תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

'after the manner of men I have fought with r beast at Ephefvs, what prositeth it me if the dead

* rife not ? Let us eat, and drink, for to-morrow

* we die.' That St. Paul, in these verses, argue« for the resurrection and a future state, from the

frievous suffering of Christians, is indeed evident; ut it is evident from hence, that he argued from the very fame topick, eleven verses before, where nothing of that kind is expressed, or intimated? I should rather think, that he proceeds here to prove his point by a new medium, not before particularly insisted orl. This, as it is m itself most probable, so it is most agreeable to St. Pauf$ manner of handling the present argument. For however his reasonings in these, and othe rparts of this chapter may, upon a slight vievr of them, seem to fall in with each other; yet upon a closer examination, we shall sind them to have been proposed by him with great variety and distinction.

But we will suppose, that the apostle argues from the fame medium in both these places, and that the 30th, 31st, and 32d, verses are a bare comment .on his assertion in the 2,0th; it will e•vea from hence appear, that his assertion is not limited to the case of persecution, because, in the last of these three verses, there is somewhat laid down, inconsistent with the suppofal of such a limitation. For the apostle there plainly allows^ that, rif the dead rise not,' it might be reasonable to resolve with the men of this world, Let us eat and drink, f»r to-morrow we die.* Letus please and

* gratify oursclve* with what we like best, and be

II. if «its < as easy as we can in this world, since we haw n» 'prospect of another."

His doctrine here is far from being pointed on the particular case of persecution : it relates to the ordinary and quiet course of things; and manisestly implies, that, without hope in another lise, the austerities of religion would be an unnecessary entrenchment on the happiness of those, who tyed themselves up to the strict practice of them: that is, the best men would by this means [as well as by reason.of the sufferings to which they arc exposed} become the sleast happy, or the] most miserable. And this is the very thing that I have affirmed, in my second proposition; except only, that I have qualisied it with the word, often j thereby making allowance for those cases, wherein men excellent minds may poffibly, by a long practice of virtue, have rendered even the heights and rigours of it delightfol, and brought their duty and happiness to be in every case consistent, without attending to the rewards of a suture state. But these instances are so rare, that the apostle seems to have overlooked them in his decision j and therefore declares in general, that, 4 if the 'dead rise not,' the inserence would be just;

* Let us eat and drink for to-morrow we die.*' And his steps, therefore, I followed, his doctrine I re-asserted, When I thus explained these words in my sermon, * Supposing the present to be the

* only lise we are to lead, I see not but that

* happiness or misery might be measured from « pleasing or painsul sensations." Which being granted, it will follow, that, since beasts have a. manisest advantage of men, in these respects, they

may maj be called the happier creature of the two, as «njoyinig greater pleasures, allayed with fewer pains: and so, even my sirst proposition, tho' it be not contained exprefly in St. Paul's words, yet -will be found perfectly agreeable to his doctrine, and manner of reasoning.

Let me add one thing, to prevent any cavil, 'Which may be raised about the sense of these, words; that this verse is pointed wrong in our English translation; for in the original it was read Otherwise; the sirst member of the sentence ending with the words, What advantageth it me? •and the next beginning with those, If the dead n/e not, [sf after the manner t/men I have fought tuith be ijis at Ephesus, -what advantageth it me f Ifthe dead rise net, Let us eat and drink, for tomwow .we die.'\ This way of reading the words completes the fense of the last clause, which would •otherwise be \oo abrupt, and disburthens the sirst 'os a double if, whereby the construction is rendered intricate.

Thus therefore most of the Greek expositors divide the verse, particularly ht. Chryfqftome and TheophylaR. Thus the Psendo-Igratius (and his two ancient interpreters) in the epistle ad Tarsenfes, read it *; thus St. Jerome cites it, in his •comments +; thus the Araibck version hath rendered if, nor doth it appear that the vulgar Latin read it otherwise: for, the oldest MSS. of that version being in capitals, without any distincton of words, the present way of pointing them is of

Pat. »ipost. Vol. H. p. ft, 138. 1 J«. £i Citric, i Jfaiah x&ii. 13.

g 2 no no authority. Daniel's edition of Beza's N. T. so divides the verse, both in the Greek, and in his version. * PiJcatort therefore, * Crellius, and others, justly contend for this division; and who pleases may, in the latter of' these, fee very convincing reasons for it. However, without such a division, the sense of the apostle is still the fame, and lufficiently plain; as I might shew from the testimony of various expositors, if that were requisite. I shall only place their names at the bettom f; and the reader may be assured, that all of them, though they followed the usual way of pointing this verse, yet suppose the apostle to have allowed the Epicure's maxim to be good, if so be there were no resuirection. And the terms, in which several of them deliver his meaning in this cafe, are much fuller and stronger than any ( have employed to that purpose in my sermon.

As far therefore as the context can guide us 5nto the meaning of St. Paul, we may now rest: assured, that he did not intend to limit the as. *' sertion of the text merely to the times of most *' grievous persecution."

Indeed, were his ajsrrti$n so limited, his argument would not be conclusive; Christians not being rf all men most milerable, merely on the account of their persecutions and sufferings; for the Jtv/s

* In loe.

f Thtodoret. Pet. Mirtyr.

Oecumeniul. 1i)em. Hcibufiui.

Eiaimui. Vorilius.

surlier. Andr. Hyneriui.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

had

had been then, and have been since, persecuted for adhering to their religion in (at least; an tqu d degree with the Christians. No one can doubt of this, who knows the ltory of that people, their sufferings, during their leveral captivities, and under their several conquerors, and particularly in the times of the Maccabees. Of these sufferings St. Paul hath given a very copious and moving description in the xith chapter of his Epistle to the Hebrews, in order to fortify the new-conrerted Jews, by proposing to them the heroic pattern* of patience under affliction, and constancy in religion, which had been set by their foresathers; implying certainly, that the instances of constancy and patience which he proposed, were BS remarkable as those to which he invited Christians by the means of them. In later ages, tho' the persecutions of Christians were very great, yet those of the Jews were not less violent. For, after the miserable slaughter made of them at the destruction of Jerulatem, they were scattered into all corners of the earth, driven from one kingdom to another, oppressed, spoiled, and detested every where i and sometimes even massacred and extirpated. Persecutions therefore having been the common and equal lot of Jews and Christians; Christians cannot by St. Paul be represented as of all men most miserable, merely on the account of those persecutions It must be somewhat peculiar to the evangelic institution, somewhat that distin* guijbes the Christian scheme of duty from all others, which gave rise to this decision of the apostle: and that plainly is, the sublimity and rigour of those precepts of mortification and

sei£.

« הקודםהמשך »