Imagini ale paginilor

reduced the extravagancy of the sensual appetites to a perfect subjection of the law of reason. Hence he easily got above the world, with all its charms and frowns, and his mind was continually conversant in heaven, where his thoughts were fixed, and whither his desires always ascended. What he taught to others, he practised himself; his conversation was in heaven, and his desires were to depart, and to be with CHRIST. This world neither arrested his affection nor disturbed his fears; he was neither pleased with its applauses, nor terrified with its threatening: he studied not to please men, nor valued the censures they passed upon him; he was not greedy of a great estate, titles of honour, or rich

prea sents from men; food and raiment was his bill of fare, and more than this he never cared for; accounting, that the less he was clogged with these things the lighter he should pass to heaven, especially as he was travelling through a world over-run with trouble and

persecutions. And hence it is very probable, that he always led a single life, though some of the ancients rank him amongst those apostles that were married.

No less exemplary was his kindness and charity; for he had a compassionate tenderness for the poor, and a quick sense of the wants of others. To which church soever he came, it was always one of his first cares to make provision for the poor and to stir up the bounty of the rich and wealthy ; nay, he himself worked often with his own hands, not only to maintain himself, but also to help and relieve them ; but his charity to the souls of men was infinitely greater, fearing no angers, refusing no labours, going through good and evil report, that he might gain men over to the knowledge of the truth, bring them out of the crooked paths of vice and idolatry and place them in the straight way that leadeth to life eternal : nay, so insatiable was his thirst for the good of souls, that he affirms that he would sooner him. self be accursed from CHRIST, than that his countrymen should miscarry. And as he was infinitely solicitous to gain them cver to the religion of the Son of God, so he was equally careful to keep them from being seduced from it; ready to suspect every thing that might corrupt their minds from the simplicity that is in Christ: I am jealous over you, says he to the church of Corinth, with a godly jealousy: an affection of all others the most active and vigilant, and which inspires' men with the most passionate care and concern for the good of those for whom they have the highest degree of love and kindness.

[ocr errors]

Nor was his charity to men greater than his zcal for God, labouring with all his might to promote the honour of his master. How remarkable zealous was he while he continued a member of the Jewish religion, of the tradition of the father! How earnest to vindicate and assert the divinity of the Mosaic dispensation, and to persecute all who were of a contrary faith, even to rage and madness? And when his zeal was afterwards turned into a right channel, it ran' with swift current. carrying him out against all opposition, to vanquish the kingdom and the powers of darkness, to beatdown idola. try,

and plant the world with the right apprehensions of God, and the true knowledge of religion. When at Athens he saw them involved in the grossest superstition and idolatry, and giving the honour that was due to God alone to statues and images, this fired his zeal, and he could not but let them know the resentment of his mind, and how greatly they dishonoured God, the great maker and preserver of the world. This zeal must have rendered him remarkably diligent and industrious in the execution of his office, warning, reprov. ing, entreating, persuading, preaching in season and out of season, by night and by day, by sea and by land: he thought no pains too much to be taken, no dangers too great to be overcome.

For thirty-five years after his conversion he seldom staid long in one place, travelling from Jerusalem through Arabia, Asia, and Greece, to Illyricum, to Rome, and to the utmost bounds of the western world,

vor, ii.

E e

preaching the gospel of Christ. Running, says St. Jerom, from ocean to ocean, like the sun in the heavens, of which it is said, his circuit is from the one end of the heavens to the other, sooner wanting ground to tread on, than a desire to propagate the faith of CHRIST. Nicephorus compares him to a bird in the air, which in a few years flew round the world : Isidore, to a winged husbandman, who flew from place to place to cultivate the world with the most exact rules and institutions of life. And while the other apostles confine themselves, as it were, to one spot, choosing this or that particular place for their ministry, St. Paul over-ran the whole world to its utmost bounds and corners, planting all places where he came with the divine doctrines of the gospel. Nor in this course was he tired with the dangers and diffculties he met with, the troubles and oppositions that were raised against him: but all these served only to reflect a greater lustre on his patience; of which he was a most eminent pattern, enduring the greatest trou. bles and persecutions, with a patience triumphant and unconquerable.

This will easily appear if we take a survey of what trials and sufferings he underwent; some part whereof are thus briefly summed up by himself: In labours abuna dant, in stripes above measure, in prisons frequent, in deaths oft; thrice beaten with rods, once stoned, thrice suffered shipwreck, a night and a day in the deep: in journeyings often, in perils of water, in perils by his countrymen, in perils by the Heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils amongst false brethren: in weariness, in painfulness, in watching's often, in hunger and thirst ; in fastings often, in cold and nakedness; and besides those things that were without, which daily came upon him, the care all the churches. . An account, though very great, yet far short of what he endured. All which he cheerfully underwent with a soul as calm and serene as the morning sun; no malice or rage, nor fury or storms, could ruffle or discompose his spirit: nay, they animated him


to rise up with the greater eagerness and resolution to perform his duty. Could all the powers of men and devils, spite and opposition, torments and threatenings, have been able to baffle him out of that religion he had embraced, he must have deserted his station : but his soul was steeled with a courage and resolution that was impenetrable ; and on which no temptation, either from hopes or fears, could make any more impression, than an arrow shot against a wall of adamant.

He did not want solicitations both from Jews and Gentiles; and might, doubtless, in some measure, have made his own terms, would he have been false to his trust, and quitted that way which was then every where spoken against. But, alas! these things weighed little with our apostle, who counted not his life dear unto him, so that he might finish his course with joy, and the ministry which he had received of the Lord Jesus; and therefore, when he thought himself under the sentence of death, could triumphantly say, I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith, In short, he was a man in whom the divine life emi. nently displayed itself ; he lived piously and devoutly, soberly and temperately, justly and righteously ; care ful always to keep a conscience void of offence both to, wards God and man. This, he tells us, was his support under all his sufferings; this the foundation of his con, fidence towards God, and his firm hopes of happiness in another world. This is our rejoicing, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity we have had our conversation in the world. In short, as the love of this great apostle to his divine Master knew no bounds, so the beauty and energy of his wri, tings, as well as his sufferings in support of the truth he espoused and inculcated, are beyond example,


Surnamed the Great. This apostle was a native of Galilee, born in all probability either at Capernaum or Bethsaida, as he was a partner with Simon Peter in the fishing trade. The epithet of Great was given him, to distinguish him from another apostle of the same name.

He was the son of Zebedee, a fisherman, who kept several servants to carry on his trade, and therefore must have been a person of consequence in his way. His mother's name was Mary, surnamed Salome, the daughter of Cleopas, and sister, or rather cousin-german to Mary the mother of our Lord; so that he had the hon. our of being a near relation to Christ himself. He was brought up to the trade of his father; a mean occupation indeed, in the eye of the world, but no employment is mean that is honest and industrious; and it should be remembered that the Son of God himself stooped so low, as to become the reputed son of a carpenter, and during the retirement of his private life, laboured himself at his father's trade; not merely devoting himself to contemplations, nor withdrawing from all useful society with the world, and hiding himself in the solitudes of an anchoret, but busying himself in an active course of life, as he continually went about doing good to the souls and bodies of mankind.

Not the least discouraged at the meanness of his father's trade, St. James applied himself to it with remarkable assiduity, and was exercising his employ. ment when the Saviour of the world passing by the sea of Galilec, saw him with his brother in the ship, and called them both to be his disciples. Nor was the call in vain; they cheerfully complied with it, and im

« ÎnapoiContinuați »