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evening they regularly assembled in the old parlor, Bible and hymnbook in hand, for family edification and worship. My travelling companion, Deacon Ephraim, who accompanied me to the Carlton House, got so much enamored with the family and its vicinity and the scenes transpiring there, that he consented to become evangelist for the city; and being invited to reside with Elder Olympas, I covenanted with him to send me their conversations on the Romans, in his own phonographic style. Of these, at the request of very many friends, I will select the most edifying for my readers. Fortunately we arrived there the very evening they commenced the epistle; and during my stay of one fortnight I enjoyed myself with that family and their morning and evening meetings, to say the least, as much as I have enjoyed the company of any family of my acquaintance.
The custom now is to recite from memory, every morning, the passage to be commented on, or inquired into, during the evening of that same day. Thus the passage was recited by every member of the family twice every day.
The first seven verses of the first chapter of Romans being distinctly and audibly repeated from the new version by the three children and some of the servants, the evening conversation began:
Olympas. What have you learned, Susan, from your readings of the New Testament concerning the titles and offices of the author of this epistle?
Susan. He was a Jew, of the tribe of Benjamin, a native of Tarsus, a free city of Cilicia, brought up in Jerusalem at the feet of Gamaliel, a learned Doctor of the Law, and was exceedingly attached to the Jews' religion and the customs of his forefathers.
Olympas. Can you, James, relate any action of his early life indicative of his bigotry and intolerance?
Jaines. The first time that he is named in the history of the Christian church, as given by Luke, is as an actor in the persecution unto death of the protomartyr Stephen. Of the extent of his malice against the Christians we may judge-first, from the errand on which he was going at the time of his conversion, and the cause of it as given by himself. “Being exceedingly mad against them," says he, “I persecuted them even to foreign cities.” And again, from the great calm that ensued upon his conversion—"Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria, being edified and walking in the fear of the Lord, were replenished with the comfort of the Holy Spirit.”
Olympas. What passage, Henry, mo:“ strongly intimates the
natural state of his mind, or his fleshly enmity against Christ and his people?
Henry. Acts ix. and 1st occurs to me as most express—"And Saul, yet breathing out threatening and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the High Priest and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogue, that if he found any of that way, whether they were men or women, he might bring tlrem bound to Jerusalem."
Olympas. When, then, you hear Paul say to the Romans, “The carnal mind is enmity against God, is not subject to his law, neither indeed can be," or when you hear him say, “They that are in the flesh cannot please God,” you may understand him by remembering what is said of himself by his friend and companion Luke.
What, Susan, were the offices with which he was invested by the Lord after his remarkable change of views and feelings, usually called his conversion?
Susan. He was an ordained Apostle, a preacher and a teacher of the Gentiles.
Olympas. Do we know any thing of his appearance as a man, brother Ephraim?
Ephraim. Chrysostom calls him “the man of three cubits in height, who was tall enough to touch the heavens.” This would make him some five feet three inches in stature. He is generally alluded to as "a man of low stature, inclining to stoop, of a sedate countenance, and a fair complexion.” His nese was aquiline, of a bold forehead, and thick beard. Lucian derides him as "the high-nosed and baldpated Galilean." According to some of his enemies, as Paul himself quotes them, his "bodily presence was weak and his speech contemptible."
That he was of a weak constitution I presume may be justly inferred from his letter to the Galatians. “You know,” says he, “how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel to you at the first, and my temptation which was in the flesh, you despised not nor rejected, but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.” From all which we may infer he was not very prepossessing.
Like Dr. Watts, and Alexander Pope the poet, I presume Paul in the days of his flesh might have said
"Could I, by grasping reach the pole,
Or bind the ocean in a span,
The mind's the stature of the man."
The whole world, however, awards to him a transcendent mind and genius. Longinus himself has placed him amongst the greatest orators of antiquity; and at Lystra he was deemed by the natives to be Mercurius, the tutelar god of eloquence. But, said he, "by the grace of God I am what I am.” Neither his great talents nor his great learning made him what he was, as an Apostle, or Minister of Jesus Christ.
Olympas. Do you know any thing of his relations, Susan?
Susan. His forefathers were religious men of the sect of the Pharisees. He had a married sister that lived at Jerusalem, whose son waited on Captain Claudius Lysias and informed him of a conspiracy against his uncle's life, by means of which he was saved from assassination. We may then presume that Paul's sister and his nephew were members of the Jerusalem church.
He also, in the 16th chapter of this epistle, names several “kinsmen" who were then residents at Rome; such as Andronicus, Junia, Herodion, Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, also members of that great church to whom he addresses this epistle.
Ephraim. Brother Olympas, can we with certainty conclude that these persons were any nearer to Paul in blood than were the whole Jewish nation, inasmuch as in the 9th chapter he calls the whole nation his "kinsmen according to the flesh”? Is it not the same word in the original that is used here?
Olympas. It is true that he calls the whole nation in one passage his kinsmen; but there his argument required it. It was then used as a reason why he should feel so much for their rejection of the Messiah. But to speak of certain persons at Rome as his kinsmen merely because they were Jews, would be a solecism in Paul's style and manner. It would also be improper, unless we should suppose that, in all the church of Rome, then so large as to be famous all over the empire, there were but six Jews. For to have selected but six Jews of the whole church as worthy of being named as his kinsmen out of so many as must have been there, would be of more difficult reconciliation to his manner and general character than to suppose they were his own personal family relatives. I should like, however, to hear the opinion of our senior brother Clement.
Clement. In lookino over your shelves the other day, I saw a small library of treatises on the Romans, and so mariy commentators on the Old, and especially on the New Testament, as to induce the opinion that I could add nothing to your learning on this subject. There stood Calvin and Tholuck, and Taylor of Norwich, and Locke, and Stuart, and Chalmers, and Macknight, and Barnes; and
there also stood the great commentators and critics Matthew Henry, Adam Clark, Doddridge, D'Oyly, and Mant, Boothroyd, Townsend, Coit, Benson, Pearce, and Campbell, with Polyglotts, Hexaplas, and numerous translations, &c. &c.— helps, indeed, of great value to those who have learning enough to know how to use them. But for myself I have neither learning, nor talent, nor time to peruse or use such works. My single Greek Testament, with the common Eng. lish and one new version of it, are my principal, almost exclusive, reading now-a-days.
Olympas. And such, or almost such, is my own. I now use these merely as books of reference or as dictionaries to ascertain the current views of the public guides, and to help me in some matters more philological than theological. I make the Book itself its own best and safest interpreter. These books are, indeed, useful and valuable aids: but there is danger in following them implicitly. I wished my family to have them under my direction, and more for their confirmation in the conclusions to which we generally arrive by our concordance and comparison of one scripture with another, than as either guides or labor-saving machinery of personal examination and reflection. Of Paul as a Christian, an Apostle, a preacher, and a teacher-an able and powerful orator, we all think alike; but what think you of his style as a writer?
Ephraim. I will read you from a volume I looked into this morning in my bed-chamber, my views more happily expressed by Dr. Harwood, than I am capable of expressing them: "A negligent greatness, if I may so express myself, appears in bis writings. Full of the dignity of his subject, a torrent of sacred eloquence bursts forth, and bears down every thing before it with irresistible rapidity. He stays not to arrange and harmonize his words and his periods, but rushes on as his vast ideas transport him, borne away by the sublimity of his theme, and, like Pindar, when seized with poetic inspiration, with strong pinions soars above the clouds, and far, very far below, at an immense distance, leaves all mortal things. Hence his frequent and prolix digressions; though at the same time his allcomprehensive mind never loses sight of the subject, but he returns from these excursions, resumes and pursues it with an ardor and strength of reasoning that astonishes and convinces. He introduces any subject which he is afraid will prejudice or disgust his countrymen the Jews, with a humility and modesty that secures your atten. tion, and with an insinuating form of address to which you can deny nothing. This appears particularly in his Epistle to the Romans, where we see with what reluctance and heartfelt grief he mentions.
the ungrateful truth of the Jews' rejection of the Messiah and their dereliction of God for their insuperable obstinacy. How studious he is to provoke them to jealousy and emulation by the example of the Gentiles, and how many persuasive and cogent arts and arguments doth he employ to win them over to the religion of Jesus! In these delicate touches, in these fine arts of moral suasion, St. Paul greatly excells. Upon occasion, also, we find him employ. ing the most keen and cutting raillery in satyrizing the faults and foibles of those to whom he wrote. With what sarcastic pleasantry doth he animadvert upon the Corinthians for their injudicious folly in suffering themselves to be duped by a false judaizing teacher. Į do not remember that I have ever met with an instance of irony more delicate and piquant than the following passage.—'In what respect, says he to the Corinthians, have you been inferior to the other churches, except that I never extorted a maintenance from you? Do forgive me this injury.”
Olympas. I presume that in these views we all concur with you. And now after all this protracted introduction and preparation, let us implore the divine blessing upon our labors, and enter upon the study of Paul's Epistle to the Romans. Shall we, brother Clement, unite with you in supplicating the divine blessing upon our efforts, the guidance and direction of our minds by the Spirit of revelation, while, as a family, we religiously peruse for our edification and sanctification the Epistle of Paul to the Romans?
[Brother Clement prays. Olympas reads the first section of the Epistle.]
“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, a called Apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, (which he formerly announced by his Prophets in the sacred writings,) concerning his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord; descended from David, as to his flesh, but proved to be the Son of God, with power, as to his holy spiritual nature; after his resurrection from the dead: by whom we have received favor, even the apostolic office, for the obedience of faith among all nations, for his name's sake: among whom are you also, called of Jesus Christ: To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called saints; favor be to you, and peace from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ."
Olympas. In taking up any. ancient document addressed to an ancient people, with a desire to understand it, it is all-important that we not only make ourselves acquainted with the author or.. authors of it, but that we also acquire as much information as possible concerning the people to whom it was addressed, or concerning whom it was written. Having then acquired some knowledge of the author of this epistle, we shall next institute an inquiry into the character and condition of the persons addressed; but be