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CHARACTER OF ST. PAUL.
I DELIGHT to contemplate St. Paul as an appointed pattern. Men might have questioned the propriety of urging on them the example of Christ: they might have said that we are necessarily in dissimilar circumstances. But St. Paul stands up in like case with ourselves a model of ministerial virtues.
We consider him, perhaps, in point of character, more the immediate subject of extraordinary inspiration, than he was in reality. And this mistake affects our view of him in two different ways.
We suppose, at one time, that his virtues were so much the effect of extraordinary communications, that he is no proper model for us; whereas he was no farther fitted to his circumstances than every Christian has warrant to expect to be, so far as his circumstances are similar.
At another time, perhaps, though we acknowledge and revere his distinguished character, yet our view of his virtues is exalted beyond due
We should remember, that, as he was fitted for his circumstances; so he was, in a great degree, made by them.' Many men are, doubtless, executing their appointed task in retirement and silence, who would unfold a character beyond all expectation, if Providence were to lead them into a scene where the world rose up in arms, and they were sent forth into it under a clear conviction of an especial mission. The history of the Church seems to shew us that the effects of grace, ordinary or extraordinary, have been the same in
In speaking of St. Paul, it has been usual to magnify his learning, among the many other great qualities which he possessed. That point seems never to have been satisfactorily made out. He was an educated Pharisee; but, farther than this, I think we cannot go. His quotations from the Greek Poets are not evidences of even a schoolboy's learning in our day: for we forget, when we talk of them, that he was a Roman quoting Greek. Nor do I see anything more in his famous speech in the Areopagus, so often produced as evidence on this subject, than the line of argument to which a strong and energetic mind would lead him. If we talk of his talents, indeed, he rises almost beyond admiration; but they were talents of a certain order; and the very display which we have of them seems a strong corroborative proof, that
he is not to be considered as a profoundly learned man of his day. For instance, had he studied Aristotle, it would have been almost impossible but he must have caught some influence, which we should have seen in his writings. But there is nothing like the dry, logical metaphysical character of that school; which yet had then given the law to the seats of science and philosophy. Instead of this, we see every where the copious, diffusive, declaiming, discursive; but sublime, and wise, and effective mind.
There is a true apostolicism in the character of St. Paul. It is a combination of ZEAL and
The Zeal of some men is of a haughty, unbending, ferocious character. They have the letter of truth, but they mount the pulpit like prize-fighters. It is with them a perpetual scold. This spirit is a reproach to the Gospel. It is not the spirit of Jesus Christ. He seems to have laboured to win men.
But there is an opposite extreme. The Love of some men is all milk and mildness! There is so much delicacy, and so much fastidiousness ! They touch with such tenderness !-and, if the patient shrinks, they will touch no more! The times are too flagrant for such a disposition. The Gospel is sometimes preached in this way, till all the people agree with the preacher. He gives no offence, and he does no good!
But St. Paul united and blended love.and zeal. He MUST win souls : but he will labour to do this by all possible lawful contrivances. I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Zeal, alone, may degenerate into ferociousness and brutality: and love, alone, into fastidiousness and delicacy: but the Apostle combined both qualities; and, more perfectly than other men, realized the union of the fortiter in re with the suaviter in modo.
THE Moravians seem to have very nearly hit on Christianity. They appear to have found out what sort of a thing it is-its quietness—meekness — patience--spirituality-heavenliness—and order. But they want fire. A very superior woman among them once said to me--that there wanted another body, the character of which should be combined from the Moravians and the Methodists. The Moravians have failed, in making too little of preaching; as the Methodists have done, in making too much of it.
The grandest operations, both in nature and in grace, are the most silent and imperceptible. The shallow Brook babbles in its passage, and is heard by every one: but the coming on of the Seasons is silent and unseen.
The Storm rages and alarms; but its fury is soon exhausted, and its effects are partial and soon remedied: but the Dew, though gentle and unheard, is immense in