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to expose. Thus the quoter of single sentences is constantly liable, not only to misapprehend what the apostle writes in his own person, but to ascribe to him sentiments which he cites only to refute or condemn, - an error like that of employing Satan's words as authority from holy writ.
But is not St. Paul desultory? We apprehend that such is his reputation in the Church at large, especially among those whose reading is confined to the vernacular version of his Epistles. No writer makes more profuse or discriminating use of the Greek particles than he does; and whether a reader shall trace the continuity of his discourse, or shall see only abrupt transitions and trackless involutions of thought, depends very much on his conversance with the Pauline use of illatives, connectives, and that whole delicately organized network of conjunctions, prepositions, and adverbs, which confuses and bewilders where it does not guide. But the mere classical scholar is at fault as to these Epistles; for St. Paul often uses particles, (as well as other words,) in accordance not with Greek but with Hebrew idioms, in the acceptation in which they are employed by the writers of the Septuagint. To refer to a single instance, which may stand for a score; xal, in his Epistles, is far from being the simple connective which it is in a language as inexhaustibly rich as the Greek in the minute auxiliaries of speech; but it performs the numerous, diverse, and opposite offices which are imposed in the Hebrew on that servant of all works, — the Protean prefix! Thus, the accurate Schleusner enumerates, in the New Testament, no less than thirty-four undoubted significations of zal, besides seven which are contended for, though doubtful, in single passages. Now, King James's translators, nobly and faithsully as they executed their work, in the main, lived before the age of critical scholarship, whether in the classical or the Hellenistic Greek. They paid very slight attention to particles, and, in their version, connectives and disjunctives often stand in each others places, while many delicate shades of meaning, indices of progress or transition that are expressed by these seemingly insignificant words, are left wholly untranslated.
But St. Paul demands close attention in every reader. His
style is involved from the very fulness of thought. His sentences are absolutely loaded down with meaning. He embraces in a single period exceptions, qualifications, subsidiary thoughts, related ideas, that would fill a long paragraph in an ordinary writer. His parentheses are frequent and protracted. He often leaves his main subject to follow out a collateral train of argument, to make a fervent appeal to the conscience, or to give utterance to devotional feeling; and these digressions are long, and sometimes branch out themselves in different directions. But he always resumes the thread of his discourse, and never finally drops a discussion till he has finished it. He always has a definite end in view, and advances steadily in pursuit of that end, with a vast profusion of argument and illustration indeed, but without ever losing sight of his purpose, so that all his material is brought to bear upon the subject in hand.
To all other causes of ambiguity, we must add the difficulty of fully entering into the circumstances under which these Epistles were written, and the condition of those to whom they were addressed. A letter, from its very nature, demands some good degree of acquaintance with both parties in order to be understood. The Epistle to the Romans is but dimly intelligible to one ignorant of the controversy about the obligation of the Jewish ritual between the Hebrew and the Gentile converts. Much, in the Epistles to the Corinthians, otherwise obscure, receives light from the character of that metropolis of sensuality, in which it is more strange that Christianity should have gained a foothold, than that it should have succumbed to surrounding corruption. Each of these letters was designed to meet some specific exigency. But the means of understanding them are within easy reach, and have been greatly multiplied in the lifetime of the present generation. They require, but they more than reward, the most diligent study; and, whether regarded as the productions of a mind second to none among mortals, as illustrative of the early history of the Church, or as prominent among the monuments of special divine inspiration, they claim at Christian hands the most reverent regard and the most faithful investigation. VOL. LXXVII. - NO. 160.
Were we to define their most prominent characteristics, we should select the concurrent agency of mind and heart, of reason and emotion, in their composition. The Apostle is severely logical, and at the same time full of intense feeling. His closest arguments are pervaded by sublime devotion and fervent charity. The members of his logic are warm with religious life; and yet never for a moment relax themselves in the. glow, or permit you to feel that reason has yielded her throne to piety or love. Thus his writings are equally devoid of cold reasoning and of feeble sentimentality. They will bear alike the test of rigid analysis, and of the higher criticism of the affections; and at the same time command the respect of the logician, and meet the aspirations of the saint. We feel, in reading St. Paul, that we are communing with the loftiest spirit of his race. His Epistles, apart from their sacred character, seem to us the master-works of human genius; but when we regard them as emanating from a mind overpowered and flooded by light from the Infinite Intelligence, our admiration of the choice and noble instrument of divine communication is merged in praise and gratitude to Him who kindled such a luminary in the spiritual firmament.
The work named at the head of this article is a noble monument'of the zeal, ability, and piety of its authors. It makes no pretension to critical acumen, and should, therefore, not be condemned for the lack of it. Its aim is, not to interpret the Epistles, but to relate the history of St. Paul. The Epistles have their chronological places assigned to them, always on good, and generally on satisfying grounds, and they are given in a carefully accurate and slightly paraphrastic translation, with a few brief illustrative notes. But the object had in view was to collect all possible materials for the illustration of the Apostle's life, from his birth to his martyrdom, to convey a vivid impression of his personality, with its forming and surrounding influences, and to present a detailed view of the successive scenes of his labors and sufferings. To this end, geography and archæology, numismatics and topography, literature and art, are laid under copious contribution. The work is enriched with maps and plans covering the entire field of St. Paul's journeys and voyages. It comprises also the complete material for a Pauline picture gallery. It con
tains not far from fifty plates, in the highest style of artistical beauty, and more than twice as many wood-cuts of coins, buildings, and single features of natural scenery. The typography is perfect, and the publishers have spared no expense to carry out the design to the utmost extent that can be desired for use or ornament. While it is a luxury to read volumes of such faultless taste and elegance, they furnish ample material for the profounder work of exegesis; and they are all the more valuable, because the authors have kept clear of debatable ground, and have produced, not a work which can be deemed the property of a sect or party, but one which neither derives nor loses value from their position as members of the Church of England, and professors of a peculiar modification of Christian doctrine.
As regards style, we might, were we in a fault-finding mood, speak of the lack of simplicity and directness. Undoubtedly the story is told in more words than is absolutely necessary. Imaginary or barely possible incidents are sometimes dwelt upon with needless prolixity, and the preaching vein is occasionally worked to waste. But these are minor blemishes, compared with the conscientious fidelity, the openhearted candor, and the earnest piety, the traces of which are manifest on every page. The authors are thoroughly enamored with their work, and evidently had in view, not a mere book-making enterprise, but the honor of divine revelation, the extended influence of the precepts of their religion among the followers of Christ, and the awakening of a more earnest spirit of investigation, as regards the history and records of the Christian faith. We close our grateful notice of their labors by such extracts as our limits will allow, from their admirable Introduction.
“ After we have endeavored, with every help we can command, to reproduce the picture of St. Paul's deeds and times - how small would our knowledge of himself remain, if we had no other record of him left us but the story of his adventures. If his letters had never come down to us, we should have known indeed what he did and suffered, but we should have had very little idea of what he was. Even if we could perfectly succeed in restoring the image of the scenes and circumstances in which he moved, - even if we could, as in a magic
Christ, of whom I tell you even weeping;' — that noble freedom from jealousy with which he speaks of those who, out of rivalry to himself, preach Christ even of envy and strife, supposing to add affliction to his bonds, What then? notwithstanding every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is preached ; and I therein do rejoice, yea and will rejoice ;'— that tender friendship which watches over the health of Timothy, even with a mother's care ; — that intense sympathy in the joys and sorrows of his converts, which could say, even to the rebellious Corinthians, 'ye are in our hearts, to die and live with you;'— that longing desire for the intercourse of affection, and that sense of loneliness when it was withheld, which perhaps is the most touching feature of all, because it approaches most nearly to a weakness. “When I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened to me of the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother ; but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia.' And when I was come into Macedonia, my flesh had no rest, but I was troubled on every side ; without were fightings, within were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforteth those that are cast down, comforted me by the coming of Titus. Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me; for Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica ; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia ; only Luke is with me.”
Nor is it only in the substance, but even in the style of these writings that we recognize the man Paul of Tarsus. In the parenthetical constructions and broken sentences, we see the rapidity with which the thoughts crowded upon him, almost too fast for utterance; we see him animated rather than weighed down by that which cometh upon him daily, the care of all the churches,' as he pours forth his warnings or his arguments in a stream of eager and impetuous dictation, with which the pen of the faithful Tertius can hardly keep pace. And above all, we trace his presence in the postscript to every letter, which he adds as an authentication in his own characteristic handwriting, “which is the token in every epistle; so I write.' Sometimes as he takes up the pen he is moved with indignation when he thinks of the false brethren among those whom he addresses ; "the salutation of me Paul with my own hand, — if any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema.' Sometimes, as he raises his hand to write, he feels it cramped by the fetters which bind him to the soldier who guards him, “I Paul salute you with my own hand, — remember my chains. Yet he always ends with the same blessing, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,' to which he sometimes adds still further a few last words of affectionate remembrance, My love be with you all in Christ Jesus.'”