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IT is with no little diffidence that the Writer of the following pages ventures to submit them to the public eye. She comes "in weakness and in fear, and in much trembling." She is fully aware, that whoever pretends to institute an inquiry into the Character, and especially into the Writings, of the great Apostle of the Gentiles, in a manner at all adequate to the dignity and excellence of both, should possess many and high requisites, to which she can make out no fair title. It would, however, be entirely superfluous to insist on her incom-petency to the proper execution of such a work, on her deficiencies in ancient learning, Biblical criticism, and deep theological knowledge; because the sagacity of the reader would not fail to be beforehand with her avowal, in detecting them. It may, however, serve as some apology for the boldness of the present undertaking, that these little volumes are not of a critical, but of a practical nature.
On the doctrinal portion, more especially, of Saint Paul's Epistles, such a multitude of admirable discourses have been composed, that'to have attempted to add to their number, without reaching their excellence, would have been as unnecessary as it might have been
On the practical part, also, much has
been ably and usefully written.
There are, it is true, passages in the works of this great Apostle, (but they are of rare occurrence, and bear no proportion to such as are obvious,) which have heen interpreted in a different and even contradictory manner by men, who, agreeing in the grand essentials of Christianity, may be allowed to differ on a few ab, struse points, without any impeachment of the piety on either side. If one must be mistaken, both may be sincere. If either be wrong, both doubtless desire to be right; and, happily for mankind, we shall all be ultimately tried by a Judge, who is a searcher of the thoughts and intents of the heart; in whose sight the reciprocal exercise of Christian charity may be more
acceptable than that entire uniformity of sentiment which would supersede the occasion of its exercise. "What I know not, teach Thou me," is a petition which even the wisest are not too wise to offer; and they who have preferred it with the most effect, are, of all others, the persons who will judge the most tenderly of the different views, or unintentional misconceptions, of the opposite party.
That conquest in debate over a Christian adversary, which is achieved at the expense of the Christian temper, will always be dearly purchased; and, though a triumph so obtained may discomfit the opponent, it will afford no moral triumph to the conqueror.
Waving, therefore, both from disinclination and inability, whatever passages may be considered as controversial, the Writer has confined herself to, endeavour though, it must be confessed, imperfectly and superficially, to bring forward St. Paul's character as a model for our general imitation, and his practical writings as a store-house for our general instruction; avoiding whatever might be considered as a ground for the discussion of any point not immediately tending to practical utility.
It may be objected to her plan, that it is not reasonable to propose for general imitation, a character so highly gifted, so peculiarly circumstanced,-an inspired Apostle, a devoted Martyr. But it is the principal design of these pages,-a design which it may be thought is too frequently avowed in them,-to shew that our common actions are to be performed, and our
common trials sustained, in somewhat of the same spirit and temper with those high duties and those unparalleled sufferings to which Saint Paul was called out; and that every Christian, in his measure and degree, should exhibit somewhat of the dispositions inculcated by that religion, of which the Apostle Paul was the brightest human example, as well as the most illustrious human teacher.
The Writer is persuaded, that many read the Epistles of Saint Paul with deep reverence for the station they hold in the Inspired Oracles, without considering that they are at the same time supremely excellent for their unequalled applicableness to life and manners; that many, while they highly respect the Writer, think him too high for ordinary use. It has, therefore, been her particular object, in the present work, not indeed to diminish the dignity of the Apostle, but to diminish, in one sense, the distance at which we are apt to hold so exalted a model; to draw him into a more intimate connection with ourselves; to let him down, as it were, not to our level, but to our familiarity. To induce us to resort to him, not only on the great demands and trying occurrences of life, but to bring both the writings and the conduct of this distinguished Saint to mix with our common concerns; to incorporate the doctrines which he teaches, the principles which he exhibits, and the precepts which he enjoins, into our ordinary habits, into our every day practice; to consider him not only as the Writer who has the most ably and successfully unfolded the sublime truths of our Divine