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we feel it a kind of desecration to say that it is sublime and beautiful, for it is more than both : “ I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate me from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We can all join, my brethren, in the prayer of Balaam ; but who among us is prepared, without faltering, to pronounce the assured, the unhesitating, the bold yet believing, the triumphant protestation of Paul ?

II. Let us now enquire into some of the more minute and discriminating features in the character of Paul.

1. He was distinguished for humility. This may be considered as a virtue peculiar to Christianity, as it had no place in the most approved systems of morality among the Heathen. Every genuine Christian possesses it, and we have no reason to doubt that it shone in the conduct of all the apostles. But there are some circumstances which render the example of humility in Paal brighter and more deserving of our attention. The Pharisees were notorious for their pride, ostentation, and contempt of others; and our apostle, before his conversion, appears to have been strongly infected with the characteristical vice of the sect to which he belonged. The high office to which he was raised, the extraordinary revelations made to him, the eminent gifts with which he was endowed, the great sufferings which he endured for Christ, the abundance of his labours and the uncommon success with which they were crowned, not to mention his attainments in Christian knowledge and experience, were but too apt to kindle those embers of pride and vain-glory which remain hid in the hearts of the best men on earth. But he watched over these with the utmost jealousy, and by Christ strengthening him, he was able to keep them under. Instead of dwelling on the numerous proofs of his humility, it may be more profitable for you, and more illustrative of his character, to point out some of those means by which he was able to check and subdue the opposite principle which once reigned uncontrolled in his breast. In the first place, he cherished a habitual recollection of what he had been during the time of his ignorance and unbelief. Often do we find him holding this mirror up to his eyes in public, and we may believe he did the same in private. Whenever he had occasion to mention the honourable function to which he was called, or the exertions which he had made in it, he takes care to draw this shade over his eyes, as you may see in the verse next our text: “ For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” This humbling fact he introduces into each of his public apologies, and, what is more striking, we find him introducing it into one of the last epistles which he wrote. And how does he speak of it? As if it happened only yesterday, and as if he never had confessed it and mourned over it before: “ I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, who was before a blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious.” * Secondly, When he enjoyed that ecstatic vision referred to in 2 Cor. xii., he tells us, “ Lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelation, there was given me a thorn in the flesh.” Some think he refers here to the ebullitions of that sanguine temper which was constitutional to him, and by which he was apt to be hurried into acts that grieved him. It is more probable that it was a bodily infirmity which impeded him in his public teaching, and rendered it less pleasing to his hearers. But whatever it was, he improved it as an antidote against pride, and a motive for constant dependence on divine aid ; and accordingly he declares that he would “ glory," not in his sufferings, or escapes, or revelations, but in his infirmity.

Thirdly, The fickleness of those among whom he had laboured, and their ungrateful requital of his services, helped to keep him humble. The Christians in Galatia who despised not the 6 temptation which was in his flesh,” but received him “ as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus," and who

* I Tim. i. 18, 19.

we feel it a kind of desecration to say that it is sublime and beautiful, for it is more than both : “ I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate me from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We can all join, my brethren, in the prayer of Balaam ; but who among us is prepared, without faltering, to pronounce the assured, the unhesitating, the bold yet believing, the triumphant protestation of Paul ?

II. Let us now enquire into some of the more minute and discriminating features in the character of Paul.

1. He was distinguished for humility. This may be considered as a virtue peculiar to Christianity, as it had no place in the most approved systems of morality among the Heathen. Every genuine Christian possesses it, and we have no reason to doubt that it shone in the conduct of all the apostles. But there are some circumstances which render the example of humility in Paal brighter and more deserving of our attention. The Pharisees were notorious for their pride, ostentation, and contempt of others; and our apostle, before his conversion, appears to have been strongly infected with the characteristical vice of the sect to which he belonged. The high office to which he was raised, the extraordinary revelations made to him, the eminent gifts with which he was endowed, the great sufferings which he endured for Christ, the abundance of his labours and the uncommon success with which they were crowned, not to mention his attainments in Christian knowledge and experience, were but too apt to kindle those embers of pride and vain-glory which remain hid in the hearts of the best men on earth. But he watched over these with the utmost jealousy, and by Christ strengthening him, he was able to keep them under. Instead of dwelling on the numerous proofs of his humility, it may be more profitable for you, and more illustrative of his character, to point out some of those means by which he was able to check and subdue the opposite principle which once reigned uncontrolled in his breast. In the first place, he cherished a habitual recollection of what he had been during the time of his ignorance and unbelief. Often do we find him holding this mirror up to his eyes in public, and we may believe he did the same in private. Whenever he had occasion to mention the honourable function to which he was called, or the exertions which he had made in it, he takes care to draw this shade over his eyes, as you may see in the verse next our text: “ For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God." This humbling fact he introduces into each of his public apologies, and, what is more striking, we find him introducing it into one of the last epistles which he wrote. And how does he speak of it? As if it happened only yesterday, and as if he never had confessed it and mourned over it before: “ I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, who was before a blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious.” * Secondly, When he enjoyed that ecstatic vision referred to in 2 Cor. xii., he tells us, “ Lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelation, there was given me a thorn in the flesh.” Some think he refers here to the ebullitions of that sanguine temper which was constitutional to him, and by which he was apt to be hurried into acts that grieved him. It is more probable that it was a bodily infirmity which impeded him in his public teaching, and rendered it less pleasing to his hearers. But whatever it was, he improved it as an antidote against pride, and a motive for constant dependence on divine aid ; and accordingly he declares that he would “ glory," not in his sufferings, or escapes, or revelations, but in his infirmity.

Thirdly, The fickleness of those among whom he had laboured, and their ungrateful requital of his services, helped to keep him humble. The Christians in Galatia who despised not the " temptation which was in his flesh,” but received him “ as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus," and who would have 6 plucked out their own eyes and given them to him,” when he first preached the gospel to them, suffered themselves to be so bewitched as to throw away 6 the liberty wherewith Christ had made them free;" and when he stepped in and would have undeceived them, they counted him an officious intermeddler and an enemy. The same kind of treatment he met with from the Christians at Corinth, to whom he had preached the gospel 6 with demonstration of the Spirit and power,” and imparted a variety of supernatural gifts, but who, on his departure, suffered his character to be injured and his gifts disparaged by certain foolish, airy, and tumid teachers, who, to accomplish their own selfish ends, had insinuated themselves into their affections, and abused their Christian simplicity. He must be fond of applause indeed, who sighs for that which has been lavishly sprinkled on the most worthless, who is willing to be made a king to-day at the expense of being stoned to-morrow, who glories in being now saluted as a god, at the risk of being anon devoured by the worms that worship him. In the fourth place, He cherished a humble spirit by reflecting on his imperfections both in knowledge and practice. Though he was an apostle, though he had seen the Lord, though he had the gift of prophecy, “ yet,” says he, “ I know but in part, I prophesy but in part.” If he could say, “ With my mind I serve the law of Christ,” he found daily reason to confess, “ I find a law in my members warring against the law of my mind.” And, with respect to his general character, he solemnly and repeatedly disclaims all ideas of perfection even in his best moments : “ Not that I have attained, either am already perfect.” In fine, he had a habitual conviction that whatever was good about him was owing to the grace or free favour of God—a sentiment deeply engraven on his mind, and which he expresses twice in the verse before us.

* I Tim. i. 18, 19,

By these and similar means the apostle repressed the emotions of pride, and grew in humility in proportion to his growth in knowledge and in all goodness. When it was necessary for him to speak of himself, he takes care that his language should be such as not to provoke vain-glory either in

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