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clarations, that he ftill wished to encourage others in the faith, and exulted in his own prospects of heaven. How animated are his exprellions! "I am not alhamed; for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day *. “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, Thall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing +.” The knowledge and the love of Christ will enable us likewise to speak the same language, and inspire us with confidence and joy, though we should see death approaching in the moit tremendous forms. Ah! how few have felt the full influence of the Gospel, or attained its exalted privileges! This may teach us to account for our loth and cowardice. While we are strangers to the grace of Jesus, it is no wonder that we decline every arduous service, and tremble at the intimations of our diffolution, St. Paul closed his life in the most honourable
and sealed with his blood the doc67.
trines, which he had long fo zealously maintained. He suffered about the same time as St. Peter, but not by crucifixion : being a Roman citizen he was beheaded. It is surprising, not that he was cut off by the hand of violence at last, but that fo firm an advocate for the Gospel should be spared so long, in the midst of powerful and malignant opposers. How eminent does' his character appear! How valuable his labours !. How glorious his death! Do we not consider his crown of martyrdom, as an enviable distinction ? Let us fight the good
fight of faith; and we also shall conquer, as he did, when taking leave of the world.
He was exalted above others by his wisdom, zeal, and success; by gifts, visions, and revelations of the Lord.
“ He was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words *.
was not a whit be. hind the very chiefest Apostles + :" nay, he “la
+ boureď more abundantly than they all I,” and, probably, poffeffed peculiar powers and authority in his high function ). But, notwithstanding his honourable privileges, his sufferings were extreme : and even in these he seemed more especially to exult. Let us hear his own account: " We are troubled on every fide, --perplexed--persecuted,-cast down, — always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus $ :” “in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in neceffities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings t." « Of the Jews five times received I forty ftripes fave one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck; a night and a day I have been in the deep : in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Besides those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches **.'
He had one particular trial, of which a clear ac-' count is not given us. He calls “ it a thorn in the
2 Cor. xii. 4. + xi. 5. I 1 Cor. xv. 10.
1 Cor. V. 4, § 1 2 Cor. x. 8. xiii. 10. § 2 Cor. iv. 8-10. f. vi. 4, 5.
Aesh * ;” which implies that it was something as painful to his mind, as any sharp or pointed instrument, continually piercing him, would be to his body. Some suppose it to have been a deformed appearance, or difficulty of elocution, with which his enemies upbraided him, and he himself was distressed, as it rendered his preaching less acceptable. The objection was urged; “ His bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible to As this seemed likely to obstruct his usefulness, it excited the keener anguish. His spiritual adversary took the advantage, and made it the ground of a severe temptation: it was, therefore, the messenger of Satan to Luffet him." Yet God permitted it for his good, and designed it to prevent or counteract any bad effect, which his eminence in the Church might produce upon his mind; “left he fould be exalted above measure through the abundance of his revelations." In this, however, as in other trials, he fought relief from heaven. He prayed with peculiar importunity, and obtained that remarkable assurance from the Saviour, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Then his fears were dispersed ; and, perceiving a peculiar suitableness and mercy in the appointment, he declared, “ Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” The example is highly instructive: it shews us the nature, necessity, and falutary tendency of those calamities and temptations, by which advanced believers are frequently oppressed; but it likewise teaches us, with what temper of mind we should suffer, and what strong support and consolation we may expect, if we conside in the Redeemer.
After all, the most distinguishing lineaments in the Apostle's character were an unshaken and affec
t X. 10.
cionate attachment to his Lord, an extensive and
We are aware, that even a distant refemblance and imitation of the pattern here exhibited would now be laughed at, as the sure mark of madness and enthusiasm. But the fear of such reproach ought not to deter us: it will be an honourable badge, in which we may glory. Few, alas! are in danger of coming under that censure. Are we not very remote frora that peculiar excellency of temper and conduct, for which the Apostle has been so juítly celebrated ? And will it avail us any thing, to admire this bright example, or that of any other saint, if we perfitt in those practices, which are totally diffimilar and opposite? No: we shall thereby betray, more evidently, our own bareness, and ensure our final condemnation. But, if with sincerity of heart we desire and endeavour to follow St. Paul, as he followed Christ, we may triumph in the hope of being where he is, and joining the glorious company of those, who are redeemed to God from the earth, and who Mall surround his throne for ever.
# 2 Cor. V. 14:
+ xii. 15.
| Phil. ii. 17.
Cornelius, a Roman Centurion-his devotion and libera
lity-mencouraged by an Angel, and directed to send for St. Peter---received the Apostle, desired his instructions, and during his address was endued with the Holy Ghost-baptizedmrequested Peter's continuance-probably retained his situation in the army.
The calling of the Gentiles and their admission into the Christian Church is an event of great importance in ecclefiaftical history; and a distinct account is given us of the way, in which that gracious dispensation was introduced. The Apostles had been charged to teach all nations, and receive by baptism those, who should profess the faith*; but so partial were their views, so bigotted their minds in favour of the Jews, that a particular revelation seemed neceffary to explain to them the extent of their commission, and dispose them to accept the Gentiles as fellow heirs. At length, the divine will being manifested in such a manner as to exclude all doubt, the partition wall was broken down: those, who had been “ aliens from the commonwealth of Israel,” were taken into the Church of Christ, and admitted to its full privileges.
Cornelius, a Roman Centurion, was selected from the Pagan world, as the first instance of this distinguished mercy, and, by the express appointment of Heaven, enrolled among the number of the faithful *.
* Matt. xxviii, 19.
+ Acts x. I, &c.