Page images

portant advice, were diligent in transmitting it to the latest of their followers.

One necessary remark shall conclude this chapter. In the portrait of St. Paul, we have seen that of an evangelical pastor : in the preceding chapter, we have marked the character of a careless minister; and in this, we behold the faithful representation of a false apostle. Let us remember, that one of these three portraits must agree, more or less, with every preacher of the Gospel. I say more or less, because the various traits here marked out, may be varied to an almost inconceivable degree. Moreover so inconstant is man, that a minister, who to-day is posSessed of zeal sufficient to rank him with preachers of the first class, may to-morrow, by an unhappy remissness, sink into the second, as once did John whose surname was Mark ; or even into the third, as Hymeneus and Philetus, Diotrephes and Demas. On the contrary, a man, who now discovers many of those traits, by which Saul the pharisee was once distinguished, may, ere long, become an humble imitator of the zeal and charity of Paul the Apostle.




OBJECTIONS are the ordinary weapons, with which error makes war upon truth, and these are sometimes so powerful, that till they are effectually repelled, we see truth deprived of its rights. The first that will probably be advanced against the portrait of St. Paul, is this : “ The model placed before us is too exalted for those, who are not endued with the miraculous gifts of St. Paul.

To this and every other objection, we shall offer a variety of replies, in as concise a manner as pos. sible. To the present objection, a sufficient answer has been already returned by a truly respectable au. thor. “ This excuse," says Mons. Roques, “ might “ have some weight, if in proposing the example of “ Christ to persons, who are honoured with the holy

ministry, we insisted upon their keeping pace with « the Saviour of mankind. But this excuse is alto“ gether frivolous, when nothing more is required

of ministers, than continually to place Christ as a « model before their eyes, and to imitate him with u all the exactness of which they are capable.' “ This excuse," continues he, is still more unreas « sonable, when applied to Prophets and Apostles, « who were men of like passions with ourselves; and

who, of consequence, may be placed before us as « models, whose perfections are attainable by means si of the very same succours, which supported " them, and which are never refused to those who “ have sincere and apostolical intentions. I any

To the answer of this pious divine, we shall add a few observations.

1. In the Portrait of St. Paul there is found no large description of miraculous gifts, but a faithful representation of those christian virtues which are found in every believer, according to his vocation, and without which, it is impossible for us to fill up our several duties....such as humility, faith, charity, zeal, and assiduity.

2. The morality, which was practised by St. Paul, was no other than the morality of the Gos. pel, which is the same in every age, and for every condition : whence it follows, that the moral cha. racter of this Apostle, belongs not only to all true pastors, but even to every sincere believer. If St. Paul was truly humble, charitable, and pious, his humility, his charity, and his piety, are as essential to the religion of every christian, as three angles are.

essential to the nature of every triangle. It is granted, that the piety of this Apostle was greater than that of a thousand other ministers, just as the one the magnitude triangle may be greater than that of a thousand others. But as the angles of the most diminutive triangle, are of the same quality with those, which compose a triangle of an uncommon magnitude, so the moral character of St. Paul is, with regard to essentials, the moral character of every true chris.


-3. This Apostle informs us, that he was obliged ta" keep his body in subjection, lest after having. preached to others, he himself should be a castaway." This single acknowledgement sufficiently proves, that he was exposed to all those dangers with which christians are generally beset, and that he saw. no way of escaping them, but by the use of those very precautions, which the weakest believer is instructed to take. Now, if St. Paul was so fearful of falling away ; if St. Peter was really seen to stumble and fall ; and if Judas, an elected Apostle, irremediably plunged himself into the depths of perdition: it is but reasonable to suppose, that, by a faithful improvement of our privileges, we may. attain to a good degree of that exalted piety, from which one Apostle fell for a season, and another for ever.

4. In the whole Portrait of St. Paul, there is not a stronger trait than the eighteenth, which describes the ardour of his love for the Jews, who pursued him even to death : a love, that made him wil. ling to be accursed in dying for them, as his gracious Master had been in dying for the world. Now this charity is so far from being an attainment too exalted for true ministers, that it is indiscriminately required of every professing christian. “ Hereby," saith St. John, “ perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." And our Lord

himself hath said, “By this shall all .men know, that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to an. other.” It is by a new commandment to this effect, that the morality of the Gospel is peculiarly dis. tinguished from that of the law.". And shall we impiously attempt to enervate evangelical morality? Let us rather declare, upon all occasions, that " He who loveth not, knoweth not God." Let us cry out: with the Apostle.... If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha :'! and if a man love not his brethren, he loves not the Lord Jesus ; 6 for he that loveth not his brother, whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom her hath not seen."

On the other hand, when we love orr brethren with a pure heart fervently ; when, disposed to'uni. versal benevolence, we can look upon our very: enemies with sentiments of pity and affection ; we are then assuredly possessed of that christian charity, which forms the most brilliant trait in the mo. ral character of St. Paul.

5. St. Paul was for three years the resident pastor of a single church. The city of Ephesus was his parish : and while he resided there, he gave an example, which every minister, by the most solemn engagements, is bound to follow ; whether he be commissioned to labour in a city or a village. Dur. ing two other years of his life, this Apostle was confined within a narrower limits than any pastor of a parish. Shut up at Rome in a house, that served him for a prison, and constantly guarded by a soldier, he was unable to extend the sphere of his labours. Yet, even in these circumstances, he con. tinued in the diligent.exercise of the holy ministry, “preaching the Kingdom of God, to all them, that came in unto him, and teaching those things, which concern the Lord Jesus Christ.” - Surely nothing can appear more perfectly rea„sonable than that every pastor should discover as

much zeal in his particular parish, as St. Paul was, accustomed to manifest in the Roman Empire, when he was at liberty, and in his own apartment when loaded with chains.

6. Ifthe ardent charity and the incessant labours of St. Paul were happily imitated by Timothy, why. may they not be copied by every pastor in the present day? That youthful minister was anxious to tread in the steps of this Apostle, and they, who are otherwise minded, assuredly fall under those apostolical censures, which are thus indirectly expressed in his epistle to the Philippians : ' I trust to send Timotheus shortly unto you ; for I have no man like minded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's. But ye know the proof of him, that as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the Gospel.”

7. The destruction of the eastern churches commenced in the falling away of their pastors; who gradually abated in the fervours of that holy zeal, with which they had begun to labour in the vineyard of their Lord. Of such unfaithful teachers, Christ affectingly complained in the earliest period of his church, and accompanied his complaints with the most terrible menaces. « Write unto the Angel of the church of Ephesus,” said he to St. John, “I know thy former works, and thy labour, and thy. patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil : and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles and are not ; and hast found them liars, &c. Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember, therefore, from whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works : or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except tliou repent.”

The warning was unattended to, and at length, the threatened blow was struck. Thus fell the

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »