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THE COAT OF JESUS AND THE CLOAK OF PAUL.
WOULD THE APPARENT INSIGNIFICANCE OF CERTAIN DETAILS OF THE BIBLE JUSTIFY TS
IN SEPARATING THEM FROM THE INSPIRED PORTION ?
“Does it comport with the dignity of inspiration to accompany the thought of the Apostle Paul, even into those vulgar details into which we see him descend in some of his letters? Would the Holy Spirit condescend to dictate to him those public salutations which terminate his epistles; or those medical counsels to Timothy concerning his stomach and his often infirmities; or those commis. sions with which he charges him, with regard to his parchments and a certain cloak which he had left at the house of Carpus at Troas, when he was leaving Asia ?”
The reader will suffer us to beseech him to be cautious of this objection when, holding the Bible in his hands, he happens not to recog. nize on the first perusal, the signs of God's hand in such or such a passage of the word. Let those imprudent hands not cast one verse of it out of the temple of the scriptures. They hold an eternal book, all of whose authors have said with St. Paul: "And I think that I too have the spirit of the Lord !" If then he does not yet see any thing divine in such or such a passage, the fault is in him and not in the passage. Let him rather say with Jacob: “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not." Gen. 28: 16. This book can sustain the light of science; for it will bear that of the last day. The heavens and the earth shall pass; but none of its words shall fail, not even to the least letter. God declares to every one that heareth the words of this prophecy, that if any one shall take away from the words of this book, God will take away his part from the book of life. Rev. 22: 18, 19.
Let us examine more closely the alleged passages. St. Paul from the depths of his prison sends for his cloak. He has left it at the house of Carpus, in Troas, and he entreats Timothy to hasten to him before winter, and not forget to bring it to him. This domestic detail, so many thousand times objected against the inspiration of the Scriptures, from the days of the Anomians of whom St. Jerome speaks : this detail seems to you too trivial for an apostolic book, or at least too insignificant and too foreign from all practical utility, for the dignity of inspiration. Une happy however, is he who does not perceive its pathetic grandeur.
Jesus Christ also, on the day of his death, spoke of his cloak and of his vesture. Would you have this passage taken away from the inspired volume? It was after a night of fatigue and anguish. They had led him about the streets of Jerusalem for seven successive hours, by the light of torches, from street to street, from tribunal to tribunal, buffeting him, covering him with a veil, striking his head with staves. The morrow's sun was not yet risen, before they had bound his bands with cords, to lead him again from the high priest's house to Pilate's Prætorium. There, lacerated with rods, bathed in his own blood, then delivered for the last punishment to ferocious soldiers, he had seen his garments all
stripped off, that they might clothe him in a scarlet robe, whilst they bowed the knee before him, placed the reed in his hands, and spit upon his face. Then, before laying his cross upon his bruised frame, they had replaced his garments upon his wounds, to lead him to Calvary; but, when they were about to proceed to the execution, they took them away for the third time; and it is then that, stripped of every thing, first his cloak, then his coat, then of even his under-dress, he must die naked upon the malefactor's gibbet, iu the view of an immense multitude. Was there ever seen under heaven, a man, who has not found these details, touching, sublime, inimitable? And was one ever seen, who, from the account of this death, thought of retrenching as useless or too vulgnr, the history of these garments which they divided among them-or of this cloak for which they cast lots? Has not infidelity itself said in speaking of that event, that the majesty of the Scriptures astonished it, that their simplicity spoke to its heart; that the death of Socrates was that of a sage, but Jesus Christ's, that of a God !—and if the divine inspiration was reserved for a mere portion of the holy books, would it not be for these very details? Would it not be for the history of that love, which, after having lived upon the earth poorer than the birds of the air and the foxes of the field, was willing to die still poorer, deprived of all, even to its cloak and its under-garments, and fastened naked to the malefactor's gibbet with the arms extended and nailed to the wood ? Ah! be not solicitous for the Holy Spirit; he has not derogated from his own majesty; and so far from thinking that he was stooping too low in announcing these facts to the world, he has hastened to recount them to it; and that too, a thousand years in advance. At the period of the Trojan war he already was singing them upon the harp of David: “They have pierced my hands and my feet," said he, “they look and stare upon me, they part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.”
But it is the same Spirit who would show us St. Paul writing to Timothy, and requesting him to bring his cloak. Hear him; he too is stripped of every thing. In his youth, he was already eminent, a favorite of princes, admired of all; but now he has left every thing for Christ. It is now thirty years and more, that he has been poor, in labors more than the others; in wounds, more than they; in prison oftener : five times he had received of the Jews forty stripes, save one; thrice was he beaten with rods; once he was stoned; thrice he has suffered shipwreck; often in journeyings; in perils upon the sea, in perils in the city, in perils in the desert; in watchings oft, in hunger and in thirst, in cold and nakedness (we quote his own words.) Hear him now; behold him advanced in age; he is in his last prison; he is at Rome; he is expecting his sentence of death; he has fought the good fight; he has finished his course, he has kept the faith; but he is cold, winter is coming on, and he is poorly clad! Buried in a dungeon of the Mamertine prison, he is so much despised, that even all the Christians of Rome are ashamed of him, and that at his first appearing, no man was willing to befriend him. Yet, he had received, ten years before, while a prisoner at Rome, and loaded with chains, at least some money from the Philippians ; who, knowing his sufferings, united together in their indigence, to send him some succor. But now, behold him forsaken; no one but St. Luke is with him; all have abandoned him; winter is approaching. He would need a cloak; he has left his own, two hundred leagues off, at the house of ('arpus in Troas; and no one in the cold prisons of Rome would Jend him one. Ilas he not then left every thing, with joy, for Christ; and does he not suffer all things cheerfully for the elect's sake. We were ourselves at Rome, last year, in a hotel, on a rainy day, in the beginning of November. Chilled by the piercing dampness of the cold, evening air, we had a vivid conception of the holy apostle in the subterranean dungeons of the capitol, dictating the last of his letters, regretting the absence of his cloak, and entreating Timothy to bring it to him before the winter!
Who would then take from the inspired Epistles so striking and pathetic a feature? Does not the Holy Spirit carry you to the prison of Paul, to astonish you with this tender self-renunciation and this sublime poverty; just too, as lie shewed you with your own eyes, his charity, some time before, when he made him write in his letter to the Philippianis: “I weep in writing to you, because there are many among you, who mind earthly things, whose end is destruction?" Do yon not seem to see him in his prison, loaded with chains, while lie is writing, and tears are falling upon his parchment ? And does it not seem to you that you behold that poor body, to-day miserably clothed, suffering and benumbed ; to-morrow beheaded and dragged to the Tiber, in expectation of the day when the earth shall give up her dead, and the sea the dead which are in it; and when Christ shall transform our vile bodies, to make them like unto his own glorious body? And if these details are beautiful, think you they are not also useful ? And if they are already useful to him who reads them as a simple historical truth, what will they not become to him who believes in their Theopneusty, and who says to himself: oh my soul, these words are written by Paul; but it is thy God who addresses them to thee? Who can tell the force and consolation, which, by their familiarity and naturalness, they have for eighteen centuries, conveyed into dungeons and huts! Who can count the poor and the martyrs, to whom such passages have given encouragement, example and joy? We just now remember, in Switzerland, the Pastor Juvet, to whom a coverlet was refused, twenty years ago, in the prisons of the Canton de Vaud. We remember that Jerome of Prague, shut up for three hundred and forty days in the dungeons of Constance, at the bottom of a dark and loathsome tower, and going out only to appear before his murderers. Nor have we forgotten the holy Bishop Hooper, quitting his dark and dismal dungeon, with wretched clothes and a borrowed cloak, to go to the scaffold, supported upon a staff, and bowed by the sciatica. Venerable brethren, happy martyrs ; doubtless you then remembered your brother Paul, shut up in the prison of Rome', suffering from cold and nakedness, asking for his cloak! Ah! unfortunate he, who does not see the sublime humanity, the tender grandeur, the foreseeing and divine sympathy, the depth and the charm of such a mode of teaching! But still more unfortunate perhaps he, who declares it hus man, hecause he does not comprehend it. We would here quote the beautiful remarks of the respectable Haldane on this verse of St. laul. “This passage, if you consider the place it occupies in this Epistle, and in the solemn farewells of Paul to his disciples, presents this Apostle 10 our view, in the situation most calculated to affect us. He has ju-e tollen
before the Emperor; he is about to finish his days by martyrdom ; his departure is at hand, the crown of the righteous is reserved for him; behold him on the conincs of two worlds; in this which he is about to leave, ready to be beheaded, as a malefactor, by the orders of Nero ; in that which he is going to enter, (lowned as a just man by the Lord of lords; in this, abandonell of men; in that, welcomed by angels; in this, needing a poor cloak to (over him ; in that covered with the righteousness of the saints; clothed upon with his heavenly tabernacle of light and joy; so that mortality is swallowed up of life."
Scriptures of their infallibility, we should there recognize that wisdom of God, which, so often by one single touch, has given us instructions, for which, without that, many pages would have been necessary. We should adore that tender condescension, which, stooping oven to our weakness, is pleased, not only to reveal to us the highest thoughts of heaven in the simplest language of earth, but also to offer them to us under forms so living, so dallatie, so penetrating, often compressing them in order to render the more intelligible, within the narrow space of a single verse.
It is then thus that St. Paul, by these words thrown at hazard even into the last comission of a familiar letter, casts for us a rapid flood of light over his ministry, and discovers to us by a word, the entire life of an Apostle ; as a single llash of lightning in the evening, illuminates in an instant, all the tops of our Alps; and as persons sometimes show you all their soul by a single look.
I Love to steal awhile away
From every cumbering care,
In humble, grateful prayer.
I love in solitude to shed
A penitential tear,
Where none but God can hear.
I love to think on mercies past,
And future good implore,
On him whom I adore.
I love by faith to take a view
Of brighter scenes in heaven :
While here by tempests driven.
Thus, when life's toilsome day is o’er,
May its departing ray
And lead to endless day.
" And there were old remembrances of days,
POLLOCK. SOME say it is a good thing to be fondly attached to things that are old, and some say it is not. We do not wish at present directly to take either one side or the other in this war of ages. We try to cultivate charity and good nature. Still we confess that our feelings are somewhat decidedly with the old. We have read that our first parents did not do very well by chiming in too readily with the new. Then, too, it falls in with one of the commandments, to love at least our old fathers and mothers; and, we suppose, the spirit of this law would favor a reasonable amount of respect and deference to our uncles and aunts, if not even the old people generally. Then we can conceive how, by “the law of development,” as they say in a certain school of thinking—this same feeling might extend to old houses, old churches, old graveyards, old tunes, old truths, old customs, and other old things "too tedious to mention.”
One way in which this kind of taste manifests itself with peculiar strength in us is in our love for old books. We do not mean old books in the widest sense, though we have somewhat of that taste also, but we have reference to our own old books-those which we have had longest about us. Hence we carefully keep all the books we have brought with us from our childhood-those that are thumbed in spite of the “thumbpaper," and have their leaves turned down at the corners, in defiance of the “mark," and the “rule of the master," that this same thing “should not be done in school.” We have also our “English Reader," and our first “Geography," which so vastly enlightened us in regard to the size of the world, and the number and the queer manners of many of its inhabitants. We also still possess our old “cyphering book," and our “first grammar;" and then the other books in the line forward and up the ever-increasing steep of science, where at each new bound,
"Hills peep o'er hills, and Alps on Alps arise." Unfortunately some of our old books are lost! This is owing to the fact, which we have no doubt accords with the experience of many of