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piness of our families ; to the benefit of pious and benevolen institutions; to the relief of the poor and necessitous; and, in fine, when we faithfully use them as gifts intrusted to us by God, to whom we are to render an account of our stewardship.
Q. When will our prayers be acceptable to God?
A. Our prayers, to be acceptable to God, must be offered with such constancy and fervour as will show that we are earnestly desirous of the blessings that we seek, and yet with such modesty and humility as will loudly proclaim our sense of our own unworthiness, and of the infinite condescension of God, in permitting us to approach his throne. Above all, our prayers must be offered with faith, with a firm reliance that, when we perform the conditions on which God has suspended the gift of his favours, he will bestow them upon us, in such a manner, and in such a proportion, as he sees most for our good.
Q. When will our self-denial and mortification be an acceptable offering to God?
The duty of self-denial will be acceptable to God, when it leads us not only to abstain from all outward acts of sin, but to resist and endeavour, through divine grace, to overcome our sinful passions and inclinations; and accordingly, sedulously to avoid all those indulgences which expose us to temptation, and strengthen the dominion of sin in our hearts.
Q. With what dispositions should we commemorate the manifestation of our Saviour to the Gentiles ?
A. The manifestation of the Saviour to the Gentile world, by which gracious dispensation of God we have been called out of darkness into his marvellous light,” should be commemorated with lively gratitude, with firm resolutions to walk worthy of our holy vocation, and with earnest prayer to God, that he would be pleased to extend the light of salvation to those who still sit in darkness and the shadow of death.
Of the SUNDAYS after the EPIPHANY.
Q. WHAT is the design of the Church in her proper services for the Sundays after the Epiphany?
A. As the design of the Church, in all her proper services from Christmas to Epiphany, appears to be to set forth the humanity of the Saviour, and to manifest him in the flesh; so, during the Sundays after the Epiphany, her design appears to be to display his divinity, by recounting to us in the gospels, some of his first miracles and manifestations of his divine power. The design of the epistles is to excite us to imitate Christ as far as we can, and to manifest ourselves to be his disciples, by a constant practice of all Christian virtues.
Of SEPTUAGESIMA, SEXAGESIMA, and QUINQUAGESIMA
Q. WHY were these Sundays so called ?
A. The first Sunday in Lent being called Quadragesima, being the fortieth day before Easter, the three preceding Sundays were denominated, from the next round numbers, Quinquagesima, fiftieth ; Sexagesima, sixtieth ; and Septuagesima, seventieth day before Easter.
Q. What appears to be the design of the Church in these Sundays?
A. The design of the Church in these Sundays, is to call us from the feasting and joy of Christmas, to prepare for the fasting and humiliation proper for the approaching season of Lent; to bring us from thinking on the manner of Christ's coming into the world, to reflecting on the cause of it-our own sins and miseries ; that so, being convinced of the reasonableness of punishing and mortifying ourselves for our sins, we may the more strictly and religiously apply our
selves to the duties of humiliation, mortification, and repentance, during the season of Lent.
Q. What have you to remark in regard to the epistles and gospels for these Sundays?
A. The epistles for each of these three days are taken out of St. Paul's Epistles to the Corinthians. The two first persuade us to acts of mortification and penance, by proposing to us St. Paul's example; and because all acts of self-denial, unless founded upon charity, or a principle of love to God, and submission to his institutions, profit nothing, the Church, in the epistle for Quinquagesima Sunday, sets before us this exalted virtue of Christian love and unity. The design of the gospels is the same with that of the epistles.
THE CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL,
Q. WHAT festival doth the Church this day celebrate ?
A. The Church this day celebrates the conversion of St. Paul, who was a chosen vessel to bear God's name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. He was not of the number of the twelve; yet, for his extraordinary eminence in the ministry of the Gospel, he was styled an apostle.
Q. Why is St. Paul commemorated by his conversion ?
A. St. Paul is not commemorated, as the other apostles are, by his death or martyrdom, but by his conversion ; because, as it was wonderful in itself, so it was highly beneficial to the Church of Christ. By his indefatigable labours he contribute i very much to the propagation of the Gospel throughout the world; and while other apostles had their particular provinces, he had the care of all the churches.
Q. What have you to remark concerning the epistle and the gospel for the day?
| Acta ix. 15.
A. The epistle relates to the conversion of St. Paul ; and the gospel exhibits the eminent reward of those who, like this apostle, shall steadily adhere to the Saviour, and labour in his service.
Q. Give an account of the birth-place, parentage, and education of St. Paul.
A. St. Paul was born at Tarsus, the metropolis of Cilicia, a city famous for riches and learning, whose inhabitants en. joyed the franchises and liberties of Roman citizens. His parents were both Jews, and of the tribe of Benjamin; so that he was an Hebrew of the Hebrews. He first engaged in the occupation of tent-making, the Jews esteeming it a disgrace not to bring up their children to some useful trade, both as a security from idleness, and a resource against poverty and misfortune. He was educated also in the learning of his city; and afterwards removed to Jerusalem, where he became a scholar to the great rabbi Gamaliel. We find bim described by two names, Saul and Paul; the one Hebrew, relating to his Jewish original; the other Latin, assumed by him, as some think, at his conversion, as an act of humility, styling himself.less than the least of all saints.
Q. Was not St. Paul a violent persecutor of the Church before his conversion ?
A. Inflamed by the fiery spirit of the sect of the Pharisees in which he was educated, and transported by the zeal of his own temper, he violently opposed all those who were esteemed enemies to the Mosaic economy. He accordingly persecuted the Christians with great fury, breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples at Jerusalem, making havock of the Church, and procuring a commission to imprison the Christians at Damascus. It appears also, that he was acces. sary to the death of the holy martyr St. Stephen.m
Q. What were the circumstances of St. Paul's conversion to the Christian faith ?
A. On his journey to Damascus, there suddenly shone round about him a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun.
Amazed and confounded, he and his companions fell to the ground; and at the same time a voice from hea. ven called to him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" To which he replied, • Who art thou, Lord ?” The voice replied, “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. Trembling and astonished, Saul inquired, “Lord wbut wilt thou have me to do ?” Whereupon he was bid to rise are! go to Damascus, and there expect what should be farther revealed to himn. He was obedient to the heavenly vision, diligently inquired his Lord's will and pleasure, and imms diately followed the directions he received."
k Acta xxii. 3; xvi. 37. 1 Acts viii. 3; ix. 1, 2.
m Acts viji
Q. In what manner was St. Paul admitted into the Christian Church?
A. St. Paul, having become blind by the extraordinary splendour of the light, was led to Damascus, where he fasted three days, and humbled his soul under a sense of those cruelties he had committed against the Christians. Ananias, a devout man, supposed to be one of the seventy disciples, having been admonished by the Lord in a vision, went to St. Paul, and, laying his hands on him, he received his sight, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and was made a member of the Church by baptism.
Q. What reasons may be assigned for the miraculous manner of his conversion ?
A. St. Paul, who was to publish to the world the glad tidings of salvation, was miraculously converted, in order that he might be in his own person a remarkable instance of the power of the grace of God, and of the readiness of God to pardon the chief of sinners on their repentance." He obtained mercy, that Jesus Christ might show forth first in him all long-suffering, for a pattern to them who should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”! God also was pleased to “ show mercy to him," and miraculously to convince him of the truth of the religion which he had persecuted, because what he did was done “ignorantly, in unbelief;" from the heat of natural temper, and from the transport of a false zeal, and not from a wilful opposition to what he knew was the truth. His miraculous conversion also gave great authority to his testimony in behalf of the religion of Christ. *
Q. In what way did St. Paul evidence the sincerity of his conversion ?
A. St. Paul evidenced the sincerity of his conversion, by his unwearied zeal and assiduity in preaching that very Jesus whom he had opposed ; in confirming and comforting the faithful, whom before he had persecuted; in building n Acts ix. 3, 4, &c. o Acts ix. 10, &c.
91 Tim. i. 13. * The powerful evidence of the truth of the Gospel afforded by the conversion o! the apostle Pau!, is ably illustrated by Lord Lyttleton, in his “ Observations on the onversion and Apostleship of St. Paul."
p 1 Tim. i. 16.