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epistle, is unquestionable. But admitting this conformity, and admitting also the undesignedness of it, what does it prove? It proves that the circumstance itself is founded in truth; that is, that James was a real person, who held a situation of eminence in a real society of Christians at Jerusalem. It confirms also those parts of the narrative which are connected with this circumstance. Suppose, for instance, the truth of the account of Peter's escape from prison was to be tried upon the testimony of a witness who, among other things, made Peter, after his deliverance, say, “ Go show these things to James and to the brethren;" would it not be material, in such a trial, to make out by: other independent proofs, or by a comparison of proofs, drawn from independent sources, that there was actually at that time, living at Jerusalem, such a person as James ; that this person held such a situation in the society amongst whom these things were transacted, as to render the words which Peter is said to have used concerning him, proper and natural for him to have used ? If this would be, pertinent in the discussion of oral testimony, it is still more so in appreciating the credit of remote history.
It must not be dissembled that the compar rison of our epistle with the history presents some difficulties, or, to say the least, some questions of considerable magnitude. It may be doubted, in the first place, to what journey the words which open the second chapter of the epistle, “ then, fourteen years afterwards, I went unto Jerusalem,” relate. That which best corresponds with the date, and that to which most interpreters apply the passage, is the journey of Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, when they went thither from Antioch, upon the business of the Gentile converts ; and which journey produced the famous council and decree recorded in the fifteenth chapter of Acts. To me this opinion appears to be encumbered with strong objections. In the epistle Paul tells us that “ he went up by revelation.” (Chap. ii. 2.) In the Acts, we read that he was sent by the church of Antioch: “ After no small dissension and disputation, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to the apostles and elders about this question.” (Acts, chap. xv. 2.) This is not very reconcileable. In the epistle St. Paul writes that, when he came to Jerusalem, “ he communicated that Gospel which he preached among the Gentiles, but 'privately to them which were of reputation.” (Chap. ii. 2.) If by “ that Gospel” he meant the immunity of the Gentile Christians from the Jewish law and I know not what else it can mean), it is not easy to conceive how he should communicate that privately, which was the object of his public message. But a yet greater difficulty remains, viz. that in the account which the epistle gives of what passed upon this visit at Jerusalem, no notice is taken of the deliberation and decree which are recorded in the Acts, and which, according to that history, formed the business for the sake of which the journey. was undertaken. The mention of the council and of its determination, whilst the apostle was relating his proceedings at Jerusalem, could hardly have been avoided, if in truth the narrative belong to the same journey. To me it appears more probable that Paul and · Barnabas had taken some journey to Jeru
salem, the mention of which is omitted in the Acts. Prior to the apostolic decree we read that “ Paul and Barnabas abode at Antioch a long time with the disciples.” (Acts, chap. xiv. 28.) Is it unlikely that, during this long abode, they might go up to Jerusalem
and return to Antioch? Or would the omission of such a journey be unsuitable to the general brevity with which these memoirs are written, especially of those parts of St. Paul's history which took place before the historian joined his society?
But, again, the first account we find in the Acts of the Apostles of St. Paul's visiting Galatia, is in the sixteenth chapter, and the sixth verse ; “ Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they assayed to go into Bithynia.” The progress here recorded was subsequent to the apostolic decree; therefore that decree must have been extant when our epistle was written. Now, as the professed design of the epistle was to establish the exemption of the Gentile converts from the law of Moses, and as the decree pronounced and confirmed that exemption, it may seem extraordinary that no notice whatever is taken of that determination, nor any appeal made to its authority. Much however of the weight of this objection, which applies also to some other of St. Paul's epistles, is removed by the following reflections:
1. It was not St. Paul's manner, nor agree- · able to it, to resort or defer much to the
authority of the other apostles, especially whilst he was insisting, as he does strenuously throughout this epistle insist, upon his own original inspiration. He who could speak of the very chiefest of the apostles in such terms as the following—“ of those who seemed to be somewhat (whatsoeverthey were it maketh no matter to me, God accepteth no man's person), for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me"-he, I say, was not likely to support himself by their decision...;;;' : 2. The epistle argues the point upon prin, ciple; and it is not perhaps more to be wondered at, that in such an argument St. Paul should not cite the apostolic decree, than it would be that, in a discourse designed to prove the moral and religious duty of observ, ing the sabbath, the writer should not quote the thirteenth canon. · 3. The decree did not go the length of the position maintained in the epistle; the decree only declares that the apostles, and elders at Jerusalem did not impose the observance of the Mosaic law upon the Gentile converts, as a condition of their being admitted into the Christian church. Our epistle argues that the Mosaic institution itself was at an end,