1 Corinthians 9:16
Yet when I preach the gospel, I have no reason to boast, because I am obligated to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!
Compulsory ServiceJ. Waite 1 Corinthians 9:16
The Obligation of PreachingJ.R. Thomson 1 Corinthians 9:16
The Sin of SilenceAlexander Maclaren1 Corinthians 9:16
A True MinisterA. F. Barfield.1 Corinthians 9:1-22
Abstinence from Rightful PrivilegesF. W. Robertson, M. A.1 Corinthians 9:1-22
Maintenance of the MinistryM. Dods, D. D.1 Corinthians 9:1-22
Ministerial IndependenceJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 9:1-22
Signs of ApostleshipProf. J. R. Thomson.1 Corinthians 9:1-22
The Claims of the Christian MinisterJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 9:1-22
The Leading Characteristics of a Truly Great Gospel MinisterD. Thomas, D. D.1 Corinthians 9:1-22
The Right of the Ministry to SupportJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 9:1-22
The Seal of ApostleshipJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 9:1-22
The Successful MinisterJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 9:1-22
Ministerial SupportH. Bremner 1 Corinthians 9:4-18
A Passion for Preaching1 Corinthians 9:15-16
Constrained to Preach1 Corinthians 9:15-16
Every Christian a PreacherA. Maclaren, D. D.1 Corinthians 9:15-16
Necessity is Laid Upon MeW. Arnot, D. D.1 Corinthians 9:15-16
Paul's ConductJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 9:15-16
Preach the GospelC. H. Spurgeon.1 Corinthians 9:15-16
Preaching the GospelBp. Thorold.1 Corinthians 9:15-16
Professional MinisterT. Guthrie, D. D.1 Corinthians 9:15-16
The Burden of the MinistryH. Melvill, D. D.1 Corinthians 9:15-16
The Ministry and its ResponsibilitiesJ. Parsons.1 Corinthians 9:15-16
The Preacher and His MissionJohn Thomas, M. A.1 Corinthians 9:15-16
The Responsibility of Gospel PreachingCanon Liddon.1 Corinthians 9:15-16
The True PulpitD. Thomas, D. D.1 Corinthians 9:15-16
The Watchword of the True MinisterW. Anderson.1 Corinthians 9:15-16
Reasons for This Self DenialC. Lipscomb 1 Corinthians 9:15-23
St. Paul an ExceptionR. Tuck 1 Corinthians 9:15-23
Compulsory Gospel PreachingE. Hurndall 1 Corinthians 9:16, 17

The sincerity of the strong emphatic language of the apostle in this passage is not to be questioned. His whole life is a proof that it was with him as he here affirmed. A law, a vow, was upon him; and there was no discharge, no intermission, until his fight was fought and his course was run.


1. In what it originated. There is no room for doubt upon this point. Christ himself had met Paul on the way to Damascus, and at the same time that he shed Divine light upon the mind of the persecuting Pharisee Saul, he converted him into the apostle of the Gentiles, and gave him the "marching orders" upon which he was henceforth to act. "Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles." The tones of that voice rang in his ears throughout the whole of the ministry which was thus inaugurated.

2. How it was fulfilled. The record makes it plain that the obligation was not only recognized, but practically fulfilled, in a spirit of cheerfulness, gratitude, confidence, and devotion. Such is the explanation of a life so different from the ordinary life of men; a life which Paul himself acknowledged to be one of toil, of privation, of suffering, and persecution. "Necessity was laid upon him." In Asia and in Europe, to Jews and to Gentiles, he offered with warmth and cordiality the unsearchable riches of Christ.

3. The opening which this obligation left for voluntary devotion and sacrifice. Paul says plainly that he had no choice as to preaching; preach he must; woe is to him if he refrains from doing so! Yet his ardent, generous nature desired to do something over and above what was required. This was the explanation of his refusing to receive pay and maintenance from his converts. He had a right to this, even as his fellow labourers; but he put this right in abeyance; he voluntarily declined what he might have claimed, and thus left himself somewhat in which to glory.

II. THE GENERAL OBLIGATION LAID UPON THE CHURCH OF CHRIST. The acknowledgment here made by the apostle is one which may appropriately be made by the whole Church of Christ.

1. An obligation of authoritative command. The Lord Jesus, who is the Saviour of the world, is the Monarch of his Church. His order is, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." It is only open to us either to dispute his authority or to obey his direction.

2. A moral obligation of gratitude. Jesus himself has unfolded the law: "Freely ye have received; freely give." If we have a just sense of our indebtedness, first to the love and sacrifice of Christ, and then to the self denying labours of those whom he has sent to labour for our spiritual good, we shall feel the gracious constraint leading us to such efforts as he himself has enjoined.

3. An obligation enforced by many illustrious examples of devotion. They who read of the heroic enterprises of Christian evangelists, and of the noble fortitude of Christian martyrs who have died at the hands of those they sought to save, may well gird themselves to the labours to which they are invited by the spirit of benevolence, as well as commissioned by him whose authority is ever binding and whose recompense is ever sure. - T.

But I have used none of these things.

1. He maintains his right.

2. Voluntarily concedes it.

3. Under particular circumstances.

II. COMMENDS DISINTERESTED EFFORT. The desire of personal advantage —

1. Should never be the motive of Christian effort.

2. Is unworthy of the Christian character.

3. Robs us of our true glory.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

The man who has adopted the Church as a profession, as other men adopt the law, the army, or the navy, and goes through the routine of its duties with the coldness of a mere official — filled by him, the pulpit seems filled by the ghastly form of a skeleton that, in its cold and bony fingers, holds a burning lamp.

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

is to preach Christ in His fulness, in His attributes, in His relations to men; is to preach His life as the pattern of Christian morals; His atonement as the substance of Christian doctrine; His resurrection as the source of Christian assurance; and His coming again as the fountain of hope and joy.

(Bp. Thorold.)


1. To state every doctrine contained in God's Word, and to give every truth its proper prominence. Men may preach a part of the gospel. I would not say that a man did not preach the gospel if he did but maintain the doctrine of justification by faith, but he would not preach the whole gospel. No man can be said to do that who leaves out one single truth. Some men purposely confine themselves to four or five topics and make an iron ring of their doctrines, and he who dares to step beyond that narrow circle is not reckoned orthodox. God bless heretics, then, and send us more of them!

2. To exalt Jesus Christ. A great many preachers tell poor convinced sinners, "You must go home and pray and read the Scriptures; you must attend the ministry," and so on. I would not direct to prayer, &c., but simply to faith. Not that I despise prayer, &c. — that must come after faith. None of those things are the way of salvation.

3. To give every class of character his due. He who preaches solely to saints, or solely to the sinner, does not preach the whole of the gospel. We have amalgamation here. We have the saint who is full of assurance and strong; we have the saint who is weak and low in faith; we have the young convert; we have the man halting between two opinions; we have the moral man; we have the sinner; we have the reprobate; we have the outcast. Let each have a word.

4. Not to preach certain truths about the gospel, not to preach about the people, but to preach to the people. To preach the gospel is to preach it into the heart, not by your own might, but by the influence of the Holy Ghost.


1. They are conscious of their own imperfections.

2. All their gifts are borrowed. The life, the voice, the talent are the gift of God; and he who has the greatest gifts must feel that unto God belongs the glory.

3. They are absolutely dependent on the Holy Ghost.


1. The call itself. If a man be truly called of God to the ministry, I will defy him to withhold himself from it. He must preach.

2. The sad destitution of this poor fallen world.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Mark —

I. THE OBLIGATION OF SPEECH. No doubt the apostle had, in a special sense, a "necessity laid upon" him. But though he differs from us in his direct supernatural commission, in the width of his sphere and in the splendour of his gifts, he does not differ from us in the reality of the obligation. The commission does not depend upon apostolic dignity. Christ said, "Go ye into all the world," &c., to all generations of His Church.

1. That commandment is permanent, it is exactly contemporaneous with the duration of the promise which is appended to it. Nay, the promise is made conditional upon the discharge of the duty.

2. Just because this commission is given to the whole Church it is binding on every individual member of the Church. The whole Church is nothing more than the sum total of all its members, and nothing is incumbent upon it which is not incumbent upon each of them. You cannot buy yourselves out of the ranks, as they used to be able to do out of the militia, by paying for a substitute. We all, if we know anything of Christ and His love and His power, are bound to tell it to those whom we can reach. You cannot all stand up and preach in the sense in which I do it. But the word does not imply a pulpit, a set discourse, a gathered multitude; it simply implies a herald's task of proclaiming. Everybody who has found Christ can say, "I have found the Messias," and everybody who knows Him can say, "Come and hear, and I will tell what the Lord hath done for my soul." No man can force you. But if Christ says to me, "Go!" and I say, "I had rather not," Christ and I have to settle accounts between us.

3. This command makes very short work of a number of excuses.(1) There is a great deal in the tone of this generation which tends to chill the missionary spirit. We know more about the heathen, and familiarity diminishes horror. We have taken up, many of us, milder ideas about the condition of those who die without knowing the name of Christ. We have taken to the study of comparative religion, forgetting sometimes that the thing that we are studying as a science is spreading a dark cloud of ignorance and apathy over millions of men. And all these reasons somewhat sap the strength and cool the fervour of a good many Christian people nowadays. Jesus Christ's commandment remains just as it was.(2) Then some of us say, "I prefer working at home!" Well, if you are doing all that you can there, the great principle of division of labour comes in to warrant your not entering upon other fields; but unless you are, there is no reason why you should do nothing in the other direction. Jesus Christ still says, "Go ye into all the world."(3) Then some of you say, "Well, I do not much believe in your missionary societies. There is a great deal of waste of money about them. I have heard stories about missionaries taking too much pay, and doing too little work." Be that as it may, does that indictment draw a wet sponge across the commandment of Jesus Christ?

4. I sometimes venture to think that the day will come when the condition of being received into and retained in the Church will be obedience to that commandment. Why, even bees have the sense at a given time of the year to turn the drones out of the hives. Whether it is a condition of Church membership or not, sure I am that it is a condition of fellowship with Christ, and a condition, therefore, of health in the Christian life.

II. THE PENALTY OF SILENCE. "Woe is me if I preach not the gospel."

1. If you are a dumb and idle professor of Christ's truth, depend upon it that your dumb idleness will rob you of much communion with Christ. There are many Christians who would be ever so much happier and more assured if they would go and talk about Christ to other people. Like the mist, which will be blown away with the least puff of fresh air, there lie doleful dampnesses, in their sooty folds, over many a Christian heart, shutting out the sun, and a little whiff of wholesome activity in Christ's cause would clear them all away, and the sun would shine again.

2. The woe of the loss of sympathies, and the gain of all the discomforts and miseries of a self absorbed life.

3. The woe of the loss of one of the best ways of confirming one's own faith in the truth — viz., that of seeking to impart it to others. If you want to learn a thing, teach it.

4. The woe of having none that can look to you and say, "I owe myself to thee."

5. Aye! but that is not all. There is a future to be taken into account. Though we know, and therefore dare say, little about that future, take this to heart, that he who there can stand before God, and say, "Behold! I and the children whom God hath given me" will wear a crown brighter than the starless ones of those who saved themselves and have brought none with them.

III. THE GLAD OBEDIENCE WHICH TRANSCENDS THE LIMITS OF OBLIGATION. "If I do this thing willingly I have a reward." Paul desired to bring a little more than was required, in token of his love to his Master and of his thankful acceptance of the obligation. The artist who loves his work will put more work into his picture than is absolutely needed, and will linger over it, lavishing diligence and care upon it, because he is in love with his task. The servant that seeks to do as little as he can scrape through with without rebuke is actuated by no high motives. The trader that barely puts as much into the scale as will balance the weight in the other is grudging in his dealings; but he who, with liberal hand, gives "shaken down, pressed together, and running over" measure, gives because he delights in the giving. And so it is in the Christian life. There are many of us whose question seems to be, "How little can I get off with?" And what does that mean? It means that we are slaves. It means that if we durst we would give nothing and do nothing. And what does that mean? It means that we do not care for the Lord, and have no joy in oar work. And what does that mean? It means that our work deserves no praise, and will get no reward. If we love Christ we shall be anxious, if it were possible, to do more than He commands us. Of course He has the right to all our work; but yet there are heights of Christian consecration and self-sacrifice which a man will not be blamed if he has not climbed, and will be praised if he has. What we want is extravagances of service. Judas may say, "To what purpose is this waste?" but Jesus will say, "He hath wrought a good work on Me." And the fragrance of the ointment will smell sweet through the centuries.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

From this verse we infer that the true preacher —

I. PREACHES THE GOSPEL AS HIS GRAND MISSION. The essence of this good news is that God loves man, though a sinner, and that Christ is the demonstration and medium of this love. This is the heart of the gospel, and to preach this is the grand mission of the true preacher.

1. In contradistinction to natural religion. Natural religion does not reveal Divine love for sinners. The volume was written before sin existed.

2. In contradistinction to human theologies. Neither Calvinism, Arminianism, nor any other "ism," constitute the gospel.

3. In contradistinction to legal maledictions. A terrible condemnation, it is true, hangs over the sinner, but the terrors of the judgment, &c., are not gospel.

II. DISCLAIMS ALL PRAISE IN THE DISCHARGE OF HIS MISSION. "Though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of."

1. There is everything in the nature of the subjects to prevent self-glory. It is —

(1)Undiscoverable by human reason.

(2)Declaratory of human degradation.

(3)Demonstrative of infinite condescension.

2. There is everything in the nature of the work to prevent self-glory. Every true preacher must feel a consciousness —

(1)Of unworthiness for such a high honour. "Unto me, who am least of all saints," &c.

(2)Of incompetency for such a work. "Who is sufficient for these things?" &c.

(3)Of utter inability to realise success. Whatever he does, however well he preaches, he cannot guarantee efficiency. "Paul plants, and Apollos waters," &c.

3. There is everything in the nature of his inspiration to prevent self-glory. What was the feeling that prompted him to undertake it? "The love of Christ that constrained" him. It was scarcely optional with him. He was drawn to it by this new and heavenly afflatus. Man cannot praise himself for loving. Does a mother take credit for loving her child? &c.

III. IS IMPELLED BY AN INWARD NECESSITY IN THE PROSECUTION OF HIS MISSION. "Necessity is laid upon me," &c. This necessity was a force working from within, not a pressure from without. It was the force —

1. Of ingratitude. Christ had appeared to him, rescued his soul from hell, and given him a commission. Gratitude bound him to the service of such a deliverer.

2. Of justice. The gospel had been given to him in trust. He was a steward. It was given to him not to monopolise, but to communicate. "He was a debtor," &c.

3. Of compassion. He knew that souls were dying, and he had the panacea in the gospel. Such were the necessities that bound him to his work. He felt he could not but do it; felt a horrid woe over him if he dared neglect it.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

We have here —

I. A DECLARATION OF AN EXISTING OFFICE — to preach the gospel.

1. The gospel is a simple statement of glad tidings to a perishing world. To speak merely of the nature of moral duties, to discuss the various attributes of God, to describe Christian virtues, to speak of a future state and its retributions, is very well in its place, but it is not the gospel. If there be not warm statements of the atonement then there is a blank in the "counsel of God"!

2. With regard to the manner in which we are to discharge our duty. These principles are to be made known to all within our reach. The minister of Christ is to allow no limitations or restrictions to his message. He must "warn every man, and teach every man," &c.

3. This gospel must be "a savour of life unto life, or of death unto death," to those who hear it.

II. THE RENOUNCEMENT OF ALL RIGHT TO SELF-EXALTATION ON ACCOUNT OF THAT OFFICE, "Though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me." There is in man a powerful tendency to self-exaltation. The same principle would fain accompany us in our Work of preaching the gospel; but ministers have nothing to boast of.

1. Because we are under the bond of absolute necessity. For the apostle says, "Necessity is laid upon me." There is —(1) The positive command of God: "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."(2) The constraining influence of love to the Redeemer.(3) A sense of the necessities of men around us.

2. Because, whatever talents we possess, they are given us entirely by God.

3. Because all our success is entirely from the agency of Heaven. The preacher remembers to have been told, "My son, beware of the bribe of talent"; this was understood — "Beware of the bribe of applause," and this was understood. But then there was another caution, which was a secret — "Beware of the bribe of usefulness"; this could not be understood. We are apt to say, "My success! My usefulness!" and so Satan overcomes us. Now, the gospel goes to destroy this tendency. It says, "Not by might," &c.


1. Why should he have this woe?(1) Because it is an intrusion upon an office which God would have occupied only by His own servants.(2) Because it is an act of absolute wickedness to undertake so important an office and not perform it.(3) Because it is an attempt to sustain the weight of immortal souls without being able to bear it.

2. What is this woe?

(1)We should encounter the censure of all good men.

(2)Our death-beds can else be nothing but desertion and misery.

(3)The contemplation of condemnation on the judgment-day.

(J. Parsons.)

I. WHAT IS IT TO PREACH THE GOSPEL? The gospel is the revelation of God's mercy to mankind, disclosing the Divinely-appointed method whereby a lost and degenerate race may be restored to the favour of their Creator. Consequently it cannot be rightly understood, or fully preached, until there be a distinct exhibition of man —

1. As fallen in Adam.

2. As renewed in Christ.


1. Professing that he thinks himself moved by the Holy Ghost to undertake the solemn office of clergyman; and having bound his soul by the most awful vows; if he deliver a false message, and inculcate a strange worship, then he violates, with flagrant audacity, the most sacred of all obligations, and is a thousand times a fouler traitor than if sent on an embassage by his earthly monarch, he had sold that monarch or bartered his honour.

2. Woe is unto him who preaches not the gospel, because he deludes into error the souls of his hearers; and at his hands shall their blood be required.

(H. Melvill, D. D.)

I. THE FUNCTION OF THE TRUE MINISTER IS TO PREACH THE GOSPEL. Paul was not a politician, to turn the church into a party club, and the pulpit into a hustings — not a mere orator, to give his hearers an hour's entertainment; not a devotee of science; not a philologist, to spread out before immortal souls scholastic criticisms; not a mere moralist, to discourse of flowers that never grew around the Cross. No! his was a nobler and more difficult work, viz., to preach the gospel! To do this is —

1. To proclaim all the precious doctrines, promises, precepts, and duties recorded in the Scriptures. Some confine themselves to a few favourite topics. They are afraid to preach the whole gospel, lest its truths contradict each other. Away with such idle fears! One truth can no more clash with another truth than one sunbeam can quench another sunbeam.

2. To preach Christ crucified. Some excuse their non-preaching of Christ on the ground that He is not in the text. I should not like to live in a village from which there was not a road to London; and I should not take a text from which there was not a way to Christ.

3. To preach to all. A deacon once said to a minister, "If you go into that pulpit, you are only to preach to God's dear people." The minister replied, "Have you marked them all on the back, so that I may know them?" The gospel is a boon to a lost world, and I dare not monopolise it.

II. THE TRUE MINISTER IS IMPELLED TO HIS HOLY VOCATION. Paul did not preach the gospel on the ground of expediency, or to gain human applause, but because of an irresistible inspiration, a celestial impulse. No minister is now called in the miraculous way Paul was, but every true minister feels the same necessity. John Newton was summoned from the deck of the slave ship to the pulpit. Thomas Scott threw aside his shepherd's frock to put on the mantle of the prophet. The true minister cannot help preaching. "If I were out of prison to-day," said Bunyan, "I would preach the gospel again to-morrow, by the help of God." You might as well try to uproot the mountains, roll back the rivers, tame the wild ocean, or arrest the stars, as attempt to silence the man whose mouth God has opened. It is said that ministers are all hypocrites; and when a specious professor stands unmasked the cry is raised, "They are all the same." Are they? Nay, there are thousands who would march bravely to the stake to-morrow, if it were necessary.

III. THE TRUE MINISTER IS MISERABLE IF UNENGAGED IN HIS SACRED CALLING. To an unselfish mind personal security is not always perfect felicity. The apostle stood on the serene elevation of personal assurance. "I am persuaded that nothing can separate me from the love of Christ; but oh! this great heaviness for Israel — my kinsmen!" The man who would go to heaven alone shall never get there. Paul longed and laboured to save others. He thought on the multitudes that were dying in their sins. Christ bled for sinners — shall I not labour for them? He lived and died for me — shall I do nothing for Him? Perish the thought!

(W. Anderson.)

We need not ministers that may or will, but that must preach, and members not that may or will, but that must live, the gospel. Consider —

I. THE WORK: WHAT THEY DO. They preach the gospel. The terms point to the public ministry of the word; but it is as certainly applicable to every Christian. Responsibility is diversified not in kind, but only in degree. By two short links every believer is bound to minister for the Lord. "Let him that heareth say, Come." We have heard the word of life, and therefore we should speak it. "Freely ye have received, freely give." Without opening his lips to teach, every one who bears Christ's name may help the gospel —

1. By his spirit and his life. As we thread life's promiscuous throng we are touching right and left immortal beings, giving them a bias by the contact to the right or the left.

2. By word and work. The methods and opportunities are manifold. "She hath done what she could" is the standard of measurement.(1) The more obvious methods are — a Sabbath-school, a mission or tract district.(2) Private doors are also open. You might make yourself useful in a time of distress; and your word would then go deeper than in the public assembly. As to work for the Lord, the rule is the same as in getting from the Lord: "Seek, and ye shall find."(3) But a sphere lies open to those who shrink from even the most private walks. If you cannot make up to other people, you may have your hands filled with remunerative labour at home. If you are bashful in presence of others, you may surely be bold in dealing with yourself. Here is an opportunity of doing mission-work. The kingdom of God is within you: go work in that vineyard. If that field become ripe, seed from it will be carried away on the wings of the wind to make the desert fruitful.

II. THE MOTIVE: WHAT COMPELS THEM TO DO IT. "Necessity is laid upon me," &c. The apostle confesses frankly he was kept at his work as a slave is by the sound of the whip. Is any one startled at this representation? See if it be not God's way of keeping His servants to their work, and if His way be not very good? The pain of a wound is our Maker's messenger to send us forth quickly in search of a cure; the pain of thirst, His messenger to send us forth quickly in search of water. So it is consonant with God's ways to keep His creature busy with useful work by pressing him with pain if he indolently or ignorantly cease. By the secret line fixed in the conscience, which God in heaven holds in His own hand, many a man is compelled to run errands of benevolence who otherwise would sit at home in indolent ease. I knew a boy once who was asked for an alms by a passing beggar. The boy refused; the beggar passed, piercing the youth by a look from a pale face and a drooping eye. The youth continued his work mechanically, scarcely knowing what he did. Woe, woe was upon his soul, because he had not given the beggar a penny. This woe increased and accumulated until it became unbearable. The boy threw his instrument on the ground, and ran after the wearied beggar, and silently placed the penny in the beggar's hand, and ran home again to his work. The woe lashed him to duty, and then left him light of heart as the birds that sang beside him on the tree. Look to some of the particular forces which press a human soul to diligence in the work of the Lord.

1. The constraining love of Christ. Paul could not help going forward through every difficulty and danger, any more than a ship can help going forward through the billows when its sails are full and its helm held aright. His affections rose from earth to heaven, because a pressure was upon his heart, as great as the pressure that compels the waters of the sea to rise and constitute the clouds.

2. The new appetite of the new creature. The Lord Himself was borne forward in this manner, and owned it. "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work."

3. The need of a sinning, suffering world. A brother ready to perish lies heavier than lead upon a loyal, loving heart, and produces that haste to the rescue at which the giddy world, ignorant of the moving power, gazes as an inexplicable phenomenon. Ah, if the secret machinery of the Christian life within us were well oiled and free of rust, we should move quickly in these days; for the appropriate kind of power is playing on us in a mighty volume all the day long.

(W. Arnot, D. D.)

Dr. Parker, in an address to local preachers, City Temple, June 1,1885, said: "A lady asked me the other day, 'What is your hobby?' Said I, 'Preaching.' 'But apart from that?' said she. 'There is nothing apart from that,' I replied. All poetry, all beauty, all nature, all love, all history, the whole future are included in preaching. The preacher should never be away from his work, and never can be if his spirit is what it ought to be. Unless you make this preaching the very crown of your lives you will be very poor preachers."

In lecturing one day to the students of his college — by no means the least important monument of his sanctified genius, enterprise, and industry — Mr. Spurgeon said: "If any student in this room could be content to be a newspaper editor, or a grocer, or a farmer, or a doctor, or a lawyer, or a senator, or a king, in the name of heaven and earth let him go his way." No doubt it has always been more or less true, though never more so than in these days of earnest faith and equally pertinacious scepticism, that the preacher, or Christian worker of any kind, whose heart does not feel the fire of spiritual earnestness, who has no enthusiastic love for his work, will soon succumb, and either leave the unavailing drudgery or move on in sullen discontent, burdened with a monotony as tiresome as that of a blind horse on a farmyard saw-mill. Beneath and behind all high and fruitful exertion of the human soul there must be moral earnestness. Horace, in his "Ars Poetics," tells the poet that if he wants the people to weep over his poetry, he must weep with them. And the coldest, hardest, most self-contained pleader at the bar knows he must have his heart in his ease if he is to convince the jury. One of the greatest of actors laid bare the whole secret of his power in a tragic part he was accustomed to play with incomparable success by saying that through force of imagination he did actually tremble under the terror which he excited in the audience. To young versifiers who had scored some success in poetry and asked his opinion as to the advisability of devoting their time and energies to poetry, Ruskin was accustomed to say, "Don't if you can help it."

Woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel.
1. There are some with whom an exclamation of this kind is almost conventional, with whom it implies nothing more than annoyance. But this is not the case with the deeply serious apostle. The exclamation which occurs nowhere else in his writings has a history. Under its cover the prophets called down penal suffering upon opponents of God's will. And our Lord invoked it upon the scribes and Pharisees, &c. The word does not change its character when it is invoked by a psalmist, prophet, or apostle, upon himself. St. Paul, then, is employing an expression of acknowledged solemnity, which for him had not lost its freshness.

2. But is not the apostle exaggerating somewhat? It was a grand thing to preach the gospel as he did. But supposing that he had settled down quietly as a private Christian, why should he think that any great harm would happen to him? There are multitudes with natural capacity for this or that kind of work, who, somehow or other, never come to undertake it. It is a misfortune, no doubt, but if we were to hear a man say, "Woe is me if I do not practise medicine; if I do not plead at the bar, &c., we should say to him, "It is a pity you are not making the best of yourself; but there are other things besides that on which you have set your heart, and it is better to take a quieter view of your case." Now why may not something of this kind be said of St. Paul? Ah! why? Because St. Paul felt that if he were not to preach the gospel he would —

I. DO A VIOLENCE TO HIS SENSE OF JUSTICE. The gospel was not his in such a sense that he had any right to keep it to himself.

1. The word implied that man was in a bad case, and needed something to reassure and to help him; that mankind was ill at ease, and was looking out for a deliverer. We often know that we are ill without knowing precisely what is the matter with us, and this was the case with the pre-Christian world. And, therefore, God opened the eyes of men to see what their case really was. Nature and conscience did something in this way for the heathen nations; the law of Moses did a great deal more for the Jews. But man's misery was only made more intense by becoming intelligent. And then came the real cure, "God so loved the world" that He gave His Son to save it.

2. Now this is the essence of the gospel, and clearly such a gospel was not meant for a company of men, or for a favoured nation, but for the race. Like the natural sun in the heavens the incarnate Sun of Righteousness is the property of all men. And not to preach the gospel, to treat it as if it were the luxury of a small clique, was to offend against the sense of natural justice; it was to incur the woe which, as Nature herself whispers, is sooner or later inseparable from doing this.

II. SIN AGAINST THE LAW OF GRATITUDE. That which strikes St. Paul in the redemption, and makes his heart captive, is the extraordinary generosity of the Divine Redeemer. What was there in the race, in the single sinner, in himself, to invite such an effusion of Divine love? Even the heathen counted the obligations of gratitude as imperative; and the lower animals make practical acknowledgment of kindnesses received at the hand of man. And such a sentence as "While we were yet sinners Christ died for us" measures St. Paul's sense of his obligation to his Saviour; and if this sense is to take a practical form, it could only be by his extending among men the knowledge and the love of the redemption.

III. BE FALSE TO THE IMPERIOUS COMMANDS OF TRUTH. The gospel came to St. Paul as it comes to all of us, as a body of truth which could only be really held on condition of its being propagated. Not to do something towards this is already not to believe it; it is to treat the gospel as at best only partially true; and the gospel is nothing if it is not the universal religion. It is different with false religions, with human views. To hold them is one thing, to make efforts to disseminate them is quite another; to believe the gospel and to do nothing for its acceptance among men is a contradiction in terms. Unless you can separate, in fact as well as in idea, the convex and concave sides of a circular vase, you must, when you believe a religion which, being absolutely true, is also, and therefore, the universal religion, do what you may to induce others to believe it also. Conclusion: This surely is a motto for every member of the Church of Christ. Not seldom in her history has she been tempted to proclaim something other or less than the gospel.

1. There were clever and accomplished Greeks at Corinth, feeling much sympathy with many sides of Christianity, but withheld from conversion by what seemed to them to be the strange and repulsive doctrine of Christ crucified. And what was St. Paul's reply? "We preach Christ crucified, to the Greeks," &c. (1 Corinthians 1:23). He could say nothing else. Woe to him had he preached not the gospel! And so it was again in the fourth century. Arianism tempted the Church to say something less on the subject of our Lord's adorable person than she had said and had believed since Pentecost. And what was her reply? It was the famous sentence which we repeat in the Nicene Creed... I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ," &c. She could have said nothing else, nothing less. Woe to her had she not preached the gospel!

2. And so it was in the fifteenth century. The old literature of Greece and Rome had been just rediscovered, and Christians actually professed themselves ashamed of the jargon of St. Paul, and unable to express even their religious ideas excepting in the phrases of Cicero and of Plato. The Church was bidden by the Renaissance to refashion herself upon the model of Paganism which, a thousand years before, she had conquered by suffering. The reply of Christendom took different forms, but its spirit was substantially "Woe is me if I preach not the gospel."

3. And in our own day the old temptation presents itself, but in an altered form. There is much good still in Christianity — so we are told; but if it is to keep on good terms with the modern world, Christians must give up the supernatural — they must be content with a Christ who is perfect, if you will, but simply human, with a Calvary that is the scene of a self-sacrifice, but not a world-redeeming atonement, &c. And what are we to say to all this? Ah! what but that which the apostle said eighteen hundred years ago?

(Canon Liddon.)

Simple as the words appear, the exact meaning of the passage in which our text occurs is not easy to determine. One thing is clear, viz., that the idea of "glory" or "glorying" which is brought out in the 15th verse is the key with which the passage must be opened, but even then the manner of using this key remains to be discovered. What is there that we can conceive of Paul as glorying in to such an extent that he says with impassioned vehemence: "It is good for me rather to die than that any man should make my glorying void"? Surely he would not use such language about some little question of independence that lay on the fringe of his life; most certainly he would not use it in opposition to the grand compelling power which he was conscious of in his Christ-begotten life. Nay, rather, it was in this very compelling power, and in this alone that Paul felt the true glory of his life to consist. This was his one glory which he would rather die than lose, that God had imposed upon him a sacred stewardship. All else must be subservient to the fulfilment of that.

I. THE GOSPEL OF THE TRUE PREACHER. In the impassioned assertion: "Woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel," the gospel is intimately and intensely related to Paul's inner self. Truth is not an external label to be affixed to a glass case to mark a fossil inside, but a living movement in a living man, God ever revealing Himself in clearer and clearer forms to the soul that seeks Him. It will go hard at any rate if he be not superior to an embalmed and preserved mummy. There is no doubt that the reassertion of the subjectivity of truth has given new freshness, beauty, and unity to the history of the world, and to the place of revelation in that history. It has united the old and new dispensations in a living embrace, it has connected us by closer links with prophet and apostle, and revealed that all the world in all ages has been held in the grasp of one great Divine movement. But we must remember that this assertion of subjectivity is also one-sided, and, as in all cases of reaction there is a danger of swinging back to the other extreme, so there is certainly a tendency in much that is written and spoken now, to advocate a doctrine of extreme subjectivity which contains far greater peril for the truth than the most dogmatic applications of credal orthodoxy. The gospel must be a system of objective truth, and my gospel, if it is to be a gospel at all, must not be in opposition to that, but must rather be that very gospel, or a portion of it, having passed through the crucible of my life. The Jesus that was revealed to Paul was revealed also in him.

II. THE EGOTISM OF THE TRUE PREACHER. What does the apostle mean by saying, "Woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel?" There is one answer that will be ready on all your lips, and as far as it goes it is perfectly true. He meant that there was a Divine impulse within him that he could not resist. The fire that blazed within would have burnt deep scars upon his heart if his mouth had kept silence. The "burden" of the Lord would have grown too heavy to be borne if it had not been imparted to the people. And I believe that this is substantially true of all that have really a prophetic mission for their generation. But Paul's impassioned words quiver with a yet deeper meaning, and it is to this that we apply par excellence the phrase. "The egotism of the true preacher." To Paul's eye the fiery hieroglyphics of God's moral government, of the great over-arching heaven of eternal righteousness, contained primarily a message for himself. It was not merely that he would feel inward pain if he refused to preach the gospel, but he felt the universe to be in battle-array against him if he gave no voice to his great mission. Herein lies the prophet's power and authority that he utters the mandate of creation — the mandate of God — that he feels the full tides of the universal roll through his soul, and must move with them or perish. But, further, this intense spiritual consciousness of the true preacher not only causes him most emphatically to relate himself to the universal government of God, but also to fling all his energies into the heart of human life. In this respect also the self of the preacher must be large: it must be profoundly related to universal humanity. He must be a microcosm — a miniature of the great macrocosm of human joy and sorrow. He must know himself a debtor to all sorts and conditions of men, by feeling the surging tides of the world's needs and aspirations rush through his own life, and by thus knowing that he must find his life by giving it up to the larger life of the world. The prophet of the age is the man that can speak the thought, the passion, the aspiration of the people, and give them their Divinest setting. He must have the subtle sympathy and the Pentecostal tongue of flame that can speak to the people in their native language — the language of their hearts. Him will the people hear; for they are part of his life, and he is part of theirs.

III. THE DEEP-SEATED FAITH OF THE TRUE PREACHER. To say that "Woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel" is to recognise the gospel as eternally victorious. For nothing can be really a woe to me except my being out of harmony with those forces that are to be eternally triumphant. Only the truth itself can revenge the insult which I offer it by rejecting it. The qualifications of the true preacher consist, therefore, in a profound faith in the Divineness of the gospel, in the heart-recognition of it as the eternal truth of God. These two things, then, are necessary to enable us to enter into the fellowship of the apostle's words. We must be under the absolute sway of the gospel of Christ, and we must identify this rule with the eternal government of God.

(John Thomas, M. A.)

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