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" thee and to me, whom I have sent again : thou. “ therefore receive him that is mine own bowels, o whom I would have retained with me, that in thy “ stead he might have ministered unto me in the o bonds of the gospel; but without thy mind would " I do nothing, that thy benefit should not be as it “ were of necessity, but willingly; for perhaps he " therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest “ receive him for ever ; not now as a servant, but “ above a servant-a brother beloved, especially to 6 me, but how much more unto thee, both in the « flesh, and in the Lord. If thou count me there“ fore a partner, receive him as myself. If he hath
wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on 66 mine account, I, Paul, have written it with mine s own hand, I will repay it; albeit, I do not say to " thee how thou owest unto me even thine ownself 66. besides; yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in 66 the Lord : refresh my bowels in the Lord: having “ confidence in thy obedience, I wrote unto thee, “ knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say."
· In this beautiful passage we have the greatest variety of arguments, and motives of the strongest kind, couched in terms the most soft and persuasive. On the one hand, we have Philemon's reputation for gooodness, the relpect due to his own character, his friendship for St. Paul, the reverence claimed by the apostle's age, the compassion due to his bonds; on the other, we have Onefimus's repentance and
return to virtue-his conversion to the Christian rea ligion, and consequent claim on Philemon's piety, as his spiritual brother-his faithful services to St. Paul -the tender interest the apostle took in his concerns -a promise of restitution for any pecuniary loss, accompanied with an infinuation, that Philemon was indebted to the apostle for what was much more than the pardon of his repentant slave, even his own existence as a Christian, the forgiveness of his sins, and his admission into the kingdom of heaven. But the interceffor insists not on his authority as an apoftle, or his claims to Philemon's gratitude; he submits all to his free generosity; and closes with a declaration of his full confidence, that under the influence of that, Philemon would do more than he himself thought it necessary to desire. Can there be a doubt, whether such an address proceeded from a fanatic, weak and extravagant, claiming a spiritual authority which had no other foundation than his own spiritual arrogance, and exercising this authority, as such a temper must have exercised it, indiscriminately and violently, unreasonably and mischievously? or whether this epistle was not rather the effusion of a mind replete with good sense, versed in the knowledge of the human heart, animated with the best and tenderest feelings, but whose every feeling was regulated by the clearest reason, claiming no authority to which there was not the most indisputable title, and exercising that authority with the foundest discretion.
The same total freedom from the unreasonableness
and the violence of fanaticism, which we have feen in the general plan of St. Paul's epistles, is confpi. cuous in the singular benevolence and address, by which he renders his transitions to an ungrateful subject, as little offensive as possible, particularly towards his countrymen, the Jews, whose obstinate prejudices, and inveterate opposition, perpetually filled him with the deepest anxiety, and exposed him to the greatest dangers.
Instances of this are so frequent, that to transcribe them all would be to form almost a continued comment on several of the epistles--a few, which may be most easily seen when separated from the context, will illustrate and establish the argument; and here I adopt and transcribe, with pleasure, some of those passages which have been selected by one of the
ablest critics, who has directed his attention to this part of the sacred scriptures.
" The Jews, we know, were very numerous at to Rome, and probably formed a principal part among " the new converts ; so much so, that the Christians “ seem to have been known at Rome, rather as a 6 denomination of Jews than any thing else. In an sí epistle consequently, to the Roman believers, the 6 point to be endeavoured after by St. Paul was, “ to reconcile the Jewish converts to the opinion, " that the Gentiles were admitred by God to a pa“rity of religious situation with themselves, and that, “ without being bound by the law of Mofes. The « Gentile converts would probably accede to this “ opinion very readily. In this epistle, therefore, “ though directed to the Roman church in general, “ it is, in truth, a Jew writing to Jews. Accord“ ingly you will take notice, that as often as his ar“ gument leads him to say any thing derogatory from “ the Jewish institution, he constantly follows it by “ a softening clause. Having (ii. 28, 29.) pro66 nounced, not much, perhaps, to the fatisfaction of “ the native Jews, “ that he is not a few which is as one outwardly, neither that circumcifion which is out“ ward in the flesh;" he adds immediately, “ what " advantage then hath the Jew, or what profit is there “ in circumcision ? much every way. Having in the “ third chapter, ver. 28, brought his argument to “ this formal conclusion, “ that a man is justified by 66 faith without the deeds of the law;" he presently < subjoins, ver. 31, “ do we then make void the 66 law through faith ? God forbid; yea, we establish " the law." In the seventh chapter, when, in the “ fixth verse, he had advanced the bold assertion, 66 that now we are delivered from the law, that biing oc dead wherein we were held ; in the very next verse “ he comes in with this healing question, “ what “ Jhall we say then ? is the law fin? God forbid ; nay, “ I had not known fin but by the law. Having in the 66 following words insinuated, or rather more than
a Archdeacon Paley, in his Horæ Paulina, ch. ii. ro. 8. 2. Dublin edit. p. 61.
“ insinuated, the inefficacy of the Jewish law, viii. 3: “ for what the law could not do, in that it was weare " through the flesh, God sending his own for, in the “ likeness of finful flesh, and for fin, condemned fin in e the flejo ;” after a digression indeed, but that fort is of digression which he could never resist, a raptu:
rous contemplation of his Christian hope, and & which occupies the latter part of this chapter, we sd find him in the next, as if sensible that he had " said something that would give offence, returning “ to his Jewish brethren, in terms of the warmelt to affe&tion and respect I say the truth in Christ " Jefus ; I lie not; my conscience also bearing me wita * ness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness 66 and continual forrow in my heart ; for I could wish " that I myself were accursed from Christ, for my 66 brethren, my kinsmen, according to the flesh, who “ are Ifraelites; to whom pertałneth the adoption, and “ the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the “ law, and the service of God, and the promises, whose at are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the “ flesh, Chrit came.” When in the thirty-first and “ 'thirty-second verses of this ninth chapter, he re. “ presented to the Jews, the error of even the best “ of their nation, by telling them, that.“ Israel, " which followed after the law of righteousnefs, had “ not attained to the law of righteousness, because “ they fought it not by faith, but as it were, by the “ works of the law, for they stumbled at that stumbling 6 Atone;" he takes care to annex to his declaration