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the first link of which is attached to nothing; it has not any hold on the word of God, or the apostolic writings; the only firm soil in which the anchor of human faith can be fixed.
The narrative called “The Acts of the
Apostles” closes with St. Paul's arrival at Rome. The other incidents of his eventful life must be gleaned with more pains from his own epistolary writings. The fruits of his literary labours executed at Rome ", of which we are in possession, are five of his Epistles. That to the Philippians, to the Colossians, to Philemon, to the Ephesians, and probably to the Hebrews. And the proof that we possess these and the other Apostolic writings pure, that they were not liable to adulteration, is, that they were read publicly during the lives of their authors in the several Churches of Christ. “ And when this Epistle is read among you," says St. Paul to the Colossians, “cause that
it be read also in the Church of the Lao
Col. iv. 18.
- Phil. i. 13, 14. Eph. iii. 1. vi. 20.
“ diceans; and that ye likewise read the
Epistle from Laodicea"." These works constituted the occupation of his retirement. The effect also of his personal presence and oral communications is strikingly described by himself: “I would
ye “ should understand, brethren,” says he, addressing the Philippians, “ that the things “ which happened unto me” (namely at Rome) are fallen out rather unto the “ furtherance of the Gospel: so that my “ bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places ; and
many “ of the brethren in the Lord, waxing con“fident by my bonds, are much more bold “ to speak the word without fear o.” And again : "All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Cæsar's household p."
Contemplate in these short extracts, my brethren, the inefficacy of human power to arrest the course of truth. Chiefly they “ that are of Cæsar's household." In vain is the sword of the tyrant lifted up over the head of the devoted preacher, while the
n Col. iv. 16.
o Phil. i. 12-14.
p Phil. iv. 22. 4 2 Tim. ii. 9.
guards by whom the emperor is surrounded, and the officers of his household, have caught the bland infection of the heavenly doctrine, and even obtrusively transmit their affectionate regards to their brethren in the faith, of other regions : “Wherein,” says this same Apostle, in another place, “I suffer “ trouble as an evil doer, even unto bonds; “ but the word of God is not bound 9.”
Thus then St. Paul continued at Rome for “two whole years," as St. Luke expresses it, writing and preaching the word of truth. Yet still he was a prisoner, and his appeal to Cæsar from the Jews undecided. His first hope of liberation is thus expressed in his Epistle to the Philippians : “ But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timo“theus shortly unto you, that I also may
be “ of good comfort when I know your state; “ for I have no man like-minded, who will
naturally care for your state; for all seek
their own, not the things which are Jesus “ Christ's : but ye know the proof of him, “ that, as a son with the father, he hath
“served with me in the Gospel. Him, “ therefore, I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will
go “ but I trust in the Lord that I also myself “ shall come shortly".” In the Epistle to Philemon he speaks with more confidence: “ But withal prepare me also a lodging; for “ I trust that through your prayers I shall
be given unto you.” The Epistle to the Hebrews presents its author at liberty, and in motion : he speaks not either of Cæsar's household or of the inhabitants of Rome.
They of Italy,” it is said, “salute you." And, “know ye that our brother Timothy “ is set at liberty; with whom, if he come “ shortly, I will see you "." It is obvious, therefore, that after his two years' abode at Rome he was dismissed, and returned to the East in the discharge of his Apostleship. Of the duration of this period of freedom nothing is known; but the second Epistle to Timothy, which is evidently the last of St. Paul's works in point of date, presents him
r Phil. ii. 19-24. + Heb. xiii. 24.
s Philem. 22. see also ver. 10. u Heb. xiii. 23.
to us again as in prison, and at the point of suffering death : “For I am now ready “ to be offered, and the time of my de
parture is at hand” and it also appears that he had been recently in the enjoyment of freedom; for he directs an object of almost daily use, left at Troas", to be brought to him, which it is not likely he would have sought to reclaim after a period of some years had elapsed, if it had been deposited before his first voyage to Rome. Though not certain, it is also highly probable, that Rome was the place of his second confinement. And now he
And now he may have been brought into the presence of the emperor Nero: Nero, not as at the beginning of his reign, but when that bane of princes, absolute power, had corrupted or only developed the natural propensities of his heart. my
first answer,” says he, “no man “ stood with me, but all men forsook me : “I pray God that it may not be laid to
their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord “ stood with me, and strengthened me, that
x 2 Tim. iv. 13.