Page images

ing them to believe in JESUS as the MESSIAH, from the fulfilment of the types and prophecies of the Law and the Prophets. A few of them were persuaded by what he said, but the majority disbelieved. Whereupon he applied to the latter Isaiah's famous prophecy of the obduracy of the Jewish nation, Isa. vi. 9, 10; which he had before applied to them in his Epistle, Rom. xi. 8; and to excite them to jealousy, assured them the Gentiles would hear the Gospel, ver. 23—29.

Paul had better success with the Gentiles, and made a considerable number of converts; some of high rank, among Cæsar's household, and it is probable, even the Empress Poppea herself, from the testimony of Josephus, noticed before.

After a residence of two full years at Rome, in his own hired house, with permission to receive all visitants, and to preach the Gospel, and teach the doctrines of Christianity with all freedom, and without restraint, ver. 30, 31, he left Rome about the spring of A.D. 64, and went by sea to Syria, and perhaps Judea, and returned through Asia Minor, Macedonia, Achaia, and Corinth, to Rome, as intimated in his second Epistle to Timothy, chap. iv.


We may date this about the end of that year, or the beginning of A.D. 65, as observed before. When Paul wrote his Epistle to the Romans, announcing his intention of visiting them, previous to his last journey to Jerusalem, he designed to have proceeded from Italy, to preach the Gospel in Spain, Rom. xv. 23-28. Clemens Romanus also expressly asserts, that he preached in the west, and that to its utmost bounds, which must at least include Spain. Epist. i. ad Cor. cap. 5. And Theodoret adds, that he went to the islands of the sea, and numbers Gaul and Britain among the disciples of the tent-maker. But there is great reason to doubt these reports: for 1. his long imprisonments of four years at Cæsarea and at Rome, must have broken his measures, and circumscribed his travels. 2. The interval between his first and second visit to Rome, seems to have been too short to afford time for a visit to Syria eastwards, and afterwards, in an opposite direction, to Spain and Britain, the extremities of Europe westwards. 3. There is no notice taken of these western travels in Paul's last Epistle to Timothy, but only of his eastern. 4. An ancient Greek writer of the travels of

Peter and Paul, brought over by Petty, the skilful collector of the Arundel Marbles, observes, that "Peter spent some days in Britain, and enlightened many by the word of grace; and having established Churches, [in the west,] and elected Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons, came again to Rome, in the twelfth year of Nero, (A.D. 65,) when, having found Linus dead, he elected Clemens Bishop in his room; who, with great reluctance, accepted the station, and was afterwards spared in the ensuing persecution, because he was a kinsman of Nero." See Cotelerius' Patres Apostolici, Vol. I. p. 148, not. 39.

This ancient account is highly probable: it fills up a chasm in Peter's history, shewing how he was employed during Paul's imprisonments at Cæsarea and Rome; in fulfilling his "beloved brother's" intentions, when he was unable to execute them himself. Peter probably founded the Church of Rome*, first while Paul was confined at Cæsarea, and then proceeded to Gaul, Britain, and Spain. His return to Rome might be about, or soon after Paul's martyrdom.

Shortly after Paul's second visit to Rome, he was imprisoned again; probably on a charge of exciting sedition at Ephesus, in the matter of Diana's silver shrines, maliciously urged against him by his inveterate foes, the Asian Jews, after they had been foiled in their former attack at Jerusalem; in which all his Ephesian friends forsook him, and Alexander the coppersmith did him much harm, by his testimony at his first apology, or trial before Caesar's tribunal, as he complained to Timothy, 2 Tim. iv. 14-17. But what chiefly provoked Nero, perhaps, was Paul's success in proselyting his own household, as remarked before. He therefore slew him with the sword, as a Roman citizen; and afterwards crucified Peter, as a Jew. According to primitive tradition, Paul was beheaded at Aqua Salvia, three miles from Rome, and interred in the Via Ostiensis, at a place two miles from the city, where Constantine the Great built a Church to his memory, which was afterwards repaired and beautified by Theodosius the Great, and the Empress Placida. But

* This will naturally account for the Church which Paul evidently found established at Rome. That Peter, in his way to Rome, had visited Achaia and Corinth, may also be inferred from the false apostles and teachers there, adumbrated under the fictitious names of Paul, Apollos, and Cephas, or Peter; which last certainly would not have been used if Peter had not visited Corinth as well as Paul and Apollos, and probably after them.

his noblest monument subsists in his immortal writings; which, the more they are studied, and the better they are understood, the more will they be admired to the latest posterity, for the most sublime and beautiful, the most pathetic and impressive, the most learned and profound specimens of Christian piety, oratory, and philosophy*.

The following masterly observations on Paul's moral character, drawn from his letters, (and what better evidence than a man's own letters can be desired ?) are furnished by the acute Dr. Paley, p. 410-424.

"St. Paul's letters furnish evidence of the soundness and sobriety of his judgment. His caution in distinguishing between the occasional suggestions of inspiration, and the ordinary exertions of his natural understanding, is without example in the history of human enthusiasm. His morality is every where calm, pure, and rational; adapted to the condition, the activity, and the business of social life, and of its various relations; free from the overscrupulousness and austerities of superstition and from (what was more perhaps to be apprehended,) the abstractions of quietism, and the soarings or extravagancies of fanaticism. His judgment concerning a hesitating conscience, his opinion of the moral indifferency of many actions, yet of the prudence, and even the duty of compliance, where non-compliance would produce evil effects upon the minds of the persons who observed it, is as correct and just, as the most liberal and enlightened moralist could form at this day. The accuracy of modern ethics has found nothing to amend in these determinations.

"What Lord Lyttleton has remarked of the preference ascribed by St. Paul to inward rectitude of principle above every other religious accomplishment, is very material to our present purpose,- Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal,' &c. 1 Cor. xiii. 1—3— Did ever enthusiast prefer that universal benevolence, meant by charity here, (which, we may add, is attainable by every man,) to faith and to miracles? to those religious opinions which he had embraced? and to those supernatural graces and gifts which he imagined he had acquired? nay, even to the merit of martyrdom ? Is it not the genius of enthusiasm to set moral virtues infinitely below the merit of faith? and, of all moral virtues, to value that least, which is most particularly enforced by St. Paul,-a spirit of candour, moderation, and peace? Certainly, neither the temper nor the opinions of a man subject to fanatic delusions, are to be found in this passage.

"His letters, indeed, every where discover great zeal and earnestness in the cause in which he was engaged: that is to say, he was convinced of the truth of what he taught, he was deeply impressed (but not more so than the occasion merited,) with a sense of its importance. This produces a corresponding animation and solicitude in the exercise of his ministry. But would not these considerations, supposing them to have been well founded, have holden the same place, and produced the same effect, in a mind the strongest and the most sedate?

"Here then we have a man of liberal attainments, and in other respects of sound judgment, who had addicted his life to the service of THE GOSPEL. We see him, in the prosecution of his purpose, travelling from country to country, enduring every species of hardship, encountering every extremity of danger; assaulted by the populace, punished by the magistrates, scourged, beat, stoned, left for dead; expecting, wherever he came, a renewal of the same treatment, and the same dangers; yet, when driven from one city, preaching in the next; spending his whole life in the employment, sacrificing to it his pleasures, his ease, his safety; persisting in this course to old age, unaltered by the

Clemens Romanus, the intimate friend of these illustrious Apostles and fellow labourers in the Lord, thus pronounced the panegyric of both.

"Omitting ancient examples of noble wrestlers for the faith, let us proceed to modern, in our own age; to those faithful and most upright pillars of the Church, who through [false] zeal and envy, underwent persecution, even to a cruel death: let us place before our eyes the prime Apostles. Peter, through unjust zeal, endured not one nor two, but many labours, and is gone to his merited place of glory. Paul, likewise, through [unjust] zeal, gained the prize of patience, after he had borne chains seven times, been scourged, stoned, and had proclaimed the Gospel, both in the east and in the west, he obtained the glorious reward of his faith; for after he had taught the whole world righteousness, even to the extremity of the west, and testified before kings, he was released from the world, and went to the holy place; becoming the greatest pattern of patience." Epist. I. ad Corinth. § 5. Coteler. I. p. 148.

Clemens here speaks rather rhetorically of Paul's travels to the western extremity of Europe. He might, however, have preached by proxy in those countries, by the Gallic, British, and Spanish converts he made at Rome, during his first visit: and as they preached his doctrine, their success might fairly be attributed to him ultimately. That the Gospel was early planted in those countries, we learn from ecclesiastical history. And of the purity of the primitive British Church, in particular, an advantageous specimen was given at the time the Romish missionary, Austin the Abbot, was sent thither, about A.D. 601, in the foregoing analysis of Daniel's visions, Vol. II. p. 502, 503.


This took place soon after the martyrdom of Paul and Peter *,

experience of perverseness, ingratitude, prejudice, desertion; unsubdued by anxiety, want, labour, persecutions; unwearied by long confinement, undismayed by the prospect of death!"-Such was St. Paul.

See also Lord Barrington's critical comparison of Paul, with the first and greatest of the Apostles of the circumcision, Peter and John, to whom he was not a whit inferior in miracles, revelation, and prophecies.

The foregoing account of Peter's apostolical labours in the west, furnishes a satisfactory solution of the cause of his martyrdom at Rome; like those of Paul in the east, and in the capital of the Roman empire. The same accusations might have followed him from the Roman magistrates in Spain, as did follow Paul from those of proconsular Asia,

who became the first fruits; and it raged at Rome during the Consulate of C. Læcanius and M. Licinius, A.D. 64 and A.D. 65, according to Tacitus. Nero falsely accusing the Christians, and transferring to them the public odium, for having set fire himself to Rome. "At first they were apprehended who confessed themselves Christians; and then, by their information, a vast multitude; who were convicted, not so much for being incendiaries, as for their hatred of the human race*. Cruel mockeries were annexed to their executions: insomuch, that they were clad in the skins of wild beasts, and torn to pieces by dogs, or they were crucified, or they were covered with combustibles, and set fire to, when day-light failed, to serve as torches by night, in Nero's gardens; which he had offered for the spectacle during the Circensian games, dressed himself as a coachman, and mixed with the populace. So that "notwithstanding the wickedness of the sufferers, deserving the severest punishments, (says Tacitus,) public commiseration was excited, as if they were destroyed, not so much for the common weal, as to glut the cruelty of an individual." Annal. XV. 44.

The Roman historians, indeed, were greatly prejudiced against Christianity. Tacitus calls it in this place, "a pernicious superstition;" and Suetonius, "a new, pernicious, or magical superstition." This persecution was not confined to Rome, but raged also in the provinces, as we learn from the following inscription to the Emperor Nero, found in the ruins of the village

And the inscription found in the province of Lusitania, (noticed in the text,) might have originated from Peter's martyrdom, and the subsequent persecution of the Christians there.

* Brotier ingeniously conjectures, that the Christians might have been killed by the Pagans, as misanthropes, or "haters of mankind," 1. From OUR LORD's figurative declaration, understood literally, "Whosoever cometh to ME, and hateth not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, yea, and his own life also, cannot be my disciple," Luke xiv. 26. And 2. from the unaccommodating genius, and exclusive deportment of Christianity towards the idolatry and polytheism of the heathens; devoting the wilful worshippers of false gods, every where, who should not repent and forsake them, and turn to THE TRUE GOD and JESUS CHRIST, to future judgment, and eternal damnation, in the flames of hell. A doctrine inculcated in Paul's Epistles to the Romans and Corinthians. See Brotier's Dissertation. Tacit. Vol. II. p. 494.

↑ Juvenal mentions this horrid spectacle as the punishment of offending Tigellinus, the favourite freedman of Nero :

Pone Tigellinum, tedå lucebis in illâ,

Quâ stantes ardent, qui fixo gutture fumant. SAT. I. 155.

« PreviousContinue »