Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

met with Paul, and was by him converted to the is this of Paul : the tradition of the ancient Christian faith. The apostle appears to have kept church, too, is express, that Onesimus obtained him about his person for some time, and when his freedom. fully convinced that his profession was sincere, 6. The genuineness of this epistle has never determined to send him back to his master, to been questioned ; and it has always been inserted repair the fault he had committed. Naturally in the catalogues of canonical books. But it has supposing that Philemon would be strongly preju- by some been thought singular that a private letter diced against one who had left his service in so should be admitted into the sacred canon, and be disgraceful a manner, he addressed to him this published for the edification of the church. That letter, in which he employed all his influence to it was designed by the apostle, however, as a procure Onesimus a favourable reception, and to private letter, is a gratuitous assumption, and the induce Philemon to regard him “no longer as a contrary is far more probable. Chrysostom has servant, but as a brother in the Lord.”

pointed out two uses to which it may be applied, 4. The tenderness and delicacy of this epistle and to these Macknight has added several others. have been long admired. There are some passages As (1) That it sets an excellent example of chain it most touching and persuasive, especially ver. rity, in endeavouring to mitigate the resentment & 9. Yet, as Paley observes, the character of of one in a superior station towards his inferior Paul prevails in it throughout. The warm, affec- who had injured him. (2) That it sets before tionate, authoritative teacher is interceding with churchmen of the highest dignity a proper examan absent friend for a beloved convert. Here, ple of attention to the people under their care,

and also, as every where, he shows himself conscious of affectionate concern for their welfare. (3) of the weight and dignity of his mission; nor That all Christians are on a level. Onesimus the does he suffer Philemon for a moment to forget slave, on becoming a Christian, is the apostle's it: “ I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin son, and Philemon's brother. (4) That Christhee that which is convenient.” He is careful tianity makes no alteration in men's political also to recall, though obliquely, to Philemon's state. Onesimus the slave did not become a memory the sacred obligation under which he had freeman on embracing Christianity, but was still laid him, by bringing him to the knowledge of obliged to be Philemon's slave for ever, unless Jesus Christ: “I do not say to thee how thou his master gave him his freedom.

(5) That owest to me even thine own self besides." With-slaves should not be taken nor detained from their out laying aside, therefore, the apostolic character, masters, without their masters' consent. (6) That the author softens the imperative style of his we should not contemn persons of low estate, nor address, by mixing with it every sentiment and disdain to help the meanest, when it is in our consideration that could move the heart of his power to assist them; but should love and do correspondent. Aged, and in prison, he is content good to all men. (7) That where an injury has to supplicate and entreat. Onesimus was ren- been done, restitution is due, unless the injured dered dear to him by his conversion and his ser-person gives up his claim. (8) That we should vices—the child of his affliction, and ministering forgive sinners who are penitent, and be heartily unto him in the bonds of the gospel.” This ought reconciled to them. (9) That we should never to recommend him, whatever had been his fault, despair of reclaiming the wicked, but do all in our to Philemon's forgiveness : “ Receive him as power to convert them.+ myself, as my own bowels.” Every thing, however, should be voluntary. Paul was determined

SECTION XV. that Philemon's compliance should flow from his own bounty: “Without thy mind would I do nothing, that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly;" trusting, nevertheless, 1. There is, perhaps, no part of the sacred to his gratitude and attachment for the perform writings which has been so much contested as ance of all he requested, and for more : “ Having this epistle

. Its author—the language in which it confidence in thy obedience, I wrote unto thee, was written—its datecanonical authority—the knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say."* persons to whom it was addressed—and the design

5. Whether Philemon pardoned Onesimus is of the writer, have each been the subject of not known; but it is difficult to suppose that he lengthened and able dispute. To enter here into could refuse to listen to so pathetic an appeal as a discussion of these several topics, is impossible.

THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS.

* Paley's Horæ Paulinæ, chap. xiv., No. 4.

+ Macknight, Preface to Philemon, sect. 3.

1

1

1

To do justice to their claims, and their importance | dom given to him, hath written unto you, as also with reference to the canon of Scripture, would in all his epistles,” &c. From this, it is evident require much more room than we can devote to that Paul had written to those persons to whom them. Referring the reader, therefore, to those Peter was then writing, i. e., to the believing Jeros: writers who have discussed the matter,* we must and it is further evident, that he had written to be satisfied with giving that opinion which appears them a particular letter distinct from all his other to be the best sustained by the labours of these epistles; as appears from these words, “As also learned men.

in all his epistles," i. e., his other epistles. Since, 2. With regard to the author, the weight of then, we have no intimation that this epistle was evidence preponderates greatly in favour of Paul. ever lost, it must be that of which we are now (1) The current of antiquity, though not the writing.|| authority of every individual Father, runs strongly 3. With regard to the language in which it was this way. It is cited as his by Clemens Romanus, written, we have the strongest internal evidence of Clemens Alexandrinus, and Origen ; and Jerome Greek being its original. It is destitute of those expressly asserts, that it was received as Paul's by harsh Hebraisms which occur in the Septuagint. all the Greek writers.t (2) The writer speaks The quotations from the Old Testament are not of himself and “ our brother Timothy” (chap. xii. from the Hebrew, but from the Greek—the 23), in the usual style of Paul (see 2 Cor. i. 1; numerous paronomasias, or concurrences of words Col. i. 1; 1 Thess. iii. 2; Philem. 1), and further of like sound which exist in the Greek, show it solicits the prayers of those to whom he wrote, to be no translation and lastly, the Hebrew that he might be “restored to them” (chap. xiii. words are interpreted. From these combined 18, 19), which is quite agreeable to the apostle's circumstances, it is evident that Greek was the practice (see Rom. xv. 30 ; Eph. vi. 19; Phil. i. original language of the epistle. $ 19; Col. iv. 3; 2 Thess. iii. 1); and exactly 4. That the persons to whom this epistle was agreed with his condition, when a prisoner at directed were the believing Jews of Palestine, Rome. (3) Many of the peculiarities of Paul's is the opinion entertained by several of the early style are to be found in the epistle. Abrupt tran- Fathers, and also by the majority of modern sitions, returning frequently to his subject, which critics and commentators; and it is confirmed by he illustrates by forcible arguments, by short ex- the contents of the epistle itself. That they were pressions, or sometimes by a single word. Ellip- inhabitants of one country appears from two pastical expressions, to be supplied either by the sages, which we have already cited for another preceding or the subsequent clause, with reason- purpose: “I beseech you the rather to do this, ings addressed to the thoughts, and answers to that I may be restored to you the sooner” (xiii. specious objections, which would naturally occur, 19); and ver. 23: “Know ye that our brother and therefore required removing. The numerous Timothy is set at liberty, with whom, if he come resemblances and agreements between this epistle shortly, I will see you.” And that this country and Paul's acknowledged productions have been was Judea, appears from the circumstance, that collected at great length by Braunius, Carpzov, there was much danger of the converts addressed Lardner, and Macknight, whose united labours abjuring Christianity and relapsing into Judaism, have been methodized and abridged with much in consequence of the persecutions to which they ability by Mr. Horne, # who has arranged them were exposed. This danger was apparent in no under nine heads ; and although it should be part of the church but in that at Palestine, for in granted that some of the analogies are question every part of the Roman empire Christianity was able, yet the inference from the whole in favour tolerated. But in Judea, the converts from of Paul is irresistible. (4) It is acknowledged as Judaism were almost incessantly persecuted by Paul's production by Peter (2 Pet. iï. 15, 16), their unbelieving brethren, who tenaciously adhered as our dear brother Paul, according to the wis- to the constitution and ceremonies of the Mosaic

law, which Christianity superseded. In further

corroboration of this opinion, it has been remarked * See Michaelis, vol. iv., p. 186, &c.; Whitby and Muc- that the two passages of the epistle (chap. vi. 6, knight's Prefaces to the Hebrews; Horne's Crit. Introd., vol. iv. x. 29), which relate to blasphemy against Christ, p. 389, &c.; Townsend's Arrangement, vol. ii., p. 536, &c.; Stuart on the Hebrews, vol. i., and the authorities referred to

as a person justly condemned and crucified, are by them.

+ See the original passages in Whitby's Preface ; or Stuart on the epistle, vol. i., pp. 109–144.

|| See Whitby's Preface to the Hebrews. Introduction, vol. iv., p. 401, &c.; see also Stuart, vol, i., See Owen on the Hebrews, Exercitation v.; Macknight's pp. 173–204.

Preface, sect. 2 & 3; and Stuart, vol. i., pp. 336–344.

peculiarly adapted to the communities in Pales- | iv. 24), with the apostle's promise to see the Hetine; and it is difficult to read them without in- brews (ver. 23), show plainly that he had then ferring that several Christians had really apos- either obtained his liberty, or was on the eve of so tatized, and openly blasphemed Christ : for it doing. It was therefore written soon after the appears, from Acts xxvi. 11, that violent measures epistles to the Ephesians, Colossians, and Phiwere taken in Palestine for this very purpose, of lemon, and not long before Paul left Italy; that which we meet with no traces in any other coun- is, in the year 62 or 63. In the epistle itself try at that early age. The circumstance, that there are passages which show tħat it was written several who still continued Christians forsook the before the destruction of Jerusalem : particularly places of public worship (chap. x. 25), does not chap. viii. 4, ix. 25; x. 11; xiii. 10, which speak occur in any other epistle, and implies a general of the temple as then standing, and of the Leand continued persecution, which deterred the vitical sacrifices as still continuing to be offered. Christians from an open profession of their faith. To this may be added the remarks offered above, Under these sufferings the Hebrews are comforted on the persecution the Christians were then by the promised coming of Christ, which they are enduring, and the promise of a speedy deliverance, to await with patience, as being not far distant, by the destruction of the Jewish state. + chap. x. 25–38. This can be no other than the 6. The object of the epistle is sufficiently obpromised destruction of Jerusalem (Matt. xxiv.), vious from its contents, viz., to prove to the Jews, of which Christ himself said, “When these things from their own Scriptures, the divinity, humanity, begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up atonement, and intercession of Christ, particularly your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh," his pre-eminence over Moses and the angels of Luke xxi. 28. Now this coming of Christ was, God—to demonstrate the superiority of the gospel to the Christians in Palestine, a deliverance from to the law, and the real object and design of the the yoke with which they were oppressed : but it Mosaic institution—to fortify the minds of the had no such influence on the Christians of other Hebrew converts against apostasy under persecucountries. On the contrary, the first persecution tion—and to engage them to a deportment beunder Nero happened in the year 65, about two coming their Christian profession. In this view years before the commencement of the Jewish war; the Epistle to the Hebrews furnishes a Key to the and the second under Domitian, about five-and- Old Testament Scriptures, and may be divided twenty years after the destruction of Jerusalem. into three parts. I. A demonstration of the Lastly, the exhortation (chap. xiii. 12–14) is very superiority of the gospel dispensation, ch. i. difficult to be explained, on the supposition that x. 25. II. An argument derived herefrom to the epistle was written to the Hebrews out of support the Hebrew Christians under their trials, Palestine ; for neither in the Acts of the Apostles, ch. x. 26_xii. 2. III. Practical exhortations to nor in the other epistles, do we meet with an in- peace and holiness, ch. xii. 3, to end. stance of expulsion from the synagogue merely 7. The Epistle to the Hebrews is

among

the for a belief in Christ; on the contrary, the apostles most important of the new covenant Scriptures. It themselves were allowed to teach publicly in the exhibits, in an extraordinary degree, the writer's Jewish synagogues.

But if we suppose the knowledge in the mystery of Christ," and unepistle to have been written to Jewish converts folds some of the sublimest discoveries of infinite in Judea, the passage becomes perfectly clear, wisdom. Whether it be considered in reference especially if it were written only a short time to Christian doctrine or to Christian practice, before the commencement of the Jewish war. whether it be applied to for instruction, or comThe Christians, on this supposition, are exhorted fort, or reproof,—it will be found eminently calcuto endure their fate with patience, if they should lated to enlarge our minds, to strengthen our be obliged to retire, or even be ignominiously ex- faith, to encourage our confidence, and to animate pelled from Jerusalem, since Christ himself had our hopes. It carries on the believer from the been forced out of this very city, and had suffered first elements of the doctrine of Christ to perwithout its walls : “Let us then go forth to him fection. It exhibits the divine character of the without the camp, bearing his reproach."* Redeemer in all its glory, establishes his infinite

5. If, then, Paul was the author of this epistle, superiority to Moses as an apostle, and to the the time when it was written may easily be fixed. Aaronic family as a priest. It contrasts the For the salutation from the saints of Italy (chap. grandeur, the efficacy, and the perpetuity of the

new.covenant privileges, worship, and promises, Michaëlis, vol. iv., p. 195, &c. See additional instances with the earthliness, the feebleness, and the temin proof of this opinion, in Macknight, Preface to Hebrews, sect. 2, $ 1.

+ See Macknight's Preface, sect. 4.

Q

pros

porary nature of the figurative economy; and iting the gospel with much success, and accomenforces the awful responsibility which attaches panied by several of his fellow-labourers (comp to the profession of Christianity, by considerations Acts xxviii. 30, 31 ; Phil. i. 12–20; Col. iv derived from all that is fitted to elevate hope, and 10–14; Philem. 23, 24); whereas his condition to give energy to godly fear. It is the key to the at this time was directly the reverse; comp. ch. i. ritual of Moses, which unlocks its most intricate 15, 17; ii. 9; 10, 16.

When he wrote his and mysterious, and apparently trivial, arrange- epistles to the Philippians and Philemon, he was ments. It brings to view the soul that animated just upon the eve of obtaining his liberty (Phil. the whole body of its ceremonies, and gave them ii. 24; Philem. 22); but in this epistle his all their importance; and by the light it affords, pects were very different, and he entertained no we are enabled to enter into the darkest places of hope of deliverance, ch. iv. 6. From these and that extraordinary edifice, and to see the wisdom other circumstances, which it is not necessary to of its proportions, and their admirable adaptation enumerate, it is evident that this epistle was to the design of all its parts. It was calculated written by Paul during a confinement at Rome to reconcile the Jew to the destruction of his subsequent to that mentioned in the Acts, at temple, the loss of his priesthood, the abolition of which time he wrote some of the former epistles.t his sacrifices, the devastation of his country, and 2. It is uncertain at what place Timothy was the extinction of his name; because it exhibits a when he received this epistle, containing a sumnobler temple, a better priesthood, a more perfect mons to Rome, ch. iv. 9, 13. Some have supsacrifice, a heavenly inheritance, and a more posed that he remained still at Ephesus, though durable memorial. And as the distinguished it is not easy to reconcile this with the apostle's honours and privileges which it makes known, charge, to bring the books and parchments left at are equally the portion of the Gentile believer, Troas, that city lying so far out of the way from they are no less fitted to wean his mind from the Ephesus to Rome. It is to be remembered, howbeggarly elements of this world, and to reconcile ever, that this was precisely the same route as him to the lot of a stranger and a sufferer on Paul himself took when he left Ephesus for the earth. But it is necessary to remark, that as Rome (Acts xxi. 1–5; 2 Cor. ii. 12); and it this epistle treats not of first principles, but of the is therefore difficult to decide whether Timothy highest and noblest themes of heavenly wisdom, were at this time in the city just mentioned, or in those only “ who have their senses exercised to Asia Minor. I discern between good and evil,” and who are 3. The apostle seems to have designed in this amply conversant with “ the powers of the world epistle to prepare Timothy for those sufferings to come,” can relish and understand it. While to which he foresaw he would be exposed ; to the apostle conveys his “thoughts that breathe, forewarn him of the fatal apostasy and declension in words that burn," the operation of the Spirit of that was beginning to appear in the church ; and Christ on the understanding and heart is abso- at the same time to animate him, from his own lutely necessary to our seeing their beauty, and example and the great motives of Christianity, to enjoying their consolation.*

the most vigorous and resolute discharge of every part of the ministerial office. The epistle consists

of four chapters, containing the inscription (ch. i. SECTION XVI.

1, 2); a commendation of Timothy's faith (ver. 2—5); an exhortation to becoming fortitude in

the cause of Christianity, urged by motives de 1. It has been a subject of some controversy, 6–14); the apostle's forlorn situation, with a

rived from the excellency of the gospel (ver. whether this epistle were written by Paul during his imprisonment at Rome, mentioned by Luke commendation of the fidelity and generosity of in Acts xxviii., or during some subsequent im- Onesiphorus (ver. 15—18); further arguments to prisonment. It appears somewhat strange that fortify Timothy against the difficulties which he there should have been any dispute concerning

would have to encounter, derived from the aposa fact that is clearly deducible from the writings those who suffer for Christ (ver. 19–ii. 13);

tle's own suffering and the glory which awaits of the apostle himself. During Paul's imprisonment at Rome, mentioned by Luke, it is evident that he was in comparatively comfortable circum

+ See Michaëlis's Introduct. vol. iv., p. 167, &c.; Mac. stances, dwelling in his own hired house, preach-knight's Preface to 1 Tim. sect. 1; Paley's Horæ Panlinæ,

ch. xii., No. 1.

# In support of the latter opinion, see Michaelis, vol.iv., * Christian Instructor, vol. ii., p. 423.

p. 161, &c.

THE SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTIIY.

ver. 22.

directions relative to the ministry, and to the tions (ver. 19—21); and the concluding blessing, avoiding of those things which had led to the apostasy of some (ver. 1426); a prediction of 4. The Second Epistle to Timothy is particularly the declension and apostasy which would take valuable in confirmation of the truth of the gospel place, reminding Timothy at the same time of his history. It affords the most indubitable evidence duty in the midst of those distresses (ch. iii. 1-of the sincerity of Paul in what he professed to ir.5); Paul's prospect of immediate death, and believe and teach ; and from the impossibility of his rejoicing in anticipation of his reward (ver. his being deceived in the matters of which he 6_8); an invitation to Timothy to come to testified, their truth results as a necessary conRome, Paul being left alone (ver. 9—12); a sequence.* declaration of the inconstancy of men and the constancy of God (ver. 13—18); various saluta

* See Macknight, and Doddridge's Prefaces to this epistle.

CHAPTER IX.

THE CATHOLIC EPISTLES.

TIIE EPISTLE OF JAMES.

1. The writings known under this appellation authenticity of these epistles will be noticed in are, the epistle of James, the two epistles of Peter, treating of them severally. the first epistle of John, and the epistle of Jude. Commentators are not agreed as to the origin of

SECTION I. this designation. Whitby, Michaëlis, and some others, have adopted the opinion of Ecumenius -that they were so denominated because addressed, not to people dwelling in one place, but

1. There has been some difference of opinion as

to the identity of the author of this epistle; some to the Jews dispersed through all the countries in the Roman empire. The opinion of Hammond, Zebedee and brother of John (Matt. x. 2); while

critics referring it to James the Elder,* son of however, which has been adopted by Macknight others, with much greater probability, ascribe it to and others, seems more probable. He conceives that the first epistle of Peter, and the first of James the Less, son of Alphæus (ver. 3), brother John, having from the beginning been received

or cousin to our Lord (Gal. i. 19), and, as has been as authentic, which the others were not, obtained thought, bishop of Jerusalem ; but this, perhaps,

without sufficient authority. That it cannot have the name of Catholic, or universally acknowledged, and therefore canonical, epistles, in con

been written by the former person, is evident from tradistinction to those which were rejected. But

the period at which it was published. This we the authenticity of these, also, being at length destruction of Jerusalem is clearly referred to, and

gather from chap. v. 1-8, where the approaching acknowledged by the majority of churches, they the wars and insurrections which led to that were added to the others, and the title which was

calamitous event are forcibly reproved. This fixes at first a mark of distinction, borne by the two former, became at length the common appellation James the son of Zebedee was put to death by

it to the year 61, or the beginning of 62; whereas of the whole. 2. The circumstance of the primitive church

Herod, in the year 44, Acts xii.t having rejected, for some period of time, three out

2. That the epistle of James was early received as

an inspired writing, is evident from Eusebius, who of these five epistles, furnishes convincing proof of the great deliberation with which writings pur

places it among the approved and received books, porting to be apostolic were received into the though rejected by some as spurious. But if any canon of Scripture; and also a sufficient answer

argument be wanting against those who question to those who have charged the early Christians its genuineness, it is to be found in the following with want of care, and ourselves with credulity,

* See Michaëlis, vol. iv., p. 277, &c., and Fragments to in receiving as authentic and inspired, books of

Calmet, No. 634. the original character of which nothing is known.

+ See Whitby, Doddridge, and Macknight's Prefaces to this The proofs of the genuineness and consequent | Epistle ; and Lardner's Works, vol. iii., p. 368, &c.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »