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some standing here which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.''
The Second Epistle of Peter discloses its later origin in apologetic reference to the adjourned advent. • Be not ignorant of this'-says the unknown author -'that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.'? How analogous the accommodative theories of primitive and modern apologists ! One day may mean a thousand years ; six days, geologic periods of unknown duration! A father tells his son to expect his arrival within four and twenty hours ; he comes not for days, for months, for years, but sends a message that to-day, to-morrow, or ten years hence are all the same to him. If this conduct is unjustifiable in man, how impossible to Divinity!
The authorship of the Epistle of James is contested, but its contents so closely follow the Logia of Matthew, that we detect in the pages the kindred mind of the Lord's brother, who obviously listened with enwrapt attention to the Sermon on the Mount, and never forgot its precepts. He, accordingly, teaches that pure religion consists, not in faith shared with devils, but in the practice of human virtue; and, if James had never been a disciple of Jesus, we might assume that he had studied the practical wisdom of Socrates, and anticipated the moral purity of Aurelius. The author is quite unconscious of saving creeds and dogmatic mysteries, says nothing of the Fall of man, divine atonement, regenerative baptism, or an inspiring Paraclete; he is silent as to an incarnate God and an incomprehensible Trinity; and when he treats of the supernatural, som
2 2 Peter iii. 8.
1 Matt. xvi, 28,
unconscious is he of contemporary miracles, that he sustains the efficacy of prayer by reference to Elijah's control of the rainfall, and to the dubious miracle which even modern piety is supposed to work, through private or congregational prayer, for the recovery of the sick.
Was James thus negligent of all which Orthodoxy deems essential to salvation ? Was this epistle inserted in our Bibles by some device of Satan, to lure us through the fatal mirage of pure morality, to the dread perdition which waits on heresy? Or has not rather this great Apostle of common sense followed in the footsteps of his Lord and Master by proclaiming a Gospel which means nothing more than preparation, through a virtuous life, for the impending advent of the Hebrew Messiah ?
Discerning in this epistle the very mind of Jesus of Nazareth, we necessarily ask how it stood in the estimation of primitive and mediæval Bible-makers, and learn with amazement that it was unknown to the ante. Nicene Fathers from Justin to Tertullian, assigned a secondary place by Origen and Eusebius, and viewed with suspicion at the era of the Reformation by Roman, Greek, and Protestant theologians. Luther, in fact, gave so decided a preference to the subtle disquisition of Paul on justification by faith, that he pronounced James a mere .epistle of straw.' Thus antagonistic theologians concur in rejecting the simplicity of Jesus, when found irreconcilable with the conclusions of ecclesiastical Christianity; and if this priceless epistle barely escaped exclusion from modern Bibles, how many faithful records of Jesus and his apostles may not have been rejected in favour of more pretentious versions of the mystical and the miraculous ?
Historical criticism inevitably rejects the remaining Epistles of Peter, John, and Jude, and the Apocalyptic Rhapsody, whose author freely borrows the imagery of Enoch, and curses in anticipation the daring men who have rashly translated his work with various readings, notwithstanding the dread anathema pronounced on those who imperil the meaning of the prophet by the addition or erasure of a single word.' For fuller knowledge of the evolution of ecclesiastical Christianity we therefore turn to Saul of Tarsus.
1 Rev. xxii. 19.
PAUL, THE APOSTLE OF THE GENTILES.
APART from tradition and the Pauline Epistles, the Acts of the Apostles is our only source of information respecting the conversion and apostolic mission of Paul. We have already expressed incredulity as to the sudden persecution of the disciples of Jesus immediately after his death with a lawless violence foreign to the social order of a Roman province; but as Christian annalists have depicted Paul anticipating the sanguinary intolerance of mediæval inquisitors, we can only read his story through the materials placed at our disposal.
Tradition presents to us a man deficient in height, with lofty narrow forehead, grey eyes, aquiline nose, close eyebrows, and a pleasing expression. If to this personal sketch we add the temperament of genius, the brain of a metaphysician, the conscience of a saint, the endurance of a martyr, and the fanaticism of a prophet, we have before us one of those gifted men who reconstruct religions, and devote the resources of an inexhaustible enthusiasm to the propagation of personal convictions, held with unyielding tenacity as divine revelation. The outlines of this ideal character are, however, drawn not from the Acts of the Apostles, but from the autobiographic sketches of the Pauline Epistles.
Born, and passing his boyhood at Tarsus, a city as celebrated as Athens or Alexandria for literary culture, the studies of Saul not only embraced the records and traditions of Israel, but also the literature and philosophy of Greece—a breadth of culture which, however, failed to eradicate the heritage of intolerance, fostered for centuries by the religious egotism of the Chosen Race. Aroused from his studious repose at the feet of Gamaliel by the rumour of strange doctrines subversive of Moses and the Prophets, he listened to the Gospel of the Kingdom with an unreasoning fury which hurried him into the persecution of inoffensive visionaries, and assigned to him an ignoble place among the murderers of Christianity's second martyr. From his epistles we infer that Saul was of a sympathetic and affectionate disposition ; when, therefore, he looked upon the face of the dying Stephen, the tumult of conflicting emotions necessarily produced that mental disturbance which, drifting towards the borderland of insanity, conjures phantoms in all the semblance of reality.
The well-balanced mind of his master, Gamaliel, might learn the lesson of religious toleration from the martyrdom of Socrates; but the uncompromising zeal of the pupil partook too much of the spirit of Elijah the Tishbite, to tolerate divergent conceptions of Divinity. So Saul hastened on the road to Damascus, haunted by the sad, reproachful, forgiving eyes of Stephen, and yet driven by fanaticism to fresh deeds of violence and bloodshed.
From the conflicting record of narrative and speeches, we detect the natural phenomenon which assumed a supernatural form to the future Apostle of the Gentiles.