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ON ST. PAUL'S ANTICIPATION bear no sort of comparison with that OF DEATH.

of St. Paul, have yet ventured at

the approach of death to adopt 2 TIMOTHY IV. 6, 7, 8.

his language, and to profess the For I am now ready to be offered, and same assurance of salvation, which the time of my departure is at hand. I was doubtless imparted to the Aposhave fought a good fight; I have finished tle, before his martyrdom, by the my course; I have kept the faith. Hence special agency of the Holy Spirit. forth there is laid op for me a crown of Now this appears to be a dangerous righteousness, which ihe Lord, the righte- and unwarrantable presumption, ous Judge, shall give me at the last day; and not to me only, but anto all them that quite inconsistent with the true love bis appearing.

Christian temper, and very likely to

mislead others in a matter which FROM these words it has been may seriously affect their future concluded by the best expositors of happiness. Our time, therefore, ancient and modern times, that this may be well employed in considersecond Epistle to Timothy was the ing how far this text can be safely last production of St. Paul's pen. applied to the case of any Christian The text, indeed, appears to war- in the present day, and what general rant such an inference. It clearly instructions we are warranted in intimates that the blessed Apostle drawing from it. foresaw the immediate termination The first point to be examined is of his labours by a violent death, the character and situation of the and looked forward with holy confi- person by whom these words were dence to the reward of his fidelity. uttered. The principal circumWe are informed by bistory that he stances of St. Paul's life are too resuffered martyrdom at Rome, about markable to have escaped your methe fourteenth year of the reign of mory. He was a man of talents and Nero; and there can be no doubt education, born at Tarsus in Cilicia, that the passage before us was writ- and brought up among the Phari. ten within a short period of that sees in the strictest profession of the event.

Jewish law. We first read of him in These circumstances, however, Scripture as having been present at have not always been sufficiently the inartyrdom of St. Stephen, and considered in the interpretation of “consenting unto his death.” He the passage. Many persons, who, then began to persecute the Chrisat least, had no pretensions to in- tians with furious animosity. “Saul” spiration, and whose situation could we read “made havoc of the Church,


entering into every house, and haling and for the general instruction of men and women, committed them to mankind in after ages, those Epistles prison.” Soon afterwards, in the which constitute so important a part violence of his zeal, “still breathing of the inspired volume. Having at forth threatenings and slaughter length accomplished the great work against the disciples of the Lord, he which had been assigned to him by went unto the high priest, and de- Providence, he closed his glorious sired of him letters to Damascus to career by martyrdom; thus evincing the synagogues, that if he found any to the last his firm and unshaken atof that way, whether they were men tachment to that blessed religion, or women, he might bring them which it had been the labour of his bound unto Jerusalem.” His course, life,from the hour of his conversion, to however, was arrested by a stupend- adorn, to vindicate, and to promulge. ous vision. As he approached Da- This cursory view of St. Paul's mascus “there shined round about life may be sufficient to remind us, him a light from heaven. And he that his case differed entirely from fell, to the earth, and heard a voice that of any Christian of the presaying unto him, Saul, Saul, why sent time, or indeed of any time persecutest thou me? And he said, subsequent to the Apostolic age. Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord He was, from the beginning of his said, I am Jesus whom thou perse. ministry, a chosen instrument in the cutest. And he trembling and as. hand of God. He was not converted tonished, said, Lord, what wilt thou to the Gospel in an ordinary manhave me do? And the Lord said ner, by studying its evidences, or by unto him, Arise, go into the city, and the preaching of its ministers, but it shall be told thee what thou must by a stupendous miracle, wrought for do." Here he remained three days, the express purpose of reclaiming without food, and deprived of sight; him from his errors, and calling him and was then informed by-Ananias, into the special service of Almighty who had been miraculously instruct- God. Nor can the case of St. Paul ed to that effect, that he was a after his conversion be compared to chosen instrument in the hand of that of common Christians. He was Providence, to bear the name of then under the continual influence of Christ “ before the Gentiles, and inspiration. He was even instructed kings, and the children of Israel.” by the particular * suggestions of the He then retired into Arabia, where Holy Spirit where to employ and he spent some time in preparing where to withhold his efforts. He himself for his ministry, and was was repeatedly favoured with visions, doubtless favoured with most ample and with personal commands from revelations of the Divine will. After his Divine Mastert : and, at Antioch, this he returned to Damascus, the he was “caught up into the third scene of his miraculous conversion, heaven,--and heard unspeakable and to the utter astonishment of words, which it is not lawful for a Jews and Gentiles, began to preach man to uiter f.” St. Paul, then, and explain that Gospel which he during his whole ministry enjoyed as had lately endeavoured to extinguish large a measure of supernatural asby violence and blood. Under the sistance, and as ample revelations special guidance of the Holy Spirit, from heaven, as were ever granted to a he laboured for above thirty years in mere human being. Not even to faithpropagating the Christian faith. In ful Abraham, not to Moses on the the course of that time he travelled through various parts of Europe and

* Acts xiii. 2. 4.-xvi. 7.9, 10. Asia; founded churches in some of

† Acts xviii, 9.-xxii, 17-20,--xxii, 11. the most distinguished cities of the xxvii. 23, 24. world ; and composed for their use, # 2 Cor. xii. 2, 3, 4.

mount, nor to Isaiah in the temple, contend as one who wastes his ladid Jehovah deign to reveal himself bour, without any definite object, or in a more conspicuous manner. St. without hope of success" but I Paul, then, was fayoured with a de- keep under my body, and bring it gree of light and grace to which we into subjection, lest that by any have no pretensions. He might, means, when I have preached to perhaps, have received such as- others, I myself should be a castsurances of future happiness as are away." Hence it appears, that if never granted to ordinary men; and St. Paul had not kept his body in might iherefore be justified in speak- subjection, and carefully practised ing of his own salvation in more con- the Gospel which he preached, he fident language thau we can venture would have fallen into the same con, to adopt.

demnation as other men. Neither But, although it may be supposed, his supernatural endowments, nor that, to a person so highly favoured the service he had rendered to the as St. Paul, some distinct assurance Christian cause, would then have of salvation might be granted, it is saved him. This, indeed, may yet clear from Scripture that no clearly be collected from our Savi. such assurance was given till his our's words —“ many will say to me life was drawing to a close. The in that day, Lord, Lord, have we text before us is the only passage in not prophesied in thy name? and in all his writings in which he speaks of thy name cast out devils ? and in his own salvation as a matter of cer- thy name done many wonderful tainty. In other places he represents works?then will I profess unto them, himself as labouring for immortality, I never knew you; depart from me, as still in a state of discipline and ye that work iniquity*." trial, as exposed to temptation and The other passage to which I prone to sin, and therefore not yet have. alluded, as confirming the assured of everlasting peace. This point in question, occurs in the will surely be acknowledged by all third chapter of the Epistle to the who are conversant with St. Paul's Philippians. St. Paul is there writings. There are, however, two reasoning against the Jews, who passages which I cannot omit, as

were disposed to place great confitending to place this question in the dence in their own righteousness, clearest light. In the ninth chapter and in their exact observance of the of the first Epistle to the Corinthi. Mosaic law. He combats this preans, St. Paul compares the life of a sumpluous opinion, and reminds the Christian to a race, and represents Jews, that if any man in the world bimself as contending for the prize had reason to trust in his adhewith the same anxiety and zeal as rence to their law, it was himself ; other men. “Know ye not that they who, till the hour of his converwhich run in a race run all, but one sion, had kept its ordinances with receiveth the prize : so run that ye the greatest rigour. He assures them, may obtain. And every man that however, that he placed no reliance striveth for the mastery is temperate on it, but grounded all his hopes in all things. Now they do it to ob- of salvation on the power of Christ's tain a corruptible crown, but we Atonement and Resurrection, “ if," an incorruptible.” Here the Apos- says he, “ by any means I might tle includes himself among the num- attain to the resurrection of the ber of those persons, who, were dead. Not as though I had al. striving to obtain eternal life by sub- ready attained, either were already duing their corrupt propensities. He perfect, but I follow after, if that í proceeds, “I, therefore, so run not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as

Matt, vii. 22, 23. one that beateth the air,”—I do not

LI 2

may apprehend that, for which also finished my course; I have kept the I am apprehended of Christ Jesus,” faith ;” and until we can prove that i. e. I labour diligently in my Chris. our own situation is in all respects tian course, under a firm persua- similar to his, we must never vension, that, if I persevere to the end ture to apply these expressions withof life, I shall attain the rewards out qualification to our own case. of immortality, and accomplish those And surely, if it concerns us to purposes for which I was miracu- form a just conception of any point Iously converted by Jesus Christ. of practical religion, it is of mak“ Brethren, I count not myself to ing preparation for the approach of have apprehended; but this one death. The time must come when thing I do, forgetting those things we shall be summoned from this which are behind, and reaching world, and when all its bonours, forth to those things which are be. pleasures, and emoluments, will apfore, I press toward the mark for pear utterly insignificant. Every the prize of the high calling of God faculty will then be absorbed in the in Jesus Christ.” Here the Apostle contemplation of futurity. Whatdisclaims any assurance of salva- ever we have done in obedience to tion. He counts not himself to have the will of God, will then be reapprehended, or attained, the prize garded as among the wisest and of his high calling, but declares bappiest actions of our life. Every that he is still labouring for it with wicked word and deed will be reearnest zeal. It is true that he en- membered with horror and dismay, tertained no doubt of success, pro. It is clear, then, that even to the vided he should continue faithful to best of men, the hour of death ought the end ; but he was convinced that to be an hour of awful meditation if he should relax his efforts, and and profound humility. If the become disobedient to the will of Christian has laboured through life God, not all the gifts and graces to perform his Saviour's will, he has he had received would save him yet no ground for exultation. Those from condemnation.

Scriplures from which he learned If such were the sentiments of an his duty, teach him in clear terms inspired Apostle respecting his spi- that after all his efforts he is still ritual condition, what judgment an“ unprofitable servant.” He can ought we to form of our own case ? not even flatter himself that the ta. Can any Christian of the present lent entrusted to his charge has been age venture to compare bis own employed to the best advantage; merits with those of an Apostle? for who is not conscious of a thouCan any one seriously believe that sand errors and infirmities? Who his prospect of eternal happiness is has not coinmitted many sins against more clear than that of St. Paul, his better judgment, which, but for when he wrote his Epistles to the the merciful provisions of the Gospel Corinthians and Philippians ? How, covenant, would have involved him then, shall the best and most vir- in everlasting misery ? Surely, then, tuous of the human race presume all presumption ought to be supto speak of their own salvation as pressed when the soul is about to an object already gained ? How shall appear in the presence of its Creathey dare to arrogate to themselves tor. Our hope of happiness must a privilege denied to the most fa- theu depend alone on the consciousvoured ministers of heaven, and ma- ness of having endeavoured" to nifestly inconsistent with a state of work out our own salvation with trial and probation? When St. Paul fear and trembling." Such is the affirmed that a crown of righ- frame of mind which becomes a teousness was laid up for him," he dying Christian; but this, let me said at the same time, "I have observe, is very different from that

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