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to say, not · Why gaze ye up into heaven?' but,
Why are your eyes fixed upon the earth? Why do
you think solely of the things of time? Why do not your affections rise above the clods on which you tread? Know you not that Jesus will come again upon the earth, to decide the destinies of men ? Know
not that he will descend as he rose, with clouds for his chariot and angels for his attendants ; receiving the righteous to his embraces, sentencing the impenitent to perdition ? Tell me, my brethren, does the annunciation of these truths inspire you, as it did the disciples, with joy? Tell me, do with satisfaction to that day when your Judge shall assign to you the felicities of heaven or the agonies of hell ? Are you prepared to stand before his bar? If you were told that even now he was approaching, would you not tremble at the destiny that awaits you? Awful reflection! that the presence of the Saviour, which forms heaven, which constitutes the felicity of angels and seraphs, which has supported martyrs amidst the most excruciating torments, should to you be an object of terror and dismay! In time then prepare to meet your Judge. Flee to the throne of his mercy, that you may not be blasted from the throne of his justice.
LIFE OF PAUL.
ROMANS i. 1.
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ.
Few more illustrious men have lived than the apostle Paul. His natural powers of mind were great, and they were improved by the most diligent culture. In his writings we see a profound judgment, a lively imagination, an extensive acquaintance with literature. His speeches are animated with the fire of truth, and adorned with the arts of persuasion; but his virtues and his graces render him still more illustrious than his talents. What an ardent love to God and the Redeemer! what devotedness to the cause of truth! what an intrepid courage! what a firm trust in God! what a profound humility, and deep sense of the mercies he had received ! what a warm and sincere charity for all men! what a tenderness of heart for all the churches-did he uniformly display! His life is intimately connected with the account of the first establishment of Christianity. I then expect your attention, while in
this and some subsequent discourses I review his history.
This apostle was born at Tarsus, a city of Cilicia that was famous for its literature, and for an academy, which, according to Strabo, who lived in the same age with Paul, exceeded the celebrated institutions of Athens and Alexandria.* Of the names of his parents we are ignorant; they were both, however, Jews. Whether they lived till after his conversion, and whether they persisted in their original belief, or were among the thousands who were brought to a knowledge of the truth by his ministry, we are not informed. Several of his relatives are mentioned in the New Testament. Andronicus, Junia, Herodion, Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, are in the sixteenth chapter of the Romans termed his kinsmen. Of the two first, he says that they “ were in the Lord before him." He once viewed them as deluded enthusiasts; he afterwards took “ sweet counsel with them." The others were probably brought to a knowledge of the Redeemer under his preaching. He had also a sister living at Jerusalem, whose son was of eminent service to him during his confinement in that city. (Acts xxiii. 16.)
He sprung from that tribe which occupied the next rank to that of Judah in the public estimation, the tribe descended from Jacob by his beloved Benjamin; that from which the first king was selected, and which remained faithful to God when all the rest, except Judah, bowed down to the idolatrous
* Tantus Tarsensibus circa philosophiam amor fuit et alias disciplinas, quæ in orbiculatà scientiarum serie versantur, ut Athenas et Alexandriam superarent; et si quis alius locus dici potest, in quo scholæ et exercitationes philosophiæ fuerint. Sed hoc uno plurimùm excellit, quod hic indigenæ discunt; peregrini verò non multum huc adveniunt. At nec illi ipsi hic manent, et foris perficiuntur.-STRABO, lib. xiv.
calves erected at Dan and Bethel. He was by his birth a Roman citizen, either, as some suppose, because Augustus granted to all the inhabitants of Tarsus the right of citizenship, in consequence of the attachment they had displayed to him during the civil wars; or, more probably, from a peculiar right that his father or his ancestors had acquired. As we prosecute his history, we shall see that this privilege was often of the greatest service to him.*
He is called both Saul and Paul. Probably both these names were given him at his circumcision; the tormer as a Jew, the latter as a Roman citizen. He retained his Jewish name till he went to bear the gospel to the Gentiles. Others, however, have
supposed that he took the name of Paul from the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, one of his first and most illustrious converts: the apostle, they think, like a conqueror, dresses himself in the spoils of the enemy he has subdued, and regarding this conversion as a happy omen for the future, assumes the name of the disciple he has made. It is certain at least that Luke does not give him the name of Paul till after this event.
As he had high opportunities for the cultivation of polite literature in his native city, so he profited by them. His works show an acquaintance with the Greek poets and philosophers, that was useful to him in the course of his ministry. Designed by the Lord for extensive benefit to the world, he was thus early preparing for it, unconsciously to himself; was acquiring that knowledge which he intended to direct against the cross of Jesus, but which should eventually be used in its support. If a Moses is designed to be the historian of the creation, the deliverer and the legislator of his people, Providence will cause him early to be instructed in all the learning of Egypt. If a Paul is to bear the gospel among the Gentiles, he shall early be adorned with their literature.
* Those who embrace the latter sentiment maintain that Tarsus was only a free city, but not a Roman colony, in the time of Paul; that there is no proof from medals of its having been a colony before Caracalla or Heliogabalus.
| The second sentiment is maintained by Origen and Jerome. See them quoted in Beausobre fils. Baronius supposes that the proconsul wished as it were to receive him into his family, and desired him to assume the name of Paul, as his spiritual father. Chrysostom, Theodoret, and Theophylast, suppose that, from humility, he assumed the name of Paul, or little, at his ordination. This is improbable.
At a proper age he went up to Jerusalem to be instructed at that metropolis of Judea in Jewish literature, the traditions of the elders, and the received interpretations of the sacred books. There he was brought up under Gamaliel, one of the most celebrated teachers of that time. An instance of the moderation of this Rabbin is recorded in the Acts, (chap. 5.) When the Jewish councils, shortly after the ascension of our Redeemer, were about to murder the apostles, Gamaliel urged them to let the disciples alone, since if they were impostors, they would soon come to nought, as had lately been the case with Theudas and Judas of Galilee; but, if they were divinely missioned, opposition against them would be in vain, and would be “ fighting against God.” Saul was far from imitating the moderation of his teacher. Attaching himself to the sect of the pharisees, which was then most esteemed, he became a furious zealot; and laying an undue stress on the Jewish observances, supposing that by them, and by them only salvation could be attained, he regarded all Christians as blasphemers, to whom no mercy was