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sonable to suppose that this error was immediately eradicated from the minds of the Jewish converts. On the contrary, we may safely conclude, that some time must have elapsed before they were brought to believe that their attachment to Jesus was perfectly consistent with due obedience to the civil magistrate. The Jewish youths at Rome were compelled, contrary to their long acknowledged privilege, to enlist in the service of the emperor, and such as refused were put to death ; nor can we doubt that this infringement proceeded from the charge brought against them, that as having enlisted under the banners of their Messiah they renounced all allegiance to the authority of Cæsar. This charge, and the disturbances occasioned by it, called upon the Apostle to give to the Church at Rome some wise and salutary admonitions respecting the conduct which each individual should pursue with regard to the Roman government. 6 Let every man submit himself to the constituted authorities; for as there is no authority but from God, these authorities are appointed by God. Whoever, therefore, setteth himself against the civil power, opposeth the appointment of God; and the refractory bring punishment upon themselves.”
themselves.” Which is to this effect : “ Conceiving the kingdom of the Messiah alone to be of divine appointment, some of you oppose the established government and disturb the public peace. But the supposition is as erroneous as it is dangerous. All power, to whatever hands intrusted, is communicated by the Disposer of all events for the benefit of mankind; and this end, under his providence, it shall eventually accomplish. And though pride, ambition, and avarice, may abuse the power intrusted to them for the purpose of doing good, yet this very abuse Infinite Wisdom will overrule, and in the end render subservient to the introduction and establishment of that glorious liberty which awaits the children of God. Resist not therefore by violence, or by any unlawful means, those who bear the
sword of justice; but rather submit to their decisions, as in effect the decisions of an all-wise and good Providence.” Such is the spirit and object of a paragraph perverted by worldly policy and priestcraft into an engine which for many ages irresistibly held mankind in oppression, ignorance, and superstition.
The emperor, we have seen, sent an edict into all the provinces to protect the peaceful and virtuous believers. From the account which Philo gives of this edict, it appears that there was a clause in it authorizing the magistrates to punish such as were wicked or disturbed the public peace, who, as the same writer says, were but few. This equitable conduct of the government greatly contributed to the security and edification of the yet infant church, and forms the basis on which is grounded the following just tribute of praise to the civil rulers: 66 These rulers are not a terror to the good, but to evil doers. Dost thou wish then not to be afraid of their power? Do what is right, and thou wilt be praised by it: for it is God's minister for thy good. But if thou do evil, be afraid : because this power carrieth not the sword in vain; for it is the minister of God executing punishment upon everyone that doeth evil.” Chap.i. -v.
* It is true that the edict of Tiberius was virtually set aside by the cruel and impious conduct of Caligula ; but it should be observed that the spirit of it was again restored by an edict, late in the reign of Claudius, sent to all the provinces. This document is preserved by Josephus, A. J. 19. 5. 3.
Antichrist introduced into the Churches of Corinth, of
Galatia, and of Ephesus.
IT would have been a fortunate circumstance if Josephus had thrown any light on the origin and growth of these churches. But we have no other sources of information respecting them but the authentic letters of Paul. In his second epistle to the Corinthians, xi. 13, it is thus written, "For such are false apostles, deceitful doers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ : and no wonder, for even Satan transformeth himself into an angel of light. It is therefore nothing strange if his ministers also transform themselves as ministers of righteousness.” The object which these impostors had in view we may gather from the beginning of this chapter. “You ought to bear a little with my folly, if folly, yet bear with
For I feel a holy jealousy of you, as I have betrothed you to one husband, in order to present you a pure virgin to him, namely to Christ. But I fear lest, as the serpent in his craft deceived Eve, so your thoughts should be corrupted from the simplicity which is in Christ.” Surely the men here alluded to were not honest, though mistaken, men, but artful villains, who entered the church at Corinth in order to subvert the Gospel as taught by the apostle. They worshipped the serpent, as the symbol of a divinity superior to the God of Israel: and it is to their affected zeal for the serpent that the apostle here alludes. They pretended to teach a Christ different from the man Jesus, and more in unison with the superstitious views and corrupt propensities of the Pagan world. The simplicity which is in Christ, was the plain truth that Jesus was a mere man, raised by the power of God from the grave, as a pledge of the resurrection of mankind; thus furnishing the most powerful motives to a holy life. Paul was afraid, lest this simple fact with its salutary influence should be defeated by the more specious and flattering doctrine that Christ was a God, come down from heaven to destroy the works of the Creator, and to confer on his followers the privilege of gratifying their favourite passions. That this is the drift of the Apostle's reasoning is evident from what follows.
“ If he that is to come preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive from them another spirit which ye have not received, or another Gospel which ye have not accepted from us, still ye might well bear with me : for I deem myself in nothing inferior to these preeminent Apostles.” The impostors pretended to be exceedingly high above Paul and his brethren; and it is in allusion to this pretension that he here ironically calls them “preeminent apostles.” Jesus, when predicting the fall of Jerusalem, forewarned his disciples, that, near the termination of that event, false teachers would come, and cause multitudes to apostatize from the faith. To this warning John alludes in the following manner: “Children, it is now the last hour, and, as ye have heard, Antichrist cometh: and now many Antichrists are come, when we know it is the last hour.” 1 John ii. 18. “And every spirit which confesses not that Jesus as the Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God; and this is that spirit of Antichrist which, as you have heard, is to come,” iv. 3. This language of John clearly shows, that by “ he that is to come” Paul means that Antichrist that was expected to come : and both John and Paul make it evident, the foundation of Antichrist was, that Jesus is not the Christ, that the Christ did not come in the flesh, or that he, being a man only in appearance, had not a real body. Thus they preached at Corinth another Jesus, whom the Apostles did not preach : and this notion unfolds the force and propriety of many other passages in these Epistles. “No one can lay another foundation besides that which is laid, “namely, Jesus as the Christ,” meaning that Jesus, and not a God within him, being the Christ, constitutes the foundation of the Gospel.
Plutarch and the magicians around the emperor, we have seen, taught that Christ was one of the demons, having changed his name Christus into Chrestus, as an epithet given to such of the demons as were good, to countenance that doctrine. The Pagans, it is well known, had festivals in honour of their Gods: and this must have disposed the impostors to celebrate a festival in honour of Christ as one of the demons. Jesus had already instituted a simple feast in commemoration of his death. This was convenient for the impostors, as they had only to pretend that its object was to commemorate the divinity, not the death of Christ. Our Lord foresaw this perversion ; and his language is directly levelled against it. “And as they were eating Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat, this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matt. xxvi. 26. Which may be thus paraphrased : “Flesh and blood, you know, are perishable in their nature, and form the mortal part of man. As then this bread is broken, and this wine poured out, so is my body to be bruised, and my blood to be shed. You are therefore to regard these elements as symbols of my having a real body, and of that body being really pierced and lacerated. Nor presume to celebrate, in honour of my supposed divinity, a feast by which I intend to perpetuate the belief of my simple humanity and death.'
The event has shown that this anticipation was wellfounded. “Wherefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry... The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a partici