« AnteriorContinuar »
ius, and manner of writing, peculiar to this apostle. Many things are required to enable any one to judge aright of this matter; he must, as Bernard says, “drink “of Paul's spirit, who would understand his writings.” Without this spirit, they are somewhat obscure, intricate, sapless, and unsavory; when, to them in whom it is, they are all sweet, gracious: in some measure open, plain, and powerful. A great and constant exercise to an acquaintance with his frame of spirit in writing, is also necessary. Unless a man have contracted, as it were, a familiarity, by a constant converse with him, no critical skill in words or phrases, will render him a competent judge. This enabled Cæsar to determine aright concerning the writings of Cicero. And he that is so acquainted with the writings of this apostle, will be able to discern his spirit
, as Austin says his mother Monica did Divine revelations, (nescio quo sapore,) by an inexpressible spiritual savor. Moreover, an experience of the power and efficacy of his writings is required. He, whose heart is cast into the mould of the doctrine delivered by him, will receive quick impressions from his spirit exerting itself in any of his writings. He that is thus prepared to judge, will find that heavenliness and perspicuity in unfolding the deepest evangelical mysteries; that peculiar exaltation of Jesus Christ, in his person, office, and work; that spiritual persuasiveness; that transcendent manner of arguing and reasoning; that wise insinuation and pathetical pressing of well-grounded exhortations; that love, tenderness, and affection to the souls of men; that zeal for God, and authority in teaching, which enliven and adorn all his other epistles, shine in this in an eminent manner, from the beginning to the end. And this consideration, whatever may be the appreliension of others,
concerning it, is what gives me satisfaction above all that are pleaded in this cause.
$11. 3. The testimony of the first churches, of whose testimony any records are yet remaining, may also be pleaded in this cause. Above thirty of the Greek fathers, and fifty of the Latin, have been reckoned up by the learned reporting this primitive tradition. I shall not trouble the reader with a catalogue of their names, nor the repetition of their words; because the whole of what in general we assert, is acknowledged by the eastern church where this epistle was first made public; and surely they could discover the truth in this matter of fact, better than the western church, or any in the following ages.
$12. 4. The epistle itself discovers the author sev
(1.) The general argument and scope of it declares it to be Paul's. Hereof there are two parts: The exaltation of the person, office, and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, with the excellency of the gospel, and its worship; and, a discovery of the nature, use, and expiration of Mosaical institutions; their present unprofitableness, and the ceasing of their obligation to obedience. The first part, we may grant, was equally the design of all the apostles, though we find it, in a peculiar way, insisted on in the writings of Paul. The latter was his. special work and business; partly ex instituto; and partly from the occasional opposition of the Jews. The apostles of the circumcision, suitable to the nature of their work, accommodated themselves to the
prejudicate opinion of the Jews; and the rest of the apostles had little occasion to deal with them or others on this subject. Paul, in an eminent manner, bore the burden of that day; having well settled all other churches, who were troubled in this controversy, by
some of the Jews, he at last treats with themselves directly, giving an account of what he had elsewhere preached and taught to this purpose, and the grounds on which he proceeded; and this not without great success, as the burying of the Judaical controversy not long after fully manifests.
(2.) The method of his procedure is the same with that of his other epistles, which also was peculiar to him. He first lays down the doctrinal mysteries of the gospel, vindicating them from oppositions and exceptions, and then descends to exhortations to obedience deduced from them, with an enumeration of such moral duties as those to whom he wrote, stood in need to be minded of.
(3.) His way of argument in this and his other epistles is the same; which is sublime and mystical, accommodated rather to the spiritual reasons of believers, than the artificial rules of philosophers. That he should more abound with testimonies and quotations out of the Old Testament in this, than his other epistles, is nothing more than the matter whereof he treats, and the persons to whom he wrote, necessarily required.
(4.) Many things in this epistle evidently manifest, that he who wrote it, was not only mighty in the scripture, but also exceedingly well versed and skilful in the customs, practices, opinions, traditions, expositions, and applications of scripture then received in the Jewish church, as we shall fully manifest in our progress. Now, who could this be but Paul? For, as he was brought up under one of the best and most famous of their masters in those days, and profited in the knowledge of their religion above his equals; so, for want of this kind of learning, the Jews esteemed the chief of the other apostles, Peter and John, to be (181c1u.) “ignorant and unlearned,” Acts iv, 13.
(5.) Sundry particulars towards the close of the epistle openly proclaim Paul to have been the writer of it. As the mention that he makes of his bonds, and the compassion that the Hebrews shewed him in his sufferings, and whilst he was a prisoner, chap. X, 34, and the mention of his dear and constant companion, Timothy, chap. xiii, 23, who was at Rome with Paul, in his bonds, Phil. i, 13, 14. Now, surely it is scarcely credible, that any other in Italy, where Paul then was, and newly released out of prison, should write to the churches of the Hebrews, and therein make mention of his own bonds, and the bonds of Timothy, a man unknown to them, but by the means of Paul, and not once intimate any thing about his condition. Beside, the constant sign and token of Paul's epistles, which himself had publicly signified to be so, 2 Thes. iii, 17, 18, is subjoined to this; “Grace be with you all." That this originally was written with his own hand, there is no ground to question, but rather appears to be so because it was written; for he affirms, that it was his custom to subjoin that salutation with his own hand.
Now, this was an evidence to them to whom the original of the epistle first came; but not to those who had only transcribed copies of it. The salutation itself was their token, being peculiar to Paul. And all these circumstances will yet receive some farther force from the consideration of the time wherein this epistle was written.
OF THE TIME WHEN, AND LANGUAGE IN WHICH, THE EPISTLE
TO THE HEBREWS WAS WRITTEN.
$1. Of the time when the epistle was written. It was after Paul's
release out of prison; before the death of James; before the second of Peter. 2. The time of Paul's being sent to Rome. $3. The affairs of the Jews at that time; and the martyrdom of James. 94. The state of the Hebrew churches; which were zealously addicted to Mosaical institutions. $5. The troubles of the Jews; and the Christians warned to leave Jerusalem. 56. Causes of their unwillingness to leave it. 57. The occasion and success of the epistle. 98. (II.) Of the language wherein it was written. Not written in Hebrew. 89. Not translated by Clemens. $10. But has strong marks of a Greek original.
§1. (I.) The time when the epistles were written, often threw considerable light on many passages; for instance, we learn, that the shipwreck at Mileta, Acts xxvii, is not what St. Paul refers to, 2 Cor. xi, when he says he was a “night and a day in the deep;" because that epistle was written some years before his sailing towards Rome. The time of Paul's imprisonment at Rome was expired before the writing of this epistle; for he was not only absent from Rome, in some other part of Italy, when he wrote it, chap. xiii, 24, but also so far at liberty, as to entertain a resolution of going into the East, whën Timothy should come to him, chap. xiii, 23. The date of it must be also prior to the martyrdom of James at Jerusalem; since he affirms, that the Hebrew church had not yet resisted unto blood, chap. xii, 4. It is also certain, that it was not only written, but well known to the believing Jews, before the writing of the second epistle of Peter, which