« AnteriorContinuar »
be content." Allusions to his own exigencies, even though he was in bonds, are rare. His whole soul was absorbed in the doctrines of the Cross, and his one great object was to build up the churches in their holy faith. The less Ministers think for themselves, the more will they think for the souls committed to their charge.
The companions of Paul, in his imprisonment, are more than once referred to in his letters. Aristarchus and Epaphras he calls his “fellowprisoners ;” the former having accompanied him to Rome, and the latter having, perhaps, been apprehended for his extraordinary zeal in the cause of Christ. (Comp. Col. iv. 10, 12; and Philem. 23.) Timothy, too, was with him ; and Mark, and Tychicus, and Demas, and, above all, his ever faithful friend, “ Luke, the beloved physician.” These probably abode with him for a time. In their society, and that of the Christians resident in Rome, he would be greatly cheered ; whilst (it may be assumed) their prayers and conversation would have a powerful influence on the soldiers who successively attended the illustrious captive, and they too would carry abroad into the camp and everywhere the new and wonderful tidings. Is it too much to suppose that some of these embraced the truth, and became humble followers of Christ ? To be chained to a fierce Roman soldier would be extremely painful to the gentle spirit of the Apostle; but the conversion of such an individual would be deemed an ample recompense for all that might have been endured.
Whether the Apostle stood formally arraigned before the Emperor during this imprisonment, the historian does not state ; nor is any information given in regard to the circumstances of the prisoner's release. The omission has been deemed remarkable ; but it must be considered that the design of the writer of the Acts was not to give a full account of the personal history of St. Paul, but to relate the leading facts connected with the early establishment of Christianity. But was the Apostle set at liberty, or did his confinement terminate with martyrdom? Against the latter opinion, we have, first, the testimony of Clement, who was partly contemporary with St. Paul ; and who, writing to the Corinthians from Rome, says that Paul suffered martyrdom after he had travelled in the East and the West. Now, by the West, Spain is most naturally understood : and, since the Apostle did not visit Spain before his imprisonment, he must have been released, and have visited it afterwards. That he had for some time intended to go to that peninsula, he intimates in his Epistle to the Romans (xv. 24). But, up to the date of his imprisonment in Rome, he was unable to accomplish his design. We have, also, the Second Epistle to Timothy, to which it will be needful again to advert : an Epistle written, certainly, during an imprisonment at Rome; and yet, it is believed, supplying internal evidence that it was not written during the imprisonment related in the Acts. The inference is, then, that the Apostle was set at liberty. “Christianity was not yet denounced," says Neander, " as a religio illicita;” and hence he could not be accused of having violated the laws of the Roman state. It may be, moreover, that his conversation with the Jews, mentioned in Acts xxviii. 17—24, tended to remove their prejudices against him, and so to engage some of them to advocate his cause.
After his release, which probably took place early A.D. 61, the Apostle is supposed to have visited Spain, Colossæ, Philippi, Nicopolis, Corinth, Troas, and Crete; and to have written the Epistle to the Hebrews, the First to Timothy, and the Epistle to Titus. The Second to Timothy was
written after he had returned to Rome. But how did he return thither? Some have supposed that he was apprehended in Spain, which he visited after he had been in Asia : but from 2 Tim. i. 15; iv. 10–13, 20, it would seem that he had been very recently in Asia when he wrote that Epistle. The first of these passages is thought by Greswell to allude to some examination to which he had been summoned in Asia, in consequence of which his friends there forsook him. Was he then apprehended in that region, and thence sent a prisoner to Rome? This is not improbable : but, on the other hand, we may suppose that, having heard of the persecution which had arisen against the Christians, he voluntarily went to Rome, with a view to impart consolation to his suffering brethren. This persecution began in the tenth year of the reign of Nero, or A.D. 64. That reckless monster, having set fire to the city, and thereby incurred the odium of the populace, sought to divert suspicion from himself by charging the crime upon the followers of Christ. The attempt succeeded. The masses of the people, already incensed against the rising cause, and doubtless aided in their efforts by many Jews resident in Rome, gratified their rage by seizing numbers of the Christians, and putting them to death in the most cruel manner: “Some,” says the eminent historian Tacitus, (Annal., xv. 44,) were covered with the skins of wild beasts, and torn to pieces by dogs; some were crucified; and others, having been smeared with combustible materials, were set up as lights in the night-time, and thus burnt to death. Nero made use of his own gardens as the theatre upon this occasion, and also exhibited the diversions of the circus; sometimes standing in the crowd as a spectator, in the habit of a charioteer, at others driving a chariot himself.”
It was during this persecution, which lasted four years, that St. Paul, either voluntarily or as a prisoner, came to Rome the second time. If free when he arrived, it appears that he was soon apprehended. The extreme violence of the populace, as well as of the Emperor, having somewhat abated, he was kept in bonds for a while, but ultimately put to death. His Second Epistle to Timothy-written, as already intimated, during this latter imprisonment—is the only authentic document that can illustrate this part of the Apostle's history. But this Epistle is like a beam of light directing us to the very scene, revealing to us the prisoner's circumstances, and making us acquainted with the deep emotions of his breast. From it we infer that he was not now dwelling “in his own hired house,” as when formerly at Rome; but was confined in some obscure part of the city, “suffering trouble as an evildoer, even unto bonds.” This is evident from the fact, that, when Onesiphorus was in Rome, he had difficulty in discovering where the Apostle was: he “sought” him “out very diligently, and found” him, and “was not ashamed of” his “chain.” (Chap. i. 16, 17.) Here, then, is one intimation that this Epistle was written during Paul's second imprisonment at Rome, and not, as Lardner thinks, during his first.
We learn, again, that, whereas during his former imprisonment “ many of the brethren, waxing confident by” his “bonds, were much more bold to speak the word without fear,” (Phil. i. 14,) now many had forsaken him; and, when he was called to answer for himself before Nero the first time, no man stood by him. (2 Tim. iv. 10, 16.) Then Mark was with him : (Col. iv. 10:) now he is absent. (2 Tim. iv. 11.) Then both Luke and Demas were his friends : (Col. iv. 14:) now Luke only is his companion. (2 Tim. iv. 10, 11.) And what had become of Demas? With regret and sorrow the Apostle says,—“ Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica.” How admonitory is this notice! The love of the world could not com port with love to the Apostle and his cause. “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Demas, though once associated with Luke in his attendance on St. Paul, having permitted that passion to occupy his soul, now leaves both Paul and Luke, to seek his happiness in the world's society! So is it too often still. Two friends set out together on the path to heaven, worship in the same sanctuary, harmoniously labour in the same department of Christian usefulness; and, for a while, both are zealous and devoted, continuing faithful to each other and to Christ. Ere long one of them, attracted by the smiles or alarmed by the persecutions of the world, turns aside, and leaves his brother to pursue his journey alone. So fickle and capricious are the purposes of men!
In the constancy of Luke, as compared with the faithlessness of Demas, there is much that is also worthy of remark. But was Luke included in the number that forsook the Apostle when called to give his first answer? We should imagine not. He might be absent from Rome; but, otherwise, he soon retraced his steps, and probably remained with Paul to the last. He had a martyr's spirit, and was not afraid of the martyr's cell.
That some of the facts are capable of being explained on the hypothesis that this Epistle was written during the first imprisonment of Paul, we will not deny. But, if so, it must have been written early in that period; for Timothy was himself with Paul when he wrote the Epistles to the Ephesians, the Philippians, the Colossians, and Philemon. But, when he wrote to the Colossians, Demas was with him ; whereas, as we have seen, when he wrote this Second Epistle to Timothy, Demas had forsaken him. How are these facts to be reconciled on the above-mentioned hypothesis? Again, in this Epistle Paul requests Timothy to bring with him “the cloke” which he had “left at Troas," "and the books, but especially the parchments.” When had Paul left them at Troas? At the period referred to by St. Luke in Acts xx. 5–7? So it must have been, if this Epistle was written during the Apostle's first imprisonment. But, in that case, they must have remained at Troas for a period of four or five years, -the length of time which elapsed between Paul's visit to Troas and his going as a prisoner to Rome. Is it not far more likely that “the cloke” and “the parchments” were left at Troas on a visit which the Apostle paid to that place after his first imprisonment?– There is one other circumstance which claims remark. When the Apostle wrote his Epistles to the Philippians and to Philemon, he anticipated his release ; but, when he wrote his Second Epistle to Timothy, he looked forward to his martyrdom, which, according to his distinct language, was just at hand. He had already been arraigned before the Emperor once, when the Lord stood by him, and strengthened him. At that time he was “ delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” But now he clearly foresaw that he would be called to suffer. To the statement respecting his examination he adds, indeed, “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work.” But by this expression he does not mean a violent death, but rather the variety of afflictions and temptations from which he would be rescued by death itself: for he says further,"and will preserve me to His heavenly kingdom.” He had previously declared, “The time of my departure is at hand.”
From these and other circumstances we conclude, that St. Paul was
imprisoned a second time ; and that this Epistle was written during that imprisonment.-And now let us advert, though briefly, to the closing scene. It approaches; but the Apostle has no fear : rather does he exult in the prospects that open before him. This is the triumphant language in which he addresses the youthful Timothy : “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith : henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day.” (2 Tim. iv. 6—8.) Noble Apostle! His whole life, from the time of his conversion, had been a living sacrifice to God ; and now he was ready to make the sacrifice complete by pouring out his blood for the cause he had espoused. He had fought, but it was the fight of faith. He had run, but it was for the crown of life. And now that crown flashed on his view. He approached the goal; and the righteous Judge-Christ, the Beginner and Perfecter of his faith-was waiting to receive him, and to confer the everlasting prize. Yet, anxious to see Timothy again, he appeals to him,-“Do thy diligence to come to me before winter.” His object was, probably, to give Timothy his final blessing. Perhaps to him, or it may be to Luke, “the cloke” was to be given, and “the parchments,” which doubtless contained valuable documents illustrative of the Apostle's history and labours. And, as though anxious that all his affairs should be adjusted before his death, and expecting that that solemn event would soon take place, he requested Timothy to “make haste” in order “ to come before winter.”
The date of his death cannot be ascertained with certainty. Greswell supposes A.D. 66. Tradition states that this eminent martyr was beheaded ; some think by the command of Helius the Prefect, while Nero was in Greece. Paul was a Roman citizen, and was, perhaps, on that account exempted from a more ignominious mode of suffering. About the same time, as tradition also states, St. Peter's martyrdom took place at Rome; but, not being a Roman citizen, he was crucified.
Pagan Rome was drunken with the blood of the saints, and vengeance overtook it. Papal Rome is drunken with the blood of the saints, and the souls under the altar cry, “ How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth ?” And as pagan Rome fell, and its glory passed away, so shall papal Rome, even though she may sit as a Queen, be visited with the judgments of an angry God. Her days are numbered, and the mystic Babylon shall fall to rise no more. Lynn.
CURIOUS EXPOSURE.—THE CHAIR OF ST. PETER IN THE
VATICAN The following letter, which is of particular interest at the present moment, from the position held by one of the parties concerned, has been addressed to the editor of the “ Morning Chronicle :”
It is a curious fact, not generally known, that Cardinal Wiseman's earliest appearance in the field of controversy was by a tract entitled “ Remarks on Lady Morgan's Statements regarding St. Peter's Chair preserved in the Vatican Basilic.” The date of the edition in my possession is 1833, but I believe it first appeared in 1825. In the second volume, page 283, of that lady's “Italy," -which received from Lord Byron the high praise of “ fearless and excellent,"—is the following passage :-"The sacrilegious curiosity of the French broke through all obstacles to their seeing the chair of St. Peter. They actually removed its superb casket, and discovered the relic. Upon its mouldering and dusty surface were traced carvings, which bore the appearance of letters. The chair was quickly brought into a better light, the dust and cobwebs removed, and the inscription (for an inscription it was) faithfully copied. The writing is in Arabic characters, and is the well-known confession of the Mahometan faith,— There is but one God, and Mahomet is His prophet.' It is supposed that this chair had been, among the spoils of the Crusaders, offered to the Church, at a time when a taste for antiquarian lore and the deciphering of inscriptions was not yet in fashion. This story has since been hushed up, the chair replaced, and none but the unhallowed remember the fact, and none but the audacious repeat it. Yet such there are even at Rome.” Her ladyship’s authorities for this statement are understood to be Denon and Champollion. The Cardinal has devoted thirty pages of dashing and slashing writing, crowded with learned references, to the refutation of what he designates a foolish and wicked tale.” He asserts that there is no such inscription; and he accounts for the carved compartments, which represent the labours of Hercules, by the hypothesis that the chair was given to St. Peter by a Roman of rank. His general conclusion is, that the chair is “ precisely such a one as the antiquarian would expect to find claiming the honour of having been the episcopal throne of the first Roman Pontiff,”—which recalls the earthquake (mentioned by Miss Edgeworth) which“ had the honour to be noticed by the Royal Society." I do not write to revive the controversy, nor do I feel competent to declare whether the Cardinal or the lady is in the right. But the circumstance struck me as well worth noticing at the present time. The pamphlet led to her ladyship's work being placed in the Index Expurgatorius.
I am, &c.
VISIT TO THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE OF KOO-SHAN. I STARTED early one fine morning, (says Mr. Fortune, *) and took the road for a celebrated Buddhist temple, named Koo-shan, which is situated amongst the mountains, a few miles to the eastward of the eity of Foochoo-foo. This temple seems to be the Jerusalem of this part of China, to which all good Buddhists repair at stated seasons to worship and pay their vows. Having reached the foot of the mountain, I passed through a spacious porch or gateway, and began the ascent. The hill of Koo-shan is fully three thousand feet above the level of the river Min, and the temple is about two thousand feet up, or one thousand feet below the summit. A nice paved path, about six feet in width, has been made the whole way up to the temple. As the traveller ascends by this winding causeway, he gets now and then the most charming view that can be imagined, which well repays him for his toil in the ascent. Now, he looks down amongst rocks and trees into some retired and rugged valley, where the soil is so barren that it will not repay the industry of the Chinese :-a corner is turned, and he reaches one of those resting-places which are built at regular distances for the accommodation of the weary pilgrim, where a glorious view is spread before him. It is the wide and fertile valley of the Min