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Now therefore, at Jerusalem, Paul only put in practice the rules and directions which he bad given unto others, He was a Jew, and he might perform such acts, as were in themselves indifferent, without sin. If he was not under the law of Moses, he was under the law of charity, by which all christians were bound. And, as in respect to that obligation, he had exhorted Gentile believers, not unseasonably to assert their liberty, be was in like manner obliged to condescend himself. Here was such a case. If ever there could be such a case, it must be here, at Jerusalem. And, if he had not complied, as he did, he must have run the hazard of offending a great number of the Jewish believers, his brethren, so as to cause them to fall, and fill their minds with prejudices against the dispensation of the gospel. According to the rules, just seen by us, as given to the Romans, he was obliged to act now as he did. If he had not, he would not have “ followed the things that make for peace, and wherewith one may edify another.” If he never practised condescension, compliance, yielding to the infirmities of the weak; how could be propose himself as an example to others; as he does, after a long exhortation at the end of the tenth chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians ? pot now to refer to other texts : “ Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatever ye do, du all to the glory of God. Give no offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God; even as I please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of inany, that they might be saved."
I hope, I have now vindicated St. Paul. But there still remains one observation more, which may be not improperly mentioned here.
9. From the explication, which has been given of the apostolic decree, and from all that has been now largely observed upon it, we may be able to discern the reasou, why the epistle of the council of Jerusalem is never particularly mentioned by Paul, nor James, nor Peter, nor John, nor Jude, in their epistles.
There was no necessity of so doing, partly, because it may be supposed, that all christians in general were already acquainted with it ; and partly, because the regulations therein contained are not, strictly speaking, any part of the christian religion, or everlasting gospel, which is to be in force to the end of time; but only prudential rules and directions, suited to the circumstances of the christian church at that time. However, I think, there is a reference to it in Rev. ii. 24.
Another reason why Paul and other apostles do not expressly mention that epistle, or the decree ju it, though they recommend like rules, or deliver cautions very suitable to it, (as St. Paul certainly does, and very often,) may be, that, by virtue of their apostolic commission, they were each one of them qualified to deliver prudential rules and directions.
Which observation may be of use for enabling us to understand some expressions of St. Paul, in the seventh chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians, and perhaps elsewhere. “ To the rest speak I, not the Lord,” ver. 12, and, “ I have no commandment of the Lord. Yet I give my judgment, [or opinion, yuwunu,"] as one that has obtained mercy to be faithful, ver. 25; and," after my judgment,” or according to my opinion, kata tnv eunu yuwunu. “And I think also, that I have the spirit of God,” ver. 40. That is, he knew, and thought it could not be reasonably called in question by any christians, that, beside authority to declare the gospel of Christ, be was also endowed with wisdom and power, to deliver prudential counsels, suited to the state of things. And, when he delivers them, he uses such expressions, as show, they were not properly a part of the christian doctrine, but only directions and counsels, adapted to the exigence of things at that time. “I suppose, therefore, that this is good for the present distress,” ver. 26. necessity, or exigence, whilst the profession of the faith is exposed to so many difficulties. “ And this I speak for your profit; not that I migbt cast a snare upon you,” ver. 35, that is, • I speak this with a sincere view to your good ; not intend. •ing, however, any thing above your ability to perform ; of • which you must be the best judges, after seriously weigh• ing the case.'
CHAP. VIII. PAGE 201. Diss. L. · Whether St. Paul did really blame · St. Peter for his conduct, mentioned Gal. ii ?
That St. Peter was culpable, is allowed by our author. Wherein his fault consisted, was shown formerly, and again in b these Remarks. • In Vol. vi. ch. xviii. sect. 3.
D P. 336, &c.
Page 202, · The only difficulty seems to be,' says our learned author, • with regard to Peter's motive for this con• duct, which possibly might be this. He had been charged • before at Jerusalem, on account of his eating with uncir• cuincised Gentiles, and vindicated himself to the satisfac• tion of the assembly, Acts xi. But he had done that in a * more private manner, wbich rendered bim less obnoxious • to the zealous Jews.
There is no reason to say, that was done in a more private manner. It was very public, as appears from the history in the tenth and eleventh chapters of the Acts of the Apostles. Nothing could be done inore publicly among christians at that time. When Peter, by divine direction, went from Joppa to Cornelius at Cesarea, he took with him six brethren, who were witnesses to all that was done at the house of Cornelius. There Peter tarried several days. Before he returned to Jerusalem, “ the apostles and brethren that were in Judea," by whom must be meant the whole church at Jerusalem, or a large part of it, “ heard that the Gentiles also had received the word. And wben Peter came to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them. But Peter rehearsed the inatter from the beginning, and expounded it by order to them." His discourse there follow's at length. And in the council St. Peter speaks of this transaction openly, and as a thing well known to all. Acts xv. 7, “ And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them: Men and brethren, ye know, how that God a good wbile ago made choice among us, that the Geutiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.”
There is no reason, therefore, to insinuate, that this was done in a more private manner. But learned men, when engaged in an argument, are too apt to advance some things to serve a present purpose. Which should be carefully avoided by sincere inquirers after truth.
Page 203, • Afterwards, when Paul and Barnabas went up to Jerusalem about the dispute raised at Antioch con• cerning the Gentile converts, and Paul took Titus with • him; he would not consent that Titus should be circum• cised, though some pretended Jewish converts, who pro• bably crept into the assembly, when that matter was de• bated, insisted upon it. These seem to have been different • persons from the believing pharisees, wbo are mentioned • as being at that assembly. But, as they are said to have • believed, he would not, one would think, have bere called • them “ false brethren,” though they joined likewise in • insisting upon the circumcision of Titus.
By “ the false brethren, unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty, which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage,” Gal. ii. 4, Paul means no others than those who began the disturbance at Antioch, of whom it is said, Acts xv. 1- Certain men came down from Judea, who taught the brethren, and said ; Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved ;" who at ver. 5, are said to be “ pharisees that believed.”
Nor can I see, why St. Paul should make any scruple to call them “ false brethren,” who are so censured by the apostles and elders, and the whole council at Jerusalem, who say of them: “ Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain men, which went out from us, have troubled you with words, subverting your souls— to whom we gave no such commandınent."
Nor does it appear, that there was any dispute about Titus, in particular, either at Antioch, or at Jerusalem. But Paul, to satisfy the Galatians of his inviolable steadiness upon all occasions, inserts this fact in bis narration : that he took Titus with him to Jerusalem, and brought him thence again uncircumcised.
P. 203, 204, · But after this, when Paul and Barnabas • returned to Antioch, Peter coming thither, for some time • did eat with the Gentile converts. This conduct of Peter • could not but make much noise, and give offence to the • converted Jews, who were yet zealous for their law. • Which being heard at Jerusalem, might occasion much • uneasiness there among that sort of persons. And this • might occasion James to send some persons to Antioch, to • acquaint Peter with it: who, to avoid the ill consequences, • which he apprehended would follow from thence, inight • think proper to alter bis conduct, and also to induce Bar• nabas, and other Jews, to do the like.'
In my opinion, all this is abundantly too conjectural. Many things are here said without ground. Why should Peter's eating with Gentiles at Antioch presently make
co“ And that, because of false brethren," who came down to Antioch, • Acts xv. 1, “ unawares brought in," insinuating themselves into the church • at Antioch. " Who came in privily to spy out our liberty," from the ob• servance of the Jewish law, which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might • bring us into bondage” to it: they pleading for the necessity of circumcising • the Gentiles, and commanding them to keep the law, Acts xv. 5. Whitby • upon Gal. ii. 4. See also Doddridge upon the same place.'
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much noise ? It was doing no more than might be reasonably expected of bim, especially after the decisions of the council at Jerusalem, as Dr. W. allows this to have been, p. 202. Nor is there any reason to believe, that tidings of Peter's eating with Gentiles at Antioch had been brought to Jerusalem. Peter, as it seems, stayed now but a short time only in that city. And the Jews mentioned, Gal. ij. 12, may have come to Antioch upon business, or purely to gratify their curiosity. There is no reason at all to bring in James, and make him either a cause, or an occasion of the alteration of Peter's behaviour. “ Before that certain came from James.” The meaning of those words is no more than when certain men came down from Jerusalem, where • James was.' Asd is allowed by the best interpreters.
Peter was culpable, as is evident. And he was justly and openly reproved by Paul. And Peter acquiesced. But we will not acquiesce. And rather than not make out an apology for him, we attempt to bring in another apostle to be partner in guilt with bim; though the history affords not any ground or reason for so doing.
Without any curious researches, and groundless conjectures, Peter's alteration of conduct is easily accounted for from the well-known zeal of the Jewish people in general, and of too many of the Jewish believers. As formerly e said: 'I imagine, that he now first of all went abroad out • of Judea into Gentile countries. It is probable, that he • was desirous to see the christian people at Antioch. But • hitherto he had not been inuch used to converse with Gen• tiles. And when some zealous Jew believers came to An• tioch from Jerusalem, he was alarmed ; recollecting, it is • likely, how some at Jerusalem had contended with him • after he was come from Cesarea, because “ he had eaten • with men uncircumcised,” Acts xi. 1-3, and very well • knowing, from long and frequent experience, the prevail• ing temper of the people of his country.'
d. Quum venirent quidam a Jacobo.'] Id est, ab Hierosolymis, cui ecclesiæ tum præsidebat Jacobus. A Jacobo, id est, ab eo loco ubi erat Jacobus, &c. Grot. ad Gal. ii. 12. A Jacobo.] Id est, Hierosolymis, ubi pedem fixerat Jacobus. Bez. in loc.
e Vol. vi. chap. xviii. sect. 3.