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Let those at Cambridge, accustomed jurare in verba magistri, examine well before they take assertions to be proof, or assumptions to be arguments. For the benefit of those, who imagine themselves enjoying the pure light of unsullied truth, I will quote another remark from this essayist, and contrast it with one or two from a different quarter. Among his cotemporaries, he [the writer to the Hebrews] was probably distinguished for his intellectual powers. But his reasoning cannot be regarded as of any force by an intelligent reader of the present day. It is difficult so far to accommodate our minds to the conceptions and principles of the author and his cotemporaries, as to perceive how it was adapted to produce any effect at the time it was written." p. 40 Again. “The force of St. Paul's reasoning, and the weakness of the reasoning of the writer to the Hebrews, will be most clearly perceived by him, who best understands their writings.” p. 70. It seems, then, according to the dictum of this essayist, that “an intelligent reader" must at once detect “the weakness of the reasoning” exhibited in the epistle to the Hebrews, and, contrasting it with the usual strength of Paul's, must reject the claims of that apostle to its authorship. This is assertion, depending for its credibility on the character of its asserter. What he presents in the shape of argument, has been met by argument. His assertions, put forth so confidently, may be fairly met by counter assertions of names quite as learned and quite as willing to look at both sides as himself. Storr, in his Theology, vol. i. p. 120, says, that “ Berger, in his Dissertation entitled, “ The Epistle to the Hebrews a Homily,' finds so great a similarity between the epistle to the Hebrews and Paul's discourse, Acts, xiii. 16-41, that he believes this discourse might be regarded as an extract from that epistle, or vice versa, that epistle as a commentary on this discourse.” Storr was himself something of a dialectitian, and paid as close attention to the epistles of Paul and that to the Hebrews, probably, as this essayist, and, perhaps, as any man now living. Need I say what was the result with this “ intelligent reader”? This essayist, probably, does not consider Prof. Stuart an “intelligent reader," and does not number him among those who “best understand their writings,” i. e. of Paul and the writer to the Hebrews. But as, in this community, he will probably be singular in his opinion, the following remark from Prof. Stuart, may, by some, be thought of equal weight with that of the essayist. “My own conviction, (if I inay be permitted to express it,) is as clear in respect to this point, as from its nature I could expect it to be. I began the examination of the subject unbiassed, if I was ever unbiassed in the examination of any question ;
and the evidence before me has led me to such a result;" viz, that Paul was the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews. How can the essayist wonder that Berger, and Storr, and Stuart, should believe that the reasoning of the writer to the Hebrews had the exact force of Paul's reasoning, when he himself tells us, that interpretations of the Old Testament, similar to those on which the reasoning in the epistle to the Hebrews is founded, exist in Paul's speech to those Hebrews ? Is it a wonder that Paul is consistent with himself?
I do not expect by these remarks, to shake one prejudice in the mind of a settled, thorough-going, Unitarian. But will the young, ingenuous, inquiring minds, who boast that their opinions must rest on reason, take the self-contradictory dogmas of any man in lieu of evidence ? I ask all reflecting, intelligent, candid minds, Has not the argument, as stated in the words of the gentleman himself, been refuted? Just recollect that he himself assures us, that Paul allegorizes in his recorded speech addressed to the Hebrews ; that his epistle to the Hebrews is an epistle to the Hebrews, with whom, according to his own showing, the allegorical mode of interpretation was in general favour and use; and the essayist's forty pages are null and void.
I come now to considerations of greater moment. I will here state the argument in the form it must take, and which this writer knows full well it must take, or go for nothing. Paul never allegorizes. The writer to the Hebrews does allegorize. Therefore he is not Paul. Again. He who employs the allegorical mode of interpretation is unworthy of credit. This writer employs this mode of interpretation. Therefore he is unworthy of credit. Wherefore this writer is not Paul, and, be he who he may, is unworthy of credit.
Should the essayist object to the syllogism by which an allegorist is proved unworthy of credit, I would thank him for the arguments by which he would disprove it. Though the gentleman has given his argument in words as before quoted, he has contrived in its progress, to present it in the form which I have just stated. He is too intelligent a man, and too skilfül a logician, not to see, with Paul's speech before him, that the argument, as stated by himself, is at least exceedingly unsatisfactory, and to the Orthodox will be wholly nugatory. How he disposes of Paul's speech, we shall soon see.
That the writer strongly desired and covertly designed to present the argument as just stated, the following extracts, I think, will show. “We have thus gone through those passages of St. Paul, which we believe would be selected by a writer, whose object it was to show
that he had given a mystical sense to words of the Old Testament. None of them, when properly understood, seem to afford any foundation for the opinion. But supposing it to have been proved that they do not, more has been proved than is necessary to the present argument. In order to establish a wide difference between St. Paul and the writer to the Hebrews, it would be sufficient to show, that the mind of the apostle, during that period of his life when he wrote his epistles, was but little affected by the prevalent errors of his age, respecting the interpretation of the Old Testament.” p. 68. Again. “ It is a most striking proof of the intellectual power of this apostle, that he so far, or entirely, disengaged himself from the errors of the learned of his nation, respecting the interpretation of the Old Testament.” p. 69. The words, “or entirely,” were not used by this writer without thought, or the perception of their bearing. He thinks this a circumstance hitherto overlooked, in estimating the intellectual stature of this apostle. He is right. By Unitarians it has been overlooked; we are glad it has at length been discovered. Again, p. 69. “He has nowhere in his epistles attempted to accommodate to Jesus any of the allegorical expositions by which so many passages were made by the Jews to refer in a mystical sense, to their expected Messiah ;” a fortiori, we must argue, that he nowhere accommodates those Jewish allegorical expositions to any other subject. None of the passages in his other epistles, wherein he has been supposed to adopt the allegorical mode of interpretation, seem to afford any ground for such an opinion. The apostle entirely disengaged himself from this error of the learned of his nation. He nowhere attempts to accommodate any of the allegorical meanings, attributed by the Jews to the Old Testament, to Christ (or to any other person or subject.) The inference is irresistible. Paul never allegorizes. In other words, Paul never uses that mode of reasoning adopted by the writer to the Hebrews, wherefore he is not that writer. This is the drift of the essayist's explanations and argument. Still the speech, recorded in the Acts as having been delivered by Paul at Antioch in Pisidia, when invited to address the “men of Israel” by “the rulers of the synagogue,” wherein, according to this writer, Paul indulges in “allegorical interpretations of the Old Testament, similar to those on which the reasoning in the epistle to the Hebrews is founded,” remains to be disposed of. How does he meet this difficulty ? HE DOES NOT MEET IT. He does not attempt to meet it openly. He tries to shun it. It is only by hints, and a cautious mode of stating his argument, that we can conjecture how he could evade a concession so destructive to his
whole argument, as that just quoted. This writer understands perfectly the force of language, and if he adopt a peculiarity of expression, it is not without reason. * Allegorical interpretations are found in the speech of St. Paul, as it is given by St. Luke, in the thirteenth chapter of the Acts. This speech was delivered a considerable time" [how long is a considerable time?] “ before the composition of the earliest of his epistles, which was, probably, (?) that to the Gala
Those words, “as it is given by St. Luke,” are very innocent and very true in themselves. Whether they have a hidden meaning, the author has not told us. In the absence of positive, we must cast about for circumstantial evidence, which, though often inconclusive, is sometimes irresistible. The same Luke, who wrote the Acts, it must be remembered, is one of the evangelists, “ all of whom are allegorists.” If “they unconsciously and through inadvertence may have given an allegorical interpretation to the words of Christ, which as uttered by him, were used only by way of application,” as this writer avers, Paul surely could not expect fare better than his master. It might very naturally be expected, that “ by a slight change of expression,” Paul's words, “used by way of application,” would receive from the pen of the allegorizing historian“ an allegorical turn.” This will appear still more probable, when we recollect that no passage in the epistles of St. Paul seems to afford any foundation for the opinion, that he ever used the allegorical interpretation, that he had not“ entirely disengaged himself from this error of the learned of his nation."
The inference from all this is, the moral certainty that “ the speech, as it is given by St. Luke,” is not the speech as it was delivered by St. Paul. Should, however, any doubts or difficulties” remain after this logical demonstration, the reader must further consider, that “this speech was delivered a considerable time before the composition of his earliest epistles.”+ This is plainly the writer's resort to rid himself from any difficulty arising out of this early speech, as it is given by St. Luke. Whether a really inspired argument ever becomes superannuated, I am not aware that the omnivorous Germans have discussed. These facts combined,—that Luke may not, and most probably has not, correctly reported the speech of Paul, and the very natural fact that Paul, growing wiser as he grew older, outgrew his own early prejudices, if he had any on this subject, and the certain fact, that in the epistles, written “a considerable time," even the earliest of them, after this speech, the apostle appears to have entirely disengaged himself from this common error of the most learned of his countrymen,-will leave the argument, as I have stated it, and as this essayist has contrived to present it, valid and irresistible.
* If this writer will permit, I would suggest another probability, at least equally as great as his. I would say that the apostle Paul, after addressing the "men of Israel” at Antioch, his heart glowing with affection to “his kinsmen according to the flesh,” expanded into this circular epistle the doctrine he had just been teaching in the synagogue. This was "a considerable time" before he wrote his epistle to the Galatians. Some years after this, "the mind of the apostle might have been but little affected by the errors of his age.” Would not such a suppobition avert the disagreeable necessity of rejecting this epistle, and even allow this writer's argument to be of some weight? For the real probability in this case, see Prof. Stuart's Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews.
† Whether this writer " is able so far to accommodate his mind to the conceptions and principles” of this orator and his auditors, “as to perceive how it was adapted to produce the intended or any effect at the time it was delivered," he has not informed us. Before he decides ultimately and forever to reject the epistle to the Hebrews, on such ground as that avove stated, might it not be well for him to
“Look before you leap,” is a plain maxim, of some age and much wisdom. Let us see where such reasoning would carry us. This writer being judge, "all the evangelists are allegorists." But allegorists are unworthy of credit. Therefore the evangelists are unworthy of credit. Something of a step this, to begin with. The allegorizing evangelist, John, wrote three epistles and the apocalypse, wherefore these are unworthy of credit. Luke, in addition to the gospel, wrote the Acts, wherefore this is unworthy of credit. After this, one would think that Paul need apprehend no more danger from the speech, it is given by St. Luke.” But to proceed. The inspiration and authority of the gospel by Mark, have universally been deduced from the sanction given this book by Peter. Peter, then, having sanctioned the allegorical gospel of Mark, (to say nothing of his own speeches as given by St. Luke,) must be involved in the same condemnation with this allegorist; wherefore his two epistles are unworthy of credit. What has just been said of Mark and Peter, applies also, in the same way, though with still greater force and certainty, to Luke and Paul. The gospel, and the Acts of the apostles, written by this allegorist having been sanctioned by this apostle, the latter falls into the same condemnation with the former; wherefore the epistles of Paul are unworthy of credit. Q. E. D. Truly this is an expeditious mode of despatching business. The Unitarian canon of inspired books, will consist, then, of the epistles of James and Jude. But these, it is well
reconsider the apostle's speech, from the thirty-first verse to the end? In this inspired argument, the apostle "adopts the same principle of reasoning, employed in the epistle to the Hebrews." "A considerable time" after it was delivered, even "as it is given by St. Luke,” it came before the mind of the apostle, who not only inconsiderately failed to correct the errors of his reporter, but actually restamped upon it the seal of his inspired authority. This consideration I seriously suggest to the attentive thought of this learned and ingenious essayist, whose system, and not his intellect, is answerable for these unavoidable absurdities,