Paul’s Transformation In Character: A Witness To The Power Of Divine Grace -- By: Howell M. Haydn
BSac 69:275 (July 1912) p. 522
Paul’s Transformation In Character:
A Witness To The Power Of Divine Grace
Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.
The fame of Paul in Christian history rests chiefly upon the twin pillars of his missionary labors and his interpretation of the person and work of Christ. Along each of these lines his influence upon succeeding Christianity has been of the most vital sort conceivable; so that the church of to-day, whether in its world-conquest or in its most generally accepted view of Christ, can hardly be imagined apart from what he did and thought. And yet, great as are these aspects of Paul’s service to Christianity, it is at least possible that his personal character is an even more valuable asset to Christ’s cause to-day, because of its incontestable witness to the power of Divine Grace to change utterly a human life.
On any conception of the exact mode and manner of his conversion, a spiritual chasm yawns between the pre-Christian and the Christian Paul. Readers of Mr. Harold Begbie’s “Twice-born Men,” with its straightforward, convincing portrayal of the marvelous transformation in character wrought recently in some of -the men of darkest London by the manifest power of God, will have the change in Paul most vividly suggested to their minds. It is of course true that these men were redeemed from unspeakable vice and degradation, which could not be said of the scrupulously moral, even ascetic Saul of Tarsus; but in cataclysmic suddenness of experience, in total and abiding change in the viewpoint and purpose of life, there is unmistakable identity. Furthermore, there is in Paul a transformation in personal character just as far-reaching as in the cases of these men, and scarcely less astonishing, all things considered.
This transformation is best seen on the side of his aflfec-
BSac 69:275 (July 1912) p. 523
tions. His utter devotion henceforth to God as revealed in Christ needs no comment. It pervades his life like a delicate fragrance. Even more significant, however, of the change in him, is his new tenderness and sympathy for his fellow-men; and this deserves greater emphasis than it commonly receives. The wonder only grows, the more one considers the difference, here, between the Pharisee and the Christian.
1. It is but glimpses that are given of Saul of Tarsus before the journey to Damascus, but they are flash-light portraits of a dark and gloomy soul. He is first seen as a youth, studying the classics of his race in the great school of Gamaliel. Having adopted with that intensity which was his lifelong characteristic the narrow Pharisaic ideal of legal righteousness, it is his consuming ambition to work it out in his life as ...
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