Jump to content


Photo

Horæ Paulinæ


  • This topic is locked This topic is locked
131 replies to this topic

#121 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 16 July 2013 - 05:26 AM

Nothing of the works of Marcion remains. Probably he was, after all, a rash, arbitrary, licentious critic (if he deserved indeed the name of critic), and who offered no reason for his determination. What St. Jerome says of him intimates this, and is besides founded in good sense: speaking of him and Basilides, “If they assigned any reasons,” says he, “why they did not reckon these epistles,” namely, the first and second to Timothy and the Epistle to Titus, “to be the apostle’s, we would have endeavoured to have answered them, and perhaps might have satisfied the reader: but when they take upon them, by their own authority, to pronounce one epistle to be Paul’s, and another not, they can only be replied to in the same manner.”1 Let it be remembered, however, that Marcion received ten of these epistles. His authority, therefore, even if his credit had been better than it is, forms a very small exception to the uniformity of the evidence. Of Basilides we know still less than we do of Marcion. The same observation, however, belongs to him, namely, that his objection, as far as appears from this passage of St. Jerome, was confined to the three private epistles. Yet is this the only opinion which can be said to disturb the consent of the first two centuries of the Christian era: for as to Tatian, who is reported by Jerome alone to have rejected some of St. Paul’s epistles, the extra­vagant or rather delirious notions into which he fell, take away all weight and credit from his judgment.—If, indeed, Jerome’s account of this circumstance be correct; for it appears from much older writers than Jerome, that Tatian owned and used many of these epistles.2

 

-------

1 Vol. xiv. p. 458.

2 Lardner, vol. i. p. 313.



#122 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 16 July 2013 - 05:28 AM

II. They, who in those ages disputed about so many other points, agreed in acknowledging the Scriptures now before us. Contending sects appealed to them in their controversies, with equal and unreserved submission. When they were urged by one side, however they might be interpreted or mis­interpreted by the other, their authority was not questioned. “Reliqui omnes” says Irenæus, speaking of Marcion, “falso scientiœ nomine inflati, Scripturas quidem confitentur, inter-pretationes vero convertunt”* (gg)

 

III.  When the genuineness of some other writings which were in circulation, and even of a few which are now received into the canon, was contested, these were never called into dispute. Whatever was the objection, or whether in truth there ever was any real objection, to the authenticity of the second Epistle of Peter, the second and third of John, the Epistle of James, or that of Jude, or to the book of the Re­velation of St. John; the doubts that appear to have been entertained concerning them, exceedingly strengthen the force of the testimony as to those writings about which there was no doubt; because it shows, that the matter was a subject, amongst the early Christians, of examination and discussion; and that where there was any room to doubt, they did doubt.

 

What Eusebius hath left upon the subject is directly to the purpose of this observation. Eusebius, it is well known, divided the ecclesiastical writings which were extant in his time into three classes; the “αναντιῤῥητα, uncontradicted,” as he calls them in one chapter, or, “Scriptures universally acknow­ledged,” as he calls them in another; the “controverted, yet well known and approved by many;” and “the spurious,” What were the shades of difference in the books of the second, or of those in the third class; or what it was precisely that he meant by the term spurious, it is not necessary in this place to inquire. It is sufficient for us to find, that the thirteen epistles of St. Paul are placed by him in the first class, with­out any sort of hesitation or doubt.

 

It is further also to be collected from the chapter in which this distinction is laid down, that the method made use of by Eusebius, and by the Christians of his time, namely, the close of the third century, in judging concerning the sacred authority of any books, was to inquire after and consider the testimony of those who lived near the age of the apostles.**

 

-------

* Iren. advers. Hær. quoted by Lardner, vol. xv. p. 425.

 

(gg) All the rest, inflated with a false pretence of knowledge, recognise the Scriptures, but wrest their interpretation.—Ed.

 

** Lardner, vol. 8: p. 106.



#123 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 16 July 2013 - 05:35 AM

IV. That no ancient writing, which is attested as these epistles are, hath had its authenticity disproved, or is in fact questioned. The controversies which have been moved con­cerning suspected writings, as the epistles, for instance, of Phalaris, or the eighteen epistles of Cicero, begin by showing that this attestation is wanting. That being proved, the ques­tion is thrown back upon internal marks of spuriousness or authenticity; and in these the dispute is occupied. In which disputes it is to be observed, that the contested writings are commonly attacked by arguments drawn from some opposition which they betray to “authentic history,” to “true epistles,” to the “real sentiments or circumstances of the author whom they personate;”* which authentic history, which true epistles, which real sentiments themselves, are no other than ancient documents, whose early existence and reception can be proved, in the manner in which the writings before us are traced up to the age of their reputed author, or to ages near to his. A modern who sits down to compose the history of some ancient period, has no stronger evidence to appeal to for the most confident assertion, or the most undisputed fact that he delivers, than writings whose genuineness is proved by the same medium through which we evince the authenticity of ours. Nor, whilst he can have recourse to such authorities as these, does he apprehend any uncertainty in his accounts, from the suspicion of spuriousness or imposture in his materials.

 

V. It cannot be shown that any forgeries, properly so called,** that is, writings published under the name of the person who did not compose them, made their appearance in the first century of the Christian era, in which century these epistles undoubtedly existed. I shall set down under this proposition the guarded words of Lardner himself: “There are no quotations of any books of them (spurious and apocryphal books) in the apostolical fathers, by whom I mean Barnabas, Clement of Rome, Hermas, Ignatius, and Polycarp, whose writings reach from the year of our Lord 70 to the year 108. 1 say this confidently, because I think it has been proved”   Lardner, vol. xii. p. 158.(hh)

 

Nor when they did appear were they much used by the primitive Christians. “Irenæus quotes not any of these books. He mentions some of them, but he never quotes them. The same may be said of Tertullian: he has mentioned a book called ‘Acts of Paul and Thecla;’ but it is only to condemn it. Clement of Alexandria and Origen have mentioned and quoted several such books, but never as authority, and some­times with express marks of dislike. Eusebius quoted no such books in any of his works. He has mentioned them, indeed, but how? Not by way of approbation, but to show that they were of little or no value, and that they never were received by the sounder part of Christians.” Now, if with this, which is advanced after the most minute and diligent examination, we compare what the same cautious writer had before said of our received Scriptures, “that in the works of three only of the above-mentioned fathers, there are more and larger quotations of the small volume of the New Testament than of all the works of Cicero in the writers of all characters for several ages;” and if with the marks of obscurity or condemnation, which accompanied the mention of the several apocryphal Christian writings, when they happened to be mentioned at all, we contrast what Dr. Lardner’s work com­pletely and in detail makes out concerning the writings which we defend, and what, having so made out, he thought himself authorized in his conclusion to assert, that these books were not only received from the beginning, but received with the greatest respect; have been publicly and solemnly read in the assemblies of Christians throughout the world, in every age from that time to this; early translated into the languages of divers countries and people; commentaries writ to explain and illustrate them; quoted by way of proof in all arguments of a religious nature; recommended to the perusal of un­believers, as containing the authentic account of the Christian doctrine: when we attend, I say, to this representation, we perceive in it not only full proof of the early notoriety of these books, but a clear and sensible line of discrimination, which separates these from the pretensions of any others.

 

-------

* See the tracts written in the controversy between Tunstaland Middleton, upon certain suspected epistles ascribed to Cicero.

** I believe that there is a great deal of truth in Dr. Lardner’s observation, that comparatively few of those books which we call apocryphal were strictly and ori­ginally forgeries.   See Lardner, vol. xii. p. 167.

 

(hh) Of the above writings, the epistle now styled, of Barnabas, the Shepherd of Hermas, and even, as Mr. Cureton has rendered highly probable, all but three of the epistles of Ignatius, must be referred to the first half of the second century. Their silence, however, on this view is even more instructive.—Ed.

 



#124 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 16 July 2013 - 05:36 AM

The epistles of St. Paul stand particularly free of any doubt or confusion that might arise from this source. Until the conclusion ,of the fourth century, no intimation appears of any attempt whatever being made to counterfeit these writings; and then it appears only of a single and obscure instance. Jerome, who flourished in the year 392, has this expression: “Legunt quidam et ad Laodicenses; sed ab omnibus exploditur,” there is also an Epistle to the Lao­diceans, but it is rejected by everybody.* Theodoret, who wrote in the year 423, speaks of this epistle in the same terms.** Beside these, I know not whether any ancient writer mentions it. It was certainly unnoticed during the first three centuries of the church; and when it came afterwards to be mentioned, it was mentioned only to show that, though such a writing did exist, it obtained no credit. It is probable that the forgery to which Jerome alludes, is the epistle which we now have under that title. If so, as hath been already observed, it is nothing more than a collection of sentences from the genuine epistles; and was perhaps, at first, rather the exercise of some idle pen, than any serious attempt to impose a forgery upon the public. Of an Epistle to the Corinthians under St. Paul’s name, which was brought into Europe in the present century, antiquity is entirely silent. It was unheard of for sixteen centuries; and at this day, though it be extant, and was first found in the Armenian language, it is not, by the Christians of that country, received into their Scriptures. I hope, after this, that there is no reader who will think there is any competition of credit, or of external proof, between these and the received epistles; or, rather, who will not acknowledge the evidence of authenticity to be confirmed by the want of success which attended imposture.

 

When we take into our hands the letters which the suffrage and consent of antiquity hath thus transmitted to us, the first thing that strikes our attention is the air of reality and business, as well as of seriousness and conviction, which pervades the whole. Let the sceptic read them. If he be not sensible of these qualities in them, the argument can have no weight with him. If he be; if he perceive in almost every page the language of a mind actuated by real occasions, and operating upon real circumstances, I would wish it to be observed, that the proof which arises from this perception is not to be deemed occult or imaginary, because it is incapable of being drawn out in words, or of being conveyed to the apprehension of the reader in any other way than by sending him to the books themselves.

 

And here, in its proper place, comes in the argument which it has been the office of these pages to unfold. St. Paul’s Epistles are connected with the history by their particularity, and by the numerous circumstances which are found in them. When we descend to an examination and comparison of these circumstances, we not only observe the history and the epistles to be independent documents unknown to, or at least unconsulted by, each other, but we find the substance, and often­times very minute articles, of the history, recognised in the epistles, by allusions and references, which can neither be imputed to design, nor, without a foundation in truth, be accounted for by accident; by hints and expressions, and single words, dropping as it were fortuitously from the pen of the writer, or drawn forth each by some occasion proper to the place in which it occurs, but widely removed from any view to consistency or agreement. These, we know, are effects which reality naturally produces, but which, without reality at the bottom, can hardly be conceived to exist.

 

-------

* Lardner, vol. x. p. 103.

** Ibid., vol. xi. p. 88.



#125 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 16 July 2013 - 05:36 AM

When, therefore, with a body of external evidence which is relied upon, and which experience proves may safely be relied upon, in appreciating the credit of ancient writings, we com­bine characters of genuineness and originality which are not found, and which, in the nature and order of things, cannot be expected to be found, in spurious compositions; whatever difficulties we may meet with in other topics of the Christian evidence, we can have little in yielding our assent to the fol­lowing conclusions: That there was such a person as St. Paul; that he lived in the age which we ascribe to him; that he went about preaching the religion of which Jesus Christ was the founder; and that the letters which we now read were actually written by him upon the subject, and in the course, of that his ministry.

 

And if it be true that we are in possession of the very letters which St. Paul wrote, let us consider what confirmation they afford to the Christian history. In my opinion they substantiate the whole transaction. The great object of modern research is to come at the epistolary correspondence of the times. Amidst the obscurities, the silence, or the con­tradictions of history, if a letter can be found, we regard it as the discovery of a landmark; as that by which we can correct, adjust, or supply the imperfections and uncertainties of other accounts. One cause of the superior credit which is attributed to letters is this, that the facts which they disclose generally come out incidentally, and therefore without design to mislead the public by false or exaggerated accounts. This reason may be applied to St. Paul’s epistles with as much justice as to any letters whatever. Nothing could be further from the intention of the writer than to record any part of his history. That his history was in fact made public by these letters, and has by the same means been transmitted to future ages, is a secondary and unthought of effect. The sincerity, therefore, of the apostle’s declarations cannot reasonably be disputed; at least, we are sure that it was not vitiated by any desire of setting himself off to the public at large. But these letters form a part of the muniments of Christianity, as much to be valued for their contents as for their originality. A more inestimable treasure the care of antiquity could not have sent down to us. Beside the proof they afford of the general reality of St. Paul’s history, of the knowledge which the author of the Acts of the Apostles had obtained of that history, and the consequent probability that he was, what he professes himself to have been, a companion of the apostle’s; beside the support they lend to these important inferences, they meet specially some of the principal objections upon which the adversaries of Christianity have thought proper to rely.    In particular they show,

 

I.  That Christianity was not a story set on foot amidst the confusions which attended and immediately preceded the destruction of Jerusalem; when many extravagant reports were circulated, when men’s minds were broken by terror and distress, when amidst the tumults that surrounded them inquiry was impracticable. These letters show incontestably that the religion had fixed and established itself before this state of things took place.



#126 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 16 July 2013 - 05:37 AM

II. Whereas it hath been insinuated that our gospels may have been made up of reports and stories which were current at the time, we may observe that, with respect to the epistles, this is impossible. A man cannot write the history of his own life from reports; nor, what is the same thing, be led by reports to refer to passages and transactions in which he states himself to have been immediately present and active. I do not allow that this insinuation is applied to the historical part of the New Testament with any colour of justice or probability; but I say, that to the epistles it is not applicable at all.

 

III. These letters prove that the converts to Christianity were not drawn from the barbarous, the mean, or the ignorant set of men which the representations of infidelity would some­times make them. We learn from letters the character, not only of the writer, but, in some measure, of the persons to whom they are written. To suppose that these letters were addressed to a rude tribe, incapable of thought or reflection, is just as reasonable as to suppose Locke’s Essay on the Human Understanding to have been written for the instruction of savages. Whatever may be thought of these letters in other respects, either of diction or argument, they are certainly removed as far as possible from the habits and comprehension of a barbarous people.

 

IV. St. Paul’s history, I mean so much of it as may be collected from his letters, is so implicated with that of the other apostles, and with the substance, indeed, of the Christian history itself, that I apprehend it will be found impossible to admit St. Paul’s story (I do not speak of the miraculous part of it) to be true, and yet to reject the rest as fabulous. For instance, can any one believe that there was such a man as Paul, a preacher of Christianity, in the age which we assign to him, and not believe that there was also at the same time such a man as Peter, and James, and other apostles, who had been companions of Christ during his life, and who after his death published and avowed the same things concerning him which Paul taught? Judæa, and especially Jerusalem, was the scene of Christ’s ministry. The witnesses of his miracles lived there. St. Paul, by his own account, as well as that of his historian, appears to have frequently visited that city; to have carried on a communication with the church there; to have associated with the rulers and elders of that church, who were some of them apostles; to have acted, as occasions offered, in correspondence, and sometimes in conjunction with them. Can it, after this, be doubted, but that the religion and the general facts relating to it, which St. Paul appears by his letters to have delivered to the several churches which he established at a distance, were at the same time taught and published at Jerusalem itself, the place where the business was transacted; and taught and published by those who had attended the founder of the institution in his miraculous, or pretendedly miraculous, ministry?

 

It is observable, for so it appears both in the epistles and from the Acts of the Apostles, that Jerusalem, and the society of believers in that city, long continued the centre from which the missionaries of the religion issued, with which all other churches maintained a correspondence and connexion, to which they referred their doubts, and to whose relief, in times of public distress, they remitted their charitable assist­ance. This observation I think material, because it proves that this was not the case of giving our accounts in one country of what is transacted in another, without affording the hearers an opportunity of knowing whether the things related were credited by any, or even published, in the place where they are reported to have passed.



#127 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 16 July 2013 - 05:41 AM

V. St. Paul’s letters furnish evidence (and what better evidence than a man’s own letters can be desired?) of the soundness and sobriety of his judgment. His caution in dis­tinguishing between the occasional suggestions of inspiration, and the ordinary exercise of his natural understanding, is without example in the history of human enthusiasm.(ii) His morality is everywhere calm, pure, and rational; adapted to the condition, the activity, and the business of social life, and of its various relations; free from the over-scrupulousness and austerities of superstition, and from what was more perhaps to be apprehended, the abstractions of quietism, and the soarings and extravagancies of fanaticism. His judgment concerning a hesitating conscience; his opinion of the moral indifferency of many actions, yet of the prudence and even the duty of compliance, where non-compliance would pro­duce evil effects upon the minds of the persons who ob­served it, is as correct and just as the most liberal and enlightened moralist could form at this day. The accuracy of modern ethics has found nothing to amend in these deter­minations.(kk) What lord Lyttelton has remarked of the preference ascribed by St. Paul to inward rectitude of principle above every other religious accomplishment is very material to our present purpose. “In his first Epistle to the Corinthians, chap. 13:1-3, St. Paul has these words: Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Is this the language of enthusiasm? Did ever enthusiast prefer that universal benevolence which comprehendeth all moral virtues, and which, as appeareth by the following verses, is meant by charity here; did ever enthusiast, I say, prefer that benevolence” (which, we may add, is attainable by every man) "to faith and to miracles, to those religious opinions which he had embraced, and to those super­natural graces and gifts which he imagined he had acquired; nay, even to the merit of martyrdom? Is it not the genius of enthusiasm to set moral virtues infinitely below the merit of faith; and of all moral virtues to value that least which is most particularly enforced by St. Paul, a spirit of candour, moderation, and peace? Certainly neither the temper nor the opinions of a man subject to fanatic delusions are to be found in this passage.”—Lord Lyttelton’s Considerations on the Conversion, etc.

 

I see no reason, therefore, to question the integrity of his understanding. To call him a visionary, because he appealed to visions; or an enthusiast, because he pretended to inspira­tion, is to take the whole question for granted. It is to take for granted that no such visions or inspirations existed; at least it is to assume, contrary to his own assertions, that he had no other proofs than these to offer of his mission, or of the truth of his relations.

 

One thing I allow, that his letters everywhere discover great zeal and earnestness in the cause in which he was engaged; that is to say, he was convinced of the truth of what he taught; he was deeply impressed, but not more so than the occasion merited, with a sense of its importance. This produces a corresponding animation and solicitude in the exercise of his ministry. But would not these considerations, supposing them to be well founded, have holden the same place, and produced the same effect, in a mind the strongest and the most sedate?

 

-------

(ii) This remark arises from a misinterpretation of two passages, 1 Cor. 7:6, 25; 2 Cor. 8:8. Yet the distinction really intended, between an inspired com­mand, and simple advice or permission, implies equally the most complete self-possession, and accuracy of spiritual discrimination.

 

(kk) Modern ethics, at least as treated by Paley himself, instead of amending the morality of St. Paul’s Epistles, have great need to be regenerated by an infusion of their spirit. How cold and empty does the “Moral Philosophy” appear by the side of 1 Cor. 13:, or Eph. 4:5! The mainspring of the one is a purely selfish measurement of probable consequences; of the other, a certain faith in God’s immeasurable love.

 



#128 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 16 July 2013 - 05:42 AM

VI. These letters are decisive as to the sufferings of the author; also as to the distressed state of the Christian church, and the dangers which attended the preaching of the gospel.

 

“Whereof I Paul am made a minister; who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh, for his body’s sake, which is the church,” Col. 1:23, 24.

 

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable,” 1 Cor. 15:19.

 

“Why stand we in jeopardy every hour?    I protest by your rejoicing, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not?” 1 Cor. 15:30-32.

 

“If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us,” Rom. 8:17, 18.

 

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or naked­ness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter,” Rom. 8:35, 36.

 

“Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing in­stant in prayer,” Rom. 12:12.

 

“Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. I suppose, therefore, that this is good for the present distress; I say, that it is good for a man so to be,” 1 Cor. 7:25, 26.

 

“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me,” Phil. 1:29, 30.

 

“God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” “From henceforth let no man trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus,” Gal. 6:14, 17.

 

“Ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost,” 1 Thessalonians 1:6.

 

“We ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribu­lations that ye endure,” 2 Thessalonians 1:4.



#129 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 16 July 2013 - 05:42 AM

We may seem to have accumulated texts unnecessarily; but beside that the point which they are brought to prove is of great importance, there is this also to be remarked in every one of the passages cited, that the allusion is drawn from the writer by the argument or the occasion;   that the notice which is taken of his sufferings, and of the suffering condition of Christianity, is perfectly incidental, and is dictated by no design of stating the facts themselves. Indeed they are not stated at all: they may rather be said to be assumed. This is a distinction upon which we have relied a good deal in former parts of this treatise; and, where the writer’s informa­tion cannot be doubted, it always, in my opinion, adds greatly to the value and credit of the testimony.

 

If any reader require from the apostle more direct and explicit assertions of the same thing, he will receive full satis­faction in the following quotations:—

 

“Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness; in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness,” 2 Cor. 11:23-27.

 

Can it be necessary to add more? "I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling-place; and labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed, we entreat; we are made as the filth of the earth, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day,” 1 Cor. 4:9-13. I subjoin this passage to the former, because it ex­tends to the other apostles of Christianity much of that which St. Paul declared concerning himself.

 

In the following quotations, the reference to the author’s sufferings is accompanied with a specification of time and place, and with an appeal for the truth of what he declares to the knowledge of the persons whom he addresses: “Even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention,” 1 Thessalonians 2:2.

 

“But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long-suffering, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what per­secutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me,” 2 Tim. 3:10, 11.

 

I apprehend that to this point, as far as the testimony of St. Paul is credited, the evidence from his letters is complete and full. It appears under every form in which it could appear, by occasional allusions and by direct assertions, by general declarations and by specific examples.



#130 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 16 July 2013 - 05:44 AM

VII. St Paul in these letters asserts, in positive and un­equivocal terms, his performance of miracles strictly and properly so called.

 

“He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles (νεργν δυνάμεις) among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” Gal. 3:5.

 

“For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me,* to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, through mighty signs and won­ders (ν δυνάμει σημείων κι τεράτων,) by the power of the Spirit of God: so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ,” Rom. 15:18, 19.

 

“Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds,” (εν σημέιοις κι τέρασι κι δυνάμεσι,)** 2 Cor. 12:12.

 

These words, signs, wonders, and mighty deeds (σημεία, κι τέρατα, κι δυνάμεις) are the specific appropriate terms throughout the New Testament, employed when public sensible miracles are intended to be expressed. This will appear by consulting, amongst other places, the texts re­ferred to in the note;*** and it cannot be known that they are ever employed to express anything else.

 

-------

* That is, “I will speak of nothing but what Christ hath wrought by me;” or, as Grotius interprets it, “Christ hath wrought so great things by me, that I will not dare to say what he hath not wrought.”

** To these may be added the following indirect allusions, which, though if they stood alone, that is, without plainer texts in the same writings, they might have been accounted dubious; yet, when considered in conjunction with the passages already cited, can hardly receive any other interpretation than that which we give them.

“My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God,” 1 Cor. 2:4, 5.

“The gospel, whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power,” Eph. 3:6, 7.

“For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me towards the Gentiles,” Gal. 2:8.

“For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance,” 1 Thessalonians 1:5.

*** Mark 16:20.  Luke 23:8.  John 2:11-23; 3:2; 4:48-54; 11:49. Acts 2:22; 4:3; 5:12; 6:8; 7:16; 14:3; 15:12. Heb. 2:4.

 



#131 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 16 July 2013 - 05:44 AM

Secondly, these words not only denote miracles as opposed to natural effects, but they denote visible, and what may be called external, miracles, as distinguished,

 

First, from inspiration. If St. Paul had meant to refer only to secret illuminations of his understanding, or secret influences upon his will or affections, he could not, with truth, have represented them as “signs and wonders wrought by him,” of “signs and wonders and mighty deeds wrought amongst them.”

 

Secondly, from visions. These would not, by any means, satisfy the force of the terms, “signs, wonders, and mighty deeds;” still less could they be said to be “wrought by him,” or, “wrought amongst them:” nor are these terms and ex­pressions any where applied to visions. When our author alludes to the supernatural communications which he had re­ceived, either by vision or otherwise, he uses expressions suited to the nature of the subject, but very different from the words which we have quoted. He calls them revelations, but never signs, wonders, or mighty deeds. “I will come,” says he, “to visions and revelations of the Lord;” and then proceeds to describe a particular instance, and afterwards adds, “lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given me a thorn in the flesh.”

 

Upon the whole, the matter admits of no softening quali­fication, or ambiguity whatever. If St. Paul did not work actual, sensible, public miracles, he has knowingly, in these letters, borne his testimony to a falsehood. I need not add, that, in two also of the quotations, he has advanced his assertion in the face of those persons amongst whom he de­clares the miracles to have been wrought.

 

Let it be remembered that the Acts of the Apostles described various particular miracles wrought by St. Paul, which in their nature answer to the terms and expressions which we have seen to be used by St. Paul himself.



#132 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 16 July 2013 - 06:03 AM

Here, then, we have a man of liberal attainments, and in other points of sound judgment, who had addicted his life to the service of the gospel. We see him, in the prosecution of his purpose, travelling from country to country, enduring every species of hardship, encountering every extremity of danger, assaulted by the populace, punished by the magis­trates, scourged, beat, stoned, left for dead; expecting, wherever he came, a renewal of the same treatment and the same dangers, yet, when driven from one city, preaching in the next; spending his whole time in the employment, sacri­ficing to it his pleasures, his ease, his safety; persisting in this course to old age, unaltered by the experience of per­verseness, ingratitude, prejudice, desertion; unsubdued by anxiety, want, labour, persecutions; unwearied by long con­finement, undismayed by the prospect of death. Such was St. Paul. We have his letters in our hands; we have also a history purporting to be written by one of his fellow-travellers, and appearing, by a comparison with these letters, certainly to have been written by some person well acquainted with the transactions of his life. From the letters, as well as from the history, we gather not only the account which we have stated of him, but that he was one out of many who acted and suffered in the same manner; and that of those who did so, several had been the companions of Christ’s ministry, the ocular witnesses, or pretending to be such, of his miracles, and of his resurrection. We moreover find this same person referring in his letters to his supernatural con­version, the particulars and accompanying circumstances of which are related in the history, and which accompanying circumstances, if all or any of them be true, render it impos­sible to have been a delusion. We also find him positively, and in appropriate terms, asserting that he himself worked miracles, strictly and properly so called, in support of the mission which he executed; the history, meanwhile, record­ing various passages of his ministry, which come up to the extent of this assertion. The question is, whether falsehood was ever attested by evidence like this. Falsehoods, we know, have found their way into reports, into tradition, into books; but is an example to be met with, of a man volun­tarily undertaking a life of want and pain, of incessant fatigue, of continual peril; submitting to the loss of his home and country, to stripes and stoning, to tedious imprisonment, and the constant expectation of a violent death, for the sake of carrying about a story of what was false, and of what, if false, he must have known to be so?

 

Attached File  HoraePaulinaePaleyCBMRF.pdf   1.18MB   118 downloads

 

 

 






0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users