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effectual, unless accommodated to the principles of revelation, respecting the ruin of the human nature by sin, and the only possible method of its recovery by Jesus Christ.

And as the Holy Spirit bears witness to no other doctrine, so he ordinarily restrains his blessing to those ministers who have themselves experienced the power of the truths which they deliver to others. A man may be systematically right, and strenuous in the delivery and defence of orthodox notions; yet if he is not in some degree possessed of the dispositions and motives which become a minister of the New Testament, he will seldom be honoured with much success or acceptance. The want of that disinterested and dependent frame of mind which the Gospel inculcates on all who profess it, will render his labours insignificant for the Holy Spirit, on whose influence success entirely depends, will seldom co-operate with any but those who are sincerely governed by his precepts.

A great stress therefore is laid in the New Testament upon the principles, tempers, and conduct which ought to distinguish the men who have the honour to be intrusted with the important charge of preaching the Gospel of Christ. To delineate their proper character, and to form their manners suitable to their high calling, is the principal scope of the epistles to Timothy and Titus. And when we consider what we read there, in connexion with many passages to the same purpose, which occur occasionally in the inspired writings, we may well adopt the apostle's words, "Who is sufficient for these "things?" A Christian, even in private life, is exposed to innumerable snares and dangers, from his situation in an evil world, the power and subtilty of his spiritual enemies, and the influence of the body of sin

in himself, which, though weakened and despoiled of dominion, is not yet destroyed. A minister of the Gospel, besides these trials, in common with other Christians, has many peculiar to himself. His services are more difficult, his temptations more various, his conduct more noticed; many eyes are upon him-some enviously watching for his halting, and some perhaps too readily proposing him as a pattern, and content to adopt whatever has the sanction of his example. If encouraged and acceptable, he is in danger of being greatly hurt by popularity and the favour of friends; if opposed and ill treated, (and this he must expect in some instances if he is faithful,) he is liable either to be surprised into anger and impatience, or to sink into dejection and fear. It is therefore a great encouragement to find from Scripture, (and not from Scripture only,) how the grace of God has enabled others, in equal circumstances of danger and temptation, to rise superior to all impediments, and to maintain such a course of conduct, that they stand proposed as proper patterns for our imitation, and call upon us to be followers of them, as they were of Christ.

Amongst these the character of St. Paul shines with a superior lustre; he stands distinguished by the eminence of his knowledge, grace, labours, and success, as a noble and animating exemplar of a minister of Jesus Christ. And if it should be thought a digression from the design of an ecclesiastical history, to allot a few pages to the consideration of his principles, and the uniform tenour of his life, yet I hope the digression will not be unprofitable in itself, nor judged unsuitable to my general plan; for I proposed not to confine myself to a dry detail of facts, but to point out the genuine tendency of the Gospel where it is truly received,

and the spirit by which it is opposed, and to show the impossibility of reviving practical godliness by any other means than those which were so signally successful in the first age of the church.

Was I to exhibit any recent character with these views, the exceptions of partiality and prejudice would not be so easily obviated. The merits of such a character, however commendable upon the whole, would be objected to, and the incidental infirmities and indiscretions of the person, (for the best are not wholly free from blemish,) would be studiously collected and exaggerated, as a sufficient contrast to all that could be said in his praise. But modesty forbids the same open disingenuous treatment of one who was an apostle of Christ. Besides, he lived and died long ago; and as some learned men have found, or pretended to find, a way to reconcile his writings with the prevailing taste of the times, he is commended in general terms, and claimed as a patron, by all parties of the religious world. Therefore I am warranted to take it for granted, that none who profess the name of Christians will be angry with me for attempting to place his spirit and conduct in as full a light as I can, or for proposing him as a proper criterion, whereby to judge of the merits and pretensions of all who account themselves ministers of Christ.

Many things worthy our notice and imitation have occurred concerning this apostle, whilst we were tracing that part of his history which St. Luke has given us in the Acts; but I would now attempt a more exact delineation of his character, as it is further exemplified in his own epistles, or may be illustrated from a review of what has been occasionally mentioned before.

We may observe much of the wisdom of God in dis

posing the circumstances in which his people are placed previous to their conversion. They only begin to know Him when he is pleased to reveal himself to them by his grace, but he knew them long before. He determines the hour of their birth, their situation in life, and their earliest connexions; he watches over their childhood and youth, and preserves them from innumerable evils and dangers into which their follies, while in a state of ignorance and sin, might plunge them; and he permits their inclinations to take such a course, that, when he is pleased to call them to the knowledge of his truth, many consequences of their past conduct, and the reflections they make upon them, may concur upon the whole, in a subserviency to fit them for the services into which he designs to lead them afterwards. Thus he leads the blind by a way that they knew not; and often, for the manifestation of his wisdom, power, and grace, in bringing good out of evil, he, for a season, gives them up so far to the effects of their own depravity, that, in the judgment of men, none seem more unlikely to be the subjects of his grace, than some of those whom he has purposed not only to save from ruin, but to make instrumental to the salvation of others. I doubt not but some of my readers, who are acquainted with their own hearts, will easily apply this observation to themselves; but there are instances in which the contrast is so striking and strong, that it will be inade for them by those who know them. It is, however, peculiarly exemplified in the case of St. Paul. He was set apart from the womb, (as he himself tells us*,) to be a chosen instrument of preaching among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. The

* Gal. i. 15.

frame of his heart and the manner of his life, the profession he had made, and the services in which he was engaged before his conversion, were evidently suited to render him an unsuspected as well as a zealous witness to the truth and power of the Gospel, after he had embraced it. The Lord's purpose was to show the insufficiency of all legal appointments and human attainments, the power of his grace in subduing the strongest prejudices, and the riches of his mercy in pardoning the most violent attempts against his Gospel. We know not how this purpose could have been more effectually answered, in a single instance, than by making choice of our apostle; who had been possessed of every advantage that can be imagined, exclusive of the Gospel, and, in consequence of these advantages, had made the most pertinacious efforts to suppress it. He was born a Jew, bred up under Gamaliel, a chief of the Pharisees*, the sect which professed the most peculiar attachment to the law of Moses. His conduct, before he became a Christian, was undoubtedly moral, if we understand morality in that lean and confined sense which it too frequently bears among ourselves, as signifying no more than an exemption from gross vices; together with a round of outward duties performed in a mercenary, servile spirit, to sooth conscience, and purchase the favour of God. While he was thus busied in observing the letter of the law, he tells us, he was alive-that is, he pleased himself in his own attainments, doubted not of his ability to please God, and that his state was safe and good. Upon these principles, (which act uniformly upon all

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