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During this imprisonment he wrote his epistles to the Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians, and the epistle to Philemon.
And now, as the Acts of the Apostles reaches no farther than to the end of the second
of his imprisonment at Rome, we have no particular account of what happened to him afterwards. Only it appears that during the five or six years of his imprisonment, in Judæa and at Rome, the churches which he had planted in Asia were greatly corrupted; so that when at last he did obtain his liberty, instead of going on to Spain as he had formerly purposed, he was obliged to return to the east. It was now that he sent Timotheus to Ephesus and Titus to Crete, giving them full powers to correct the evils of the Church in those places, and to appoint new elders on whom they could rely, and who might instruct and guide the people in the true faith and practice of Christ's Gospel. The first epistle to Timothy and the epistle to Titus belong to this later period of St. Paul's life, when he visited Asia again, after his first imprisonment at Rome.
And now still, though in old age, retaining his Christian zeal undiminished, he returned again to the west, hoping perhaps still to fulfil his desire of preaching the Gospel in Spain. Whether he did so or not, we know not; but either on his way thither or on his return he was again seized at
Rome and cast into prison as a Christian. It was at the time that the emperor Nero was putting the Christians to death in great numbers, so that Paul had no prospect of escape. He now wrote his second epistle to Timothy,—in which he says that he is now ready to be offered, that he has fought the good fight, that he has finished his course, and kept the faith. And soon afterwards his words were fulfilled, and he was put to death in Rome for the name of the Lord Jesus.
Thus I have given an outline of the life of this holy Apostle, and shown when and under what circumstances most of his epistles were written. The date of those to the Galatians and to the Hebrews is so uncertain, that I could not bring them in with confidence at any one particular period of his life; but with respect to the others there is no doubt, and it greatly helps our understanding of them if we connect them with the circumstances of their writer's history.
I have given you an outline of his life, and that in itself tells us his character. For it tells us that from the prime of manhood to old age he gave himself wholly to setting forth the name of Christ; that is, to the exalting God's glory and to the saving of men's souls. And if we wish to know at one view what sort of sacrifices this work required of him, read his own declaration of what he had suffered in the eleventh chapter of the second Corinthians : only remembering that, as that epistle was written before his imprisonment in Judæa and at Rome, it can only contain the sufferings of a part of his life; and that five years of imprisonment, shipwreck, another imprisonment, and finally martyrdom, are to be added to the account there given. Nor must we forget that which came on him daily, the care of all the churches. For we must not think of St. Paul as of a missionary who preached or read to the people in different places, and having taught them about Christ, went on and left them to themselves. His duties were those of a ruler quite as much as of a preacher. He founded churches everywhere; that is, societies of men whose whole lives were to be regulated by his directions ; for whose good order he was to provide; and whose faults affected him with the deepest personal concern. Read in the first epistle to the Corinthians the various questions proposed to him for answer; and consider, if one church furnished him with so much matter for thought and regulation, what must have been the care of regulating all the churches of Europe and most of those in Asia ? Such was Paul's life of labour and of suffering; labour both of body and mind; suffering both of body and mind. And then, if we observe the spirit and cheerfulness which prevails in all his epistles, down to the very last,—the calmness, the fervent love, the impartial and clearjudging reason, without the slightest mixture of fanatical violence or folly,—we shall understand how wonderful are the graces of Christ's Spirit; that He is at once wisdom, and power, and love; and being such, and changing His servants into His own image, they also are full of wisdom, and power, and love, after their measure, and therefore have in them also a peace of God that passeth all understanding, and a joy unspeakable and full of glory.
2 John, 5.
And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new com
mandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.
I ENDEAVOURED last Sunday to give a sort of outline of the life of St. Paul, and to connect most of his Epistles with their date, and with the circumstances under which they were written. The second lesson for this evening service is the second Epistle of St. John, and the day before yesterday was St. John's day; so that the Apostle St. John is now as naturally brought before our minds, as the Apostle St. Paul was last Sunday. It is true, we have it not in our power to give St. John's history with the same fulness as St. Paul's; neither can we so certainly fix the period of his writings, nor connect them so distinctly with the circumstances