Imatges de pÓgina


them with contempt, as a visionary system, involving only doubtful and fuperstitious questions. But, if you examine more minutely, and with more fixed regard, you will discover, at least, that Chriftianity is capable of being defended by solid and unanswerable arguments, and that folly is.juftly chargeable upon those, who affect to (neer at what they cannot confute.

If you allow the truth and excellency of the Gof." pel, we ask again, Have you unfeignedly complied with its demands ? Ah ! how many resemble Agrippa, and are inclined to resist or trife with their convictions! You grant, that to be a Christian indeed, is a high and honourable distinction, which you profess a desire of attaining. But you are obstructed by such difficulties, and assaulted by such teniptations, that you have not courage, for the present at least, to attempt the arduous work, as thinking it impossible to fucceed. Or perhaps, you may be willing to yield only a partial submission, as far as may fuit your conveni- . ence ;

and thus, with apparently good impressions and resolutions, you may remain destitute of the power of religion. You are almost perfuaded;" and here you reft. Will this satisfy your consciences ? Or can you seriously expect, in such a state, to inherit the promises of God? O why will you not consent to adyance a little farther, and be “altogether," what you know you ought to be? There are those, of a found understanding, and solid judgment, who can tell you of the blessedness, which they have found in the service of Christ. They argue rightly, that it is not a vain illusion of the fancy, but a delightful reality, by which they are supported and comforted in severest dangers and distresses. With tender compassion and affectionate importunity, they press you to make the trial, that you may partake of their happiness. O credit their testimony, and reject not your own mercies ! May He, who alone can subdue the



human heart to himself, render the exhortation effectual, and persuade you to embrace the Gospel without reserve! May the mighty influence of his grace enable you to break through all your difficulties, and make you not only almost, but altogether Christians ! Amen.

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SECT. 6.

Pauh lent as a prisoner to Rome experienced great

difficulties in his voyage-Jaipwrecked on the islands of Melita---wrought miracles there, and received kindness proceeded to Rome - dwelt and preached in his own house under custody-released-travelled and laboured as before-again imprisoned, and beheaded. The promises of God in due season will be ful. filled, however the events, to which they refer, may seem to us improbable. What we call difficulties, cannot possibly defeat or obstruct the divine counsel. A firm persuasion and practical application of this ac knowledged truth will produce in our minds submisfion, composure, confidence, and joy, throughout our various changes and calamities. "If, in depen

. dence on the gracious declarations of God, we believe that we « Ihall not perish, but have eternal life;" we shall cheerfully expect the final consumma. tion of our bliss, whatever enemies may assault us, or dangers beset our path. We shall say, like the great Apoftle, whom we are now contemplating, « The Lord Thall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me to his heavenly kingdom *." The history will few, that this strong aflurance of the divine faithfulness was not disappointed. Let us, then, take hold of the Covenant, which God hath established in Jesus Christ; so hall ” all things work together for good,” and with lively hope we may

a Tim. iv. 28.

& caft

“ cast all our care upon Him, for he careth for

us *."



St. Paul had appealed to Cesar against the malicious accusations of the Jews. As a Roman citizen, he claimed the privilege of bringing his cause before the Emperor; for it seemed, that justice was denied him at the inferior tribunals. “'The preceding circumstances, which led to this demand, were so ordered, through the controlling influence of God, as to be the means of fulfilling the declaration, that the Apostle must bear witness to the Gospel at Rome. “ He was accordingly fent thither as a prifoner, together with some others in similar circumstances, under the care of Julius a Centurion †. They went by fea, and the voyage proved extremely distressing and dangerOus. Paul was accompanied by two Christian friends, Luke the beloved physician, and Ariftarchus a Ma. cedonian, who'cheerfully partook of his fufferings, and, as his faithfal associates, afforded him peculiar consolation 1. He , also, treated with much kindnefs by the Roman Officer; and therefore at Sidon, where they called, he was permitted to visit his pious acquaintance, and" procure 'refreshment. From this place they proceeded to Myrá, and, having there changed their fhip, they were afterwards fo retarded by contrary 'n inds, that with great difficulty they reached the Farr Havens, a pore in the iland of Crete.

As the feafon was far advanced, the Apoftle advised the managers of the vellei not to profecute the voyage before winter, ar! solemnly wained them of the extreme danger attenditig it, which liad, probably, been intimated to Hin By' revelation. But, his precautibn not being regarded, they again fet' fail, and foon perceived their folly: They were overtaken by a violent' storm, and driven to the utmost * Rom. viii. 28. Peti v.7. + Acts xxvii. I, &c. I Col. iv. 10, 11. Philem. 24.


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distress, even so as to be in constant expectation of perishing. For feveral days they faw neither fun nor stars to guide them, and, of neceffity, abandoned the fhip to the winds and waves. They cast overboard the articles of merchandise, with which they were laden, and, what seemed far more valuable in their circumstances, their very tackling : they apprehended that they themselves, also, should be overwhelmed in the deep.

How, then, did it appear, that Paul was under the immediate care and protection of Heaven? Una belief might have suggested, that the promise failed, and that God had forgotten to be gracious * But that season of extremity rendered the divine interpofition, in favour of the Apostle, the more conspi. cuous, and shewed to all the company the peculiar excellence and worth of this prisoner. He stood forth before them, and, while he blamed their contempt of his former advice, exhorted them to difmiss their fears, on the ground of the Lord's exprefs declaration to him in the preceding night. With firmness and courage, he avowed, in the presence of idolaters, his relation and devotedness to the true God, affirmning, “ His I am, and Him I ferve." He told them, how he had been assured by an Angel, that he must certainly be arraigned at Cesar's tribunal, and that, though they must suffer shipwreck, the whole number of persons with him, amounting to more than two hundred and seventy, should be spared for his fake. Thus, then, a peculiar honour was put upon the Lord's minifter; and the carelefs navigators, surely, were constrained to attend to his religion. They could not but perceive, that he was fupported and comforted by a God, whom they knew not, and whom the winds and feas obeyed. They saw him composed and cheerful, amidft the dashing

Pfala lxxvii. 8, 9


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