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wreck,-bis view of futurity, by foretelling that accident,-his support and guidance by a superior power, from the deliverance in which all shared, as well as by the harmless efforts of the viper, and the healing virtue of his prayer. All this would naturally be related, and even magnified, in the social meetings between the soldiers returned from foreign service and their comrades and friends at home. The prætorian guard itself would find in the marvellous prisoner from the east a subject for passing conversation, and his name and acts would be known in Cæsar's palace, and among
Cæsar's household. Curiosity would induce some of all these descriptions of persons to visit him; and of these the conversion of a portion could
not but take place. Such then was the case. To the Philippians Philip. iv. 22. he sends, in his Epistle, the brotherly remembrance of the “ saints,
especially those who were of Cæsar's household;" assures them,
that what had befallen him, instead of being a hindrance, had so Phil. i. 12, 13. far proved a furtherance to his Gospel, that his bonds were made
manifest in Christ in the whole Prætorium, and to all others. Before the first persecution of Nero, the little mustard seed had become a tree too firmly rooted to be shaken by the storm; and the Roman historians speak of the converts to Christianity in the Capital, as an immense multitude of different ages and sexes.
The apostle was not unmindful of those Churches, where others were now engaged in following up the ministry which he had commenced, nor was he forgotten by them. His first Epistle from
Rome was occasioned by the arrival of Epaphroditus from Philippi, Phil. ii. 25, whence he had been sent by the brethren to inquire after him, and
to take some supplies for him. Epaphras arrived from Colosse
soon after on the same errand.8 This was the occasion of his Col. i. 7, 8. Epistles to the Churches of Philippi and Colosse. As Ephesus was so near to the latter city, Tychicus, who was his messenger
thither, Eph. vi. 21. was commissioned with another for the Ephesians. The prevailing
tone of all these Epistles is that of warning against the seductive practices of the Judaizing Christians, whose doctrine had now begun to be tinged with the oriental philosophy.
It is pleasing to pursue the apostle, from this his path of public duties, to any of those scenes of private life which bring us more, as it were, into a personal acquaintance with him. Such was the occasion of his Epistle to Philemon, in behalf of his slave Onesimus.
and iv. 18.
82 Epaphras's visit must have caused some suspicion, as for some reason he appears certainly to have been detained in confinement with Paul, (Philem. 23.) Unless this expression, as well as that
relating to Aristarchus, be taken, not literally, but as implying that they were the companions of Paul the prisoner, and by their society had put themselves in the condition of prisoners.
ST. PAUL AND ONESIMUS.
Epistle to In the zeal with which the advocates of humanity and the natural rights of man, have endeavoured to abolish slavery from the civilized world, it has been not unusualto represent it as inconsistent with Christianity. On the other hand, the absence of all negative precepts respecting it, the frequent allusions and comparisons adopted by our Lord himself from the state of slavery, to illustrate the condition of God's servants, and, lastly, the correspondence between Paul and the master of Onesimus, without any reproof from the bold and uncompromising apostle to his convert Philemon, on his assumed right of ownership, even over Onesimus, have been urged as tacit sanctions to the system, whatever abstract objections may lie against it. The subject for its own sake alone would not perhaps have claimed attention ; but it furnishes a remarkable illustration of a general system observed in the propagation of Christianity, for the sake of which it is here noticed. The whole controversy proceeds on the mistaken notion, that slavery is a subject to which the precepts of Christianity were directly applicable. But
But surely, whatever be the magnitude of the evil, and great it doubtless is, it is a political, not a moral evil; and as such, we may as well expect to find arguments in the New Testament for or against the Christian character of absolute monarchy or republicanism, as against slavery. Immoral and unchristian practices there are, doubtless, which arise out of this political or social evil as well as out of tyranny; and these are consistently stigmatized in the New Testament. The evogaToỒIO TQ., the men-stealers, are enumerated by St. Paul himself in a 1 Tim. i. 10. catalogue which embraces the vilest of mankind; but with the question of Slavery the apostle had no more concern officially, than with the universal usurpation of Rome. As in the case of all other institutions, customs, and forms of society not religious, Christianity took no cognizance of this; Christ's was not a kingdom of this world, and interfered with nothing in the forms of any society. On the one hand, therefore, it might as well be asserted, that Christianity sanctioned the abominable tyranny of Nero, because Paul made no attempt to seduce from their allegiance his prætorian converts. On the other hand, with the same show of reason, it might be contended, that inasmuch as the welfare and happiness of the several States of Europe are most agreeable to the Christian views, the balance of power should be maintained, not as a matter of political expediency, but as a Christian duty.
St. PAUL AT LIBERTY. For the remainder of St. Paul's fourth apostolical journey, we Heb. xiii. 23, are indebted chiefly to the hints scattered throughout his later fiius i. 5; Epistles, those, namely, to the Hebrews, to Titus, and to Timothy. 11. 12: From the former it appears, that on his release he continued his
1 Tim. i. 3.
ministry from Rome to other parts of Italy; but as to the precise object, or the result of his labours there, we have no certain account; and it is not desirable to mix the traditionary records which exist, with his authentic history. It is a scruple, indeed, which the historian who is passing the line which separates the one from the other, the inspired from the uninspired records, cannot be too cautious not to violate. It is well known what errors have from time to time crept into the popular views of Christian believers from an incautious or an artful blending of the two; and the reader and the writer alike should be anxiously watchful in treading the space of meeting, that the character of every fact should be preserved, and Divine authority kept for ever distinct from human. It is partly from the one source, partly from the other, that Spain may be
supposed to have formed the next stage of his ministry. From his Rom. xv. 24. Epistle to the Romans, it appears to have been his intention to
proceed from them to Spain; and as the early Christian writers relate, that such a visit was paid, there can be little doubt that Spain was now included within the compass of his mission. Beyond this general statement, however, it is useless to pursue the thread of truth which one might hope to extricate from the legendary fables with which every Church was wont to magnify its origin, in the same spirit wherein Livy describes great states and cities as referring their foundation uniformly to the gods. From Spain, again, we still more certainly trace his course homeward through Crete, Jerusalem, and thence to Antioch in Syria.
Titus i. 5;
83 Chrys. Orat. 7, in St. Paul, Tom.
thians, that he preached "both in the East and
in the West.”—Ep. C. 5. 84 In Præfatione Hist.
St. Paul's FIFTH APOSTOLICAL JOURNEY.
A.D. 66, 67.
ROUTE. Colosse; Philippi; Nicopolis in Epirus; Corinth; Troas; Miletum in Crete; Rome. Phil. i. 25;
Titus iii. 19;
As the history of St. Paul draws to a close, the authentic mate-2 Tim. iv. 20; rials become more scanty. All that we learn from his own writings 13, 20; is, that from Jerusalem and Antioch he soon resumed his travels,
2 Tim. i. 16, purposing, no doubt, as was his custom, to visit those places in which during the preceding journey he had planted the faith. His route, too, may from the same sources be recognised through the places above noted, without much, however, to instruct us in the progress made at each of them. The Colossians and Philippians he might be induced to visit, if merely to express his sense of their kindness during his late imprisonment.
From Troas he sailed to Italy. But the state of public feeling Unfavour. had undergone a lamentable change since his last visit there.
opinions Perhaps the Jews had been busy in his absence, spreading, as was maintained their custom, calumnies against Christianity and Paul.
Perhaps Christianity the Gnostic heresy, which by this time had made considerable pro
in Italy. gress, might have generated or aided the prejudice. From whatever cause, he found the Christians treated, according to the representations of Suetonius 86 and Tacitus, 86 as an abominable sect, and deserving the hatred of all mankind. It would seem, nevertheless, that he was for a while successful in baffling the accusations of his enemies. But “ the time of his departure was at hand; he had fought the good fight, and his course was finished.” As the
persecution in which he suffered was not confined to him, but for the first time became a public measure, so as to comprehend the whole body of Christians, it deserves a separate consideration.
2 Tim. iv. 6-8.
85 In Nerone, C. 16.
86 Annal. Lib. XV. C. 44.
NERONIAN OR FIRST PERSECUTION.
Cause of the
A.D. 64. During the reigns of Tiberius and Claudius, Christianity passed unmolested, and almost unnoticed by the Roman government. At Rome itself no tumult, such as occurred in the provinces, had attracted the attention of the government to it. In the provinces, too, the interference of the civil magistrate had been generally exercised to protect the innocent victims of popular prejudice. Whatever may be thought of the tradition, that Tiberius proposed to the Senate the enrolment of Christ amongst the deities of the empire, it is certain that no encouragement was given by the emperor further to indulge the Jews in their malice, in consequence of Pilate's report of the
crucifixion, and of the subsequent proceedings of his followers. The procurator ended his days in disgrace and exile; nor is it very improbable, that some rebuke might have been given him for his conduct on that particular occasion; and that owing to this it was that the enemies of our crucified Lord quietly submitted to the mortification of seeing their scheme baffled by the bold assertion of his resurrection, without obtaining from the Roman authority another blow to suppress it.
Under Claudius we have seen Paul, even in the character of a criminal, enjoying the favour of Cæsar's household; and Nero himself would hardly have been induced to commence the work of persecution, either from political motives, or from personal dislike. Alarmed at the odium which he had incurred by the burning of Rome, whether truly or falsely attributed to him, he appears only to have cast his eye round for an object on which he might conveniently divert the popular fury. The Christians had become a cause of jealousy to so many, that they naturally presented themselves to his unprincipled mind as precisely the objects he wanted. On them, therefore, the guilt was charged; and in allusion to the nature of their crime,88 they were burned as public spectacles of amusement: in the exhibition of which, the idle ingenuity which was displayed in aiding the scenic effect, seems more unnatural and inhuman than the most brutal acts of malevolence. Nero escaped: the great mass of people cared not on whom they were avenged for their losses and sufferings; and a large party looked on with silent and malicious satisfaction, at the apparent ruin and suppression of a class of men who had become the objects of the deadliest antipathy. Of these secret enemies, a large portion were Jews.
The peculiar character of the Jews of this age cannot but strike
87 The Edict of Claudius, no doubt, included Christians as a sect of Jews, but was not directed against them specifically.
88 They were smeared with pitch, as if to represent torches, and so burnt, in reference to their pretended crime.Taciti Ann. Lib. XV. C. 44.