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tion and distress. I daily feel my great loss more and more sensibly, and am obliged to turn my thoughts to the contemplation of the glory and blessedness in which his happy spirit now for ever dwells. Here I find a sweet repose. And in considering the mercy mingled in the dispensation, and in how short a time all his sufferings ended in a most easy, tranquil dissolution, I feel that I have cause of greatest gratitude. No longer are wearisome days, and nights of agony, appointed to him.
He now lives in the unclouded sunshine of heavenly glory, and joins the ransomed throng in unceasing hallelujahs of praise to the dear Redeemer whom he had so long loved, and with whom he had desired to be. Now his eyes see the King in His beauty,' and his delighted soul rejoices in those pleasures which are at God's right hand for evermore.”
“ The mysteries of Divine Providence," she remarks to Mrs. Budgett, under date of September 6th, 1832, "will all be solved in that bright world, where we shall know even as we are known, and see in the light of eternity. Owhat amazement must strike our eyes, and fill all the faculties of our enlarged minds, when we behold that world on which we have so often thought with joyful anticipation, and all its glorified inhabitants, the whole assembly and church of the redeemed! O the delight to recognise a friend, a brother, a husband dearer than life itself, amidst the glorified throng,—and those dear Ministers who have been the Lord's instruments in bringing us to that bright abode, that palace of the living God! The subject is most delightful to my mind; though all conception of it must, of course, be but as the shadow to the substance. We shall see Him whose face unveiled consummates bliss ; in whose presence is ‘fulness of joy. May I put on my beautiful garments, that I may be adorned with Christ, and meet for the heavenly inheritance! Let me still live in your remembrances, my dear friend. Your love and prayers are a valuable part of my riches. Such they have long been; and they ever will be most dear to me.”
“ November 20th, 1832,” she writes to the same friend,—“I am thankful to say that my mind is very graciously preserved in peace, though I often find it requires an effort on my part to keep from sinking into nature, and to hold fast the comfort of the promises which peculiarly belong to the character I am now called to sustain. They are very precious ones. I am, indeed, a widow, yet not desolate, because my · Maker is my Husband ;' and while I claim Him as mine, and rest upon His love and power, He shows me His goodness. The language of my heart has been incessantly, "Only tell me I am Thine, and Thou wilt not quit Thy right.' And He condescends to assure my feeble mind that He does regard me with tender compassion. O may I never grieve His blessed Spirit by unwatchfulness, or giving way to the tempter! I praise Him for purity of heart, and a clearer evidence of it. May I labour to maintain it, and to increase in it more abundantly!”
“ December 11th, 1832,” she writes to Miss Rothwell, of SunningHill,—"How I rejoiced this morning when I saw my dear Betsey's
hand-writing! I can know no greater gratification than to converse with my very dearly-beloved friend.—About a week ago, I was very low. I did not know what to do with myself to keep up at all. The world appeared quite as a desolate wilderness; and my mind seemed so feeble as if I could not 'lift up' a thought to the hills from whence' alone my 'help' could come.' But, in this extremity, the Shepherd of Israel looked down with pitying eye upon me, and spoke in accents of Divine compassion, “ Thy Maker is thy husband.' And, therefore, 'why art thou disquieted, O my soul?' In this way I got on. On Sunday morning, when waking, I found my heart drawn to wait upon God, and commune with Him; and I had such views and feelings of great infirmity, unworthiness, and unfaithfulness in every past stage of my Christian life, as were enough to cause my heart and flesh to fail. I mourned before the Lord, but was soon comforted with encouraging passages of Scripture. I felt ardent desires after holiness, and a full confidence that my sins were all buried in the crimson flood, and that my nature should be more fully renewed, and made meet for the heavenly Bridegroom, and the heavenly city. When I went to chapel, the text was, 'I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance : but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear : He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: whose fan is in His hand, and He will throughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner ; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.' It was so exceedingly applicable to what had passed in my own mind in the early part of the morning, that I was much struck with it. And it opened itself to me in this way,--that the baptism of the Holy Ghost, which I was desiring, and which is here promised, should entirely consume all the dross, and winnow away all the chaff, of sin from my heart ; so that I might begin to live a new life indeed. And I think, my dearest Betsey, that I do, in some small degree, realise this salvation. It has been a time of much temptation and inward conflict, at which you will not wonder when you think what a wily and powerful enemy we have to deal with. It is through fire and water that we get into the wealthy place. While I have been writing on this subject, fresh light has shone upon my mind as to his devices, and how he would have hindered me.-One great secret, I am aware, is to guard against discouragement. Even the painful views which we have of ourselves should be a stimulus to us to exert all the power of faith that we have to rise above them, always remembering that Christ is our All in all,—our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,--and that we must lay hold on Him in all these characters."
(To be concluded.)
VOL. VII.-FOURTH SERIES.
THE TWO IMPRISONMENTS OF ST. PAUL. That the great Apostle of the Gentiles was twice imprisoned at Rome, is generally admitted by ancient and modern writers. A few commentators and critics maintain, however, that he was imprisoned once only ; and that his martyrdom took place soon after the events related by St. Luke in the last chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. Against this opinion, which the voice of tradition contradicts, the evidence to be drawn from the Apostle's own writings seems to be decisive. Much valuable instruction may be gathered from the minor facts of Scripture history ; whilst, as Paley has shown in his justly celebrated “Horæ Paulinæ,” the truth receives the strongest confirmation from their careful study.
The first imprisonment of Paul began, according to the received chronology, about A.D. 62 ; but Greswell fixes upon A.D. 59, the fifth year of the reign of Nero; and Neander is in favour of a date still earlier. If it be admitted that the prisoner was ever set at liberty, it can scarcely be supposed that his incarceration was later than 59. In the year 64 the great Neronian persecution commenced ; and, had Paul been kept in prison until then, it is in the highest degree probable that he would have been sacrificed to the fury of the people,
On the occasion of the Apostle's first visit to the imperial city, he went thither as a captive. There was already a church at Rome, composed of both Jews and Gentiles, of which Aquila and Priscilla, Tryphena and Tryphosa, Hermas, Patrobas, and Hermes, with several others, were distinguished members. St. Paul had for some time wished to visit this Christian community, as he had visited many other churches. To the saints in Rome he says,—“I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established.” “I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the Gospel to you that are at Rome also.” (Rom. i. 11, 14, 15.) Perhaps he little thought that, when he went to Rome, it would be in “bonds and afflictions :" but, had he known this, his heroic spirit would have been sustained above the influence of fear. For his Master's sake he was ever willing to brave the greatest dangers, and to meet the most owerful foes.
Animated by unwavering confidence in God, he was carried through waves and storms at which inferior men would have quailed; and he could say, in prospect of unexperienced trials, “ None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy.” (Acts xx. 24.)
But whence originated his connexion with the church at Rome? and in what circumstances did he become so intimately acquainted with its members ?—It is probable, as Tholuck observes, that the first seeds of Christianity were brought to Rome by Jewish residents of that city, who had been in Jerusalem at the feast of Pentecost ; (Acts ii. 10 ;) or by some of the Hebrew Christians who, after the martyrdom of Stephen, were scattered abroad ; (Acts viii. 1 ;) or, perhaps, by the general concourse of strangers that continually streamed from the provinces to the capital. A variety of considerations would lead to the conclusion, that the church at Rome was, nevertheless, founded by some of St. Paul's disciples. Whether Aquila and Priscilla were Christians at the time of the banishment from Rome by the Emperor Claudius, does not appear; but Paul met them at Corinth, and abode with them. (Acts xviii. 2, 3.) And if they were not Christians before, they were doubtless converted there through the Apostle's instrumentality ; after which they returned to Rome. Other members of this church are saluted by the Apostle (Rom. xvi.) in terms which intimate the closest personal friendship. Epænetus he calls his “ well-beloved.” Mary he honourably mentions as having “bestowed” on him “much labour.” Andronicus and Junia he describes as his “kinsmen” and “ fellow-prisoners ;” and the mother of Rufus he hails ås his mother also, -την μητέρα αυτού και εμού,-doubtless on account of the kindness she had shown him. Before St. Paul had been at Rome, it is thus apparent that he had become personally acquainted with many of the Christians there; and some of them were, probably, among the fruit of his own ministry. That he should long to visit a people so endeared, is not surprising. At length his object was accomplished, though with the sacrifice of his liberty.
He had been accused of the Jews before Felix and his successor, (Acts xxiv., xxv.,) and had appealed unto Cæsar. He was accordingly sent, with certain other prisoners, by sea to Italy. The voyage was a remarkable one. A tempestuous wind called Euroclydon, but now known by the name of a Levanter, to which the Mediterranean is occasionally subject, overtook the ship in the vicinity of the island of Crete ; and, after several days of severe tossing, it was cast upon an island which proved to be Melita, or, as it is now called, Malta. All on board were, however, preserved : some cast themselves into the sea, and swam to shore ; "and the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land." These circumstances, and those that occurred upon the island,—the viper’s harmless fastening on Paul's hand, the healing of the father of Publius, and the restoration of many others of the sick,-were all ordered by the guardian Providence that sustained the Apostle ; and, perhaps, had no small influence in mitigating his confinement, and ultimately in bringing about his release.
Leaving Melita in a ship of Alexandria, St. Paul touched at Syracuse, the far-famed city of Sicily. Thence he sailed to Rhegium ; next, to Puteoli; and, at length, arrived in Rome. The brethren, having heard of his approach, came to meet him “as far as Appii Forum, and The Three Taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.” (Acts xxviii. 15.) And now the upright and undaunted A postle is within the walls of the city of the Cæsars. How would he have rejoiced to be permitted, as at Athens, publicly to proclaim Jesus and the resurrection ! But he was a prisoner, and knew not whether he had come to Rome to die. A favourable view must, indeed, have been taken of his case ; for, whilst the other prisoners were delivered to the captain of the guard, he “ was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him ;” and “two whole years” he “dwelt in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” (Acts xxviii. 16, 30, 31.) Felix had not condemned the Apostle ; Festus was not convinced of his guilt ; and the young King Agrippa, before whom he was also examined, had declared that he "might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Cæsar.” When Cæsar heard of the matter, (if, indeed, it came before him personally,)
Paul was permitted thus to live in a private dwelling, in which but one soldier attended him, to whose arm, as the custom was, he was fastened by a chain.* It has been even maintained that the Apostle was a prisoner for a few days only. This opinion seems at variance with Acts xxviii. 30, 31, just cited ; a passage which will scarcely be thought to consist with St. Paul's perfect liberty.
But, though he was a prisoner, his residence in Rome was not without its fruits. He was bound; but the word of God was not bound. As well might Cæsar's servants have attempted to shut up the sunlight, as to confine the doctrines which the Apostle preached. Caught from his lips by those who visited him, his testimony spread abroad through every part of the city until it reached the very highest station; so that his “bonds in Christ” were “ manifest in all the palace, and in all other places.” (Phil. i. 13.) He had appealed unto Cæsar, not so much on his own behalf, as on the behalf of Christ; and now in Cæsar's household Christ is honoured, and brethren there send their salutations, by the Apostle's letter, to the Christian church at Philippi. What a triumph of the Gospel! Its advocate is in bonds; but it has free course and is glorified. So is it ever with the truth. Its champions may be persecuted, enslaved, or even slain; but it proceeds in its career, prevalent over every foe, and promising ultimately to attain universal empire. The Gospel message may have reached the ears even of the haughty Nero himself. If so, he rejected it, as Felix and Agrippa had done ; and his subsequent career was stained with some of the most dreadful crimes that were ever committed by man.
During his first imprisonment at Rome, the Apostle wrote four of his Epistles; namely, those to the Ephesians, the Philippians, the Colossians, and Philemon. In all of them he alludes to his peculiar circumstances, sometimes in very striking terms. The Epistle to the Ephesians, which Coleridge calls “the divinest composition of man,” was probably written first. At the close of it, he asks for prayers on his behalf, “ that utterance may be given ” him, that he “ may open his mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the Gospel,” “for which,” says he, “I am an ambassador in bonds.” To the Colossians he says, “Remember my bonds.” To Philemon, a member of the church at Colossæ, he writes,—“But withal prepare me also a lodging : for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you." But it is in the Epistle to the Philippians that he speaks most freely on the subject of his imprisonment. As if at one time doubtful of the issue, he says, “I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ ; which is far better.” The crown of martyrdom was glittering in his view, and already he stretched out his hand to grasp it. But it was not yet to be placed upon his brow. As though checking his aspirations, he adds, “ Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you ;” and then intimates that he should abide, having doubtless been assured by the Spirit that he would be set at liberty in due time. In this Epistle he also refers to his temporal necessities, and acknowledges the kindness of the Philippians, who had often sent him presents, and who had again “communicated” with him in this way ; for he had “received of Epaphroditus the things” that they had sent,
an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God.” But he had “ learned, in whatever state" he was, “therewith to
* See Neander's History of the Planting, &c., of the Christian Church. Bibl. Cabinet, No. xxxv.