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and His providential and moral government of the world; deducing from these, by an obvious and easy inference, the absurdity of that idolatrous worship which even these men of wisdom either embraced or connived at; and then openly asserting that momentous truth which they were wont to ridicule, the Resurrection of the Dead P.
The same appropriate mode of instruction, with respect to Jews and Gentiles, is still more strikingly exemplified in the Apostle's numerous writings.
Of these, the Epistles to the Romans, the Galatians, and the Hebrews, afford the most perfect specimens of his course of argument with the Jewish unbelievers and Judaizing Christians.
P Acts xvii. 24–31. “God that made the world, and all
things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, “ dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is wor
shipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing,
seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things: " and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to “ dwell on all the face of the earth; that they should seek “ the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find “ Him, though He be not far from every one of us: for in “ Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain “ also of your own poets have said, For we are also his
offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of “ God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like “ unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's “ device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; “ but now commandeth all men every where to repent: be
cause He hath appointed a day in the which He will judge “ the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath “ ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, “ in that He hath raised him from the dead.”
The great question discussed in the two former of these Epistles, is that which relates to the connection between the Law and the Gospel ;—how far they were, either or both of them, necessary to salvation, and compatible with each other. Two opposite parties felt an interest in this question ;—the Jews, who held that none could be saved but by the law of Moses ;—the Heathen, who believed the light of nature to be sufficient, without either Moses or Christ. Although the argument, therefore, appears principally to concern the Jews, yet St. Paul, in writing to those who lived among the Heathen, found it necessary to adapt his reasoning to both. He shews, that “all had sinned,” both Jews and Gentiles; and that neither could the latter be justified by the law of nature, nor the former by the law of Moses. On this ground, he establishes the necessity of redemption, of justification, and of sanctification, through some other means; and then brings forward the proofs, that these had been accomplished by Jesus, “ the Author 6 and Finisher of our faith.” His argument is conducted sometimes with reference to the proud pretensions of Heathen philosophy, or the gross delusions of Heathen superstition ; sometimes, with considerations more directly adapted to the Jewish worshipper.
The Epistle to the Hebrews being addressed to Jews only, (and probably to those of Jerusalem, the most strict in their observance of the ritual law,) is framed entirely with a view to their edification. It enters largely into the design and purport of the Jewish dispensation. Reverencing this dispensation itself, as of Divine authority; and presuming the persons whom he addresses to be well instructed in its nature and importance, and particularly in the design of those Sacrifices, of which its ritual chiefly consisted; the Apostle labours to remove the main objection which the Jews entertained against Christianity, that it seemed to overthrow the former revelations which they had received from God. He shews, from the very nature of its rites and services, as well as from the testimony of their own Prophets, that these derived all their value and their efficacy from their reference to Him whom they prefigured; that in this consisted their greatest worth and dignity; and that therefore, far from depreciating Judaism, Christianity did, in effect, raise it to its highest degree of elevation. In one word, “ the Law was their Schoolmaster, to “ bring them to Christ 9.” This was its office; this was its perfection; and having done this, its main purpose was fulfilled; so that no Jew, who rightly understood the nature and spirit of his own religion, could consistently reject the Gospel, which entirely harmonized with the Law, and supplied all its defects and imperfections. Thus he reasons with them on their own principles, and not merely on the personal authority he might claim as an inspired Teacher. He preaches not to them a new religion, but confirms the old.
As instances of the Apostle's mode of reasoning with the Gentiles only, we may select his first Epistle to the Corinthians, and the first to the Thessalonians.
Corinth was the head-quarters of voluptuousness, vice, and false philosophy. In opposition to these, and especially to the last, St. Paul descants upon the insufficiency of human knowledge as a guide to spiritual truth. He contends, that “the world by “ wisdom knew not God ;” and that what the Heathen philosophers deemed weakness and foolishness in those who preached the Gospel, had proved to be wiser and stronger than their efforts to overthrow it, being supported by the signal power of God'. This is the substance of the earlier part of the Epistle. Towards the latter part, his mode of illustrating the doctrine of a Resurrection of the Dead affords another instance of this
9 Gal. iii. 24.
appropriate mode of teaching. The objections to the doctrine are refuted, partly by physical, partly by moral evidence, as well as by insisting upon the established fact of our Lord's Resurrection To the Jews, there was no need of urging such considerations as these; since all, except the Sadducees, admitted the truth of the doctrine; and the Sadducees our Lord himself had silenced, not by philosophical proofs, but by an appeal to the Books of Moses, which they professed to believe t.
In his first Epistle to the Thessalonians, St. Paul had to treat with persons nearly of the same cast; gross Heathen idolaters, or refined philosophical unbelievers. With these he contends, chiefly from the miracles wrought in confirmation of the Gospel"; from the blameless characters of its teachers, and their sufferings in its causes; from the purity of its precepts, and its beneficial tendency to
ri Cor. i. 18-28. u i Thess. i. 5.
s 1 Cor. xv.
t Luke xx.
37. x 1 Thess. ii. 1-12.