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suasion, and not an artful or hypocritical compliance, proceeding from fear, or calculated to subserve some private and selfish views.
He was a Jew. The rites prescribed by the law of Moses were in their own nature indifferent. He practised them now, as such, not as things necessary to his own, or any other men's salvation. This his conduct therefore is agreeable to his declarations at other times. Thus it follows after the words before quoted from the beginning of the fifth chapter of the epistle to the Galatians; where he so earnestly dissuades them from taking upon them the yoke of the law, as necessary to justification and salvation," For, [says he, ver. 5, 6,] we, through the Spirit, wait for the hope of righteousness through faith. For in Christ Jesus,” or according to the tenour of the christian dispensation, "neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith, which worketh by love." And afterwards, in the same epistle, ch. vi. 15, 16, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be upon them, and upon the whole Israel of God." So he writes in an epistle, where he strongly asserts his own integrity, and earnestly exhorts those, to whom he is writing, " to stand fast in the liberty with which Christ has made us free." He might therefore very reasonably practise indifferent things, as lawful, when not insisted upon, as necessary to salvation.
Farther, the compliance, related in the place, which we are considering, was also agreeable to his avowed conduct upon other occasions.
So 1 Cor. ix. 20-22, " And unto the Jews became I as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; to them that are without law, as without law, that I might gain them that are without law. To
* Factus sum Judæis tanquam Judæus, ut Judæos lucrifacerem,'- -compassione misericordiæ, non simulatione fallaciæ——Nam utique Judæus erat. Christianus autem factus, non Judæorum sacramenta reliquerat, quæ convenienter ille populus et legitimo tempore quo oportebat, acceperat. Sed ideo susceperat ea celebranda, quum jam Christi esset discipulus, ut doceret non esse perniciosa his qui vellent, sicut a parentibus per legem acceperant, custodire, etiam quum in Christo credidissent; non tamen in eis jam constituerent spem salutis, quoniam per Dominum Jesum salus ipsa quæ ipsis sacramentis significabatur, advenerat. Ideoque gentibus, quod insuetos a fide revocarent onere gravi, et non necessario, nullo modo imponenda esse censebat.---Aug. ad Hieron. ap. Hieron. ep. 67. T. 4. p. 605. And see Remarques de Beausobre sur le N. T. T. I. p. 444, at the end of the second ep. to the Corinthians.
the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak. am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some."
Here, in the history under consideration, we have an instance of that compliance and condescension, which in the just-cited text from the First to the Corinthians, he openly declares to have been his frequent practice; and which he esteemed to be his duty, in order to gain and save men of every rank and denomination. And what was now done by him, was done by the advice and recommendation of men of great candour, and great wisdom and understanding; friends to Paul who knew him well, favourable to the Gentiles, and guardians of the church at Jerusalem.
"This do, [say they,] that all may know, that those things whereof they were informed concerning thee are nothing" that is, that all may be satisfied that "thou dost not teach the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses; [nor say,] that it is unlawful for them to circumcise their children, and to walk after the customs; forasmuch as thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law." The meaning is not that he did always and constantly keep the law in all its appointments; but that sometimes, or often, upon many occasions, he did not scruple so doing: and that he did not judge it sinful, or contrary to the doctrine of Christ, so to do: for, when Paul said to Peter, Gal. ii. 14, "If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews:" the meaning, certainly, is not that Peter always, and in all things, lived after the manner of the Gentiles, but only sometimes. Take the words in that sense, which it seems most reasonable to do: and Paul's argument with the apostle Peter is sufficiently cogent.
And that Paul did sometimes" become to the Jews as a Jew," he says himself in the place just cited from the first epistle to the Corinthians. And some instances of his so acting are particularly recorded by St. Luke, beside that of which we are speaking. So, as before observed," he took, and circumcised Timothy, the son of a Jewess, because of the Jews in those quarters." For his father being a Greek
Ipsum vero Paulum non ad hoc id egisse, quod vel Timotheum circumcidit, vel Cenchreis votum persolvit vel Jerosolymis a Jacobo admonitus, cum eis qui voverant, legitima illa celebranda suscepit, ut putari, videretur per ea sacramenta etiam christianam salutem dari: sed ne illa quæ prioribus, ut congruebant temporibus, in umbris rerum futurarum Deus fieri jusserat, tanquam idololatriam Gentilium damnare crederetur, &c. Aug. ad Hieron. ep. 76. ib. p. 631, 632.
by nation and religion, all supposed that Timothy was as yet uncircumcised. Acts xvi. 1-3.
And afterwards, ch. xviii. 18-22, at Corinth, "Paul tarried there yet a good while; and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, having shorn his head in Cenchrea. For he had a vow. And he came to Ephesus When they desired him to tarry longer time there, he consented not; but bid them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem; but I will return unto you again, if God will.""
This is an action much resembling that which was proposed to him by James, and the elders at Jerusalem. And, so far as we are able to discern, it was performed by him, of his own accord, freely and voluntarily, without any compulsion, and without the advice and recommendation of any. And, I think, it must be reckoned full proof, that he did, upon some occasions, "walk orderly and keep the law."
Once more, finally, the complying conduct of Paul at Jerusalem was agreeable to the directions which he gave to others upon the like occasions.
We all know, that in his epistles he oftentimes earnestly exhorts the Gentile christians, the strong among them in particular, not always to assert to the utmost their christian liberty; but to forbear it, when there was danger, lest any weaker brethren should be so offended as to fall. "I know, [says he in his epistle to the Romans, ch. xiv. 14-20.] and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, then walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of. For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ, is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow the things that make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God." See likewise what follows at the beginning of the next chapter. "Of Paul's vow at Cenchrea, there is a particular account in Vol. i. p. 219, &c.
Now therefore, at Jerusalem, Paul only put in practice the rules and directions which he had given unto others. He was a Jew, and he might perform such acts, as were in themselves indifferent, without sin. If he was not under the law of Moses, he was under the law of charity, by which all christians were bound. And, as in respect to that obligation, he had exhorted Gentile believers, not unseasonably to assert their liberty, he was in like manner obliged to condescend himself. Here was such a case. If ever there could be such a case, it must be here, at Jerusalem. And, if he had not complied, as he did, he must have run the hazard of offending a great number of the Jewish believers, his brethren, so as to cause them to fall, and fill their minds with prejudices against the dispensation of the gospel. According to the rules, just seen by us, as given to the Romans, he was obliged to act now as he did. If he had not, he would not have " followed the things that make for peace, and wherewith one may edify another." If he never practised condescension, compliance, yielding to the infirmities of the weak; how could he propose himself as an example to others; as he does, after a long exhortation at the end of the tenth chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians? not now to refer to other texts: "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God; even as I please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they might be saved."
I hope, I have now vindicated St. Paul. But there still remains one observation more, which may be not improperly mentioned here.
9. From the explication, which has been given of the apostolic decree, and from all that has been now largely observed upon it, we may be able to discern the reason, why the epistle of the council of Jerusalem is never particularly mentioned by Paul, nor James, nor Peter, nor John, nor Jude, in their epistles.
There was no necessity of so doing, partly, because it may be supposed, that all christians in general were already acquainted with it; and partly, because the regulations therein contained are not, strictly speaking, any part of the christian religion, or everlasting gospel, which is to be in force to the end of time; but only prudential rules and directions, suited to the circumstances of the christian church at that time. However, I think, there is a reference to it in Rev. ii. 24.
Another reason why Paul and other apostles do not expressly mention that epistle, or the decree in it, though they recommend like rules, or deliver cautions very suitable to it, (as St. Paul certainly does, and very often,) may be, that, by virtue of their apostolic commission, they were each one of them qualified to deliver prudential rules and directions.
Which observation may be of use for enabling us to understand some expressions of St. Paul, in the seventh chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians, and perhaps elsewhere. "To the rest speak I, not the Lord," ver. 12, and, "I have no commandment of the Lord. Yet I give my judgment, [or opinion, yvwuny,"] as one that has obtained mercy to be faithful, ver. 25; and," after my judgment," or according to my opinion, κατά την εμην γνωμην. "And I think also, that I have the spirit of God," ver. 40. That is, he knew, and thought it could not be reasonably called in question by any christians, that, beside authority to declare the gospel of Christ, he was also endowed with wisdom and power, to deliver prudential counsels, suited to the state of things. And, when he delivers them, he uses such expressions, as show, they were not properly a part of the christian doctrine, but only directions and counsels, adapted to the exigence of things at that time. "I suppose, therefore, that this is good for the present distress," ver. 26. necessity, or exigence, whilst the profession of the faith is exposed to so many difficulties. "And this I speak for your profit; not that I might cast a snare upon you," ver. 35, that is, 'I speak this with a sincere view to your good; not intending, however, any thing above your ability to perform; of which you must be the best judges, after seriously weigh'ing the case.'
PAGE 201. Diss. L. Whether St. Paul did really blame 'St. Peter for his conduct, mentioned Gal. ii?'
That St. Peter was culpable, is allowed by our author. Wherein his fault consisted, was shown formerly, and again in these Remarks.
a In Vol. vi. ch. xviii. sect. 3.
b P. 336, &c.