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now written under the inspection, or at the dictation of St. Peter. The perversion of the Romanist theologians on the subject of St. Peter's residence at Rome, is well known, There is no proof, however, that he preached to the Gentiles in that city. If he executed his ministerial office, he would have confined his instructions to the Proselytes of the Gate, such as Cornelius and his family; for the commission to preach to the idolatrous Gentiles was not yet given. The supremacy of St. Peter is a fiction. It is the Upas tree of Christianity. It has poisoned the fạirest shrubs and flowers in the garden of the Church. It has changed the peaceful religion of the mild and holy Saviour, into a series of political controversies; from which have originated civil wars, alienations of princes from their people, and of people from their princes—and all the civil commotions which have prevented the progress of Christianity; which have given its principal triumph to infidelity, and every where degraded religion. If the blundering interpreters, who have assigned this imaginary supremacy to St. Peter, had granted it to St. Paul, they would have been more, able to defend their folly. St. Peter was the minister of the circumcision, St. Paul was the apostle of the Genw tiles, of whom the Romans were the chief; and He openly reproved St. Peter of the conduct, which he thought - Worthy of censure.
The remainder of this chapter relates the continued in-crease of the Churches, till the actual appointment of St. Paul to the mission to which he had been so long designated.
XI, We now arrive at the dispensation under which we ourselves live, when the Gospel was preached to the idolatrous Gentiles. In consequence of his divine legation,
St. Paul received the sanction of the heads of the Church arcat, Antioch, to his mission, and became their Apostle.
This chapter contains the account of his first apostolical s journey. The principal points considered in the notes
to this chapter, are, the similarity between the service of the synagogue and that of the early Church--the question of predestination--the apostolical decree-and the nature of the spiritual gifts, titles, and offices in the Church of Antioch. Vitringa, who was both a theorist and a zealous presbyterian, has endeavoured to establish the identity of the early Church government, with that of the synagogue. I have pointed out various instances in which the supposed parallel entirely fails. If indeed it could be shewn to be complete, the similarity would prove nothing with respect to the question concerning Episcopacy. As the Jewish synagogues were under the controul of the heads of their religion at Jerusalem; while each congregation might possibly have some observances peculiar to itself; so also the Christian Churches were never independent of the apostolical authority, though each might perhaps vary, in certain non-essential particulars.
XII. The twelfth chapter contains an account of the second apostolical journey of St. Paul. Observant of our Lord's direction, that his Evangelists should not go out alone, because in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word was to be established ; the Apostle, after his separation from Barnabas, proceeds on his journey with Timothy. Our Lord's promise, that his Apostles should possess authority over all the power of the enemy, was fulfilled at Philippi. In a former part of the arrangement, the opinions respecting demoniacal possession are considered at some length. The case of the Pythoness at Philippi appears to afford additional evidence in support of the general opinion, that the instances mentioned in Scripture must be literally interpreted.
In the tenth section of this chapter we come to the first of those most important portions of the inspired writings, the Epistles of Paul. As no part of the Scriptures have been more frequently misinterpreted than these Epistles, I have endeavoured to submit to the reader, at the head of each Epistle, a brief statement of the proposition which St. Paul intended to establish; and so to analyse the Epistle itself, that the nature of the arguments, by which that proposition is established, may be clearly seen.
The primary meaning of every verse may be thus more probably ascertained; and the universal adaptation of the Epistles to the circumstances of the Churches of Christ, in all ages, be more distinctly pointed out. I reject the hypotheses of Semler (x), and of Taylor of Norwich, as well as the reasonings of his follower Mr. Belsham; who would destroy the peculiar doctrines of Christianity, by endeavouring to prove that the terms and phrases which are used by St. Paul, have an exclusive reference to the disputes of the apostolic age, respecting the admission of the Gentiles into the Church of God; and are therefore to be interpreted as alluding only to the privileges of the visible Church. While it must be allowed that the existing controversy between the Jews and the Apostles, on this point, ought to be kept in view, whenever the chief Epistles are studied; we shall utterly mistake the nature of that sublimer object which the Deity proposed, when he gave inspiration to his servants; if we attempt to confine their teaching and arguments to the advantages of a visible Church, and to the impartation to the idolatrous Gentiles of a purer system of morality. Their object was rather to prove, that if God admitted the Jews into a visible Church upon earth, as an earnest and proof that they should be hereafter admitted into a higher state of purity and happiness above; the same mercy would receive the Gentiles into this higher glory, and consequently, as an inferior privilege, would receive them into a more extensive and visible Church upon earth. On this account it is that the doctrines of the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Atonement, (without which essential truths is no Christianity) are so repeatedly and earnestly inşisted upon. They are our pledges of future discoveries of God, when we shall rise from the dead. If any revela
tion be given us from above, we might justly expect that some internal evidence of its truth would be afforded, in addition to the outward facts which demonstrate its divine origin. That internal evidence, among other doctrines, would probably consist, in some account of the Deity, which could not have been discovered by reason; and which would be the one, peculiar, characteristic, and mysterious foundation, of the whole fabric of truth. This doctrine would be so interwoven with the system of Revelation, that it would be alike found in the beginning, the middle, and the end. The removal of it would be attended with the conviction of the utter uselessness and unreasonableness of the remainder. It would be consistent with the analogy of faith-it would be proportionate to the greatness of the soul of man-it would be capable of exciting that internal feeling of indefinitude, which uniformly attends our contemplation of the visible world, by whatever branch of science we attempt to explore it; and whether the microscope or telescope be called to our assistance. Such internal evidence, such mysterious, essential truth, is to be found only in the doctrine of the atonement of Christ-a divine and an incarnate Being. It ought not to excite surprise, that the admirers of the powers
of human reason have so uniformly endeavoured to overthrow this truth. Salvation by a crucified malefactor, who was at once a manifested and predicted God, though he was found in fashion as a man, and was despised and rejected of men, ever was, and ever will be, our only real hope; while it is the object of unabated scorn, both to the deifiers of human intellect, and to all the deistical critics of the New Testament. Impressed with these convictions, while I endeavour to ascertain the primary meaning of an Epistle, I never attempt to bring down the lofty speculations of the inspired writer from the battlements of heaven, to the walls of the visible Church. Without losing sight of the controversies of the apostolic age, I have not endeavoured
to pervert the meaning of any one passage, by forcibly applying it to these disputes.
There may appear to be some discrepancy in the introduction to the Epistle to the Galatians, in pages 210 and 211. In the former I remark, that there are new discoveries of God and of his Son in the Epistles : in the latter, that no new discovery is to be expected. My meaning is, that while no entirely novel doctrine respecting our Lord is to be found in the Epistles for the first time; we shall still find more enlarged and detailed accounts of all the great truths which are revealed concerning him in former passages of Scripture.
The notes to each Epistle will contain a brief account of their origin, date, place, and necessity. These will be found to be taken from our popular and common writers. The usual sources of our knowledge of these subjects have now been so thoroughly explored, that little addition is to be expected; unless we are willing to invent some new theory, or defend some strange paradox.
The conduct of St. Paul as Athens, amidst the contempt which the speculative philosophers of the academy felt and expressed for the Hebrew teacher, suggested some remarks on the best mode by which the missionary and the disputant, whether among heathens or infidels, may at once conciliate his hearers, and advocate truth. In a note to another part of this section, I have briefly considered some of those inquiries which in our early age are so deeply interesting; but which we generally are contented to resign to their own difficulty, in our maturer years. The utter impossibility of solving the problems respecting God, and his nature, and his attributes, and the permission of evil, and the existence of matter, the origin of the universe, the sources of action with the Deity, and many others, is, with me, one great proof of our future immortality, and our eternal improvement.