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certain, that he spake in the name of the other apos. tles; that he first confessed Christ in two public orations ; that our Lord conferred particular favours upon him ; that he was permitted to be one of the three witnesses of his Master's transfiguration and agony; and that, on the day of Pentecost, he proved the power of his apostolic commission, by introducing three thousand souls at once into the king. dom of Christ. Far, however, from arrogating, upon these accounts, a spiritual supremacy over his brethren, he assumed no other title but that, which was given in common to all his fellow labourers in the ministry ; “ The elders, which are among you," says he, “ I exhort, who am also an elder : Feed the flock of God, which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind : neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” A piece of advice this, which is too much neglected by those prelates, who distinguish themselves from their breihren, yet more by an antichristian pride, than by those ecclesiastical dignities to which they have made their way by the intrigues of ambition.
All pastors should seek after humility with so much the greater concern, as some among them, seduced with the desire of distinguishing themselves as persons of eminence in the church, after making certain ecclesiastical laws contrary to the word of God, have become persecutors of those, who refused submission to their tyrannical authority. Observe here the injustice of some modern philosophers, who misrepresenting the christian religion, a religion which breathes nothing but humility and love, set it forth as the cause of all the divisions, persecutions, and massacres, which have ever been fomented or prepetrated by its corrupt professors. Disasters, which, far from being the produce of real christianity, have their principal source in the vices
of a supercilious, uncharitable, and antichristian clergy.
The church will always be exposed to these im. putations, till every ecclesiastic shall imitate St. Paul, as hę imitated Christ. That apostle, fever anxious to tread in the steps of his divine Master, was peculiarly distinguished by his humility to God and man. Ever ready to confess his own native poverty, and to magnify the riches of grace, he cries out..." Who is sufficient for these things ?" who is properly qualified to discharge all the functions of the holy ministry : “ Such trust have we through Christ to God-ward : not that we are suffi. cient of ourselves to think any thing as of our selves ; but our sufficiency is of God, who also hath made is able ministers of the new Testament ; not of the letter, but of the spirit ; for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. Who is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord. gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered : but God gave the increase. So then, neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth : but God that giveth the increase. I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle ; but by the grace of God I am what I am. God hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ : but we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us,"
If the humility of St. Paul is strikingly evident in these remarkable passages, it is still more strongly expressed in those that follow. “ Ye see, brethren, that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called. But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things, which are despised hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things, that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, who am nothing, who am the chief of sinners, is this grace given, that I should preach the nusearchable riches of Christ.”.
Reader, if thou hast that opinion of thyself, which is expressed in the foregoing passages, thou art an humble christian. Thou canst truly profess thyself the servant of all those who salute thee; thou art such already by thy charitable intentions, and art seeking occasions of demonstrating, by actual ser. vices, that thy tongue is the organ, not of an insidious politeness, but of a sincere heart. Like a true disciple of Christ, who concealed himself, when the multitude would have raised him to a throne, and who presented himself, when they came to drag him to his cross, thou hast a sacred pleasure in humbling thyself before God and man, and art anxious, without hypocrisy or affectation, to take the lowest place among thy brethren.
The humble christian, convinced of his wants and his weakness, feels it impossible to act like those proud and bashful poor, who will raiher perish in their distress, than solicit the assistance of their brethren. St. Paul had nothing of this false modes. ty about him. Penetrated with a deep sense of his own unworthiness and insufficiency, aller imploring for himself the gracious assistance oï God, he thus humbly solicits the prayers of all the faithful : “ Brethren, pray for us. I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together in your prayers for me. Pray always for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the Gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein 1 may speak boldly as I ought
to speak : You also" continuing “ to help by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons, thanks may be given on our behalf."
Thus humility, or poverty of spirit, which is set forth by Christ as the first beatitude, leads us, by prayer, to all the benedictions of the Gospel, and to that lively gratitude, which gives birth to thanksgiving and joy. Lovely humility! penetrate the hearts of all christians, animate every pastor, give peace to the church, and happiness to the universe.
TIL INGENUOUS MANNER, IN WHICH XL ACKNOW
LEDGED AND REPAIRED HIS ERRORS.
IT is difficult for a proud man to confess himself in an error : but they, who are possessed of humility and love, can make such acknowledgments with cheerfulness. When St. Paul was called upon to justify his conduct before the tribunal of the Jews, the same spirit of resentment which animated his persecutors, suddenly seized upon the more passionate of his judges, when the High Priest, still more exasperated than the rest, commanded those, who stood near Paul “ to smite him on the mouth." It was in that moment of surprize and indignation, that the apostle, unacquainted with the author of so indecent a proceeding, and not imagining, that the president of an august assembly could so far forget his own dignity, as to act with so reprehensible an iinpetuosity, gave this sharp reply to so unjust an order; “ God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for siltest thou to judge me after the .
Law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the Law ?" Immediately those, wlio stood by, re. proaching him with his apparent disrespectful car. riage, inquired with the atmost indignation, “ Re. vilest thou God's high Preist?" Here the apostle far from justifying his own conduct, in resenting the severity of a judge, who had degraded himself by an act of the most flagrant injustice, immediately acknowledged his error : and lest the example he had given should encourage any person to withhold the respect due to a magistrate, still more respecta. ble by his office than blameable by his rigorous proceedings, he endeavoured to make instant reparation for his involuntary offence by citing a pertinent passage from the law, answering with all meekness; “I wist not, brethren, that he was the high Priest : for it is written, Thou shall not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.”
There is another instance of the indiscretion and candour of this Apostle. Paul and Barnabas going forth to publish the Gospel, took for their companion John Mark, the nephew of Barnabas. That young evangelist, however, staggered by the dangers, which those apostles were constantly obliged to en. counter, forsook them in Pamphilia in the midst of their painful labours. But afterwards, repenting of his former irresolution, he offered to accompany them in another journey. Barnabas, who had cha. rity enough to hope all things of his nephew, wished to afford him a second trial : while Paul, whose prudence taught him to fear every thing from a young man, who had already given an indisputable proof of his inconsistancy, refused his consent. At length the two Apostles, unable to decide the matter to their mutual satisfaction, took the resolution of separating one from another. Paul went to preach the Gospel in Syria with Silas; while Barnabas, accompanied by his nephew, proceeded to proclaim Christ in the isle of Cyprus. Thus the separations