« PreviousContinue »
a triumph so obtained may discomfit the opponent, it will afford no moral triumph to the conqueror.
Waving, therefore, both from distinclination and inability, whatever passages may be considered as controversial, the Writer has confined herself to endeavour, though, it must be confessed, imperfectly and superficially, to bring forward Saint Paul's character as a model for our general imitation, and his practical writings as a storehouse for our general instruction, avoiding whatever might be considered as a ground for the discussion of any point not immediately tending to practical utility
may be objected to her plan, that it is not reasonable to propose for general imitation a character so highly gifted, so peculiarly circumstanced, - an inspired Apostle, - a devoted Martyr. But it is the principal design of these pages, -a design which it may be thought is too frequently avowed in them, - to show that
our common actions are to be performed, and our common trials sustained, in somewhat of the same spirit and temper with those high duties and those unparalleled sufferings to which Saint Paul was called out; and that every Christian, in his measure and degree, should exhibit somewhat of the dispositions inculcated by that religion of which the Apostle Paul was the brightest human example, as well as the most illustrious human teacher.
The Writer is persuaded that many read the Epistles of Saint Paul with deep reverence for the station they hold in the Inspired Oracles, without considering that they are at the same time supremely excellent for their unequalled applicableness to life and manners; that many,
, while they highly respect the Writer, think him too high for ordinary use. It has, therefore, been her particular object in the present work, not indeed to diminish the dignity of the Apostle, but to diminish, in one sense, the distance at which we are apt to hold so exalted a model ; to draw him into a more intimate connection with ourselves; to let him down, as it were, not to our level, but to our familiarity. To induce us to resort to him, not only on the great demands and trying occurrences of life, but to bring both the writings and the conduct of this distinguished Saint to mix with our common concerns, to incorporate the doctrines which he teaches, the principles, which he exhibits, and the precepts which he enjoins, into our ordinary habits, into our every-day practice; to consider him not only as the Writer who has the most ably and successfully unfolded the sublime truths of our Divine religion, and as the Instructor who has supplied us with the noblest system of the higher ethics, but who has even condescended
to extend his code to the more minute exigencies and relations of familiar life.
It will, perhaps, be objected to the Writer of these pages, that she has shown too little method in her distribution of the parts of her subject, and too little system in her arrangement of the whole; that she has expatiated too largely on some points, passed over others too slightly, and left many unnoticed ; that she has exhibited no history of the life, and observed no regular order in her reference to the actions, of the Apostle. She can return no answer to these anticipated charges, but that, as she never aspired to the dignity of an Expositor, so she never meant to enter into the details of the Biographer.
Formed as they are upon the most extensive views of the nature of man, it is no wonder that the writings of Saint Paul have been read with the same degree of interest, by Christians of every name, age, and nation ; the principles they contain, are in good truth absolute and universal: and whilst this circumstance renders them of general obligation, it enables us, even in the remotest generation, to judge of the skilfulness of his addresses to the understanding, and to feel the aptitude of his appeals to the heart.
To the candour of the reader, dour which, though perhaps she has too frequently tried, and too long solicited, she has, however, never yet failed to experience, - she commits this little work. If it should set one human being on the consideration of objects hitherto neglected, she will account that single circumstance, success; - nay, she will be reconciled even to failure, if that failure should stimulate some more enlightened mind, some more powerful pen, to supply,