Imágenes de página

affirming thein, and from all heat and vehemence when obliged to defend them, that the more eager advocates of the same sentiments, were apt to be displeased at his moderation, and would sometimes complain that the interests of Truth were hurt by his concessions, but it was plain to any attentive observer, that Sophron's candour had no alliance with scepticism; for those very sentiments which in description he stated cautiously, and maintained with meekness and even diffidence, were the foundations upon which his whole system of practical conduct had been erected, on the solidity and safety of which his hopes and his happiness rested. But Sophron had noticed that the colours in which truth is presented to us, vary greatly according to the circumstances which attend it: he had not forgotten that many opinions which were originally adopted with some deliberation, a maturer experience had obliged him to alter or modify ; he had often observed that men generally are most vehement about those dogmas which they have embraced hastily, or upon mere authority, supplying by passion what is deficient in reason. He considered that the certainty of our knowledge is limited, not only by the weakness of our faculties, but by the imperfect state of the observations or experiments on which it is founded ; he knew that the understanding is powerfully influenced by the character, and thought therefore that modesty in our own judgments, and çandour towards others, are peculiarly to be expected from those who feel and willingly acknowledge the

extent of their moral corruptions and infirmities, Sophron's manners were impressed with the same modest dignity and gentle wiadam which breathed through his whole character, To his inferiors he was courteous and attentive, without the least appearance of condescension. In truth he was not apt to think any one his inferior, merely because his station in life was humble; and generally behaved to men of sense and pięty, with a respect more visible and more flattering, than that which he bestowed on the highest titles. Yet to his superiors he was never deficient in a becoming deference, and his unembarrassed politeness sufficiently shewed, how far he was from feeling any thing like umbrage, or a sense of littleness in their presence, He used frequently to say, that Politeness was a virtue, and that he thought religious persons should never be defective in a quality which was allied both to benevolence and humility. Indeed Humility was in a great measure the source of the kindness and courtesy which rendered him so amiable; for entertaining a very low opinion of himself, he generally found some reason or other for treating those whom he conversed with as his superiors; and entertaining not the least desire of distinction, he was nog tempted to depreciate any, or to disturb their just claims to consideration. In the same way, Humility was in Sophron the foundation of one of the most perfect tempers ever witnessed. It was almost impossible to make him angry. If he was. ill-treated (which happened rarely) the first thought


which occurred to him was, that he must certainly have done something amiss ; and if the hostility shewn to him was manifestly quite unprovoked, he would discover so many excuses for what at first seemed perfectly inexcusable, that the offending party appeared almost to be a gainer by his misconduct; so that those who knew him intimately would observe, that next to enjoying his friendship, the most desirable thing was to be his enemy.




This Epistle is addressed by St. Paul to the Philippians in his own name and in the name of Timotheus. It is probable that this association of Timothy with hiinself, was owing to the peculiar modesty and liberality of the Apostle, who, though he was alone invested with a general authority over the Gentile converts, and claimed so to be when the occasion required, was so far from being unnecessarily jealous of his dignity, that he was willing, in the eyes of the Philippians and others, to share it with the faithful partner of his labours and sufferings. The authority however of this Epistle, is not in any manner diminished by the circumstance last mentioned, for though it is addressed to the Philippians in the name both of Paul and Timotheus, the former is evidently the writer of it, and speaks throughout in his own proper person.

Paul and Timotheus are entitled “ the servants of Jesus Christ.” This was the highest character the Apostle wished to assume. The high commission with which he was entrusted, the ample authority with which he was invested, seemed to him to confer no dignity proportioned to that of being the “ Servant of Christ.” It was not merely hu. mility that led him thus to think. It was rather a comprehensive wisdom, and a just knowledge of things, which enabled him to estimate them as they truly are; and which shewed him, that to be subject to the governance, and to execute the commands of his ever-blessed Redeemer, was an employment more truly and permanently glorious, than the possession of the highest earthly office,

The Epistle is directed to the Saints or holy persons in Christ Jesus at Philippi, with the Bishops and Deacons. This expression seems to have been used by the Apostle as synonymous with the words “ Church and Churches," which we find in the , beginning of other Epistles, Holiness is so indispensable a consequence of the Christian profession, that the Apostle employs the word - Saints” in this and other places as having the saine import with “ Believers,” or “ Church,” that is, a congregation of Believers ; thereby plainly intimating, that they who were not holy, whatever name or profession they might assume, were in truth not Christians. neither members of the Church, nor true Believers. At the same time, it appears from the manner in which the Apostle usually addressed himself to Churches at large, that he thought it right to presume, in charity, that those who called themselves by the name of Christ, were really such as they professed to be.

Grace and Peace are the blessings which St. Paul, in the introduction of most of his Epistles, prays to be bestowed on those whom he addresses.

« AnteriorContinuar »