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jurious license, then it would be reasonable that I should bear with you; but if it be a question of words and names, and concerns your own law, you must settle it among yourselves, for I will undertake no jurisdiction in things of that kind : so saying he dismissed them. But the Corinthians, provoked that the Jews who were themselves merely tolerated, should be so illiberal to others, took one of the rulers of the synagogue and beat him ; and Gallio, willing perhaps that the Jews should be made sensible of the unworthy part they had acted, refused to interfere, or as the historian says cared for none of these things.'
In this narrative there are some things particularly worthy of observation. The first is the disposition of the Jews, which affords a singular exhibition of human nature. They were in a city where the tastes and habits of the people were decidedly against them; and there, however disliked by the Corinthians, they were allowed to enjoy their religion in peace. But this was not enough. They must needs interfere with others, and exercise that guardianship over others which should have been given to their own hearts. Never has this propensity been so strangely exhibited as in the case of peculiar opinions ; not in the form of manly argument, gentle persuasion, or affectionate warning, which are certainly the means which those who really take an interest in others employ to convert them. No, for these are too mild for the zealot. He thunders vengeance against the unbeliever. He stuns instead of convincing. He drags the offender, as he calls him, before earthly tribunals when he can, and threatens to confront him at the judgment seat of God. Now if the Christian magistrate had taken example from the heathen, the history of the church would have been less deeply stained than it is with blood. He cared for none of these things. They made no part of his public concern, because they were no part of his public duty. And why should any one care for the faith of another, except as a friend for a friend, or a man for a man? No terrors can force a mind from its convictions. Confession may be wrung from the lips perhaps, but power cannot reach the heart. It is folly to assume that man can believe as he will. He must believe according to the evidence as it affects his mind; and he could not help doing this, even if the zealot's vision should be realized, and he should see the preparatory smoke of his torment ascending beyond the grave.
We may next remark the sarcastic address of Gallio to the Jews. "If it be a question of words and names, I will be no judge of such matters.' Though probably not much acquainted with the Jewish or Christian religions, he was safe in assuming that there was less difference in their opinions than in their use of words. He knew how any truth might be darkened by words without knowledge-how often it was impossible for many to discern the right, through the bewildering arguments of able and interested men. Had Christians followed his example, how much blood might have been spared, which now dishonors the history of the church, and sits heavy on the souls of those by whom it was shed.' It is not yet 100 late ; for if the reign of insane oppression is passing away, the kingdom of benevolence is not yet come. How many sects and
souls might have been united, that are now bitterly opposed to each other! how many hands been joined in fellowship that have been raised in unholy passion ! how many eyes that have flashed anger and scorn at each other, might have been turned upward in peaceful devotion to the same God! The faith which can only be expressed in one form of words is no faith at all; and yet there are christian parties who only know their sentiments when expressed in particular terms, like hireling soldiers who know nothing but the colors above them, of the side for which they give their blood.
Again; we may see the effect which party violence produces on an intelligent and candid mind. There are some, it is true, who consider that cause the best whose advocates are most passionate and loud. There are many who measure zeal by bitterness and earnestness by professions. Even now, in the broad daylight of Christianity, whoever determines to form a party can succeed if he will ; and the world, which would laugh to scorn his opinion on any other subject, willinvest him with authority in matters of religion. It is only in religion that men are content to be led
from their friends and families, and even from their own convictions. They wish that some one else should take their own responsibility. It is easier to depend on others than to form opinions for themselves; and as there is no earthly interest that seems endangered, they attempt to employ an agent to settle their account with heaven ; and they are enraptured with the one, who shows them how to atone for sins, by light and passing emotions—how to substitute Aattery for true devotion to God. It may be said the Jews, with all their violence
did not carry their point. But why? It was because they had a judge who thought and acted for himself, and did not suffer himself to be overborne by the reproach or flattery, the outcry or acclamation of a party. It may be said too, that the bystanders—the Corinthians were not influenced by the zeal of the Jews. They were the waves of the people, like the great ocean, rolling under the breeze that would hardly bend the flower ;—they were ready to receive an impression on either side, and when they saw which way the opinion of the magistrate inclined, they knew what to do; and doubtless had he discountenanced the Christian instead of the Jew, their zeal would have taken the same direction, and they would have been as ready to destroy the Apostle as the Hebrews were to murder his Master.
Here too, we may see the effect of christian innocence; '
how awful goodness is. Well is it called the armor of light,' for it has often protected those on whom earthly arms would have brought swist destruction, simply by the mild submission which Christianity inspires. This disarms violence except in cases of unusual excitement. The enemy cannot find it in his heart to injure one hair of the bended head. Probably Gallio knew the character of St Paul, who when he was arraigned had resided nearly a year in Corinth, quietly attending to his duty and interfering with none; -never injuring others nor giving others provocation to injure him. The wise and impartial magistrate, who was impartial both from feeling and a sense of duty, must have respected a faith which resisted the usual tendencies of human nature, as developed in corrupt society, and made men mild, humane, charitable and forgiving; and could have felt no sympathy with a party, who burned for revenge where they had sustained no injury, and longed to take away innocent lives. When the first Christians stood meekly before the judgment seat—when words of patient endurance came from the lips whence indignation would more readily have sprung—there was more eloquence in their silence—more persuasion in their quiet waiting for their doom, than in all the pleadings which mortal agony ever wrung from the dying tongue.
For us then, it remains to correct our impressions of an injured character, and to follow his good example, though he was not a Christian. He can teach us to be patient to hear, and slow to condemn. He was just and impartial, though unblessed with the Christian light, and doubtless he has his reward; since in every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted with God.'
ADVANCES MADE IN THE CRITICISM AND INTERPRETA
TION OF THE SACRED TEXT IN RECENT TIMES.
Only a century, nay less than a century ago, the student in theology was taught to endeavor to unlock the treasures of divine truth by poring over huge Bodies of Divinity, as they were called, and committing to memory the famous Catechism of those famous old divines, who had seats in the Westminster Assembly.