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So that a course of the most prosperous fortune might be an argument, not of divine favour but displeasure; while trouble and affliction may be true substantial proofs of mercy and loving kindness.

Upon the arrival of St. Paul at Rome, he called the chief of the Jews, together, and related the cause of his being sent thither in custody; adding these words, "because that for the hope of Israel (that is, for the Messiah, whom the Jews so ardently expect) I am bound with this chain." They then desire to hear his sentiments; which accordingly he gave them fully upon an appointed day,

persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening." The happy effects of his preaching were not so universal as might be wished: for although some believed, yet others were obstinate and hard-hearted; so that he applies to them the memorable prophecy of Isaiah, "hearing ye shall hear, and not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive," &c. And he concludes with assuring them, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it." After which he continued two years in his own hired house, where he was permitted to live under an easy confinement, and to teach the kingdom of God and Christ.

Here end the Acts of the Apostles, without further acquainting us with what befel either -St. Pe

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ter or St. Paul. The most probable account of whose fate seems to be, that they suffered under the persecution raised against the Christians about the year 64 or 65 by that odious tyrant Nero; who, having with the most wanton barbarity set fire to the city of Rome, and dreading the effects of popular fury, contrived to shift it from himself upon them, by the most false and atrocious calum nies ever invented.

HAVING now drawn these Lectures near a conclu sion, I shall close them with one or two short observations upon the sacred writing, which has been the subject of them; considered both as a testimony to the Christian religion, and a fund of valuable instruction, as well in the doctrines it inculcates, as in the examples it holds up for our imitation and improvement.

It was ordained by Providence, that the life and ministry of our blessed Lord should be chiefly confined to Judea; the country peculiarly favoured throughout the whole divine economy. But his religion being designed to embrace all mankind, he gave commission to his disciples, that they should go, teach all nations; which injunction they accordingly obeyed. To the Acts of the Apostles then we are indebted for the first and most authentic accounts of the growth and progress of Chris tianity, from the time it had left the cradle of its


birth, till it attained to considerable strength and stature a period interesting and eventful in the highest degree. This history, through its whole tenor and various details, bears witness to the Gospels; evidently carrying on the same design, shewing the fulfilment of our Lord's prophecies, and the continuance of the same miraculous powers which he had exercised. And although we have little more than a sketch, as it were, of some few transactions; yet there is enough to prove his constant care of his church, and to explain the wonderful propagation of the faith within so short a compass of time.

In the next point of view; it abounds with instructive matter, inferior only to what fell from the lips of our blessed Saviour, and in strict conformity with his divine maxims. To which we may add some sentiments (one is particularly mentioned) spoken by him yet not recorded in the Gospels. Here too we meet with several instances of sound argument, persuasive eloquence, and divine instruction, upon several topics of religion, which could not well be noticed by our Lord; such as his resurrection, ascension and so forth in the discussing of which, the stores and treasures of Scripture," old and new," are brought out and displayed with great force and beauty. But beside all this, we are here taught, in a clear and explicit manner, doctrines but slightly alluded to in the

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Gospels, yet indispensably necessary to a right faith, and most consolatory motives to good conduct! You already perceive, that I mean the gracious influences of the Holy Spirit; who will guide us salinto all truth," and enable us to work out our vation, unless we are wanting to ourselves: which article of our religion may well be called the crown and perfection of the whole system. And lastly,


The admirable patterns of Christian virtues and graces, exhibited not only in the great Apostolic. teachers, but likewise in the whole body of Christians at large, deserve our best attention and regard. We cannot too often meditate upon the truc piety and zeal, charity and benevolence, simplicity and integrity of heart, purity and holiness of life, patience and resignation, which distinguished those primitive ages of the church. The Gospels delineate a character, the excellence of which, however delightful and improving it is to contemplate, we can never hope to approach. But here are men, in every respect like ourselves; with the usual failings and infirmities of human nature; whom we may therefore reasonably expect by the grace of God to imitate with some degree of success, and to follow their steps. It must naturally be attended with good effects, if we would study the lives and conduct of such men for so we may learn a just value for the great and important objects of their attachment

and devotion: our views of happiness would change from the vain and turbulent pursuits of this world, to the prospects of another life; and we should be led on by degrees to embrace and cherish the sublime hopes inspired by religion, when we see those hopes attended with present blessings, and producing even here the sweetest fruits of peace and joy and love.


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