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In our studies in the New Testament, we have found two grounds for special thanksgiving.

The first is that this precious volume is not limited to the four Gospels. It is true that these contain in germ form every truth of Christianity. But it is also true that they do not comprise, except in promise, any account of the marvelous completion of the system in the gift of the Paraclete, and that enlargement of privilege, deepening of experience, and perfection of spiritual life, which accompanied that crowning endowment of believers in Jesus Christ as the revelation of God. If there had been after his ascension no inspired and accredited record of the communication of God in the Holy Spirit, and of doctrines authoritatively unfolded and applied to human needs, the glorious gospel would have gone forth on its conquering career weighted with disabilities fatal to its success. It would have been like the angel of the Apocalypse trying to fly in the midst of heaven with clipped wings. But the Head of the church, in giving Christianity a good start, extended its inspired record beyond the earthly life of its Divine Founder. In fact, the pentecostal dispensation occupies more than half of the New Testament. A second topic of gratitude is found in the capacity and character of the man providentially called to lift the gospel out of the entanglements of Judaism, to cut the umbilical cord of the infant evangel, and send it forth on its universal mission.

Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, was not only qualified to state the gospel clearly and defend it heroically, but to exemplify perfectly the full extent of its saving power. More than this, he was not, through a false modesty, ashamed to disclose and record his own interior experiences; first of conscious child-innocence (Rom. 7:9), then of an irksome and worthless legalism (Rom. 7:10-25), then of justification (1 Tim. 1:13), then the witness of the Spirit (Rom. 8:15), followed by the inward revelation of Christ — spiritual crucifixion and holy living. (Gal. 1:16; 2:20; 1 Thess. 2:10.)

After the four Gospels, two-thirds of the residue of the New Testament are made up of the history of St. Paul's ministry and his epistles, including the letter to the Hebrews. More than a third of the entire volume relates to the Apostle to the Gentiles. This is a sufficient reason for ranking next to the life of Christ in the education of the Christian minister, the "Portrait of St. Paul," especially that of which John Fletcher is the limner. I take this opportunity to acknowledge publicly that this book — now in the course of study for local preachers in the Methodist Episcopal Church — has had a large place among the influences which have molded my religious character. A sense of indebtedness to this great apostle has prompted me to prepare this series of Bible Readings, founded so largely on his epistles, "wherein are some things hard to be understood, which the ignorant and the unsteadfast wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction." I have endeavored to expose this wresting and perversion of the truth in the interest of those who deny the possibility of holiness in this life. It is one of my aims in this book to present in popular form those results of modern scholarship which clear away misinterpretations alleged to lie against that perfection of the believer which he is commanded to seek and to obtain in the present life.

We shall not finish our expression of special thanksgiving, till we have mentioned the longevity of the beloved apostle, the latest surviving eye-witness of the incarnate Son of God, and to lift up his voice against errors which were corrupting the doctrines and ethics of the gospel of purity.

It is our purpose to rescue a text in John's first epistle from the strange work to which it has been put, a work repugnant to John's character, and contradictory to the tenor of his teaching — the doctrine that sin as a conscious inward experience must be constantly confessed.

Finally, we purpose to show, from both the Old Testament and the New, that not a word has been inspired by the Holy Spirit which excuses or extenuates sin, and that the salvation which God has provided in the mediation of his Son, and the gift of his Spirit, reaches man's deepest need, delivering the persevering believer from the guilt of sin, the love of sin, and the pollution of sin.


The sub-title of this book is a sufficient notification that it is not restricted to St. Paul's life and epistles. Moreover, it should be noted that this volume is in no sense an exhaustive treatise on the many-sided character of the apostle to the Gentiles. The incidents in his remarkable life, the historic setting and purpose of his epistles, have been omitted. Our attention has been directed to only one aspect of his character — his personal relation to evangelical perfection, and his instructions respecting holiness of heart and life. In clearing away erroneous interpretations, and in vindicating Paul's right to the title of saint in its highest sense, a holy man without consciousness of sin, we have necessarily been polemical and iterative. The frequency with which we have, in a few instances, reverted to the same topic, has a Pauline precedent in the so-called "joyful epistle" to the Philippians, where the theme of joy occurs nine times, and occasionally with double repetition as "the result of the apostle's special love for his readers." —Meyer. We may add that this repetition of vital themes has also a sufficient Pauline apology: "Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord."

"To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe."

The sermons not included in the title will be found to be supportive of the subject of the Bible Readings.

The Reading on Faith Healing is designed to counteract a mischievous error into which some excellent Christians are falling.

D. S.

Milton, Mass., Dec. 1, 1894.