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or, lastly, it was a circumstance in St. Paul's personal condition, supposed to be well known to those into whose hands the epistle was likely to fall; and, for that reason, introduced into a writing designed to bear his name. I have extracted the quotations at length, in order to enable the reader to judge accurately of the manner in which the mention of this particular comes in, in each; because that judgement, I think, will acquit the authors of the epistle of the charge of having studiously inserted it, either with a view of producing an apparent agreement between them, or for any other purpose whatever.
The contest, by which the circumstance before us is introduced, is in the two places totally different, and without any mark of imitation: yet in both places does the circumstancé rise aptly and naturally out of the context, and that context from the train of thought carried on in the epistle. i
The Epistle to the Galatians, from the beginning to the end, runs in a strain of angry complaint of their defection from the apostle, and from the principles which he had taught them. It was very natural to contrast with this conduct, the zeal with
which they had once received him; and it was not less so to mention, as a proof of their former disposition towards him, the indulgence which, whilst he was amongst them, they had shown to his infirmity: “ My temptation which was in the flesh ye despised not, nor rejected, but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jeşus. Where is then the blessedness you spake of, i. e. the benedictions which you bestowed upon me? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.”
In the two epistles to the Corinthians, especially in the second, we have the apostle contending with certain teachers in Corinth, who had formed a party in that church against him. To vindicate his personal authority, as well as the dignity and credit of his ministry amongst them, he takes occasion (but not without apologising repeatedly for the folly, that is, for the indecorum of pronouncing his own panegyric*) to meet his adversaries in their boastings : “ Whereinsoever any, is bold (I speak foolishly) I am bold also. Are they Hebrews ? so am I. Are they Israelites ? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham ? so am I. Are they the ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.” Being led to the subject, he goes on, as was natural, to recount his trials and dangers, his incessant cares and labours in the Christian mission. From the proofs which he had given of his zeal and activity in the service of Christ, he passes (and that with the same view of establishing his claim to be considered as “ not a whit behind the very chiefest of the apostles”) to the visions and revelations which from time to time had been vouchsafed to him. And then, by a close and easy connexion, comes in the mention of his infirmity: “ Lest I should be exalted,” says he, " above measure, through the abundance of revelations, there was giren to me a thorn in
* “Would to God you would bear with me a little in my felly, and indeed bear with me!" chap. xi. 1. : “ That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. Chap. xi. 17.
162 EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS. the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me.”
Thus then, in both epistles, the notice of his infirmity is suited to the place in which it is found. In the Epistle to the Corinthians, the train of thought draws up to the circumstance by a regular approximation. In the epistle, it is suggested by the subject and occasion of the epistle itself. Which observation we offer as an argument to prove that it is not, in either epistle, a circumstance industriously brought forward for the sake of procuring credit to an imposture.
A reader will be taught to perceive the force of this argument, who shall attempt to introduce a given circumstance into the body of a writing. To do this without abruptness, or without betraying marks of design in the transition, requires, he will find, more art than he expected to be necessary, certainly more than any one can believe to have been exercised in the composition of these epistles.
born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the spirit, even so it is now.”
Chap. v. 11. “ And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution ? Then is the offence of the cross ceased.”
Chap. vi. 17. “From henceforth, let no man trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” .
From these several texts, it is apparent that the persecutions which our apostle had undergone, were from the hands or by the instigation of the Jews; that it was not for preaching Christianity in opposition to heathenism, but it was for preaching it as distinct from Judaism, that he had brought upon himself the sufferings which had attended his ministry. And this representation perfectly coincides with that which results from the detail of St. Paul's history, as delivered in the Acts. At Antioch, in Pisidia, the “ word of the Lord was published throughout all the region ; but the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.”—(Acts, chap. xiii. 50.) Not long after, at Iconium,