Imágenes de página

Additional observations on the

THE ACTS. religious disposition of the Athenians.

stated a. fact, acknowledged by the best Greek writers; and he reasoned from that fact. The fact was, that the Athenians were the most religious people in Greece, or, in other words, the most idolatrous: that there were in that city more altars, temples, sacrifices, and religious services, thau in any other place. And, independently of the authorities which may be quoted in support of -this assertion, we may at once perceive the probability of it from the consideration that. Athens was the grand University of Greece. That here, philosophy, and every thing relating to the worship of the gods, was taught; and that religious services to the deities must be abundant. Look at our own universities of Oxford and Cambridge; here are more prayers, more religious acts and services, than in any other places in the nation: and very properly so. These were founded to be seminaries of learning and religion; and their very statutes suppose religion to be essential to learning; and their founders were in general religious characters; and endowed them for religious purposes. These, therefore, are not superstitious services, for as sirpcrsdtion signifies "unnecessary fears, or scruples in religion; observance of unnecessary and uncommanded rites or practices,"—Johnson—it cannot be said of those services which are founded on the positive command of God, for the more effectual help to religious feelings, or as a preventative of immoral practices. I consider the Athenians, therefore, acting in conformity to their own laws and religious institutions; and Paul grants that they were much addicted to religious performances: this he pays as a compliment, and then takes occasion to shew that their religion was defective; they had not a right object of devotion; they did not know the true God; the true God was, to them, the unknown God; and this, an altar in their own city acknowledged. He therefore began to declare that glorious Being to them whom they ignorantly worshipped. As they were greatly addicted to religious services, and acknowledged that there was a Being to them unknown, and to whom they thought it necessary to erect an altar; they must, consistently with their character as a religious people, and with their own concession in the erection of this altar, hear quietly, patiently, and candidly, a discourse on that God whose being they acknowledged, but whose nature they did not know. Thus St. Paul, by acknowledging their religious disposition, and seizing the fact of the altar being inscribed to the unknown God, assumed a right which not a philosopher, orator, or judge, in the Areopagus could dispute, of bringing the whole subject of Christianity before them, as he was now brought to his trial, and put on his defence. The whole of this fine advantage, this grand stroke of rhetorical prudence, is lost from the whole account, by our translation, ye are in all things too superstitious, thus causing the defendant to commence his discourse with a charge, which would have rousdd the indignation of the Greeks, and precluded the possibility of their hearing any thing he had to say in defence of his conduct

2. That the original word, on the right interpretation of which I have laid so much stress, is taken in a good sense, and signifies religious worship aud reverence, I shall shew by several proofs; some of which may be seen in Mr. Parkhurst, under the word AsitriJai/Aovia, which Suidas explains by euXa?£i« itspi r»y @itov, reverence towards the Deity. And Hesychius, by poGoQeia., the fear of God. "In this good sense, it is often used by Oiodorus Siculus. Herodotus says of Orpheus, he led men e»j Jsirmai/Aoviav to be religious; and exhorted them on To evcreGciv to piety; whera it is manifest that Jei<r<$snjxowa must mean religion, and not superstition. But what is more to the present purpose, (he word is used by Josephus, not only where a heathen calls tha pagan religion $ei<ri$aiij.0Yia.s, (Antiq. lib. xix. cap. 5. s. 3.) or where the Jewish religion is spoken of by this name, in several edicts that were made in its favour by the Romans, as in Antiq. lib. xiv. cap. 10. s. 13, 14, 18, 18, 19.) but also where the historian is expressing his own thoughts in his ovm woivls: thus of king Manasseh, after his repentance and restoration, he says, etrtoox^ev raa-r, vs.pia-jnv (®sov)rr, SeitriSat{Lovia, ypri<rl5ou,he endeavoured to behave in the Most ReliGious manner towards God.—Antiq. lib. x. cap. 3. s. 2. And speaking of a riot that happened among the Jews on occasion of a Roman soldier's burning the book of the law; he observes, that the Jews were drawn together on this occasion, rr oWiJaijMwa, by their religion, as if it had been by an engine; opyxviv rivi.—De Bell. lib. ii. cap. 12. s. 2." It would be easy to multiply examples of this use of tlie word; but the Reader may refer, if necessary, to Wctstein, Pearce and others.

3. That the Athenians were reputed in this respect, a devout people, the following quotations may prove. Pausanias, in Attic, cap. xvii. p. 39. Edit. Kuhn. says, that the Athenians were not only more humane, a.k\a. xai s; Qeyjs svtriZsiv, but more devout towards the gods; and again, he says £i;Aa ri tvapyui; oirois ntXeciv n ertpuiv evrtSttus (j.etss-iv, it appears plainly how much they exceed others in the worship of the gods; and in cap. xxiv. p. 56, he says Aflr^aioij itepi<r<r<,7spw n tj rot; aWoic, c; ra. feia. ert avovSr,;, that the Athenians are abundantly more solicitous about divine matters than others. And Josephus seals this testimony by the assertion, Contr. Apion, ii. 10. Aiyvanvs £vcre£ts~a.Tcvs ruiv 'EWrjvuiy •kb.vti; Xsyovri; every body says that the Athenians are the most religious people of all the Greeks.—See Bp. Pearce. From all these authorities, it is palpable, that St. Paul must hare used the term in the sense for which I have contended.

4. In the preceding notes, I have taken for granted that Paul was brought to the Areopagus to be tried on the charge of setting forth strange gods. Bp. Warburtou denies that he was brought before the Areopagus on any charge whatever; and that he was taken there that the judges might hear him explain his doctrine, and not to defend himself against a charge, which he does not once notice in the whole of his

Obscn'alions on Paul's


preaching in the Areopagus*

discourse. But there is one circumstance that the bishop has not noticed, viz. that St. Paul was not permitted to finish iiis discourse, and therefore could not crime to those particular parts of the charge brought against him, which the bishop thinks he must have taken up most pointedly, had he been accused, and brought there to make his defence. The truth is, we hare little more than the apostle's exordium; as he was evidently interrupted in the prosecution of his defence. As to the supposition that he was brought by philosophers to the Areopagus, that they might the better hear him explain his doctrine, it appears to haTe little ground; for they might have heard him to as great advantage in any other place: nor does it appear that this court was ever used, except for the solemn purposes of justice. But the question, whether Paul was brought to the Areopagus that he might be tried by the judges of that court, Bishop Pearce answers with his usual judgment and discrimination. He observes: 1. •'' We are told that one effect of his preaching was, that he converted Dionysius the Areopagite, ver. 34.; and this seems to shew that he, who was a judge of that court, was present; and if so, probably other judges were present nUo. 2. If they who brought Paul to Areopagus wanted only to satisfy their curiosity, they had an opportunity of doing that in the market, mentioned ver. 17. Why then did they'Temove him to another place? 3. When it is said {hnt they brought Paul to Areopagus, it is said that they l."~.; him, eTttkz£<iu.eyoi aurov, or, ratiier, they laid hold on him, as the Greek word is translated, Luke xxiii. 26. and chap. xx. 20, 26. and as it ought to have been here, in chap. xxi. 30, 33. and especially in this latter verse. 4. It is observable that Paul, in his whole discourse at the Areopagus, did not make the least attempt to move the passions of his audience, as he did when speaking to Felix, chap. xxiv. 25. and to Agrippa, chap. xxvi. 29. but he used plain and grave reasoning, to convince his hearers of the soundness of his doctrine.

"Now wc are told by Quinctilian, in Inst. Orat. ii. 16. that Jlkenis actor movere affectus vetabatur: the actor was forbidden to endeavour to excite the passions. And again, in vi. 1. that Athenis mo-cere etiam per pratconem prohibcbrUur orator: among the Athenians, the orator was prohibited by the public crycr to move the passions of his auditory. And this is confirmed by Philoslratus in proem, lib. i. de Vit. Sophist.; and by Athenaus, in his Deipnosoph. xiii. 6. If, therefore, it was strictly forbidden at Athens to move the affections of the courts of justice, especially in that of the Areopagus, we see a good reason why Paul made no attempt in that way; and at the same time, we learn how improperly the painters have done all they could, when they represent Paul speaking at Athens, endeavouring both by his looks and gestures to raise those several passions in his hearers, which their faces are meant to express."

I have only to add here, that though St. Paul did not endeavour to excite any passions in his address at the Areopa

gus, yet each sect of the philosophers would feel themselves powerfully affected by every thing in his discourse which ! tended to shew the emptiness or falsity of their doctrines; and though he attempted to move no passion; yet, from these considerations, their passions would be strongly moved. And this is the idea which the inimitable Raphael took up iu lu» celebrated Carton on this subject; and which his best copier, Mr. Thomas Holloway, has not only engraved to the life, but has also described iu language only inferior to the Carton itself: and as it affords no mean comment on the preceding discourse, my readers will be pleased to find it here.

By the Cartons of Raphael, we are to understand certaiu Scripture pieces painted by Raphael d'Urbino, and now preserved in the- Palace at Hampton-court. They ore allowed to be chefs d'ocuvre in their kiud. They have been often , engraved, but never so as to give an adequate representation of the matchless originals, till Mr. Thomas Holloway, who has completely seized the spirit of the artist, undertook this ; most laborious work, in which he has been wholly engaged for several years; and in which he has, for some time past, , associated with himself Messrs. Slann and Webb, two ex! cellent artists, who had formerly been his own pupils. The i Carton to which I have referred, has been sometime finish* j ed, and delivered to the subscribers; and with it that elegant ; description, from which the following is a copious extract: I "The eye no sooner glances on this celebrated Carton. than it is immediately struck with the commanding attitude of the speaker, and the various emotions excited in his hearers. "The interest which the first appearance of St. Paul at Athens had occasioned, was not calculated to subside on a sudden; his doctrines were too new, and his zeal too ardent. From the multitude it ascended to the philosophers. The Epicureans and Stoics particularly assailed him. Antecedently to the scene described in the picture, among the various characters already encountered by the apostle, many undoubtedly, in their speculations upon divine subjects, had ofien imagined a sublimer religion than that commonly acknowledged: such, therefore, would make it their business to hear him again. Others, to whom truth was of less value than the idle amusement of vain disquisition, felt no other motive than curiosity. By far the greater part, however, obstinately bigoted to their particular tenets, and abhorring innovation, regarded him as impious, or a mere babbler: these also wished to hear him again, but with no other than the insidious view, that, by a more regular and explicit profession of his doctrines, he might expose his own absurdities, or render himself obnoxious to the state. The drapery accords with the majesty of the figure; and the light is so managed, especially on the arms and hands, as greatly to assist the energy of the action.

"The painter has proceeded, from the warmth of full conviction, through various gradations, to the extremes of malignant prejudice and invincible bigotry.

Observations on Paul's


preaching in the Areopagus.

11 In the foreground, on the right, is Dionysius, who k recorded to have embraced the new religion. With the utmost fervour in his countenance, and with a kind of sympathetic action and unconscious eagerness, he advances a step nearer. His eye is fixed on the apostle; he longs to tell him his conversion, already perhaps preceded by conviction wrought in his mind by the reasonings of the sacred teacher, on previous occasions in the synagogue, and in the forum or market-place. He appears not only touched with the doctrines he receives, but expresses an evident attachment to his instructor: he would become his host and protector.

"This figure is altogether admirable. The gracefulness of the drapery and of the hair; the masculine beauty of the features; the perspective drawing of the arms; the life and sentiment of the hands, the right one especially, are inimitable.

"Behind is Damaris, mentioned with him as a fellow-believer. This is the only female in the composition; but the painter has fully availed himself of the character, in assisting his principle of contrast; an excellence, found in all the works of Raphael. Her discreet distance, her modest deportment, her pious and diffident eye, discovering a degree of awe, the decorum and arrangement of her train, all interest the mind in her favour.

"Next to these, but at some distance, is a Stoic. The first survey of this figure conveys the nature of his peculiar philosophy, dignity and austerity. Raphael has well understood what he meant in this instance to illustrate. His head is sunk in his breast; his arms are mechanically folded; his eyes, almost shut, glance towards the ground: he is absorbed in reflection. In spite of his stoicism, discomposure ■nd perplexity invade his soul, mixed with a degree of haughty mortification.

"Sir Joshua Reynolds has observed, that * the same idea is continued through the whole figure, even to the drapery, which is so closely muffled about him, that even his hands are not seen;' and that, 'by this happy correspondence between the expression of the countenance and the disposition of the parts, the figure appears to think from head to foot:

"Behind the Stoic are two young men, well contrasted in expression: anger in the elder, and in the other youthful pride, half abashed, are finely discriminated.

"Beyond, in the same continued half-circle with the Stoic, is perhaps exhibited the most astonishing contrast ever imagined; that of inexorable sternness and complete platidity.

"Of the two figures, the first is denominated a Cynic, who, disappointed in his expectation of the ridiculous appearance which he conceived the apostle, when confronted, would make among them, abandons his mind to rage. His formidable forehead concentrates its whole expression: with a fixed frown and threatening eye, he surveys the object of

his indignation. He alone would engage to confute him, or punish his temerity. His eager impatience and irritation are not discovered in hiscfeatures only; he raises his heel from the ground, and leans with a firmer pressure on his crutch, which seems to bend beneath him.

"Pass frdm him to the more polished Epicurean. This figure exhibits perfect repose of body and mind: no passions agitate the one; no action discomposes the other. His hands, judiciously concealed beneath beautiful drapery, shew there can be no possible motion or employment fortliem. His feet seem to sleep upon the ground. His countenance, which is highly pleasing, and full of natural gentleness, expresses only a smile of pity at the fancied eirors of the apostle, mingled with delight derived from his eloquence. He waits with an inclined he id, in passive and serene expectation. If a shrewd intelligence is discovered in his ryes, it is too gentle to disturb the general expression of tranquillity.

"Behind are two other young men: the fir-.t discover? a degree of superciliousness with his vexstion; his companion is more disgusted, and more morose.

"These, and the two young figures previou'ly described, are not introduced merely to fill up the group; they may be intended as pupils to the philosophers beloie them, though by some considered as young Romans, who have introduced themselves from ennui or curiosity.

"Beyond is a character, in whose mind the force of truth and eloquence appears to have produced conviction; but pride, vanity, or self-interest, impel him to dissenib:e. His finger, placed upon the upper lip, shews that he has imposed silence upon himself. .

"In the centre is seated a group from the acodeniy. The skill of Raphael in this instance is eminent. These figure! are not only thrown into shade, to prevent their interference with the principal figure; but, from their posture, they contribute to its elevation, and at the same time vary the lino of the standing group.

"It seems as if the old philosopher in profile, on the left, had offered some observations on the apostle's acldrecs; and that he was eagerly listening to the reply of his sage friend, in whose features we behold more of the spirit of mild philosophy. The action of his fingers denotes his habit of reasoning, and regularity of argument. The middle figure behind»appears to be watching the effect which his remark* would produce.

"The action of the young man, pointing to the apostle, characterizes the keen susceptibility and impetuosity of his age. His countenance expresses disgust, approaching to horror. The other young man turns his head round, as though complaining of unreasonable interruption. The drapery of both the front figures in this group is finely drawn: the opening action of the knees in the one, is beautifully followed and described by the folds: in the other, the compression, in consequence of the bent attitude, is equally

Obseirations on Paul's


preaching in the Areopagus.

executed; the tarn of the head gives grace and variety to the figure.

"The head introduced beyond, and rather apart, is intended to break the two answering lines of the dark contour of the apostle's drapery, and the building in the back-ground.

"In the group placed behind the apostle, the mind is astonished at the new character of composition. The finest light imaginable is thrown upon the sitting figure; and as necessary a mass of shade is cast upon the two others.

"It is difficult to ascertain what or whom Raphael meant by that corpulent and haughty personage wearing the cap. IDs expression, however, is evident: malice and vexation are depicted in his countenance; his stride, and the action of his hand, are characteristic of his temperament.

"The figure standing behind is supposed to be a Magician. His dark hair and beard, which seem to have been neglected, and the keen mysterious gaze of his eye, certainly exhibit a mind addicted to unusual studies. Under him, the only remaining figure, is one who listens with malignant attention,

as though intending to report every thing. He has the aipect of a spy. His.eye is full of danger to the apostle; and he crouches below, that he may not be disturbed by communication.

"If this figure be considered with reference to Dionysius, it may be remarked that Raphael has not only contrasted his characters, but even the two ends of his picture. By this means the greatest possible force is given to the subject. At the first survey, the subordinate contrasts may escape th« eye, but these greater oppositions must have their effect.

"When from this detailed display of the carton, the eye again glances over the whole subject, including the dignity of the architecture; the propriety of the statue of Mars, which faces his temple; the happy management of the landscape, with the two conversation figures; the result must be, an acknowledgement, that, in this ojie effort of art is combined all that is great in drawing, in expression, and in composition." Holloicatfs description of Raphael's Carton of Paul preaching at Athens.


Paul leaving Athens, conies to Corinth, meets with Aquila and Priscilla, and labours with them at tent-making, 1—3. He preaches, and proves that Jesus was the Christ, 4, 5. The Jews oppose and blaspheme; and he purposes to go to the Gentiles, 6. Justus, Crispus, and several of the Corinthians believe, 7, 8. Paul has a ■vision, by which he is greatly comforted, 9, 10. He continues there a year and six months, 11. Gallio being deputy of Arhaia, the Jews make insurrection against Paul, and bring him before the deputy, who dismisses the cause ,■ whereupon the Jczcs commit a variety of outrages, 12—17. Paul sails to Syria, and from thence Ephesus, where he preaches, 18—20. He leaves Ephesus—goes to Ccesarea, visits Antioch, Galalia and Phrygia, 21—23. Account of Apollos and his preaching, 24—28.

^Mdr.4058. ^ FTER these things Paul de

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ings parted from Athens, and came to Corinth; 2 And found a certain Jew named *Aquila,bom

• 1 Cor. 1.2. Rom. 16. S.


Verse* 1. Paul departed from Athens'] How tang he staid here we cannot tell; it is probable it could-not be less than three months; but, finding that the gospel made little progress among the Athenians, he resolved to go to Corinth.

Corinth was situated on the isthmus, that connects Peloponnesus to Attica; and was the capital of all Achaia, or Peloponnesus. It was most advantageously situated for trade; for, by its two ports, the Lechcum and Cenchrea, it commanded the commerce both of the Ionian and JEgean sea. It was destroyed by the Romans under Mummius, about one

in Pontus, lately come from Italy with A- M-«=ir*05». his wife Priscilla; (because that Clau- An. oiymp. dius had commanded all Jews to de- cirCCVIUtpart from Rome :) and came unto them.

1 Cor. 16. 19. 2 Tim. 4. 19.

hundred and forty-six years before Christ, in their wars with Attica; but was rebuilt by Julius Cxsar, and became one of the most considerable cities of Greece. Like other kingdoms and states, it has undergone a variety of revolutions; and now, under the government of the Turks, is greatly reduced, its whole population amounting only to between thirteen and fourteen thousand souls. It is about forty-six miles East of Athens, and three hundred and forty-two S. W. of Constantinople. Its public buildings were very superb ■ and there the order, called the Corinthian Order, in architecture, took its rise.

Ver«e2.- A certain Jete named Aquilal Some have so*.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

posed that this Aquila was the same with the Onkclos mentioned by the Jews. See the article in Wolfius, Bibl. Ilebr. Vol.11, p. 1147. We have no evidence that this Jew and his wife were at this time converted to the Christian religion. Their conversion was most likely the fruit of St. Paul's lodging with them—Vonfus. See the note on chap. ii. 9.

Claudius had commanded all Jezcs to depart from Rome] This edict of the Roman emperor is not mentioned by Jotephus; but it is probably the same to which Suetonius refers in his life of Claudius; where he says, Judtvos, i/npiilsore Chresto, assidue tumulluantes, Roma expulil. "He expelled the Jews from Rome, as they were making continual insurrections, under their leader Chrestus." Who this Chrestus was, we cannot tell; probably Suetonius meant Christ; but this I confess does not appear to me likely. There might have been a Jew of the name of Chrestus, who had made some disturbances; and in consequence, Claudius thought proper to banish all Jews from the city. But how could he iutend Christ, who was never at Rome ? nor did any one ever personate him in that ci(y; and it is evident he could not refer to any spiritual influence exerted by Christ on the minds of the people. Indeed he speaks of Chrestus as being the person who was the cause of the disturbances. It is no fictitious name, no name of on absent person, nor of: a sect; but of one who was well known by the disturbances j which he occasioned, and for which, it is likely, he suffered; and those of his nation were expelled. This decree, which was made not by the senate, but by the emperor himself, continued only in force during his life, if so long; for in a short time after this, Rome again abounded with Jews.

Verse 3. He abode Kith them and Brought] Bp. Pearce | observes, that it was a custom among the Jews, even of such as had a better education than ordinary, which was Paul's \ case, chap. xxii. 3. to learn a trade; that, wherever.they were, they might provide for themselves in case of necessity. And . though Paul, in some cases, lived on the bounty of his con- t verts, yet he chose not to do so at Ephesus, chap. xx. 34.; I nor at Corinth or other places, 1 Cor. iv. 12. 2 Cor. ix. 8, 9.

I Tliess. iii. 8. and this, Paul did for a reason which he gives in 2 Cor. xi. 9—12. While he was at Corinth, he was supplied, when his own labour did not procure him enough, "by the brethren which came to him there from Macedonia."

II appears that the apostle had his lodging with Aquila and

sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and A.m.cimojs. the Greeks. An. oivmp.

5 And c when Silas and Timo- cirCCV'm*theus were come from Macedonia, Paul was '' pressed in the spirit, and testified to the

[ocr errors]

Job 32. 18. ch. 17. 3. ver. 28.

Priscilla; and probably a portion of the profits of the business, after his board was deducted. It was evidently no reproach for a man, at that time, to unite public teaching with an honest, useful trade. And why should it be so nozs? may not a man who has acquired a thorough knowledge of the gospel way of salvation, explain that way to his less informed neighbours; though he be a tent-maker, (what, perhaps we would call a house-carpenter,) or a shoemaker, »r any thing else? Even many of those who consider it a cardinal sin for a mechanic to preach the gospel, are providing for themselves and their families in the same way! How many of the clergy, and other ministers, are farmers, graziers, school-masters, and sleeping partners in different trades and commercial concerns. A tent-maker, in his place, is as useful as any of these.—Do not ridicule the mechanic because he preaches the gospel to the salvation o£ his neighbours, lest some one should say, in a language which you glory to have learned, and which the mechanic has not, Mutalo nomine>dc TE, fabula narralur.

There arc different opinions concerning what is meant here by the e-xijvoirolOf, which we translate tcnt-makcr; some think it means a maker of thwse small portable tents, formed of skins, which soldiers and travellers usually carried with them on their journies: others suppose, that these tents were made of linen cloth; some thiuk that the trade of St. Paul was making hangings or curtains, such as were used at the theatres. Others think the my/Motos was a sort of umbrellamaker; others, a weaver, eye. cj"c\ In short, we know not what the trade was. I have generally preferred the notion of a carpenter, or fabcr lignarius. Whatever it was, it was an honest, useful calling ; and Paul got his bread by it.

Verse 4. He reasoned in tlie si/nagogue evert/ sabbath'] Discoursed at large concerning Jesus as the Messiah;'proving this point from their own scriptures, collated with the facts of our Lord's life, &c.

And persuaded the Jezcs and the Greeks.] Many, both Jews and proselytes, were convinced of the truth of his doctrine. Among his converts was Epenetus, the first fruit of his labour in Achaia, Rom. xvi. 5. and the family of Stephanus was the next; and then Crispus and Caius, or Gaius, all of whom the apostle himself baptized, 1 Cor. i. 14—JC. See on ver. 8.

Verse 5. When Silas and Timotheus icere come] We

« AnteriorContinuar »