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from open enemies, and insidious opposition from false friends, as he emphatically describes in the paffage, in which he compares his own claims to the gratitude and confidence of the Corinthians with those which the false teachers who opposed him advanced-69.9 wherein foever any is bold, I am bold “ also. Are they Hebrews ? so am I; are they « Ifraelites ? so am I; are they the seed of Abraham? 6 so am I ; are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a “ fool.”) [I am conscious of the apparent impropriety of boasting of myself to which I am driven.] “ I am more-in labours more abundant, in stripes « above measure, in prisons more frequent, in c deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I 66 forty stripes, fave one. Thrice was I beaten « with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered “ ship-wreck; a night and a day I have been in the -ás deep; in journeying often, in perils of waters, in u perils of robbers, in perils by mine own country66 men, in perils by the Heathen, in perils in the « city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the “ fea, in perils among false brethren ; in weariness 6 and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger " and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and na6 kedness. Besides those things that are without, « that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all 6 the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak ? « who is offended, and I burn not?”Under such
2 Co. xi. 21 to 29.
çircumstances circumstances as these, operating on a mind of such quick sensibility as St. Paul's, we cannot wonder at his warmth and vehemence ; but as all these circum, stances were calculated to call forth, and inflame the fpirit of fanaticism, had it at all existed in the apostle, we must allow that his fobriety of mind was submitted to the most severe and decisive trial, which the most scrụtinizing adversary can desire. Under such circumstances, it was not possible but that his epistles should have exhibited traces of vehemence and felf-commendation, and sometimes even of warm resentment, which prejudiced and worldly readers, who regard all religion with indifference, and treat every thing like religious controversy with contempt, would readily pronounce enthusiastic. But they ought not to be thus stigmatized, till it be considered whether this vehemence and self-commendation, and indignant warmth,' occafioned by gross injuries and calumnies, ever hurried the apostle to transgress the bounds of reason and propriety; or whether they were not softened and controuled by such tenderness, humility, and watchful attention to the peace and improvement of the Christian church, as was every way worthy of an inspired apostle, teaching the word of truth, and pursuing no other object than the interests of religion. That the zeal of the apostle was thus directed and controuled, it shall be the subject of the next section, by direct arguments, to evince.
St. Paul's Epistles exhibit such marks of sober judgment,
and even of refined address, as are directly contrary to the spirit of enthusiasm.
THE first character which I shall take notice of, as distinguishing St. Paul's writings from the compofi. tions of weak and extravagant fanatics, is the strict attention to propriety, and even the refined address which he displays in adapting his epistles to the situations and tempers of the different churches, and individuals, for whom he designed them, as well as the relations which he bore to them, and the degree of authority which he might reasonably exercise amongst them : a few instances of this will shew how plainly clear reason and sober judgment manifest themselves in the writings of the apostle,
The important question, whether the converts to Christianity were obliged to observe the Jewish law, was that which most engaged the attention, and most frequently disturbed the repose of the Gentile churches ; its discufsion therefore occupies a great part of the epistles of St. Paul, who was preeminently the apostle of the Gentiles; it forms the chief subject of the epistles to the churches of Rome
and Galatia, and is occasionally mentioned in the epistles to Ephesus, Philippi, and Coloffy; but in each, it is treated of exactly in that manner, which the situation of each church, and its peculiar connection with the apostle, required. The church at Rome he had not himself planted, nor, as it seems, 2 ever visited previous to the writing this epistle, and the tenor of it is exactly suited to this situation; he commences his letter with assuring them of his earnest desire to visit them—" for I long, says he, to “ see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual “ gift, to the end you may be established ;" but lest he should offend them by seeming to doubt of their being established in the faith, with a cautious modesty, well adapted to conciliate men yet strangers to his person, he immediately explains, or a recalls, as it were, what he had said, and states the end of his coming to them to be their mutual rejoicing in one another's faith, when he and they came to see and know one another; “ that is, that I may be comfort“ ed together with you, by the mutual faith both of :c you and me.” The same fpirit of mildness and humble persuasion universally prevails in this epistle; we every where perceive, that though the apostle steadily maintains his own authority, as an inspired teacher, yet he is not b satisfied with resting his de. cisions on this authority alone, he supports them by
% Vid. Rom. i. 11 and 15.
appealing to fa&ts of universal notoriety, by adducing the authority of the Jewish scriptures, and by a close and laboured train of argument. We also perceive, that as he had not himself planted the church in Rome, and might not therefore be certain of their being instructed in the Christian scheme; he takes care to weave into his discourse the principal docs trines of the gospel, and to give to those whom he addressed, a comprehensive view of the whole series of God's dispensations to man on the subject of religion.
The epistle to the Galatians was written nearly on the same occasion as that to the Romans; but as the apostle's connection with them was different, he has addressed them in a different manner. He had d himself introduced the gospel amongst them, he was therefore certain of their being fully informed in the general doctrines of Christianity; hence he omits those instruions which he judged necessary for the Romans, and confines himself to the single point of convincing them of their error, in departing from the doctrines he had taught, so as to allow the necessity of observing the Jewish law; and as they had thus corrupted the truth, in which St. Paul himself had instructed them with the most affectionate zeal, and which he had confirmed by fuch miracles, as had established his divine authority amongst them be.
e Vid. Locke's Synopsis, prefixed to this epiftle. el Gal. i. 6.