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ceive from the hand of God their Saviour their renovated bodies and their immortal crowns. You will doubtless, therefore, be the more willingly convinced that unobtru. sive christianity, in its simplest form, constitutes the common foundation and measure of the glory and felicity alloted to all who pass, in any age, through the gates of imo mortality: and that to apostles, who wrought miracles and heralded salvation, and to you who must pursue unnoticed or unknown the "noiseless tenor of your way,” the highest
of all privileges is dispensed with equal hand- the privi· lege of rejoicing that your names are written in heaven. . We are happy that it is in our power to illustrate this truth by a case which must sweep before it every lingering prejudice, and carry conviction to the dullest understanding. You are accustomed to revere the memory of
the apostle of the gentiles," and, in consideration of the office he sustained, to pay the same respect to his decisions that you hold to be due to those of his Lord and master. How great, then, must be the advantage derivable from such authority, when the apostle utters the very sentiment in question under the circumstances and feelings which gave birth to the epistle in which you find our text! It is the last of his letters. It was not forwarded as a document addressed to all the churches, under the broad seal of the apostolic office. It is a private letter, of Paul the aged prisoner; and it is addressed to an individual whom he dearly loved. It was penned while he was awaiting the judgment of the tyrant, who soon afterwards dismissed him to his eternal rest: and it was penned under the strong apprehension of such an event; for in the course of it he remarks that dangers were thickening around him, and feelingly complains that even christians had been des tered from shewing him any countenance.
What sustained the spirit of the apostle of the gentiles, under these appalling circumstances? It was not the recollection that the arm now cramped with irons orice gallantJantly sustained the banner of the cross, and planted it firmly before the very portals of many an idol's temple: it was not that the tongue now condemned to silence, used to roll
the words of inspiration through the churches, to the joy . or consternation of attendant thousands: it was not that
works of wonder wrought in the name of Jesus, commended his glad tidings to the acquiescence of the million: No! it was nothing of all these that cheered him. His heart turned for refuge to the common hope of men-an hope which, in its foundations, any one of you may emulate. After penning such instructions, and advice as he judged most profitable for his youthful friend, he thus feelingly and briefly adverts to his own condition: “As for myself, I am done forever with all care and danger: “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 rightcousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but to all them also that love his appearing."
Thus you see, it was not the distinguished station or important trust by which his name has been emblazoned, that cheered his last, lone hours. It was the delightful consciousness that he had filled his station with a becoming spirit, and discharged its duties with singleness of heart. It was the deliberate conviction that "the faith” which he had kept, would bear him safely through the awful scrutiny to which he must submit before the bar of God. Nor does he speak of that crown of righteousness which awaited him, as at all peculiar to his clevated station. I shall
ipherit it, he says, in common with every individual who loves the appearing of Jesus Christ.
Who then will not admit the paramount importance of those common excellencies and common hopes, on which the apostle rested his dying eyes! The trials that beset. us, the duties that occupy us, the stations that are filled by us, depend on the allotment of the God of providence. The bare fact that they are ours speaks nothing in our favor. Nor are the greatness of the trials, the magnitude - of the duties, or the dignity of the station, the matters of
chief concern. He who is faithful over a very little, will be faithful also over much. So judges Jesus Christ: and according to this rule allots the crowns of righteousness. In pondering the triunphs of the apostle Paul, you there fore view the foundations of our common hope; and, so, cannot regard yourselves as disinterested auditors, while we attempt to define, by so illustrious an example,
I. The DIFFICULTIES, and
II. The RECOMPENSE, of a Christian profession. I. The difficulties. You recollect the reception which the Saviour gave to the application of some one who, from motives which most probably were of a doubtful character, desired to be received into the number of his followers. He did not directly discountenance the applicant, but he deemed it proper to tell him the discouraging truth: "the foxes have holes, and the fowls of the air have nests; but the Son of man has not where to lay his head.” It was no singular alternative to which that man was pointed, when thus taught to deliberate before he declared his choice. For, however indolence may soothe itself, and self-love indulge its flatteries, it is a straight and narrow way that leads to the gates of life. The Saviour, who wrought salvation, and who was doubtless too wise to volunteer needless self denial or court unprofitable pain, is uniformly delineated as "the man of sorrows." And he who runs may read it in every page of scripture that all who aspire to share his triOmphs must lay out their accounts to “suffer with him” too. The apostle, in whose joys you so cordially sympathize, and the honors of whose name you so enthusiastically cher ish, pleads no exemption from the common lot. It is true indeed that his “light affliction," enduring only for a mom ment, bears so small à proportion to the exceeding and eternal weight of glory” which now recompenses him, that it almost disappears from the account. Indeed, in our admiration of his labours and veneration for his character, we lose sight of the fact that he was compassed with infirmities, as well as other men. And while we feel that it is of little consequence to him what treatment he once received from wicked and unreasonable men, or what difficulties he encountered in accomplishing his great work, now that he rests from all his labours, and is blessed in be. holding their ever augmenting fruits; we scarcely know how to sympathize in the sorrows that wrought these triumphs: but coolly regarding them for a little moment, we close the curtain of oblivion over them and bid them a long good night.
Yet Sanl of Tarsus had his difficulties and sorrows, which affected him precisely as they would affect any other christian man; and he ranges them under the three melancholy heads of conflict, sorrow and temptation, when feelingly adverting to them in the words of my text. Do you ask me what difficulties or sorrows or temptations could beset so good a man; aided as he was by the spirit of inspiration, armed with authority to work all manner of . miracles, and animated with such nearness of intercourse
with heaven? You have heard his declaration: and all his epistles, and his whole history goes to prove that his was a life of the most painful conflict. He had conflicts with his own heart; conflicts with erring, and with false hearted brethren; conflicts with the sworn enemies of the cross of Christ: and incessant conflicts with the powers of darkness. Nor were his labours lightened by the possession of a power of working signs and wonders in the name of Jesus. Nor was temptation precluded by the blessed privilege of maintaining close communion with his God. Whatever extraordinary endowments he possessed, they were given him exclusively “for the work of the ministry: for the edifying of the body of Christ.” They by no means excluded the ordinary principles and motives of christian conduct, nor were they a protection from the arrows that rankle in the bosoms of ordinary men. Even a greater than Saul of Tarsus fulfilled the common duties and felt the common ills of life; who then was the apostle, that he should plead exemption! He did not pretend its He never once desired it. He was, though an apostle, still nothing better than a sinner saved by grace: and he tasted largely of the dregs that fill a sinners cup.
Inheriting the ruins of a fallen nature, he had to encouater the difficulties and self-denial which chequer the life of the most ordinary christian. He found, in common with his fellow sinners, “a law in his members warring ac gainst the law of his mind;” and he was often forced to lament, as bitterly as any of you, that “when he would do -good, evil was present with him.” Painful watchings and ardent prayers were his as well as ours; and well may we tremble at the fool-hardy security in which we often find ourselves, when such a man as Paul, apostle though he was,