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yet Epaphras, who was then at Rome a prisoner with him, had preached the gospel there with good success; and from him might learn, that certain false teachers had endeavoured to persuade the people, that they ought not to apply to God by Jesus Christ, who since his ascension, was so far exalted above them, that angels were now become the proper mediators between God and man; and, therefore, in opposition to this, as well as other seductions of the same nature, he wrote his Epistle to the Colossians; wherein he magnificently displays the Messiah, and all the benefits flowing from him, as being the image of his Father, the Redeemer of all mankind, the reconciler of all things to God, and the head of the church, which gives life and vigour to all its members: he commends the doctrine preached to them by Epaphras, and exhorts them not to be led away by the reasonings of human philosophy, by the superstitious practices of making differences of meats and drinks, or by a pretended humility in worshipping angels; and gives them an abstract of many principal duties of the Christian life, especially such as respect the relations between husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants, and other social and relative duties.

We have no account in history, by what means St. Paul was delivered from his imprisonment, and discharged from the accusation the Jews brought against him; but it is natural to suppose, that not having sufficient proof of what they alledged, or being informed that the crimes they accused him of, were no violations of the Roman law, they durst not implead him before the emperor, and so permitted him to be discharged of course: but by whatever means he procured his liberty, he wrote his Epistle to the Hebrews before he left Italy, from whence he dates his salutations to the Jewish churches.

It is necessary to observe, that the principal design of this admirable Epistle is, to magnity Christ and

the religion of the gospel, above Moses and the Jew. ish economy, in order to establish and confirm the converted Jews in the firm belief and profession of Christianity, notwithstanding the trouble and persecutions that would certainly attend them. He therefore represents our Saviour in his divine nature, as far supeperior to all angels, and all created being; and in his mediatorial capacity as a greater priest than Aaron, and a greater king and priest than Melchisedec: he shews that the ceremonies, the sacrifices, and the observances of the law could have no virtue in themselves, but only as they were the types of Jesus CHRIST; and being now accomplished in his person, were finally and totally abolished: he insists on the necessity of faith ; and by the examples of the patriarchs and prophets, proves that justification can be procured no other way, than by the merits of a dying Saviour: and lastly, he mingles many excellent precepts for the regulation of their lives; exhortations to put trust and confidence in Christ, in all their sufferings; and strict cautions against apostacy from his religion in the hottest persecutions from their enemies.

St. Paul, having thus discharged his ministry, both by preaching and writing in Italy, prosecuted his long intended journey into Spain, accompanied by Timothy; and, according to the testimony of several writers crossed the sea, and preached the gospel in Britain. What success he had in these western parts, is not known; he however continued there eight or nine months, and then returned again to the East, visited Sicily, Greece, and Crete, and then repaired into Judea.

How long he continued in his native country, is unknown, no further mention being made of him, till his return to Rome, which was probably about the eighth or ninth year of Nero's reign. Here he met with Peter, and was, together with him, thrown into prison, doubtless in the general prosecution raised

against the Christians, under pretence that they had set fire to the city: but besides this general, there were particular reasons for his imprisonment. Some of the ancients say, he was engaged with St. Peter in detecting the impositions of Simon Magus.

St. Chrysostom tells us, that Nero was highly enraged against St. Paul, for his having converted one of his favourite concubines; and the apostle, after he was thrown into prison, persisting to persuade that lady to continue in her chaste and pious resolutions, Nero commanded him to be put to death. How long he continued in prison, is uncertain; nor do we know whether he was scourged before his execution: he was however allowed the privilege of a Roman citizen, and therefore beheaded.

As he was led to the place of execution, he is said to have converted three of the soldiers sent to guard and conduct him, and who soon after became martyrs to the faith. Being come to the place, which was the Aqux Salviæ, three miles from Rome, he cheerfully, after a solemn preparation, gave his neck to the fatal stroke; and from this vale of misery, his spirit passed to the blissful regions of immortality to the kingdom of his beloved Master, the great Redeemer of the human race, in the propagation of whose gospel, he had so long and faithfully laboured.

His mortal part was buried in the Via Ostiensis, about two miles from Rome; and about the year 317, Constantine the Great, at the instance of Pope Sylvester, built a stately church over his grave, adorned it with an hundred marble columns and beautified it with the most exquisite workmanship: but this church being thought too small for the honour of so great an apostle, Valentinian, hy a rescript to Saustius, præfect of the city, caused it to be taken down, and a much larger structure to be erected, which was finished after his death by Theodosius; and further beautified, at

the persuasion of Leo, bishop of Rome, by the em

press Placida.

According to Nicephorus, St. Paul was of a low and small stature, somewhat stooping ; his complexion was fair, his countenance grave, his head small, his eyes sparkling, his nose high and bending, and his hair thick and dark, but mixed with grey. His constitution was weak, and often subject to distempers: but how mean soever the cabinet might be, there was a treasure within, precious and valuable, as will sufficiently appear, if we view the accomplishments of his mind.

His judgment was clear and solid, his understanding quick and his memory was strong and clear ; all which was greatly improved by art, and the advantages of a liberal education. The schools of Tarsus and Jerusalem had sharpened his discursive faculty by logic and the arts of reasoning, instructed him in the institutions of philosophy, and adorned his mind with every kind of human learning. A sufficient proof, that it is not unlawful to bring the spoils of Egypt into the service of the sanctuary; and to make use of the advantages of foreign studies and human literature, to divine and excellent purposes. He seems indeed to have been educated purposely to qualify him for being the apostle of the Gentiles, to contend with and confute the grave and the wise, the acute and the subtle, the sage and the learned of the heathen world, and to wound them with arrows from their own quivers. He seldom made use of learning and philosophy; it being more agreeable to the designs of the gospel, to confound, by the plain doctrine of the cross, the wisdom and learning of the world.

Though these were great accomplishments, yet they were only a shadow of that divine temper of mind he enjoyed, and which discovered itself through the whole course of his life. He was humble to the lowest step of abasement and condescension, none ever thinking better of others, or more meanly of himself. And though when he had to deal with envious and malicious adversaries, who endeavoured, by villifying his person to obstruct his ministry, he knew how to magnify his office, and to let them know that he was not inferior to the chiefest of the apostles; yet, at other times, he always declared to the world, that he considered himself as an abortive, or an untimely birth, as the least of the apostles, not meet to be called an apostle; and, as if this were not enough, he formed a word on purpose to express his humility, styling himself Elachistoteron, less than the least of the saints ; nay, the very chief of sinners.

How freely and frequently does he confess, that before his conversion, he was a blasphemer, a persecutor, a person that injured both God and man: though honoured with the highest grace and favour, taken up to an immediate converse with God in heaven, yet he never shewed the least loftiness over his brethren; he was intrusted with the greatest power and authority in the church, but never affected to govern the faith of men; he only endeavoured to be an helper to their joy. How studiously did he decline all the honours and commendations that were heaped upon him: when some in the church of Corinth magnified him, and under the patronage of his name, began to set up for a party, he severely rebuked them, told them that it was Christ, not he that was crucified for them; that they had not been baptized in his name, nor did he remember to have baptized above three or four of them, and was heartily glad he had no oftener performed the ceremony, lest a foundation might have been laid, from that circumstance, for charging him with Judaizing.

St. Paul's temperance and sobriety were remarkable, for he often abridged himself of the conveniency of lawful and necessary accommodations: his hungerings and thirstings were frequent: by which means he

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