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arising from its long and death-like trance, has put forth extraordinary demonstrations of life and vigour, as though to compensate for the lethargy and torpor of centuries. In the critical conjuncture of this world's history, some individuals have stept forward, who, by the force of their character, or the greatness of their exploits, have given a new impulse to the hopes and fears of mankind, and have opened before them new tracks of thought, new fields of enterprise, and new incentives to hope.
Men of the highest order of intellectual greatness seem not to be born for one age only, but to belong to all time. Whilst their appearance upon the theatre of public affairs, like the rising of a star of unusual brightness, is welcomed as a blessing, it is gratifying to know that their reinoval from our horizon does not wholly extinguish the light that they have diffused. As Abel being dead, yet speaketh, and as the bones of Elisha, after his decease, are described as having restored life to one whose mortal remains came in contact with his own in the same sepul. chre (2 Kings xiii. 21), so the usefulness of the wise and good does not perish with their own decay, but the influence of their character and their writings extends far beyond the term of their earthly existence. They reveal to other generations the secret of the mind's strength; they contribute to awaken in distant bosoms what Lord Kaimes calls “the sympathetic emotion of virtue;" they show to what heights humanity may attain, and what triumphs religion can achieve: whilst the inspiration of “their high endeavour and their glad success” animates others to follow them in the ever-brightening path that leads to glory and to God. St. Paul was one of those extraordinary men raised
for important purposes, and fitted for the part assigned to him by signal displays of divine mercy. The setting star of one dispensation, and the morning star of another, he seemed to possess a mind too expansive for the waning economy of Judaism, and to find a fitting scope for the exercise of his lofty powers in the grandeur and the grace of the Christian system.
Porphyry, indeed, is said to have expressed his regret that such a man as St. Paul should have been thrown away upon Christianity; though he forgot to state what other religion besides that of the gospel could have trained such a spirit for such a course of action, or could have furnished him with objects of pursuit and contemplation so worthy of the immortal affections it had inspired. This religion was as much fitted to him, as he was fitted to ad. vance the triumphs ofthis religion; and from the moment in which, like Elisha at the plough, its inspiring mantle fell upon him, we find him living wholly to one great object, consecrating all his powers to the Redeemer's praise, and extending the triumphs of the cross in some of the chief cities and provinces of the then known world.
"The memory of the just is blessed," and that of St. Paul yet lives, as it will for ever live, in the immortal productions of his inspired pen, and embalmed in the grateful recollections of the Christian church. Not only do his writings hold a very prominent place in the sacred canon, but an added interest is attached even to them, from the eminence of his personal character, from the depth and fervour of his religious experience, and from the moral heroism he displayed in advancing the glory of Christ. Justly did he state that mercy was extended to him in order that he might be a pattern to them who shall hereafter believe to life everlasting ;” and countless numbers, in every succeeding age, have been encouraged, by his example, to seek the mercy that he sought, and found. His name and memory cannot fail to be reverted to, down to the last syllable of recorded time, as one of the brightest ornaments of the church of Christ, and one of the noblest benefactors of a perishing world.
Some of the leading facts of the history of this distinguished man are now to pass under review. We may justly deem it a happy circumstance that St. Paul is his own biographer. He here lifts the veil of secrecy from the minute transactions of his early life, and enables us in some degree to trace the motives by which he was actuated, the steps by which he rose to greatness, and the methods of divine providence and grace in preparing him for the course of usefulness and honour upon which he entered. We shall endeavour to illustrate his own rapid sketch of the mental processes through which he passed, in such a manner as
may best promote personal edification; only premising that in every point he adduces, there is a skilful reference to the argument he was sustaining with the Galatians, which our readers are requested not to leave out of sight. We are taught by the emphatic appeal in this verse,
I. THAT THE GOVERNING PRINCIPLE AND MOTIVE OF THE RELIGIOUS LIFE, IS A PRACTICAL CONCERN NOT FOR THE FAVOUR OF MAN, BUT FOR THAT OF GOD.
“Do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ."
The particle“ now” seems to contrast his present line of conduct as a Christian with his former procedure as a Pharisee, and a vehement advocate of the Jewish law, when he both taught doctrines which secured him the affections and suffrages of all his countrymen, and was consciously actuated by feelings of a worldly and ambitious nature. He strongly intimates also that, had he been governed, as some suggested, by views of personal ease or aggrandizement, he could have had no temptation to secede from the established church of Judaism; or that he might yet avoid persecution as a Christian, by holding in abeyance some of the leading doctrines of the gospel, and by adopting those temporising expedients of worldly conformity recommended by the false teachers, and which appeared to possess so many attractions in the eye of the deluded and inconstant Galatians. But this, as they might have known, was wholly inconsistent with what was expected of him as a faithful servant of Christ. The best exposition of his sentiments and views upon these topics, since the happy change which divine grace had produced in his bosom, is furnished in his admirable letter to the church at Philippi, wherein he says, “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ: yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”
The expression, “Do I now persuade men, or God ?" seems to be slightly ambiguous, though the meaning of the apostle is obvious. Dr. Doddridge translates the word, “Do I solicit the favour of man, or of God ?” and adds, in his paraphrase," “Do I endeavour, in my ministry, to ingratiate myself with men, or approve myself to God? or do I, in the general course of my conduct, seek to please men by a compliance with their prejudices and designs ?" The Rev. Prof. Scholefield, in accordance with this view, suggests the rendering, “For am I now seeking the favour of men, or of God, or do I seek to please men?" and adds, “ the word (TE1Jw) has the same sense as in Acts xii. 20, having persuaded Blastus-having made him their friend,” as pointed out by Doddridge.*
The interrogations plainly imply a strong negation that he did not seek to conciliate men to his own views, and that he was not governed by personal feelings and objects, either in the doctrines he preached, or in the denunciations he uttered, but was compelled by a sense of duty to God to rebuke them, though well aware that an opposite course would be most pleasing to man. Calvin, in his sermons, justly says that the apostle here “useth
* Dr. Doddridge remarks, “ The connexion seems to demonstrate that neibw here signifies, seek to persuade, or to ingratiate himself with the one or the other, though it be acknowledged to be a less common sense.”' In the Assembly's annotations, the words are thus paraphrased, “Do I persuade you to obey men, or God? or do I seek to approve myself and my ministry to men, or to God? For if I should yet seek to please men, as I did when I was zealous of the traditions of my fathers, and persecuted the church of God, I should not be a true servant of Christ, but dissemble with God and the world.” This accords with Piscator's version, “ Utrum suadeo ut hominibus credatis, an potius ut credatis Deo ?”
Winer, upon this clause, observes, “ Locus perdifficilis. Equidem denuo pensitatis singulis verbis ita explicuerim ; homines mihi conciliare studeo (Xenoph. Anab. vi. 1, 19.) And gives the following as his version of the text,
Nunc enim homines (mihi) conciliare studeo an Deum ? hominibusne placere cupio ? Si etiam nunc hominibus placerem, Christi minister non essem ;" which agrees with the translation above.
two arguments. The one is, that he had behaved himself faithfully, and with a pure and right-meaning mind, in teaching the Galatians, and all other men. The other is, that he had not set forth any thing of his own head, but had received his matters by heavenly revelation from our Lord Jesus Christ. It is God only," he adds, “ that is to be hearkened to: for although all mankind with one accord would turn us aside from him, surely he alone ought to outweigh ten thousand worlds, if there were so many. All such as entangle themselves in men's devices and inventions, have a disguised. Jesus Christ, and a spurious gospel, which God disclaims; so that our Christianity can be no Christianity, except we continue in the things which we have learned of the Son of God, who is our only Master, and in the things which the apostles have taught us in his name.”
Here we perceive, therefore, the high standard of moral action which Christianity enabled St. Paul to propose to himself. His object was not to please men, but God.” And
the countless blessings conferred upon man by divine revelation, we must number this as one of the foremost, that it has rectified the standard of practical duty. Conventional utility is the standard of the world; and to please each other, so far as mutual interests can be advanced by the process, has been, time out of mind, the highest object contemplated in the codes of worldly men. But the Christian standard is far higher; and its results upon society, wherever it is acted upon, are invaluable. In every enquiry as to practical duty, Christianity brings the idea of the Supreme Being immediately before the mind-the great originator of human obligations—the infallible arbiter of human conduct—the final judge of human actions. The Gospel is preeminently the religion of motives, and takes especial cognizance not only of what we do, but why we do it; and teaches us to enquire, not merely into the correctness of the action itself, but into the views and feelings whence it originated. Many put a false gloss upon their own conduct, and performing duties externally right, it may be, from worldly, selfish, or prudential considerations, lay the flattering unction to their soul that it proceeds from the purer and more elevated principle; when, per