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their foundation. All the motives to right action, all the ar- | topics of creation and providence. The works of creation guments for holiness of life, are drawn from this source; all are a demonstration of the being of a God, the living God the lines of duty converge to this centre. If Paul censures, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all things that are he points to this only spring of hope ; if he laments, he therein. In times past he suffered all nations, all the heathens, turns to this only true source of consolation; if he insists to walk in their own ways, without any particular revelation that the grace of God hath appeared, he points to its practical of himself like that which he made to the people of Israel. object, teaching us to live soberly, righteously, and godly, But yet his geņeral providence afforded ample proofs of his When he determines to know nothing but his Saviour, and power and goodness: nevertheless he left not himself without even him under the degrading circumstances of crucifixion, witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven ana he includes in that knowledge all the religious and moral fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gledness. benefits of which it is susceptible.” Integrity, tenderness These arguments are as forcible as they are plain and obviof heart, disinterestedness, heavenly-mindedness, profound os to the meanest capacity; He is the creator and preserver knowledge of human nature, and delicacy in giving advice of us and of all things, he is the author and giver of all the or reproof, are the leading characteristics of Saint Paul's good that we enjoy, and he therefore is the only proper and writings; in which, while he every where maintains the ut- adequate object of our worship. The people were so transmost respect for constituted authorities, he urges and unfolds ported, that with these sayings scarce restrained they them that the various social and relative duties in the most engaging they had not done sacrifice unto them. But such is the fickleand impressive manner.
ness and uncertainty of the multitude, that him whom they VIII. “All the writings of Saint Paul bespeak him to were now for worshipping as a god, soon after, at the insti. have been a man of a most exalted genius, and the strongest gation of certain Jews, they suffered to be sioned, and drawn abilities. His composition is peculiarly nervous and ani- out of the city, supposing he had been dead. The apostles, mated. He possessed a fervid conception, a glowing but however, had sown some good seed among them; for we chastised fancy, a quick appehension, and an immensely read, that within a little time they returned again to Lystra, ample and liberal heart. Inheriting from nature distinguished confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to conpowers, he carried the culture and improvement of them to tinue in the faith. the most exalted height to which human learning could push 3. Our apostle's conduct and behaviour among the learned them. He was an excellent scholar, an acute reasoner, a and polite Athenians (Acts xvii. 16–34.) we shall find to great orator, a most instructive and spirited writer. Longi- be somewhat different from what it was to the rude and illitenus, a person of the finest taste, and justest discernment in rate Lycaonians, but both of equal fitness and propriety. He criticism and polite literature, classes the Apostle Paul among did not open his commission at Athens in the same manner the most celebrated2 orators of Greece. His speeches in the as at Lystra, by working a miracle. There were, doubtless, Acts of the Apostles are worthy the Roman senate. They several cripples at Athens (for it is well known that such breathe a most generous fire and fervour, are animated with cases abound in that climate); but it does not appear that a divine spirit of liberty and truth, abound with instances of any of them had the good disposition of the cripple at Lysas fine address as any of the most celebrated orations of tra, or faith to be healed. Besides, the Greeks did not so Demosthenes or Ciceró can boast; and his answers, when at much require a sign (1 Cor. i. 22.) as seek after wisdom. the bar, to the questions proposed to him by the court, have Accordingly, we find the apostle disputing not only in the a politeness and a greatness, which nothing in antiquity synagogue with the Jews and ihe devout persons (Jewish prosehardly ever equalled.”3 At the same time, this great preacher lytes), but also in the forum or market-place, daily with them adapted his discourses to the capacities of his respective that met with him. Here he encountered certain philosophers audiences, with an astonishing degree of propriety and abi- of the Epicurean and Stoic sects; some of whom treated him lity, as is evident from the difference of his reasoning with as a babbler, while others regarded him as a setter forth of the Jews at Antioch in Pisidia, with the Gentiles at Lystra, strange gods, and, consequently, a violator of the laws of with the polished Athenians, and with Felix the Roman go- Athens, because he preached unto them Jesus and the Resurrecvernor, as also from the handsome apology which he makes tion. At length they conducted him to the Areopagus (or for himself before king Agrippa.
Mars'-hill), the seat of the highest court of judicature in 1. As the Jews had the old Testament in their hands, and that city for matters concerning religion, and also the place (it is well known) at this time expected a deliverer, from of greatest resort: and with that curiosity and thirst of news, their study of the prophetic writings, Paul takes occasion, for which (it is well known) the Athenians were at that time in his djscourse to them (Acts xiii. 13—42.), to illustrate notorious, they requested him to give them an account of the divine economy in opening the Gospel gradually, and his new doctrine. What a glorious scene was here for the preparing the Jews, by temporal mercies, for others of a yet manifestation of the truth before such a promiscuous and more important nature. This afforded him a very handsome numerous assembly of citizens and strangers, of philosophers and unatfected opportunity of showing his acquaintance with of all sects, and people of all conditions; and with what their Scriptures, which they esteemed the highest part of exquisite skill and contrivance is every part and member of literature, and object of science. His quotations are singu- his discourse so framed and accommodated, as to obviate larly apposite, and the whole of his discourse (one would some principal error and prejudice in some party or other of think) must have carried conviction to their minds. The his hearers! Most of the false notions, both of their vulgar result is well known; though a few embraced the despised and philosophical religion, are here exposed and refuted. If Gospel of Christ, the majority rejected the benevolent coun- there was nothing else remaining, yet this sufficiently testisel of God towards them.
fies how great a master he was in the learning of the Greeks. 2. With the idolatrous Lycaonians at Lystra (who were Most of the fundamental truths, both of natural and revealed little better than barbarians, like most of the inland nations religion, are here opened and explained ; and all within the of Asia Minor), the great apostle of the Gentiles pursued a compass of a very few verses, From an altar with an indifferent course. (Compare Acts xiv. 6–22.). Such persons scription to the unknown God (and that there were altars at are apt to be struck and affected more with signs and won- Athens with such an inscription, we have the attestation of ders than with arguments ; he, therefore, at his first preach- several ancient heathen authors), he takes occasion to reing among them, very seasonably and“ fitly confirmed his prove them for their great plurality of gods, and him whom doctrine, by a signal miracle in healing a man who had been they ignorantly worshipped to declare unto them. It might be a cripple from his birth. And when Paul and his fellow- contrary to the laws of Athens for any one to recommend labourer Barnabas had with difficulty restrained the people and introduce a new or strange god; but he could not well of Lystra from offering sacrifice to them as deities, who be subject to the penalty of the law only for declaring him (agreeably to the fables believed among the ancient heathen), whom they already worshipped without knowing
him. The they supposed, had appeared in the likeness of men, their dis- opportunity was fair, and he improves it to the greatest adcourse is admirably adapted to the capacity of their auditors. vantage. He branches out his discourse into several particuThey derive their arguments from no higher source than lars. That God made the world and all things therein: which natural religion, and insist only upon the plain and obvious proposition, though agreeable enough to the general belief Mrs. More's Essay on St. Paul, vol. I. p. 109.
, to which the reader is and opinion, was yet directly contrary both to the Epicureans, referred for an ample and beautiful account of the character and writings and to the Peripatetics; the former of whom attributed the of that illustrious apostle. On the subject of his " preaching Christ cru formation of the world to the fortuitous concourse of atoms cified,” the reader will find some instructive remarks in pp: 01-51 of Wir without any intervention of the Deity, and the latter mainWilks's able vindication of Missionary exertions, entitled Christian Mis- tained that the world was not created at all, and that all sions an Enlightened Species of Christian Charity." 8vo. London, 1819. · Longinus, p. 268. Pearce, 8vo. > Ilarwood's Introduction, vol. i. p. 199.
• See this character of the Athenians illustrated, in Vol. I. p. 80.
things had continued as they now are from all eternity with so much address, as not to offend his person,-an exThat seeing he is Lord of heaven and earth, he dwelleth not in ample, the most worthy of our imitation; as it would greatly temples made with hands, neither is worshipped with men's contribute to make the bitter portion of reproof, if not palahands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life table, at least salutary and successful. and breath and all things; which was levelled not so much How artfully, then, does St. Paul insinuate himself into against the philosophers as against the popular religion of the soul of this great sinner, and shake his conscience at the Athens; for the philosophers seldom or never sacrificed, remembrance of his vices !--not by denouncing vengeance unless in compliance with the custom of their country, and against him, for his lust and injustice, but by placing in the even the Epicureans themselves admitted the self-sufficiency strongest point of light the opposite virtues,-showing their of the Deity; but the people believed very absurdly that reasonableness in themselves, and their rewards at the day there were local gods, that the Deity, notwithstanding his of judgment. For he reasoned, -not of unrighteousness,immensity, might be confined within temples, and notwith- not of incontinence,--but of righteousness and chastity ;-and standing his all-sufficiency was fed with the fat and fumes by holding forth a beautiful picture of these necessary virof sacrifices, as if he could really stand in need of any sus- tues, he left it to Felix to form the contrast, and to infer the tenance, who giveth to all life and breath and all things.-blackness of his own vices. A masterly stroke! and it effecThat he hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell tually succeeded : for, as the prisoner spake, the judge on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times be trembled. fore appointed, and the bounds of their habitation: which was 5. The last instance, which we shall notice of this aposnot only opposed to the Epicureans, who derived the begin- tle's fine address and politeness, is to be found in his celening of the human race from the mere effects of matter and brated reply to king Agrippa, who publicly declared to him motion, and to the Peripatetics or Aristotelians, who denied that he had almost persuaded him to be a Christian. Would mankind to have any beginning at all, having subsisted in to God that not only thou but also all that hear me this day, eternal successions; but was, moreover, opposed to the gene- were both ALMOST, and ALTOGETHER, such as I am—EXCEPT ral pride and conceit of the people of Athens, who boasted THESE BONDS. (Acts xxvi. 29.) What a prodigious effect themselves to be. Aborigines, to be descended from none other must this striking conclusion, and the sight of the irons held stock or race of men, but to be themselves originals and na- up to enforce it, make upon the minds of the audience! To tives of their own country. That they should seek the Lord, his singular attainments in learning the Roman governor pubif haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be licly bore an honourable testimony, imagining that the intensenot far from every one of us ; for in him we live, and move, ness of his application to his studies, and his profound erudiand have our being : which fundamental truth, with the tion, had disordered his understanding, and occasioned his greatest propriety and elegance, he confirms by a quotation supposed insanity. from one of their own poets, Aratus, the Cilician, his own The writings of Paul show him to have been eminently countryman, who lived above three hundred years before, and acquainted with Greek learning and Hebrew literature. “ He in whose astronomical poem this hemistich is still extant. greatly excelled in the profound and accurate knowledge of As certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also the Old Testament, which he perpetually cites and explains his offspring. An evident proof that he knew how to illus- with great skill and judgment, and pertinently accommodates trate divinity with the graces of classical learning, and was to the subject which he is discussing. Born at Tarsus, one no stranger to a taste and politeness worthy of an Attic of the most illustrious seats of the muses in those days, iniaudience. That forasmuch then as we are the offspring of tiated in that city into the learning and philosophy of the God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold Greeks, conversing, in early life, with their most elegant and or silver or stone, graven by art and man's device : which was celebrated writers, whom we find him quoting, and afterplainly pointed at the gross idolatry of the lower people, wards finishing his course of education at the feet of Gama. who thought the very idols themselves to be gods, and ter- liel, the learned Jewish rabbi, he came forth into public and minated their worship in them. That the times of this ignorance God winked at or overlooked ; as he said before to the · It is universally acknowledged that Paul had read the Greek poets, and people of Lystra, In former times God suffered all nations to has quoted Aratus, Epimenides, and Menander; though it is scarcely suswalk in their own ways; but now commandeth all men every Euripides. There is, however (Dr. A. Clarke observes), such a similarity where to repent : which doctrine of the necessity of repent- between the following quotations and the apostle's words, that we are almost of the philosophers, and especially
of the Stoics, whose wise were be extends the thought infinitely higher, by language incomparably man was equal if not superior to God himself.-Because he 1Tim. vi. 25. “Ο μακαριος και μονος Δυνασης, ο Βασιλευς των βασιλευονταν, hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in Kupros Townupsuostw. The blessed and only Potentale, the King oỉ righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained, whereof he kings and Lord of lords.
The Supreme Being is also styled the King of kings, and the Blessed, by hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him Æschylus in his tragedy of the Supplicants : from the dead : till now they had heard him with silence and
Αναξ αναxτων, μακαρων attention, because though every period of his discourse
Μακαρτατι, και τελεων
Ver. 520. Ed. Porson. glanced at some of his hearers, yet it coincided with the
"O King of kings, most Blessed of the blessed, most Perfect of the notions of others, and he had not before touched and offend perfect." ed them altogether ; but when they heard of the resurrection 1Tim. vi. 16. Ο μονος εχων αθανασίαν, φως oικων απροσιτον.-Who only of the dead, some mocked (the Epicureans, and the men of hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can come unto.
In the Antigone of Sophocles, there is a sublime address to Jove, of which wit and pleasure), and others said (the Platonists, and the the following is an extract : graver sort of his audience), We will hear thee again of this
Αγηρος χρονο Δυνασίας inatter, putting it off to a more convenient season. So Paul
Μαρμαροεσσαν αιγλαν, departed from among them, leaving them as they deserved to themselves. Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed
"But thou, an ever during potentate, dost inhabit the refulgent splendour
of Olympus !" (a diminutive expression to signify that he made but very few "This passage,” says Dr. Clarke, "is grand and noble; but how insigni. converts); among whom the principal were Dionysius the Areo- ficant does it appear, when contrasted with the superior sublimity of the pagite (who is said to have been afterwards constituted the of heaven; but the God of Paul inhabits light, so dazzling and so resplenfirst bishop of Athens), and a woman of rank named Da- dent, that it is perfecilly unapproachable!" maris.
Once more, in 2 Tim. iv. 7. we read, Tov sywvH TOW **dongeriguez, TON 4. In St. Paul's discourse to Felix (Acts xxiv.), he had op het terreno Jhave fought a good fight, I have finished my course. for his hearer a Roman governor, who was remarkable for pressions used here by the apostle are found, and spoken on the occasion his lust, and injustice ;-a man who was very unlikely to bear, of a wife laying down her life for her husband, when both his parents had much less to reform by, a pointed reproof from his own pri
Ουκ ηθελησας ουδ' ετολμησας θανείν soner. This, then, was a case, which required great art as
Του σου προ παιδος" αλλα την δ' 4 ασατι well as great courage; and accordingly we find our apostle
υναικ' οθνειαν, ην εγω και μητερα mingled the wisdom of the serpent with the innocence of the
Πατερα τι γ' ενδικως αν εγοίμην μονην"
Και τοι καλον γ' αν τον δ' αγων ηγωνισω, dore, He had honesty enough, to rebuke the sins; and
Του σου προ παιδος κατόχνων. yet prudence enough, not to offend the sinner. He had
“ Thou wouldest not, neither darest thou to die for thy son; but hast the courage to put even his judge in mind of his crimes ; yet suffered this strange woınan to do it, whom I justly esteem to be alone niv
father and inother: thou wouldest have fought a good fight had'st thou 1 Bp. Barrington conjectures that this quotation was taken from the cele died for thy son." brated Hymn of Cleanthes, in which the words spoken by Saint Paul are The xxnov zows, good fight, was used among the Greeks to express a also to be found. See Mr. Townsend's New Test. arranged in Chronologi. contest of the most honourable kind: and in this sense the apostle uses it. cal Order, &c. vol. ii. p. 249.
(Dr. A. Clarke, on 1 Tim. vi. 16., and on 2 Tim. iv. 8.)
Ver. 608. Edit. Brunck.
refused to do it.
Alcest. v. 614.
active life, with a mind stored with the most ample and vari- of delight in the Gospel, and thankfulness for the glorious ous treasures of science and knowledge. He himself tells office of an apostle, how do we feel our hearts burn within us, that the distinguished progress which he had made was us at being permitted by the good providence of God to parknown to all the Jews, and that in this literary career he left ticipate in the privileges so admirably extolled by the great all his co-equals and contemporaries far behind him. I pro- apostle of the Gentiles. fited in the Jewish religion above my fellows. A person pos- “ Occasionally, too, the student of the epistles is at once sessed of natural abilities so signal, of literary acquisitions astonished and delighted by a fervency of language unexamso extensive, of an activity and spirit so enterprising, and of pled in any other writer. Words of the most intense signian integrity and probity so inviolate, the wisdom of God fication are accumulated, and, by their very strength, are judged a fit instrument to employ in displaying the banners made to express their weakness when compared with the inand spreading the triumphs of Christianity among mankind. expressible greatness of their object. Our language cannot A negligent greatness, if we may so express it, appears in express the force of xxl'itleebeant sis üregboam asmevov Bagas 8. Exs his writings. Full of the dignity of his subject, a torrent of (2 Cor. iv. 17.), which is but faintly shadowed forth’in the sacred eloquence bursts forth, and bears down every thing translation of an eminent critic, an excessively exceeding before it with irresistible rapidity: He stays not to arrange and eternal weight of glory.' Numerous, and some, if posand harmonize his words and periods, but rushes on, as his sible, still more striking examples occur, but cannot be adevast ideas transport him, borne away by the sublimity of his quately displayed in any, even the best translation. Even theme. Hence his frequent and prolix digressions, though the ordinary grammatical compounds are not sufficient for the at the same time his all-comprehensive mind never loses glowing ideas of the apostle. Thus, wishing to express his sight of his subject; but he returns from these excursions, own utier worthlessness considered in himself, he makes use resumes and pursues it with an ardour and strength of reason of a comparative, found only in the most exalted sentences ing that astonishes and convinces.”'ı What a treasure of of the classic authors: iuci to ince X0567824, not unaptly rendivinity and morality is contained in his epistles ! which, dered by our translators less than the least.? "? “as examples of a nervous, invigorating, commanding style, Another excellence in Saint Paul's writings is presented to have seldom been equalled, never excelled. The instruc- our notice in the admirable art with which he interests the tions they contain are delivered with a simple gravity and passions, and engages the affections of his hearers. Under concinnity that commands the attention, and is as much supe. the present depravity of human nature, our reason being enrior to high-wrought ornaments of professed rhetoricians as feebled, and our passions consequently grown powerful, it the native uncut diamond, to the furbished, glittering paste. must be of great service to engage these in the cause we Yet are they not deficient in those beauties which captivate would serve; and therefore, his constant endeavour was, the refined taste. Although professedly didactic, there are not only to convince the reason of his hearers, but to alarm few pieces of composition that afford a richer variety of ap- and interest their passions. And, as hope and fear are (with propriate figure. There is scarcely a species of trope that the bulk of mankind) the main-springs of human action, to has been noticed by rhetoricians thai may not be found in one these he addressed himself most effectually,—not by cold part or other of these books, and always in an apposite situa- speculation upon abstract fitnesses, but by the awful assution.
rances of a resurrection of the dead to an eternity of happi“ Nor are there wanting instances of a strength of figure ness or misery. With respect to the latter, who can hear only to be equalled by the importance of the sentiment ex- without trembling, that,—the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from pressed. As such, the description of the powerful efficacy heaven, with his mighty angels, in fluming fire, taking ren. of the promises and threats of God may be produced. The geance on the ungodly; who shall be punished with everlasting word of God is living and energetic, and more cutting than destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of any two-edged sword, dividing even to the separation of soul | his power! And the happiness of heaven he describes by and spirit, of joints and marrow, and a discerner of the words so strong, as to baffle the expression of all language thoughts and intents of the heart
. Again, when the apostle but his own,—by a weight of glory infinite and eternal beyond expresses his desire to be useful even to the death, to his all hyperbole or conception. converts ; how noble and appropriate to men accustomed to Thus the apostle secured the passions of those to whom the sacrificial rites is his expression ! Yea, and if I be he directed his epistles : and he equally engaged their affecpoured out as a libation (otasun!) upon the sacrifice and ser- tions by his endearing manner of address. Has he occasion vice of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all.' And how to introduce any subject, which he is afraid will prejudice full of affection and exultation is his figurative appellation of and disgust his bigoted countrymen the Jews ? He announces the Philippians ; • My brethren, beloved and longed for, my it with a humility and modesty that secures the attention, joy and my crown!' Is there any thing in any of the hea- and with an insinuating form of address to which nothing ihen moralists comparable to that fine description of charity can be denied. “ This appears particularly in his Epistle to in the thirteenth chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians ? the Romans, where we see with what reluctance and heartSpeaking with the tongues of men and of angels is nothing in felt grief he mentions the ungrateful truth of the Jews recomparison of charity; and the tongues of men and of angels jection of the Messiah, and their dereliction by God for can never exceed this description. All the powers of logic their insuperable obstinacy. How studious is he to provoke and rhetoric are to be seen and felt in the fifteenth chapter them to jealousy and emulation by the example of the Gen of the same epistle ; and what affecting solemnity does it add tiles, and how many persuasive and cogent arts and argu to that most solemn service of our liturgy, the burial of the ments does he employ to win them over to the religion of dead! But it is not in the use of figures only that the excel- Jesus! In these delicate touches, in these fine arts of moral lence of the apostle's style consists. For appropriate diction suasion, Saint Paul greatly excels. Upon occasion, also, he is unrivalled, and occasionally he rises into a sublimity we find him employing the most keen and cutting raillery in of expression that carries his readers above themselves, and, satirizing the faults and foibles of those to whom he wrote. while it astonishes, convinces or persuades with a delight With what sarcastic pleasantry does he animadvert upon the ful violence. When he undertakes to describe the goodness Corinthians for their injudicious folly, in suffering themselves of our Maker in providing for us the means of salvation, the to be duped by a false judaizing teacher! A more delicate reader is transported with gratitude, and overwhelmed with and poignant instance of irony, than the following passage, self-abasement. When he exultingly depicts the excellences is perhaps nowhere to be met with : What is it, says he to of the Gospel dispensation, he commands the enraptured the Corinthians, wherein you were inferior to other churches, mind, and we are lost in wonder, love, and praise! When except that I myself was not burtheńsome to you (by taking he concisely describes his sufferings, the constancy, the joy- any acknowledgment for my labours)? do forgive me this ous triumphing in the midst of tortures, of the primitive pro- wrong. (2 Cor. xii. 13.)-To his eloquence, as a public pagators of Christianity, we require a new idea of the human speaker, we have the test of the Lycaonians, who (as mind; we are tempted to imagine the persons he speaks of we have already remarked)' foolishly imagining the gods to to be superior beings, and to render them our humble adora- have descended from heaven among them in the persons of tion, till recalled by the assurance that it is by the might of Barnabas and Paul, called the former Jupiter, and the latter the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by the aid of the Holy Mercury, because he was the chief speaker. 'And though it Spirit, that these holy men so nobly won their heavenly crown. When we read his exulting and fervent expressions a Gospel Advocate, vol. iv. p. 364. (Boston, Massachusetts, 1824.)
s See an instance in his epistle to Philemon, which is particularly illus
trated in Sect. XV. $$ III. V. infra. · Harwood's Introduction, vol. i. pp. 200. 202.
See p. 326. supra.
AND THOSE OF SAINT PAUL IN PARTICULAR.
is said his bodily presence was mean, and his speech contemp- | monarchy. This opinion was so deeply rooted in the minds of tible, yet it ought to be remembered, that this was the asper, the apostles, that Jesus Christ did not think proper to eradicate sion of his enemies, the effusion of malignity, to defame and it all at once, but rather chose to remove it by gentle and easy sink him, and ruin his usefulness.".
degrees. Accordingly, in compliance with their prejudices, we find him describing his kingdom, and the pre-eminence they were to enjoy in it, by eating and drinking at his table, and sit
ting on thrones, and judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke SECTION II.
xxii. 30. Matt. xix. 28.)
But after the Holy Spirit had given the apostles clear and OBSERVATIONS ON THE APOSTOLICAL EPISTLES IN GENERAL, distinct apprehensions of the spiritual nature of Christ's kingdom,
and the real nature of its happiness, we find what noble repreI. Importance of the Epistles.--Nature of these writings.
sentations they give of the glories which are laid up in Heaven II. 'Number and order of the Epistles, particularly those of for true Christians, and what powerful arguments they derive Paul.—III. Of the Catholic Epistles and their order.-IV. thence, in order to persuade them not to set their minds upon General plan of the apostolic Epistles.-V. Causes of their the things of this world. They describe the happiness of the obscurity considered and explained.- Observations on the world to come by an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and phraseology of Paul in particular.
that fateth not away (1 Pet. i. 4.); by a new heaven, and a
new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness (2 Pet. iii. 13.), I. The EPISTLES, or letters addressed to various Christian where God shall be all in all (1 Cor. xv. 28.) : he shall reign communities, and also to individuals, by the apostles Paul, with an absolute dominion, and it shall be our honour and hapJames, Peter, John, and Jude, form the second principal di-piness that God is exalted; and they exhort us not to set our vision of the New Testament. These writings abundantly minds upon the things that are seen, and are temporal, but on confirm all the material facts related in the Gospel and Acts those things which are not seen, and are eternal. (2 Cor. iv. 18.) of the Apostles. The particulars of our Saviour's life and
Again, it was the same prejudice concerning the temporal death are often referred to in them, as grounded upon the un- glories of Christ's kingdom which caused his disciples to misdoubted testimony of eye-witnesses, and as being the foun- understand the meaning of his various clear and explicit disdation of the Christian religion. The speedy propagation courses concerning his sufferings, death, and resurrection. (See of the Christian faith, recorded in the Acts, is confirmed be- Mark ix. 10. Luke ix. 45. xviii. 34.) They vainly expected yond all contradiction by innumerable passages in the Epis- that their master would gain earthly' conquests and triumphs, iles, written to the churches already planted; and the mira- and they could not apprehend how he should become gloculous gifts, with which the apostles were endued, are often rious through sufferings. In consequence of these mistaken appealed to in the same writings, as an undeniable evidence ideas, the doctrine of the cross and its saving effects were not of the divine mission of the apostles.2
Though all the essential doctrines and precepts of the understood by the apostles (Matt. xvi. 22.), until our Saviour Christian religion were unquestionably taught by our Saviour had opened their understandings by his discourses on this subject himself, and are contained in the Gospels, yet it is evident after his resurrection; and therefore we cannot expect so perfect
an exposition of that great and fundamental article of Christo any person who attentively studies the Epistles, that they are to be considered as commentaries on the doctrines of the tianity in the Gospels as in the Epistles, in which Christ's dying Gospel addressed to particular Christian societies or persons, for our sins, and rising again for our justification, is every in order to explain and apply those doctrines more fully, to where insisted upon as the foundation of all our hopes; and the confute some growing errors, to compose differences and doctrine of the cross is there spoken of as a truth of such imschisms, to reform abuses and corruptions, to excite Chris- portance, that Saint Paul (1 Cor. ii. 2.), in comparison of it, tians to holiness, and to encourage them against persecutions. despises every other kind of knowledge, whether divine or human. And since these Epistles were written (as we have already Hence it is that the apostles deduce those powerful motives to shown) under divine inspiration, and have uniformly been obedience, which are taken from the love, humility, and condereceived by the Christian church as the productions of in- scension of our Lord, and the right which he has to our service, spired writers, it consequently follows (notwithstanding some having purchased us with the price of his blood. (See 1 Cor. vi. writers have insinuated that they are not of equal authority 20. 2 Cor.v. 15. Gal. ii. 20. Tit. ii. 14. 1 Pet. i. 18, 19.) Hence with the Gospels, while others would reject them altogether) they derive those great obligations, which lie upon Christians to that what the apostles have delivered in these Epistles, as exercise the duties of mortification and self-denial; of crucifying necessary to be believed or done by Christians, must be as the flesh with the affections and lust: (Gal. v. 24. vi. 14. Rom. necessary to be believed and practised in order to salvation, vi. 6. 1 Pet. iv. 1, 2.); of patience under afflictions, and rejoicing as the doctrines and precepts delivered by Jesus Christ him- in tribulations (Phil. iii. 10. 2 Tim. ii. 11, 12. 1. Pet. ii. 19. &c., self, and recorded in the Gospels: because in writing these iv. 13.); of being dead to this world, and seeking those things Epistles, the sacred penmen were the servants, apostles, am- which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. bassadors and ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mys-|(Col. iii.'1. &c.) Thus, as our Saviour spoiled principalities teries of God, and their doctrines and precepts are the will, and powers, and triumphed over his enemies by the cross the mind, the truth, and the commandments of God himself. (Col. ii. 15.), so the believer overcomes the world by being cruOn account of the fuller displays of evangelical truth con- cified to it; and becomes more than conqueror through Christ tained in this portion of the sacred volume, the Epistles have that loved him. by some divines been termed the DOCTRINAL BOOKS of the Once more, it is in the Epistles principally, that we are clearly New Testament.
taught the calling of the Gentiles to make one church with the That the preceding view of the Epistles is correct, will Jews. Our Lord, indeed, had intimated this glorious event in some appear from the following considerations. In the first place they announce and explain DOCTRINES, of, viii. 1. xx. 1. Luke xv. 11. &c.); and the numerous prophecies of
general expressions, and also in some of his parables (see Matt. which our Saviour had not fully treated in his discourses, and the Old Testament, which foretell the calling of the Gentiles, were which consequently are not clearly delivered in the Gospels.
sufficient to convince the Jews, that in the times of the Messiah, Thus there were some things which our Saviour did not fully God would reveal the knowledge of himself and his will to the and clearly explain to his disciples (John xvi. 12.), but accom- world more fully than ever he had done before. But the extraormodated his expressions to those prejudices in which they had dinary value which they had for themselves, and the privileges been educated. Of this description were his discourses concern- which they fancied were peculiar to their own nation, made ing the nature of his kingdom; which, agreeably to the erroneous them unwilling to believe that the Gentiles should ever be fellownotions then entertained by their countrymen, the apostles ex- heirs with the Jews, of the same body or church with them, and pected would be a temporal kingdom, and accompanied with the partakers of the same promises in Christ by the Gospel. (Eph. same pomp and splendour which are the attendants of an earthly iii. 6.) This Saint Peter himself could hardly be persuaded to : Dr. Harwood's Introd. to the New Test. vol. I. . 202. See also Michael: him for that purpose. (Acts x. 28.) And Saint Paul tells us
believe, till he was convinced by a particular vision vouchsafed to Eloquence. (Works, vol. v. pp. 248–21.) Dr. Kennicott's Remarks on the that this was a mystery which was but newly revealed to the Old Testament and Sermons, pp. 369–379. Dr. A. Clarke on 1 Tim. vi. 15. apostles by the Spirit (Eph. iii. 5.): and therefore not fully disand 2 Tim. iv. 8. * See particularly 1 Cor. xii. and xiv.
covered by Christ before. 3 Dr. Whitby's General Preface to the Epistles, $ 1. On the subject of Lastly, it is in the Epistles chiefly that the inefficacy of the the preceding paragraph, see also Archb. Magee’s Discourses, vol. i. pp. I law to procure our justification in the sight of God, the cessation 471-474. and vol. ij. p. 317. et seq. VOL. II.
A. D. 52
52 SAt the close of 52
61 Before the end of 62
of the law, and the eternal and uncoangeable nature of Christ's | ple of Saint Paul, and also because those Epistles are the priesthood are set forth. Compare Rom. ii. 20. 25. Gal. ii. 21. longest and fullest. To them succeeds the Epistle to Titus, üi. 16. v. 2. 5. Heb. ix. 10. vii. 18. v. 5, 6. vii. 24, 25
who was an evangelist; and that to Philemon is placed last, SECONDLY, in the Epistles only we have instructions concern- as he was supposed to have been only a private Christian.
Last of all comes the Epistle to the Hebrews, because its ing many great and necessary DUTIES.
authenticity was doubted for a short time (though without Such are the following, viz. that all our thanksgivings are to any foundation, as will be shown in a subsequent page); be offered up to God in the name of Christ. The duties which Dr. Lardner also thinks that it was the last written of all we owe to our civil governors are only hinted in these words of, St. Paul's Epistles. Christ—“ Render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's,"
Some learned men, who have examined the chronology of but are enlarged upon in Saint Paul's Epistles to the Romans Saint Paul's Epistles, have proposed to arrange them in our (xiii.), and to Titus (iii. 1.), and also in the first Epistle of Bibles, according to the order of time: but to this classificaSaint Peter. (ii. 10. 17.) In like manner the duties, which we tion there are two serious objections, viz. 1. The order of owe to the ministers of the Gospel (our spiritual governors), their dates has not yet been satisfactorily or unanimously setare more expressly taught in Saint Paul's Epistle to the Gala- tled; and, 2. Very considerable difficulty will attend the alteratians (vi. 6.), the Thessalonians (1 Thess. v. 12, 13.), and to tion of that order which has been adopted in all the editions the Hebrews. (xiii. 17, 18.) Lastly, all the duties belonging to and versions of the New Testament. This was the received the relations of husbands and wives, parents and children, masters arrangement in the time of Eusebius, who flourished in the and servants, are particularly treated in the Epistles to the beginning of the third century, and probably also of Irenæus, Ephesians (v. 28–33. vi. 1—9.), and the Colossians (iii. 11- who lived in the second century. Consequently it is the most 25.) ; but are scarcely ever mentioned in the Gospels. This is ancient order : in Dr. Lardner's judgment it is the best that a convincing argument that the Holy Spirit, who influenced the can be adopted ;4 and therefore we have retained the received pens of the apostles, not only regarded the particular exigencies order in the subsequent part of this work. As, however, a of the Christians who lived in those times, but also directed the knowledge of the order in which Saint Paul's Epistles were sacred writers to enlarge on such points of doctrine and practice written, cannot fail to be both instructive and useful to the as were of universal concern, and would be for the benefit of the biblical student, we have deemed it proper to subjoin a faithful in all succeeding generations. It is true that the imme- Table of their CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER (as established in the diate occasion of several of the epistles was the correction of subsequent pages), which exhibits the places where, and the errors and irregularities in particular churches : but the expe- times when they were in all probability respectively written. rience of all succeeding ages, to our own time, has shown the The dates, &c. assigned by Dr. Lardner and other learned necessity of such cautions, and the no less necessity of attending men, are duly noticed in the following pages. to the duties which are directly opposite to those sins and irregularities, and which the apostles take occasion from thence to lay down and enforce. And even their decisions of cases concerning
Corinth meats and drinks, and the observation of the ceremonial law, and
or early in 1 Corinthians
- Ephesus similar doubts which were peculiar to the Jewish converts, in the
About the end of 57 first occasion of them :even these rules also are, and will
or the beginning of 58 always be, our surest guides in all points relating to church
(perharon Philippi} liberty, and the use of things indifferent; when the grounds of Ephesians
Rome those decisions, and the directions consequent upon them, are Philippians
or the beginning of 13 duly attended to, and applied to cases of the like nature by the rules of piety and prudence, especially in one point, which is of
About the end of 62 universal concern in life, viz. the duty of abstaining from many
or early in Hebrews
About the end of 62 things which are in themselves innocent, if we foresee that they
(perhaps from Rome)
or early in will give offence to weak Christians, or be the occasion of
1 Timothy leading others into sin.
2 Timothy II. The Epistles contained in the New Testament are III. The Catholic Epistles are seven in number, and contain twenty-one in number, and are generally divided into two the letters of the apostles James, Peter, John, and Jude. classes, the Epistles of Saint Paul, and the Catholic Epis. They are termed Catholic, that is, general or universal, betles. Of these apostolical letters, fourteen were written by cause they are not addressed to the believers of some partithe great apostle of the Gentiles; they are not placed in our cular city or country, or to individuals, as Saint Paul's EpisBibles according to the order of time when they were com- tles were, but to Christians in general, or to Christians of posed, but according to the supposed precedence of the socie- several countries. The subjoined table exhibits the dates of ties or persons to whom they were addressed. Thus, the the Catholic Epistles, and also the places where they were epistles to churches are disposed according to the rank of written, agreeably to the order established in the following the cities or places whither they were sent. The Epistle to pages. the Romans stands first, because Rome was the chief city of the Roman empire: this is followed by the two Epistles to the Corinthians, because Corinth was a large, polite, and re
About the beginning of 65 nowned city. To them succeeds the Epistle to the Galatians, who were the inhabitants of Galatia, a region of Asia Minor,
(perhaps Ephesus) } or early in 69 in which were several churches. Next follows the Epistle
or early in 69 to the Ephesians, because Ephesus was the chief city of
Unknown Asia Minor, strictly so called. Afterwards come the Epistles to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians; for is, first, to discuss and decide the controversy, or to refute the
IV. The general plan on which the Epistles are written which order Dr. Lardner can assign no other probable reason erroneous notions, which had arisen in the church, or among than this, viz. that Philippi was a Roman colony, and, there the persons to whom they are addressed, and which was the fore, the Epistle to the Philippians was placed before those occasion of their being written; and, secondly, to recommend to the Colossians and Thessalonians, whose cities were not the observance of those duties, which would be necessary, distinguished by any particular circumstance. He also and of absolute importance to the Christian church in every thinks it not unlikely that the shortness of the two Epistles age, consideration being chiefly given to those particular to the Thessalonians, especially of the second, caused them graces or virtues of the Christian character, which the disto be placed last among the letters addressed to churches, putes that occasioned the Epistles might tempt them to negthough in point of time they are the earliest of Saint Paul's lect. Epistles.
In pursuing this method, regard is had, first, to the
nature and faculties of the soul of man, in which the underAmong the Epistles addressed to particular persons, those standing is to lead the way, and the will, affections, and to Timothy have the precedence, as he was a favourite disci- active powers are to follow; and, secondly, to the nature of Compare Eph. v. 8. 20. 1 Thess. v. 18. Heb. xiii. 14, 15.
religion in general, which is a reasonable service, teaching the Scriptures, pp. 199–21.
Lowth’s Directions for the Profitable Reading of us that we are not to be determined by superstitious fancies, 3 Such were the corrupting of Christianity with mixtures of Judaism • Dr. Lardner's Works, Svo. vol. vi. pp. 646--649.; 4to. vol. iii. pp. and philosophy, apostacy from the faith which they had received, conten. | 407, 408. tious and divisions among themselves, neglect of the assemblies for public worship, and misbehaviour in them, the dishonouring of marriage, &c. &c.
• On the origin and reasons of this appellation, see Chapter IV. Scct. I. $ 1. infra.
- Rome Rome Rome
Macedonia Macedonia - Roine
4. D. 61 64
2 and 3 John