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making his court to him, he fell upon his excellency's own dar. ling vices, talked of righteousness, temperance and judgment, with its terrors for neglect of such duties. In those Heathen times, it seems it was usual to have excess, wantonness, and gluttony, to be the practice of courts, and the apostle so nearly touched his lordship, that he fell into a sudden disorder before his inferior, and dismissed him till another season; he afterwards was frequently entertained by him, not without hopes of a bribe, which was, also in very old times, the way to the favour of the great.
But Felix now leaving his lieutenancy to Festus, this friend less good man was a proper person for a tool to his vanity, by doing an obliging thing to the Jews, in leaving him still in custody at his departure, and no less useful to his new excellency to be sacrificed to them upon his entry: for at their request to have him brought to Jerusalem, (designing to dispateh him by the way) though he at first denied it, he afterwards proposed it to the apostle himself, to have the issue of his trial there: but he handsomely evaded his base condescension, and their as base malice, by appealing, as a Roman, to Cæsar himself, before whose authority he also then stood: but he is still kept in gaol in the same state, to gratify the Jews, until Agrippa the Tetrarch of Galilee, came to wait on l'estus, who (after he had been there some days) entertained him with the case of St. Paul, and acquainted him that he was at a loss what to do with him: he was so odious to the Jews, that he cared not to enlarge him, and so innocent in himself, that he knew not what account to send with him to Rome: this moved Agrippa's curiosity to hear himself; in very great pomp, he, his sister, and whole retinue came to his trial: the apostle made so excellent a defence, that mean, wronged, poor and unfriendly as he was, he was neither ridiculous nor contemptible to that courtly audience, but prevailed so far upon the greatest and wisest man there, that he forced him to declare, Thou hast almost persuaded me to be a Christian; it would, methinks, be a sin not to repeat his very handsome answer.
I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were not only almost, but altogether such as I am, except those bonds.
His appeal made it necessary in course of law, that he should go to Rome. In his passage thither, and in the tempest, hunger and shipwreck, his constancy was not a support to sim only, but also to the whole company; and being thrown upon a barbarous island, he did and received mutual offices among the poor savages, not yet cultivated into ingratitude. At Rome the other prisoners
were carried into safe custody, but he was permitted, with a soldier only for his ward, to live in his own hired house, teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, no man forbidding him; for it was only in Nero's reign, nor had Rome yet arrived at the exquisite and refined tyranny of an inquisition. Thus we have been distinct in running through the more illustrious passages of this consummate life and character, as they are placed in holy writ, and may presume, after all the injuries we have done him, that there is not any portraiture in the most excellent writers of morality, that can come up to its native beauty; yet was not he contented to serve his God only by example, but has as eminently done it by precept; where he pursues vice, and urges virtue, with all the reason, energy and force that either good sense or piety can inspire: and not upon the airy and fleeting foundation of the insensibility noble minds bear to the assaults of fortune; which has been the impertinence of Heathen moralists, and among them Seneca.
“* A good man is not only the friend of God, but the very image, the disciple, the imitator of him, and the true child of his heavenly Father: he is true to himself, and acts with constancy and resolution. Scipio, by a cross wind being forced into the power of his enemies, cast himself upon the point of his sword; and as the people were inquiring what was become of the general; the general, says Scipio, is very well, and so he expired. A gallant man is fortune's match: his courage provokes and despises those terrible appearances, that would enslave us: a wise man is out of the reach of fortune, but not free from the malice of it; and all attempts upon him are no more than Xerxes's arrows; they may darken the day, but they cannot strike the sun.”
This is Seneca's very spirit, opinion and genius; but alas, what absurdity is here! after the panegyric of a brave or honest man, as the disciple and imitator of God, this is instanced in the basest action a man can be guilty of; a general's dispatching himself in an extreme difficulty, and deserting his men and his honour; and what is this but doing a mean action with a great countenance? what could this imitator of God, out of the power of fortune, do more in obedience to what they call so, than sacrificing his life to it: but this is bombast got into the very soul, fustian in thinking!
Quanto rectiùs hic qui nil molitur ineptè.
* Le Strange's 3d. p. of Seneca's Morals, epist. 26.
Be yea stedfast, unmoveable, alivays abounding in the works of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labour is not in rain in the Lord.
Here is supporting ourselves under misfortunes, proposed upon the reasonable terms of reward and punishment; and all other is fantastic, arrogant and ungrounded.
The first epistle to Corinth is most exquisitely adapted to the present temper of England, nor did ever that city (though proverbial to it) pretend to be more refinedly pleased than a: present London: but St. Paul more emphatically dissuades from those embasing satisfactions of sense.
Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats; but God shall destroy both it and them.
He, methinks, throws blush and confusion in the face of his readers, when he argues on these subjects; for who can conceive his body, the mansion of an immortal spirit, capable to receive the aspiration and grace of an eternal God, and at the same time, by gluttony and drunkenness, entertain in that place fuel to enflame themselves into adultery, rage and revenge? as if our misery were our study, and chastity, innocence and temperance, (those easy and agreeable companions) were not preferable to the convulsions of wrath, and tortures of lust.
Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ, shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot?
How ugly has he made Corinna at one sentence? shall I, who am conscious that he who laid down an immaculate body, to cleanse me from the filth and stain of a polluted one, and know that the holy Jesus has promissed to be present to all the conflicts of my soul, banish him thence, and be guilty of so unnatural a coition, as to throw that temple into the embraces of a mercenary strumpet?
But must we then desert love and the fair?
The cordial drop heav'n in our cup has thrown,
No, God forbid! the apostle allows us a virtuous enjoyment of our passions; but indeed extirpates all our false ideas of pleasure and happiness in them; he takes love out of disguise, and puts it on its own gay becoming dress of innocence; and indeed it is, among other reasons, from want of wit and invention in our modern gallants, that the beautiful sex is absurdly and vitiously entertained
· by them: for there is in their tender frame, native simplicity,
groundless fear, and little unaccountable contradictions, upon which there might be built expostulations to divert a good and intelligent young woman, as well as the fulsome raptures, guilty impressions, senseless deifications, and pretended deaths that are every day offered her.
No pen certainly ever surpassed either the logic or rhetoric of his fifteenth chapter: how does he intermingle hope and fear, life and death? our rising from our graves is most admirably argued on the received philosophy, that corruption precedes generation, and the easy instances of new grain, new plants and new trees, from the minute particles of seed; and when he has buried us how does he move the heart with an Oh death where is thy sting! O grave where is thy victory! we have at once all along the quickest touchest of distress and of triumph. It were endless to enumerate these excellencies and beauties in his writings; but since they were all in his more public and ministerial office, let us see him in his private life: there is nothing expresses a man's particular character more fully, than his letters to his intimate friends; we have one of that nature of this great apostle to Philemon, which in the modern language would perhaps run thus,
SIR, “ It is with the deepest satisfaction that I every day hear you commended, for your generous behaviour to all of that faith, in the articles of which I had the honour and happiness to initiate you; for which, though I might presume to an authority to oblige your compliance in a request I am going to make to you, yet choose I rather to apply myself to you as a friend, than an apostle; for with a man of your great temper, I know I need not a more powerful pretence than that of my age and imprisonment: yet is not my petition for myself, but in the behalf of the bearer, your
servant Onesimus, who has robbed you, and run away from you; - what he has defrauded you of, I will be answerable for, this shall
be a demand upon me, not to say that you owe me your very self: I called him your servant, but he is now also to be regarded by you in a greater relation, even that of your fellow christian; for 1 esteem him a son of mine as much as yourself; nay, methinks it is a certain peculiar endearment of him to me, that I had the happiness of gaining him in my confinement: I beseech 'you to receive him, and think it an act of Providence, that he 1- went away from you for a season, to return more improved to
your service for ever."
This letter is the sincere image of a worthy, pious and brave man, and the ready utterance of a generous christian temper: how handsomely does he assume, though a prisoner? how hum. bly condescend, though an apostle? could any request have been made, or any person obliged with a better grace? the very criminal servant is no less with him than his son and his brother; for christianity has that in it, which makes men pity, not scorn the wicked; and by a beautiful kind of ignorance of themselves, think those wretches their equals; it aggravates all the benefits and good offices of life, by making them seem fraternal; and the christian feels the wants of the miserable so niuch his own, that it sweetens the pain of the obliged, when he that gives, does it with an air that has neither oppression nor superiority in it, but had rather have his generosity appear an enlarged seif-love, than diffusive bounty, and is always a benefactor with the mein of a receiver.
These are the great and beauteous parts of life and friendship; and what is there in all that morality can prescribe, that can make a man do so much as the high ambition of pleasing his Creator, with whom the methods of address are as immutable as the favour obtained by them?
Here methinks we could begin again upon this amiable picture, or shall we search antiquity for the period and consummation of his illustrious life, to give him the crown and glory of martyrdom? that were a needless labour, for he that has been in a battle, has to his prince the merit of having died there; and St. Paul has so often in our narration confronted death, that we may bestow upon him that celestial title, and dismiss him with the just eulogy in his own spritely expression, that he died daily.
Now the address and constancy with which this great apostle has behaved himself in so many various forms and calamity, are an ample conviction that to make our life one decent and consistent action, we should have one constant motive of living, and that motive a confidence in God: for had he breathed on any other cause, instead of application to the Almighty, he must on many occasions which we have mentioned) have ran to the dag. ger, or the bowl of poison: for the Heathen virtue prescribes death before stripes or imprisonment; but whatever pompous look, elegant pens may have given to the illustrious distressed (as they would have us think the persons are, who do evade miseries, have profused their lives, and rushed to death for relief:) if we look to the bottom of things, we shall easily observe, that it is not a generous scorn of chains, or delicate distaste of an impertinent being, (which two pretences include all the varnish