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tics. But even if it were not the natural tendency of great worldly credit gradually 10 exhaust itself, yel when we consider, how many are envious of eminence, which they cannot reach, and bow many bate the goodness which ihey cannot imitate, when we consider that thousands, whose favourable opinion would not enhance our reputation, are yet able 10 blast it in a moment by false bood, by treachery, or insinuation, let us sit loose to the opinion of the world, and seek the honour wbicb cometh from God only.

We have seen, that this regard to buman estimation, though a principle of universal, I had almost said, infinite influence, is confined to very narrow limits in the gospel of Christ. Is there nothing, then, provided to supply the place of so powerful an agent in the formation of the buman character? Is there nothing left to awaken the ambition of the christian, to rouse him from sloth and universal indifference, to call forib ibe energies of his mind, and to urge bim forward in the career of holiness? Yes; if we will listen to the language of an apostle, whose history proclaims, that his passions were not asleep, that his emulation was not quenched by the profes. sion of christianity, and whose spirit erer glowed with a most divine enthusiasm, say, if we listen to him, we shall find, that there is enough to stimulate all the faculties of the soul, and finally to satiate the most burning thirst of glory. Yes, my friends, eye bath not seen, nor ear heard, nor bath it entered into the heart of man to conceive the things, which God hath prepared for them that love him. Yes, my friends, our whole progress here, through all the varieties of honour and of dishonour, of evil report and good report, is a spectacle to angels and to men.. We are coming into an innumerable company of angels, and to ibe spirits of the just made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, and

to God the judge of all. These have been the spectators of our course, and from such are we to receive glory, and honour, and immortality.

Wouldest thou, then, christian-allow me to quote an eloquent exhortation from a most pious writer, and to close this discourse_" wouldest thou indeed reduce this love of human estimation under just control! Rise on the wings of contemplation, until the praise and the censures of men die away upon the ear, and the still small voice of conscience is no longer drowned by the din of this nether world. Here the sight is apt to be occupied with earthly objects, and the hearing to be engrossed with earthly sounds; but there shalt thou come within the view of that resplendent and incorruptible crown, which is beld forih to thy acceptance in the realms of light, and thine car shall be regaled with heavenly melody. Here we dwell in a variable atmospbere—the prospect is at one time darkened by the gloom of disgrace, and at another the eye is dazzled by the gleamings of glory ; but thou hast now ascended

; above this inconstant region ; no storms agitate, no clouds obscure the air, and the lightnings play and the thunders roll beneath thee.”*

* Wilberforce, p. 145.



The subject of the present 'discourse is the epistle of Paul to Philemon, which, as it will be repeated in the course of the sermon, I shall not now recite. This epistle, though the shortest, and in some respects the least important, which has reached us, of this apostle, is, notwithstanding, one of the most interesting. It is a private Jeller from one man to another, written on an occasion not very extraordinary; admitted, however, and retained in what is called the canon of the New Testament, in consequence of the apostolical character of the writer. It neither presents us with any summary of doctrines, nor statement of important facts; but it invites the attention of christians by the place where it is found, the well known character of the author, the characteristic merit of the letter itself, and, last of all, by the consequences, which, I think, may be deduced from it. Its brevity will allow us to consider it in a single discourse ; and such is its plain

: ness, that it does not call for a more close and critical examination, than may be given from the pulpit, or comprehended by a promiscuous assembly. The apostle, when he wrote this letter, was in confinement at Rome, fastened, it is supposed, by a chain of a convenient length, to the soldier, who guarded him, and in the house which he had hired ; so that his confinement was of such a nature as not to restrain him from preaching at home, and receiving converts to the faith of Jesus. Philemon, to whom he writes, was a rich, generous, and eminent christian at Colosse, in Phrygia, one of whose slaves, named Onesimus, had absconded, and, as was natural, had found his way to Rome, the metropolis of the empire. Here, it appears, he had by some means met with Paul, who converted him to the christian faith. The apostle seems to have discovered in him the best dispositions; not only a sincere repentance for his fault, but an honest disposition to return to his master. Accordingly, though Paul had become exceedingly attached to him in his confinement, he sends him back to Colosse, furnished with this letter, in which the apostle entreats Philemon, instead of punishing Onesimus with death, as the Roman law authorized him to do, to receive him again without taking notice of his crime, and, for his friend Paul's sake, to treat him in future as a penitent and faithful servant, and, what was more, as a convert to the same faith with himself, and peculiarly dear to the apostle. Such is the simple occasion of the epistle. I shall now recite it from the beginning, interweaving observations on the few expressions, which have in them any obscurity.

“ Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy, our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellow labourer, and to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus, our fellow soldier, and to the church in thy house, grace to you, and peace, from God our father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”—The only remark to be made on this common christian salutation, is, that Paul forbears to style bimself an apostle, as usual

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in his epistles to societies, because he was now writing, not in the character of a minister to enjoin obedience, but in that of a friend, to solicit a favour. It may be added, that by the church in the house of Philemon it is not intended, that all the christians in Colosse assembled for worship under his roof, but rather, that all the members of his family were converts. This, at least, is the interpretation of some of the fathers, and is confirmed by similar expressions in other epistles. *

“ I thank my God, (making mention of thee always in my prayers,) bearing of thy love and faith, wbich thou hast toward the Lord Jesus Christ, and toward all saints.”—By a very common transposition, faith is to be referred to Christ, and love to the saints, that is, to the christians, who especially need. ed the kindness and hospitality of their richer brethren, in those days of poverty and persecution. The whole passage, beginning with this sentence, is an introductory civility, adapted to conciliate the favour of Philemon, and repress the first emotions of passion toward bis slave.

The next clause is the only one in this letter, which remains obscure. Making mention of thee always in my prayers, that the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.”

- The apostle seems to express a wish, that the generous disposition and good offices of Philemon might produce in others a persuasion of the worth of the gospel, and an acknowledgment and imitation of its benevolent effects in this distinguished convert.

“ For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints (i. e. the hearts, winds, spirits of the christians) are refreshed by thee, brother.”

This phraseology is common in

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* Vide Col. iv. 15. Rom. xvi. 5. and Macknight ad locum.

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