Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

preach the Gospel of the kingdom, and to perform miraculous works in his name. After his resurrection, and before he left the world, having more largely instructed the apostles, in regard to the glory of his person, the spiritual nature of his kingdom, the end of his sufferings, his competency and determination to support them in the trying service to which he was separating them, the opposition from the world they must calculate to meet, and the certain success which should attend this unprecedented and most interesting enterprise, he formally commissioned them in this memorable injunction, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.” And we are told, that, having received this charge, seen him ascend into heaven, and been made partakers in the promised gifts of the Holy Ghost, they went forth and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word by signs following. Paul was subsequently converted, in an extraordinary manner, and united to this college of missionaries. He was to act in concert with them. His designation, however, was somewhat peculiar. He was eminently a missionary to the heathen. While their labors were chiefly devoted to those who belonged to the circumcision, his were especially given to the uncircumcision. To him the mystery, which had been hid for ages, that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body with the believing Jews, was particularly revealed. To

him, he tells us, “was this grace given, that he should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” . And to the believers at home he observes, “I am debtor, both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians; both to the wise and to the unwise; so, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the Gospel to you, who are at Rome also.”

The world was his field of labor, and the world he traversed. We find him in Arabia, Judea, Syria, the Lesser Asia, Macedonia, Greece, Illyricum, Italy, and directing his course to the most western parts of Europe. We have a more particular account of this apostle than of any other. His labors and his success seem to have been greater than those of the other apostles; though they were undoubtedly faithful to their charge. The history of the Acts of the Apostles is rather a history of his acts. We have a larger collection of his epistolary writings, than of all the other apostles. In short, he stands before us the most eminent, laborious, and efficient of all the missionaries of the cross, and the very best mere human model of the missionary character. In this light, my brethren, judging it to be sufficiently appropriate to the present exercise, I propose, with divine assistance, to set before you the most prominent features in the character of Paul.

I must apprise you, however, that I intend to select those things only in this eminent missionary, which, in their nature, are to be looked for in all Christian missionaries, and which, for aught that appears, might, to an equal degree, be possessed by them. - - . . . . . . . . . * : * I shall therefore leave out of the account, if he possessed them, as some imagine that he did, such remarkable talents as he seemed to display, his inspiration, the miraculous gifts and powers with which he was favored, and the very unusual consolations which were, at times, imparted to him.

I shall be excused, if any can think it objectionable, for making pretty copious quotations from the Scriptures of the New Testament. For this sure Record is at once the light by which we are to be guided, and the authority on which our conclusions Imust rest.

1. Let us begin with the commencement of his missionary career, and mark the submission, the self-denial, the decision, and the promptitude, with which he devotes himself to this holy service.

This is set distinctly before us in the text, and is more fully illustrated in other parts of the New Testament scriptures. “But, when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son, in me, that I might preach him among the heathen, immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.” To estimate his character, in this incipient stage of its formation, with any tolerable justness, we ought to consider what great temporal sacrifices he was now called to make. All that he had been, as ā

man of uncommon popularity, among the most respectable of the Jews; all the alliances, he had formed and enjoyed; all the ties of consanguinity and friendship, that twined about his heart, which probably were as strong in him as in other men; all the prospects of honor and emolument, which were before him; and, what is much more, all the expectations of immortal rewards, which he had thought himself fully warranted to entertain, as a strict and conscientious Pharisee, must be forever relinquished. How far the then future scenes of his labor and sufferings were disclosed to him, we cannot say. But he certainly well understood the offence of the cross; for he had been the perpetrator of the most horrid cruelties in his wrath against it. The Lord said of him to Ananias, “For he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.” He knew the embittered hostility of his Jewish brethren against Christ, whom they had crucified as a vile impostor. He knew that the Gentiles could hardly endure the sight of a Jew; and that the devotees of a sensual and inveterate idolatry, the priest and the magistrate, the high and the low, would be exasperated at the attempt to spread a doctrine so spiritual, so peculiar, so unsocial and exclusive, as that of Christ and him crucified. Now, mark his conduct. He tears from his heart, in a moment, all these ties of nature and acquaintthese temporal interests. He denies himself in all that he had been, and had been seeking. He gives up family, country, and the immortal hopes he had so fondly cherished. In one word, he forsakes all. He takes up the cross with the most serious determination to bear it, heavy as it might be, through the residue of his days on earth. He counts the cost, and readily pays it down. Thou didst call, said he, Lord, and here I am. Tell me what thou wouldst have me to do, and I do it. Tell me where thou wouldst have me to go, and I go. Tell me what thou wouldst have me suffer, and I suffer it; be it hunger, thirst, cold, nakedness, stripes, imprisonment, or death, in the most frightful forms. Welcome all, if I may but have grace to be faithful. Not a Pharisee, or Rabbi, or relative, shall be his adviser. “I conferred not with flesh and blood.” Henceforth he knows no man after the flesh. The evidence and the obligation were distinctly before him. And the obligation must be discharged. Said Luther, when his friends would dissuade him from appearing before the German Diet, on account of the great personal hazards which would attend it, “I would go to Spires, if there were as many devils in the city, as there are tiles upon the houses.” Paul enters upon his mission with an undelaying promptitude. “Immediately, I conferred not.” He does not hesitate, as if he were but half resolved. He does not spend months in a super

« AnteriorContinuar »