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general question as the Epistle to the Romans. St. Paul had founded the church of Galatia ; at Rome he had never been. Observe now a difference in his manner of treating of the same subject, corresponding with this difference in his situation. In the Epistle to the Galatians he puts the point in a great measure upon authority: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel.” Gal. i. 6. “I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me, is not after man; for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (chap. i. 11, 12). “I am afraid lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain ” (iv. 11, 12). “I desire to be present with you now, for I stand in doubt of you” (iv. 20). “Behold, I Paul, say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing" (v. 2). “This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you” (v. 8). This is the style in which he accosts the Galatians. In the epistle to the converts of Rome, where his authority was not established, nor his person known, he puts the same point entirely upon argument. The perusal of the epistle will prove this to the satisfaction of every reader; and, as the observation relates to the whole contents of the epistle, I forbear adducing separate extracts. I repeat, therefore, that we have pointed out a distinction in the two epistles, suited to the relation in which the author stood to his different correspondents.
Another adaptation, and somewhat of the same kind, is the following:
2. The Jews we know were very numerous at Rome, and probably formed a principal part amongst
the new converts; so much so, that the Christians seem to have been known at Rome rather as a denomination of Jews, than as any thing else. In an epistle consequently to the Roman believers, the point to be endeavoured after by St. Paul was, to reconcile the Jewish converts to the opinion, that the Gentiles were admitted by God to a parity of religious situation with themselves, and that without their being bound by the law of Moses. The Gentile converts would probably accede to this opinion very readily. In this epistle, therefore, though directed to the Roman church in general, it is in truth a Jew writing to Jews. Accordingly you will take notice, that as often as his argument leads him to say any thing derogatory from the Jewish institution, he constantly follows it by a softening clause. Having (ii. 28, 29) pronounced, not much perhaps to the satisfaction of the native Jews, “that he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly, neither that circumcision which is outward in the flesh,” he adds immediately, “what advantage then hath the Jew, or what profit is there in circumcision ? much every way." Having in the third chapter, ver. 28, brought his argument to this formal conclusion, “that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law,” he presently subjoins, ver. 31, “ do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid ; yea, we establish the law.” In the seventh chapter, when in the sixth verse he had advanced the bold assertion,
now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held;" in the very next verse he comes in with this healing question, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin ? God forbid; nay, I had not known sin but by the law.” Having in the following words insinuated, or rather more than insinuated, the inefficacy of the Jewish law (vii. 3), “for what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh;" after a digression indeed, but that sort of a digression which he could never resist, a rapturous contemplation of his Christian hope, and which occupies the latter part of this chapter; we find him in the next, as if sensible that he had said something which would give offence, returning to his Jewish brethren in terms of the warmest affection and respect. “I say the truth in Christ Jesus; I lie not; my conscience also bearing me witness, in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart; for I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ, for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers; and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came.” When, in the thirty-first and thirtysecond verses of this ninth chapter, he represented to the Jews the error of even the best of their nation, by telling them that “Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, had not attained to the law of righteousness, because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law; for they stumbled at that stumbling stone,” he takes care to annex to his declaration these conciliating expressions: “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved ; for I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.” Lastly, chap. x. 20, 21, by the application of a passage in Isaiah insinuated the most ungrateful of all propositions to a Jewish ear, the rejection of the Jewish nation, as God's peculiar people; he hastens, as it were, to qualify the intelligence of their fall by this interesting expostulation : “I say, then, hath God cast away his people (i. e., wholly and entirely)? “God forbid; for I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew:" and follows this thought, throughout the whole of the eleventh chapter, in a series of reflections calculated to soothe the Jewish converts, as well as to procure from their Gentile brethren respect to the Jewish institution. Now all this is perfectly natural. In a real St. Paul writing to real converts, it is what anxiety to bring them over to his persuasion would naturally produce; but there is an earnestness and a personality, if I may so call it, in the manner, which a cold forgery, I apprehend, would neither have conceived nor supported.
The First Epistle to the Corinthians.
No. I. BEFORE we proceed to compare this epistle with the history, or with any other epistle, we will employ one number in stating certain remarks applicable to our argument, which arise from a perusal of the epistle itself.
By an expression in the first verse of the seventh chapter, “now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me,” it appears, that this letter to the Corinthians was written by St. Paul in answer to one which he had received from them; and that the seventh, and some of the following chapters, are taken up in resolving certain doubts, and regulating certain points of order, concerning which the Corinthians had in their letter consulted him. This alone is a circumstance considerably in favour of the authenticity of the epistle: for it must have been a far-fetched contrivance in a forgery, first to have feigned the receipt of a letter from the church of Corinth, which letter does not appear; and then to have drawn up a fictitious answer to it, relative to a great variety of doubts and inquiries, purely economical and domestic; and which, though likely enough to have occurred to an infant society, in a situation and under an institution so novel as that of a Christian church then was, it must have very
much exercised the author's invention, and could have answered no imaginable purpose of forgery, to introduce the mention of it at all. Particulars of the kind we refer to are such as the following the rule of duty and prudence relative to entering into marriage, as applicable to virgins, to widows; the case of husbands married to unconverted wives, of wives having unconverted husbands; that case where the unconverted party chooses to separate, where he chooses to continue the union; the effect which their conversion produced upon their prior state, of circumcision, of slavery; the eating of things offered to idols, as it was in itself, as others were affected by it; the joining in idolatrous sacrifices; the decorum to be