of free discussion in 
the Agora, and his speech before the Council of 
the Areopagus shows that he was aware of the 
efforts of the Greek philosophers to understand 
the divine nature. Bartlet, describing his speech, 
says : c He proceeds to utter, in lofty language, 
the profoundest ideas of natural theology, pressing 
into the service, not only the deeper intuitions of 
the Stoics as to the immanent presence of the 
Divine in and with the human, but even a fine, if 
familiar, maxim of the Greek poets, " For even 
His offspring are we.'" 1 But if his speech shows 
that he was familiar with Greek philosophy, it also 
shows that he knew its limitations. ' What, there- 
fore, ye worship in ignorance, this set I forth unto 
you/ 2 They with their philosophy had not found 
God. St. Paul, through the wisdom given him 
from Christ, was able to set forth the nature and 
the will of Him after whom they had been seeking. 
(2) Courage (avBpeia). This word is not found 
in St. Paul's writings ; but the virtue is not 
forgotten by the Apostle, for he enjoins the 
Corinthians to be courageous (avSpitjecrde) and to 
be strong (Kparatovcrde). 3 He reminds Timothy 

1 Bartlet, Apostolic Age, p. 107. 

2 Acts xvii. 23. 3 1 Cor. xvi. 13. 

54 



PAGAN MORALITY. 

that God did not give us 'a spirit of cowardice.' 
Also, St. Paul himself was a striking example of 
personal courage. As already stated, in the great 
riot at Ephesus 2 his friends had difficulty in 
restraining him from rushing into the amphi- 
theatre to face a furious mob. In Jerusalem, 
although beaten by the people and threatened with 
death, he asked and obtained leave to address the 
multitude, and boldly professed his faith in the 
Lord Jesus. When in danger of shipwreck, in the 
midst of men who had lost all hope, the Apostle 
stood forth with undaunted courage, and by his 
example restored their failing hearts. 3 His whole 
career manifests a spirit which he desired to see in 
all Christians, a spirit bold to oppose all evil, and 
to contend earnestly for the faith. The striking 
figure of the Soldier of Christ given in the Epistle 
to the Ephesians is preceded by the words, ' Be 
strong in the Lord and in the strength of his 
might/ i Further, St. Paul knew not only the 
value of courage but its source ; he had learnt 
through his weakness to find strength in God 5 — 
not the avhpeia of Aristotle, which was confined 
to courage in war, but a fortitude which bears 
itself bravely in all the adverse circumstances of 

1 2 Tim. i. 7. 2 Acts xix. 30, 31. 3 Acts xxvii. 36. 

4 Eph. vi. 10. 5 2 Cor. xii. 10. 

55 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

life, and refuses to despair. This spirit is often 
expressed by viroixovrj ('patient endurance'), espe- 
cially in persecution and tribulation, with a firm 
attitude in combating every form of evil. It is 
this Christian fc courage ' which has been so 
remarkable in Great Britain and her Colonies in 
the terrible War still being waged. From the 
purely military standpoint, it seemed that our 
intervention in the War would only involve us 
in utter ruin. With an army insignificant in 
numbers and deficient in munitions, it appeared 
almost impossible, in the early stages of the War, 
that the victorious hosts of Germany could be 
arrested. Yet, with a heroism which faltered 
before no difficulty, our little army took a noble 
part in helping to hold the enemy at bay, while 
the k courage ' of our nation rose to the highest 
level of moral vigour, and from every town and 
village in Britain, from every distant colony of the 
British Empire, men poured forth without com- 
pulsion with a fixed determination to right the 
wrongs of devastated Belgium, and to affirm the 
moral consciousness taught by our Christian faith 
against the perversion of all morality, manifest in 
the actions of the Great Power which aimed at 
world domination and hesitated at no outrage to 
attain its ends. 

56 



PAGAN MORALITY. 

(3) Temperance (iyKpaTeia). This virtue occu- 
pies a prominent place in St. Paul's teaching. It 
was one of the subjects upon which he discoursed 
before Felix at Csesarea, 1 and finds a place among 
those virtues which are named as the c fruit of the 
Spirit.' 2 The Christian im<rK07ro<; was not only to 
be just and holy, he must also be c temperate' 
{iyKparrji)? St. Paul's own life was marked by 
this virtue. Although he claimed liberty to marry, 
yet he abstained from marriage, in order that he 
might be more free to preach the Gospel. He 
preferred to labour with his own hands for the 
supply of his bread, rather than enjoy the pro- 
vision he might have claimed as an Apostle of 
Christ. The Epistle to the Philippians shows that 
he was often in need, yet he bore his afflictions 
with contentment, and says, ' I can do all things 
in him that strengtheneth me'; 4 and again, 'I 
buffet my body and bring it into bondage lest 
after I have preached to others I myself should 
be rejected.' 5 \/This virtue, so needful in St. Paul's 
time, is pressed upon the Christian at the present 
day. Many of the evils from which the world is 
suffering are the results of a lack of temperance. 
Devotion to pleasure, extravagance in dress, excess 

1 Acts xxiv, 25. 2 Gal. v. 23. 3 Titus i. S. 

4 Phil. iv. 13. 5 1 Cor. ix. 27. 

57 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

in eating and drinking, need to be exorcised from 
our midst. One great hope, which cheers many- 
hearts to-day, is, that the War may impress upon 
the world the value of temperance in every de- 
partment of human life ; and that the spirit of 
self-denial manifest in the wonderful sacrifices 
made by millions may survive when peace is re- 
stored to the world. 

(4) hiKaioavvr), the fourth Platonic virtue, 
which Plato held to be the regulating principle 
of all the virtues, and, though last in order, yet 
first in importance, signified 4 moral uprightjtiess,' 
to which Aristotle added the idea of Justice, both 
reparative and distributive. In St. Paul's teach- 
ing this word is constantly used, but has generally 
a theological meaning. It stands for the whole 
content of moral perfection, as found in those who 
are ' in Christ.' It is the righteousness in which a 
man is clothed who stands in a spiritual relation 
to God as pardoned, and accepted, through Jesus 
Christ. It is not attained by human effort, but is 
a gift of Divine grace. St. Paul contrasts it with 
the righteousness which might be attained through 
human effort, and maintains its higher spiritual 
value. His desire was to gain Christ, and to be 
found in Him, 4 not/ he says, c having a righteous- 
ness of my own, even that which is of the law, 

58 



PAGAN MORALITY. 

but that which is through faith in Christ, the 
righteousness which is of God by faith.' x 

Su<aLo<Tvvr) is also used by St. Paul with an 
ethical meaning, as expressing right conduct to- 
wards men, 2 and includes the moral uprightness, 
and scrupulous justice, which the Greek philo- 
sophers taught. St. Paul's desire was to present 
every man perfect in Christ Jesus, and perfection 
involved the moral standard of the Platonic 
St/ccuos, but much more, even the attainment of 
the measure of the stature of the fulness of 
Christ. 

(b) To the pagan virtues already noted, St. 
Paul added the specially Christian virtues of 
humility and love. The importance attached to 
humility will be considered under the * passive 
virtues'; at present it will suffice to show its re- 
lation to the virtue of love. Pride and arrogance 
cannot exhibit Christian love ; a lowly estimate *- 
of self is needful for the exhibition of this 
supreme Christian virtue. The humble-minded 
man is not severe in his judgments of his fellow- 
men, for he knows his own failings, and he is 
quick to see goodness in others, because he is 

1 Phil. iii. 9. 

2 This use of the word is common in contemporary literature. 
otrtOTTjQ ptv Trpbg 0«6i>, dtieaioavvr} £t 7rpog dvOptinrovg SzuiptiTai. — Philo 
de Abraham, vol ii., p. 30, ed. Mang. 

59 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

striving to cultivate goodness in himself. Love 
grows readily where the soil is a kindly sym- 
pathetic view of others, and this was manifest in 
St. Paul's own history. He had been drawn to a 
richer life, not by his strict obedience to the law, 
but by realising that Christ loved him, and had 
given Himself for him. This Divine love pene- 
trated his whole being, and influenced all his 
relations towards his fellow-men. He never forgot 
that he had * obtained mercy/ l and this thought 
led him to desire to impart to others the love 
which he had experienced, in order that they 
might be partakers of its richness and fulness. 
This love, when appropriated by the soul, radiates 
out in love to God, and in love to all God's 
creatures. It has and can have no limits, and 
manifests itself in all the manifold modes set forth 
so wonderfully in i Cor. xiii. It is the unifying 
and regulating influence in every Christian life, 
and on the other hand reaches out to all human 
relations which are agreeable to the will of God. 2 
To St. Paul, it was a possession which could not 
be lost. He asks, 'Who shall separate us from 
the love of Christ? ' and, in a passage of match- 
less beauty, cries, C I am persuaded that neither 
death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor 

1 i Tim. i. 16. 2 Baunard, UAp&tre S.Jeattj p. 342. 
60 



PAGAN MORALITY. 

things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 
nor height, nor depth, nor any other thing shall 
be able to separate us from the love of God which 
is in Christ Jesus our Lord.' x 

Thus in St. Paul's ethics ' love ' occupies the 
supreme place. It is the source of all virtues, 
and takes the position in his ethics which is 
occupied by ZiKaioo-vvr} in the Platonic and 
Aristotelian philosophies. 

(c ) There are impressive differences to be noted 
between the classification of the virtues by the 
Greek teachers, and the ethical teaching of St. Paul. 
One of these is the difference of aim. The Greek 
philosophers did not attempt to give an exhaustive 
list of all the virtues, but to provide a general ) 
scheme, by the aid of which a virtuous life might ' 
be built up. They directed their ethical teaching 
towards good citizenship. The later Stoics ex- 
panded the idea of citizenship beyond the limits of 
the Greek state, and addressed their teaching to 
men, as citizens of the world. 

St. Paul's teaching regarding the Church, as 
the body of Christ, a Church wide as the universe, 
into which all men might enter, freed morality 
still further from limitations, and broadened its 
application to embrace every human being. He 

1 Rom. viii. 38, 39. 
61 



ST. FAUL'b ETHICAL TEACHING. 

laid down no such definite scheme of virtues as 
the Aristotelian, but he taught the most important 
elements of the adornment of a Christian life, and 
gave a spiritual principle, which, if followed, would 
provide for all men a means for reaching the 
perfection which was the ideal of his Master. 
It is in this loftiness and breadth of purpose, and 
^through its spiritual principle, that St. Paul's ethics 
rises above all pagan philosophies. The latter had 
advanced far in teaching rightness of purpose, in 
the choice of virtue for its own sake, in the control 
of vicious tendencies, all of which were essential 
points in Aristotle's scheme ; but no pagan philo- 
sopher could conceive right conduct apart from 
knowledge or wisdom, the heritage of the leisured 
and independent class. Aristotle had * no beati- 
tudes for the poor/ * Hence arose a two-fold 
morality ; a higher one for the learned, a lower one 
for the ignorant. St. Paul knew no such dis- 
tinction ; 'love' and 'spirituality' were possible 
for all men, and through these the loftiest heights 
of moral excellence might be reached. 

In maintaining the superiority of Christian 
ethics to that of the heathen world, there is no 
intention to belittle the advance which had been 
made by the Greek philosophers towards a higher 

1 Sidgwick, History of Ethics, p. 57. 
62 



PAGAN MORALITY. 

morality. It was partly upon their foundation 
that Christian teachers built, but they added what 
was lacking in the ideas of paganism, and through 
their additions, so profoundly modified the character 
of the moral conceptions they took over from the 
past as to make them practically new conceptions. 
The new conceptions had henceforth to be defined 
in relation to an environment of spiritual truth 
and fact, which did not exist for pre-Christian 
morality. Prof. Findlay says : ' The order and 
proportion of the virtues was changed, the moral { 
scenery of life was shifted.' x Strong remarks 
how the four cardinal virtues were transformed, 
when they were included in the ethical teaching 
of Thomas Aquinas, and of the greater school- 
men. 2 

It may seem at times that St. Paul altogether 
rejected the idea that Gentile morality had any 
worth. In the Ephesian epistle he wrote : ' This 
I say therefore and testify in the Lord that ye no 
longer walk as the Gentiles also walk, in the vanity 
of their mind, being darkened in their under- 
standing, alienated from the life of God, because of 
the ignorance that is in them, because of the harden- 
ing of their heart ; who being past feeling gave 

1 Christian Doctrine and Morals, p. 107. 

2 Christian Ethics, p. 141. 

63 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

themselves up to lasciviousness, to work all un- 
cleanness with greediness.' 1 Nothing can present 
to us a more lurid picture of Gentile degradation 
than the tremendous philippic in Romans i. That 
it is not an exaggeration can be abundantly proved 
from contemporary writings. Lecky and Gibbon 
both describe the condition of European morals 
as being utterly debased in the time when St. Paul 
wrote. But terrible as his indictment is, he did 
not fail to recognise that there were counter 
influences at work among the heathen. To these 
he refers in Romans ii : ' For when Gentiles, which 
have no law, do by nature the things of the 
law, these, having no law, are a law unto them- 
selves, in that they show the work of the law 
^ written in their hearts, their conscience bearing 
witness therewith, and their thoughts one with 
another accusing or else excusing them.' 2 These 
words show that St. Paul recognised that conscience 
./was still alive in the heathen world. Also, in 
rebuking the sin of the incestuous person, he 
refers to it as ' not even among the Gentiles.* 3 
Thus he notes that there was some standard of 
conduct, some sense of moral duty directing or 
restraining the Gentiles. It was to the ethical 
standard of the time that St. Paul appeals when 

1 Eph. iv. 17, 19. 2 Rom. ii. 14, 15. 3 1 Cor. v. 1. 

64 



PAGAN MORALITY. 

he says, c Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever 
things are honourable, whatsoever things are pure, 
whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things 
are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if 
there be any praise, think on these things/ 1 The 
inference to be drawn from all this is unmistak- 
able. In St. Paul's mind, to live in conformity 
with the Divine will meant, as McGiffert says, 2 to 
live in conformity with the universal human 
conscience. It meant of course much more than 
this, but never less. If honesty, industry, temper- 
ance, and justice were binding on a heathen, still 
more were they upon a Christian, and no properly 
instructed Christian could speak lightly of them. 
In a word, natural morality was the foundation 
which St. Paul assumed and on which he built. 
( Suppose/ says Dr. Knight, ' a cultivated Athenian 
youth to have embraced Christianity, the old virtues 
he had learnt would not be uprooted. He would 
still practise them, but they would be transformed ; 
he would never despise them. The new Christian 
ethics would not destroy, but fulfil them/ 3 

In our own time there is a pressing necessity 
for an ethical revival, a need of a higher morality 
within the brotherhood of the Church. When 

1 Phil. iv. 8. 2 See McGiffert's Apostolic Age, p. 507. 

3 The Christian Ethic, p. 62. 

65 F 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

^ 

Christians fall below the level of the irreligious 
in their moral conduct, if they are less honest, 
less truthful, less scrupulous, Christ is wounded 
in the house of His friends. The worst symptom 
of the decay of a Church is the weakening of its 
moral fibre, the blurring of the moral vision of its 
children. We need to remember that the firm 
foundation of God has a two-fold seal : ( The Lord 
knoweth them that are His,' and also, L Let every 
one that nameth the name of the Lord depart 
from unrighteousness.' * 

1 2 Tim. if. 19. 



66 



CHAPTER V. 

THE PASSIVE VIRTUES. 

T T has been seen that natural morality had 
reached a high point in the pagan philo- 
sophies, and that the virtues enjoined found a place 
in St. Paul's ethics ; but there is original teaching 
in Christianity which brings us to a type of ethical 
doctrine directly due to the influence of the life 
and teaching of Christ. This type is illustrated 
by a passage in the Epistle to the Colossians : 
^Put on therefore, as God's elect, holy and beloved, 
a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, meek- 
ness, long-suffering, forbearing one another, and 
forgiving each other ; if any man have a complaint 
against any, even as the Lord forgave you, so also 
do ye.' 1 J It is this class of ethical teaching that is 
now to be examined. We seek to find out what 
St. Paul meant by these and similar precepts : how 
a Christian must bear himself in adversity, and when 
suffering wrong from another. The consideration 
of the passive virtues has special interest in the 

1 Col. iii. 12, 13. 

67 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

present day, when the cry for reprisals in war comes 
from so many lips. We are bound to ask our- 
selves how would our Lord and His Apostles have 
responded to the cry. Does the defiance of all 
Christian morality on the part of enemies justify 
the lowering of the standard established by the 
moral consciousness of the Christian world, in 
consequence of the ethical teaching of the New 
Testament ? Are we to go back to the old 
Jewish ethics, ' an eye for an eye and a tooth for 
a tooth ? ' Our answer must surely be that the 
inculcation of the passive virtues is not for one 
time, but for all time ; they form part of the 
essentials of the Christian character, and cannot 
be set aside without peril to the whole of the ethics 
of our faith. 

St. Paul's Teaching. 

The remarkable fulness with which St. Paul 
deals with the passive virtues is significant. 
Omitting for the present his precepts regarding 
anger and resentment, we may group his teaching 
around three great ethical maxims : 

{a) c Doing nothing through faction or through 
vainglory, but in lowliness of mind, 
each counting other better than himself.' 1 

1 Phil. ii. 3. 

68 



THE PASSIVE VIRTUES. 

(J?) ' Love suffereth long and is kind.' * 

(c) ' Even as the Lord forgave you, so also 
do ye.' 2 

Humility, meekness, forgiveness — these are 
the root, the flower, and the fruit of the Christian 
temper. 

(i) TaireivofypocrvvY}. This word apparently 
gave some trouble to the revisers of the New 
Testament. It is rendered by 'humility,' 3 'low- 
liness,' 4 and ' lowliness of mind/ 5 The classical 
Greek raTreLvoTTjs had a sense of c meanness * 
attached to it, but St. Paul uses Ta7reLvo<f>po<rvi>y), 
as expressing a great Christian virtue, for through 
it he teaches a wise and lowly estimate of ourselves. 
The word stands before ' meekness ' and ' long- 
suffering,' in the Epistles to the Ephesians and 
to the Colossians, as though a right estimate of 
self was a preliminary to a right estimate of what 
is due to others. It describes the spirit of one 
who has come to the knowledge of himself in his 
relation to God. It is not so much a social as a 
religious virtue ; it has, first of all, reference not 
to man, but to God. This removes all idea of 
* meanness,' associated in former times with 
'humility.' It does not imply thinking about 
ourselves worse than we deserve, nor does it 

1 1 Cor. xiii. 4. a Col. iii. 13. 3 Col. iii. 12. 4 Eph. iv. 2. B Acts xx. 19. 

69 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

imply that we are to be trampled upon by our 
fellow-men at their pleasure. True humility sets 
us in the right attitude towards God, and removes 
all slavish fear of men. ' The first test of a truly 
great man,' says Ruskin, ' is his humility. But/ 
he continues, 'I do not mean by humility doubt of his 
own power or hesitation in speaking his opinions. 
. . . All great men not only know their business, 
but know that they know it, and are not only 
right in their main opinions, but they usually 
know that they are right in them ; only they do 
not think much of themselves on that account, 
and they do not expect their fellow-men therefore 
to fall down and worship them. They have a curious 
under-sense of powerlessness, feeling that the great- 
ness is not in them, but through them, and they 
could not do or be anything else than God made 
them.' * 

Humility, though it has reference primarily to 
God, yet has immediate results in our bearing 
towards others. Arrogance carries its head high 
and refuses to surrender one jot or tittle of what 
is due to it, but humility, remembering its past, 
always conscious of the Divine forgiveness, will 
v gladly bow its head. It is but natural that when 
St. Paul enjoins humility, he joins with it meekness 

1 Frondes AgresteS) p. 13. 
70 



THE PASSIVE VIRTUES. 

and long-suffering. Yet these two words, 7rpavT7)s 
and fAaKpodvfjLca, do not exhaust all that St. Paul 
has to say concerning our duty in the presence of 
suffering and wrong-doing, and some of the treasures 
which he brings to light are worth examination. 

(2) avTapKeia. The Stoics used this word to 
express independence of external circumstances. 
Socrates, when asked, ' Who is the wealthiest ? ' 
replied, 'He that is content with least, for avrdpKeia - 
is nature's wealth.' x St. Paul declared, * I have 
learned in whatsoever state I am, therein to be 
content.' 2 

Findlay says, c The Christian self-sufficiency is 
relative, it is an independence of the world, through 
dependence upon God/ The Stoic self-sufficiency 
pretends to be absolute ; the one is the content- 
ment of faith, the other of pride. Cato and Paul ■ 
both stand erect and fearless before a persecuting 
world, one with a look of rigid and defiant scorn, 
the other with a face lighted up with unutterable 
joy in God, now cast down with sorrow, now wet 
with tears for God's enemies. The Christian 
martyr and the Stoic suicide are the final examples 
of these two memorable and contemporaneous 
protests against the evils of the world.' 3 

1 Lightfoot, Epistle to Philippians, p. 161. 2 Phil. iv. 11. 

3 Christian Doctrine and Morals, p. 34. 

71 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

(3) vnofjiovT]} This word frequently occurs 
in St. Paul's writings, and usually means ( patience/ 
or * patient enduring.' But while our word 
4 patience ' is purely passive, in St. Paul's writings 
it is also 'active.' It implies not only endurance, 
but perseverance. It is the brave steadfastness 
of the man who, undaunted by difficulties, steers 
his course straight on towards his goal. 

The previous words describe the Christian 
temper under suffering. We turn now to a group of 
words in which the 'suffering ' is inflicted by others. 

(4) fjiaKpodvpia is the self-restraint which 
qoes not hastily seek for retaliation. As 
yXvKvdvfjLos means sweet-tempered, and d£v0vfjLos 
sharp-tempered, so fiaKpodvfXLa is literally long- 
temperedness. An attempt was made to introduce 
the word ' longanimity ' into our language, but it 
failed ; it would have exactly interpreted St. Paul's 

fJLCLKpO0VflLa. 

1 If we trace this word back to its place among the Platonic virtues, 
it will correspond to dvSpeia. But in the pagan scheme this virtue was 
almost entirely active. In the Christian Ethic, viro\iovi\ represents the 
spirit which follows the complete surrender of the life to God, and 
manifests itself in both doing and suffering. The pagan standpoint of 
self-complacency and self-sufficiency naturally made the prominent idea 
in divSpeia one of active conflict, and the passive element was sup- 
pressed, but in the Christian mode of contemplation the passive element 
is prominent, in connection with humility, surrender to God, and a 
holy love. It is the leading principle of Christianity that the world is 
overcome by suffering, even as Christ overcame. 

72 



THE PASSIVE VIRTUES. 

(5) TTpavTT]*; 1 (meekness). This word opposes 
all harshness or rudeness in our bearing towards 
others. The meek man thinks as little of his 
personal claims as the humble man of his personal - 
merits. The slight difference between ixaKpodvjxia 
and 7TpavT7)<; has been defined thus : the ' long- 
minded * man does not get angry soon, the fc meek- 
minded man ' does not get angry at all. But this 
distinction is not tenable, for, with all its com- 
mendations of meekness, the New Testament 
commends no man for inability to be angry. In 
translating TrpavT7)$ Bishop Lightfoot prefers 

4 gentleness ' to * meekness,' and describes it as a 
' characteristic of true spirituality.' 2 

(6) eVieueeia. This beautiful word has been 
a considerable trouble to our translators. In 
Acts xxiv. 4 it is translated ' clemency ' ; in 2 Cor. 
x. 1, ' gentleness* ; in Phil. iv. 5, the A.V. 
translates to inteiices ' moderation/ and the R.V. q 
' forbearance/ with ' gentleness ' in the margin, v 
' Sweet-reasonableness ' is Matthew Arnold's well- 
known equivalent. In Aristotle's Ethics^ the 
iirieiiajs stands in contrast to the d/cp^SoSwcaios, as 
being satisfied with less than his due.' 3 Bishop 

1 1 Cor. iv. 21 ; 2 Cor. x. I ; Gal. v. 23, vi. 1 ; Eph. iv. 2 ; 
Col. iii. 12 ; 2 Tim. ii. 15 ; Titus iii. 2. 

2 Epistle to Galatzans, p. 212. 3 Eth. Nic. t v. 10. 

73 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

Lightfoot reminds us that the quality of emeuceia 
was signally manifested in our Blessed Lord Him- 
self (2 Cor. x. i.) 1 . 

(7) xPV a " T ° T V' 5 - This word is rendered 'good' 
(Rom. iii. 12); c goodness' (Rom. ii. 4, xi. 22), 
but elsewhere 'kindness.' In Rom. xi. 22, it is 
set in contrast with airorofLia (severity). Bishop 

^Lightfoot says that the word is not * passive/ like 
fjLaKpoOvfjLLa, but ' neutral/ ' a kindly disposition 
towards one's neighbours, not necessarily taking a 
practical form,' 2 but it certainly has a passive side. 
Christ's yoke is ^3^0-705, as having nothing harsh 
or galling about it ; yet it has to be borne. 

(8) dve^LKaKos (patient of wrongs) is translated 
in R.V. as 'forbearing,' and is joined with ^mos 
(gentle) in the beautiful passage 2 Tim. ii. 24. 

In addition to these special precepts, we find 
frequent exhortations from St. Paul to his readers 
to be at peace both among themselves and with all 
men, 3 and to follow after things which make for 
peace. 4 

If humility is the foundation of Christian 

, : moral conduct, forgiveness (d^ecrts) is the crown. 5 

In our relations with our fellow-men, we cannot 

1 Epistle to Pkilippians, p. 15S. 2 Epistle to Galatians, p. 209. 
3 I Thess. v. 12 ; Rom. xii. 18. 4 Rom. xiv. 19. 

5 On the difference between afeaig and TrapsatQ see Trench's 
Synonyms. 

74 



THE PASSIVE VIRTUES. 

avoid meeting with those who make it their 
business to oppose us, and often are capable of 
inflicting injuries upon us. One of the greatest 
practical difficulties in the Christian faith is to 
preserve the spirit of Christ in our dealings with 
such persons. It is not sufficient to bear patiently 
with them, not enough to refuse to retaliate ; no 
negative position can suffice ; there must be positive 
forgiveness. St. Paul's teaching is perfectly clear 
on this point, and is in close agreement with the 
doctrine of Christ. Evil must be faced and 
overcome by good. The Corinthians, when 
suffering from a grievous scandal, caused by an 
evildoer in their church, are exhorted to forgive 
the penitent sinner, lest such an one be swallowed 
up by overmuch sorrow. 1 There is a fine ring 
in the exhortations : ' Bless them that curse you, 
bless and curse not.' ' If thine enemy hunger, 
feed him ; if he thirst, give him drink.' 2 ** The 
right attitude of the Christian man to his fellows 
is well expressed in the words;** Be ye kind one to 
another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, even 
as God also in Christ forgave you.' 3 \ * 

1 2 Cor ii. 7, 8. 2 Rom. xii. 14, 20. A Eph. iv. 32. 



75 



CHAPTER VI. 

THE PAULINE IDEAL. 

f^HE ethical doctrine thus sketched could not 
fail to attract attention, especially from those 
who had been educated in pagan surroundings. 
The greatest and noblest Greek philosophers, who 
discoursed so eloquently upon ' friendship,' had no 
message of kindness for enemies. The thirst for 
revenge is so strong in the natural man that a 
voice proclaiming it sinful was at least sure of a 
hearing. But the Pauline teaching was made a 
thousandfold more impressive because what it 
enjoined was also exhibited ; its ideal was there, 
set forth in a perfect human life. St. Paul's ethics 
was not constructed out of his own mind, but was 
the inevitable result of his knowledge of the actual 
life of Jesus. We have already noted that it has 
been asserted by many writers that, beyond the 
facts of the crucifixion and resurrection of our 
Lord, St. Paul had little acquaintance with His 
life and teaching. How untrue this statement is 
may be further shown from St. Paul's Epistles. 

76 



THE PAULINE IDEAL. 

He could say to the Philippians, ' Have this mind 
in you, which was also in Christ Jesus/ l and ^ 
proceed to show the humility and obedience which 
marked the life of our Lord. And, if St. Paul's 
exhortations concerning patience, meekness, and 
forgiveness, have weight with us to-day, it is because 
he reflects perfectly the life and teaching of Him 
who was meek and lowly of heart, ' Who, when 
He was reviled, reviled not again ; when He 
suffered, threatened not;' 2 and when He died, 
prayed for His murderers, * Father, forgive them, 
for they know not what they do.' 3 This relation 
between the Divine example and human duty is 
continually present to the mind of St. Paul in his 
reference to the passive virtues. The long-suffer- 
ing (jjiaKpoOvfJiia) and kindness (XPV (TT ° T V <; ) which 
we are to show in our dealings with others, are 
abundantly made manifest in God's dealings with 
us through His Son. 4 The forgiveness we receive 
from Him is the true measure of the forgiveness 
we must extend to others. St. Paul's method is, 
he begins with God, manifest in the historic 
Christ, the Incarnate Son, who stands in direct 
relation to man, and to whom man is united by 
faith in His redemption. From this relation St. 

1 Phil. ii. 5. " 1 Pet. ii. 23. 3 Luke xxiii. 24. 

* Rom. ii. 4, xi. 22. 

77 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

Paul deduces the character and measure of human 
obligation. Take, for instance, the great passage 
on the Incarnation, in Philippians ; there the self- 
emptying and humiliation of our Lord are brought 
before us, to lend emphasis to the exhortation to 
be lowly-minded : * Have this mind in you, which 
was also in Christ Jesus.' x In 2 Thess. the Apostle 
prays, * The Lord direct your hearts into the love 
of God, and into the patience of Christ/ 2 Again 
he writes, ' I entreat you by the meekness and 
gentleness of Christ.' 3 Here, once more, the 
radiant figure of Christ seems to be present before 
the Apostle as he pens his epistle to his beloved 
Corinthians. 

But it was in the Cross of Christ that St. Paul 
found the supreme manifestation of the love which 
suffereth long, and is kind. ' Being reviled, we 
bless ; being persecuted, we endure ; being defamed, 
we entreat.' 4 4- Where was this hard lesson learnt ? 4- 
Surely at the foot of the Cross, where Incarnate 
Love suffered and was yet undimmed. 

Before we pass from St. Paul's teaching on the 
passive virtues we may well pause to note once 
more that these virtues were all exhibited in his own 
life. He never ceased to be humbled by the thought 

1 Phil. ii. 5-8. - 2 Thess. iii. 5. 3 2 Cor. a. i. 

4 I Cor. iv. 12. 

78 



THE PAULINE IDEAL. 

of God's infinite mercy, in revealing His Son in 
him. 1 We may discern in his epistles the manner 
in which his humility deepened, as he acquired a 
richer knowledge of the Divine Love. He writes 
to the Corinthians, ' I am not meet to be called an 
apostle, because I persecuted the Church of 
Christ/ 2 

At a later period of his life, when a prisoner at 
Rome, he writes, c Unto me, who am less than the 
least of all saints ' 3 ; and, still later, to Timothy^ 
' Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, 
of whom I am chief.' 4 'Unworthy to be an 
apostle ' ; ' less than the least of all saints ' ; i chief 
sinner/ Can we doubt the deep humility of the 
great Apostle, who strove to be an imitator of Him 
of whom he said, ( He humbled himself 7 ? 5 

1 Gal. i. 16. 2 I Cor. xv. ix. 3 Eph. iii. 8. 

4 i Tim. i. 15. 5 Phil. ii. 8. 



79 



CHAPTER VII. 

DIVERGENCE OF PAGAN AND CHRISTIAN 

ETHICS ESTABLISHED BY THE CHRISTIAN 

LAW OF FORGIVENESS. 

' I ''HERE can be no clearer indication of the 
estimate put upon humility, in pre-Christian 
times, than the fact already noted that the Greek 
language had no word of good credit to represent 
it. Bishop Lightfoot says, ' In heathen writers, 
TairtivQS has always a bad meaning — grovelling, 
abject. In Aristotle, for example, rcwreivos is 
associated with av^pairohmhi)^ in Plato with 
avekevdepos, in Arrian with ayevvrjs. ' It was one 
great result of the life of Christ to raise 
" humility " to its proper level, and if not freshly 
coined for this purpose, the word raTreivo^poo-vvy] 
J now first became current, through the influence of 
Christian ethics.' * There is one occasion in the 
New Testament when the word has not a praise- 
worthy meaning.' 2 In this case St. Paul is quoting 

1 Epistle to Philippians, note on ii, 3. 2 2 Cor. x. i. 

80 



PAGAN AND CHRISTIAN ETHICS. 

the sneers current in Corinth at his expense ; the 
speakers knew the word only as one of contempt. 
Twice in the Colossian Epistle l St. Paul uses the 
word in disparagement. These are the only ex- 
ceptions to the general rule. 

No less sharp is the contrast between paganism 
and Christianity in the case of forgiveness. There 
are isolated cases of generosity towards enemies, 
but these cannot efface the deep distinction between 
pagan and Christian practice. Plutarch tells us 
that the inscription on the tomb of Sulla was, 
' No man did ever pass him, neither in doing good 
to his friends nor in doing mischief to his enemies.' 
The stern, hard, cold Roman, who knew no feeling 
of pity for his enemies, and is continually appearing 
in ancient history, was typical of the pagan attitude 
towards those who had given offence, a type exactly 
the opposite of the Christian as sketched by St. 
Paul. 

While praising the passive virtues, it is neces- 
sary to bear in mind how easily they are counter- 
feited ; there is a pride which apes humility. - 
One of the most striking characters of Charles 
Dickens was always professing his humility, while 
acting in the most despicable way. Also meek- 
ness does not mean tameness ; to be poor in spirit 

1 Col. ii. 18, 23. 

8l G 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

does not mean poor-spirited. The nature which 
exercises self-restraint and avoids self-assertion has 
nothing in common with the amiability which 
merely strives to please. Nor does a forgiving 
spirit imply complacency towards evil and an in- 
ability to show anger. It is far from being true 
that love and anger cannot dwell together in the 
same mind. The truth is, that he who has lost 
the power to be angry has lost much of his power 
to love. 

The various misconceptions of the passive 
virtues usually spring from the idea that they are 
all in some way or another associated with weak- 
ness. Such is not St. Paul's conception. No one 
was more passively virtuous than he was, yet no 
one could flame out in righteous anger more 
vehemently than he. On one memorable occasion 
he withstood St. Peter to the face, because he 
stood condemned. 1 St. Paul knew when to give 
way and when to stand firm. His passivity of 
soul never affected his moral energy, and we find 
him not only enjoining all patience and long- 
suffering, but praying that the Colossians may be 
able to practise these virtues, by being strengthened 
with all power, according to the might of His 
glory. 2 Men never need more the strength 

1 Gal. ii. II. 2 Col. i. n. 

82 



PAGAN AND CHRISTIAN ETHICS. 

which comes from God than when they are called 
upon to forbear and to forgive. ' Stronger is he 
that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.' r ~~ 
Although it is asserted that Christianity has 
done little to make men forgiving, and the present 
War presents a saddening spectacle to all who 
love the teaching of Christ and His Apostles, 
yet there is no need to despair. Many strong- 
holds, in which evil seemed impregnable in heathen 
times, have fallen before the assaults of Chris- 
tianity. Revenge, it has been truly said, is J 
the last stronghold of the natural man. It is the 
last position he holds against the spirit of the 
Gospel, and some day it will fall as other strong- 
holds of evil have fallen. It must never be forgotten 
that forgiveness is the peculiar characteristic of 
Christianity, as the author of Ecce Homo points out, 
and when a Christian spirit is spoken of, it is a for- 
giving spirit which is usually meant. The pagan 
in us all dies hard, but when from our hearts we 
have learnt to forgive he receives his death-blow. 



83 



CHAPTER VIII. 

THE INTELLECTUAL VIRTUES. 

jf ECKY, in his History of European Morals, 
^^ makes the serious charge against early 
Christianity that the new faith made no appeal to 
the intellectual virtues, and brought about a 
' complete overthrow of intellectual freedom/ In 
making this charge, which is practically a claim 
for more freedom in religious thought, Lecky 
overlooks the point that in the case of secular 
knowledge there is no established * deposit of 
truth,' variance from which involves sin, and there- 
fore philosophers are at liberty to discuss such 
themes to their hearts' content. But in Chris- 
tianity there is a depositum fidei, disagreement from 
which involves heresy and leads to schism, sins 
which are condemned by St. Paul. Intellectual 
activity is not denied to Christians, but the activity 
must not run counter to the revelation of God in 

8 4 



THE INTELLECTUAL VIRTUES. 

Jesus Christ ; it must be limited within bounds, 
which include all the truths taught by our Lord 
and His Apostles. 1 

Not only does Lecky charge early Christianity 
with a lack of intellectual freedom, but also he 
places the period which followed the conversion of 
Constantine as lower in intellectual virtues than 
any other period in the history of mankind, and 
says : ' The noble love of truth, the sublime and 
scrupulous justice to opponents, which was the 
glory of the ancient philosophers, was for centuries 
after the destruction of philosophy almost unknown 
in the world.' 2 The controversies of the early 
Church reveal an intolerance of opposition and an 
intensity of bigotry which left an evil example to 
later ages, and still mar many characters which are, 
in other spheres of conduct, conspicuous for their 
virtue. The duty of thinking, the sacredness of 
fact, the fearless love of truth, the obligation to 
avoid passion and prejudice, have never received 
from the general body of Christian men the full 
and ungrudging recognition that is their due. 
While this is admitted, it ought to be clearly 
recognised that the failure is due to the manifesta- 
tion of Christianity in history rather than 10 its 

1 See I Tim i. 18-20 ; 1 Tim. vi. 3 ; 2 Tim. ii. 16-18. 
2 Vol. I., pp. 176 (footnote), 428; Vol. II. , p. 15. 

8; 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

original spirit, as revealed in the New Testament. 
No fair-minded reader of St. Paul's Epistles could 
charge their writer with either credulity or bigotry. 
These remarkable documents, many of them 
written long before the Gospels, constitute the 
earliest and most authoritative exposition of the 
mind of Christ in our possession, and are remark- 
able for the reverent freedom and boldness with 
which the Apostle allows his mind to play around 
the solemn themes of which he writes. It is to 
this general attitude that we turn, rather than 
to specific texts (although these are not wanting) 
in order to learn what may be called the ethics of 
the intellect according to St. Paul. 

(a) In the first place, St. Paul was a deep 
thinker. ' He belongs/ says Sabatier, ' to the 
family of powerful dialecticians ; he ranks with 
Plato, with Augustine and Calvin, with Schlier- 
macher, Spinoza, Hegel. An imperious necessity 
compelled him to give his belief full dialectic 
expression, and to raise it above contradictories. 
Having affirmed it, he confronts it at once with its 
opposite, and his faith is incomplete until it has 
triumphed over this antithesis and reached a point 
of a higher unity.' 1 Immediately after his con- 
version he went into the solitude of the Arabian 

1 The Apostle Paul, p. 89. 
86 



THE INTELLECTUAL VIRTUES. 

desert, to think out the new revelation given to 
him. 1 

That St. Paul was in possession of all the main 
elements of the Gospel, before he began to preach 
it, is certain. His thoughts kept pace with his 
missionary zeal. As he entered upon new fields 
of thought, and gathered certainty in his new 
faith, he pressed forward into new fields of service. 
The powerful emotional appeals in the Pauline 
Epistles have often obscured, to the reader, the 
underlying intellectuality of his thought. The 
Christian heart has been warmed by his glow, 
but the Christian intellect has not always followed 
his powerful dialectic. And not only was St. 
Paul himself a thinker, but also he expected his 
readers to be thinkers also. While it is probably 
true, as recent writers like Ramsay and Dobschutz 
have pointed out, that the early Christian Churches 
were by no means so exclusively composed of the 
poor and uncultured, as has been too hastily 
gathered from the language of i Cor. i. 26, 27, yet 
these classes were undoubtedly largely attracted 
by the message of hope contained in the Gospel. 2 
Dobschutz points out that though St. Paul says 

1 Gal. i. 17. 

2 Ramsay's Church in the Roman Empire, pp. 44, 147 ; St. Paul 
the Traveller, p. 130. 

87 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

' not many ' wise after the flesh, * not many ' 
mighty, ' not many ' noble are called, yet we 
must distinguish between ' not many ' and ' not 
any/ Occasionally St. Paul indicates that persons 
of superior rank were among his converts. Law- 
suits concerning property indicate a certain social 
standing. Men like Stephanus, Erastus, and 
Philemon must have been well to do. The 
Apostle asked for a large contribution to the 
Relief Fund from the Corinthians, 2 and although 
he refused help for his own maintenance the reason 
was a special one. It was not on account of the 
poverty of the members of the Church. People 
who discussed the superiority of the Alexandrian 
allegorical style of teaching of Apollos could not 
have been devoid of culture. Could illiterate 
people have followed the arguments of the 
Epistles to the Romans, and to the Ephesians? 
Would the argument for the resurrection, in 
i Cor. xv., be intelligible to uncultivated slaves? 
Even in the present day there are comparatively 
few persons who are able to understand and profit 
by the acute dialectic of the Apostle. From these 
considerations we may fairly conclude that large 
numbers of educated and refined persons were in- 
cluded among the earliest converts to Christianity. 

1 i Cor. xvi. 2-5. 

88 



THE INTELLECTUAL VIRTUES. 

Another charge against early Christianity is 
made by Professor Knight, who speaks of the un- 
reflective manner in which the first Christians 
embraced the Christian religion : l They seized it 
first of all,' he says, ' by intuition, by unsophisti- 
cated feeling and the response of the heart/ while 
reflection followed afterwards. 1 There is a certain 
truth in this : Christianity was not preached as a 
philosophy. When, at Athens, St. Paul attempted 
to present it in philosophical language the result 
was a failure : its appeal was to the felt needs of 
man, and it first stirred the heart ; but this does 
not prove that the mind remained dormant and 
unreflective. Dr. Stalker is much nearer the 
truth when he says : ' Christianity, as it went 
through the cities of the world in St. Paul's person, 
must have gone as a great intellectual awakening, 
which taught men to use their minds, investigating 
the profoundest problems of life.' 2 Can we sup- 
pose that those who used curious arts at Ephesus 
burnt their books out of a purely emotional feel- 
ing ? Their dupes were doubtless stupid and 
superstitious, but they themselves were probably 
intellectual enough to make their calling profitable 
to themselves. 

As an illustration of St. Paul's intellectual 

The Christian Ethic, pp. 9, 10. 2 The Preacher and his Models^ p. 244. 

89 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

temper we may note his high regard for. truth, 
in spite of his Rabbinical casuistry, which will be 
discussed later. First, among the things which 
were to be the subject of Christian meditation, 
stand ' Whatsoever things are true.' 1 First, in the 
Christian soldier's equipment, is the girdle of 
truth. 2 To the Thessalonians he writes, ' Prove 
all things, hold fast that which is good.' 3 His 
converts are not to be as children tossed to 
and fro by every wind of doctrine, but to be 
'followers of the truth in love.' 4 Christianity, 
according to St. Paul, has a message of truth to 
the world. ' Our exhortation/ he writes to the 
Thessalonians, ' is not of error, nor of unclean- 
ness, nor in guile/ 5 He is confident that his 
doctrines are true, as his own motives were pure. 
He does not corrupt the word of God, nor handle 
it deceitfully, but commends himself to every 
man's conscience in the sight of God. 6 He urges 
Titus in his teaching to show ' uncorruptness ' ; 
and exhorts Timothy to prove himself a workman 
that needed not to be ashamed, handling aright the 
word of truth. 7 It is significant that each epistle 
of the captivity, with the exception of the short 
letter to Philemon, contains a prayer that its 

1 Phil. iv. 8. 3 I Thess. \. 21. 5 t Thess. ii. 3. 7 2 Tim. ii. 15. 
Eph. vi. 14. i Eph. iv. 15. c 2 Cor. ii. 17. 

90 



THE INTELLECTUAL VIRTUES. 

readers may be led into a fuller understanding of 
the Gospel they had received. ^ I cease not to give 
thanks for you, making mention of you in my 
prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Father of glory, may give you the spirit of 
wisdom and understanding in the knowledge of-. 
Him, having the eyes of your heart enlightened. U* 
The great aim of the Apostle was that his converts 
should grow in all the virtues of the intellect, 
should be perfectly truthful, and filled with wisdom 
and understanding. \ 

(b) Their Place in the subsequent 
History of the Church. 

When we pass from the New Testament period 
to the subsequent history of the Church, we are con- 
scious of a rapid descent. The intellectual virtues 
seem to suffer immediate and disastrous collapse. 
Forgeries and pious frauds abound. Through long 
ages it seems as though there was no such thing as an 
ethic of intellect, as if mental morality had ceased to 
exist. The picture is not quite so black as Mr. Lecky 
would have us believe, and the faults were not 
peculiar to early Christianity ; they were the faults 
of the general intellectual character of the time. 
Christians, as Mr. Lecky admits, in numberless 

1 Eph. i. 16-18 ; see also Phil. i. 9, 10 ; Col. i. 9-11. 
9 1 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

cases refused to act a lie, and comply with heathen 
forms of worship, even to save their lives. They 
stood forward as representatives of a moral prin- 
ciple utterly unknown, even amongst the most 
truth-loving philosophers of the Pagan world. 
Even Marcus Aurelius failed to understand their 
inflexibility in maintaining what they held to be 
true, and ascribed their conduct to obstinacy. 

Although Christians may well be proud of the 
martyr-spirit, which was so conspicuous in the 
early centuries of the Church, yet we cannot but 
deplore the endless number of forged documents, 
which, as Mr. Lecky says, ' is one of the most 
disgraceful features of the Church history of the 
first few centuries.' x Milman says, * Christian 
gratitude and reverence soon began to be discon- 
tented with the silence of the authentic writings as 
to the fate of the twelve chosen companions of 
Christ. It began first with some modest respect 
for truth, but soon with bold defiance of pro- 
bability to lighten their obscure course, till each 
might be traced, by the blaze of miracle, into 
remote regions of the world, where it is clear 
that, if they had penetrated, no record of their 
existence was likely to survive.' 2 On the ground 

1 History of Etiropean Morals % vol. i., p. 34 (footnote). 

2 History of Christianity, vol. ii., p. 13. 

92 



THE INTELLECTUAL VIRTUES. 

of a supposed correspondence with St. Paul, Seneca 
was claimed by Jerome as 'one of us/ 1 The 
Acts of Paul and Thecla was the composition of 
a presbyter who, when he was convicted, confessed 
that he had written it out of love to St. Paul. 
The Ignatian epistles were largely interpolated, at 
an early period, in the interests of the monarch- 
ical episcopate. The Sibylline oracles were most 
amazing pious frauds, which put into the lips of 
ancient heathens predictions of the Messiah and 
His sufferings, and of the overthrow of the Roman 
power. In the Jewish ' Testament of the Twelve 
Patriarchs/ there are notorious Christian interpola- 
tions. 2 It was a credulous age, and Christian 
morality suffered in the general low respect for 
truth. Bitter taunts, like that of a famous Ger- 
man historian, who classes Christian veracity with 
( Punic faith/ owe their sting to the ignoble 
methods of men, who thought they could serve 
the kingdom of God by a lie. 

(<:) The Place of the Intellectual Vir- 
tues in the Life of the Church To-day. 

If we inquire, whether in the Church's life 
to-day the great Pauline tradition is being main- 

l Adv. Jov. i. 49 ; * Scripserunt Aristoteles et Plutarchus et noster Seneca.' 
2 So also in Esdras iv. 

93 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

tained, the answer must be 'yes' and c no.' 
We have moved far from the time when the 
deliberate falsification of documents was con- 
doned in the interests of the Church; so far, 
that we are perhaps inclined to be too severe 
in our judgments of those whose moral standards 
were not and could not be ours ; yet, even now, 
the place of intellect in religion is very imper- 
fectly recognised. By most Christians it is re- 
garded with suspicion, and many are satisfied to 
preach what is considered to be ' orthodox religion/ 
without much intellectual interest in the contents 
of the Christian revelation. The unspeakably 
foolish depreciation of theology, the wide gulf 
which often separates the Christian evangelist 
from the Christian scholar ; the tendency to exalt 
1 feeling ' in religion ; the sheer intellectual lazi- 
ness of many congregations, lulled to indifference 
by the ' intellectual laziness of many clergymen': 
all witness to the fact that there is a very feeble 
recognition of the value of intellect in our present- 
day religion. We ought to see that this is fraught 
with peril to the future of the Church. Every 
day men drift away into unbelief, because they 
find out, as they grow older, that they have never 
grasped religion as an intellectual truth. Their 
general intellectual outlook has been slowly widen- 

94 



THE INTELLECTUAL VIRTUES. 

ing, while their religious outlook has remained 
unchanged. Then, when they have failed to find 
the reconciling point between the faith of child- 
hood and the larger knowledge of mature intel- 
ligence, they drift into scepticism. The only hope 
lies in the recognition that the Gospel has its 
definite message, which can edify the souls of the 
simple without affronting the intelligence of the 
wise ; in the realisation that the true evangel is 
one in which zeal and culture, religion and theo- 
logy, the heart and the intellect, are yoked 
together in a common service. 



95 



CHAPTER IX. 

THE ETHICS OF SPEECH. 

T N his ethical teaching, it was impossible for 
A St. Paul to overlook sins of the tongue. The 
Greeks were especially prone to these sins, as we 
may learn from many passages in their literature. 
Athens is described by pagan dramatists and 
satirists as a city full of scandal. St. Luke de- 
scribes the Athenians of his day as caring for 
nothing, except speaking and hearing some new 
thing. If St. James, writing to the more serious 
Hebrews, found it necessary to emphasise the 
danger to religion from a want of restraint in 
language, we should expect that St. Paul would 
not be silent regarding it, in giving advice to the 
more quick-witted Greeks. Although his writings 
contain no such definite statements of the danger 
of the misuse of language, as we find in St. James's 
Epistle, 1 there is a remarkable list of sins of speech 
named by him, especially in his later Epistles ; 
when the care of all the Churches weighed heavily 

1 James i. 19, iii. 2-12. 

96 



THE ETHICS OF SPEECH. 



on his mind during his captivity at Rome. The 
list, with the English equivalent adopted by the 
R.V., is as follows : 

alorxpokoyta . shameful speaking. 1 

fiXacrtfryjiJLia . . railing. 2 

(f3\d(r<l>7}fios . . railer or blasphemer. 3 ) 
The verb fikacrfyriiieiv frequently occurs. 

ivrpomekia . . jesting. 4 

KarakaKid . . backbiting. 5 

(KardXakos . . backbiter. 6 ) 

Kpavyij . . . clamour. 7 

\6yos (Tempos . corrupt speech. 8 

fjuaraioXoyia . . vain talking. 9 

(p,aTaio\6yos . . vain-talker. 10 ) 

fimpokoyia . . foolish talking. 11 

iridavoXoyia . . persuasiveness of speech. 12 

iriKpia .... bitterness. 13 

xfjevSos . . . falsehood u (i/fewmys, 

xjsevBokoyos). 

\jji0vpto-fi6s . . whispering. 15 

(\jjL0vpta-Tyjs . . whisperer. 16 ) 

This long list of sins of speech would lead us 

1 Col. iii. 8. 2 Eph. iv. 31 ; Col. iii. 8 ; 1 Tim. vi. 4. 

3 1 Tim. i. 13 ; 2 Tim. iii. z.. a - Eph. v. 4. 5 2 Cor. xii. 2a 

6 Rom. i. 30. 7 Eph. iv. 31. 8 Eph. iv. 29. 
10 Titus i. 10. n Eph. v. 4. 

13 Rom. iii. 14 ; Eph. iv. 31. u Eph. iv. 25. 
16 Rom. 1.30. 



9 1 Tim. i. 6. 
12 Col. ii. 4. 
15 2 Cor. xii. 20. 



97 



H 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

to expect a full treatment of the ethics of speech, 
but no formal discussion is found in the Epistles. 
Warning is given against careless folly in conver- 
sation, while definite sins of speech are sternly 
rebuked, as being unfitting in those who were 
called to be saints. The great point to be noted 
is, that St. Paul regards the Christian life as one 
which ought to stand out as an example to the 
heathen world, and exhibit restraint from language, 
not necessarily evil, but marking frivolity of mind. 
Christians were to be filled with the Spirit. Speak- 
ing to each other (or in themselves) * in psalms, 
and hymns, and spiritual songs ; singing and 
making melody in your heart to the Lord.' 1 
It may seem that this is a hard saying, which 
few could heed; but St. Paul had a high standard, 
and was bound to set it before his readers as 
worthy of their attainment. The following divi- 
sions may help us to bring out in some connected 
form the ethical teaching of St. Paul on this 
subject. 

(a) Idle Words. 

Bishop Butler warns against the disposition 
* to be talking/ — ' abstracted from the considera- 
tion of what has to be said, with very little or no 

1 Eph. v. 19. 

98 



THE ETHICS OF SPEECH. 

regard to, or thought of doing harm or good/ 
To this category belong the passages i Tim. v. 1 3, 
* withal they (the younger widows) learn also to 
be idle, going about from house to house ; and not 
only idle, but tattlers ((frXvapot,) also, and busy- 
bodies, speaking things they ought not/ <j>Xvapos, 
Ellicott says, indicates one who indulges in a bab- 
bling, profluent way of talking. 1 In Eph. v. 4 
foolish talking ( fjLcjpoXoyia) is one of the things 
named as unbefitting saints. The word denotes a 
random way of talking, which often passes into 
sin. It is that talk which is ' foolishness and sin 
together/ 2 Eph. iv. 29, 'Let no corrupt speech 
proceed out of your mouth/ It may perhaps be 
thought that this belongs to another category, but 
<ra7rp6<5 is used not only of that which is ' corrupt,' 
but of that which is "worthless/ 3 Corrupt speech 
is condemned in the following chapter ; here it is 
against inept useless talk that St. Paul warns his 
readers. 

Talkativeness is one of those bad habits which 
few people take seriously ; the satire of Horace 
scathes the talkative man, and brands him as a bore, 
and modern judgment rarely goes further. How 
far this is from the tremendous saying of Jesus, * I 

1 Ellicott's Pastoral Epistles, note on I Tim. v. 13. 

2 Trench's Synonyms, p. 121. 3 Matt. xii. 33, xiii. 48. 

99 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

say unto you, that every idle word that men shall 
speak, they shall give account thereof in the 
day of judgment.' With these words ringing in 
our ears, we may need to ask, what is the sin in 
idle words ? This question was answered by 
Bishop Butler in his sermon f On the government 
of the tongue.' He admits that speech was given 
to man not only to minister to his needs, but also 
for his enjoyment, and that this secondary use is 
in every respect allowable and right. If men will 
avoid forbidden paths 3 then their conversation may 
be as free and unreserved as they please. But 
great talkers, people who delight in talking for talk- 
ing s sake, are always on the edge of saying more 
than they know, and, as St. Paul says about tattlers 
and busybodies, of speaking things they ought 
not. This unrestrained wantonness of speech is 
productive of much evil. It begets resentment in 
him who is the subject of it ; sows the seeds of 
strife and dissension among others ; influences little 
disgusts and offences, which if left alone would 
wear away of themselves. It has often as bad an 
effect upon the good name of others as deep envy 
and malice, and it certainly destroys and perverts 
a certain equity of the utmost importance to 
society to be observed, viz., that praise and dis- 
praise of a good or bad character should always be 

IOO 



THE ETHICS OF SPEECH. 

bestowed according to desert. The tongue used 
in a licentious manner is like a sword in the 
hands of a madman, it is employed at random, it 
can scarcely do any good, it often does harm. 
Wherefore let no worthless and good-for-nothing 
speech proceed out of your mouth. 1 

(b) Evil Speaking. 

From much speaking to evil speaking the 
transition is easy. On this subject a small group 
of precepts may be found in St. Paul's writings. 
Twice in the Pastoral Epistles he warns women 
against degenerating into ' slanderers ' (Sia/?oAot). 
There is no temper of mind so entirely unchristian, 
none that deserves so well the strongest censure, 
as that shown by the slanderer. Tennyson 
emphasises this in the lines : 

* Slander, meanest spawn of Hell, 
And women's slander is the worst.' 

What St. Paul warns against is not the kind 
of slander against which the law of libel provides 
a remedy; but those slanders which are too subtle 
for the law to deal with, and which are yet capable 
of inflicting grave injury upon the slandered. 
The shrug of the shoulder when a person is men- 

] On the subject of Talkativeness, see Plutarch's De Garrulitate. 
IOl 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

tioned ; the lifting of the eyebrow ; nay, even a 
marked silence, is sufficient to do the mischief. It 
is against these subtle forms of slander that the 
Christian must be on his guard, resolved neither 
by word nor by gesture to give a false impression 
of a fellow-man. 1 The Apostle says, ' Put them 
in mind to speak evil of no man.' 2 And ' Let all 
railing (/3Xaor</>?7/xia) be put away from you,' 3 and 
4 all shameful speaking (ai<r)(p6koyia) out of your 
mouth/ 4 alcr)(po\oyia has a double meaning, 
either * filthy communication,' such as manifests 
an impure mind; or, more generally, foul-mouthed 
abusiveness. In this passage the more general 
meaning is to be preferred. Evil-speaking has been 
reprobated by morality in every age. The Son of 
Sirach says, ' A backbiting tongue has disquieted 
many, . . . strong cities hath it pulled down, and 
overturned the houses of great men/ 5 It is still 
an evil in every community ; and persons, who 
shrink from physical violence, have no hesitation 
in taking away the good name of another. Three 
things are needful to stay this plague of evil- 
speaking : 

(i) Butler's warning against talking for talk- 

1 On this subject see Robertson's sermon on * The Tongue 
{Sermons, 3rd series). 

2 Titus iii. 2. 3 Eph. iv. 31. * Col. iii. 8. 5 Ecclus. xxviii. 14. 

102 



THE ETHICS OF SPEECH. 

ing's sake ; for when other topics are exhausted, it 
is easy to turn to defamation and scandal. 

(2) To avoid talking of the concerns and be- 
haviour of our neighbours. This does not mean 
that all talk about persons is to be banished from 
our talks and firesides, for persons must always be 
to us the chief interest of life. The pity of it is 
that we turn our attention more to the failings of 
others than to their virtues. We are quick to 
recognise their faults, and free in our discussion of 
them. It is only the spirit of love which can keep 
us within the limits of safety in conversation about 
others. Herbert Spencer says, ' If you want to 
estimate any one's mental calibre, you cannot do 
better than by observing the ratio of generalities 
to personalities in his talk — how the simple truths 
about individuals are replaced by truths abstracted 
from numerous experiences of men and things/ l 
There is a certain truth in these words, but it 
overlooks the fact that most of the interest of our 
lives is derived from those with whom we come in 
contact, and it is no sign of deficiency of intellect 
to discuss them in a kindly and friendly spirit. 
Epictetus also goes too far when he says, ' Let 
silence be your general rule, or say only that 
which is necessary, and in a few words . . . 

1 Study oj Sociology ', p. 32. 
103 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

above all, avoid speaking of persons, either in 
the way of praise, or blame, or comparison.' 

(3) As we utter no slander, so we must not 
listen to it. The dealer in slander seeks a market 
for his wares. If men refused to listen, his 
wretched business would soon come to an end. 
No man cares to talk without an audience. When 
our ears are closed to the voice of the slanderer, 
his mouth will soon be stopped. 

(c) Corrupt Speech. 

Corrupt speech may or may not be the correct 
translation of \6yos a-cmpo?, which St. Paul for- 
bids in Ephesians. 1 If it is ' corrupt,' there is an 
interesting parallel in Colossians, ' Let your speech 
be always with grace, seasoned with salt/ 2 That 
is, let your speech be always wholesome and un- 
tainted, alcrxpokoyia, as we have seen, has the 
meanings of both * abusive ' and l foul ' speech. 
aioxpoTTfs 3 is 'filthiness/ whether of word, gesture, 
or deed ; it includes all indecent talk. The word 
translated jesting {evrpa7rekia\ which is joined to 
ai<rxp6T7)$, and declared to be ' unfitting/ does not 
forbid pure and wholesome mirth. Bright flashes 
of wit, pleasant gleams of kindly humour, are 
amongst the joys which light up the dulness of our 

1 iv. 29. 2 Col. iv. 6. 3 Eph. v, 4. 

104 



THE ETHICS OF SPEECH. 

lives. tvTpaTrekia had at first a harmless meaning. 
As its derivation implies, its original meaning was 
' versatility ' in manner or speech. But gradually 
the word took a darker ethical meaning, and 
degenerated into low jesting ; the kind of wit 
which has a savour of impurity. Dr. Dale says : 
' The jesting which St. Paul describes as " not 
befitting " is the kind of conversation that reaches 
its perfection in a civilised, luxurious, and brilliant 
society, which has no faith in God, no reverence 
for moral law, no sense of the grandeur of human 
life, no awe in the presence of the mystery of death. 
In such a society, to which the world is the scene 
of a pleasant comedy, in which all men are actors, 
a polished insincerity, and a versatility which is 
never arrested by strong and immovable convic- 
tions, are the objects of universal admiration. 
The foulest indecencies are applauded, if they are 
conveyed under the thin disguise of a graceful 
phrase, a remote allusion, an ingenious ambiguity. 
There is a refinement to which, not vice itself, but 
the coarseness of vice, is distasteful, and which 
regards with equal resentment the ruggedness of 
virtue. This is the kind of jesting that St. Paul 
so sternly condemns/ 1 

1 Lectures on EphesianS) p. 331. See also Ellicott on Ephesians, 
p. 114, and Trench's Synonyms^ p. 121. 

I05 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

(d} Untruthfulness. 

With regard to this vice St. Paul is emphatic. 
' Lie not one to another' 1 ; * Putting away false- 
hood, speak ye truth each one with his neigh- 
bour/ 2 He warns the Colossians not to be led 
away by ' persuasiveness of speech ' {TtiQavokoyia)? 
Deacons must not be ' double-tongued/ 4 In his 
own dealings with his converts, St. Paul repudiates 
any suspicion of fickleness in his conduct. 5 In his 
list of law-breakers, when he mentions men guilty 
of most atrocious crimes, he adds liars and false- 
swearers. 6 St. Paul does not refer to those ques- 
tions of casuistry, which are so often discussed by 
moralists. There are cases when it is possible to 
deviate from strict truth without immorality. In 
medicine, in war, in diplomacy, it has been always 
recognised that latitude is permissible. It is not 
regarded as sinful for a lonely woman, when faced 
with possible violence, to pretend she has a pro- 
tector near at hand ; but such cases are seldom 
met with in life, and do not affect the general 
principle of truthfulness in our relations with 
others. 

In the consideration of St. Paul's precepts, it is 
hardly necessary to speak of the grosser forms of 

1 Col. iii. 9. 2 Eph. iv. 25. a Col. ii. 4. * 1 Tim. iii. 8. 
5 2 Cor. i. 17. 6 1 Tim. i. 10. 

106 



THE ETHICS OF SPEECH. 

falsehood, which are universally condemned by the 
Christian conscience ; but there are forms of un- 
truth which are not so readily recognised. 

(i) Butler reminds us that there is such a 
thing as plain falseness, and insincerity, in men 
with regard to themselves. We wish to stand 
well with ourselves, and this self-interest often 
blinds us to the truth. There is no more subtle 
foe than self-deceit. St. Paul warns every man 
' not to think, of himself more highly than he 
ought to think.' 1 A sober judgment of self would 
lead to the abandonment of many affectations in 
our life. Smyth, speaking of this tendency of 
men to endeavour to present themselves in an 
unduly favourable light to others, says : c No one 
can wear repeatedly the habit of affectation before 
others except at the cost of his own integrity. Let 
this habit of untruthfulness in little social things, 
and daily affectations of manner continue, and a 
wholly unnatural type of character, eaten out with 
insincerities, may be the result.' 2 

(2) One of the commonest of these unregarded 
forms of truth springs from simple inattention and 
carelessness. How seldom a simple narrative is 
repeated in the same form as that it originally had. 
There are persons who have an ' unveracious 

1 Rom. xii. 3. 2 Christian Ethics^ p. 387- 

107 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

mind, 5 they are careless about the exact truth of 
what they say. The fact is, it requires some 
trouble to be truthful. ' Speaking truth/ says 
Ruskin, ' is like writing fair, and comes only by 
practice, it is less a matter of will than of habit/ 
What is needed is to ' make conscience ' of all we 
say. To remember the words of our Lord, ' By 
thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy 
words thou shalt be condemned.' 1 

(3) Closely allied to the fault just noted is the 
habit of * exaggeration.' It is so easy to add a 
little to a story to make it more impressive. There 
is no intention to hurt any one by the addition, 
and we forget that we are hurting ourselves. 
When we deliberately swerve from the strict truth, 
however little, we are undermining the sacredness 
of the chief corner-stone of every true and worthy 
life, and this must result in irreparable injury to 
our character. 

Grieve not the Holy Spirit. 

It is a very tender and solemn entreaty, and 
should move us the more as we note the connec- 
tion in which it stands. 

St. Paul has just been warning the Ephesians 
against idle speech, and passes directly to the 

1 Matt. xii. 37. 
108 



THE ETHICS OF SPEECH. 

exhortation. When we offend with our tongue, 
we injure not only our own character, not only our 
fellow-men, but we grieve the Holy Spirit of God. 
After the deification of the Roman Emperors it 
was considered impious to use any coarse language 
before their statues, and ought not we Christian men 
and women so to keep the door of our lips that we 
speak no word unworthy of that Presence, from 
which we can never pass ? 



109 



CHAPTER X. 

ETHICS OF CONTROVERSY. 

ipHE very form in which a large part of the 
New Testament has come down to us is due 
to the controversies in which St. Paul was called 
upon to take a leading part, and our Lord Himr 
self was constantly engaged in strife with those 
who opposed His claims. Yet the need and temper 
of controversy are questions which have received 
small consideration in ethical text-books. 

In a survey of St. Paul's ethical teaching it is 
impossible to ignore St. Paul the controversialist ; 
and from the ethics of the intellect we turn there- 
fore to the ethics of controversy. 

(a) The Need for Controversy. 

In Muller's Holy and Profane States f the Con- 
troversial Divine ' has a place by the side of ' the 
Good Judge,' c the Good Physician,' 'the Faithful 
Minister.' In the present day controversy is 
regarded with impatience, and often with con- 
tempt. The long controversies on Christological 

I IO 



ETHICS OF CONTROVERSY. 

questions in the fourth and fifth centuries ; the 
renewal of strife after the Reformation, and the 
bitter spirit which has so often marked the con- 
troversialists have led many people to turn away 
from controversy as though it were altogether 
opposed to the spirituality of religion. It is not 
difficult to see how this has come about. When 
we remember the pettiness and triviality of many 
of the questions for which men have fought, the 
fierce and undying animosities which controversy 
has kindled, the barrenness of the results in most 
cases ; is it a marvel that to many controversy 
has had no more value than the cawing of rooks 
and bickering of jackdaws? Other reasons have 
contributed to the same end. The love of ease, 
the craven fear of conflict ; the ■ laissez faire ' of 
modern life ; the weakened regard for the sacred- 
ness of truth ; the scepticism which doubts even 
whether truth can be attained ; the moral cynicism 
which cries shamelessly, ' Nothing is certain, and 
nothing matters ' ; all these have contributed 
towards an aversion from controversy. 

It is forgotten that there are questions worth 
striving for. There are false theories which must 
be controverted. Professor Gwatkin has taught us 
what great questions were at issue in the Arian 
controversy. It was not, as some impatient writers 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

have asserted, whether a word in the Christian 
creed should be spelt with an ' o/ or an c 01/ but 
whether Christ was ' true God/ or * little better 
than a heathen demi-god. 1 Who will deny that 
this was a question worth even centuries of strife ; 
and that we are indebted to men like Athanasius 
in the East, and Hilary in the West, who fought 
the battle for the faith, and helped to draw up the 
creed, which for nearly sixteen centuries has ex- 
pressed the faith of practically the whole of the 
Christian Church ? In his account of the closing 
days of Carlyle's life Froude says : ' In speaking 
of Gibbon's work to me he made one remark, 
which is worth recording. In earlier years he 
had spoken contemptuously of the Athanasian 
controversy. . , . He told me now that he perceived 
Christianity itself to have been at stake. If the 
Arians had won, it would have dwindled away 
into a legend.' 2 

Or, take the history of the Reformation. 
Every one knows with what strife of tongue, with 
what tumult and bloodshed, that great change 
was accomplished. But if Erasmus, Luther, and 
Calvin had made no protest, if they had cried, 
' peace, peace, when there was no peace,' where 

1 The Avian Controversy^ p. 166. 

2 Carlyle's Life in London^ vol. ii. , p. 494. 

112 



ETHICS OF CONTROVERSY. 

would have been the great inheritance of freedom 
upon which, at no price of tears or blood of ours, 
we have entered. Our present strife with Ger- 
many for freedom of a different kind may help us 
to appreciate the services rendered to religion by 
the great reformers. 

It cannot be denied that Scotland has been 
plagued with controversies which she might and 
ought to have been spared ; but does any one 
suppose that Knox and Melville, the Covenanters, 
and the leaders of the Disruption, were only stern 
and obstinate men, possessed by an evil spirit of ; 
contradiction ; and not rather champions of great 
principles, on which hung mighty issues for them- 
selves, for their country, and for the world. 

But it is in the New Testament that we find 
the most striking evidence of our indebtedness to 
past controversies. So far as concerns the life 
of Christ, it may be sufficient to mention that in 
Dr. Stalker's well-known volume, Imago Christi, 
he tells us that if it had been possible to print in 
full the evidence from the Gospel for the conduct 
of Jesus in the different departments of life, of 
which his book treats, the bulkiest of all these 
bodies of evidence would have been the appendix 
to the chapter, ' Christ as a Controversialist/ 1 The 

1 Imago Chrzsti, p. 285. 

113 I 



V 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

Apostle St. John is not usually associated in 
men's minds with controversy ; yet his exhorta- 
tions to brotherly love are not more frequent and 
emphatic than is his condemnation of the false 
teachers ; over against whose doctrine he sets 
forth the truth as it had been revealed to him, by 
and concerning Jesus Christ. The same is true 
of St. Paul. He says, * Certain men came down 
from Judea, and taught the brethren, saying, 
Except ye be circumcised, after the manner of 
Moses, ye cannot be saved. And when Paul and 
Barnabas had no small dissension and questioning 
with them, the brethren appointed that Paul and 
Barnabas and certain others of them should go 
up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about 
this question.' 1 Here was the beginning of a 
controversy from which for many years St. Paul 
had no respite. The battle of spiritual freedom 
had to be fought, not only in Jerusalem, but 
in the mission field, and in the newly formed 
Churches. Some of his letters, especially that to 
the Galatians, are keen controversial documents. 
And what perhaps went home to St. Paul's heart 
more than anything, he was compelled to turn his 
sword against his own comrades-in-arms. 2 In all 
essential points, St. Paul's Gospel would doubtless 

1 Acts xv. i, 2. 2 Gal. ii. 11-13. 

114 



ETHICS OF CONTROVERSY. 

have been given to the world under any circum- 
stances as we have received it, but the particular 
form it assumed was largely determined by the 
controversy into which he was driven. We can be 
certain that Christianity would have been strangled 
in its cradle if the Judaistic party had won the day. 

Facts like these have their significance for us 
to-day. If the faith ' once delivered unto the 
saints ' is to be kept, it must be fought for. 

When the walls of Jerusalem were being built 
Nehemiah tells us that ' Every one with one of 
his hands wrought in the work, and with the 
other held his weapon ; and the builders, every one 
had his sword girded by his side and so builded.' 1 
The sword, as well as the trowel, is still needed to 
build up the Church of Christ. It is a mistaken 
idea that the kingdom of heaven means first, a 
quiet life and the cultivation of friendly feeling 
all round. 2 The kingdom of God is righteousness, 
and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost ; but it is 
righteousness that stands first, and the price of 
righteousness, in a world like ours, is 'conflict.' 
The Christian Church is more than a Sister of 
Charity ; she is not merely to comfort the sick 
and sorrowful ; not merely to act as peacemaker 

1 Nehem. iv. 17, 18. 

2 See Forsyth's Rome, Reform, and Reaction^ p. 15. 

"5 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

in strife ; she has to be the * soldier ' as well as the 
' servant ' of Christ, and to take her part in the 
eternal warfare between good and evil, between 
truth and falsehood. Like her Lord, she must 
often bring, not peace, but a sword. There is, as 
we know well, a zeal which is not tempered by 
knowledge, and still less by charity ; a zeal which 
does not love peace, as peace should always be 
loved, whose hand flies all too readily to the sword- 
hilt. But there is a spirit still more to be feared, 
the spirit which sacrifices principle for the sake of 
brotherhood ; a moral indifferentism, which is too 
careless to distinguish truth from error, right from 
wrong, and will tolerate anything so long as it is 
left in selfish peace. 

By all means let us seek peace, but let us not 
forget, as Ruskin has told us, peace may be sought 
in two ways : ' one way is as Gideon sought it 
when he built his altar in Ophrah, naming it " God 
send peace " ; yet sought this peace that he loved 
as he was ordered to seek it, and the peace was 
sent in God's way: "the land had rest forty 
years in the days of Gideon/' 1 And the other 
way of seeking peace is as Menahem sought it, 
when he gave the king of Assyria a thousand 
talents of silver, " that his hand might be with 

1 Judges viii. 28. 
Il6 



ETHICS OF CONTROVERSY. 

him." 1 That is, you may either win your peace or 
buy it ; win it, by resistance to evil — buy it, by 
compromise with evil. You may buy your peace 
with silenced consciences ; you may buy it with 
broken vows ; buy it with lying words ; buy it 
with base connivances ; buy it with the blood of 
the slain, and the cry of the captive, and the 
silence of lost souls.' 2 And that is not peace: it 
it death. 

(b) Dangers that beset the Controver- 
sialist. 

As controversy cannot be avoided so long as 
sin disturbs, there is urgent need for those who 
are compelled to take part in it, to take heed what 
manner of controversialists Christians ought to be. 
We turn then to note, still under the guidance of 
St. Paul, some of the perils which beset the con- 
troversial temper. 

First among these is the unlovely spirit of con- 
tentiousness, which delights in strife, not for the 
truth's sake, but only for its own sake. This is 
pure pugilism, and is no more deserving of respect 
than the spirit of the professional prize-fighter. 
Every child knows Gulliver's story of the Big- 
Endians and the Small-Endians, and their barren 

1 2 Kings xv. 19. 2 The Two Paths ; p. 244, 

117 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

strife ; and the pity of it is that these noisy dis- 
putants have found their way into the Church and 
fill it with their clamour. 

' Disputandi pruritus fit Ecclesiarum scabies/ x 
The caustic saying of a college don, that the dis- 
cussion whether the planets are inhabited was one 
eminently suited for theology, because no evidence 
was available on either side of the question, was 
not an undeserved satire on the tendency of many 
Christians to waste their strength and learning 
/upon foolish questions, which gender strife, but 
which, because they are remote from fact and life, 
do nothing else. 

No one knew this better than St. Paul ; he 
wrote to the Corinthians, ' If any man seemeth 
contentious (<£t\oz>ewcos), we have no such custom, 
neither the churches of God/ 2 A bishop, he 
writes to Timothy, must be a^a^os (not con- 
tentious), 3 and in the letter to Titus, this is 
extended to all sorts and conditions of men. 4 
Again, to Timothy, he speaks of those who are 
puffed up, knowing nothing, but doting about 
questionings and disputes of words, whereof cometh 
envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, wranglings of 

1 From the inscription which Sir Henry Wotton directed to be 
placed on the slab which marked his grave. 

2 i Cor. xi. 16. 3 I Tim. iii. 3. 4 Titus iii. 2. 

Il8 



ETHICS OF CONTROVERSY. 

men corrupt in mind, and bereft of the truth/ l 
In his last letter he bids Timothy charge them 
over whom he is set in the Lord, 'that they strive 
not about words, to no profit, to the subverting of 
them that hear,' and then warns him to ' shun 
profane babblings,' and to refuse c foolish and 
ignorant questionings/ because they gender strifes ; 
and he adds, * The servant of the Lord must not 
strive.' 2 

We may be sure that such detailed injunctions 
were not unneeded, and that St. Paul felt deeply 
that both clergy and people were in danger of 
falling into a spirit of contentiousness entirely alien \ 
to the spirit of the Gospel. This danger is still 
with us, and is often accompanied by even worse 
evils — the loss of temper, misrepresentation, im- 
putation of evil motives — all of which are sins to 
which controversialists are exposed. 

St. Paul himself suffered from the well- 
developed contentiousness of the Corinthians. 3 
In his second Epistle he complains of the treatment v 
meted out to him by his Judaising opponents. 
When he changed his plans they called him a 

1 I Tim. vi. 4, 5. On the striking phrase vocwi> trepl ^rjTrjffBig see 
Grimm's Lexicon, sub voaku>. 2 2 Tim. ii. 14, 16, 23, 24. 

3 ' The disputatiousness of the Corinthians ran into everything — a 
woman's shawl, the merits of the Arch-apostles.' — Findlay, Exposition 
G.T.,p. 876. 

119 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

yea-and-nay man, 1 who said now one thing and 
now the opposite, and charged him with fickleness. 
Then they became abusive. His speech, they said, 
is rude, and his bodily presence weak ; he might 
use big swelling words at a distance, but let him 
come among them, and they would find him meek 
enough. 2 They even charged him with mercenary 
motives, and suggested that he was making a good 
thing out of the collection he was making for 
the poor saints in Jerusalem. Then, with the 
versatility of malignity, they turned round and 
interpreted his refusal to accept support from the 
Corinthian Church as an acknowledgment that 
he was an interloper, whose uneasy conscience 
would not let him claim the maintenance, which 
was every true apostle's right. 3 

Church history shows us that the controversial 
spirit of the Corinthians was inherited by later 
generations, and spread as a disease over the whole 
Church, 

Even good men show no bounds of decency 
in their language when once they have let loose 
the controversial spirit. Tertullian denounces 
those who differ from him on baptism as vipers 
and monsters.* Jerome uses such virulence in his 

1 2 Cor. i. 18, 19. 2 2 Cor. x. 10, xi. 6. 8 2 Cor. vii. 7-9. 
4 Farrar's Lives of the Fathers, vol. i., p. 169. 

120 



ETHICS OF CONTROVERSY. 

controversy with Rufinus, that Newman says one 
would hesitate to call him a saint if the title had 
not been given to him by the universal verdict of 
the Church. In later times, Samuel Rutherford, 
Richard Baxter, and the author of c Rock of Ages,' 
all used violent language to their opponents in 
religious controversy. There is no need to dwell 
on these unsavoury facts. The moral is plain : 
controversy is necessary, but not all men are 
fitted by their temperaments to be contro- 
versialists. Many are consumed by a passionate 
hatred of what they have come to regard as an 
evil. They forget that evil cannot be overcome 
by intolerance and invective ; hence they spend 
their strength in denunciation instead of striving 
to combat the evil they hate, by setting forth 
the good which should replace it. Writing of 
an agitator in the great Corn Law controversy, 
Carlyle says, ' We could truly wish to see such 
a mind as his engaged rather in considering what, 
in his own sphere, could be "done," than what, 
in his own or other spheres, ought to be destroyed, 
rather in producing the True, than in mangling 
and slashing asunder the False/ * 

Prefixed to one of John Wesley's early con- 
troversial publications is a brief address, which 

1 Review of Elliott ', the Com- Law Rhymer, 

121 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

sums up in an admirable manner the right spirit 
of the Christian controversialist. He says, c This 
is the first time I have appeared in controversy, 
properly so called. I now tread an unknown 
path with fear and trembling ; fear, not of my 
adversary, but of myself. I fear my own spirit, 
lest I fall, where many mightier men have been 
slain. I never knew one man (or but one) write 
controversy with what I thought a right spirit. 
Every disputant seems to think (as every soldier) 
that he may hurt his opponent as much as he can; 
nay, that he ought to do his worst to him, or he 
cannot make the best of his own cause. But 
ought these things to be? Ought we not to 
love our neighbour as ourselves? And does a 
man cease to be our neighbour because he is of 
a different opinion ; nay, and declares himself so 
to be ? Ought we not, for all this, to do to him 
as we would he should do to us ? But do we 
ourselves love to be exposed, or set in the worst 
light ? Would we willingly be treated with con- 
tempt ? If not, why do we treat others thus ? 
And yet, who scruples it ? Who does not hit every 
blow he can, however foreign to the merits of the 
cause? Who, in controversy, casts a mantle of 
love over the nakedness of his brother ? Who 
keeps steadily and uniformly to the question 

122 



ETHICS OF CONTROVERSY. 

without ever striking at the person ? Who shows, 
in every sentence, that he loves his brother only 
less than truth ? I have made a little faint essay 
towards this. I have a brother who is as my own 
soul. My desire is in every word I say to look 

upon Mr. as in his place, and to speak no 

tittle concerning the one in any other spirit than 
I would speak concerning the other/ 1 

When a man has this spirit he may safely 
plunge into controversy. Such a man will fight 
only with clean weapons. Is it too much to hope 
that the time may come when, as Dean Church 
says, £ even our most serious controversies, even 
our great and apparently hopeless controversy 
with Rome, may be carried on as if in the presence, 
and under the full knowledge and judgment of the 
Lord of truth and charity ? ; 2 

(<:) St. Paul as a Controversialist. 

The question has been raised whether St. Paul 
can be considered to be a safe guide in con- 
troversy. Two objections are made to his argu- 
ments : one from his use of the Old Testament, 
the other from his denunciations against his oppo- 
nents. Both of these must be considered. With 
regard to the use of the Old Testament, it is 
objected that he uses texts without any regard 

1 Wesley's Works, vol. viii., p. 359. 2 Life and Letters, p. 301. 
12^ 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

to their contexts, and also heaps up proof-texts 
in a manner which no modern controversialist 
would adopt. 1 Are we to conclude that he wilfully 
adopted interpretations to suit his arguments, 
without any regard to whether they were correct 
or not ? Our reply is that St. Paul was a Pharisee, 
trained in Rabbinical schools, in which certain 
interpretations of Scripture were taught. These 
interpretations were not the result of a scientific 
exegesis of Scripture, but were traditional and 
held to be absolutely true. We cannot expect 
that, in the first century, the interpretation of the 
Old Testament would be on the same lines as it 
is in the twentieth century. The Apostle's general 
character ought to be sufficient to assure us that 
he believed firmly that his use of the Old Testament 
was a right one. Further, it must be remembered 
that the objection can be urged only against a few 
texts out of a vast number. 

In the use of allegory, which was in full vigour 
at Alexandria in St. Paul's time, the Apostle shows 
a wise reticence, the only exception of importance 
being that already alluded to. 3 As a whole, St. 
Paul's use of the Old Testament was a triumphant 
vindication of Christianity, for he grasped the true 

1 See Rom. iii. 10-18 ; and note on St. Paul's use of the Old Testa- 
ment in Sanday and Headlam's Romans, p. 302. 

2 Gal. iv. 22 seq. 

124 



ETHICS OF CONTROVERSY. 

spiritual significance of the Hebrew Scriptures. 
' Ye search the Scriptures . . . and ye will not 
come unto Me/ was the tragedy of Judaism, and 
is the reason why it still wanders in the desert. 
These are they, the Apostle saw and said, which 
bear witness of Him, and so seeing and saying, 
entered into the Promised Land. 

When St. Paul is charged with intellectual in- 
tolerance, it is generally because he uttered ana- 
themas against those who preached * another 
Gospel.' 1 But it is surely unfair to brand the 
Apostle with intolerance on such scanty material. 
When we remember how unwilling he was to 
lord it over his converts' faith, 2 his deference in 
giving his opinion on a difficult matter, 3 his 
generous recognition of the ministry of men, 
whose names were used as a rallying cry against 
himself/ .his sincere rejoicing that Christ was 
preached, 'even of envy and strife,' 5 we must allow 
that, even if St. Paul's intellectual temperament 
was intolerant, as Sabatier says, 6 grace had wrought 
a wondrous change. Concerning the anathemas, 
two things should be kept in mind. In the first 
place, the Apostle is not defending his own opinions, 
but writes in the full consciousness that he was the 



1 Gal. i. 8, 9 ; confer also Rom. xvi. 17, 1 Tim. i. 3, vi. 3. 

2 2 Cor. i. 24, 3 1 Cor. vii. 12, 25, 40. i 1 Cor. iii. 22. 
5 Phil. i. 15-18. 6 The Apostle Paul, p. 54. 

125 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

guardian of God's revelation. Secondly, St. Paul 
was not one of those who regarded it as a first duty 
to keep an open mind. Certain things were to 
him final, and could not be reopened. 

We all have convictions that admit of no 
question, which it would be treason to our deepest 
selves even to discuss. Dr. Denney has an admir- 
able note on Gal. i. 8, 9, in which he says, 
'I cannot agree with those who disparage this or 
affect to forgive it, as the unhappy beginning of 
religious intolerance. Neither the Old Testament 
nor the New Testament has any conception of a 
religion without this intolerance. The first com- 
mandment is ' Thou shalt have none other gods 
besides Me/ and that is the foundation of all true 
religion. As there is only one God, so there 
can be only one Gospel. If God has really done 
something in Christ on which the salvation of the 
world depends, or if He has made it known, then 
it is a Christian duty to be intolerant of everything 
which ignores, denies, or explains it away. The 
man who perverts it is the worst enemy of God 
and men, and it is not bad temper or narrow- 
mindedness in St. Paul which explains this 
vehement language ; it is jealousy for God, which 
has kindled in a soul redeemed by the death of 
Christ, a corresponding jealousy for the Saviour.' x 

1 The Death of Christ, p. no. 
126 



CHAPTER XL 

ANGER AND THE SELF-ASSERTIVE VIRTUES. 

CT. PAUL lays special stress on the humbler 
virtues, but he does not regard these as the 
only duty of the Christian, in the face of wrong- 
doing. To resent and to resist may be a more 
sacred duty than to submit. In order, therefore, 
to maintain ' the delicate equipoise ' in which all 
moral conduct stands, it is necessary to balance the 
passive virtues with what may be called the self- 
assertive virtues. 

St. Paul plainly teaches that there are occa- 
sions on which a Christian ought to feel and show 
resentment towards evil-doing. The passages in 
which this teaching is given are few in number, 
compared with those which warn against all excess 
and abuse of anger. This lack of emphasis does 
not imply one-sidedness in Christian morality. As 
John Stuart Mill has truly said, ' The Gospel 

127 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

always refers to a pre-existing morality, and 
confines its precepts to the particulars in which 
that morality was to be corrected or superseded by 
a higher or wider/ 1 

When we find early Christian teachers eloquent 
with regard to humility and forbearance, and silent 
about resentment, we must remember how little 
need there was to place emphasis on the latter, 
and how much the former were needed. With 
regard to St. Paul's teaching, we must also 
remember that he was himself a man of quick, 
ardent, and even impetuous character. We see 
in the Epistle to the Galatians how his whole 
nature blazed with indignation when he learnt of 
the evil wrought in the Church by false teachers. 
He was not himself ' slow to wrath, slow to speak,' 
and in his teaching we have evidence that the people 
or his age needed little instruction on the duty of 
self-assertion. 

Scanty as our material is, yet enough may be 
gathered from St. Paul's own actions, as revealed 
in the Acts, and from his language in his Epistles, 
to show that, both by example and precept, he 
taught a via media between a too tame subservience 
on the one hand and an undue self-assertion on the 
other. 

1 On Liberty, Popular Edition, p. 28. 
128 



THE SELF-ASSERTIVE VIRTUES. 

(a) The Passive Virtues must not be 
abused. 

The account of St. Paul's life given in the 
Acts of the Apostles clearly shows us that his im- 
pressive teaching regarding the passive virtues was 
balanced by an active opposition to wrong-doing, j 
when opposition was needful. The impression we 
carry away from St. Luke's narrative is that St. 
Paul was a man full of tact, sympathy, and tender- 
ness ; yet firm, self-reliant, bold in upholding the 
truth, strenuous in demanding justice for himself. '" 
With what dignity he asserted his rights as a 
Roman citizen at Philippi, and forced the bustling 

* prastors ' to a sense of their duty. * They have 
beaten us publicly, uncondemned, 1 men that are 
Romans, and have cast us into prison, and do they l 
now cast us out privily ? Nay, verily ; but let 
them come themselves, and bring us out.' 2 Or 
take that momentous scene at Paphos, when 
Christianity faced Oriental paganism, the Christian 
preacher opposing the Magian, and hear the words 
which poured like lava from the lips of St. Paul : 

* O, full of all guile and all vilJany, thou son of the s 
devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou 
not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord ? ' 3 

1 Ramsay regards the word aKaraicpiTovg as equivalent to k re 
incognita ' in Roman Law. 2 Acts xvi. 37. 3 Acts xiii. 10. 

I29 K 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

Or, again, in the Council Chamber in Jerusalem, 
when Ananias bade those that stood by to smite 
St. Paul on the mouth, and immediately the words 
flashed out : ' God shall smite thee, thou whited 
wall. And sittest thou to judge me according to 
the law, and commandest me to be smitten con- 
trary to the law? '* It is clear that the Apostle, 
usually so pliant and tender, could, when occasion 
demanded, be firm as adamant. When principle 
was involved, he could stand inflexible, even when, 
as in the quarrel with Barnabas, firmness lost him 
the companionship of a loved brother. 2 

The same ardent nature glows also in the 
Epistles. There is the same impatience under 
injustice, the same burning indignation against 
evil-doers. With the Judaisers, the men who 
sought to make the Cross of Christ of none effect, 
he would make peace on no terms : they were 
' dogs/ 3 ' anathema from Christ/ 4 ' There is/ 
says Mr. R. N. Hutton, 4 something positively 
grim in the Eastern ferocity of the wish expressed 

1 Acts xxiii. 1-3. 

2 ' Anger is the satellite of reason, the vindicator of desire. For 
when we long after anything and are opposed in our desire by some 
one, we are angered at that person, as though we had been wronged : 
and reason evidently deems that there are just grounds for displeasure 
in what has happened, in the case of those who, like us, have in the 
natural course of things to guard our own position. ' — John of Damascus, 
Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, chap. xvi. 

3 Phil. iii. 2. 4 Gal. i. 8, 9. 

130 



THE SELF-ASSERTIVE VIRTUES. 

in the Epistle to the Galatians (v. 12) against 
the false brethren who troubled the Church by- 
insisting on the strict Jewish circumcision.' * The 
stern rebuke given to St. Peter was public and con- 
vincing : ' If thou, being a Jew, live as do the 
Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, how compellest 
thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews ? ' 2 
Even the last letters we have from his pen show 
that the old fires were still burning : ' Alexander 
the coppersmith did me much evil ; the Lord will 
render to him according to his works/ 3 

The texts which support the personal attitude 
of the Apostle are exceedingly meagre. The most 
important one contains the injunction, * Be angry 
and sin not/ 4 which certainly implies that anger 
is permissible in a Christian, if duly guarded. 
Also, when St. Paul says that an iiriaKOTros must 
not be opyiXo? 5 — that is, he must not be c soon 
angry' — he suggests that there are occasions when 
an overseer of the Church may righteously show 
anger, although he must be careful not to be hasty 
in doing so. The impressive manner in which 
St. Paul speaks of the wrath of God, and the 
solemn manner in which he warns men not to 
provoke it, indicates that he regarded ' anger * as 

1 Theological Essays, p. 33. 2 Gal. ii. 14. 

3 2 Tim. iv. 14. 4 Eph. iv. 26. 5 Titus i. 7. 

131 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

justifiable under certain circumstances. His pre- 
ference is undoubtedly for a careful control over 
all feelings of enmity or resentment, and for leaving 
offenders to the judgment of God. 

(F) In the present day there is a tendency 
to bring into a right prominence the love of 
God, and to press home to every human heart, 
not only that God loves, but that 'God is love.' 
The all- important fact to us is, that God so loved 
the world that He gave His only begotten Son to 
redeem it ; that " God commendeth His love to us, 
in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for 
us.' 1 But our deepening sense of His infinite love 
ought not to obscure the complementary truth 
that there is such a thing as the c wrath of God/ 
'the wrath of the Lamb.' We read in the Gospels 
how the meek and lowly Son of Man was l moved 
to indignation ; ' 2 how He looked round ' with 
anger ; ' 3 how He entered the Temple, and over- 
threw the tables of the money-changers and the 
seats of them that sold doves. 4 It is plain, there- 
fore, that, according to New Testament morality, 
there are occasions when a righteous man's whole 
]/ duty does not lie in turning his cheek to the 
smiter, and suffering whatsoever evil is pleased 
and able to inflict. 

1 Rom. v. 8. " Mark x, 14. 3 Mark iii. v. 4 Matt. xxi. 12. 

132 



THE SELF-ASSERTIVE VIRTUES. 

The author of Ecce Homo says that the first 
impulse, at the sight of vice, is the impulse of 
hostility and opposition ; ' to convict it, to detect 
it, to contend with it, to put it down, is the first 
and indispensable thing ... it is not mercy, but 
treason against injustice, to relent towards vice, so 
long as it is triumphant and insolent/ 1 ' Anger/ 
says Fuller, ' is one of the sin ews of the soul ; he 
that wants it hath a maimed mind/ John Morley 
even goes so far as to say that active hatred of 
cruelty, injustice, and oppression is perhaps the 
main difference between a good man and a bad 
one. 2 Bishop Paget says of Dean Church : 
* Patient as he was, he could be angry when need 
came ; angry with a quiet and self-possessed 
intensity, which made his anger very memorable. 
The sight of injustice, of strength or wea lth 
presuming on its advantages, of insolence (a word 
that came from his lips with a peculiar ring and 
emphasis), called out in him something like the 
passion which has made men patriots when their 
people were oppressed : something of that temper 
which will always make tyranny insecure and per- 
secution hazardous. One felt that many years of 
quiet self-control must lie behind the power of 
wielding rightly such a weapon as anger/ It is 

1 Popular Edition, p. 245. 2 Life of Gladstone, vol. i. p. 196. 

*33 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

clear that Dean Church had learnt the admonition, 
4 Be ye angry and sin not.' 

On this point a direct conflict emerges between 
the ethical teaching of Seneca and that of St. Paul. 

The idea of the Stoic was airaOeia (passion- 
lessness). Anger in his eyes was not a wild plant 
to be carefully trained, but a poisonous weed to be 
rooted out. Nothing could be permitted which 
disturbed the serenity of life. Seneca repudiates 
the very notion that a wise man should be angry 
and indignant against moral evil. 1 The gods 
dwelt in everlasting calm : what higher thing 
could man desire than to imitate them ? This was 
not St. Paul's idea ; his whole life and teaching 
repudiates such a conception of God, or such 
conduct on the part of man. In these days of 
war, when the whole strength of our nation has 
been roused against the ambition, the cruelty, 
and the insolent militarism of Germany, we can 
see more clearly than in times of peace that there 
are occasions when it is right to be angry ; nay, 
more than that, we feel that, as Christian men, we 
should be wrong if we did not make a firm stand 
• against the spirit which claims that the powerful 
alone have rights, and that weak nations must 
submit to wrong and injustice. We feel it 

1 F. W. Farrar's Seekers after God. 
1 34 



THE SELF-ASSERTIVE VIRTUES. 

would be wrong to allow the moral conscious- 
ness of the Christian world to be destroyed, and 
the cruelties and abominations of paganism to 
triumph over civilisation. There is no shame to 
our Christianity that we have drawn the sword 
against the evil which has so long been festering 
in one of the great nations of the world. Rather 
than feeling shame, we glory in the uprising of our 
people, and of those allied with us, to aj jghtepus 
anger against those who have set at nought the 
teachings of our Lord and His Apostles. 

(c) Warnings against Abuse of 'Anger.' 1 

As there are occasions when it is right to be 
angry, there is need to carefully guide and guard 
it against abuse. 'Be ye angry and sin not.' 
Gladstone's biographer says of him that ' in native 
capacity for righteous anger he abounded. The 
flame soon kindled, and it was no fire of straw, but 
it did not master him/ 2 This is the Christian 
ideal : anger is a good servant, but a bad master. . 
Kept well in hand, it may serve many noble ends ; 

1 "Three kinds of anger were distinguished among the Greeks. 
When anger begins to be roused, it is called %o\ri or x°^°€' Wrath 
implies that the memory of the wrong abides, and is represented by 
firjvic, which is derived from ftkvetv. Rancour, this implies watching a 
suitable moment for revenge, the Greek word for it is icorog from Keitr9ai.' 
— John of Damascus, Exposition of the Orthodox Faitk^ chap. xvi. 

2 Morley's Life, vol. i., p. 189. 

*35 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

allowed to master the mind, it assumes forms 
of sin at once. Hatred, deadly and implacable ; 
enmity, blind and unforgiving ; malice, cunning 
and hurtful ; revenge, unscrupulous and merciless : 
all these are the children of undisciplined anger. 
Earnestly St. Paul warns against these evils. 
Among the works of the flesh he places ' enmities, 
strife, jealousies, wrath, factions.' 1 He bids the 
Colossians put off anger, wrath, malice, and urges 
them to put on, as God's elect, * a heart of com- 
passion, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffer- 
ing/ 2 So, likewise, in his teaching regarding 
relative duties, he urges fathers not to provoke 
their children to wrath. 3 In dealing with slaves, 
masters are to forbear threatening. 4 Continually 
St. Paul and other Christian teachers remind a 
Christian that he must be on his guard against 
giving an ' occasion for stumbling.' He is to put 
no temptation, no evil example, before his fellow- 
men. In his public life, and in his home life, he 
must be equally on the watch, remembering Him, 
who, in the words of St. Peter, ' when He was 
reviled, reviled not again ; when He suffered, He 
threatened not, but committed Himself to Him 
that judgeth righteously/ 5 

1 Gal. v. 20. 2 Col. iii. 8-12. 3 Eph. vi. 4; Col. Hi. 21. 

4 Eph. vi. 9. 5 1 Pet. ii. 23. 

136 



CHAPTER XII. 

ASCETICISM— TRUE AND FALSE. 

\ SCETICISM holds an important place in the 
XjL development of historical Christianity, but 
was not a peculiarly Christian movement. 

Although there is a truth in asceticism which 
is in line with the moral teaching of the Gospel, 
yet much of the asceticism which asserted itself 
within the Church came from without. 

There have always been persons who have 
admired, if they have not imitated, men like 
John the Baptist, who came neither eating nor 
drinking ; men who from conscientious motives 
have foregone the innocent pleasures and refine- 
ments of social life, and who have found it easier to 
serve God by suppressing lawful human affections 
and appetites. At the beginning of the Christian 
era the Essenes in Palestine attracted considerable 
attention, as we learn from Josephus and Philo. 
They represented ' righteousness by works,' in the 
negative and ascetic sense, by retiring into the 
monastic life on the shores of the Dead Sea. 

i37 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

Luthardt says * : * They formed a closed order 
(rccy/Aa), with strictly regulated conditions of 
admission and of the order of life. They observed 
community of goods, abstinence from all luxury 
and pleasure, and mostly from marriage. They 
busied themselves with agriculture and peaceful 
arts, but they kept away from extensive commerce 
and similar occupations directed to the acquisition 
of money, and rejected war as well as slavery. 
Their morality consisted in reverence towards 
God ; the practice of justice and mercy, and, above 
all, truthfulness and strict obedience to superiors. 
The course of their day was filled up with 
prayer, labour, ablutions, and religious meals. 
They prayed at dawn of day with their faces 
towards the sun/ 2 While there is much to 
admire in Essenism, as thus sketched, its negative 
morality was at the same time a withdrawal from 
public life, and without influence upon it. The 
individual life became all-important, and the moral 
life took the form of the external practice of 
religion. It involved a passing from the life of 
the world into monasticism. The influence of 
Essenism was felt among the Jews of the Diaspora, 
and some of the errors combated by St. Paul in 
the Epistle of the Colossians can be traced to it. 

1 History of Christian Ethics, p. 64. 2 Luthardt, p. 65. 

138 



ASCETICISM. 

In the East generally, asceticism had from an 
early time exerted a powerful fascination over the 
minds of men. In Phrygia, it was associated with 
theosophy, and had many followers, who enthu- 
siastically adopted stringent rules for the ordering 
of human life. 

In Alexandria, asceticism was an inheritance 
from the old Egyptian mysticism, and appeared 
among the Jewish community in that city through 
the teaching of Philo, who resolved morality into 
spirituality, and consequently resolved the moral 
ideal into the religious practice of an ascetic 
negation of nature. 1 With so many sources of 
ascetic teaching pouring their contents into the 
provinces of the Roman Empire, it was natural 
that sooner or later St. Paul and other teachers of 
Christianity would be compelled to define the 
relation in which the Gospel stood to this powerful 
and omnipresent rival. The claim of asceticism 
to be the guide of human life could not be ignored, ' 
and the Epistles of St. Paul show that he boldly 
faced the issue. 

It could not be expected that in the frag- 
mentary and occasional character of his writings 
a full exposition of the subject would be found ; 
yet, brief as the references are, they show the 

1 Luthardt, p. 70. 
139 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

masterly power with which the Apostle handled a 
large and complex ethical subject. 

As a preliminary to the examination of St. 
Paul's teaching it should be clearly understood in 
what sense the word * asceticism ' is employed. 
In common speech the term covers a wide variety 
of faith and practice, and this must be kept in 
view to avoid confusion. When, for example, one 
Christian teacher tells us that asceticism is a mis- 
apprehension of the genius of Christianity, and 
another that the Christian view of life is, in the 
best sense of the word, an ascetic one, it is evident 
that they are not attaching the same meaning to 
asceticism. The fact is that the term has two 
meanings. There is an asceticism which has its 
root in the necessities of our sinful human nature, 
and this the New Testament both honours and 
enjoins. 

There is also an asceticism which has its origin 
in the Eastern idea of the inherent sinfulness of 
matter, and the consequent necessity for the 
spiritual man to annihilate it : to this kind of 
asceticism the New Testament is entirely opposed. 
From these definitions we gather that there are two 
forms of asceticism : 

(a) The asceticism of dualism, which St. Paul 
strenuously opposed. 

140 



ASCETICISM. 

(b) The asceticism of self-discipline, which 
he enjoins. 1 

(a) The Asceticism of Dualism. 

This is opposed by St. Paul in his Epistle to 
the Colossians and in the Pastoral Epistles. The 
most important passages are : " If ye died to Christ 
from the rudiments of the world, why, as though 
living in the world, do ye subject yourselves to 
ordinances, Handle not, nor taste, nor touch, (all 
which things are to perish in the using), after the 
precepts and doctrines of men? Which things 
have indeed a show of wisdom in will- worship, but 
are not of any value against the indulgence of the 
flesh/ 2 

' The Spirit saith expressly that in later times 
some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed 
to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, through 
the hypocrisy of men that speak lies, branded in 
their own consciences as with a hot iron, for- ./ 
bidding to marry, and commanding to abstain 
from meats, which God created to be received 
with thanksgiving by them that believe and 
acknowledge the truth. For every creature of 
God is good, and nothing to be rejected, if it be 

1 The phrases are Lightfoot's {Colossians, p. 105, footnote). 

2 Col. ii. 20-23. 

141 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

received with thanksgiving ; for it is sanctified 
through the word of God and prayer/ x 

It is impossible within the limits of this work 
to dissect all the debatable questions raised by these 
passages. 

Lightfoot regards the heresy condemned as 
' incipient gnosticism,' but later scholars are not 
unanimous on this point. ' There can be/ says 
Bartlet, c little question that the Colossian errors 
were in the main due to ideas already at work 
in the local Judaism, and were not at all what is 
usually styled gnostic in origin.' 2 He traces them 
to two sources — one Jewish, the other pagan ; the 
Jewish being partly Essenism, partly Therapeutic 
doctrine, and partly the type of thought found in 
the Testament of Solomon. It is clear that the 
Colossians were swayed in the direction of an 
ascetic motive, bound up with a conception of 
Salvation, which was devoid of any idea of the 
necessity for moral effort in human life. Life was 
to be directed by petty prohibitions : * Handle 
not, nor taste, nor touch,' and both marriage 
and the use of meat were forbidden. The con- 
demnation of St. Paul is almost startling in its 
severity ; but he does more than denounce — he 
shows the false root from which this asceticism 

1 i Tim. iv. 1-5, see also Titus i. 13, 14. 2 Apostolic Age, p. 186. 

142 



ASCETICISM. 

sprang ; and in both the Colossian Epistle and in 
the Pastorals states the grounds upon which 
to-day, no less than in the first century, a false 
asceticism stands condemned. 

(i) He speaks with scorn of the prohibitions 
with regard to food. All these perish, as they are 
used. They are not the chief concern of the 
Christian ; the free man in Christ cannot be under 
the yoke of a system whose supreme concern is 
with eating and drinking. 

(2) In 1 Tim. St. Paul meets the advocates of 
asceticism on their own ground, and overthrows 
the theory that matter is evil in itself, by claiming 
that every creature of God is good, and nothing 
to be rejected ; but adds the religious spirit in 
which God's gifts are to be received by man : they 
are to be received l with thanksgiving,' they are 
sanctified to God's service through the word of 
God and prayer. As Bishop South says, in his 
sermon on 1 Tim. i v . 4 , 5 , there should be 
' grace ' before meat and ' grace ' after meat. It 
need hardly be said that St. Paul's language does 
not permit licence when he advocates liberty. 
Elsewhere he lays down limitations, which should 
be remembered. All God's gifts are good, though 
some men constantly abuse them : others, for the 
sake of example, may abstain from using them. 

i43 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

The point to be borne in mind is, that abstention 
is not a merit in itself; its value depends upon the 
Tightness of the motive in abstaining. The 
terrible prevalence of drunkenness in one country- 
may make abstinence from alcoholic drink a duty ; 
in another country, wholly sober, the demand to 
abstain might merit the rebuke from St. Paul : 
' Drink will not commend us to God : neither, if 
we drink, are we the worse : nor, if we drink not, 
are we the better.' The Apostle's advice to 
Timothy, * to be no longer a drinker of water/ 
was possibly as much a protest against false 
asceticism of this kind as a counsel for the benefit 
of his health. 1 The spirit of true asceticism is 
expressed in the words : ' It is good neither to eat 
flesh, nor to desire wine, nor to do anything 
whereby thy brother stumbleth.' 2 Beyond this, it 
is not safe to advance. 

(3) The asceticism of dualism is not only 
philosophically false, it is practically useless. * It 
is not of any value against the indulgence of the 
flesh.' 3 Elsewhere St. Paul does indeed allow 
4 bodily exercise/ meaning physical asceticisms, 
such as are referred to in the preceding verses, but 

1 1 Tim. v. 23. " 2 Rom. xiv. 21. 

3 The rendering of the R.V. : this is disputed by many scholars. 
Hort suspects an early corruption of the text. 

144 



ASCETICISM. 

he adds, 'is profitable for a little/ This slight 
concession leaves his general judgment unaltered. 
Tried by results, asceticism is a failure ; it makes 
a ' show of wisdom ' in its severity to the body, 
but it is powerless to subdue the lusts of the flesh. 
If this is thought to be too severe a judgment, it 
is sufficient to point to the history of monasticism, 
which has many dark pages. It should, however, 
be remembered that when St. Paul speaks of the 
* flesh ' he means not merely the body, but the 
whole unregenerate personality — the entire un- 
reserved self that thinks, feels, wills, and desires, 
apart from God ; and his words declare the 
impotence of any ordinances of men to keep that 
self in subjection. Asceticism may remove the 
opportunity for gratifying some particular sensual 
desire, but it does not change the sinful heart. 
Uncleanness or drunkenness may be cast out, but 
pride and uncharitableness may fill the vacant place, 
and the last state of the man is no better — perhaps 
it may be even worse. 

(4) Finally, asceticism in its spirit and method 
is alien to the genius of Christianity. ' If/ says St. 
Paul, <[ye died to Christ from the rudiments of the 
world, why, as living in the world, do ye subject 
yourselves to ordinances T^ From the Christian 

1 Col. ii. 20. 

*45 l 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

point of view there is a distinct loss in asceticism, 
even as there was a loss to the Galatians, when, 
after they had known God as revealed in Christ, 
they turned from a spiritual service to the weak 
and beggarly elements, from which they had been 
delivered, and desired to be in bondage again. 1 
Christianity works from within outwards ; it reforms 
the life by renewing the heart ; it overcomes 
the world, not by flying from it, but through the 
new life of the Holy Spirit. It makes men par- 
takers of the life of Christ and to be sharers in His 
victory over sin. ' Handle not, nor taste, nor 
touch/ says asceticism. * Walk by the Spirit, and 
ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh,' says 
Christianity. History must judge between them. 

(b) The Asceticism of Self-discipline. 

While a false asceticism stands condemned, 
there is yet a true asceticism which finds a place in 
the Christian life. Both our Lord and His 
apostles appeal for self-denial, and even for self- 
mortification, on the part of believers. Their 
appeals are often a stumbling-block to men of 
earnestness and integrity, who think that the goal 
of perfection may be reached by the self-develop- 
ment of man ; and who do not see the necessity 

1 Gal. iv. 9. 
146 



ASCETICISM. 

for restrictions, which might retard or prevent 
self-development. 

It is urged that consecration to a definite end 
is sufficient without renunciation. This sounds 
attractive, but as stated, implies that there is an 
opposition between the two, whereas they are 
complementary ; consecration involves self-denial, 
and the goal of perfection cannot be reached by 
the path of self-development alone. Such an idea 
ignores the fact of sin, and this fact changes the 
whole character of the problem. ' The self, which 
we seek to develop here and now, is a sinful self, 
and incapable, therefore, till its sin is overcome, of 
any true development at all.' 1 Development is 
still necessary to reach the goal of perfection, but 
stern experience tells us that it is attainable only 
by the way of discipline and rigorous self-control. 

In self-control (iyKpareia) St. Paul sees a 
characteristic of ' the fruit of the Spirit.' 2 This 
word, as used by St. Paul, is said by Findlay fc to 
cover the whole range of moral discipline, and 
concerns every sin and passion of our nature/ 
The c temperate ' man of the New Testament is he 
who, not only abstains from excess in the use of 
strong drink (he does that of course), but holds 
himself well in hand, and keeps all the steeds that 

1 Illingworth's Christian Character^ p. 45. 2 Gal. v. 23. 

147 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

are yoked to the chariot of life well bridled and 
well bitted. The tongue, the hand, the foot, the 
eye, the temper, the tastes, the affections, are all 
made to feel the curb of self-control. In the 
Epistle in which St. Paul proclaims the vanity of a 
false asceticism, he says, ' Mortify therefore your 
members which are upon the earth, fornication, 
uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, 
the which is idolatry/ 1 To the Romans, he writes, 
* If by the spirit ye mortify the deeds of the body, 
ye shall live.' 2 To the Galatians, 'They that are 
of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the 
passions and lusts thereof.' 3 

These words imply the gravity of the problem 
which sin has created. They contain nothing that 
is unreal, they are not merely rhetorical, but owe 
their origin to a resolute facing of the facts of 
human life. They do not discourage the attempts 
of men to lead a full life, but they point the 
necessary path to it. No man ever yearned for 
perfection more earnestly than St. Paul did, but he 
never forgot that only with - toil of heart and 
knees and hands ' can the fc path upward ' be won 
and the ' toppling crags ' scaled. When he said, 
' 1 buffet my body and bring it into bondage,' 4 he 

1 Col. iii. 5. 2 Rom. viii. 13. 3 Q a j v 2 ^ 

4 I Cor. ix. 27. 

148 



ASCETICISM. 

did not imply that he did this because he delighted 
in austerity for its own sake, but lest, after he had 
preached to others, he himself might be rejected. 
True Christianity welcomes all self-discipline, but 
recognises no ' merit ' in austerity. 



ITS SUBSEQUENT HISTORY IN THE CHURCH. 

Having considered true and false asceticism, it 
may be instructive to glance very briefly at the 
historic development of the ascetic element in the 
Christian Church. The Shepherd of Hermas is the 
first distinctly Christian work to manifest an 
ascetic tendency in its ethics. In it, the moral 
element in the Christian life is strongly emphasised, 
and the exhortations given have a c legal ' and even 
an ascetic character. 1 Abstinence is one of the four 
principal virtues. Continence in marriage is en- 
joined, and blessings are promised to the continent, 
and to the bodies of virgins. 2 In the whole work 
there is ' the first unconscious divergence from the 
strict line of the Pauline doctrine of justification.' 3 
This movement was strengthened by the influence 
of Alexandrian Judaism, based upon the Apocry- 
pha ; and by heathen influences, springing from 

1 Luthardt's History of Christian Ethics ; p. 126, 

2 Acta, 5, 6. 3 Luthardt, p. 127. 

149 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

the moral philosophy of the time. A further 
cause of the rise of asceticism is given in Dr. 
Oakesmith's Religion of Plutarch ; he says, 1 ' Any 
sanction which imaginative piety, or legendary 
authority can lend to Virtue is credited, not 
because it makes Virtue natural, intelligible, and 
human, but because it places it on a pedestal 
beyond the reach of unaided mortal effort, and 
thus compels a still more determined recourse to 
emotional and supernatural sanctions, in order to 
ensure her fruitful cultivation. . . . Hence that 
conception, of saintliness which the world owes to 
Catholic Christianity, a type of character which, 
while maintaining a marvellous purity of life, is 
devoid of that robust intelligence without which 
purity runs into asceticism ; which carries virtue 
to such an extravagant pitch that its result may be 
more disastrous than vice, inasmuch as the latter 
may serve morality by demonstrating the re- 
pulsiveness of iniquity, while the former tends to 
evil by exhibiting the impossibility of goodness/ 
All these influences being at work in the Church, 
it is no wonder that asceticism made rapid 
progress. 

The ancient Egyptian monasticism found many 
imitators, and spread in all directions. The Cap- 

1 Pages 2, 3. 

l 5o 



ASCETICISM. 

padocian Fathers introduced the monastic system 
into Asia, and from their time onwards, the 
movement grew with the growth, and strengthened 
with the strength of Christianity. Of the austeri- 
ties practised by the votaries of asceticism, in order 
to commend themselves to God, it is needless to 
speak. The story can be read, in all its repulsive- 
ness, in the pages of Gibbon and Lecky. 

How are we further to explain the sudden, and 
all but universal, lapse of the Church from the 
simplicity of its early faith ? 

How came the religion taught by our Lord 
and by His Apostles to be changed into the 
extravagance of the pillar-saints of the fifth 
century ? 

A great impulse came doubtless from the truth 
that self-restraint is necessary in any human life, 
which is being perfected for God. The early 
apostles realised that in a world of sin and filled 
with temptations, there was a call for renunciation. 
They strove to respond with all seriousness to the 
call of Jesus to take up His cross and follow Him. 
The bias given to their minds was strengthened 
by the awful laxity and immorality of the times 
in which they lived. It has been said that the 
world was never so ingeniously and exhaustively 
wicked as it was in the first century of the Christian 

*5 l 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

era. It is no wonder that face to face with extra- 
vagance of sin, good men fell into extravagance ot 
rigid life ; and asked themselves whether they 
would not keep closer to God by withdrawing 
themselves from the world. To reinforce their 
thoughts was the cherished expectation of the 
coming of the Lord ; what were home and plea- 
sure, and business, when at any moment the Judge 
might be at the door. 

' Hora novissima, tempora pessima sunt ; vigilemus 
Ecce minaciter, imminet arbiter, ille supremus.' 1 

These words must have expressed the thought 
of many minds, before the monk of Clugny poured 
out his deathless song. 

Finally, a movement towards asceticism, Eastern 
in its origin but almost world-wide in its reach, 
lent its aid from without. ' The contest of 
Christianity,' says Milman, * with the Eastern 
religions must be traced in their reaction upon the 
new religion of the West. By their treacherous 
alliance, they probably operated more extensively 
to the detriment of the Evangelic religion than 
Paganism by its open opposition. Asiatic influ- 
ences have worked more completely into the body 

1 ' The world is very evil — The times are waxing late — 
Be sober and keep vigil — The Judge is at the gate.' 

i5 2 



ASCETICISM. 

and essence ot Christianity than any other foreign 
elements ; and it is by no means improbable that 
tenets, which had their origin in India, have for 
many centuries predominated in, or materially 
affected, the Christianity of the Western world/ 1 
The ascetic movement has been variously 
judged. Gibbon and Lecky both regard it as a 
hideous excrescence on the body of Christianity. 
Other writers, like Dean Church, while admitting 
that there was much in it that repels, refuse to 
regard it as wholly evil. Dean Church says, 
' When we remember what were the enormous, 
blind, intractable forces on the other side, in the 
days when it arose, of fierce, endless, unrestrained 
sensuality ; it seems as if nothing but such an 
enthusiasm, as inconsiderate and unmeasured, 
could balance or swing back, on a scale necessary 
for the progress of the world, the tremendous, 
ever-renewed, and accumulating pressure in favour 
of self-indulgence. The severity of the early 
Church was a rebound, and strong medicine, 
against the ruinous dissoluteness of the decaying 
Empire, which no remedy, but an heroic one, 
could stay. . . . All these histories of monks, 
which lend themselves so easily to our sarcasm, 
and seem to us almost as disgusting as immorality 

1 History of Christianity ', vol. ii., p. 31. 
'53 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

itself, may be viewed in another way, as the crude, 
clumsy, distorted, absurd sketches of beginners, 
who yet have the heart and boldness to try to 
copy a great and difficult model. ' Yet Dean 
Church admits that the ascetic movement ended 
in failure. It failed, because it was based on a 
false philosophy ; it failed, because it ignored and 
defied the facts of human nature ; it failed, because 
it never comprehended God. Healthy human 
nature protests against a doctrine which teaches 
self-denial for its own sake, and pronounces 
misery to be more acceptable in God's sight than 
happiness. 



*54 



CHAPTER XIII. 

CASES OF CONSCIENCE. 

WHEN our Lord prayed for His disciples, 
* I pray not that thou shouldest take them 
from the world, but that thou shouldest keep 
them from the evil/ 1 He looked forward to the 
time when His followers would live in association 
with other men, and be exposed to temptations as 
other men. They would be transformed from 
bondage to liberty, from darkness to light, from 
death to life, but" would necessarily be affected by 
the social conditions in which they lived. As the 
Gospel spread, the new converts would be exposed 
to similar experiences. They would live their 
lives under the new conditions of discipleship, but 
surrounded by the customs and temptations with 
which they had been familiar in the past. The 
mingling of the new life with the old brought 
about important questions. ' How ought a 
Christian slave to behave towards a heathen 
master ? ' If a dispute arose between Christian 

1 John xvii. 15. 

155 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

men, how was it to be settled? Was it necessary 
to carry the case to the heathen courts of justice ? 
If a wife became a Christian, must she separate 
from her heathen husband? What course must 
be taken when at a social feast a Christian was 
offered meat which had been sacrificed to an idol ? 
These were not questions of right or wrong, but 
of moral expediency. Different opinions might 
be conscientiously held regarding the answers to 
them, and differences of opinion might involve 
dissensions in the Christian brotherhood. It was 
of inestimable value to the early Church to have 
the guidance of the master-mind of St. Paul, not 
merely to lay down rules for special cases, but to 
indicate the spirit in which all cases of conscience 
should be met. As an exhibition of the spirit by 
which men should be guided, we may take as 
examples questions which arose at Rome and 
Corinth. 

In Rome there were some Church members 
who judged it right to mark certain days by special 
observances, 1 and others who abstained wholly 
from flesh meat and wine. 2 Others had no such 
scruples : they had faith to eat all things, they 
deemed every day alike. Thus there were the 
materials for division into two parties, the strong 

1 Rom. xiv. 5- 2 Rom. xiv. 2, 21. 

156 



CASES OF CONSCIENCE. 

and the weak. Had they been contented to carry 
out their convictions, and to exercise mutual for- 
bearance, no injury would have been caused to the 
Church. But when the strong despised the weak, 
and the weak passed judgment on the strong ; or, 
against their conscience, did things they held wrong 
in order to avoid contempt : then there was danger 
to the unity of the brotherhood. 

At Corinth, the question, though similar in 
principle, was different in origin. The opposing 
parties — the weak and the strong — were divided 
on the question of eating meat which had been 
offered to an idol. To the weak, the eating of 
such meat was an act of idolatry ; the strong 
replied, l An idol is nothing : why then should we 
not eat ? ' l In Corinth, as in Rome, the liberty of 
the strong was in danger of becoming a stumbling- 
block to the weak, the brethren for whose sake 
Christ died. St. Paul deals vigorously with each 
case ; and in such a way as to elevate the purely 
local and temporal difficulty into a position from 
which universal and abiding principles may be 
learnt. 

1 i Cor. viii. 4; 1 Cor. x. 19. 



157 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

(a) St. Paul's Teaching to the Weak. 

He tells them their scruples are a mistake ; 
but nevertheless, until their consciences are en- 
lightened, they must respect their decisions. His 
judgment is wholly on the side of the strong. 
When he says, ' We that are strong,' x he asso- 
ciates himself with them. c We know/ he says, 
' that no idol is anything in the world, and that 
there is no God but one, 2 and therefore all things 
are clean.' 3 ' I know, and am persuaded in the 
Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean of itself. 4 'Meat 
will not commend us to God ; neither if we eat 
not, are we the worse ; nor if we eat, are we the 
better.' 5 He maintained that the root of the weak- 
ness with regard to eating was a weak faith. It 
was a failure to recognise that the soul, which 
has committed itself to Christ, is free from all 
laws, except those which are involved in responsi- 
bility to Him. 6 

Nevertheless, though a man be wrong, his con- 
science must be obeyed. Enlightenment cannot 
follow disobedience. 

From the treatment of the weak by St. Paul 
two moral principles of great value may be evolved : 

1 Rom. xv. i. - i Cor. viii. 4. 3 Rom. xiv. 20. 4 Rom. xiv. 14. 
5 1 Cor. viii. 8. 6 Denney, Expositors G.T. t vol. ii., p. 700. 

158 



CASES OF CONSCIENCE. 

(a) Over-scrupulousness, so far from being a 
virtue, is a weakness to be got rid of ; it is a sign 
of defective faith, and of imperfect knowledge. It 
shows a narrow outlook, and may become a 
disease. * Fatty degeneration of the conscience,' as 
it has been wittily called, 1 is an ailment to which 
a certain 'type of religious person is peculiarly 
liable. So long as they regard their super-sensi- 
tiveness with Pharisaic self-complacency, there is 
small hope of their recovery. 

(&) Yet St. Paul asserts unhesitatingly the 
supremacy even of a weak conscience ; it ought to 
be enlightened, but until it is it must be obeyed. 
i May we not,' says Newman, ' look for a blessing 
through obedience, even to an erroneous system, 
and a guidance, even by means of it, out of it ? 
... I have always contended that obedience even 
to an erring conscience was the way to gain light, 
and that it mattered not where a man began, 
so that he began on what came to hand, and in 
faith.' 2 Such also was St. Paul's belief. He is 
sure that the weak are wrong, but he is equally 
sure that they must follow their conscience. 
This view is justified by experience. * A wounded 



1 This expression occurs in Isabel Carnaby, but is used by a writer 
in the Spectator several years before (December 26th, 1891). 

2 Apologia, p. 206. 

J 59 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

conscience/ says Fuller, c can unparadise Paradise 
itself/ ' Others persuaded,' writes Laud in his 
diary, * but my own conscience loudly forbade me. 
. . . Ah, how much better had I suffered martyr- 
dom with Thy protomartyr upon his commemora- 
tion day, than done the pleasure of two faithless, 
careless friends. ... I am not stoned for my sins, 
but stoned by them.' 1 ' Conscience, conscience/ 
said Juba ; * yes, certainly, once I had a conscience. 
Yes, and once I had a bad chill, and went about 
chattering and shivering ; and once I had a game 
leg, and then I went limping ; and so, you see, 
I once on a time had a conscience. O yes, I have 
had many consciences before now — -white, black, 
yellow, and green ; they were all bad, but they 
are all gone, and now I have none.' That is the 
result of treating conscience as a bad adviser, to 
be silenced, and got rid of as quickly as possible. 

(b) St. Paul's Teaching to the Strong. 

It has already been shown that St. Paul's sym- 
pathies were with the strong. They were in the 
right. He had himself taught, * All things are 
lawful for me/ but he had expressly limited the 

1 Mozley's Essays, Historical and Theological ', vol. i., p. 146. The 
sin to which the extract refers was the celebration of a marriage of 
a, divorced woman by Laud soon after his ordination. 

160 



CASES OF CONSCIENCE. 

practical application of this principle of Christian 
freedom, ' but not all things are expedient.' The 
law of Christian love must be allowed to be heard, 
and expediency must be carefully considered. 

This expediency is of two kinds : 

(i) Expediency in our own interests: 'All 
things are lawful for me ; but I will not be brought 
under the power of any.' 1 

(2) Expediency in the interests of others : 'All 
things are lawful, but all things edify not.' 2 

The first represents the common-sense view of 
expediency. Liberty is not to be so used that it 
changes into bondage. The moment any indulg- 
ence gains the upper hand, however innocent it 
may be, it is time to make a stand against it, and 
to say plainly, ' I will not be brought into bondage 
by it.' An example of this is seen in cigarette 
smoking. It is innocent in itself, but how quickly 
it may develop into a pernicious habit, and become 
a bondage. No man should allow himself to be- 
come a slave to any habit. He ought to be able, 
if necessary, to throw it aside. This was St. Paul's 
own practice, ' all things are lawful, but I will not 
be brought under the power of any/ 3 

1 1 Cor. vi. 12. 2 I Cor. x. 23. 

3 The whole subject of liberty and expediency is treated by Findlay 
in the Monthly Interpreter, vol. i. 3 p. 292. 

l6l M 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

Of expediency in the interests of others, St. 
Paul has many things to say. Liberty is great, 
but love is greater. The burden of his message, 
whether to Rome, or Corinth, is, c Take heed lest 
this liberty of yours become a stumbling-block to 
the weak.' 1 These words show St. Paul's practical 
moral sanity. He recognises that the strong must 
live, side by side, with those who have neither 
their strength nor their insight. The true, strong 
man in Christ must think of others. He is not 
to be a stumbling-block, or occasion of falling to 
his fellow-men. His actions are to make for 
peace, and for the edification of others. So far 
does St. Paul press this principle, that he teaches 
that liberty must be sacrificed if need be : c If 
because of meat thy brother is grieved, thou 
walkest no longer in love ... it is good not to eat 
flesh, nor to drink wine, nor to do anything 
whereby thy brother stumbleth.' 2 He lays no 
yoke that he will not gladly bear himself. ( If 
meat make my brother to stumble, I will eat no 
flesh for evermore, that I make not my brother to 
stumble.' 3 Does this bear too heavily on the 
strong ? Would it not be better to stand up 
boldly and show that the weak are wrong ? Cer- 
tainly this would be right in some cases. But 

1 I Cor. viii. 9. 2 Rom. xiv. 15, 21. 3 1 Cor. viii. 13. 
162 



CASES OF CONSCIENCE. 

each case must be dealt with as it occurs, with a 
clear view of what is at stake. The threefold 
motive which influenced St. Paul's action muse 
have weight with every Christian man : the peace 
of the Church, the claims of brotherhood, and the 
readiness to sacrifice self for others. We are 
members one of another, each individual life is a 
part of the whole life of the community to which 
we belong. We must follow after things whereby 
we may edify one another. 1 The tie of obligation 
is strengthened, when the Apostle reminds the 
strong of their brotherhood with the weak. They 
may be ignorant and foolish, but they have this 
claim at least, they are of the same household of 
faith. The spirit to sacrifice self for others must 
also influence our attitude. ' We that are strong 
ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not 
to please ourselves ... for Christ also pleased 
not Himself/ 2 This is the supreme motive, and 
for every man whose heart lies open to its appeal, 
it is the conclusion of the whole matter. 

(c) St. Paul's Teaching on 'Judging.' 

This is addressed to both weak and strong. 
To the weak he writes : ' But thou, why dost thou 
judge thy brother ? ' 3 Then turning to the strong, 

1 Rom. xiv. 19. 2 Rom. xv. 1-3. :< Rom. xiv. 10. 

163 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

' Thou again, why dost thou set at nought thy 
brother, for we shall all stand before the judgment- 
seat of God. For it is written, As I live, saith 
the Lord, to me every knee shall bow, and every 
tongue shall confess to God. So then each one 
of us shall give account of himself to God. Let 
us not therefore judge one another any more/ 1 

The question naturally arises, What does St. 
Paul mean by 'judging ' ? ' To think is to com- 
pare,' says Prof. Hoffding, in his Elementary Logic, 
but comparison involves judgment. If this be 
so, we cannot think of others, without judging 
others. To think of others is no sin, since it is im- 
possible not to do so ; what, then, is the boundary- 
line, where judgment, which is merely an integral 
element of thought, passes from a purely psycho- 
logical phenomenon into sin? What element in 
the judgment is it which constitutes sin? The 
answer to these questions can be gathered from 
St. Paul's words. The 'judging/ which he con- 
demns, is not the thought we give to others in the 
spirit of brotherly love ; but thought which is 
marked by censoriousness in the weak, as they 
judge the strong ; and by contemptuousness in 
the strong, as they judge the weak. In both cases 
there is a breach of charity. The exercise of a 

1 Rom. xiv. 10-13 * see a ^ s0 verses 3 and 4. 
164 



CASES OF CONSCIENCE. 

larger liberty provokes the condemnation of men, 
whose principles are strict while their outlook is 
narrow ; and on the other hand, men are tempted 
to regard with scorn the prejudices of the over- 
scrupulous. 

How much of the bitterness which separates 
Christian men might be avoided, if we could 
always bear in mind that we, each one, have a 
Master, to whom we must give account. How 
much sweeter life would be if we could grasp the 
important truth, that the chief thing is, not what 
we think of each other, but what Christ thinks of 
us. Often in our judgments upon others we 
forget that He said : ' Judge not, that ye be not 
judged.' 1 Are we not also taking the judgment 
out of His hands when we judge each other 
in a spirit of either censoriousness or contemptu- 
ousness ? 

1 Matt. vii. i. 



165 



CHAPTER XIV. 

ETHICS OF SOCIAL LIFE. 

(a) Social Order. 

QT. PAUL, as a Roman citizen, upheld the 
^ great principle of Roman Law, viz., social 
order. His language is strong and clear in his 
advice : 4 Let every soul be subject to the higher 
powers, for there is no power but of God. He 
that resisteth the power withstandeth the ordi- 
nance of God, and they that withstand shall receive 
to themselves judgment/ l 

In writing to Timothy, 1 1 exhort/ he says, 
' first of all that supplications, prayers, interces- 
sions, thanksgivings be made for all men : for 
kings and all that are in high place, that we 
may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness 
and gravity.' 2 It must have required the courage 
which springs from strong convictions to write as 
St. Paul did to the Roman Church, which con- 
tained a large Jewish element. Obedience to the 
higher powers must have been exceedingly difficult, 

1 Rom. xiii. t 9 2, 21. " 1 Tim. ii. 1, 2. 

166 



ETHICS OF SOCIAL LIFE. 

and St. Paul does not ask for it ; but he does ask 
for subjection or submission on the ground that 
all lawful authority has its source in God. His 
words open too large a subject for discussion in 
these pages. Numberless questions arise from 
them, such as, Is it never permissible to rebel? 
How can it be right to submit to a tyrannical 
or irreligious ruler? How can the authority of 
such a ruler be described as an ordinance of God? 
It is not necessary to discuss these questions; they 
have been in the past the subjects of vehement 
controversy, and might find a place in ' cases of 
conscience.' There may be occasions when sub- 
mission to an earthly authority involves rebellion 
against God, and in such cases the higher authority 
of God claims submission first ; this was an old 
Apostolic rule. 1 But such cases are only occa- 
sional, and are not covered by St. Paul's advice. 
What he desires to impress upon his readers is 
the spirit which yields ready submission to lawful 
authority. The Jews were always noted for a 
rebellious spirit against pagan Rome, and in St. 
Paul's days were constantly raising tumults against 
their rulers. It is this spirit he deprecates when 
he teaches submission. There was a better way 
than rebellion, and this is indicated in the pas- 

1 Acts iv. 19, v. 29. 

167 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

sage quoted from i Tim. Christians must pray 
for their rulers. ' Prayers,' says Bishop Bilson, 
' must .be made for kings and all that are in 
authority, in order that they may discharge their 
duties according to God's ordinance, which is, 
that their subjects by their help and means may 
lead an honest, godly, and quiet life ; godliness 
and honesty being the chiefest ends of our prayers, 
and effects of their powers.' 1 

There can be no doubt of the wisdom of St. 
Paul's precepts, in the best interests of the infant 
Church. He had himself been the subject of 
persecution for alleged rebellion against Caesar, 2 
and knew how easily the Roman power could 
be aroused to hostility when civil order was 
threatened. 

(b) Benevolence. 

A distinction was made by Kant between 
duties of perfect obligation and duties of imper- 
fect obligation. The former are duties obligatory 
at all times, and under all circumstances ; such, 
for example, as the Ten Commandments. The 
latter are duties which cannot be exactly formu- 
lated, but yet they are duties which every good 
man is expected to perform. Christianity does 

1 On Christian Subjection, p. 339. 2 Acts xvii. 7. 

168 



ETHICS OF SOCIAL LIFE. 

not make any such distinction . It does not 
attempt to regulate specific acts of life, but says, 
c Be ye perfect.* Specific acts and abstentions are 
not so important as 'the spiritual principle' which 
influences conduct. What a man c is ' is more 
important than what a man * does.' This makes 
the spiritual principle, which is prominent in St. 
Paul's ethics, of supreme importance. Where 
there is union with Christ, the whole conduct is 
influenced in a moral direction, and all actions 
have a higher ethical value than they have if done 
in obedience to a code of laws, however exhaustive. 
When St. Paul teaches almsgiving, it is not be- 
cause it was regarded as a virtue in the Old 
Testament, but because it was a natural fruit of 
Christ's presence in the Christian life. His 
chief aim was to form character in his converts 
by teaching them to be imitators of Christ. They 
were to be dominated by the Christ spirit until 
Christ was formed in them. 1 The sorrow which 
St. Paul often expresses in his Epistles was chiefly 
caused by actions which showed that his converts 
had fallen short of the high standard expected of 
those who were 'in Christ.' His expectation was 
that all virtues would blossom more abundantly in 
lives that were uplifted by union with Christ ; and 

1 Gal. iv. 19. 
169 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

all duties would be more cheerfully performed. 
Tne working of the Spirit would not only make 
lives purer, but would promote an outflowing of 
kindly feeling and generosity towards all in need. 

Much space is given in St. Paul's Epistles to 
the duty of benevolence, as one might expect from 
one who had the mind of Christ. 

It was no new duty to Jewish converts, for 
later Judaism had given an important place to 
almsgiving in the life of a pious Jew. The 
Deuteronomic code enjoined, £Thou shalt surely 
open thine hand unto thy brother, to thy needy, 
and to thy poor/ x ^ The later priest code made 
special provision for the needy. 2 In the Apocrypha, 
almsgiving is exalted to such a position that alms 
combined with fasting is regarded as a means for 
obtaining forgiveness of sins. 3 The precepts were 
excellent, but the motives were not always as 
worthy. Good deeds were to be done to obtain 
favour, with God or with man, and were not 
closely connected with the sanctification of the 
disposition. The custom of giving alms in public 
provoked a stern rebuke from our Lord. 4 He 
taught that almsgiving was a matter between man 
and God, and not a matter for public display in 

1 Dent. xv. n. 2 Lev. xix. 9, 10. 3 Tobit iv. 11, 12. 
4 Matt. vi. 2, 4. 

170 



ETHICS OF SOCIAL LIFE. 

order to gain popular applause. His whole life 
was the manifestation of the spirit from which 
true benevolence naturally flows. That St. Paul 
had caught the spirit of his Master we may gather 
from his address to the Ephesian elders, in which 
he quotes words of Jesus not recorded in the 
Gospels : ' It is more blessed to give than to 
receive/ * 

* The importance attached to benevolence by 
St. Paul is illustrated not merely by specific 
commands, such as the charge to the Roman 
Christians to ' communicate to the necessities of 
the saints/ 2 but by his activity in promoting works 
of charity. 

In the Acts, we are told that, when a famine 
was impending, the disciples at Antioch determined 
to send relief to their Judasan brethren, and 
selected Barnabas and Saul to convey their gifts 
to the elders. 3 In the Epistle to the Galatians 
St. Paul relates the decision of the older Apostles 
to send him and Barnabas on a mission to the 
Gentiles, and adds, ' only they would that we 
should remember the poor ; which very thing I 
was also zealous to do/ 4 This zeal had important 
results, for it led St. Paul to organize a relief 
fund for the poor saints at Jerusalem in the pro- 

1 Acts xx. 35. ° Rom. xii. 13. ! Acts xi. 29, 30. 4 Gal. ii. 10. 

171 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

vinces which he had visited, and in which he had 
founded Churches. It is in connection with this 
effort that we have most of the Apostle's teaching 
upon benevolence, teaching which has influenced 
all future generations of Christians. 

It must first be noted that St. Paul does not lay 
down any rules as to the scale of Christian giving. 
There is no mention of a tithe, as we might 
expect from one brought up in Jewish customs. 

The principle he lays down is : ' Let each man 
do according as he hath purposed in his heart, 
not grudgingly, or of necessity ; for God loveth 
a cheerful giver/ M At the same time, he enjoins 
regular giving ; for he gave orders to the Churches 
of Galatia and Corinth as follows : ' Upon the 
first day of the week let each one of you lay by 
him in store, as he may prosper/ 2 This order 
was given in order to avoid a special effort when 
he was present, which would be merely spasmodic 
generosity, or a tribute to the Apostle's personal 
influence. Amongst all the Churches, St. Paul 
singled out those of Macedonia as examples to be 
followed by others. The root from which their 
benevolence grew was a strong one. ' First they 
gave their own selves to the Lord.' 3 Following 
up their personal dedication, they gave < Accord - 

1 2 Cor. ix. 7. 2 I Cor. xvi. 2. s 2 Cor. viii. 5. 

172 



ETHICS OF SOCIAL LIFE. 

ing to their power, yea, and beyond their power, 
they gave of their own accord.' 1 They were in 
material things poor, but ' their deep poverty 
abounded unto the riches of their liberality.' 2 

The whole passage is a splendid tribute to the 
power of Christ to lift the benevolence in the 
natural man to a higher level, as a manifestation 
of Christian life ; and St. Paul goes on to show 
that a generous spirit, manifest in deeds of kind- 
ness, shows thanksgiving to God and gives Him 
glory. It is a proof of holy obedience to the 
spirit of the Gospel. It draws closely the bonds 
of love uniting Christian brethren. These pur- 
poses were doubtless in St. Paul's mind when he 
organized his great relief scheme. All Christians 
were to be united in one body : all the other 
members of the body must help, if one member 
suffered. This strong clear teaching of St. Paul 
had much influence upon the future conduct of 
Christians, and contributed greatly towards the 
union of all the Churches in one Holy Catholic 
Apostolic Church. When much of St. Paul's 
dogmatic teaching was lost sight of in the contro- 
versies of succeeding ages, the sense of brotherhood 
remained, and saved the Church from falling into 
unconnected fragments. 

1 2 Cor. viii, 3. 2 2 Cor. viii. 2. 

*73 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

St. Paul's teaching of benevolence was not 
confined to care for the poor saints. From his 
own position of personal independence he was 
able to lay down the duties of the members of 
a church to maintain their ministers, without 
exposing himself to the charge of self-seeking. 

In writing to the Galatians he says : ' Let him 
that is taught in the Word communicate unto him 
that teacheth in all good things.' x The import- 
ance of this duty is impressed in very marked 
language. If it is neglected, God is mocked. 
c Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also 
reap/ l Although St. Paul refused help from some 
Churches, yet he gladly accepted it from the 
Philippian Church, and he speaks in warm terms 
of their generosity. ' Not/ he says, ' that I seek 
for the gift, but I seek for the fruit that increaseth 
to your account.' 2 How many a minister of 
Christ in the present day seeks for fruit of his 
ministry in the generosity of his people, and 
seeks in vain. It is a remarkable feature in the 
Christianity of to-day, that, while large sums can 
be collected for organs, stained-glass windows, and 
decorations, yet there is the greatest difficulty in 
raising funds for the ministry, and often even for 
the necessary expenses of maintaining the ordinary 

1 Gal. vi. 6, 7. -* Phil. iv. 17. 

174 



ETHICS OF SOCIAL LIFE. 

services of the church. People who have no 
hesitation in spending large sums on luxuries and 
pleasures, when they attend church, seem to become 
suddenly poor, and can only find the smallest coin 
to contribute to the offering, which is presented to 
the Lord for the service of His Church. Although 
there are splendid exceptions, many Churchmen 
excuse their meagre offerings on the ground that 
the Church is rich, and does not need help. This 
plea is persisted in, although it has been shown 
that a large percentage of benefices have endow- 
ments quite inadequate to maintain an incumbent, 
and often the word ' living ' is a mere mockery. 
In any case, ought the generosity of our ancestors to 
be pleaded as a reason for setting aside the teach- 
ing of our Lord and of St. Paul, that the mainte- 
nance of the ministry is one of the duties of a 
Christian? Not only does the special duty of 
generosity towards the ministry need restatement, 
but also the whole subject of Christian benevolence, 
on the principle laid down by St. Paul, that it is 
the natural expression of Christian love. He does 
not advocate community of goods. The com- 
munism, which is described in the early chapters 
of the Acts, does not appear in his writings, and, 
so far as we know, did not spread beyond 
Jerusalem. He is satisfied by stating, ' In all 

i75 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

things I gave you an example, how that so labour- 
ing ye ought to help the weak/ 1 

In the present day, the poor laws have made 
provision for those in destitute circumstances ; and 
frequently, contributions towards the rates are 
pleaded as a reason for withholding charity. It 
cannot be impressed too often that such contribu- 
tions are not v charity.' They cannot take the 
place of the benevolence which St, Paul preached 
and practised. What we are compelled to give is 
not the measure of what we ought to l will ' to give. 
Christ's poor are always with us, and Christ's 
spirit must ever give form to our benevolence. 

Although St. Paul's teaching is so impressive 
regarding almsgiving, yet he carefully guarded 
against indiscriminate benevolence. He com- 
manded that children and even grandchildren 
should undertake the care of widows ; by so doing 
they would show piety in their own family and 
requite their parents. Failure to provide for 
the wants of indigent members of a family is 
declared to be a denial of the faith, and proves a 
man to be worse than an unbeliever. 2 Minute 
directions are laid down for the guidance of those 
who ministered to the widows supported by the 
Church. None are to be inscribed on the roll 

1 Acts xx. 35. a 1 Tim. v. 8. 

176 



ETHICS OF SOCIAL LIFE. 

until they have passed threescore years, having 
been the wife of one man, well-reported for good 
works, hospitality, and service. The Church was 
not to be burdened by supporting young widows, 
or those who had relatives capable of maintaining 
them. * The principles laid down by St. Paul can 
readily be applied in the present day ; not to limit 
benevolence, but to secure that it is applied where 
it is most likely to have value. 

(c) Purity. 

The low moral tone of the Graeco-Roman 
world in St. Paul's time is illustrated abundantly 
in the Epistles. Contact with the East had led to 
deplorable immorality, which was eating like a 
disease into both Roman and Provincial life. The 
Epistles to the Romans and the Corinthians prove 
how keenly St. Paul realised the impurities which 
stained the lives of the people of Rome and Corinth. 

The latter city had * an unenviable fame for its 
licentiousness, fostered by the local cult of Aphro- 
dite, which was not only on an enormous scale, 
but also on Oriental rather than on Greek lines, 
making vice part of the religious life/ 2 In writ- 
ing to the Ephesians, St. Paul mentions certain 

1 I Tim v. 3-16. 2 Bartlet's The Apostolic Age, p. 130. 

177 N 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

classes of evildoers, who were excluded from the 
kingdom of Christ and God ; and says : ' Have 
no fellowship with the unfruitful works of dark- 
ness, but rather even reprove them ; for the things 
which are done by them in secret it is a shame 
even to speak of/ l In like manner he bids the 
Colossians mortify their lusts, in which they had 
walked aforetime, when they lived in these things. 2 

On another occasion he states that if Chris- 
tians ■ were to avoid the companionship of forni- 
cators, they would have to go out of the world. 3 
With such an evil environment, it must have 
been exceedingly difficult for the converts from 
heathenism to maintain the high moral standard 
required by their new faith. There was need of 
plain speaking, and of clear leading, and both 
of these they found in St. Paul. He was himself 
a man of remarkably pure life ; but wonderfully 
alive to the dangers which beset the new converts. 
The sins which he condemns most severely are 
those which are generally described as ' the sins of 
the flesh ; ' they form a dark list in St. Paul's 
writings. 

iropveia (fornication) stands first among the 
works of the flesh. It was especially condemned 
for the following reasons : — 

1 Eph. w ii, 12. 2 Col. Hi. 5-7. 3 1 Cor. v. 10. 

178 



ETHICS OF SOCIAL LIFE. 

(a) It was a profanation that any one should 
take the members of Christ, and make 
them the members of a harlot. x 

(&) It is a sin against a man's own body. 
' Every sin,' he says, * that a man doeth is 
without the body ; but he that committeth 
fornication sinneth against his own body.' 2 

/Aot^eia (adultery), the word is not found in 
St. Paul's epistles, but the noun /x,oixo9 3 and the 
verb fjioiyeveiv * both occur. 

OLKadoLpa-ia (uncleanness), is found in close 
proximity to iropveia. 

acrekyeta (lasciviousness). 5 Both Lightfoot 
and Ellicott translate this word * wantonness.' 
1 A man may be aicdOapTos and hide his own sin ; 
he does not become dcreXyqs, until he shocks 
public decency.' 6 In classical Greek, the word 
was associated with insolent or violent conduct. 
In the New Testament, the prominent idea is 
sensuality. 

Trddos (passion), means lustfulness, and implies 
a disposition towards lust, morbum libidinis? 

Still darker forms of impurity are expressed in 



1 i Cor. vi. 15. 2 1 Cor. vi. 18. 3 I Cor. vi. 9. 

4 Rom. ii. 22, xiii. 9. 5 Rom. xiii. 13; Gal. v. 19 ; Eph. iv. 19. 

6 Lightfoot, Galatians, p. 207. 7 Bengel. 

179 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

the words //.aXctKos and ap<r&/oKoinq^ which show 
the utmost depths of depravity. 1 

All these sins spring from ' evil desire/ and 
were dealt with unsparingly. Christians are to 
mortify them. They are to remember that such 
sins close the door of the Kingdom of Heaven. 

Another class of sins, which are branded as 
breaches of Christian purity, were closely associated 
with the social life of the Greeks in St. Paul's 
time, they are : — 

fjb€07j — drunkenness, R.V. (Gal. v. 21). 

dcr&ma — riot, R.V. (Eph. v. 18). Frequently 
an accompaniment of fiedr}. 

Ktofjioi 2 — revellings, R.V. (Gal. vi. 21). 

But St. Paul was not content with denounc- 
ing the sins of impurity. He gives positive 
reasons why purity should be manifest in every 
Christian life. 

(a) All Christians are called to be 'saints.' 3 
They must walk worthily of their calling. 

(6) They are united to Christ. ' The body 
is not for fornication, but for the Lord ; and the 
Lord for the body. Know ye not that your 

1 On the prevalence of these sins in the highly civilised cities of the 
Roman world see Rom. i. 27, in Scripture ; and Horace's Satires, in 
profane literature. 

2 Hesychius explains kuj/joi : to. acekyrj ko.1 wopviKa acjuarn : 
GVfiirocria. 3 I Cor. i. 2. 

180 



ETHICS OF SOCIAL LIFE. 

bodies are members of Christ/ 1 The Christian 
must keep before him the holy figure of his Lord; 
and bear in mind that he is a member of Him, 
who was spotless in His purity. 

(c) The bodies of Christians are temples of 
the Holy Ghost. 2 This figure would appeal most 
strongly to the Jewish members of the Church. 
The Temple was to the Jew the one place entirely 
dedicated to God's service, and was the special 
place where God manifested His presence. Thus, 
St. Paul taught, it is with our bodies. In them, 
God, the Holy Spirit, dwells ; through them, He 
manifests Himself to the world, and Christian 
lives become the media, through which all men 
can learn the character of God. 

(d) Christians are bought with a price, they 
are a redeemed people, and belong to God. 
Therefore they are bound to glorify God in 
their body. 3 When our bodies are disciplined, and 
purified, and fitted for His habitation, then God 
is glorified in them. He is dishonoured when our 
bodies become the instruments for sin ; when they 
are despised, or neglected, or indulged, or impure. 

(e) The consecration of the body to God's 
service occupies an important place in the Epistle 
to the Romans. St. Paul had stated his doctrine 

1 I Cor. vi. 13-15. 2 1 Cor. vi. 19. 3 1 Cor. vi. 20. 
xSi 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

of grace, and had dwelt upon the divine mercy. 
He had broken out into one of his magnificent 
rhapsodies : * O the depth of the riches both of 
the wisdom and the knowledge of God, how 
unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways 
past tracing out ! ... of Him, and through Him, 
and unto Him, are all things/ 1 Then comes his 
appeal : ' I beseech you therefore by the mercies 
of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, 
holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable 
service/ 2 These v/ords express the entire sacrifice 
of the life to God. The Thought of self is merged 
in the thought of God. We might have expected 
that this would have been expressed by some 
such words as * present your souls, 5 but St. Paul 
deliberately says fc present your bodies J In so 
saying he corrects those who think that if the 
spirit is right, the actions do not matter. This 
was the error at Colosse. It is the root-thought 
of all antinomianism ; it is entirely Anti-Christian. 
It ignores the great mystery of the Incarnation, 
when the Son of God took to Himself a human 
body, and the Word became flesh. 3 

By these arguments St. Paul sets forth the 
positive duty of purity ; they have special value 
in our own day. Modern civilisation addresses 

1 Rom. xi. 33-36. 2 Rom. 12. i. 3 John i. 14. 
182 



ETHICS OF SOCIAL LIFE. 

appeals ever more powerful to our bodies. Every 
craving of the human appetite is provided for, in 
a manner which is attractive and enticing. Little 
thought is given as to whether an indulgence of 
the body is right or wrong as long as it appears 
desirable. ' Keep thyself pure ' l should be the 
motto of those who stand ever in the presence of 
Him, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. 

(d) St. Paul's Teaching regarding 

Marriage. 

Although the Apostle was by choice a celibate, 
he did not adopt an ascetic view of marriage. 
There is no taint of Essenism in his discussion of 
the question, nor did he give his adherence to 
those schools of Oriental philosophy which derided 
all natural inclinations, and looked upon marriage 
only on one side, regarding it as carnal and 
sensual. 

St. Paul's advice to the Corinthian Church was 
dictated by the critical character of the times, and 
by the expectation of a speedy " Parousia.' He 
says, * I think therefore that this is good by reason 
of the present distress, namely, that it is good for 
a man to be as he is. Art thou bound unto a 
wife ? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed 

1 i Tim. v. 22. 

183 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

frcm a wife? seek not a wife. But and if thou 
marry, thou hast not sinned ; and if a virgin 
marry, she hath not sinned. Yet such shall have 
tribulation in the flesh : and I would spare you.' l 
He ascribes no intrinsic merit either to marriage 
or to celibacy; both states are allowable. Even 
second marriages are permitted with the proviso 
that they are 'In the Lord.' 2 

Although the personal opinion of the Apostle 
is that a widow will secure her own happiness 
better by avoiding remarriage, yet it appears that, 
later in life, he revised his opinion, for he says, * 1 
desire therefore that the younger widows (or 
women) marry, bear children, rule the household.' 3 
St. Paul, although guarded in his advice, realised 
the blessedness of a marriage based upon true love, 
and uses it as a type of the union between Christ 
and His Church. He followed the teaching of our 
Lord in regarding it as indissoluble : * Art thou 
bound unto a wife ? seek not to be loosed/ 4 4 I 
give charge . . . that the wife depart not from her 
husband . . . and that the husband leave not his 
wife.' 5 In the event of a wife separating from her 
husband, she is commanded to remain unmarried, 
or else to be reconciled to her husband. And the 

1 i Cor. vii. 26-28. 2 1 Cor. vii. 39. " 1 Tim. *\ 14. 
4 1 Cor. vii. 27. 5 I Cor. vii. io, 11. 

184 



ETHICS OF SOCIAL LIFE. 

whole passage is rendered more impressive by the 
clause, which makes the command, not an opinion 
of the Apostle, but a judgment ofUte-Lord. 1 

The relative duties of the husband and wife 
are clearly laid down. The husband is the head 
of the wife, and is to love his wife, as Christ loved 
the Church. 2 As a man loves his own body, so 
he is to love his wife. 3 

The Apostle regards marriage as effecting a 
perfect unity between husband and wife ; and to 
emphasise the unity he quotes the Old Testament 
precept, reinforced by our Lord, * A man shall 
leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to 
his wife, and the twain shall become one flesh.' 4 
He presents us with an attractive picture of a 
Christian home, where there is headship in the 
husband, and subordination in the wife, 5 yet both 
joined together in the bond of their mutual love. 

1 I Cor. vii. 10-12. ° Eph. v. 25. 3 Eph. \. 28. 

Note. — On the indissolubility of the marriage tie, F. \Y. Robertson 
says, in his sermon on Christian casuistry : ( Marriage is of all earthly 
unions, almost the only one permitting no change, but that of death. 
It is that engagement, in which man exerts his most awful and solemn 
power — the power of responsibility, which belongs to him as one that 
shall give account — the power of abnegating the right to change — the 
power of parting with his freedom — the power of doing that which can 
never be reversed. And yet it is perhaps the relationship which is 
spoken of most frivolously, and entered into most carelessly and wan- 
tonly.' — Sermons, third series, p. 180. 

4 Gen. ii. 24 ; Mark x. 7 ; Eph. v. 31. 5 Eph. \. 24. 

185 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

No bitterness 1 mars the union, no hatred dissolves 
it. 2 This high, pure standard of marriage is one 
of the fairest fruits of Christian moral teaching, 
and has elevated the position of women, from the 
low position they occupied in Jewish and Greek 
civilisations, to their present position as true help- 
meets of their husbands. The tendency of modern 
legislation is in favour of accentuating the inde- 
pendence of married women. It was necessary to 
protect them from the covetousness or rapacity of 
their husbands, and the much-needed ' Married 
Women's Property Act ' has given married women 
control over their own property, as the Common 
Law protects their persons. The danger is, that 
the independence gained may degenerate into a 
separation of interests and pursuits. The safe- 
guard lies in St. Paul's teaching. In it the head- 
ship of the husband is clearlv laid down ; and the 
spirit in which that headship is to be exercised is 
th e spirit of love. Where there is true lov e 
between husband and wife, a recognition that their 
unity is a real one, there can be no * meum 
and tuum ' ; all things are held in common as 
a trust from God, to whom account must be 
given. 

St. Paul had not merely to lay down general 

1 Col. Hi, iq. 2 Eph. v. 29. 

186 



ETHICS OF SOCIAL LIFE. 

rules for the married, but also to consider the 
special cases where one of the parties was a 
Christian, and the other an unbeliever. These 
cases he contemplated as arising out of the past. 
He does not regard them as possible in the future, 
for he contemplates future marriages of Christians 
as being 'In the Lord,' and doubtless included 
marriage in the command, ' Be not unequally 
yoked with unbelievers/ l In the first stages of 
the Christian Church there must, however, have 
been many instances of a husband or wife be- 
coming a Christian and the partner remaining a 
heathen. To meet such cases the Apostle says, 
with the sanction of the Lord : ' If any brother 
hath an unbelieving wife, and she is content to 
dwell with him, let him not leave her. And the 
woman, which hath an unbelieving husband, an.l 
he is content to dwell with her, let her not leave 
her husband." 2 The rule is enforced by the state- 
ment, that the unbelieving partner is sanctified by 
the believing one, and the sanctity of the children 
is secured. To make the rule more acceptable, 
the Apostle breaks forth into one of his wonder- 
fully touching appeals. ' How knowest thou, O 
wife, whether thou wilt save thy husband? or how 
knowest thou, O husband, whether thou wilt save 

1 2 Cor. vi. 14. 1 Cor. vii. 12, 13 

187 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

thy wife ? ' l What comfort and support this 
teaching of St. Paul has given in all ages to men 
and women who have found the unity of their 
married life threatened by differences of religious 
belief. It is this high spiritual tone that makes 
St. Paul's ethical teaching an example to every 
generation of Christian teachers. 

But St. Paul teaches that marriage is not only 
a social bond, it is also a fAvo-TTJpLov. He says, 
' This mystery is great : but I speak in regard of 
Christ and of the Church.' 2 /jLvar^piot/ is used by 
St. Paul to signify something which cannot be 
fully comprehended by human reason until assisted 
by Divine help ; or something hidden from men, 
and afterwards made known by revelation. 3 Bishop 
Ellicott says, 4 c It is needless to observe that the 
words cannot be urged in favour of the sacra- 
mental nature of marriage (Concil. Trid. w., 
init.), but it may fairly be said that the very fact 
of the comparison (see Olshausen) does place mar- 
riage on a far holier and higher basis than modern 
theories are disposed to admit/ 

It is this religious side of marriage that the 
Church is bound to emphasise, and must resist all 

1 i Cor. vii. 16. " Eph. v. 32. 

3 1 Cor. ii. I ; Eph. i. 9, iii. 3 ; Col. i. 26, et passim. It is used 
in St. Paul's Epistles nineteen times. 

4 In his commentary on Ephesians, p. 136. 

188 



ETHICS OF SOCIAL LIFE. 

attempts to reduce it to a mere civil contract, 
easily made and easily dissolved. 

In discussing the relations of married people, 
St. Paul is not merely general in his teaching. 
He does not hesitate to lay down rules on the 
delicate subject of marital relations. He contem- 
plates that these relations may be interrupted for 
the purpose of entire surrender to prayer ; but 
enjoins that the interruption should be, (a) by 
mutual consent, (b) only temporary, 1 lest a con- 
tinued interruption should lead to the sin of 
incontinency. 

With regard to the celibacy of the clergy, St. 
Paul's writings show that neither he nor the other 
Apostles regarded this as a religious duty. He 
claims the right to lead about a wife, even as the 
rest of the Apostles, and the brethren of the 
Lord, and Cephas. 2 A bishop 3 (or overseer), 
elders, 4 and deacons 3 must be the husbands of one 
wife. The meaning of the expression, ' husband 
of one wife/ has been much discussed. The 
meaning may be gathered by comparing it with 
the language of i Tim. v. 9, where a widow, 
in order to be eligible for inscription on the roll 
of the Church, must have been l the wife of 

1 1 Cor vii. 5. 2 1 Cor. ix. 5. 3 1 Tim. iii. 2. 

4 Titus i. 6. 5 1 Tim. iii. 12. 

189 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

one man/ This evidently implies that she must 
not have contracted a second marriage ; and we 
may fairly conclude that the requirement that 
bishops, elders, and deacons must be the husbands 
of one wife means that they must have been mar- 
ried only once. In the Eastern Church it was the 
rule that bishops should not be allowed to marry, 1 
but the lower orders of the clergy might marry, 
but not remarry in the event of the death of 
their wives. 

In the Western Church, the direction of St. 
Paul regarding the marriage of clergy was not 
regarded as being a precept of perpetual and 
universal obligation. Second marriages were for- 
bidden, 2 but the whole question was regarded as 
disciplinary, and in the Philosophumena, by Hip- 
polytus, it is stated that at the beginning of the 
third century persons who had been married twice, 
or even thrice, were admitted to be deacons, 
priests, and bishops. 

In giving his injunctions, St. Paul may have 
had in view the custom among pagans, that their 
priests should marry only once, 3 and thought it 
advisable that the Christian Church should not be 

1 Concil. Trull., c. 48. 

2 Tertullian, Ad uxorem, c. 7 ; 4th Council of Carthage, c. 69. 
Jerome, AdJovi?iian. i 6 Digamus in clerum eligi non potest.' 

3 See Jerome, Ad Agerughiam. 

190 



ETHICS OF SOCIAL LIFE. 

less strict than the heathen. The adoption of 
celibacy by the clergy in the Western Church 
is a question which belongs to ecclesiastical 
history, and strong opinions will always be held 
as to whether it has been a good or an evil. 
Some of the most splendid Christian characters 
were formed in monasteries, where celibacy was 
the rule. Some of the most profligate men in 
Church history have been professed celibates. 
Which state is preferable for the clergy will 
always be a matter of individual opinion. It is 
sufficient for the purpose of this work to make 
it clear that St. Paul is not on the side of enforced 
celibacy. 

(e) Relative Duties. 

Following upon the subject of marriage, we 
come to the Christian home, and the social duties 
of its members in their relations to each other. 

That St. Paul attached great importance to 
the home life of Christians we gather from the 
following points : 

(i) He refers to houses as Church centres. 
c Salute Priscilla and Aquila . . . and the Church 
that is in their house/ * Again, writing to Phile- 

1 Rom. xvi. 3-5 ; 1 Cor. xvi. 19. 
I 9 I 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

mon, he sends greeting to the Church in his 
house. 

(2) He regarded the home as a sphere for 
acquiring the capacity to preside over the public 
worship of the Church. The bishop must be one 
that ruleth well his own house ; and he particu- 
larly adds, l If a man knoweth not how to rule 
his own house, how shall he take care of the 
Church of God ? ' 1 

(3) He taught that the home is a place where 
piety (evo-efieta) may be practised. 2 

In St. Paul's view, all human relations were 
raised by Christianity to new power and influence 
over the life. Christian homes were capable of 
being Churches in themselves, centres where the 
members of the family, and brethren from with- 
out, could meet and enjoy the fellowship of wor- 
ship. 'Here/ as Bartlet says, 'about the family 
board, where brethren of the household of faith 
were welcomed with sacred joy, the fellowship to 
which baptism admitted received its crown. Here 
the house-father, reverently taking the creatures 
of the Heavenly Father's bounty, blessed with 
words of thanksgiving, and distributed among the 
company, in remembrance of Him whose return 
was at first daily expected. Then did hearts 

1 I Tim. iii. 4, 5. 2 1 Tim. v. 4. 

192 



ETHICS OF SOCIAL LIFE. 
burn, and eyes filled with tears of love and 

What an informing picture this presents to us 
of the home where Christ is loved and honoured. 
Although we now have in every crowded town, 
and in every remote village, a place where Chris- 
tians meet for worship, yet the religion of the 
home should not be neglected, as it is so often in 
these later days. Family prayer, if wisely con- 
ducted, is a splendid preparation for the duties of 
the day. A wise control exercised within the 
family circle may, as St. Paul suggests, train men 
for wider service. Piety may find a field for 
growth, in deeds of kindness, which are possible 
in the home life. 

In the present day there is a loud appeal from 
young members of families for greater liberty of 
action. On all sides it is noted that children are 
passing out of the control of parents. May not 
one cause be, the lack of home religion ? and 
another, the failure of parents to realise their 
responsibility for the instruction of their children 
in religion? Religious instruction has in most 
cases passed from the home to the Church and 
School. When attendance at these is no longer 
enforced, the young break away from what they 

1 Bartlet's Apostolic Age, p. 465. 

193 O 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

regard as the restraints of religion, and claim to 
live their own lives in the manner which most 
appeals to them. 

Closely connected with the home life are the 
precepts which St. Paul gives regarding relative 
duties. These may be summarised as follows : — 

(a) Duties of husbands to wives, and wives to 
husbands. These have already been considered, 
and we may pass to 

(J?) Duties of parents to children, and children 
to parents. These duties are set forth in the 
following passages, Q Children, obey your parents 
in the Lord : for this is right. Honour thy 
father and mother (which is the first commands- 
ment with promise), that it may be well with thee, 
and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye 
fathers, provoke not your children to wrath : but 
nurture them in the chastening and admonition of 
the Lord. j 

* Children, obey your parents in all things, for 
this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, pro- 
voke not your children, lest they be discouraged.' 2 

Simple rules, and yet how little they are 
observed. Obedience and respect, on the part of 
children. Self-control in all the vexatious cir- 
cumstances of daily intercourse, 3 and wise guidance 

1 Eph. vi. 1-4. 2 CoI. iii. 20, 21. 3 See Alford's Greek Testament in loco. 

194 



ETHICS OF SOCIAL LIFE. 

of young souls that are to be trained for Christ, on 
the part of parents. How often these are replaced 
by weak complaisance which overlooks faults, or 
by harsh severity which genders bitterness and 
even enmity. 

(c) Duties of masters to servants, and servants 
to masters. In St. Paul's time slavery was uni- 
versal in the Grseco-Roman world. As Christianity 
attracted to itself many members of the slave class, 
it was necessary to give advice to Christian masters 
in their attitude to their bondservants ; and also 
to instruct slaves in their duties to their masters. 

The principal duties of slaves are expressed 
positively and negatively. They are to honour 
their masters, 1 and to render obedience to them. 
They are to be solicitous and honest in the faithful 
performance of their duties, and single-hearted in 
their service. 2 These are the positive duties. 
The negative are : they must not act with eye 
service, merely to please their masters, but to act as 
the bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God 
from the heart. They must not despise their 
masters, because they are heathen ; but manifest 
trustworthiness, that they may adorn the doctrine 
of our Saviour God in all things. 

Masters are exhorted to act in a kindly manner 

1 I Tim. vi. i. 2 Eph. vi. 5-8 ; Col. iii. 22 ; Titus ii. 9, 10. 

!95 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

towards their servants, and to forbear threatening ; 
they are also commanded to render to their ser- 
vants that which is just and equal, keeping before 
their minds that they have a Master in heaven. 

The conditions of social life in the present day 
are entirely different from what they were when 
these precepts were given, and it may be thought 
unnecessary to repeat them ; but, as we have seen 
in all St. Paul's treatment of questions of an 
occasional character, he lays down principles of 
conduct which are applicable to all time. Kindli- 
ness in a master and faithfulness in a servant are 
never out of date ; and the Christian spirit which 
breathes in St. Paul's advice is the spirit in which 
all labour questions should be approached. In the 
reconstruction of our national life after the war, 
questions affecting the relations of masters and 
servants will need all the moderation and grace 
which St. Paul teaches, if they are to be settled 
without endangering the very existence of society. 

One point, that must ever be kept in the fore- 
ground in all questions arising between masters 
and servants, is fundamental in Christian ethics, 
viz. : No man has the right to regard another 
man simply as fc a means ' ; he is bound to look 
upon him as one who has a definite personality, 
with the right to make the best of his own 

196 



ETHICS OF SOCIAL LIFE. 

life, and not as a machine to be used merely to 
promote the comfort, or to increase the wealth 
of another. 

Before passing from the subject of St. Paul's 
teaching on the relative duties of masters and 
servants, a few words must be said with regard to 
St. Paul's attitude towards slavery. It has been 
asserted that his teaching tended to rivet the 
fetters of the slave, because he advised Christian 
slaves not to seek freedom but to use their condi- 
tion of bondage to the best advantage. ' Wast 
thou called being a bondservant ? care not for it : 
but if thou canst become free, use it rather.' 1 

In reply to this criticism, it may be noted that 
a gospel which taught the value of the individual 
soul, and declared that there was neither bond nor 
free in God's sight, must have attracted large 
numbers of the slave class, and St. Paul saw 
clearly the possibility that men, excited by the 
thought of Christian equality, might be tempted 
to throw off the yoke by violence. This would 
have resulted in social disorder, and would have 
drawn upon the Christian Churches the full 
weight of the Roman power. St. Paul showed 
true wisdom in leaving existing institutions alone ; 

1 i Cor. vii. 21. The interpretation of fxaWov xpf}™ 1 has been 
much disputed. For the authorities see Alford's note on the passage. 

197 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

while at the same time he stated principles of 
brotherhood in Christ, which were bound to act 
as leaven upon society, and to result in the removal 
of the curse of slavery from every Christian 
country. The touching letter to Philemon is in 
itself a sufficient answer to St. Paul's critics. 
Onesimus was no longer a servant, but more than 
a servant, a brother beloved, when he returned as 
a Christian to his old home. 1 This new relation- 
ship involved the charter of freedom to the 
Christian slave. 

1 Philem. 16. 



198 



CHAPTER XV. 

ST. PAUL AND CHURCH ORGANIZATION. 

TT was part of St. Paul's work, as the Apostle 
-* to the Gentiles, to make provision for the 
control and instruction of the converts who formed 
the various Churches. The first step was the 
appointment of elders by St. Paul and Barnabas in 
the cities of Galatia. 1 Many of the converts, 
being Jews, would readily fall in with an arrange- 
ment to which they were accustomed. We learn 
from the Talmud that in every town and village 
where there was a synagogue, there was also a 
local court controlled by the elders of the com- 
munity. The duties of the court were partly 
administrative and partly disciplinary, but it had 
no direct control over the worship or teaching of 
the assembly. When the Gospel spread to places 
where a large proportion of the Church members 
were Gentiles, the appointment of elders would 
harmonise with the Greek custom of local councils, 
which, in St. Paul's time, were still called yepov<riai i 

1 Acts xiv. 23. 
199 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

although they were not confined to the elder 
members of the fiovXrj. The exact functions of 
the 'elders' 1 in the Christian Churches are not 
defined in the New Testament, but they were 
certainly not limited to matters of discipline and 
administration, for the elders at Ephesus were 
exhorted to take heed to themselves and to the 
flock, and ' to feed the Church of the Lord, which 
He purchased with His own blood.' 2 In St. Paul's 
address, from which these words are taken, the 
4 elders ' are called iTrlaKoiroi ; they were to watch 
over the flock, and also to labour to support the 
weak. The title indicates the exercise of over- 
sight. From the whole passage we gather that 
the Ephesian elders exercised two functions. They 
were the rulers of the Church, and they also exer- 
cised the pastoral office. A division of these 
functions is suggested in the later Epistles. 
Philippians is addressed to the saints, together with 

1 Note on TrpEfffivrepot. * There is no reason for deeming this 
technical term a peculiarity of the Jewish idiom. . . . The inscriptions 
of Asia Minor prove beyond doubt that TrpzaflvTipoi was the technical 
term, in the most diverse localities, for the members of a Corporation. 
... It can be demonstrated that in some islands and in many towns 
in Asia Minor there was besides the Boule\ also a Gerousia, which 
possessed the privileges of a corporation, and as it appears, usually 
consisted of Bouleutes, who were delegated to it, its members were 
called ykpovrtg, ytpovaiaarai, Trpecfivrepoi, ytpatoi.' — Deissmann, Bible 
Studies, p. 156. 

2 Acts xx. 28. 

200 



CHURCH ORGANIZATION. 

the bishops and deacons. 1 The bishops probably 
being the rulers or administrators, and the deacons 
exercising the ministerial offices. In i Tim. 
* elders' who rule well (ol ko\5)s irpoeoT&res) are 
declared to be worthy of double honour. 2 In the 
same Epistles we shall see that different qualifica- 
tions are required for bishops and for deacons. 
Two interesting lists of Church officers are supplied 
to us in St. Paul's writings. These lists are re- 
markable for 

(a) The officers mentioned ; 

(b) The differences in the two lists ; 

(c) The omissions in both. 

The first list in point of time is that contained 
in i Cor. 3 In this, a recognised order of prece- 
dence is emphasised. First apostles, secondly 
prophets, thirdly teachers. Following these, 
certain spiritual gifts are enumerated, which 
apparently might be the possession of any member 
of the Church. The second list is in the Ephesian 
Epistle; 4 in this we find apostles, prophets, evan- 
gelists, pastors, and teachers. These officers were 
apparently differentiated in their functions, and the 
longer list indicates that in the Churches to which 
the Epistle was written, Church organization was 
more highly developed than it was when the 

1 Phil. i. I. - t Tim. v. 17. 3 xii. 28. * Eph. iv. 11. 
201 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

Corinthian Epistle was written. The preaching 
of the Gospel to the heathen would probably be 
the work of the c evangelists,' and the pastoral 
work of the Church would be the duty of the 
* pastors/ The omission of bishops, elders, and 
deacons from these two lists does not imply that 
they did not exist in the Churches of Corinth and 
Proconsular Asia, but rather that the duties of 
these officials were fulfilled by persons bearing 
other titles. 

We know from the Epistle of Clement to the 
Corinthians that there were presbyters, exercising 
important functions at Corinth, at the end of the 
first century. The Epistles of Polycarp and 
Ignatius prove that bishops held a pre-eminent 
position in Asia in the first decades of the second 
century. 

St. Paul had taught for long periods in both 
Corinth and Ephesus, 1 and must have laid the 
foundation of the ecclesiastical organization in 
those important centres. Our concern, in this 
work, is not with the future development of the 
organization, but to show the teaching of St. Paul 
regarding the character of the men to whom were 
entrusted the important duties of building up the 

1 Although the Ephcsian Epistle was an encyclical letter, yet a. 
copy would probably be delivered at Ephesus. 

202 



CHURCH ORGANIZATION. 

Body of Christ in the various Churches. This 
information is given in detail in the Pastoral 
Epistles addressed to Timothy and Titus. 

The qualifications or a bishop (enrur/coTros) 1 are 
carefully elaborated ; they may be classified as 
spiritual, moral, intellectual, and social, and show 
that only men of high character were to be admitted 
to the office. 

The qualifications are as follows : A bishop 
must be 

(a) Blameless (a^emX^7rTos), i.e., free from the 

faults he was to reprove in others ; 

(b) The husband of one wife (/uas yvvaiKos 

avrjp) — this probably means, one who 
had not contracted a second marriage ; 

(c) Temperate (yr)<j>a\Lo<s) ; 

(d) Sober-minded (o-d><f>pa)v) ; 
(<?) Orderly (/cooyuos) ; 

(f) Given to hospitality (<j>Lko£evos) ; 

(g) Apt to teach (StSa/crt/cos) ; 

1 ' Of this word as an official title Cremer, p. 889, following Pape, 
gives only one example outside the N.T. "In Athens the name was- 
applied in particular to able men in the subject states who conducted 
the affairs of the same." But we find t7riffK07rot, as communal officers, 
in Rhodes, thus in IMAe 49^ ff (2nd-ist Cent. B.C.) there is named a 
council of five t7ri<7K07roi ; in 50 34 ff (1st Cent. B.C.) three 67n'<7K07roi are 
enumerated. Neither inscription gives any information as to their func- 
tions. . It is perhaps a more important fact that likewise in Rhodes 
67rt<7«:o7roc was a technical term for the holder of a "religious" office/ 
— Deissmann, Bible Studies., p. 230. 

203 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

(h) No brawler ((jltj -rrapoivos) — according to 
Hesychius irapoivia is rj 4k tov olvov 

(i) No striker (fir/ ttXtJkttjs;) ; l 

(j) Gentle (imeuaqs) ; 

(£) Not contentious (a^a^os) ; 

(/) No lover of money (d<£t\apyu/>os). 

In addition, St. Paul required that an into-KOTros 
should rule well his own house, so that he might 
be able to take care of the Church of God. He 
must not be a novice (veocjyvros), 2 that is, not a 
new convert, inexperienced in the Christian faith. 
He must also be of good repute among those 
outside the Church. These minute instructions 
show the anxiety of St. Paul that those called 
to office in the Church should be men of scrupulous 
life, qualified both intellectually and morally to 
exercise their duties, and to be an example to the 
flock committed to their care. 

Further instructions are given regarding 
* deacons/ who were probably closely connected 
with the bishops and assisted them in their duties, 
with special attention to the ministerial functions, 
as distinguished from those of ruling. 

1 Tertullian, DeMonogam., c. 12 : ' Non manu promptus ad cseden- 
dum et pugnax.' 

2 LXX. Ps. i27 J : vs6<pvTa k\atu>v. The word is applied in papyri 
to newly planted palm-trees. 

204 



CHURCH ORGANIZATION. 

They were to be 

Grave (cre^oi) ; 

Not double-tongued (^7) Sikoyot) ; 

Not give nto much wine (fxrj otvco ttoXKS 
7Tpocr€)(ovTe^) ; 

Not greedy of filthy lucre (/xt) aio-poKepBets) ; 

They were also to hold ' the mystery of faith 
in a pure conscience.' x 

The qualifications of an ' elder ' laid down in 
the Epistle to Titus are almost identical with 
those of a 'bishop' in 1 Timothy. There is one 
important addition ; they must be able ' to exhort 
in the sound doctrine, and to convict the gain- 
sayers.' 2 This clearly implies that their duties 
included teaching and discipline. 

In the Church officers named in the Pastorals 
high moral character was an essential. Joined 
with this, they were to possess definite spiritual 
and intellectual gifts ; giving them boldness in the 
faith and aptitude for teaching. Bishops and 
elders should be sympathetic and gentle, like their 
Lord and Master. In the sub-apostolic age great 
emphasis was laid upon the necessity of Church 
officers performing their duties in a tender and 
loving manner. ' Elders ' were to be compassionate, 
merciful to all, turning back the erring, visiting 

1 1 Tim. iii. 10. 2 Titus i. 9. 

205 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

the sick, providing for widows, orphans, and poor. 1 
In these injunctions we can recognise the spirit of 
St. Paul's ethical teaching regarding the qualifica- 
tions of an officer in the great army of Christ. 

In the earlier period of St. Paul's ministry 
it appears that he personally superintended the 
Churches which he had founded. He alludes to 
his anxiety for all the Churches, which was pressing 
daily upon him. When he knew that his active 
ministry must soon terminate, we find him appoint- 
ing Timothy to a special charge in the Church at 
Ephesus. This charge involved the exercise of 
discipline in respect of strange or erroneous doc- 
trine. 2 It also included the oversight of the 

* elders ' and the hearing of complaints against 
them. His advice to Timothy in regard to 
accusations is marked by his usual wisdom : 

* Against an elder receive not an accusation except 
at the mouth of two or three witnesses.' 3 Timothy 
is exhorted thus : ' Preach the word ; be instant 
in season, out of season ; reprove, rebuke, exhort, 
with all long-suffering and teaching.' 

The Lord's bondservant, in dealing with all 
questions coming before him, is to be marked by 
the absence of the spirit of strife. He must be 

1 See Polycarp, Ad Phil. , ^. 6. 2 2 Cor. xi. 28. 

3 1 Tim. v. 19. 

206 



CHURCH ORGANIZATION. 

gentle towards all, apt to teach, forbearing, in 
meekness correcting them that oppose them- 
selves. 1 In his conduct, he must flee youthful 
lusts and follow after righteousness, faith, love, 
and peace. 2 

The impressive exhortations addressed to 
Timothy in the first Epistle have lasting value 
for all the chief pastors of the Church, and close 
with the solemn words : ' O Timothy, guard that 
which is committed to thee.' 3 He had received 
the ' depositum fidei, to be sacredly guarded by his 
diligence and efficiency. If he failed to exercise 
his authority rightly, and placed in positions of 
responsibility in the Church men who were unfit ; 
if, in St. Paul's words, he laid hands hastily — 
i.e., without due examination — upon men ; then 
he would be a partaker of their sins, and would 
be responsible for their failure. In the first 
Collect for Ember Days the Church of England 
prays that this tradition may be observed by those 
responsible for admission to Holy Orders. 

A similar commission was given to Titus, 
another of St. Paul's faithful companions. In the 
Churches in the island of Crete there were dis- 
orders which called for direct oversight, and the 
work was entrusted to Titus. He was to set in 

1 2 Tim. ii. 24, 25. 2 2 Tim. ii. 22. 3 I Tim. vi. 20. 
207 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

order the things that were wanting, and to 
appoint elders in every city. 1 He was to speak,, 
and exhort, and reprove, with all authority. 2 In 
these commissions we seem to have the beginnings 
of what in later times developed into the monarchical 
episcopacy ; but it would be an anachronism to 
assert that it actually existed in St. Paul's time. 
He might delegate authority to Timothy and Titus 
under special circumstances, but he maintained to 
the end his authority as an Apostle to rule over the 
Churches he had founded. He laid the founda- 
tion, others built upon it ; the Pastorals were 
reminders to those who followed him to take heed 
how they builded. 

1 Titus i. 5. 2 Titus ii. 15. 



208 



CHAPTER XVI. 

THE INFLUENCE OF ST. PAUL'S ETHICS IN 
THE POST-APOSTOLIC CHURCH. 

TN the primitive post-apostolic Church, the 
lofty tone of Pauline ethics, as exhibiting a 
spiritual principle, upon which the Christian life 
could be built, became dulled. There was a dis- 
tinct tendency to assimilate the Spirit of life in 
Christ Jesus to the law of Moses ; by setting forth 
the Christian ethic as a body of definite precepts^ 
instead of as a spiritual life lived under the direc- 
tion of the Holy Spirit. These precepts were 
often stated in a negative form. 1 They were 
right in themselves ; and in their high teaching 
of purity, and brotherliness, show the influence of 
our Lord's teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. 
Their defect lay in their religious motive. More 
attention was given to man's moral attitude and 
conduct, than to the ' spiritual ' relation of man to 
God through faith in Christ. 2 

1 See Didache : the two Ways. 

2 See Luthardt, History of Christian Ethics, p. 109. 

209 p 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

In later Judaism, moral precepts took the form 
of a demand on the part of God, and obedience on 
the part of man. The Divine * Code ' filled the 
mind's eye, and the call was for self-discipline, which 
should merit favour and reward, at the hands of 
the Divine Lawgiver of Israel, and avert the judg- 
ments threatened to disobedience. Love for God was 
not excluded, but it held a less prominent place. 

In St. Paul's teaching, the foreground is filled 
with the figure of Christ, who stands in personal 
relations to man, and can become the model for all 
man s relations with his fellows. He teaches that 
in every Christian life the Spirit of Christ is the 
energising force. The love of Christ shapes all 
deeds and all thoughts, and the aim St. Paul has 
in all his teaching is, that he may present every 
man perfect in Christ. 1 We recognise that a high 
spiritual aim is at once the standard, and the motive 
of the Pauline ethic ; and the practical issue of this 
more spiritual attitude must be a higher type of 
conduct than that which springs from a mere legal 
attitude. 

Jewish influences were strong in certain parts of 
the Church, notably in Syria and Alexandria. 

( i ) In Syria, the reversion to ' legalism ' is seen 
in the Didache. The * way of life ' is summed up 

1 Col. i. 28. 
210 



THE POST-APOSTOLIC CHURCH. 

in the two commandments, * Thou shalt love 
the God that made thee/ and * thy neighbour as 
thyself : whatsoever things thou wouldest not have 
done to thyself, do not thou to another/ 

(2) In Alexandria, legalistic influences operated 
through the Old Testament Apocrypha, and led to 
stress being placed on the doctrine of * works.' In 
' Barnabas/ alms, fasting, prayer, and the expiatory 
value of almsgiving are all set forth, and un- 
doubtedly show Jewish influence. 1 At the same 
time the high value placed on intellect, as well as 
* works/ coincided with the contact of Greek 
philosophy with Christianity. It is clear that 
there was a decided falling away from the richer 
spiritual teaching of St. Paul. 

(3) The post-apostolic Church was very largely 
composed of Gentiles ; and they were even less 
conscious than the Jews of the inherent * weakness ' 
of the law as * law ' ; for they had even less than the 
Jews sounded the depths which St. Paul knew so 
well, and felt so acutely. 

With these different elements in the Church, 
it is no marvel that the second generation 
of Christians should have failed to grasp the 
spiritual principle of Pauline ethics, and forgot the 
admonition, ' Walk by the spirit, and ye shall not 

1 Confer Tobit iv. 10, xii. 9. 

211 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

fulfil the lusts of the flesh.' 1 The question was 
not one of piety and zeal, it was one of 
spiritual experience. Various other explanations 
are given for what Luthardt calls c The ob- 
scuration of the Pauline notion.' 2 The Tubingen 
school sought to explain this phenomenon by- 
tracing it to a supposed struggle between Judaic 
and Gentile Christianity in the post-apostolic 
Church, and the gradual adjustment of the 
struggle. But this argument breaks down from 
the fact that the post-apostolic Church was 
essentially a Gentile Christian Church. Ritschl 
in his Origin of the Catholic Church derives 
the dulling of Paulinism, and the rise of a new 
'legalism,' from the inability of the Gentiles to 
grasp the Jewish Old Testament ' presuppositions ' 
which underlay St. Paul's ethical teaching. They 
naturally brought into the Church the heathen 
ideas with which they were familiar, and especially 
heathen moral philosophy. Luthardt 2 agrees with 
Thiersch in explaining the falling away from 
Pauline ethics as due to the necessity of opposing 
Gnostic antinomianism. Definite laws for conduct 
were used to repel the Gnostic claim for licence in 
morals, which claim was based on a false interpre- 
tation of St. Paul's teaching regarding spiritual 

1 Gal. v. 16. 2 Luthardt, p. 109. 

212 



THE POST-APOSTOLIC CHURCH. 

liberty. St. Paul had taught that justification by 
faith brought a man into right relations with God, 
and that those relations influenced his whole moral 
life. When this spiritual attitude was lost sight of, 
moral conduct gradually assumed the character of 
'legality.' Attention was directed more to man's 
moral conduct than to the religious relationship in 
which man stands to God ; and even the religious 
relationship to Christ Himself came to be appre- 
hended as merely the recognition of a rule of faith, 
and the fufilment of its law. 

The Apologists of the second century brought 
into prominence the insistence of Christianity 
upon inward purity, and upon the extension of 
love even to enemies. Justin Martyr showed how 
lives were completely changed by Christian teach- 
ing, and wrote, c We, who formerly found pleasure 
in lust, now find pleasure in moral temperance 
(aoxf)po(rvv7}) ; we, who once followed sorcery, 
have now consecrated ourselves to the good and 
Unbegotten God ; we, who once loved gain 
above all things, now give up what we have to the 
common property ; and share it with all who need/ 
He endeavoured to identify this morality (a) with 
the universal reason of Stoicism, which he asserted 
was, in germ, 1 in every man; (£) with the legalism 

1 <T7T£pjua, hence he derives his doctrine of \6yog tnrepfiariKOQ. 
213 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

of the Jew, who knew as ' Law,' that which by the 
heathen was called ' Reason.' 

In this manner Justin, like other early Apolo- 
gists, sought to commend Christianity to the 
heathen world, by showing that it was identical 
with the primitive truth, which preceded both 
heathenism and Judaism. Thus in Justin's 
writings Christianity is represented on the one 
side as a revelation of the Divine reason, in and 
through Christ (6 Xoyos), and * faith ' as recogni- 
tion of this truth ; on the other side, it is repre- 
sented as * Law ' (6 /caivo? v6fjLos)> which Law was 
really a restatement of the Law of Creation. It 
was therefore a law teaching a morality of universal 
reason. Justin argues that the original truth had 
been obscured and corrupted by both heathen and 
Jews, but was now revived in Christ, and was 
available for the whole human race. It must be 
carefully noted, that man's relationship to God is 
not based by Justin upon his spiritual union with 
Him through Christ (the prominent thought in St. 
Paul's writings), but depends upon conduct, based 
upon knowledge ; and, consequently, faith becomes 
merely an act of obedience. Justin, however, 
agrees with St. Paul in laying down the necessity 
of repentance, and baptism ; the latter bringing 
about a regeneration by the Holy Spirit, together 

214 



THE POST-APOSTOLIC CHURCH. 

with an enlightenment (^kutlo-ju-o?) which leads to 
a new and higher mode of moral conduct. 
Justin's purpose was, as we have remarked, to 
conciliate heathen opponents to Christianity ; and, 
with this end in view, he attempted to show 
that Christianity was in agreement with heathen 
philosophy, in trying to find the path to a higher 
morality by ' knowledge.' In his endeavour, the 
revelation of God in Christ was regarded as a 

* means ' of attaining the higher morality, instead 
of being regarded as the very " essence ' and * goal ' 
of Christianity. 

When we pass from the Apologists to the 
Greek Fathers, we find that their ethical teaching 
is for the most part unsystematic and occasional. 
But on one point they are strictly in line with St. 
Paul's ethics. No one can read his Epistles with- 
out being struck by his strong advocacy of 

* brotherhood. ' It is not merely expressed in 
specific texts, such as : * In brotherly love be 
kindly afFectioned one to another,' * ' Concerning 
brotherly love, ye have no need that I write unto 
you, for ye yourselves are taught of God to love 
one another ; ' 2 but is manifest in the tender 
warmth of his feeling towards his brethren and 
sisters in Christ expressed in almost every page 

1 Rom. xii. 10. 2 I Thess. iv. 9. 

215 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

of his writings. The sense of brotherhood sur- 
vived in the Church, when it had lost much of 
the spiritual ethic taught by St. Paul, and the 
word <f)Lka8ek<f>La is writ large in the Christian life 
of this period. Its sway is at once the proof and 
the measure of the hold which the twin truths 
of Fatherliness in God, and of the value of 
the human person as related to Him, had really 
gained upon Christians, however meagre their 
theoretic insight might be. It involved a revolu- 
tion in moral ideals. Sympathy took the first 
place. Service rendered by man to men, benevo- 
lence to all in need, became the essence of 
worship. Kindly actions were the marks of a 
Christian. The one supremacy in morals was that 
of conspicuous service in word or deed. An 
example of this is found in a letter from Dionysius 
of Corinth (c. 1 70) to the Roman Church 1 : ' From 
the first, it has been your practice to do good to 
all the brethren, and to send sustenance to many 
Churches, even to those in every city. Thus ye 
relieve the wants of the needy, and minister to the 
brethren condemned to the mines/ From this 
letter it is clear that the Roman Church maintained 
the spirit of benevolence taught by St. Paul in his 
Epistle to the Romans. 2 

1 Eusebius, iv. 23. 2 Rom. xii. 13 ; see also Rom. xv. 27. 
216 



THE POST-APOSTOLIC CHURCH. 

After the long struggle against Arianism,. 
during which the attention of the Christian world 
was directed more to theological than to moral 
questions, we find in the writings of St. Augustine 
a return to the Pauline ethic. The four cardinal 
virtues he sets out as follows : * temperantia/ in 
opposition to the love of the world ; ' fortitudo/ 
as the overcoming of suffering and pain by love ; 
'justitia/ as service to God; and * prudential as 
the right distinction between what is to be avoided 
and what is to be chosen. In these, he taught, lie 
moral perfection, and they become virtues in so 
far as they are manifestations of love to God. 1 

Emphasis is laid by Augustine on the inward- 
ness of the disposition towards God, as the all- 
important factor, on which a true morality is 
built ; and the imitation of Christ had far more 
significance to him than it had to the Greek 
theologians. The moral teaching of the great 
Latin Father was, however, vitiated by the fact that 
he did not turn back sufficiently to the central 
point of the Pauline conception. His interest 
was not pre-eminently in the personal relationship 
of the redeemed man to Christ, but rather in a. 
striving after sanctification by the operation of 
grace conveyed through the Sacraments of the. 

1 De Moribus^ i. 25, 15. 
217 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

Church. In Augustine, as in so many of the 
early Fathers, the failure to realise a right relation- 
ship to God resulted in a failure to find a right 
relationship to the world. It is not until the 
time of the Reformation that we find a full recog- 
nition of the Pauline starting-point for the universal 
and absolute imperativeness of all Christian duties. 
The original antithesis between Christianity and 
Jewish legalism was revived ; and it was main- 
tained that the inwardness of faith was the sole 
means of attaining eternal life, in contrast to the 
outwardness of works. All the positive duties of 
the Christian man remained unchanged, but they 
did not rest on ' Evangelical counsels/ They 
found their starting-point in a realised union with 
Christ, and their inspiration in the working of the 
Holy Spirit in the regenerated soul. The moral 
life of the Christian was no longer dependent upon 
rules of conduct enforced by ecclesiastical authority. 
Duties were to be performed because of the rela- 
tion in which man stood to God through Christ ; 
and the moral ideal was no longer the monastic 
life, with its ascetic rules, but a life of obedience to 
the revealed will of God, manifested in the perfect 
life of His Son. Unfortunately, the bitter theo- 
logical discussions, which followed the Reformation, 
the rise of antinomianism, springing once more 

218 



THE POST-APOSTOLIC CHURCH. 

from a false interpretation of St. Paul's writings, 
the divisions into which the Church was rent, 
forced spiritual ethics into the background, and 
the Reformed Churches followed with little change 
the ethical teaching of the pre- Reformation period. 

St. Paul's Ethics and the Present Age. 

In the present day there is a strong call upon 
all Christians to combine for the regeneration and 
perfecting of society. The utter breakdown of 
morality, on the part of some of the great nations 
of the Christian world, is a proof that they have 
lost sight of all the moral progress achieved since 
Christ taught men humility and love. The ma- 
terial and scientific developments of our age have 
absorbed the attention, and prompted the ambitions 
of great numbers of professing Christians. They 
have been the real objects of devotion, and God 
has been forgotten. The result is seen in the 
great War. The knowledge and resources which 
might have effected so many beneficent improve- 
ments in human life have been applied to destruc- 
tion. So terrible have been the calamities that to 
many aching hearts it has seemed as though God had 
abandoned the world He created. The Christian 
knows that such an abandonment is impossible, 

219 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

that His purposes of love can never change, and 
sees in the present crisis a call to deeper faith in 
Christ, who alone can redeem humanity. 

This faith means to us what it meant to St. 
Paul : an entire trust and surrender of our life 
to Christ ; a real union with Him. We have 
seen that when this relationship is established, 
there is not only a fuller sense of man's filial re- 
lationship to God, but also an inspiration to new 
services of love to our fellow-men ; services which 
embrace all human interests. Too many Christians 
are content to rest upon the joy of their personal 
relation to Christ, without realising that they 
should not only receive the things of God, but 
also set them forth for the benefit of all God's 
creatures. Those who long to be ' perfect ' in 
Christ, are bound to help in perfecting others. 
Hence the Church, using the word in a wide sense 
as embracing all who love and serve Christ, should 
set forth clearly that the 'perfection,' which is the 
goal of its members, means not only fellowship 
with God, but also the perfecting of all human 
life. In this work St. Paul's ethical teaching will 
be of the utmost value. An endeavour has been 
made in this work to show that the great Apostle 
rightly interpreted the teaching of our Lord, and 
that he had the mind of Christ ; we can therefore 

220 



THE POST-APOSTOLIC CHURCH. 

follow his teaching without any fear of being 
misled. 

When he taught that full - humanity can only 
be realised ' in Christ/ and that a return to Him 
must precede a return to God, he did not rest at 
that point, but went on to call upon his converts 
to be ' fellow-workers with God. 1 

This is the call which sounds in our ears to- 
day. Obedience will be met by opposition from 
within, for the flesh will still war against the 
•spirit. From without there will be difficulties 
to overcome, as there were in St. Paul's day. 
But victory will be won if faith remains un- 
changed, immovable, undimmed. Nothing could 
be worse for the world than that the Church 
should stand aloof from the problems of the 
future. Such abstention would result in the re- 
organization of the forces of materialism, in order 
to assure the triumph of evil, and the calamities 
of to-day would recur in the future. 

If, however, we cling to the belief that the 
.■solution of all human problems lies in the follow- 
ing of Christ's teaching ; then it is the manifest 
duty of all who have found their true self in Him 
to unite in a great effort to reconstruct society on a 
spiritual basis, and to further the future progress 
of the world towards spiritual ends. If the work 

221 



ST. PAUL'S ETHICAL TEACHING. 

seem too great, we may be encouraged by remem- 
bering that the message delivered by St. Paul was 
given under circumstances far more difficult than 
those of the present age. He spoke to heathen 
converts brought up in all the superstitions and 
abominations of heathenism ; yet his words raised 
them to an entirely different life, and inspired 
in them new and eternal hopes. Conscious of 
their union with Christ, they found in a life 
directed by His Spirit, an antidote to all evil, 
a source of deep and abiding peace, and a sphere 
of service, ever more and more fruitful. Is it 
too much to hope that in the present day, after 
centuries of Christian teaching, the same message 
may be powerful enough to redress the evils that 
press so heavily upon us ; and raise Christian 
morality to even higher power than was reached 
when St. Paul wrote, ' Beloved, let us cleanse our- 
selves from all defilement, of flesh and spirit, 
perfecting holiness in the fear of God.' 1 

1 2 Cor. vii. i. 



LONDON : STRANGE WAV'S, PRINTERS. 







■ 



ill} ! 

m 



Mlii