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love th* chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets. Wo unto you, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Ye neglect judgment, mercy, and faith. Ye outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Because ye garnish the sepulchres of the righteous," ye vainly imagine yourselves free from a persecuting spirit, while in other matters, as "the children of them which killed the prophets," ye are labouring to "fill up the measure of your fathers. Behold, I send unto you prophets" and zealous preachers of the word, "and some of them ye shall kill, and some of them ye shall persecute from city to city," Matt. xxiii, 3, 34.
We need take but a cursory view of the New Testament, for sufficient proof that these worldly-minded scribes and these furious bigots above represented, were the very persons who pursued the first evangelists with such deadly rancour. Nay, had it not been for Annas and Caiaphas, Herod and Pilate would silently have permitted the preaching of Jesus himself. These, who were the chief men of the state, after refusing to embrace the word of God, on their own part, would most probably have contented themselves with denying its truths, and ridiculing its followers. But they would never have passed a sentence of death upon persons of so admirable a character as Christ and his forerunner.
The peculiar opposers of Jesus and his disciples were powerfully influenced by jealous pride; and with the same malignant disposition every false apostle in the Christian Church is deeply infected. The prelate, whose pen we have already borrowed, gives the following lively description of this unhappy temper: "This despicable jealousy not only dishonours zeal, but supposes it extinguished in the heart. It is an infamous disposition which afflicts itself even for the conversion of sinners, and for the progress of the Gospel, when it is through the ministry of others that God is pleased to work these miracles. The glory of God seldom interests us so much as when our own glory appears to be mingled with his. We endure, with some kind of regret, that God should be glorified: and I will dare to add, that some of us could behold our brethren perishing, with pleasure, rather than see them rescued from death by other labours, and other talents than our own. St. Paul rejoiced to see the Gospel spread abroad, though it were by the ministry of those who sought to disgrace him among the faithful; and Moses desired that all his brethren might receive the gift of prophecy. But we are anxious to stand alone, and to share with no person the glory and success of the holy ministry. Every thing that eclipses our own brightness, or shines too near us, becomes insupportable, and we appear to regard the gifts of God in others, merely as a shame and reproach to ourselves." Observe here the true source of those specious pretexts, which are professedly drawn from the order, the customs, and even from the prejudices of the world. Pretexts under which we dare oppose the zeal of our brethren, to withstand the word of God in its course, and to render the cross of the ministry more burthensome to those who carry it farther than we are disposed to do. One distinguishing mark of these turbulent evangelists, is that of being thorns in the sides of true ministers, whom they never fail to represent as deceivers or novices, causing the truest piety to wear the semblance of enthusiasm and folly. "They speak evil of the things they understand not," 2 Pet. ii, 12; and by the most malicious discourses, which have always an appearance of zeal for religion and order, they are gradually rousing anew that spirit of persecution, by which the name of Christ has been so universally disgraced in the world. «
In the earliest age of the Christian Church, these false apostles, swelling with envy at the success of more faithful ministers, made use of every effort to render them contemptible, by giving false representations of their holy zeal, and their exemplary actions. Thus they accused St. Paul of walking "according to the flesh ;" and asserted, that though "his letters were weighty and powerful," yet " his bodily presence was weak, and his speech contemptible," 2 Cor. x, 2, 10. Nay, so anxious were they in seeking occasions for offence in the conduct of this apostle, that he believed himself obliged in the end publicly to expose them. "These are false apostles," says he, "deceitful worketpwtransforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel,- TO Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light . Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed, as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works," 2 Cor. xi, 13—15. As our Lord foresaw that these strenuous opposers of real religion would bring his Church to the very brink of ruin, he exhorted his disciples continually to stand upon their guard against them, Matt, vii, 15. And the apostles, after steadily following their Master's important advice, were diligen in transmitting it to the latest of their followers, Acts xx, 28, 30; 2 Pet. ii, 1.
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.
An answer to the first objection which may be made against the Portrait of
Orjections 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 possible. To the present objection a sufficient answer has been already returned by a truly respectable author: "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 altogether frivolous, when nothing more is required of ministers than continually to place Christ as a model before their eyes, and to imitate him with all the exactness of which they are capable." "This excuse," continues he, "is still more unreasonable, 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 of the very same succours which supported them, and which are never refused to those who have sincere and apostolical intentions." (Evangelical Pastor.)
To the answer of this pious divine we shall subjoin 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 Gospel, which is the same in every age, and for every condition: whence it foHows, that the moral character 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 one 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 uncommon magnitude, so the moral character of St. Paul is, with regard to essentials, the moral character of every true Christian.
3. This apostle informs us, that he was obliged to "keep his body in subjection, lest after having preached to others he himself should become a castaway," 1 Cor. ix, 27. This single acknowledgment 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 faithfuWmprovement 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 willing 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," 1 John iii, 16. And our Lord himself hath said, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another," John xiii, 35. It is by a new commandment to this effect that the morality of the Gospel is peculiarly distinguished 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," 1 John iv, 8. 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; for " he that loveth not his brother, whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom he hath not seen V 1 Cor. xvi, 22.
On the other hand, when we love our brethren "with a pure heart fervently," 1 Pet. i, 22, when, disposed to universal 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 moral 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. During two other years of his life this apostle was confined within 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 continued 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," Acts xxviii, 30.
Surely nothing can appear more perfectly reasonable, 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. If the 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," Phil, ii, 19-22.
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 thou repent," Rev. ii, 2-5.
The warning was unattended to, and, at length, the threatened blow was struck. Thus fell the Church of Ephesus, and thus every Church upon earth is fallen, making way for that "mystery of iniquity," and that general apostasy, which have been so long foretold. So true is it, that apostolical charity, that charity which was first lighted up on the day of pentecost, is still absolutely necessary to every pastor, to every Church, and, of consequence, to every believer.
From the combined force of these seven argumentative observations, we have a right to conclude, that the virtues of St. Paul are far from being inimitable, and that the first objection against his portrait is void of solidity.
They wbo follow the example of Diotrephes rather than that of St. Paul, add to the preceding another objection, to discredit, if possible, the imitators of this great apostle. "Do you pretend," say they, " to be the successors of St. Paul, and the other apostles, whom you presumptuously cite as your models?"
To such objectors the following reflections will serve as a sufficient reply:— .
1. We have heard St. Paul, in the character of a believer, proposing himself as an example to all believers; and, as a minister of the Gospel, exhorting every pastor to tread in his steps, 1 Cor. xi, 1; Phil, iii, 17.
2. John the Baptist preached repentance. The apostles proclaimed remission of sins in the name of Jesus Christ, "who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification," Rom. iv, 25; and every true minister still continues to insist upon these important doctrines. Now, as he who takes the place of a person deceased, is accounted the successor of such person; so these faithful pastors should be regarded as teachers appointed to succeed both the forerunner and apostles of Christ. It must be allowed that the apostles, as elders in the family of our Lord, were in possession of privileges which we are not permitted to enjoy. But if the Gospel is unchangeable, and if the kingdom of God still remains under its ancient form of government, the priesthood must, for the most part, of necessity continue the same.
3. There was a time in which the Jewish priests had lost the Urim and Thummim with which Aaron and his sons were at first invested.