Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

from Damascus," he proceeded to Jerusalem.” (Acts ix. 25.) The epistle, speaking of the same period, makes St. Paul say, that“ he went into Arabia,” that he returned again to Damascus, that after three years he went up to Jerusalem. Chap. i. 17, 18.

2. The history relates, that, when Saul was come from Damascus," he was with the disciples coming in and going out.” (Acts ix. 28.) The epistle, describing the same journey, tells us “ that he went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.” Chap. i. 18.

3. The history relates, that when Paul was come to Jerusalem,“ Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles.” (Acts ix. 27.) The epistle, “ that he saw Peter; but other of the apostles saw he none, save James, the Lord's brother. Chap. i. 19.

Now this is as it should be. The historian delivers his account in general terms, as of facts to which he was not present. The person, who is the subject of that account, when he comes to speak of these facts himself, particularizes time, names, and circumstances.

4. The like notation of places, persons, and dates, is met with in the account of St. Paul's journey to Jerusalem, given in the second chapter of the epistle. It was fourteen years after his conversion; it was in company with Barnabas and Titus; it was then that he met with James, Cephas, and John ; it was then also that it was agreed amongst them, that they should go to the circumcision, and he unto the Gentiles.

5. The dispute with Peter, which occupies the sequel of the second chapter, is marked with the same particuJarity. It was at Antioch; it was after certain came from James; it was whilst Barnabas was there, who was carried away by their dissimulation. These examples negative the insinuation, that the epistle pre sents nothing but indefinite allusions to public facts.

No, IV. Chap. iv. 11–16. “ I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain. Brethren, I bem seech you, be as I am, for I am as ye are.

Ye have not injured me at all. Ye know how, through infirmity of the flesh, I preached the gospel unto you at the first; and my temptation, which was in the flesh, ye despised not, nor rejected: but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. Where is then the blessedness you spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them unto me. Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?”

With this passage compare 2 Cor. xii, 1–9.: “ It is not expedient for me, doubtless, to glory; I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago (whether in the body I cannot tell, or whether out of the body I cannot tell ; God knoweth); such a one was caught up to the third heaven; and I knew such a man (whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell, God knoweth), how that he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such a one will I glory, yet of myself will I not glory, but in mine infirmities; for though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth. But now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure, through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

There can be no doubt but that “ the temptation which was in the flesh,"mentioned in the Epistle to the Galatians, and “ the thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet him," mentioned in the Epistle to the Corinthians, were intended to denote the same thing. Either therefore it was, what we pretend it to have been, the same person in both, alluding, as the occasion led him, to some bodily infirmity, under which he laboured; that is, we are reading the real letters of a real apostle;

or, it was that a sophist, who had seen the circumstance in one epistle, contrived, for the sake of correspondency, to bring it into another; or, lastly, it was a circum. stance in St. Paul's personal condition, supposed to be well known to those into whose bands the epistle was likely to fall ; and for that reason, introduced into a writing designed to bear his name. I have extracted the quotations at length, in order to enable the reader to judge accurately of the manner in which the mention of this particular comes in, in each; because that judgment, I think, will acquit the author of the epistle of the charge of having studiously inserted it, either with a view of producing an apparent agreement between them, or for any other purpose whatever.

The context, by which the circumstance before us is introduced, is in the two places totally different, and without any mark of imitation: yet in both places does the circumstance rise aptly and naturally out of the context, and that context from the train of thoughtcar. ried on in the epistle.

The Epistle to the Galatians, from the beginning to the end, runs in a strain of angry complaint of their defection from the apostle, and from the principles which he had taught them. It was very natural to contrast with this conduct, the zeal with which they had once received him; and it was not less so to mention, as a proof of their former disposition towards him, the indul. gence which, whilst he was amongst them, they had shewn to his infirmity : “My temptation which was in the flesh ye despised not, nor rejected, but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. Where is then the blessedness you spake of," i. e. the benedictions which you bestowed upon me?“ for I bear you record that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.”

In the two epistles to the Corinthians, especially in the second, we have the apostle contending with certain teachers in Corinth, who had formed a party in that church against him. To vindicate his personal authority, as well as the dignity and credit of his ministry amongst them, he takes occasion (but not without apo

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

tain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city in an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people." (Acts xvii. 4, 5.) Their persecutors follow them to Berea: “When the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people.” (xvii. 13.) And lastly at Corinth, when Gal. lio was deputy of Achaia, “ the Jews made insurreotion with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment-seat.” I think it does not appear that our apostle was ever set upon by the Gentiles, unless they were first stirred up by the Jews, except in two instances; in both which the persons who began the as. sault were immediately interested in his expulsion from the place. Once this happened at Philippi, after the cure of the Pythoness : “ When the masters saw the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the market-place unto the rulers.” (xvi. 19.) And a second time at Ephesus, at the instance of Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana,“ who called together workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth; moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded away much people, saying, that they be no gods which are made with hands

; so that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought, but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth."

No. VI. I observe an agreement in a somewhat peculiar rule of Christian conduct, as laid down in this epistle, and as exemplified in the Second Epistle to the Corinthians. It is not the repetition of the same general precept, which would have been a coincidence of little value; but it is the general precept in one place, and the application of that precept to an actual occurrence in the other. In the sixth chapter and first verse of this epistle,

our apostle gives the following direction : “ Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye, which are spiri. tual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness." In 2 Cor. ii. 6-8, he writes thus: “ Sufficient to such a man” (the incestuous person mentioned in the First Epistle) “is this punishment, which was inflicted of many : so that, contrariwise, ye ought rather to forgive him and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with over-much sorrow: wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love towards him." have little doubt but that it was the same mind which dictated these two passages.

NO. VII. Our epistle goes farther than any of St. Paul's epistles; for it avows in direct terms the supersession of the Jewish law, as an instrument of salvation, even to the Jews themselves. Not only were the Gentiles exempt from its authority, but even the Jews were no longer either to place any dependancy upon it, or consider themselves as subject to it on a religious account. “ Before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterward be revealed ; wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to ring unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith; but, after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster." (iii. 23—25.) This was undoubtedly spoken of Jews and to Jews. In like manner, (iv.1--5.) “Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father : : even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world; but when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under thelaw, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." These passages are nothing short of a declaration, that the obligation of the Jewish law, consiilered as a religious dispensation, the effects of which were to take place in another life, had ceased, with respect even to the Jews themselves. What then should

« AnteriorContinuar »