« السابقةمتابعة »
never-failing interior supply: the charm of his deportment depends upon a principle coeval with our being and co-extensive with our nature.
While Christianity existed only in promise, Abraham felt its influence, and in his reception of the heavenly visitors anticipated the Gospel in the elegance of its morality. With the same gracefulness he negotiated for the cave of Machpelah with the children of Heth. Boaz with equal delicacy threw his protection around the helpless Ruth. But in Paul the perfection of Christian refinement was developed. Christ had indeed come, and given us a new commandment; and the same was illustrated by the apostle in the purest spirit of its practical import.
Paul, before his conversion, was a man of blood and a persecutor; after his conversion his mind was the tabernacle of holy love and heavenly joy; he became a Christian gentleman, formed entirely out of Christian materials; he retained all his characteristic perseverance, but he dropped all his characteristic violence. Had his walk been in the path of domestic endearment, he would have strewed that path with flowers; had he lived in the married state, his breast would have beaten with its tenderest anxieties; had he been a parent, his children would have felt the blessings of his nurture;
had he mixed in familiar life, he would have largely shared and dispensed the privileged pleasures of affectionate intercourse. These possibilities of earthly felicity expanded with his Christian perfections; but his lofty vocation to glory held all his capabilities and endowments in sacred captivity; bound to the chariot of allconquering grace, they served to decorate the triumphant career of his duty, as the trophies and spoils of a crucified world and a subjugated nature. In this subordinate condition, how they wrought in his bosom; how they softened his intercourse with his converts; how they tempered his sanguine character; how they disposed him to patience under persecution; to contentment with his condition; to consideration for the infirmities of the flesh; to compliance with things indifferent; to a modest appreciation of himself; to delicacy towards others; to charity of judgment, modesty of opinion, respect for authority, and numberless other graces of sentiment and conduct, is seen in the only book which was worthy to register the acts and correspondence of this surprising person. In that faithful repository, contemplate his gentleness to his Corinthian converts; his godly sorrow for their transgressions; his joy in their penitence: observe his touching farewell to his Ephesian
friends hear him addressing his converts of Philippi, as his dearly beloved and longed for, and exhorting them to stand fast in the Lord; and beseeching the Christians in Rome by the mercies of God, and by the meekness and gentleness of Christ: attend to his comforting and gracious manner towards the Thessalonians and the converts at Rome: consider his tender intercession for Onesimus: remark his injunctions to obey authorities: see, throughout his correspondence, his love of order, his peaceful industry, and his loyal submission to constituted authority and see also the practice of his own lessons in his conduct towards Ananias, and before Agrippa, and before the Roman magistracy: forget not his holy courage and magnanimity in the face of danger-and then say, O say, in whom have the properties of a gentleman been more fully displayed? where have “ bright thoughts, clear deeds, constancy, fidelity, and generous honesty, the gems of noble minds," more illustriously shone forth? in whose mind has the beauty of regulated affections more amiably manifested itself? in whose manners has dignity been so combined with humility, greatness with condescension, learning with simplicity?
Never were circumstances accumulated around
the mind of a man so calculated of themselves to beget enthusiasm, and to disturb the balance of the understanding; and yet never has there lived the man in whom sobriety was more conspicuous. Never has there lived a man whose. natural temperament was so easy to be excited, or whose warmth of feeling subjected him to more violent emotions; but what man has been more distinguished for moderation? Shining with graces and gifts, he saw in himself little else than the infirmities of nature and the need of pardon. In others, it was his joy and his consolation to discern the beginnings of that holiness of which his modest spirit prevented him from seeing the accomplishment in himself: his distrust of his own sufficiency was in the same degree with his trust in the mercy of God; and by bringing his own title in continual comparison with the merits of the Saviour, he drew from his conscious weakness perpetual supplies of strength; from the renunciation of his own deserts a foretaste of his great reward; from present crosses an earnest of triumphant bliss; and from bonds, imprisonment, and the loss of all things, the expectation of an eternal weight of glory. So chastened, so exercised, so endowed, so in harmony with man, so in communion with God, the character of St. Paul has realized the
conception of that bright exemplar which has been rather desiderated than described in the foregoing pages. In him, the union of Christian soundness with essential politeness has completed the lineaments and furnished the model of that humble and heaven-taught grace of deportment, which awes while it delights, purifies while it pleases, and is at once in favour with God and man.