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certain; nor do we know by what means he obtained his release. But since his persecutors in Judea did not follow him with their accusations, it is probable that his cause never came to a hearing; and as the apostle made several converts at Rome, among whom were "some of Cæsar's household," it is most likely that he was indebted to them for his liberty.
After this the scripture is silent concerning the history of St. Paul: but from a passage in the epistle to the Corinthians, written by his associate Clemens, it appears that he extended his labours" to the utmost bounds of the west." What regions indeed are to be understood as having profited by the preaching of this indefatigable servant of God, after his release, cannot be determined, though from his own declaration five years before, of his intention to go into Spain, it is likely that he now took the opportunity of visiting that country. In the general persccution of the Christians by Nero, the apostle was at Rome, where he is said to have been confined in the same prison with St. Peter, and to have converted three of the soldiers appointed to guard him.
The ancients vary in their accounts of the precise time of his death, though all agree as to the manner of his martyrdom.
Being a Roman citizen, he was beheaded at a place called the Salvian Waters, about three miles from the city, and his body was interred in the Ostium Way, where Constantine the Great erected a church, which was afterwards enlarged by Theodosius, and highly ornamented by the empress Placigia.
This glorious light of the church did not confine his ministry to preaching of the gospel; he wrote fourteen epistles, in which the doctrines and duties of our religion are explained and inculcated with peculiar sublimity and force of language. If his style is sometimes abrupt, it arises from the warmth of the writer, who was so full of his important subject, as to neglect the exact rules of composition and the harmony of his periods. These epistles
exhibit the character of the apostle in a beautiful light. We here behold him continually bent upon the advancement of the cause in which he was engaged; ever ardent in proclaiming the glory of his master, always lowly when speaking of himself. If at times he "magnified his office," and mentioned the "signs and wonders which he had wrought," his motive was not to exalt himself, but the grace of God which was in him, against the deceivers and schismatics who were corrupting and dividing the church. These men "had attacked the apostolical dignity; and therefore not to have asserted and defended it, would have been a betraying of the office and duty committed to him by God. He was constrained to do himself justice, and not let down that character, upon the authority of which the whole success and efficacy of the ministry depended."* Yet upon all occasions his modesty shines forth; and when he is under the necessity of alleging his privileges and power, it is accompanied by this confession: "I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God."
As the fervour and perseverance, the fortitude and humility of this apostle have few parallels, in the extent and magnitude of his labours he stands unrivalled. "We see him in the prosccution of his purpose, travelling from country to country, enduring every species of hardship, encountering every extrcmity of danger, assaulted by the populace, punished by the magistrates, scourged, beat, stoned, left for dead; expecting, wherever he came, a renewal of the same treatment, and the same dangers; yet when driven from one city, preaching in the next, spending his whole time in the employment, sacrificing to it his pleasures, his ease, his safety; persisting in this course to old age, unaltered by the experience of perverseness, ingratitude, prejudice,
* Lord Lyttelton's Observations on St. Paul, 8vo. p. 80.
desertion; unsubdued by anxiety, want, labour, persecutions; unwearied by long confinement, undismayed by the prospect of death."*
Such was St. Paul, in whom we have an example of every Christian virtue amply displayed in the course of an uncommonly active and varied life. Though we are not called to the same degree of service in which he so faithfully employed the whole of his time, and to the promotion of which he devoted all his talents, it is our duty to imitate his diligence, and to exercise ourselves, as he did, in "maintaining a conscience void of offence towards God, and towards man." By so doing, we shall, at the close of life, be able to adopt, as expressive of our own happy state, the triumphant language which this blessed saint made use of in the prospect of his martyrdom.
"I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not unto me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."
• Palev's Horæ Paulinæ p. 424.