صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

have been written in the beginning of the first year of the apostle's imprisonment at Rome. And, in support of his opinion, he offers the two following arguments, Canon, chap. xii.

1. That Timothy who joined the apostle in his letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon, did not join him in his epistle to the Ephesians. True. But might not Timothy.after joining the apostle in the letters mentioned, leave Rome on some necessary business, before the epistle to the Ephesians was begun? That this was actually the case, we have reason to believe. For the apostle, in his letter to the Philippians, promised to send Timothy to them soon, chap. ii. 19. And in his epistle to the Hebrews, which was written after his release, he informed them that Timothy was sent away, Heb. xiii. 23. Wherefore, having left Rome before the letter to the Ephesians was begun, his name could not be inserted in the inscription, notwithstanding it was finished in such time, as to be sent to Ephesus by the messenger who carried the letters to the Colossians and to Philemon.

2. Lardner's second argument for the early date of the epistle to the Ephesians, is, that in his letters to the Philippians and to Philemon, the apostle expresses his hope of being soon released; whereas in his letter to the Ephesians, he does not give the most distant insinuation of any such expectation. But the apostle, in his epistle to the Colossians, makes as little mention of his release, as in his epistle to the Ephesians. And yet all allow that that epistle was written and sent along with the epistlé to Philemon, in which the apostle expresseth the strongest hope of that event. He did not think it necessary, it seems, to men'tion his enlargement in his letter to the Colossians, because he had ordered Tychicus to inform them of it. Col. iv. 17. All things concerning me, Tychicus will make known to you. For the same reason he may have omitted mentioning his release to the Ephesians, as may be inferred from Ephes. vi. 21. Now that ye also may know the things relating 10 me, and what I am doing, Ty. chicus will make known to you all things. The phraseology here deserves notice; That ye also may know ; which I think implies, that at this time the apostle had ordered Tychicus to make known all thing concerning him to some others; namely, to the Colossians; consequently that the two epistles were written about the same time. And as Tychicus and Onesimus, to whom the apostle delivered his epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, were to take Ephesus in their way, he gave them his letter to the Ephesians likewise; and ordered them when they delivered it, to enjoin the Ephesians to send a copy of it to the Laodiceans, with directions to them to send a transcript taken from their copy, to the Colossians. Tychicus, therefore, and Onesimus, taking Ephesus in their way, delivered the apostle's letter to the church in that city, as they were directed; then proceeded with the letters to the Colossians and to Philemon; which when they delivered, their commission was at an end.

If the epistle to the Ephesians was written, as I suppose, soon after the epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, the mention which is made of the apostle's release, in his letter to Philemon, will lead us to fix the writing of the three epistles, to the end of the second year of the apostle's confinement at Rome, answer. ing to A. D. 60, or 61.

SECTION VI. Of the Style of the Epistle to the Ephesians. The critics have observed, that the style of the epistle to the Ephesians is exceedingly elevated; and that it corresponds to the state of the apostle's mind at the time of writing. Overjoy. ed with the account which their messenger brought him of their faith and holiness, chap. i. 15. and transported with the consideration of the unsearchable wisdom of God, displayed in the work of man's redemption, and of his astonishing love towards the Gentiles, in making them partakers, through faith, of all the benefits of Christ's death, equally with the Jews, he soar's high in his sentiments on these grand subjects, and gives his thoughts utterance in sublime and copious expressions. At the same time, he introduces various deep, and hitherto unknown doctrines, to which he gives the appellation of mysteries, in allusion to the occult doctrines, which the Greeks dignified with the name of the mysteries of this or that god; and on the knowledge of which the initiated in these mysteries highly valued themselves. In short, this epistle is written as it were in a rapture. Hence Jerome, on chap. iii. says, “ Nullam cpistolam Pauli “ tanta habere mysteria, tam reconditis sensibus involuta, quos " et apostolus nosse se gloriatur.”

Grotius, likewise, entertained an high opinion of this cpistle. For he says, it expresseth the sublime matters contained in it, in words more sublime than are to be found in any human language: “ Rerum sublimitatem, adæquans verbis sublimioribus,

quam ulla unquam habuit lingua humana.” This character is so just, that no real Christian can read the doctrinal part of the epistle to the Ephesians, without being impressed and roused by it, as by the sound of a trumpet.


Of the Eleusinian and other Heathen Mysteries, alluded to in this Epistle.

I. The apostle Paul, in this and in his other epistles, having often alluded to the heathen mysteries ; and having condemned them all, on account of the shameful things practised in them, Ephes. v. 11, 12. it is proper, both for understanding his allusions, and for shewing the propriety of his censure, to give, in this section, some account of these famed institutions.

Bishop Warburton, from whom I have taken the greatest part of this account, in his Divine Legation, b. 2. sect. 4. informs us, That each of the heathen gods, besides the worship paid to him in public, had a secret worship, to which none were admitted, but those who were prepared by previous ceremonies. This secret worship was termed the mysteries of the god; which, however, were not performed in all places where he was publicly worshipped, but only where his chief residence was supposed to be. According to Herodotus, Diodorus, and Plutarch, who, in support of their opinion, appeal to the most ancient testimonies, these mysteries were first invented in Egypt; whence they spread themselves into most countries of Europe and Asia. In Egypt, they were celebrated to the honour of Isis and Osiris; in Asia, to Mythras; in Samothrace, to the mother of the gods; in Bæotia, to Bacchus; in Cyprus, to Venus ; in Crete, to Jupiter ; in Athens, to Ceres and Proserpine, thought to be the same with Isis and Osiris ; and in other places to other gods, to an incredible number. The most noted of these mysteries, however, were the Orphic, the Bacchic, the Eleusinian, the Samothracian, the Cabiric, and the Mythraic. But the Eleusinian mysteries, celebrated by the Athenians at Eleusis, a town of Attica, in honour of Ceres, and her daughter Proserpine, in process of time swallowed up all the rest. For as Zosimus tells us, lib. iv. These most holy rites were then so extensive, as to take in the whole race of mankind. Accordingly, ancient authors have spoken most of the Eleusinean mysteries. However, as they all proceeded from one fountain, and consisted of similar rites, and had the same end in view, at least till they were corrupted, what

we are told of any of them, Warburton thinks may be understood of them all.

The general object of the mysteries, was, by means of certain shews and representations accompanied with hymns, to impress the senses and imaginations of the initiated, with the belief of the doctrines of religion, according to the views of them which the contrivers of the mysteries, or those who introduced them into any country, entertained. And, that the mystic shews might make the deeper impression on the initiated, they were always exhibited in the darkness of night.

The mysteries were divided into two classes, the lesser, and the greater. The lesser mysteries were intended for the common people. The greater for those in higher stations, and of more improved understandings. Plutarch seems to speak of a third class, called the intuitive. See 2 Pet. i. 16. note 2. Though others give that name to the second class.

In both the mysteries, the doctrines of providence, and future retributions, were inculcated; but in the greater, there were, besides, revealed to the initiated, certain doctrines called atoppate, because they were never to be mentioned, except to such of the initiated as were capable of understanding them, and that under the most religious seal of secrecy.

In the celebration of the lesser mysteries, matters were so contrived, that the person to be initiated, at his entrance, was filled with an inexpressible horror. So Proclus, In the most holy mysteries, before the scene of the mystic visions, there is a terror dif. fused into the minds of the initiated. So likewise Dion Chrysost. in his account of the initiation into the lesser mysteries: Just 80 ii is, as when one leads a Greek or a Barbarian to be initiated, in a certain mystic dome, excelling in beauty and magnificence, where he sees many mystic sights, and hears in the same manner a multitude of voices ; where darkness and light alternately affect his senses,

and á thousand other uncommon thing's present themselves before him. It seems the darkness was dispelled by the sudden flashing of light, immediately succeeded by a dismal darkness.-Warburton, who thinks Virgil's description of Æneas's descent into hell, an allegorical relation of his initiation into the Eleusinian mysteries, supposes that. the mystic vision, which occasioned the horror in the mind of the initiated of which Proclųs speaks, is described, Æneid lib. vi. 273. where in the very entrance of hell, all the real and imaginary evils of life, together with many frightful forms, are said to be stationed.

Vestibulum ante ipsum, primisque in faucibus orci,
Luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia curæ :
Pallentesque habitant morbi, tristisque senectus :
Et Metus, et malesuada Fames, et turpis Egestas,
(Terribiles visu forma) Lethumque Laborque :
Tum consanguineus Lethi Sopor: et mala mentis
Gaudia, mortiferumque adverso in limine Bellum :
Ferreique Eumenidum thalami, et Discordia demens,
Vipereum crinem vittis innexa cruentis, &c.

lin. 290.

Corripit hic subitâ trepidus formidine ferrum
Æneas, strictamque aciem venientibus offert.

Farther, because Virgil represents Æneas, after passing the river Styx, and entering the Lugentes campi or purgatory, as distressed with the cries of the shades of infants, cut off in early life, Warburton supposes that they were introduced into the mystic shew, that by an exhibition of their miserable state, parents might be deterred from the barbarous practice of exposing their children, which prevailed anciently among the Greeks. -Among the uncommon things represented in the lesser mysteries, Warburton saith there were men and women properly habited, who personating the gods both supernal and infernal, passed in review before the initiated. And to each of them an hymn was sung, explaining their character, attributes, and actions. These hymns, Clemens Alexandrinus has termed the theology of imagcs, or idols. Proclus likewise tells us: In the celebration of the mysteries, it is said that the initiated meet many things of multiform shapes and species, which represent the first generation of the gods.

In the lesser mysteries, there were representations of purgatory, and Tartarus; and shews exhibited to the initiated, of persons suffering punishments in Tartarus, suitable to the nature of their crimes. And to represent the miserable state of the greatest criminals, men were introduced who personated Theseus, and Ixion, and Sisyphus, and Phlegyas, suffering eternal punishments, and who, as they passed in review, gave each an admonition to the initiated, to beware of the crime for which he in particular was suffering : And for this, Warburton appeals to that passage of the Eneid; where, as Æneas was passing by the gate of Tartarus (for he was not permitted to enter) the Sibyl gave him an account of the punishments of the wicked imprisoned in that place of torment for ever, by the sentence of Rhadamanthus. Æneid lib. vi. lin. 557. VOL. III.


« السابقةمتابعة »