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CAN the reader of taste and feeling, who has followed the much-enduring hero of the Odyssey with growing delight and increasing sympathy, though in a work of fiction, through all his wanderings, peruse with inferior interest the genuine Voyages of the Apostle of the Gentiles over nearly the same seas? The fabulous adventurer, once landed, and safe on the shores of his own Ithaca, the reader's mind is satisfied, for the object of his anxiety is at rest. But not so ends the tale of the Christian hero.-Whoever closed Saint Luke's narrative of the diversified events of Saint Paul's travels; whoever accompanied him with the interest his history demands, from the commencement of his trials at Damascus to his last deliverance from shipwreck, and left him preaching in his own hired house at Rome, without feeling as if he had abruptly lost sight of some one very dear to him, without sorrowing that they should see his face no more, without indulging a wish that the intercourse could have been carried on to the end, though that end were martyrdom.

Such readers, and perhaps only such, will rejoice to renew their acquaintance with this very chiefest of the apostles; not indeed in the communication of subsequent facts, but of important principles; not in the re

cords of the biographer, but in the doctrines of the saint. In fact, to the history of Paul in the Sacred Oracles succeed his Epistles. And these Epistles, as if through design, open with that "to the beloved of God called to be saints" in that very city, the mention of his residence in which concludes the preceding narrative.

Had the Sacred Canon closed with the evangelical narrations, had it not been determined in the counsels of Divine Wisdom, that a subsequent portion of inspired Scripture in another form, should have been added to the historical portions, that the Epistles should have conveyed to us the results of the mission and the death of Christ, how immense would have been the disadvantage, and how irreparable the loss! May we presume to add, how much less perfect would have been our view of the scheme of Christianity, had the New Testament been curtailed of this important portion of religious and practical instruction.

We should indeed have felt the same adoring gratitude for the benefits of the Redeemer, but we should have been in comparative ignorance of the events consequent upon his resurrection. We should have been totally at a loss to know how and by whom the first Christian churches were founded; how they were conducted, and what was their progress. We should have had but a slender notion of the manner in which Christianity was planted, and how wonderfully it flourished in the heathen soil. Above all, we should have been deprived of that divine instruction, equally the dictate of the Holy Spirit, with which the Epistles abound; or,

which would have been worse than ignorance, uninspired men, fanatics, or impostors, would have attached to the Gospel their glosses, conceits, errors, and misinterpretations. We should have been turned over for information to some of those spurious gospels, and more than doubtful epistles, of which mention is made in the early part of ecclesiastical history. What attempts might have been made by such writers, to amuse curiosity with a sequel of the history of the persons named in the New Testament! How might they have misled us by unprofitable details of the Virgin Mary, or of Joseph of Arimathea!

What legends might have been invented, what idolatry even might have been incorporated with the true worship of God; what false history appended to the authentic record! Not only is the Divine Wisdom manifest in carrying on through the Epistles a confirmation of the Spirit and power of Christianity, but the same design is no less apparent in closing the book with the Apocalypse,-a writing which contains the testimony of the last surviving disciple of Jesus in extreme old age, to which he seems to have been providentially preserved for the very purpose of protecting the Gospel from innovations which were beginning to corrupt it.

The narratives of the Evangelists would indeed have remained perfect in themselves, even without the Epistles; but never could its truths have been so clearly understood, or its doctrines so fully developed, as they now are. Our Saviour himself intimated, that there would be a more full and complete knowledge of his

doctrines, after he had ceased to deliver them, than there was at the time. How indeed could the doctrine of the atonement, and of pardon through his blood, have been so explicitly set forth during his life, as they afterwards were in the Epistles, especially in those of Saint Paul?

Saint Luke, at the opening of the Acts of the Apostles, referring the friend to whom he inscribes it, to his "former Treatise of all that Jesus began to do, and to teach, till he was taken up, after that he had through the Holy Ghost given commandment to the Apostles," seems plainly to indicate that the doing and the teaching were to be carried on by them. All their doubts were at length removed. They had now a plenary conviction of the divinity of Christ's person, and of the dignity of his mission. They had now witnessed his glorious resurrection and ascension, and the coming of the Holy Ghost. They had attained the fullest assurance of the truths they were to proclaim, and had had time to acquire the completest certainty of their moral efficacy on the heart and life.

It was therefore ordained by that Wisdom which cannot err, that the Apostles, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, should work up all the documents of the anterior Scriptures into a more systematic form ;that they should more fully unfold their doctrines, extract the essence of their separate maxims, collect the scattered rays of spiritual light into a focus, and blend the whole into one complete body.

The Epistles, therefore, are an estimable appendix to the Evangelists. The memoir, which contains the ac

tions of the Apostles, the work of an Evangelist also, stands between these two portions of the New Testament. Thus, no chasm is left, and the important events which this connecting link supplies-particularly the descent of the Holy Spirit, the emblematic vision of Saint Peter, and the conversion and apostleship of Saint Paul,-naturally prepare the mind for that full and complete commentary on the historical books, which the Epistles, more especially those of Saint Paul, present

to us.

Saint Paul was favoured with a particular revelation, a personal disclosure to him of the truths with which the other disciples were previously acquainted. This special distinction placed Paul on a level with his precursors. Though, in point of fact, he added nothing to the Gospel revelation, and in point of doctrine he only gave a larger exposition of truths previously communicated, of duties already enjoined, yet here was the warrant of his teaching, the broad seal of his apostleship. And unless we fall into the gross error of insisting that the Epistles in general would not equally be given by Inspiration with other parts of the New Testament, I see not how any can withhold, from the Epistles of Saint Paul in particular, that reverence which they profess to entertain for the entire letter of revelation.

It is a hardship to which all writers on subjects exclusively religious are liable, that if, while they are warmly pressing some great and important point, they omit, at the same time, to urge some other point of great moment also, which they equally believe, but which they cannot in that connection introduce without

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