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who were very well competent to have convicted him of falsehood, had there been found the least blemish in his outward conduct : “ Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God, unto this day.'-(Acts xxiii. 1.) Such was the early piety of St. Paul ; and şuch was the righteousness in which he trusted, when, through zeal for the church and state, of which he was a member, he persecuted Christians as disturbers of the public peace.
Having seen the beautiful side of this apostle's early character, let us now consider his defects. As a member of the Jewish church, he was inspired with zeal, but that zeal was rigid and severe; as a member of society, his manners were probably courteous, but on some occasions his behaviour was tyrannical and inhuman ; in a word, he possessed the whole of religion, except those essential parts of it, humility and charity. Supercilious and impatient, he would bear no contradiction. Presuming upon his own sufficiency, he gave himself no time to compare his errors with truth : And hence, covering his cruelty with the specious name of zeal, he breathed out
threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord.'- (Acts ix. i.) He himself, speaking of this part of his character, makes the following humiliating con. fession; "I was a blasphemer and a persecutor, and injurious.'-(1 Tim. i. 13.) “I verily thought with myself that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests ; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.'—(Acts xxvi. 9–11.)
Nevertheless, this rigid Pharisee, who carried his de. votion to bigotry, and his zeal to fury, had an upright heart in the sight of God. I obtained mercy,' says he after his conversion, because I did it ignorantly in
unbelief ;'-(1 Tim. i. 13;) imagining, that when I persecuted the disciples of Jesus, I was opposing a torrent of the most dangerous errors.
Piety is that knowledge of God and his various relations to man, which leads us to adore, to love, and obey him, in public and in private. This great virtue is the first trait in the moral character of St. Paul; and it is absolutely necessary to the Christian character in general, since it is that parent of all virtues, to which God has given the promise of the present life, and of that which is to come. But it is more particularly necessary to those, who consecrate themselves to the holy ministry ; since being obliged by their office to exhibit before their flock an example of piety, if they themselves are destia tute of godliness, they must necessarily act without any conformity to the sacred character they have dared to assume.
If Quintilian the Heathen has laid it down as a general principle, that it is impossible to become a good orator, without being a good man; surely no one will deny, that piety should be considered as the first qualification essential to a Christian speaker. Mons. Roques, in his 6 Evangelical Pastor," observes, that “ The minister, by his situation, is a man retired from the world, devoted to God, and called to evangelical holiness.
He is," continues he, “ according to St. Paul, a man of God,' that is, a person entirely consecrated to God; a man of superior excellence; a man, in some sense, divine; and to answer, in any degree, the import of this appellation, it is necessary, that his piety should be illustrious, solid, and universal.” Without doubt this pious author had collected these beautiful ideas from the writings of St. Paul, who thus addresses Titus upon the same subject : • A minister must be blameless as the steward of God ; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre : But a lover of hospi. tality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate ; holding fast the faithful word, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convince the gain
that cannot be condemned: In doctrine shewing un. corruptness, gravity, sincerity ; that he who is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of him.'—(Tit. ii. 7, 8.)
A pastor without piety disgraces the holy profession, which he has made choice of, most probably from the same temporal motives, which influence others to em. brace the study of the law, or the profession of arms. If those who are called to serve tables, were to be ' men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom,'(Acts vi. 3,) it is evident, that the same dispositions and graces should be possessed, in a more eminent degree, by those, who are called to minister in holy things. • When thou art converted,' said Christ to Peter, • strengthen thy brethren.'— (Luke xxii, 32.)
No sight can be more absurd than that of an impeni. tent infidel engaged in calling sinners to repentance and faith. Even the men of the world look down with contempt upon a minister of this description, whose conduct perpetually contradicts his discourses, and who, while he is pressing upon others the necessity of holiness, indulges himself in the pleasures of habitual sin. Such a preacher, far from being instrumental in effecting true conversions among his people, will generally lead his hearers into the same hypocrisy, which distinguishes his own character : Since that which was said in ancient times, holds equally true in the present day, ‘Like people, like priest.'—(Hos. iv. 9.) Lukewarm pastors make careless Christians; and the worldly preacher leads his worldly hearers as necessarily into carnal security, as a blind guide conducts the blind into the ditch. And to this unhappy source may be traced the degenerate manners of the present age, the reproach under which our holy religion labours, and the increasing triumphs of infidelity.
• The natural man,' saith St. Paul, receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: For they are foolisbness unto him ; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.' (1 Cor. ii. 14.) Now, if a mi. nister, who is destitute of scriptural piety, is counted unable to comprehend the doctrines of the gospel, how
much less is he able to publish and explain them ? And if those, who live according to the vain customs of the world, have not the righteousness of the Pharisees, with what propriety can they be called, I will not say, true ministers, but even pious deists ?
Though every candidate for the sacred ministry may not be in circumstances to declare, with St. Paul, “I have lived in all good conscience before God unto this day:' Yet all who aspire to that important office, should, at least, be able to say with sincerity : Herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence, toward God and toward man.' (Acts xxiv. 16.) Such were the morals and the conduct of a Socrates and an Epictetus : And worshippers like these, coming from the East and from the West,' shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, while the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness.' (Matt. viii. ll, 12.)
His Christian Piety.
It has been made sufficiently plain, under the preceding article, that St. Paul was possessed of a good degree of piety from his very infancy. Having been brought up in the fear of God by his father, who is supposed to have been a zealous Pharisee, he was after. wards instructed at the feet of Gamaliel, a pious doctor of the Law, to whose wisdom and moderation St. Luke has borne an honourable testimony. (Acts v. 34.) And so greatly had he profited in his youth by these in. estimable privileges, that touching the righteousness, which is of the Law,' he was blameless. But this piety was not sufficient under the new Testament.
To become a Christian, and a true minister of the Gospel, it is necessary to have, not only the piety of a fore his conversion, but also those higher degrees of piety, which that apostle possessed, after he had received the two-fold gift of deep repentance toward God and living faith in Jesus Christ. The basis of piety, among the Jews, was a knowledge of God, as Creator, Protector, and Rewarder : But, in order to have Christian piety, it is necessary, that to this knowledge of God, as Creator, &c., should be added that of God the Redeemer, God the Destroyer of all evils, God our Saviour ; or in other words, the knowledge of Jesus Christ. “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.' (John xvii. 3.)
But who can truly know, I will not say his Saviour, but merely his need of a Saviour, without first becom. ing acquainted with his own heart, and receiving there a lively impression both of his sin and his danger ? A student in theology, who has not yet submitted himself to the maxim of Solon, Know thyself ;' and who has never mourned under that sense of our natural ignorance and depravity, which forced Socrates to confess the want of a divine instructor ;—a candidate, I say, who is wholly unacquainted with himself, instead of eagerly soliciting the imposition of hands, should rather seek after a true understanding of the censure, which Christ once passed upon the pastor of the Laodicean church : · Thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.' (Rev. iii. 17.)
If a young man steals into the ministry without this knowledge, far from being able to preach the Gospel, he will not even comprehend that first evangelical prin. ciple. • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.' (Matt. v. 3.) And instead of devoutly offering up to God the prayers of an assembled congregation, he will constantly begin the sacred office by an act of hypocrisy, in saying-“ Almighty Father, we have erred and strayed from thy ways, like lost sheep. We have offended against thy holy laws. There is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable sinners.” After making these con