Let men consider us, as the ministers of Christ, who dispense the divine mysteries.
Now to him that is able to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, conformable to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret from antient times, but now is laid open,
for a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not morose, not soon angry, not given to wine, not violent, not desirous of unlawful gain.
as good economists of the different dispensations of God, communicate to one another the gifts you have receiv'd.
to whom he answered, because you are allowed to know the mysteries of the gospel-dispensation, but to them it is not allowed.
If then there be a servant, appointed by his master to take care of his family, who faithfully and prudently distributes their allowance according to the establishment: happy is the servant,
he answered, you are admitted into the secret of the gospel-dispensation: but to unbelievers every thing is couch'd in parables; because,
he answered, the secret circumstances of the divine dispensation may be clearly revealed to you, but to others only in parables, so that they don't observe what they see, nor comprehend what they hear.
Jesus answered, if there be a faithful prudent steward, appointed by his master to give his domesticks their stated allowance; happy is such a servant,
Jesus said likewise to his disciples, a certain rich man had an information against his steward, for making havock of his estate.
but we explain that mysterious plan of divine wisdom, which God had contriv'd before the ages, for our glory:
who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye have received faith according to the divine gifts imparted to each of them?
and when we are defamed, we intreat: in a word, we are look'd upon as the dregs and scum of mankind, even to this day.
for in barely preaching the gospel, I have nothing to glory in: because I am under an obligation to do it; yea, wo is unto me if I preach not the gospel.
for we preach not our selves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, professing our selves your servants for his sake.
but in all things I approve myself as the minister of God, by great constancy in afflictions, in torments, in distresses, from stripes,
so am I: are they ministers of Christ? is it my vanity? I am more so: in toilsome labours I surpass them, in stripes I am exceedingly beyond them, in prisons I have been oftner, and frequently in the very jaws of death.
tho' if I had a mind to glory, I might do it without vanity, for I should say nothing but what is true: but now I forbear, lest any man should ascribe more to me than my actions, or my preaching can justify.
for he has discover'd to us the secret of his will, that out of his meer good pleasure, he had purposed in himself,
having revealed to me the secret, I now mention'd in short,
in particular for me, that I may have leave to speak without any restraint, and make known the mystery of the gospel,
of which I have been established a minister, according to the charge which God has given me to preach his gospel faithfully among you. ---
that their hearts might be comforted, and that being firmly united in love, they might possess the highest and fullest persuasion of the truth of this doctrine, by entring into this mystery, even of God the father, and of Christ,
put up your requests likewise for me, that God would give me an opportunity to declare the mystery of Christ (for which I am even in bonds:)
nor must he be a new convert; for fear he should be elated with pride, and so involve himself in the same ruin as the devil.
the mystery of piety is the pillar and basts of truth; and certainly most extraordinary. God has appear'd in the flesh, been justified by the spirit, seen by angels, proclaim'd to the Gentiles, believ'd by the world, and assum'd into glory.