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into Syria. So that Corinth was the last place which he visited in the peninsula ; was the place from which he returned into Asia ; and was, as such, the boundary and limit of his progress.
He could not have said the same thing, viz. “ I hope hereafter to visit the regions beyond you,” in an epistle to the Philippians, or in an epistle to the Thessalonians, inasmuch as he must be deemed to have already visited the regions beyond them, having proceeded from those cities to other parts of Greece. But from Corinth he returned home ; every part therefore beyond that city, might properly be said, as it is said in the passage before us, to be unvisited. Yet is this propriety the spontaneous effect of truth, and produced without meditation or design.
THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS.
No. I. The argument of this epistle in some measure proves its antiquity. It will hardly be doubted, but that it was written whilst the dispute concerning the circumcision of Gentile converts was fresh in men's minds : for, even supposing it to have been a forgery, the only credible motive that can be assigned for the forgery, was to bring the name and authority of the apostle into this controversy. No design could be so insipid, or so unlikely to enter into the thoughts of any man, as to produce an epistle written earnestly and pointedly upon one side of a controversy, when the controversy itself was dead, and the question no longer interestin to any description of readers whatever. Now the controversy concerning the circumcision of the Gentile Christians was of such a nature, that, if it arose at all, it must have arisen in the beginning of Christianity. As Judea was the scene of the Christian history ; as
the Author and preachers of Christianity . : were Jews; as the religion itself acậnowledged and was founded upon the /
the Jewish religion, in contradistinction to every other religion, then professed amongst mankind ; it was not to be wondered at, that some of its teachers should carry it out in the world rather as a sect and modification of Judaism, than as a separate original revelation; or that they should invite their proselytes to those obseryances in which they lived themselves. This was likely to happen: but if it did not happen at first ; if, whilst the religion was in the hands of Jewish teachess, no such claim was advanced, no such condition was attempted to be įmposed, it is not probable that the doctrine would be started, much less that it should prevail, in any future period. I likewise think, that those pretensions
much more likely to be insisted upon, whilst the Jews çontinued a nation, than after their fall and dispersion; whilst Jerusalem and the temple stood, than after the destruction brought upon them by the Roman arms, the fatal cessation of the sacrifice and the priesthood, the humiliating loss of their country, and, with it, of the great sites and symbols of their institution.
of Judaism were much
It should seem therefore, from the nature of the subject, and the situation of the parties, that this controversy was carried on in the interval between the preaching of Christianity to the Gentiles, and the invasion of Titus; and that our present epistle, which was undoubtedly intended to bear a part in this controversy, must be referred to the same period.
But, again, the epistle supposes that certain designing adherents of the Jewish law had crept into the churches of Galatia ; and had been endeavouring, and but too successfully, to persuade the Galatic converts, that they had been taught the new religion imperfectly and at second hand ; that the founder of their church himself possessed only an inferior and deputed commission, the seat of truth and authority being in the apostles and elders of Jerusalem ; moreover, that whatever he might profess amongst them, he had himself at other times, and in other places, given way to the doctrine of circumcision. The epistle is unintelligible without supposing all this. Referring therefore to this, as to what had actually passed, we find St. Paul treating so unjust an attempt to undermine his credit, and to introduce amongst
his converts a doctrine which he had uniformly reprobated, in terms of great asperity and indignation. And in order to refute the suspicions' which had been raised concerning the fidelity of his teaching, as well as to assert the independency and divine original of his mission, we find him appealing to the history of his conversion, to his conduct under it, to the manner in which he had conferred with the apostles when he met with them at Jerusalem : alleging, that so far was his doctrine from being derived from them, or they from exercising any superiority over him, that they had simply assented to what he had already preached amongst the Gentiles, and which preaching was communicated not by them to him, but by himself to them ; that he had maintained the liberty of the Gentile church, by opposing, upon one occasion, an apostle to the face, when the timidity of his behaviour seemed to endanger it; that from the first, that all along, that to that hour, he had constantly resisted the claims of Judaism ; and that the persecutions which he daily underwent, at the hands or by the instigation of the Jews, and of which he bore in his person the marks and scars, might have been avoided by him, if he