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up that Church which he had sought to overthrow; cheerfully nnd resolutely exposing himself to those very difficulties and dangers for the faith, which he had endeavoured to bring on those who professed it.
Q. Where did St. Paul bestow his apostolical labours ?
A. This eminent apostle, through the most severe hard ships and perils, proclaimed the Gospel of his Saviour over the whole Roman empire; from Jerusalem, through Arabia, Asia, Greece, round to Illyricum, to Rome, and even to what was then considered the utmost bounds of the western world.' Dismayed by no dangers or difficulties, he was zealous and indefatigable in preaching the Gospel, and in writing epistles to confirm in the faith those churches which he had established; thus persevering in “ the good fight of faith, till he had finished his course.
Q. Is there not reason to believe that St. Paul planted Christianity in the island of Great-Britain ?
A. From the concurring testimony of several of the ancient fathers, Eusebius, Theodoret, St. Jerome, Clemens Romanus," there is reason to believe that St. Paul extended his apostolical labours to the island of Great-Britain."
Q. Where did St. Paul suffer martyrdom?
X. St. Paul was beheaded in the sixty-eighth year of his age, at Rome, under Nero, in the general persecution of the Christians, upon the pretence that they set fire to the city : and from the instrument of his execution, arose the custom of representing him in pictures with a sword in his hand.
Q. What writings did St. Paul leave behind him?
A. St. Paul has left fourteen epistles, which contain an admirable exposition of the plan of salvation, and the most forcible exhortations to the practice of Christian duties. They are principally occupied with vindicating the dispensation of God's rnercy to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews. and with enforcing the principle, that justification is to be obtained by faith in the Gospel, without obedience to the ceremonial law of Moses.
Q. Is it not said, that the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans lays down the doctrine of particular election and reprobation?
A. The election and reprobation spoken of by the apostle, relate to God's purpose of calling the Gentiles to the faith
T Acts ot? A post. and Clemen. Epist. ad Corinth. t Hieron in Amos, c. 5.
u Epist. ad Corinth. u Beo on this point, Bishop Stillingfleet's Orig. Brit.
8 2 Tim. iv. 7.
12 there can
of the Gospel, and rejecting the impenitent Jews : the one were “the vessels of mercy,” and the other, “ vessels of wrath." The apostle vindicates God's sovereign right to dispense his spiritual blessings in this world, according “ to the counsel of his own will ;” but does not speak of his determining the eternal destiny of mankind, by any unconditional decree. At the last day, “ every man shall be judged according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad;" and if it were possible (as he himself says) for Paul, the chosen vessel to the Gentiles, to become “ a castaway," be no ground for the assertion, that he advocates the doctrine of absolute election. In the Old Testament, the Jews are styled the “ elect” of God, as being separated to his service from the rest of the world ; and in the New Testament, for the same reason, the whole body of Christians are called "elect ;” and the purpose of God to confer on them the bless. ings of the Gospel, is styled" the purpose of election.” But that there is no arbitrary, unconditional election to eternal life, is evident from Christians being directed to make their calling and election sure."*
Q. Does the seventeenth article of the Church sanction the doctrine of absolute election ?
A. The seventeenth article of the Church does not sanction the doctrine of absolute election. It speaks indeed of those whom God hath “ chosen in Christ out of mankind," but does not assert that this election is made“ without any foresight of their faith or good works, or any other cause in them moving thereunto,” which would render the election absolute. It evidently is the design of this article, to lay down the process and the certainty of salvation, in regard to all “godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the spirit of Christ mortifying the works of the flesh,” &c. The article also refers us to " God's promises, as they are set forth in Scripture,” where they are certainly conditional. The doctrine of absolute election would render this article contradictory to the other articles, and to the Liturgy of the Church; for the fifteenth article declares that Christ, by “ the sacrifice of himself, should take away the sins of the world.” The sixteenth article declares, that " we may depart from grace given, and fall into sin.” In the Catechism, the catechumen is directed to profess his faith in “ God the Son, who redeemed him and all mankind.” And the office for the communion, in full and pointed language, declares that Christ hath " made a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world ;” declarations wholly inconsistent with the opinions, that Christ died only for the elect, and that those who have once received grace, can never finally fall away.*
w 1 Cor. ix. 27. * The Epistle to the Romans is ably explained by the celebrated Locke, so as to satisfy any candid person that it does not sanction the gloomy and uncomfortable doctrine of particular election and reprobation.
Q. What may we learn from the commemoration of St. Paul's conversion ?
A. The consideration of St. Paul's conversion should lead us to adore the miraculous grace of God which called him to be an apostle, and to bless God for the inestimable advantages we enjoy from the labours and instructions of this zealous apostle.
The mercy of God to him who was “ the chief of sinners,” should inspire us with confidence to apply to God for pardon under a sense of our guilt. The zeal and faithfulness of St. Paul after his conversion, should excite us to show the sincerity of our repentance, by actions most opposed to our former sins.
Q. As St. Paul is represented as having "consented” to the death of St. Stephen, he may be said to be a partaker of the guilt of those who slew this holy martyr. State what is meant by partaking in other men's sins.
A. We may be said to partake in other men's sins, when we abet or connive at the commission of them ; or when, after the commission, we approve or justify them.
Q. In what ways may we abet or connive at wicked actions, so as to become partakers in the guilt of them?
A. Magistrates, masters, or parents, become sharers in the guilt of any evil actions, when they do not use their power to prevent or punish them; when they order and command the commission; or when they do not refuse to concur in or countenance any improper measures. The ministers of the Church may become partakers of other men's guilt, when they neglect faithfully to declare the terms of salvation, and to warn sinners to flee from the wrath to come; and all persons who set a bad example, become answerable for all the pernicious effect which that example may have on others.
* That the Episcopal Church in America does not receive the seventeenth article, in a sense which favours the doctrine of absolute election, is evident from the circumstance, that, in the General Convention of the Church in 1801, which formally ratified the articles, it is believed, there was not one member who was friendly to those opinions concerning the divine decrees which are usually styled Calvinistic.
Q. In what ways may we become partakers of men's sins after they are committed ?
A. We may become partakers of men's sins after they are committed, either by openly approving them, by being secretly pleased with them, or by praising, justifying, and defending the commission of them.
The PRESENTATION of CHRIST in the Temple, com
monly called, The PURIFICATION of St. MARY the VIRGIN, February 2.
Q. WHAT festival does the Church celebrate this day?
A. The Church this day celebrates the presentation of Christ in the temple, commonly called, The Purification of St. Mary the Virgin.
Q. What is the design of the epistle and gospel for the day?
A. The epistle contains a prediction of the first advent of the Messiah, when he should come to his temple; which prediction was fulfilled at the presentation of Christ in the temple, of which the gospel gives an account.
Q. What was the Jewish law of purification with which the blessed Virgin complied ?
A. By the Jewish law of purification,* all the women were obliged to separate themselves from the congregation forty days after the birth of a male child, and eighty days after the birth of a female: and when the days of their purifying were fulfilled, if they were rich, they brought a lamb of the first year for a burnt-offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin-offering ; if poor, two turtles or two young pigeons, which the priest offered before the Lord, and made an atone. ment for them.
Q. What does this rite of purification import?
I Lev. xii.
A. This rite of purification was designed to teach the hereditary stain and corruption of human nature. As an acknowledgment and proof of this, the child was not only circumcised. but the mother cleansed by an offering for sin.
Q. What did the law require concerning the presentation of the first-born ?
A. The law required that every male child should be consecrated and set apart to the immediate service of God." When God exempted from the destruction which he brought upon the Egyptians, the first-born of the Hebrews, he commanded that they should be dedicated to the service of the altar, or redeemed at the price of five shekels ;" and though, afterwards, the Levites were substituted'instead of the firstborn for the service of the tabernacle,“ yet the traces of the old law remained, and mothers were obliged to present their first-born in the temple, and to pay a ransom to the priest. The price of redemption was the same both to rich and poor, as were the charges of their burials; admonishing us of the equality which nature hath established between all men, in coming into the world and going out of it.
Q. What doth the redeeming of the first-born signify to
A. The redemption of the first-bo, a under the Jewish law, may be considered as referring to the redemption of God's people, called " the Church of the first-born,” who are written in heaven, and redeemed, not with corruptible things, but with the precious blood of Christ.
Q. Since there was no impurity in the birth of our blessed Saviour, and since the blessed Virgin contracted no impurity by bringing him forth, why did they submit to these laws ?
A. Being born under the law, it became our Saviour to fulfil all righteousness; and the blessed Virgin, by complying with the law, expressed great humility, obedience, and reverence to public institutions.
Q. What should we learn from this exemplary submission of the blessed Virgin to the rites of the law?
A. From this submission of the blessed Virgin to rites of which she could not stand in need, we may learn, that the public institutions and ordinances of religion ought to be obeyed, when not contrary to the laws of God, even though the ends to be answered by them, may not be answered by them in our particular cases. y Exod. xiii 2, 15. 2 Numb. xviii. 16. a Numb riii. 16, 17, 18. b Heb. xii. 23.