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complied with ; and the great apostle St. | able. With what a passionate earnestness Peter surrendered up his soul into the hands on the conviction of a miracle, did be beg of his great and beneficent Master, who our blessed Saviour to depart from him ; came down from heaven to ransom mankind thinking it unworthy the Son of God to from destruction, and open for them the come near so vile a sinner. gates of the heavenly Canaan.
When the great Redeemer of mankind, His body, being taken down from the by that amazing condescension, stooped so cross, is said to have been embalmed by low as to wash the feet of his disciples, Peter Mercellinus, the presbyter, after the mau could not be persuaded to permit his perner of the Jews, and then burned in the forming it, thinking it highly improper that Vatican, near the Appian way, two miles so great a person should submit to such a from Rome.
servile office towards a person so mean as
himself; nor could he be induced to admit Here it remained till the time of pope of it, till his great master threatened to de. Cornelius, who re-conveyed it to Rome, prive him of his favour. where it rested in an obscure place, till the reliign of Constantine, who, from the great When Cornelius, the Roman centurion, reverence he entertained for the christian heightened in his opinion of bim, by an imreligion, erected many churches at Rome, mediate command from the Almighty conand rebuilt and greatly enlarged the Vatican cerning bim, would have treated him with in honour of St. Peter. He also consider more than ordinary marks of esteem and ably enriched the church with gifts and or veneration; he was so far from complying naments; and it has continued increasing with it, that he declared he was nothing in riches and splendor, every age, until it is more than a mortal like himself. His love become one of the wonders of the world. and zeal for his Master were remarkable;
he thought he could never express either at If we consider St. Peter as a man, there too high a rate ; venturing on the greatest seems to have been a natural eagerness pre perils, and exposing his life to the most imdominant in his temper, which animated bis minent dangers. His forwardness to own soul to the most bold, and sometimes rash bis great Master for the Messiah and Son of undertakings. It was this, in a great mea- the Most High, was remarkably great; and sure, that prompted him to be so very forward it was this that drew from his Lord that to speak, and to return answers sometimes honourable encomium, Blessed art thou before he had well considered them. It was Simon Bar-jona. But his courage and conthis that made him expose his person to the stancy in confessing Christ, even before his most imminent dangers, promise those great most inveterate enemies, was still greater, things in behalf of his Master, resolutely after he had recovered himself from his fall. draw his sword in his quarrel against a whole How plainly does he tell the Jews, that they band of soldiers, and wound a servant of the were the murderers and crucifiers of the high priest : nay, he had in all probability, Lord of Glory? Nay, with what an unattempted greater things, had not the Lord daunted courage, with what an heroic greatrestrained his impetuosity, and given a sea ness of soul, did he tell the very Sanhedrim, sonable check to his fury.,
who had sentenced and condemned him,
that they were guilty of his death, and that If we consider him as a disciple of the they had no other way of escaping the venblessed Jesus, we shall find him exem | geance of the Almighty, but by the merits plary in the great duties of religion. His of that very Jesus, whom they had crucified humility and lowliness of mind were reinark- / and put to death.
t a whimbe were of Glory
Lastly, if we consider him as an apostle, 1 of God, to labour freely for the good of ths as a pastor, or a shepherd of the souls of souls of men, and not undertake those office men, we shall find bim faithful and diligent to acquire advantages to themselves ; bein his office, zealously endeavouring to in- ! seeching them to treat the flock committed struct the ignorant, reduce the erroneous, to their care with lenity and gentleness, and strengthen the weak, confirm the strong, | to be themselves shining examples of piety reclaim the vicious, and turn the children | aud religion, the surest method of rendering of men into the paths of righteousness. their ministry successful. And because it He neveromitted any opportunity of preach was impossible for him to be always present ing to the people, and spreading the glad to teach and warn the children of men, he tidings of the gospel among the human race; endeavoured by letters to imprint in their and so powerful were his discourses, that minds the practice of what they had been he converted multitudes at one time. How taught. A metliod, he tells us, he was remany painful journies and dangerous voy solved to pursue, as long as he continued an ages did he undertake! With what uncon inhabitant of this world;" thinking it meet, querable patience did he endure the great while he was in this tabernacle, to stir up, by est trials, surmount every difficulty, and re putting them in mind of these things, that move every opposition that he might plant so they might be able, after his decease, to the gospel of his beloved Master ! Never have them always in remembrance.” refusing even to lay down his life to promote it. Nor was be only assiduous to perform Thus lived, thus died Simon Peter, called these duties himself, but he was also care-to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, and at ful to animate others to do the like ; ear | length to offer up his life in ratification of nestly pressing and persuading the pastors the doctrine he delivered, and the faith lie and governors of the church to feed the flock / maintained and propagated.
Account of this Apostle from his Birth, till
his Conversion to the Christian Faith.
THIS great apostle of the Gentiles was
1 a native of Tarsus, and a descendant from the antient stock of Abraham. He was born about two years before the blessed Jesus, and belonged to the tribe of Benjamin, the youngest son of Jacob, who tius prophesied of him ;“ Benjamin shall ravin as a
wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey; and at night he shall divide the spoil :” a prophetical character which Tertullian and others will have to be accomplished in our apostle. For, in his youth, or morning of his days, he persecuted the churches, destroyog the flock of the Almighty; he devoured the prey : in his declining age, or evening of his days, he became a physician of the nations, feeding and distributing with the greatest care and assiduity the sheep of Christ ; that great shepherd of Israel, he divideth the spoil. es
Tarsus, the place of this apostle's nati- 1 of necessity they might provide for themvity, was the metropolis of Cilicia, and selves by the labour of their own hands. situated about three hundred miles distant from Jerusalem ; it was exceedingly rich Saul having obtained a thorough knowand populous, and a Roman minicipium, | ledge of the science cultivated by the Jews, or free corporation, invested with the pri- | and being naturally of a very hot and fiery vileges of Rome by the two first empe temper, became a great champion of the law rors, as a reward for the citizens' firm of Moses, and the tradition of the elders, adherence to the Cæsars, in the rebellion which he considered as zeal for God. This of Crassus. St. Paul was therefore born rendered him impatient of all opposition to a Roman citizen, and he often pleads this the doctrine and tenets be had imbibed, and privilege on his trials.
a vehement blasphemer and persecutor of
the christians, who were commonly reputIt was common for the inhabitants of ed the enemies and destroyers of the Jewish Tarsus to send their children into other economy. We must not, however, consider cities, for learning and improvement : our apostle as guilty of the pride and hyespecially to Jerusalem, where they were pocrisy of the Pharisees; for he declares that so numerous, that they had a synagogue he had ever been careful to act in conforof their own, called the synagogue of the mity to the dictates of his conscience, by Cilicians. To this capital our apostle was | which he thought himself bound to do also sent, and brought up at the school of " many things contrary to the name of that eminent rabbi Gamaliel, in the most Jesus of Nazareth.” It was, therefore, exact knowledge of the law of Moses. the prejudices of his education, and the Nor did he fail to profit by the instructions natural warmth of his temper, that excited of that great master ; for he se diligently him to those violent persecutions of the conformed himself to its precepts, that, | christians, for which he became so famous. without boasting, he asserts of himself, that touching the righteousness of the law, The first action we find him engaged in, he was blameless, and defied even his was the disputation he and his countryinen enemies to alledge any thing to the con- | had with the martyr Stephen, with regard trary, even in his youth. He joined himself to the Messiah. The christian was too to the sect of the Pharisees, the most strict hard for them in the dispute; but they were order of the Jewish religion ; but at the too powerful for him in their civil interests ; same time, the proudest, and the greatest for being enraged at his convincing argui enemies to Christ and his holy religion. ments, they carried him before the high With regard to his double capacity, of
priest, who by false accusations condemn
ed him to death. How far Saul was con. Jewish extraction and Roman freedom he had two names, Saul and Paul, the former
cerned in this cruel action, is impossible Hebrew and the latter Latin. It was com
to say; all we know is, that he kept the
raiment of them that slew kim. mon for the descendants of Benjamin to give the name Saul to their children ever The storm of persecution against the since the time of the first king of Israel, who church being thus begun, it increased prowas chosen out of that tribe; and Paul was digiously, and the poor christians of Jerusaa name as common among the Romans. We lem were miserably harrassed and dispersed. must also consider his trade of tent-making In this persecution our apostle was a prinas a part of his education, it being a con- cipal agent, searching all the adjacent parts stant practice of the Jews to bring up their for the afflicted saints, beating some in the children to some honest calling, that in case synagogue, inflicting other cruelties, cona