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yond dispute, the apostle treats them with great freedom and plainness.-- In the beginning of the epistle, having asserted, in the strongest terms, that “ his “ apostleship was not of man, neither by men, but 6 by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who had 6 raised him from the dead; he adds-I marvel " that ye are so soon removed from him that called “ you, to another gospel ; and afterwardsbut “ though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any “ other gospel unto you than that which we have “ preached unto you, let him be accursed.” In confirmation of his authority, he relates the history of his conduct since his conversion, in order to shew how entirely independent he was of any human teacher, even of the very chief of the apostles.
He appeals to his working miracles among them, and imparting spiritual gifts—« f he, therefore, that " ministereth the spirit to you, and worketh miracles “ among you, doth he it by the works of the law, or “ by the hearing of faith.”—He addresses them fometimes with the utmost plainness—" oh! foolish Ga-. “ latians, who hath bewitched you, that you should “ not obey the truth!”. Sometimes, with the warmest tenderness, bearing witness of their mutual affection, at the moment he expoftulates with them most boldly, after recalling to their memory his first preaching among them, and some infirmities which attended his
s Gal. i. 1.
Gal. iii. 5,
& Gal. iii. 1.
preaching, but which yet they had not despised or rejected, he adds" " for I bear you record, that if “ possible you would have plucked out your own ss eyes and have given them to me; am I therefore “ become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” and in the next fentence he addresses them in this endearing language-" my little children, of whom 6 I travail in birth again, until Christ be formed in 66 you, I desire to be present with you now, and to 66 change my voice, for ļ stand in doubt of you." Thus admirably does the apostle adapt his manner to the relation he bore his Gallatian converts, as their first teacher in Christ; and while he expoftulates with them in the stile of warm complaint, and acknowledged superiority, and rests his decision of the questions he discusses principally on his own authority, he yet never forgets the intimate connection he had formed with them, or the feelings which it had produced, but softens the tone of command with the tenderness of affection, and a grateful acknowledge. ment of their filial regard.
The epistles to the churches of Ephesus, Philippi, and Colofli, were eviļently written nearly at the same time, and under the same circumstances. The apostle imprisoned at Rome, fearful least during his absence vicious practices, or erroneous doctrines, should creep into these churches, and particularly
b Gal. iv. 15. iy. 19.
apprehensive lest the Judaizing teachers fhould take this opportunity of intruding their heresy, writes to encourage thefe focieties in their adherence to the true faith ; but as here there was no occasion to censure any past irregularity of conduct, as amongf the Corinthians, or any positive deviation from the gospel as amongst the Galatians, we find the turn of these epistles different; having heard of the Ephesians standing firm in the faith, he writes to confirm them in this resolution, thanks God for them, and setting forth the gracious design of God in the scheme of redemption, prays that they may be enlightened in this scheme, and displays the glorious state of the Christian kingdom, not in the ordinary way of argument, for the firm conviction of the Ephesians rendered this unnecessary, but couches what he wishes to drop into their minds in thanksgivings and prayers, with an i' unusual freedom, and sublimity both of thought and expreffion.
The epistle to the Colossians is written evidently in the fame strain as that to the Ephesians; but the epistle to the Philippians, though certainly written at the same time, and when the feelings of the apostle were in other respects the same, yet it is strongly marked by the spirit of personal interest, and ardent affection, suited to the close connection
i Vid. Locke's Synopsis, and Macknight's Preface to the Ephesians.
the apostle maintained with his Philippian converts, from whom alone, of all the neighbouring churches, he condescended to receive pecuniary assistance in his wants. From such full confidence in their regard for him, and tender anxiety for their spiritual welfare, we find St. Paul warns them against the arts of the Judaizing teachers, in more free, strong and pointed terms than any other church. “ Beware of “ dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the con66 cision;" and he also rests the decision of the ques. tion more directly on his own authority. " ! Be ye “ followers together of me, and walk fo, as ye have “ us for an example.”—It seems however not unworthy of remark, that he does not here adduce any facts or arguments to establish his apostleship, or increase the reverence which the Philippians already entertained for him, as he judged it necessary to do with the Galatians ; he rather seems anxious to prevent these favourite converts from supposing that he offered himself as a perfect example ;' for when he thus points himself out as the guide whom they should follow, he also takes care to inculcate on them that he himself was yet in a state of trial and of progress, not of compleat security or full perfection; “" not
as one who had already attained, or was already “ perfect; but as one who must still press forward to " the mark of the prize of the high calling of God 66 in Christ Jesus.”-Now surely such sentiments as these are very remote from the arrogance of fanaticism.
k Phil. iv. 15.
i Phil. iii. 15.
m Phil. iii. 12.
The epistle to Philemon has long been admired for its tenderness, delicacy and address, and seems so irreconcileable with the style and temper of a disordered fanatic, that Dr. Benson, an eminently judicious commentator, has advanced it as sufficient, even taken singly, to prove that its author was no enthufiast. He is interceding with Philemon, a man it seems of some rank and opulence, to receive and to pardon Onefimus, a slave, who appears to have eloped from his service, and afterwards being con. verted to Christianity by St. Paul, to have resolved on atoning for his offence, by again submitting himself to his master's power, and returning to his former servitude. On this occasion how admirably does St. Paul unite the character of the authoritative teacher. with that of the warm, yet unassuming, intercessor; he addrefses Philemon as his “ dearly beloved," his fellow labourer, whose faith towards Christ, and benevolence towards the faints, was the subject of his constant thanks to God; and he proceeds though “ I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee " that which is convenient; yet for love's fake, I ra “ ther beseech thee, being such a one as Paul, the “ aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ, I 66 beseech thee for my fon Onefimus, whom I have “ begotten in 'my bonds, which in time past was “ to thee unprofitable, but now profitable both to