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to the law of Moses ; that was the question at Jerusalem: but it was, whether, upon the the Gentiles becoming Christians, the Jews might thenceforth eat and drink with them, as with their own brethren. Upon this point St. Peter betrayed some inconstancy; and so he might, agreeably enough to his history. He might consider the vision at Joppa as a direction for the occasion, rather than as universally abolishing the distinction between Jew and Gentile ; I do not mean with respect to final acceptance with God, but as to the manner of their living together in society: at least he might not have com- prehended this point with such clearness and certainty, as to stand out upon it against the fear of bringing upon himself the censure and complaint of his brethren in the church of Jerusalem, who still adhered to their ancient prejudices. But Peter, it is said, compelled the Gentiles Isdalen “ why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?” How did he do that? The only way in which Peter appears to have compelled the Gentiles to comply with the Jewish institution, was by withdrawing himself from their society. By which he may be understood to have made this declaration: “ We do not
deny your right to be considered as Christians; we do not deny your title in the promises of the Gospel, even without compliance with our law: but if you would have us Jews live with you, as we do with one another, that is, if you would in all respects be treated by us as Jews, you must live as such yourselves.” This, I think, was the compulsion which St. Peter's conduct imposed upon the Gentiles, and for which St. Paul reproved him.
As to the part which the historian ascribes to St. Peter, in the debate at Jerusalem, beside that it was a different question which was there agitated from that which produced the dispute at Antioch, there is nothing to hinder us from supposing that the disputeat Antioch was prior to the consultation at Jerusalem ; or that Peter, in consequence of this rebuke, might have afterwards maintained firmer sentiments.
CHAPTER VI. :
i... THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS.
. .. No. I.'.... This epistle, and the Epistle to the Colossians, appear to have been transmitted to their respective churches by the same messenger: “ But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things, whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that yé might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.” Ephes. chap. vi. 21, 22. This text, if it do not expressly declare, clearly I think intimates, that the letter was sent by Tychicus. The words made use of in the Epistle to the Colossians are very similar to these, and afford the same implication that Tychicus, in conjunction with Onesimus, was the bearer of the letter to that church: “ All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister, and fellow servant in
the Lord, whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts; with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you: they shall make known unto you all things which are done here.” Colos. chap. iv. 7-9. Both Epistles represent the writer as under imprisonment for the Gospel ; and both treat of the same general subject. The Epistle therefore to the Ephesians, and the Epistle to the Colossians, import to be two letters" written by the same person, at, or nearly at the same time, and upon the same subject, and to have been sent by the same messenger. « Now, every thing in the sentiments, order, and diction of the two writings corresponds with what might be expected from this circumstance of identity or cognation in their original. The leading doctrine of both Epistles is the union of Jews and Gentiles under the Christian dispensation; and that doctrine in both is established by the same arguments, or, more properly speaking, illustrated by the same similitudes*: “ one head,” “ one body," “ one new man," “ one temple," are in both Epistles the figures under which the society of believers in Christ, and their common relation to him as such, is representedt. The ancient, and, as had been thought, the indelible distinction between Jew and Gentile, in both Epistles, is declared to be “now abolished by his cross.” Beside this consent in the general tenor of the two Epistles, and in the run also and warmth of thought with which they are composed, we may naturally expect, in letters produced under the circumstances in which these appear to have been written, a closer resemblance of style and diction, than between other letters of the same per
* St. Paul, I am apt to believe, has been sometimes accused of inconclusive reasoning, by our mistaking that for reasoning which was only intended for illustration. He is not to be read as a man, whose own persuasion of the truth of what he taught always or solely depended upon the views under which he represents it in his writings. Taking for granted the certainty of his doctrine, as resting upon the revelation that had been imparted to him, he exhibits it frequently to the conception of his readers under images and allegories, in which if an analogy may be perceived, or even sometimes a poetic resemblance be found, it is all perhaps that is required.