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narrative of Voice and Vision would be listened to with courteous incredulity and bland compassion ; and remanded for medical inquiry, Paul would be pronounced insane, removed to an asylum, and there detained until the exhausted tissues of his brain had been sufficiently restored to silence supernatural voices and banish celes· tial visions.
Turning from anonymous fiction, let us seek more reliable information of Paul in the writings attributed to his pen.
Historic evidence of the existence of Pauline literature dates from the second century. The author of 2 Peter speaks of the writings of Paul as Scripture difficult of comprehension by the ignorant-language impossible to a Galilean apostle, who would have necessarily condemned all doctrinal innovations on the simplicity of his Lord and Master. Irenæus and Tertullian canonise thirteen Pauline Epistles to the exclusion of Hebrews, variously assigned to Clement, Barnabas, Apollos, and Luke. This anonymous Epistle, the fruitful source of primitive, mediæval, and modern controversies, can no longer be numbered among the works of Paul, but assigned to some great Unknown of the second century, who exhausted all the resources of apologetic ingenuity in the hopeless task of reconciling the irreconcilable, through the fanciful adaptation of Hebrew legends and Mosaic ritualism to the story of Jesus of Nazareth. How profound would have been the indignation of Jesus, could he have foreseen that he, who abhorred priestcraft, and was slain by priests, would yet be proclaimed a Supreme Pontiff after the order of Melchizedek!
It matters not who wrote the brief and simple letter
to Philemon. The Pastoral Epistles, addressed to Timothy and Titus, disclose their post-Pauline authorship through reference to a more advanced episcopal organization than existed in the age of the apostles. Are the seven remaining epistles the veritable autograms of Paul? Internal evidence gives us the option of one preacher of conflicting doctrines and transitional revelation, or a Pauline school modifying the teaching of its founder, through interpolated versions or pseudonymous epistles. On the theory of progressive revelation in Paul, the absence of metaphysical mysticism from the Epistles to the Thessalonians assigns to them the earliest place in Pauline literature; and as they teach nothing more than faith in Jesus, and preparation through a blameless life for the second advent of the Messiah, they stand in much closer affinity to the Galilean, than to the Pauline school.
The author borrows freely from the Book of Enoch. • The word of his mouth shall destroy all the sinners, and all the ungodly, who shall perish in his presence.
Trouble shall come upon them as upon a woman in travail. One portion of them shall look
upon another: they shall be astonished, and shall abase their countenances, and trouble shall seize them when they shall behold the Son of woman sitting upon the throne of his glory.'! Whilst in the Epistles to the Thessalonians, we read :-Then sudden destruction cometh
Then upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape. The wicked whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the pre
1 Enoch lxi. 4-9.
2 1 Thess. v. 3.
sence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. If this is the language of Paul, he obviously followed Jesus in accepting Enoch as the great authority on the miraculous future of Christianity.
The group of Pauline Epistles, consisting of those addressed to the Romans, Corinthians, and Galatians, disclose priority of composition in less exalted conceptions of the Messiah than are manifest in the Epistles to the Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. In Romans, Jesus is merely man declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection of the dead ;? but in Colossians he becomes the First-born of every creature,' and even the Creator of all things ' in the heavens and upon the earth.’3 The secret of this startling transformation will appear, when we hereafter discuss the Divinity of Jesus.
The epistles holding priority of place in the New Testament tell us that Paul is a divinely elected Apostle, and the Christians, whom he addresses, divinely elected saints. The foolish, the weak, and the base are chosen in preference to the wise, the strong, and the noble; 5 and the nomination of men to salvation or perdition is quite as arbitrary a proceeding as the decision of a potter respecting the shape of a pitcher. Men are therefore irresponsible automata controlled by destiny;
for whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the First-born among many brethren: and whom he foreordained them he also called : and whom he called them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.’i Paul does not even shrink from the admission that God, in harmony with his treatment of Pharaoh, 'hath mercy on whom he will, and whom he will he hardeneth. Moreover, no presumptuous mortal has any right to question the Divine justice which determines the perdition of unborn millions as a foregone conclusion. Thus, Paul limits membership in the Kingdom of Heaven to a divinely chosen minority, and yet subsequently declares that God will render to every man according to his works ;4 and that he who confesses with his lips that Jesus is the Lord, and who believes in his heart that God raised him from the dead, shall be saved.'5
1 2 Thess. i. 9; ii. 8.
4 Rom. i. 1, 7.
2 Rom. i. 3; v. 15.
3 Col. i. 16, 5 1 Cor. i. 26-28,
Mankind are naturally at enmity with God, and incapable of obedience to his will unless divinely inspired. It therefore naturally follows, as admitted by Paul, that sin is not imputed, and there is no transgression in the absence of revealed legislation. But the visible works of creation disclose the infinite attributes of Divinity; and because the heathen did not, therefore, discover and glorify the true God, who practically neglected them in favour of a Chosen Race, he abandoned them to every conceivable form of crime and iniquity, for which they shall suffer appalling retribution in the day of the righteous judgment of God.8
Having thus introduced chaos into the kingdom of heaven, Paul apostrophises “the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God. How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor !'1 Thus theologians, in every age, presumptuously interpret providential action, and attribute their own irrational conclusions to the inscrutable wisdom of God which, from their lips, generally means the metaphysical mysticism of man.
1 Rom. viii. 29, 30.
4 Rom. ii. 6.
7 Rom. iv. 15, v. 13.
Notwithstanding that the conflicting views of Paul are accepted by modern Christians as Divine revelation, they do not even possess the merit of originality. Many of his ideas are borrowed from the unknown author of the Wisdom of Solomon; and the following citations from that great work of the Alexandrine school, can leave no doubt as to an important source of Pauline inspiration.
· Surely vain are all men by nature who are ignorant of God, and could not, out of the good things that are seen, know him that is: neither by considering the works, did they acknowledge the workmaster.' 2
“The potter, tempering soft earth, fashioneth every vessel with much labour for our service: yea, of the same clay he maketh both the vessels that serve for clean uses, and likewise all such as serve to the contrary: but what is the use of either sort, the potter himself is the judge.' 3
· For who shall say what hast thou done? or who shall withstand thy judgment? or who shall accuse thee for the nations that perish whom thou hast made ?'
1 Rom. xi. 33, 34. 2 Wisdom of Solomon xii. 1; compare Rom. i. 3 Wisdom of Solomon xv. 7. 4 Wisdom of Solomon xii. 12; compare Rom. ix.