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At first, probably, this attention to his trade was ab
olutely neceflary; and afterwards he thought it expedient, that he might prevent or remove prejudices and objections, and prove that he fought not his own ease or interest *. His grand aim was to spread the knowledge of divine truth, and to “ win souls,” On every fabbath he stood forth in the Jewish synagogue as an advocate for the Gospel. Especially, when Silas and Timothy came to him from Macedonia, and enlivened him by their presence and good accounts of the churches, he felt a peculiar earnestness of spirit for the honour of his Master, and preached with fresh vigour. The Jews rejected his testimony, and blasphemed the Lord Christ, whom he commended to their regard. He, therefore, solemnly warned them of their condemnation, charged their destruction upon their own heads, and then turned from them to the Gentiles. He no more renewed his instructions in their fynagogue, but from that time addressed the people, who were disposed to hear him, at the house of one Justus in the neighbourhood.
His labours were not ineffectual. Crispus, a man of some rank as being “ the ruler of the synagogue, and many of the Corinthians, also, came forth and made profession of the Christian faith.
Yet it was a season of distress with the Apostle ; and it should seem that he gave way to an improper dejection of mind. He declares, that he had been with them “in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling +.” A view of the prevailing wickedness, a sense of his own infirmities, the contempt with which both he and his doctrine were treated, and an apprehension of danger, combined, probably, to discourage hiin; and it appears, as if he were ready to take his flight, or decline his work. At that juncture the Lord graciously
* i Cor. ix. 12--19. 2 Cor. xi. 7-12.
ti Cor. ii. 3.
interposed, interposed, commanded him to perfift in the service with diligence and intrepidity, and promised him the divine presence, protection from enemies, and great fuccess in his ministry among the Corinthians. He thus addressed him in a vision of the night, “ Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace : for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this place.”
St. Paul was imboldened, by this assurance from heaven, to continue at Corinth a year and six months, during which time he laboured in the Gospel with much affiduity, and to good effect. There he wrote his Epistles to the Theffalonians, and that also, as fome think, to the Galatians; which were probably the first of his compositions now remaining. He forgot not the concerns of his distant brethren, but felt a painful anxiety for them, when he heard of certain instances of misconduct and declension in the churches,
The faithful ambassadors of Christ may be instructed from the example before us. It is nothing wonderful, that they also, like this eminent Apoftle, should be oppressed and discouraged by inward temptations as well as outward opposition. O let us not increase their difficulties by our contempt or unkindness! Rather, let us strengthen their hands in God, by our cordial reception of the truth, and pray for them, that they may be upheld, and affifted in the vigorous prosecution of their important work. May much people be turned to the Lord, through their labours, in those very places, which they consider as most hopeless! In this they may be confident and rejoice, that, wherever their Maiter has appointed them any service, He will continue and support them; nor shall any violence of their enemies prevent or retard the purposes of his mercy:
At length a severe storm arose at Corinth. The Jews were indignant: they seized the Apostle, and in an outrageous manner brought him before the tribu.
nal of Gallio, the governor or proconful of Achaia.
They accused him of introducing a new religion, to the subversion of the law; and he was for biduen to fpeak in his own defence. Gallio would hear nothing on the subject, and therefore instantly dismissed the parties. Probably, he considered the Gospel as a matter beneath his notice: “ he cared for none of those things."
St. Paul remained there fome time longer, notwithstanding this strong opposition. Upon his departure, he took with him his two friends, Aquila and Priscilla : and it is remarked, that at Cenchrea, a neighbouring port, from which he set fail, he shaved his head in confequence of a certain vow he had made, probably, for a great deliverance. When they came to Ephefus, he preached the word, but soon left his dear companions there, though they earnestly requested him to continue. He “conferred not with flesh and blood,” preffing on with unremitting ardour, wherever his duty called him. He haftened to Jerusalem, with charitable contributions for the church, and, having finished the purpose of his journey, he called at Antioch upon his return, and made some stay in that place. He then passed in a regular progress throughout the country of Galatia and Phrygia, with the view of propagating the Gospel yet more extenfively, and encouraging believers under all their trials and diftreffes.
How honourable the employment of the Apostle ! Happy those, who enjoyed the benefit, and knew the value of his labours ! What a glory and excellency diftinguished his character, while he travelled from one kingdom to another, “ to turn men from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God *;”.
as poor, yet making many rich + !". Instead, therefore, of complaining of his arduous poft,
# Acts xxvi. 18.
* 2 Cor. vi. 10.
he was constrained to utter that grateful acknowledginent, « Thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the favour of his knowledge by us in every place * !”
Here again we pause, and ask, Will any maintain, that Paul could be a deceiver? Could all these astonishing events, fo exactly similar, which his preaching produced in different parts of the world, be the effect of mere fancy or delusion? Let infidels credit this, if they can. They will not, indeed, hesitate to admit any absurdities or imposlibilities, rather than allow, that our religion is a revelation from heaven. But let us rejoicein the truth and efficacious influence of the Gospel; “for it is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth t." Let us not be satisfied with granting the sincerity, or even admiring the excellence, of the Apostle. Do we receive the doctrine, which he propagated ? Does it regulate our faith and practice? We are not so much in danger of openly rejecting the whole system, as of trifing under an external profeffion, without experiencing “ the power of godliness.” O let us fear, left the word, which we hear and pretend to believe, should rise up to condemn us. in the judgment !
The Lord God set his seal to the declarations of his Apostle ; and we are not afraid to assert, that He continues to this day, in a moft decided manner, to profper the labours of those, who deliver the same tefti. mony. Similar effects attend the promulgation of the fimple and unadulterated Gospel. Many, like the Thessalonians, are hereby “ turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven 1.” Let us offer up our fervent prayers, that we may see more evident proofsamong ourselves of a divine energy accompanying the preaching of the cross. We have many precious
* 2 Cor. ii. 14.
+ Rom. i. 16.
# 1 Thef. i. 9, 10.
promises, promifes, which should encourage our expectations of glorious events. Let thofe, who have this miniftry, as they have received mercy, faint not*,” but be unwearied in their exertions for the enlargement and prosperity of the Church. May they be honoured of God, whom they serve in the Gospel of his Son, " by turning many to righteousness,” and then « faine as the stars for ever and ever + !" Amen.