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fore be unfufpected vouchers of the fentence prðnounced to decide it.

Finally, it is not, I think, poffible to read over this decree, without admiring the humility and moderation of its conclufion; it enumerates the prohibitions already stated, and clofes with these words, ❝ from which if ye keep yourselves ye fhall do "well; fare ye well." How different this from the high ftrains of priestly arrogance and papal ufurpation in the corrupted ages of the church; or the bitter invectives of angry reformers, and the wild rants of heated enthufiafts, in more modern days? how conformable to that mild and fober dignity we should expect in men speaking the dictates of genuine infpiration, and following the example of their meek and humble Lord?

Another remarkable circumftance, connected with this tranfaction, here presents itself to our confideration, which seems to supply an additional proof of the great difcretion and good fenfe, as well as the love of peace and harmony which regulated the conduct of the apoftles. They had, as was remarked, determined that the Gentiles converted to Christianity were under no obligation to fubject themselves to the burthen of the entire Mofaic law; but they had also determined, that the Jews who

z Acts xv. 29.


embraced the gofpel, might, if they pleased, retain the observance of that law, which from their infancy they had been habituated to revere, because, though not necessary, yet neither was it inconfiftent with Christianity.Now this distinction was certainly most just and rational; but it was alfo fuch a diftinction as fanatics never would have made, and the conduct obferved in confequence of this diftinction was strikingly confonant to the fpirit from whence it originated.

St. Paul, the zealous and fuccefsful diffeminator of the gospel through the wide extent of the Heathen world, returned, after a period of feveral years, to Jerufalem; he vifits the apostle James, who remained there, and then prefided over the Jewish church, he was received by him, and all the elders affembled, and declares particularly the wonders which God had wrought amongst the Gentiles by his ministry, and "when they heard it they glorified "God." But while full of joy and exultation at the progrefs of the gofpel, they were not inattentive to the fafety of their brother apostle, and the peace of the Jewish Church.-They knew the violence of many of the Jews would be easily roused by those who mistook or mifrepresented the conduct of St. Paul, and they intreat the apostle to act in such a manner, as might prevent the mifchievous confequences of fuch an error or calumny; by performing fome public acts, which should prove that he even then did not think

it inconfiftent with his Christian character to ob ferve the Jewish law; and with this request St. Paul immediately and chearfully complied, as in this inftance his compliance could not injure the cause of Christian liberty, while it avoided offending the prejudices of the over-zealous Jew.

The admirable wifdom and Chriftian benevolence with which St. Paul conducted himself on this difficult fubject, also appears strongly from contrasting his conduct towards two of his favourite converts, and most able affiftants, Timotheus and Titus.

a The former he prevailed on to fubmit to circum→ cifion, and obey the Mofaic law; because, as it was known his mother had been a Jewefs, his not acting thus would have given occafion of offence. The latter had been a Gentile, and therefore when it was fuggefted that he alfo fhould be circumcifed, the apostle steadily refufed, left he fhould feem to establish a precedent for fubjecting the liberty of all the Gentile Chriftians to the bondage of the law.

Thus admirably did all the apostles act up to thofe principles, which St. Paul has so beautifully described, "bgiving none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to "the Gentiles, nor to the church of God, even as "I, fays he, please all men in all things; not feeking

Acts xvi. Gal. ii. 3.

I Cor. x. 32.

❝ mine

"mine own profit, but the profit of many, that "they may be faved." Was this enthusiastic delufion, wild fanaticifm, extravagant and ill-directed zeal? furely not; no, this was the voice of foberness fupporting the facred cause of piety and truth. Let us now direct our attention to fome more minute, but not lefs convincing proofs, that St. Paul in particular was totally uninfluenced by the extravagance of enthufiafm.


The conduct of St. Paul in particular was not directed or influenced by enthusiasm.

THE conduct of this apostle perpetually displays a zeal, ardent indeed, and active, but constantly united with the obfervance of decorum and propriety, as well as attention to his reputation and his perfonal safety, so far as was confiftent with the discharge of his facred office, and to a much higher degree than can poffibly be conceived to exift in a mind dif tracted by the frenzy of enthusiasm; a few instances will illuftrate and prove this pofition.

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When at Philippi he was unjustly fcourged and imprisoned, and the difcovery of his innocence induced the magiftrates to give orders for his immediate, but private enlargement; he is not fatisfied with fecuring his fafety, without alfo guarding his character, which was exposed to fufpicion and difgrace, from the ignominious treatment he had received; and he ufes that motive to procure an honourable difmiffal, .which alone could excite the attention of the magiftrates." They have beaten us (fays the apostle) "openly, uncondemned, being Romans, and have "caft us into prison, and now do they thrust us out privately; nay, verily, but let them come themselves "and fetch us out."-The event juftified the expectation of the apoftle; for," the magistrates fear"ed when they heard they were Romans, and came "and befought them and brought them out."


But having thus vindicated their character, they did not attempt to retaliate the ill ufage they had received, by public or legal complaint, or to irritate the refentment, and provoke the further vengeance of the magiftrates, by obftinate oppofition; when defired by them to depart out of the city, they only waited to see the brethren, " and when they had seen them, they comforted them, and departed."


The apoftle displays a fimilar care of his reputation when he enjoins the Corinthians; "whomfoever ye

c Acts xvi. xix. 38.

I Corin. xvi. I, 4.


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