페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

ST. PAUL AND THE PREPARATION ments of the ancient social system could

never be arnalgamated, but by one specially FOR CHRISTIANITY.

and unusually prepared for the task. The E assume that it was the divine in hierarchical prejudice of the Jew, the in

tention to reveal a religion which tellectual pride of the Greek, the political should suffice for the moral and intellect- preëminence of the Roman, would present ual elevation of ALL MANKIND; which, insuperable obstacles to any man who was laying its foundations in individual con- not capable of entering into and dealing victions, should clear and exalt the con- with each, not as extraneous to himself, science, purify the affections, ennoble the but as a part of his own character and intellect, while, at the same time, it dis- personality. And more than this. The closed a hope common to all men, and religion of Christ was, from each of these capable of sustaining under every possible elements, itself in danger. It might betrial of humanity. We assume further, come hierarchical and Judaistic, or phithat this religion was Christianity. And losophic and Grecian, or might lose its we are thus led to the contemplation of great characteristics in the political liberdefinite historical facts. Christianity was alism of Rome. It would need one sinintroduced into the world at a certain gularly fitted by education and temperatime, and under certain circumstances. ment to mark boldly and keenly the outCan we, by examination of the state of lines of the faith to be preached; who, mankind at the time, perceive any remark- while he recognized the legitimacy of the able preparations for the assumed work Judaistic and Grecian elements in Chriswhich Christianity had to accomplish? tianity, and laid down the canons of civil Periods of this world's history may be and political conformity, might yet be unconceived singularly unfitted for the pro- der exclusive subjection to none of these, mulgation of a religion which was to take but able to wield and attemper them all. general hold on mankind. Does the pe- Have we any traces of the preparation riod of the promulgation of Christianity of a workman for such a work? Does present any remarkable contrast to these ? any appear on the stage of the early

Again : if it was the intention of the Christian period answering to these unuAllwise to bring the whole of mankind sual and difficult requirements ? Can we under one bond of union, we might imag- find any person able, at that time of strange ine that there would be visible in history complication and difficulty, to carry out some traces of previous preparation ; that all men's religion among all men ? amid the wars of states, and the conflict of Mr. Howson strikingly remarks,opinions, we should find some advance “ The city of God was built at the conflumade toward the possibility and efficacy of ence of three civilizations.” The Jews, such a blending of both as was destined the Greeks, the Romans, had each borne hereafter to take place. Nay, we may go their part in the preparation of the world further than this. Excluding mere chance for the gospel. They were" (it is the from any part in the arrangement of man's saying of Dr. Arnold, Life, vol. ii, p. 413, world, we may fairly say a priori, that we 2d edition,) " the three peoples of God's might expect to find some adaptions in election : two for things temporal, one for local circumstances themselves to the things eternal. Yet even in the things end which was to be answered. Situa- eternal they were allowed to minister : tions might be conceived which should be Greek cultivation and Roman polity premost adverse to the accomplishment of pared men for Christianity." the end assumed. Was Christianity in- The first pages of the father of history troduced in those situations, or in others are devoted to tracing the original quarof a very different character ?

rels and reprisals between the inhabitants Again : if Christianity is to be founded of the opposite coasts of Europe and in individual convictions, the weapon of Asia. And if ever two continents were its warfare, above all others, must be designed for intercourse, these surely persuasion; and in order to persuasion, were. The Grecian or Asiatic fisherman there must be one able to persuade. Do could hardly sail out from the beach of we find any provision made for such a his native creek without being tempted persuader? The work will be no ordi- onward by the blue islands in the distance, nary nor easy one. The conflicting ele- which, like so many stepping-stones to

another land, stud the waters of the miah was as nothing compared with those Ægæan. Adventure in the early ages was who remained contented in the land of inseparable from piracy; and, as villages exile. Asia was full of Jews. On the banded into states, and states into confed-coasts and in the islands of the Ægæan, eracies, piracy became war, and war along the Asiatic, European, and African brought national glory. Thus the first sides, we find Jews and their synagogues. undying song celebrates the expedition of By trade for themselves, or by the policy the confederate Greeks to Troy in repri- of their patrons and conquerors, they had sal for the rape of Helen. Nor should been thickly planted in the chief rising the commercial element in this early in- seats of civilization and commerce. In tercourse be forgotten; nor the important Antioch, Alexandria, Cyrene, Corinth, fact that one article of commerce was the Athens, Thessalonica, and many other persons of men. The principal trading well-known cities, we hear of Hebrew cities were Tyre and Sidon; and we have settlements more or less considerable in in the prophecy of Joel (whose most prob- number. able date is as far back as the ninth cen- Nor is it too much to say, that the intory, B. C.*) a distinct charge against the fluence of these widely dispersed Jews Tyrians and Sidonians, that they had must have been everywhere felt. In the “sold the children of Judah and Jerusa- case of the Jew alone was religion bound lem to the sons of the Grecians,t that to a law of moral purity. The Jew only they might remove them far from their had a conscience, in the better and higher border.” Thus we have the Jew at a sense.

Everywhere a mystery to the very early period carried into Greece surrounding heathen, despised by the culand introduced into Grecian families; and tivated and learned, he yet found his way the first nucleus formed of that vast dis-into the bosom of households, and laid persion which we witness in subsequent hold on those feelings after purity and history. The captivities, first of Israel, truth, or even those weaknesses and then of Judah, can hardly fail to have pronenesses to superstition, which are driven westward, through Asia Minor and common to the tender in age, or sex, or the Greek colonies, some scattered por- bodily constitution. We find, in some of tions of the main bodies of captives. And the most renowned cities of the East, that doubtless the break up of the great rem- a large proportion of the female inhabitnant of Xerxes' army under Mardonius ants had embraced Judaism.t And, aladded considerably to the number of Jews lowing for every admixture of superstiin Greece. Mr. Howson has remarked, tion and misunderstanding, there can be (vol. I, p. 18,) that about the time of the no doubt that better convictions, and a battles of Salamis and Marathon, a Jew yearning after something more solid than was the minister, another Jew the cup- Paganism, must be conceded to have bearer, and a Jewess the consort, of the operated widely on the proselyte class. Persian monarch. Great indeed must Where such feelings existed, the way was have been the number of Jews settled being admirably prepared for a religion, throughout the East. The small glean- which, founded on all that was true and ing which returned with Ezra and Nehe- permanent in Judaism, should yet winnow

off the effete and temporary, and embody See the various opinions given and dis- in itself, with yet loftier sanctions, all that cussed by Winer, Realwörterbuch, sub voce. † Joel iii, 6. (Hebrew Bible, iv, 6.) The

was pure and good in it before.

But this was not always the character 1 Mt. Blackburn refers to the residence of of the world-wide Judaism of the day. Ezekiel in Assyria, that the mighty minister

Regarding the conscientious “God-fearto the captive Jews settled by the river Chebar. ing” proselyte as the mean, we have for He repeats, on the authority of Layard, (Nineveh and ils Remains,) that the description by " Treffend und schön bezeichnet De Wette Ezekiel of the interior of the Assyrian palaces als die auszeichnende Eigenthumlichkeit des 80 completely corresponds with the monuments Hebräischen Volkes, dass in ihm von Anfang of Nimroud and Khorsabad, that there can an das Gewissen rege ist.”—Neander, Pf. t. scarcely be a doubt that Ezekiel had seen the Leit., p. 91. objects which he describes—the figures sculp- † Josephus, Bell, Jud. ii, 20, 2, says of the tured upon the wall and painted.-Blackburn's women of Damascus, that they were únicas Nineveh, its Rise and Ruin as illustrated by An- πλην ολίγων υπηγμένας τη Ιουδαϊκή θρησκεία. cient Scriptures and Modern Discoveries.

See also Acts xiii, 50; xvii, 4, 12.

לִבְנֵי הָיְוָנִים words are

our two extremes Pharisaism and Hellen- because it had the only organization, the ism.

only perfect unity of mutual understandThe Pharisaic society formed a hier- ing and action. The other, the Hellenarchico-political combination only equal istic element, embraced all those Jews ed in efficiency and influence by that of who had become mingled with Grecians, the Ulemas in Turkey or the Jesuits in used their language, and had learned their modern times, and forming to this last, in habits of thought. To them, for the most some respects, a remarkable parallel. part, the sacred tongue was unknown. Schrader has vividly depicted the zeal, They had their own version of the Scripaims, and practices of the Pharisees. By tures, made in their great metropolis, Altheir stern theocratic exclusiveness, their exandria. They formed a widely-spread minute literal observances, their proselyt- and motley combination of various grades izing zeal, they formed the inner strong-of opinion and practice. For the most hold of Judaism—the conservative power part, Hellenism was a fruitless attempt to which kept inviolate the letter long after unite principles essentially discordant. the spirit had departed. At the same Its philosophico-allegoric speculations on time that the gross materialism of their Scripture may have amused some ingeexpected Messianic kingdom attracted the nious minds like that of Philo; while, on lower and selfish multitude, the apparent the other hand, the refuge which its purer earnestness and perfection of their legal creed offered at small cost from the utter obedience acted as a lure for better and abandonment and hopelessness of heathenloftier spirits. In comparison with the ism, attracted many of the conscientious importance of collections for the temple, and upright; but we can hardly imagine the first moral duties were set aside by in the Hellenist either logical consistency them: weighed against the advancement or very fervent zeal. of hierarchical Judaism, justice and mercy As regarded Christianity, Hellenistic were light altogether. Their history, like Judaism was a most important preparathat of the body to whom we have com- tion. By it the essential truths of the pared them, is one of intrigue, turbulence, Old Testament had long ago been clothed and bloodshed. We find them in the in the language of philosophic thought. courts of princes, and in the houses of At Alexandria, at Antioch, at Ephesus, widows; praying apart in the holy places the weapons had been prepared with which at Jerusalem, and mingling with the great the warfare of persuasion was to be carconcourse at Rome; the stirrers up of ried on. It was the link between the the people to sedition and tumult, the se- schools of Athens and the schools of the cret organizers of conspiracies, and sub- Rabbis ; the form in which, if at all, the verters of thrones.

truths of Christianity must be presented From this compact and organized body to the Grecian mind. The processes of it was to be expected that Christianity dialectic argument, unknown to Eastern would meet with the most determined op- composition, were eminently suited to a position. They had been the bitterest religion whose hearers were to prove all enemies of its Divine Founder. His things in order to hold fast that which is teaching was the negation of all their good. And it was now no new thing to views; its success would be death to their have sacred truth propounded in these didearest hopes. Moral purity was by him alectic forms. upheld at the expense of ceremonial cor- We have thus been gradually led to the rectness; all hierarchical system was second great element in the social system abolished by a religion whose foundations at the Christian era—the intellectual culwere laid in individual conviction; the ture of Greece. If humanity is to be Messianic pomp of the expected kingdom gained for the highest purposes, the reason was apparently resolved into some spirit of man must be satisfied, and his intellect ual renovation, to them unintelligible, or, ennobled; nor can that be the religion if understood, unwelcome.

under which man's highest state is to be Such was one, and that the prevailing realized, which is not prepared to enlist element in the Judaism of the time ; pre- and consecrate every lawful use of his vailing, not because numerically the powers and faculties; to work in the greatest, but because in it was concen- lump till the whole is leavened. At the trated all the fire and zeal of the system; same time, let it be granted that this is to be done, not by unaided human power, but creasing. All the dynasties which sprang by a revelation from above, and it is man- from his grave were Greek, and tended to ifest that a very important part of the consolidate the Grecian element which his preparation for receiving such a gift would victories had first introduced. Greek letbe the demonstration of the insufficiency ters and arts became everywhere cultiof man himself to attain to this ennoble- vated; the language usurped the place of ment of his powers. And this is the the indigenous tongues in all polite interwork which, in the designs of Providence, course. Nor was Judea exempt from this was accomplished by that wonderful devel- influence. Lying between the contending opment of the human intellect witnessed in kingdoms, and ever involved in their quarancient Greece. That a height of intel rels, it too received, although slowly and lectual excellence should there have been reluctantly, the unhallowed boon of Grereached which has never since been at- cian culture. tained—that in philosophy, in art, and in There yet wanted a political power poesy, the patterns for the world should which might adjust to equilibrium these there have been set once for all, will sur- disturbing forces. Had the world been prise only those who do not bear this pur- seething in tumult, as it was under the pose in mind.

successors of Alexander, the propagation But while the failure of Greek philoso- of Christianity would have been, humanly phy to regenerate mankind was thus in speaking, impossible. progress of demonstration, these highest And we must here express our opinion exercises of man's intellect were but pre- that there are few things more instructive paring the way for Him who was to come. in history than the relation of the Roman The language of the Greeks is itself a empire to the spread of Christianity. wonderful monument of the culminating | Whether we regard it in its rise, at its intellectual period of our race. In no height, or in its decline, we see in it a vast other tongue under heaven can the minut- instrument to subserve the purposes of est shiftings and distinctions of the mental Providence with regard to the religion of feelings be expressed with so much pre- Christ. In its rise, with which we are cision. In no other are there so many here more immediately concerned, by a varieties of construction and arrangement, rapid succession of conquests and annexaby each of which some minute distinction tions, it reduced to political unity and seof meaning or emphasis is given. In no curity the various conflicting powers whose other language have we so many appa- struggles had hitherto distracted the rently insignificant particles by which the world. exact reference of secondary clauses to Crushing and afflicting as

was the the main subject and to one another can character of its rule over its provinces, it be marked off and determined. In that was everywhere the government of order language, every term relating to things and the friend of commercial intercourse. human or divine had already been dis- Among its works conducive to safe transit cussed, and its meaning labored out with by sea and land we may reckon for the marvelous patience and accuracy.

first the extinction of piracy in the MediNor was Providence, which was thus terranean; for the second, the admirable preparing a garb for Christianity, wanting roads with which every part of its vast in making it generally known and used. territory was intersected. It was through The dispersion of Greeks is hardly less these seas and along these roads that“ the wonderful than that of Jews. In early noble army of martyrs,” as well as the times their colonies had spread along the armies of Rome, advanced to the conquest coasts of Italy and Sicily, of Africa and of the world. In times of restricted inAsia Minor. Their hostile intercourse or tercourse and unsafe transit these missionintrigues with Persia had gradually car- ary journeys would have been impracticried them further East; till finally the able. conquests of Alexander distributed the The Roman policy with regard to reGreek tongue and influence over the ligion was entirely consistent with the whole of his vast but fleeting empire. other parts of the system. Every existAmid the struggles and confusion incident ing religion of nation or tribe was sancon his death, this one effect alone of his tioned by law; but no countenance was conquests remained undisturbed and in- given to the introduction of new tenets or

was

modes of worship. Thus Christianity, for ment and contempt. They had their own many years after its promulgation, grew synagogues, in which the sacred tongue up undistinguished from Judaism, and un never heard, and to enter which der the shelter of this religio licita as would have been pollution to the scrupuone of its sects. It was not till the inhab-lous and rigid Pharisee. Thus a Hellenitants of whole districts flocked to baptism ist would have acted at a great disadvanamid the indignation of surrounding Jews tage in leaving the central fortress of and Pagans that we find systematic perse- Judaism untouched, because to him inaccution enjoined ; and by that time Chris- cessible. tianity was strong enough in numbers to This last consideration will at once be aided, rather than crushed, by such hos- bring before us another requisite. None tility.

but the straitest sect of Judaism will furDuring and for some time after the nish the man who shall be sufficient for reigns of the first twelve Cæsars, the citi- this work. The pretended mysteries of zen of Rome was endowed with consider the Rabbinical teaching must be in his able privileges. Among these, exemption grasp to deal with and set aside. None from corporal punishment and the power must be able to say of him, " This man, of appealing to the people were the chief who knoweth not the law, is cursed.” In and best known. It is true that this last one point at least his message to the Jews had now merged into an appeal to him should be without fault : all should be who wielded, by his concentration of of compelled to look up to him as one trained fices, the power of the populus and the to teach, and thoroughly capable of doing plebs alike; but it had not, on that account, | it. If the question, “Whence hath this lost its value as a means of rescue from man letters ?" was for other and wise purarbitrary decisions, and from the warping poses permitted to be asked respecting of justice by the venality of provincial Him who came to be rejected and suffer judges.

and die, it would have been, as far as we The foregoing sketch of the state of the can judge, a serious obstacle to the work world shortly after the Christian era will of one who must be to the Jews as a Jew, enable us to lay down a priori the neces in order to persuade and gain them. sary and desirable qualifications of the But yet another reason existed (and this man who is to be the main agent in prop- is ably brought out by Schrader and Neanagating the Christian faith.

dery why the great apostle of Christianity First. It is absolutely necessary that he should be a Pharisee. Of all the opposition be a Jew. Founded as Christianity is on offered to Jesus of Nazareth, that of the the ancient covenant and promises, its ap Pharisees was the most consistent and enpeal to the world was mainly through tire. They saw in his teaching the abnegaJudaism; addressing itself “to the Jew tion of hierarchical Judaism. If he were a first, and also to the Gentile." It is to teacher from God, the ceremonial law had the Jews that the preacher must look for passed away, the barrier between Jew and his earliest and his most able converts : Gentile was broken down, and Judaism bemen who, having been reasoned with out came an empty husk henceforward. None of the law and the prophets, were thereby thoroughly understood this but the bigoted convinced, and prepared to convince oth- Pharisee. The lapse of years, and the ers, that Jesus was the Christ. And none warning of heavenly visions, had not kept but a Jew would gain access to that ex the greatest of the chosen twelve from clusive and prejudiced people. The vacillating on this vital point; and there synagogues would be forbidden ground is every reason to believe that the Church to a Gentile teacher: the ears of the at Jerusalem remained to the end practiJews would be absolutely closed against cally prejudiced against the free admishim.

sion of the union of mankind in Christ. For the same reason the apostle of the Amid all the difficulties and inconsistenworld must be not a Hellenist, but of pure cies on this matter, he only would be sure Hebrew descent. It is of the utmost im never to go wrong, who having during his portance that he should be able to speak ' life of Pharisaic zeal keenly stigmatized and cite in the sacred language of the law as an abomination the anti-exclusive spirit and prophets. The Hellenists were look- of the religion of Jesus, had thus gained ed on by the purer Jews with disparage- the clearest view of its universality, and

« 이전계속 »