« PreviousContinue »
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 1, not the Lord," ver. 12, and, ver. 12, and, "I have no commandment of the Lord. Yet I give my judgment, [or opinion, yun,] as one that has obtained mercy to be faithful," ver. 25; and, after my judgment," or according to my opinion, are the one year. "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 weighing the 'case.'
That St. Peter was culpable, is allowed by our author. Wherein his fault consisted, was shown formerly, and again in these Remarks.
Page 202. The only difficulty seems to be,' says our learned author, with regard to Pe'ter's motive for this conduct, which possibly might be this. He had been charged before at Jerusalem, on account of his eating with uncircumcised Gentiles, and vindicated himself to
⚫ the satisfaction of the assembly. Acts xi. But he had done that in a more private manner, ' which rendered him less obnoxious to the zealous Jews.'
There is no reason to say, that was done in a more private manner. It was very public, as appears from the history in the tenth and eleventh chapters of the Acts of the apostles. Nothing could be done more publicly among Christians at that time. When Peter, by divine direction, went from Joppa to Cornelius at Cesarea, he took with him six brethren, who were witnesses to all that was done at the house of Cornelius. There Peter tarried several days. Before he returned to Jerusalem, "the apostles and brethren that were in Judea," by whom must be meant the whole church at Jerusalem, or a large part of it, "heard, that the Gentiles also had received.
⚫ In Vol. III. ch. xviii. sect. 3.
P. 513, &c.
the word. And when Peter came to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them. But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order to them." His discourse there follows at length. And in the council St. Peter speaks of this transaction openly, and as a thing well known to all. Acts xv. 7. "And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them: Men and brethren, ye know, how that God a good while ago made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe."
There is no reason therefore, to insinuate, that this was done in a more private manner. But learned men, when engaged in an argument, are too apt to advance some things to serve a present purpose. Which should be carefully avoided by sincere inquirers after truth.
Page 203. Afterwards, when Paul and Barnabas went up to Jerusalem about the dispute • raised at Antioch concerning the Gentile converts, and Paul took Titus with him; he would ⚫ not consent that Titus should be circumcised, though some pretended Jewish converts, who ⚫ probably crept into the assembly, when that matter was debated, insisted upon it. These seem to have been different persons from the believing pharisees, who are mentioned as being at ⚫ that assembly. But, as they are said to have believed, he would not, one would think, have here called them "false brethren," though they joined likewise in insisting upon the circum⚫cision of Titus.'
By the false brethren, unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty, which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage,” Gal. ii. 4. Paul means no others, than those who began the disturbance at Antioch, of whom it is said, Acts xv. 1————— "Certain men came down from Judea, who taught the brethren, and said: Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved:" who at ver. 5, are said to be "pha
risees that believed."
Nor can I see, why St. Paul should make any scruple to call them "false brethren," who are so censured by the apostles and elders, and the whole council at Jerusalem, who say of them: "Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain men, which went out from us, have troubled you with words, subverting your souls-to whom we gave no such commandment."
Nor does it appear, that there was any dispute about Titus, in particular, either at Antioch, or at Jerusalem. But Paul, to satisfy the Galatians of his inviolable steadiness upon all occasions, inserts this fact in his narration: that he took Titus with him to Jerusalem, and brought him thence again, uncircumcised.
P. 203, 204. But after this, when Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch, Peter coming thither, for some time did eat with the Gentile converts. This conduct of Peter could not but ⚫ make much noise, and give offence to the converted Jews, who were yet zealous for their law. Which being heard at Jerusalem, might occasion much uneasiness there among that sort of 'persons. And this might occasion James to send some persons to Antioch, to acquaint Peter with it who, to avoid the ill consequences, which he apprehended would follow from thence, ⚫ might think proper to alter his conduct, and also to induce Barnabas, and other Jews, to do 'the like.'
In my opinion, all this is abundantly too conjectural. Many things are here said without ground. Why should Peter's eating with Gentiles at Antioch presently make much noise? It was doing no more than might be reasonably expected of him, especially after the decisions of the council at Jerusalem, as Dr. Wallows this to have been, p. 202. Nor is there any reason to believe, that tidings of Peter's eating with Gentiles at Antioch had been brought to Jerusalem. Peter, as it seems, stayed now but a short time only in that city. And the Jews mentioned, Gal. ii. 12. may have come to Antioch upon business, or purely to gratify their curiosity. There is no reason at all to bring in James, and make him either a cause, or an occasion of the alteration of Peter's behaviour. "Before that certain came from James." The
a "And that, because of false brethren," who came down to Antioch, Acts xv. 1. "unawares brought in," insinuating themselves into the church at Antioch. "Who came in privily to spy out our liberty," from the observance of the Jewish law, which we have in Christ Jesus, that
they might bring us into bondage" to it: they pleading for 'the necessity of circumcising the Gentiles, and commanding 'them to keep the law, Acts xv. 5.' Whitby upon Gal. ii. 4. See also Doddridge upon the same place.
meaning of these words is no more than when certain men came down from Jerusalem, where James was.' As 'is allowed by the best interpreters.
Peter was culpable, as is evident. And he was justly and openly reproved by Paul. And Peter acquiesced. But we will not acquiesce. And rather than not make out an apology for him, we attempt to bring in another apostle to be partner in guilt with him: though the history affords not any ground or reason for so doing.
Without any curious researches, and groundless conjectures, Peter's alteration of conduct is easily accounted for from the well-known zeal of the Jewish people in general, and of too many of the Jewish believers. As formerly 'said: I imagine, that he now first of all went abroad out of Judea into Gentile countries. It is probable, that he was desirous to see the christian people at Antioch. But hitherto he had not been much used to converse with Gentiles. And when some zealous Jew believers came to Antioch from Jerusalem, he was < alarmed: recollecting, it is likely, how some at Jerusalem had contended with him after he < was come from Cesarea, because he had eaten with men uncircumcised," Acts xi. 1-3. and
• very well knowing, from long and frequent experience, the prevailing temper of the people of his country.'
PAGE 208. Diss. li.
What is the meaning of Paul's expression, "You see how large a letter • I have written unto you with my own hand," Gal. vi. 11.
This question has been considered by many interpreters, and other learned men. I likewise have had occasion to speak to it. And I think, I have said what is sufficient to our English version is very right.
• Quum venirent quidam a Jacobo.'] Id est, ab Hierosolymis, cui ecclesiæ tum præsidebat Jacobus. A Jacobo, id est, ab eo loco ubi erat Jacobus, &c. Grot. ad Gal. ii. 12, a Ja
cobo.] id est, Hierosolymis, ubi pedem fixerat Jacobus. Bez. in loc.
Vol. III. chap. xviii. sect. 3. c See Vol. III. chap. xii. sect. 3.
DR. MACKNIGHT'S HARMONY OF THE FOUR GOSPELS:
AS FAR AS RELATES TO THE HISTORY OF OUR SAVIOUR'S RESURRECTION.
IN A LETTER TO THE AUTHOR.
I INTEND to send you some observations upon your Harmony of the four Gospels, relating to the history of our Saviour's resurrection. They will regard these several sections of your work, sect. 149-156. If my thoughts are somewhat different from yours, I do not know, that you have any good reason to be offended. You have made a "New Harmony of the Gospels," after many others, and very different from them in many respects. Another therefore may have a right after you, and may think himself to represent the sense of the evangelists as it appears. to him.
My observations will relate to the several following articles. 1. The burial of our Saviour. 2. The request of the chief priests and pharisees, to Pilate the governor, to afford them a guard for the security of the sepulchre. 3. A visit to the sepulchre, which you suppose to have been intended, and attempted by the women from Galilee, but not performed by them. 4. The preparing the spices by those women to anoint the body of the Lord Jesus. 5. Their journey to the sepulchre, and the appearances of our Lord to them, and others, after his resurrection.
I. Of the burial of our Saviour,' which is related by all the evangelists, but by St. John more particularly than by any of the rest. Matt. xxvii. 57-61. Mark xv. 42-47. Luke xxiii. 50-56. John xix. 38-42.
But here I do not stay, not intending to make any remarks upon this beside what may offer occasionally, in considering the other articles.
II. The request of the chief priests and pharisees to Pilate the governor, to afford them a guard for the security of the sepulchre.' Which is related by St. Matthew only, ch. xxvii. 62—66.
His words are these. "Now the next day that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again: command therefore, that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead. So the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch. Go your way, and make it as sure as you can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch."
Upon this you say, p.618. * Τη δε επαύριον, ητις εςι μετά την παρασκευήν, “ the next day that followed the preparation," that is, after the sun was set. For the Jewish day began then. They took this measure therefore, not "on the morrow," in our sense of the word, but in the evening, after sun-setting, when the Jewish sabbath was begun, and when they understood the body
was buried. To have delayed it to sun-rising, would have been preposterous, as the disciples ⚫ might have stolen the body away during the preceding night.'
This you say, contrary, as I suppose, to all interpreters and commentators whatever. Says Whitby: "Now the next day that followed the preparation," viz. the sabbath-day in the 'morning.' And in like manner other interpreters. But the thing is so plain, as scarcely to need any paraphrase or explication, and therefore is seldom found in commentators. But that the meaning of the original word is "the next day," according to our usual manner of speaking, is manifest from many texts, where it is found. So Acts xxv. 22, 23. "Then Agrippa said unto Festus: I would also hear the man myself. To-morrow, auglov, said he, thou shalt hear him. On the morrow, T8 Expo, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice with great pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing, with the chief captains, and principal men of the city, at Festus' commandment Paul was brought forth." I presume, that by "to-morrow, [or] on the morrow," is not meant the dark evening, or night, after sun-setting, but "the next day," when it was light, the only proper season for such an assembly, and the important design of it.
Acts iv. 5. "And it came to pass, that on the morrow, eyeveto de ɛti TV aupov, their elders, and rulers, and scribes,—were gathered together." The context shows, that hereby is not meant the night-season, after sun-setting, but the next day, when it would be light. For it is said at ver. 3, "And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold until the next day, es Tv augiov. For it was now even-tide."
Acts x. 23, 24. "Then called he them in, and lodged them." And on the morrow, Ty de ETRUρION, Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. And on the morrow after, Ty de ETZugio, they entered into Cesarea." I do not see, how the word cau be here understood of any thing, but the morning of the next day, after the rising of the sun. Nor do I think, that it ever was understood otherwise. See also ver. 9, and chap. xx. 7, xxii. 30, and other like places, which may easily be found by yourself, or any other, that wants farther satisfaction.
It seems to me somewhat strange, that you should misunderstand a phrase, which has in so many places, invariably, the same meaning, and has always been so understood. If the evangelist had intended the time mentioned by you, he would have expressed it, in some one of the phrases, not unusual in the gospels. He would have said: "And when the evening was now come, [or] when the sun was now set," of which examples may be seen Mat. xiv. 23. otias de γενομενης. John vi. 16. ως δε ο ια εγενετο. Mark i. 32. οψίας δε γενομενης, οτε εδυ ο ήλιος. Luke iv. 40. δύνοντος δε το ηλι8.
And why do you affix this unheard of meaning to the word in Matt. xxvii. 62? Let us attend. To have delayed it to sun-rising would have been preposterous, as the disciples might have stolen the body away during the preceding night.' But, Sir, such reasonings are of no avail against the clear and express assertion of the evangelist, that the priests and pharisees did not go to Pilate, till the next day, or the morrow after our Saviour's crucifixion and burial.
And there are obvious reasons for such delay. The day, in which our Lord was crucified, had been a day of full employment, and great perplexity to Pilate. And the Jewish priests and pharisees might not judge it convenient to disturb him in the evening of it. Possibly this thought of a guard, to watch the sepulchre, came not into the minds of any of them that evening. Whenever the thought arose in the minds of one, or two, or some few of them, it would require time to propose it to others, and gather them together, to go with the request to Pilate. And the morning of the next day was soon enough. For they could none of them suspect the disciples to be so horribly profane and desperate, as to attempt to remove a dead body on the sabbath! They therefore made provision against the night that followed after the sabbath. Which was all that could be reckoned needful in the opinion of the most suspicious. Indeed, it is not easily supposable, that any of those Jews did really suspect the disciples of a design to steal the body. But they were willing to cast upon them the scandal of such a supposition, the more to bring them under popular resentment. But the contrivance turned out to their own disadvantage.
I seem to myself to have now made good the common interpretation of this text. I have advanced nothing new. On the next day, after the crucifixion of Jesus, and probably, in the morning of that day, some of the priests and pharisees went to Pilate, requesting a guard at the sepulchre, and he granted their request.
This paragraph of St. Matthew is so plain and easy, that I have found few notes upon it in