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may constantly and fervently ascend before thee as incense; with that attention of mind which thy greatness and my own daily necessities require from me. That I may sacrifice to thee all those lawful pleasures which too much unbend my mind, and but too often corrupt my innocence, and betray my strongest resolutions. That so by opposing sometimes my lawful inclinations, I may, through the assistance of thy grace, get the mastery of all sinful desires. Let all these my Christian offerings proceed from a sincere and honest mind, for the heart is the chief sacrifice thou requirest; and grant, O Lord, that they may be acceptable to thee, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, my only mediator and advocate. Amen.

C H A P. XI. THE CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL. JANUARY 25. Q. What Festival does the church celebrate this

day?

A. The conversion of St. Paul, a chosen vessel to bear God's name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. An Apostle in an extraordinary manner set apart to be a preacher of that gospel which he had persecuted, not only to the Jews, but to the heathen world.

Q. Why does the church commemorate St. Paul by his conversion?

A. Because as it was wonderful in itself, and a miraculous effect of the powerful grace of God, so it was highly beneficial to the church of Christ; for while other Apostles had their particular provinces, he had the care of all the churches, and, by his indefatigable labours, con

Acts ix. 15.

tributed very much to the propagation of the gospel throughout the world.

Q. By what names is this Apostle described in Scripture?

A. By two, Saul and Paul. The one Hebrew, relating to his Jewish origin, being of the tribe of Benjamin. The other Latin, referring to the Roman corporation where he was born. Though some have thought it to have been in memory of his converting Sergius Paulus the Roman Governor; and others that it was assumed by him after his conversion, as an act of humility; styling himself less than the least of all saints.

Q. Where was St. Paul born?

A. At Tarsus, the metropolis of Cilicia, a city famous for riches and learning ;d where the liberal sciences and all polite arts flourished, and where the inhabitants enjoyed the franchises and liberties of Roman citizens ; which advantage St. Paul asserted as the privilege of his birth-right. After having laid the foundation of human learning in this place, he was sent by his parents to Jerusalem, to be brought up at the feet of Gamaliel in the study of the law, in which he made very quick and great improvements.

Q. How came he to be educated besides to the trade of tent-making?

A. According to the custom of the Jews, among whom it was a maxim, “That he who teaches not his son a trade, teaches him to be a thief;" designing thereby not only to keep their children from idleness, but to secure them a maintenance if their circumstances made it necessary to work at it.

Q. How did St. Paul behave himself before his conversion ?

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A. Being educated in the principles of the Pharisees, the strictest sect of the Jewish religion, and being naturally of a hot temper, he violently opposed all those that were esteemed enemies to the Mosaic æconomy;' and persecuted the Christians with great fury, breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of Jerusalem ;& making havoc of the church, and procuring a commission to imprison such as he found Christians at Damascus." How far he was concerned in the martyrdom of St. Stephen, does not appear, any farther than that he was consenting to his death, and so became a sharer in the guilt of those that murdered him.

Q. How was St. Paul converted ?

A. In an extraordinary manner; for when he was upon his journey near to Damascus, on a sudden there shone round about him a light from heaven above the brightness of the sun ;' whereat being strangely amazed, he and his companions fell to the ground; and he heard a voice calling to him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" to which he replied, “Lord, who art thou ?” who told him, “ I ain Jesus whom thou persecutest, and it is best for thee not to be refractory to the commands which shall now be given thee;” designing to make him a minister and witness both of those things he had seen, and of those he should afterwards hear: and that he would stand by him and preserve him, and make him a great instrument in the conversion of the Gentile world. Q. What effect had the heavenly vision ироп

him? A. The great splendour of it made him blind for three days; but he did not, with Elymas the sorcerer, pervert the right ways of the Lord, * nor with his brethren the Jews, resist the evidence of a voice from heaven,

* Chap. ix. 1, 2.

Acts ix.

| Acts viii. 3. * Acts xiii. 10.

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Chap. ix.

which testified to our Saviour's divinity at his baptism ;' but became obedient to the heavenly vision, and upon this discovery of his Saviour, diligently enquired his will and pleasure, and immediately followed the directions he received.

Q. Who admitted St. Paul into the Christian church?

A. After St. Paul had fasted three days, and humbled his soul under the sense of those cruelties he had committed against the church of God; Ananias, a devout man, supposed to be one of the seventy disciples, and though a Christian, yet well esteemed of among the Jews, having been admonished by a vision, went to St. Paul, and entering into the house, brought him the good news, that the same Jesus that appeared to him in the way, had sent him to him; and laying his hands upon him, he received his sight, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and was made a member of the church by baptism.

Q. What reason may be assigned for the miraculous manner of his conversion ?

A. That St. Paul, who was to be the Apostle of the Gentiles, might in his own person be a remarkable instance of the power of God's grace, and of his readiness to receive the worst of sinners upon their repentance: he obtained mercy, that Jesus Christ might shew forth first in him all long-suffering, for a pattern to them that should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting." Besides, this gave great authority to the Apostle's testimony; which was necessary, considering the great share he was to have in planting Christianity through the world. Add to this that St. Paul appeared to have a very honest mind,

| Mat. iii. 17.

Acts ix. 10, &c.

" 1 Tiin, i. 16.

and to be influenced with a regard only to what he thought truth; but being prejudiced by education, and pushed on by the heat of his natural temper, was transported with furious zeal, and that therefore God was pleased to shew mercy to him, because what he did was done ignorantly in unbelief;' and in a miraculous manner to convince him of the truth of that religion which he persecuted.

Q. How did St. Paul demonstrate the sincerity of his conversion? A. By preaching that very Jesus whom he had

persecuted; confounding the Jews who dwelt at Damascus, in proving him to be the true Messias, the son of God ;' in labouring to establish the church which he had made havoc of, in comforting and confirming the faithful whom he had haled to prison, exposing himself to those dangers and difficulties for the faith, which he had endeavoured to bring upon

others. Q. Where did St. Paul bestow his Apostolical labours?

A. Whereas the other Apostles chose this or that province as the main sphere of their ministry, St. Paul over-ran, as it were, the whole Roman empire, seldom staying long in a place; from Jerusalem through Arabia, Asia, Greece, round about to Illyricum, to Rome, and even to the utmost bounds of the western world. The greatest part of his travels are recorded in the Acts of the Apostles; and in this course he was discouraged by no dangers nor difficulties, for he frequently suffered severe scourgings and imprisonments, and was brought even to the confines of death both at sea and land

; neither was he tired out with any troubles or oppositions that were raised against him; but for the space of five ° 1 Tim. i. 13.

P Acts ix. 27, 29.

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