Imagens da página
[ocr errors]

be the conduct of a Jew (for such St. Paul was) who preached this doctrine ? To be consistent with himself, either he would no longer comply, in his own person, with the directions of the law; or, if he did comply, it would be for some other reason than any confidence which he placed in its efficacy, as a religious institution. Now so it happens, that whenever St. Paul's compliance with the Jewish law is mentioned in the history, it is mentioned in connexion with circumstances which point out the motive from which it proceeded ; and this motive appears to have been always exoteric, namely, a love of order and tranquillity, or an unwillingness to give unnecessary offence. Thus, Acts xvi. 3. “ Him (Timothy) would Paul have to go forth with him, and took and circumcised him, because of the Jeu's which were in those quarters.” Again, Acts xxi. 26. when Paul consented to exhibit an example of public compliance with a Jewish rite by purifying himself in the temple, it is plainly intimated that he did this to satisfy

many thousands of Jews who believed, and who were all zealous of the law.” So far the instances related in one book, correspond with the doctrine delivered in another.

No. VIII. Chap. i. 18. “ Theu, after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.”

The shortness of St. Paul's stay at Jerusalem is what I desire the reader to remark. The direct account of the same journey in the (Acts, ix. 28.) determines no. thing concerning the time of his continuance there : “ And he was with them (the apostles) coming in, and going out, at Jerusalem; and he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him; which, when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Cæsarea." Or rather this account, taken by itself, would lead a reader to suppose that St. Par abode at Jerusalem had been longer than fifteen days. But turn to the twenty-second chapter of the Acts, and you will find a reference to this visit to Jerusalem, which plainly in

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

dicates that Paul's continuance in that city had been of short duration : “ And it came to pass, that when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance, and saw him saying unto me, Make haste, get thee quickly out of Jerusalem, for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. Here we have the general terms of one text so explained by a distant text in the same book, as to bring an indeterminate expression into a close conformity with a specification delivered in another book : a species of consistency not, I think, usually found in fabulous relations.

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

No. IX. Chap. vi. 11. “ Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.”

These words imply that he did not always write with his own hand; which is consonant to what we find intimated in some other of the epistles. The Epistle to the Romans was written by Tertius: “I, Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.” (Chap. xvi. 22.) The First Epistle to the Corinthians, the Epistle to the Colossians, and the Second to the Thessalonians, bave all, near the conclusion, this clause; “The salutation of me, Paul, with mine own hand;" which must be understood, and is universally understood to import, that the rest of the epistle was written by another hand. I do not think it improbable that an impostor, who had remarked this subscription in some other epistle, should invent the same in a forgery; but that is not done here. The author of this epistle does not imitate the manner of giving St. Paul's signature; he only bids the Galatians observe how large a letter he had written to them with his own hand. He does not say this was different from his ordinary usage; that is left to implication. Now to suppose that this was an artifice to procure credit to an imposture, is to suppose that the author of the forgery, because he knew that others of St. Paul's were not ritten by himself, therefore made the apostle say that this was: which seems an odd turn to give to the circumstance, and to be given for a purpose which would more naturally and more directly have been answered, by subjoining the salutation or signature, in the form in which it is found in other epistles.*

No, X.

An exact conformity appears in the manner in which a certain apostle or eminent Christian, whose name was James, is spoken of in the epistle and in the history. Both writings refer to a situation of his at Jerusalem, somewhat different from that of the other apostles; a kind of eminence or presidency in the church there, or at least a more fixed and stationary residence. (Chap. ii. 12.) “When Peter was at Antioch, before thatcertain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles." This text plainly attributes a kind of pre-eminency to James; and, as we hear of him twice in the same epistle dwelling at Jerusalem, (chap. i. 19. and ii. 9.) we must apply it to the situation which he held in that church. In the Acts of the Apostles divers intimations occur, conveying the same idea of James's situation. When Peter was miraculously delivered from prison, and had surprised his friends by his appearance among them, after declaring unto them how the Lord had brought him out of prison,“Go shew,” says he," these things unto James, and to the brethren.” (Acts xii. 17.) Here James is manifestly spoken of in terms of distinction. He appears again with like distinction in the twenty-first chapter and the seventeenth and eighteenth verses : “And when we (Paul and his company) were come to Jerusalem, the day following, Paul went in with us unto James, and all the elders were present.” In the debate which took place upon the business of the Gentile converts, in the council at Jerusalem, this same person seems to have taken the lead. It was he who closed the debate, and proposed the resolution in which the council

* The words πηλικoις γραμμασιν may probably be meant to describe the character in which he wrote, and not the length of the letter. But this will not alter the truth of our observation. I think, however, that, as St. Paul, by the mention of his own hand, designed to express to the Galatians the great concern which he felt for them, the words, whatever they signify, belong to the whole of the epistle; and not, as Grotius, after St. Jerome, interprets it, to the few verses which follow.


ultimately concurred: “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them which from among the Gentiles are turned to God.”

Upon the whole, that there exists a conformity in the expressions used concerning James, throughout the history, and in the epistle, is unquestionable. But admitting this conformity, and admitting also the undesigned. ness of it, what does it prove? It proves that the circumstance itself is founded in truth; that is, that James was a real person, who held a situation of eminence in a real society of Christians at Jerusalem. It confirms also those parts of the narrative which are connected with this circumstance. Suppose, for instance, the truth of the account of Peter's escape from prison was to be tried upon the testimony of a witness who, among other things, made Peter, after his deliverance,

“Go shew these things to James and to the brethren;" would it not be material, in such a trial, to make out by other independent proofs, or by a comparison of proofs, drawn from independent sources, that there was actually at that time, living at Jerusalem, such a person as James; that this person held such a situation in the society amongst whom these things were transacted, as to render the words which Peter is said to have used concerning him, proper and natural for him to have used ? if this would be pertinent in the discussion of oral testimony, it is still more so in appreciating the credit of remote history.

It must not be dissembled that the comparison of our epistle with the history presents some difficulties, or, to say the least, some questions of considerable magnitude. It may be doubted, in the first place, to what journey the words which open the second chapter of the epistle, “then, fourteen years afterward, I went unto Jerusalem,” relate. That which best corresponds with the date, and that to which most interpreters apply the passage, is the journey of Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, when they went thither from Antioch, upon the business of the Gentile converts; and which journey produced the famous council and decree recorded in the fifteenth chapter of Acts. To me this opinion appears to be encumbered with strong objections. In the epistle Paul tells us, that "he went up by revelation.” (Chap. ii. 2.). In the Acts, we read that he was sent by the church of Antioch: “ After no small dissension and disputation, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to the apostles and elders about this question.” (Acts xv. 2.) This is not very reconcilable. In the epistle St. Paul writes that, when he came to Jerusalem, "he communicated that gospel which he preached among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation.” (Chap. ii. 2.) If by "that gospel” he meant the immunity of the Gentile Christians from the Jewish law (and I know not what else it can mean), it is not easy to conceive how he should communicate that privately, which was the object of his public message. But a yet greater difficulty remains, viz. that in the account which the epistle gives of what passed upon this visit at Jerusalem, no notice is taken of the deliberation and decree which are recorded in the Acts, and which, according to that history, formed the business for the sake of which the journey was undertaken. The mention of the council and of its determination, whilst the apostle was relating his proceedings at Jerusalem, could hardly have been avoided, if in truth the narrative belong to the same journey. To me it appears more probable that Paul and Barnabas had taken some journey to Jerusalem, the mention of which is omitted in the Acts. Prior to the apostolic decree we read that “Paul and Barnabas abode at Antioch a long time with the disciples." (Acts xiv. 28.) Is it unlikely that, during this long abode, they might go up to Jerusalem and return to Antioch? Or would the omission of such a journey be unsuitable to the general brevity with which these memoirs are written, especially of those parts of St. Paul's history which took place before the historian joined his society?

But, again, the first account we find in the Acts of the Apostles of St. Paul's visiting Galatia, is in the sixteenth chapter and the sixth verse: “Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they assayed to go into Bithynia." The progress here recorded was subsequent to the apostolic decree; therefore that decree

« AnteriorContinuar »