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such an high-priest and covenant conferred on them, to the purpose of approach to God with holy confidence, a constant attendance on his worship, and most benevolent regards to each other. [chap. x. 15..25.]
The apostle, having thus at length obviated the insinuations and objections of the Jews to the gospel of Christ as inferior to the Mosaic dispensation, by showing its transcendant excellence in a clear and convincing light for the satisfaction and establishment of the believing Hebrews, proceeds
2. To awaken their attention, and fortify their minds against the storm of persecution, which had come, and was further likely to come upon them for the sake of the Christian faith. To this end, he reminds them of the extremities they had already endured in defence of the gospel, and of the fatal consequences which would attend their apostacy [chap. x. 26, to the end.]; calling to their remembrance the renowned examples of the faith and fortitude which had been exhibited by holy men mentioned in the scriptures of the Old Testament, and particularly by Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah, [chap. xi. 1..16.] by Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses [chap. xi. 17..29.]; concluding his discourse with glancing on many other illustrious worthies; and, besides those recorded in scripture, referring also to the case of several who suffered under the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes. [chap. xi. 30, xii. 2.]
And, having thus executed his design in the argumentative part of the epistles, he applies the whole by exhorting the Hebrew Christians to sustain and improve the afflictions to which they were exposed, and to exert themselves vigorously to promote the united interests of peace and holiness [chap. xii. 3.. 14.]: cautioning them against disparaging the blessings of the gospel, and making them a sacrifice either to any secular views or sensual gratifications; representing the incomparable excellence of these blessings, and the wonderful manner in which they were introduced, which even the introduction of the Jewish economy, glorious and magnificent as it was, did by no means equal [chap. xii. 15..29.]: exhorting them to brotherly affection, purity, compassion, dependance on the divine care, sted fastness in the profession of the truth, and to a life of thankfulness to God and benevolence to man, from the consideration of the inestimable privileges derived to us from Christ, which ought always to encourage us resolutely to endure any infamy and suffering which we may meet with in his cause [chap. xiii. 1..16.]: concluding the whole with recommending to them particular regard to their pious ministers, and intreating their prayers, adding some salutations and a solemn benediction. [chap. xiii. 17, to the end.]
The following remarks of Dr. Macknight, in his preface to the epistle of Titus, will serve to continue the history of the apostle after the expiration of his first imprisonment at Rome. The leaving of Titus in Crete is supposed to have happened some time in the year sixty-two, after the apostle was released from his first confinement in Rome. In the letters which he wrote about that time to the Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, and the Hebrews, having promised to visit them, we may believe that, when at liberty to fulfil his promise, he sailed in the spring of sixty-two from Italy for Judea, accompanied by Titus and Timothy. In their way, touching at Crete, they went through the cities, and preached the gospel to the idolatrous inhabitants with such power and success, that great numbers of them were converted. However, although the apostle's success was so great in Crete, and his converts were not formed into churches, he did not judge it proper to remain in Crete; but, cominitting the care of the disciples there to Titus, with an order to ordain elders in every city, he sailed into Judea in spring, sixty-three, accompanied by Timothy. The brethren in that country, being greatly distressed by the troubles which preceded the war with the Romans, the apostle, if he heard in Crete of their distress, might think it necessary
to hasten his visit to them. Accordingly, as soon as he landed in Judea, he and Timothy went up to Jerusalem, and spent some time with the Hebrews, after which they proceeded to Antioch; and, in their progress through the churches, comforted and established them. From Antioch, the apostle set out on his fifth and last apostolical journey, in which he and Timothy travelled through Syria and Cilicia, and then came to Colosse in Phrygia early in the year sixty-four. And, seeing he had desired Philemon to provide him a lodging at Colosse, it is reasonable to think he abode there some time. On that occasion, as Benson and others conjecture, he may have written his epistle to Titus in Crete, in which he desired him to come to him at Nicopolis, because he proposed to winter there. [Tit. iii. 12.] From Colosse, the apostle went with Timothy to Ephesus, where, having inquired into the state of the church in that city, he gave the Ephesian brethren such exhortations as he judged necessary; then departed to go into Macedonia, leaving Timothy at Ephesus to charge some teachers not to teach differently from the apostles. [1 Tim. i. 3.]
In passing through Macedonia, the apostle, no doubt, visited the Philippians and the other brethren in that province, according to his promise, Phil. ii. 24. After that, he went forward to Nicopolis to winter there, as he proposed, being accompanied by Erastus and Trophimus, who, it seems, had joined him either at Ephesus or in Macedonia In the beginning of the year sixty-five, while the apostle abode at Nicopolis, taking in consideration the weight of the charge which he had devolved on Timothy, he wrote to him that excellent letter in the canon, called the first epistle to Timothy, in which he taught him how to discharge the duties of his function properly. It seems, that, in parting with Timothy, St. Paul had promised to return soon to Ephesus from Nicopolis. [1 Tim. iii. 14.] But he was disappointed in his resolution; for not long after writing his letter to Timothy, Titus came from Crete to Nicopolis, according to the apostle's order, [Tit. iii. 12.] and gave him such an account of the state of the churches in that island, as determined him to visit them immediately; so that, laying aside his purpose of returning to Ephesus, he left Nicopolis early in the year sixty-five, accompanied by Titus, Trophimus, and Erastus, the latter of whom went no further with him than to Corinth. [2 Tim. iv. 20.] At his arrival in Crete, he, no doubt, visited the churches, and rectified the disorders which had taken place in them. But while employed in that work, hearing of the persecution which Nero was carrying on against the Christians in Rome, on pretence that they had set fire to the city, and judging that his presence in Rome might be of use to the brethren in their distress, he resolved to go thither. I suppose the apostle sailed for Italy with Titus in the end of the summer sixty-five, leaving Trophimus sick at Miletus, a city of Crete. [2 Tim. iv. 20.] For that Titus was in Rome with Paul during his second imprisonment is certain from the 2 Tim. iv. 10, where the apostle informed Timothy that Titus was one of those who had fled from the city through fear, and had gone into Dalmatia; but whether with or without his approbation the apostle doth not expressly
Continuing the same history, he proceeds to relate, in his preface to the second epistle of Timothy, that Paul, on his arrival at Rome, taking an active part in the affairs of the Christians, soon became obnoxious to the heathen priests and to the idolatrous rabble, who hated the Christians as atheists, because they denied the gods of the empire, and condemned the established worship. Wherefore, being discovered to the magistrates, probably by the unbelieving Jews, as the ringleader of the hated sect, he was apprehended, and closely imprisoned as a malefactor. [2 Tim. ii. 9.] This happened in the end of the year sixty-five, or in the beginning of sixty-six. The apostle has not informed us directly what the crime was which the heathen magistrates
laid to his charge. If it was the burning of the city, which the emperor falsely imputed to the Christians in general, his absence from Rome when the city was burnt being a fact he could easily prove, it was a sufficient exculpation of him from that crime. Probably, therefore, the magistrates accused him of denying the gods of the empire, and of condemning the established worship. In this accusation, it is natural to suppose the unbelieving Jews joined, from their hatred of Paul's doctrine; and, among the rest, Alexander, the Ephesian coppersmith, who, having, as it would seem, apostatized to Judaism, had blasphemed Christ and his gospel; and, on that account, had been lately delivered by the apostle to Satan. [Tim. i. 20.] This virulent judaizing teacher happening to be at Rome when Paul was apprehended, he, in resentment of the treatment received from the apostle, appeared with his accusers when he made his first answer, and, in the presence of his judges, contradicted the things which he urged in his own vindication. So the apostle told Timothy, 2 epist. iv. 14, Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: for he greatly opposed our words. The rest of the unbelieving Jews were not a little enraged against Paul for preaching that Jesus Christ, being lineally descended from David, was heir to his throne that, being raised from the dead, his right to rule the Gentiles was thereby demonstrated and that the Gentiles were to be saved through faith in him, without obeying the law of Moses. These things they urged against Paul as crimes worthy of death, on pretence that they subverted not only the law of Moses, but the laws of the empire. The hints which the apostle hath given us of the things laid to his charge, and of the particulars which he urged in his own vindication, lead us to form these conjectures. [2 Tim. ii. 8.]-Remember Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel. [9.] For which I suffer evil unto bonds, as a malefactor. [10.] For this cause I patiently bear all things, on account of the elected, that they also may obtain the salvation which is by Jesus Christ with eternal glory. Such were the crimes of which Paul was accused by his enemies. The answers which he made to their accusations are insinuated, 2 Tim. iv. 17, However, the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me, that through me the preaching might be fully declared, and all the Gentiles might hear. The Lord strengthened him fully to declare, in the presence of his judges and accusers, what he had preached concerning the supreme dominion of Christ, his right to rule all the Gentiles as the subjects of his spiritual kingdom, his power to save them as well as the Jews, together with the nature and method of their salvation. He likewise told Timothy that the Lord strengthened him thus fully to declare what he had preached, that all the Gentiles might hear of his courage and faithfulness in maintaining their privileges. To this bold declaration of his preaching concerning Christ, the apostle told Timothy he was animated by considering, that if we die with him, we shull also live with him. If we suffer patiently, we shall also reign with him. If we deny him, he also will deny us. [2 Tim. i1. 11, 12.] To conclude: the evident reasonableness of the things which the apostle advanced in answer to the accusations of his enemies, and the confidence with which he urged them, made, it seems, such an impression on his judges, that, notwithstanding they were greatly prejudiced against him, and showed themselves determined to take his life, they did not then condemn him; but sent him back to his prison, thinking it necessary to give him a second hearing.
How long the apostle remained in prison before he was allowed to make his first answer doth not appear. Neither do we know what length of time elapsed between his first and second answers. Only from his desiring Timothy, after making his first answer, to come to him before winter, we may conjecture that he made his first answer
early in the summer of the year sixty-six, and that he thought it might be a considerable time before he would be brought to a second hearing.
Soon after his first answer, therefore, in the year sixty-six, the apostle wrote his second epistle to Timothy, to inform him of what had happened to him since his coming to Rome, namely, that he was closely imprisoned as a malefactor, and that he had spoken for himself in the hearing of his judges. Also he gave him some hints of the crimes which his enemies laid to his charge, and of the answers which he had made to their accusations, and of the principles by which he was emboldened to make these answers. Moreover, he told him, that although his judges had not yet condemned him, he had not the smallest hope of escaping when he should be brought to a second hearing; that his accusers and judges had shewed themselves so enraged against him before he made his first answer, that when he was brought into the court, neither any of the Roman brethren, nor any of the brethren from the provinces, nor any of his own fellow-labourers who were then in the city, appeared with him; but all forsook him : that during his trial, his judges shewed such an extreme hatred of the Christians and of their cause. that all his assistants, except Luke, had fled from the city, fearing that they likewise would be apprehended and put to death: that being thus deserted by his friends and fellow-labourers, and having no hope of escaping, he had a great desire to enjoy Timothy's company during the short time he had to live. He therefore requested him to come to him before winter. Yet being uncertain whether he should live so long, he gave in this letter a variety of advices, charges, and encouragements, with the solemnity and affection of a dying parent; because, if he should be put to death before Timothy came, the loss would in some measure be made up to him by the things written in this letter.
These particulars, which are all either expressed or insinuated in the apostle's second epistle to Timothy, shew clearly that it was written not long before the apostle's death, the time of which may be determined with a good degree of probability by the following circumstances. The emperor Nero having set fire to the city on the tenth of July, A, D. 64, to remove the odium of that nefarious action which was generally imputed to him, he endeavoured to make the public believe it was perpetrated by the Christians, who, at that time, were become the objects of the popular hatred, on account of their religion. For, as if they had been the incendiaries, he caused them to be sought out, and put to death in the most barbarous manner. So Tacitus informs us, Annal. Lib. xv. c. 44, and Suetonius, Ner. c. 16. This is what is commonly called the first general persecution of the Christians. Wherefore, as the ancients, with one voice, have reported that the apostle Paul was put to death at Rome by Nero in this persecution, we cannot be much mistaken in supposing that his death happened in the end of the year sixty-six, or in spring sixty-seven, in the thirteenth year of Nero's reign.
Eusebius, Jerome, Maximus, and other antient authors, content themselves with doing little more than affirm that the apostle Paul was beheaded at Rome under Nero; so that the largest account concerning this event is taken from Abdius, a very suspicious author. He says, that after the crucifying of Peter, and the ruin of Simon Magus, Paul, yet remaining in free custody, was dismissed, and delivered at that time from martyrdom by God's permission, that all the Gentiles might be replenished by his preaching of the gospel. He says also, that while Paul was thus employed at Rome, he was accused to the emperor, not only for teaching new doctrine, but also for stirring up sedition against the imperial government. For this, he being called before Nero, and demanded to shew the order and manner of his doctrine, there declared what his
doctrine was, namely, to teach all men peace and charity, how to love one another, and to prefer one another in honour; that rich men should not be puffed up with pride, nor trust in their uncertain treasures; but in the living God; that poor men should learn to be satisfied with their condition, rejoicing in their poverty with a hope, and having food and raiment be therewith content; that fathers should bring up their children in the fear of God, and that children should obey their parents; that husbands should love their wives, and wives reverence their husbands; that citizens and subjects should pay tribute to Cæsar, and render due obedience to inferior magistrates; that masters should be courteous to their servants, and servants faithful to their masters; and lastly, that this doctrine was not taught him by men, but by Jesus Christ, and the Father of glory, who spake to him from heaven, and commanded him to preach the gospel, assuring him that whosoever believed his word should not perish, but have everlasting life. After having made this declaration, he was condemned to be beheaded, and two of the emperor's guards, Ferega and Parthemius, were ordered to conduct him to the place of execution. These men beseeching Paul that he would afford them instruction, he prayed for them, and assured them they should be hereafter baptized at his sepulchre. After praying, he gave up his neck to the stroke, and exchanged a life of trouble for immortal felicity.
Dr. Macknight, who conceives that the apostle Paul was chosen by Christ instead of Matthias, sums up his character in the following words.
"In the choice of this new apostle, Jesus had a view to the conversion of the Gen tiles, which, of all the services allotted to the apostles, was the most dangerous and difficult. For the person engaged in that work had to contend with the heathen priests, whose office and gains being annihilated by the spreading of the gospel, it was to be expected that they would oppose its preachers with an extreme rage. He had to contend likewise with the unbelieving Jews living in the heathen countries, who would not fail to inflame the multitude against any one who should preach salvation to the Gentiles, without requiring them to obey the law of Moses. The philosophers too were to be encountered, who, no doubt, after their manner, would endeavour to overthrow the gospel by argument; whilst the magistrates and priests laboured to destroy it by persecuting its preachers and abettors. The difficulty and danger of preaching to the Gentiles being so great, the person who engaged in it certainly needed an uncommon strength of mind, a great degree of religious zeal, a courage superior to every danger, and a patience of labour and suffering not to be exhausted, together with much prudence to enable him to avoid giving just offence to unbelievers. Besides these natural talents, education and literature were necessary in the person who attempted to convert the Gentiles, that he might acquit himself with propriety when called before kings, and magistrates, and men of learning. All these talents and advantages Saul of Tarsus possessed in an eminent degree; and, being a violent persecutor of the Christians, his testimony to the resurrection of Jesus would have the greater weight when he became a preacher of the gospel. Him, therefore, the Lord Jesus determined to make his apostle in the room of Judas; and, for that purpose, he appeared to him from heaven as he journeyed to Damascus to persecute his disciples. And, having convinced him of the truth of his resurrection by thus appearing to him in person, he commissioned him to preach his resurrection to the Gentiles, together with the doctrines of the gospel, which were to be made known to him afterwards by revelation, saying to him, [Acts xxvi. 16.] I have appeared to thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of those things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people and from the Gentiles unto whom now I send thee: to open their eyes, and to turn them from