« PreviousContinue »
established. If he meets with some disappointments, still he maintains his resolution, and pursues his course; he will not turn aside to avoid the evils before him; for he believes these, if they meet him, may be the means of improving his virtue, and ensuring eventual success; that some rough passages will
teach him to tread more cautious
ly, and will prepare him to enjoy more pleasantly the smoother parts of his journey. long as he finds himself in the path of wisdom, he feels no anxiety what may be before him; for this, he knows, will lead him safely along, and bring him out happily at the end. And whatever may happen by the way, he believes it will aid his progress, and facilitate his journey through life. When anxious thoughts arise and utter their complaints, he rebukes and silences them by the recollection, that he has pursued the line of duty, and committed his way to God. If his worldly designs miscarry, he will not murmur; for he has committed them all to God's disposal. He knows there is a plain inconsistency in committing his works to God, and complaining of God's allotments. This is taking back what he once resigned, and reclaiming what he had given away.
How happy is the life of the good Christian, who lives by faith in God, and trusts with him the interests of time and eternity? A consciousness of the rectitude of his heart and the purity of his intentions give him peace and serenity. A persuasion of God's wisdom, goodness, faithfulness and power fills him with confidence and hope. The promises
of the gospel open to his view glorious and endless prospects. Faith appropriates an interest in the promised blessings, and hope begins the enjoyment of them. Amidst the changes of the world he rests in the immutable God. In times of danger he dwells secure in the secret place of the Most High, and abides serene under the shadow of the Almighty. In worldly embarrassments he keeps his mind cheerful and unruffled by a humble trust in divine wisdom. He is solicitous only to understand and pursue the path of virtue and righteousness; thus, he knows, he shall enjoy peace, and, whatever may be his lot in life, no evil will ultimately befall him. He commits his soul to God in well doing, as to a faithful Creator, casting all his cares upon him.
When death approaches, he calls up the exercise of that faith, by which he has lived, and resigns himself anew to God in humble hope, that as he has been faithful to the death, so now he shall rest from his labours, and his works shall follow him.
That you may enjoy the conscious pleasures of religion in life, and experience its solid comforts in death, is the wish and prayer of your affectionate parent, EUSEBIUS.
A LETTER ON THE AUTHOR OF THE EPISTLE ΤΟ THE HE BREWS.
It was with pleasure, I under took the task of relieving your mind, with regard to the authenticity of the Epistle to the Hebrews. I shall now try to eluci
date this subject further, and give you a more correct opinion of this book and its presumptive author, in the words, as far as it is possible, of the excellent Venema, who after Mill and Michaelis, has thrown further light upon this subject.
The letter was probably written to the Jewish Christians at Alexandria; unquestionably, to some of that denomination, united in a church; as appears from chap. xiii. 18, 19. This supposition is strengthened from the style, as well as from the use of Philo's phraseology, who too was an Alexandrian. Dr.Mill and J.D. Michaelis understood it from the Hierosolymitans. But the style of this epistle is an objection against this conjecture. It was probably written in Greek, as it bears more marks of an original composition, than of a translation. It was unquestionably written before the destruction of Jerusalem, of which more than one evidence will appear to the attentive reader of the epistle. The author's aim was to confirm the Jewish Christians, still staggering and inclining to the Mosaic rituals, in the Christian faith, and wean them from their attachment to the institutions of the Mosaic law.
He executed his design with great skill and address, maintaining throughout the epistle, and illustrating the position, that, under the gospel economy, unlimited obedience was due to Christ; deriving his arguments from the transcendent excellency of Christ above all angels who held a high place under the Sinai covenant, (chap. i. & ii.) above Moses its institutor; above the prophets, who were aiding it, (chap. iii. & iv.) and above all
the priests, its prime minis ters.
Learned commentators pretty generally agree, that Paul is not its author. There are, however, mighty exceptions, Mill and Michaelis. But if not Paul, who then? Luther and Beza have given it to Apollos, and Venema has defended this opinion with his usual acuteness. Before copying
his arguments, it may spread more light upon this subject, to say a few words about Apollos.
Apollo, Apollos, or Apollodo rus, was a companion of Timothy and Titus. Titus iii. 15, Heb. xiii. 23. He was eloquent and deeply initiated in the knowledge of the divine mysteries and rites of the Mosaic law. This is evident, not only from the epistle to the Hebrews, which you might deem here a precarious assump tion, but from his title eyes elo quent, Acts xviii. 24. and I Cor. iii. 6. Paul planted, Apollos wa tered. He was born a Jew, at Alexandria, Acts xviii. 24. deep. ly versed in the books of the Old Testament, mighty in the scripe tures; of a fervent spirit, who at Ephesus, though only acquainted with the doctrine of John the Baptist, and knowing only the first elements of the kingdom of God, not even knowing the effu sion of the Holy Ghost, Acts xix. patronized, fearless in the cause of Christ against the Jews, Acts xviii. 25. (Venema reads
as pro angßws, as Philip i. 14) while he afterwards was more accurately instructed by Aquila, axgßssigor ib. v. 26. Thus better learned, he went to Achaia, and tarried at Corinth, where he was of great use to the believers, helping them much, who had
believed, through grace. So the Paul to plant, for Apollos to waters punctuation ought to be. Of this there are specimens, los remained awhile with Paul, chap. v. 11. vi. 1. when he was at Ephesus, but declined returning to Corinth, though Paul wished it. 1 Cor. xvi. 12. He was afterwards with Titus in Crete, Tit. iii. 13, from which he went to Italy, and wrote, as Venema supposes, this epistle to the Hebrews. At length, it seems, he returned to Alexandria, Heb. xiii. 19. In this city, if conjecture may be indulged, he instituted a catechetical school, by others attributed to Mark.
Give now a candid consideration to the arguments, with which Venema supports his opinion. If it is correct, we have gained another important point with regard to the history of our canonical books.
Besides the presumption, that Paul would not have withholden his name, which he did not in any of his other epistles; it has 1. Some weight, that there does not appear a shadow of evidence, that the writer was an apostle, or invested with any dignity or authority in the church whatsoever; yea, he distinguishes himself from the leaders, and excuses himself, that he wrote admonitions and consolatory letters, ch. xiii. 17, 18, 22, which agrees with Apollos not being with Paul.
2. He joins himself to the Hebrews, who did receive the doctrine of Christ from other witnesses, as well as they; chap. ii. 3. and mentions no where any immediate revelation. The contrary way is usual with Paul, Gal. i.
3. It suits better the character of Apollos, than that of Paul, that he aims at a more sublime instruction, as it was natural for
4. The style which he uses, is round, rhetorical, oratorical. To Apollos, called λoyios, an elegant and graceful elocution is ascribed, Acts xviii, 24, 27. This too is more applicable to Apollos, than to Paul, whose style is more concise and energetic. It would be further an easy task to bring forward words and phrases unusual to Paul
5. It appears evident, that the. author has a particular relation to the Hebrews, to whom he writes; so that he not only addressed them in a letter, but requested their prayers to God, that he might soon return to them, chap. xiii. 19. which does not agree with the character of Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles, chiefly, not of the Jews.
6. It is more than doubtful whether Paul would have freely conversed in Italy where Timothy was imprisoned, which however this author asserts, ch. xiii. 23. I know it is commonly thought, that the writer declares himself bound, x. 34. but this is owing to an incorrect reading, as for dess us must be read, diuiois, which is required by the verb, μab, to have compassion, comp. ch. xiii. 3.
7. It does not agree with Paul, to call such an extensive letter, a short one, xiii. 22, as Paul in a much shorter letter to the Galatians, says, "see how largely I have written with mine own hand," Gal. vi. 11. It suits better the style of an orator to call it a short letter.
8. The only objection is from 2 Pet. iii. 15, which, if taken
away, shall take the place of an argument. Paul is said to have written to the same, as Peter, who wrote to the dispersed Jews.
Here cannot be understood one, but various letters, as directly follows, and not particularly written to the Hebrews or Jews, but to believers in general, Greeks as well as Jews, in which letters he, as well Peter, spake of the same things, to wit. of the reasons of the delay of the last judgment, and God's long suffering, not willing, that men should perish, but that all should repent, and be saved, Jews as well as Gentiles.
If still any one pretends, that Paul's epistle to the dispersed Jews must be here understood, nothing hinders in that case in deed, from understanding Peter's saying as referring to St. Paul's lost epistles; as it is beyond doubt, that Paul wrote more let ters, than those actually preserved; which is evident from 2 Thess. iii. 17. as no other now remains between the second and the first.
SURVEY OF NEW ENGLAND CHURCHES.
Continued from page 259.
THERE is no truth more clearly revealed in scripture, none confirmed by more various and substantial facts, or more certainly known and felt by Christians, than the native depravity of man. The evidence, which scripture furnishes of this truth, is very clear and multiform. It is contained in every part of the Bible. Whether we look into the Old Testament or the New; whether we attend to the rites of the Mosaic, or the Christian system; whether we examine the historic, the devotional, the prophetic, the doctrinal, or the preceptive parts of the sacred volume, we find irresistible proof of this sad and humbling truth. Without admitting it, the scriptures can nev er be understood according to the rules of a just and fair construction. Without admitting it, many parts of the Bible, which the inspired writers manifestly consider, as eminently important, will be destitute of meaning and use. In demonstrating this deplorable truth, the whole course of events, learned from observation and from history, conspires with the holy scriptures. How plain and certain is it to every wise observer, that mankind, whether considered in a social or individual state, are disobedience, transgressors from wholly corrupt, the children of the womb.
In the view of good men, this truth is attended with the highest evidence. A thousand arguments in confirmation of it are
derived from their growing acquaintance with themselves.
Every day's experience adds to their conviction, that in them there is, naturally, no good thing, and that the apostle can be charged with no extravagance harshness, when he describes the unrenewed heart as enmity with God. They have no more doubts of their moral corruption and vileness, than they have of their existence.
That the disease of sin is deep ly wrought in the very nature of man, rests upon evidence of the same kind with any principle in natural philosophy. No philosophic truth is supported by more evident appearances or more numerous operations, than the doctrine of native depravity. The facts of a moral nature, which prove this doctrine, may be ranked with the facts of a physical nature, which prove the doctrine of gravitation. The fruits of human corruption appear so early; they are so various, so constant, and so copious, that we can with no more reason doubt its existence, than the existence of any natural appetite or passion.
But notwithstanding the various and abundant proofs, upon which this doctrine rests, it is often denied and opposed, At this day there is a general disposition manifested, especially a mong the learned, to change or conceal its awful scripture form, and to consider it as of small consequence, in what manner it is believed, or whether it is believed at all. Instead of the inspired sentiment, that mankind are shapen in iniquity and conceived in sin, or that depravity affects their moral nature from Vol. III. No. 8.
their first existence; many consider it merely as the accidental effect of the temptations, to which they are early exposed, or of some unpropitious circumstances attending their education. Most people imagine, that depravity is very partial, by no means extending to the whole moral nature, or to all the moral actions of man. They consider it as their misfortune rather, than their sin, exculpating themselves, because their state is the consequence of Adam's transgression. And some, who advocate the doctrine of total depravity, represent it in a light, which is plainly inconsistent with the free agency, the moral obligation and accountability of sinners.
But without enumerating all the errors respecting this doctrine, which are entertained and defended at the present day; it is my design to is my design to guard the churches of Christ against those errors, by pointing out the sources from which they proceed, and the various hurtful effects which they produce.
One perpetual source of error respecting the character and actions of lapsed man is, the practice of judging by a wrong standard. If men would keep their eye steadily fixed on the moral excellence of God, the perfect pattern of all goodness; or would duly consider the nature and extent of what his law requires ; they would be convinced of the entire moral depravation of man. In the light of divine holiness they would see, that the thought of the imagination of his heart is evil continually and from his youth. Judging by the perfect