Chapter 7: Paul Disbelieved Continued. After His Third Jerusalem Visit, Contest Between Him and Peter at Antioch. Partition Treaty: Paul for Himself: Peter, James and John for the Apostles
Section 2: Partition-Treaty—Probability, Given by the Financial Stipulation, To Paul's Account of It
Of this important treaty, mention may have been seen above. In the financial stipulation which may have been observed in it,—may be seen a circumstance, by which an additional degree of credibility seems to be given, to Paul's account of the transaction; at the same time that light is thrown upon the nature of it. Paul alone, with his adherents, were to address themselves to the Gentiles: but, in return for the countenance given to him by Peter and the rest of the Apostles, he was to remember the poor; which is what, says he,
On neither side were motives of the ordinary human complexion—motives by which man's nature was made to be governed—wanting, to the contracting parties. By Peter and the rest of the Apostles, much experience had been acquired, of the activity and energy of this their self-constituted colleague: within that field of action, which alone was suited to their powers, and within which they had stood exposed to be disturbed by his interference, within that field to be secured against such interference,—was, to them and their interests, an object of no small moment. Such seems to have been the consideration, on the part of the acknowledged and indisputable Apostles.
Not less obvious was the advantage, which, by the stipulation of this same treaty in his favour, was in a still more effectual manner, secured to Paul. That, when the whole transaction was so fresh,—all that Paul was able to say for himself, with all that Barnabas was able to say for him, had not been sufficient, to induce the Apostles to give credence to his story about the manner of his conversion,—in a word, to regard him in any other light than that of an impostor,—is directly asserted by the author of the Acts. So again, in his unpremeditated speech to the enraged multitude, Acts 22:18, "They will not receive thy testimony concerning me," is the information which the Acts make him report as having been communicated to him by the Lord, when "while I prayed in the Temple," says he, ver. 17, "I was in a trance." Should a charge to any such effect happen to encounter him in the course of his labours;—should he, in a word, find himself stigmatized as an impostor;—find himself encountered by a certificate of impostorship;—a certificate, signed by the known and sole confidential servants, as well as constant companions, of that Jesus, whom—without so much as pretending any knowledge of his person, he had thus pretended to have heard without seeing him,—and at a time and place, in which he was neither heard nor seen by anybody else;—it is obvious enough, in any such case, how formidable an obstruction of this sort was liable to prove. On the other hand, so he were but once seen to be publicly recognized, in the character of an associate and acknowledged labourer in the same field,—a recognition of him in that character—a virtual recognition at least, if not an express one—would be seen to have taken place:—a recognition, such as it would scarcely, at any time after, be in their power to revoke: since it would scarcely be possible for them, ever to accuse him of the principal offence, without accusing themselves of the correspondent connivance. Note, that, of this treaty, important as it was—this partition-treaty—by which a division was made of the whole Christian world—no mention, not any the least hint, is to be found in the Acts.
Thus much for this third visit of Paul's to Jerusalem, reckoning from the time of his conversion: thus much for this third visit, and the partition-treaty that was the result of it. In and by his fourth visit to that original metropolis of the Christian world,—we shall see how this same treaty was violated—violated, without any the slightest reason or pretext, or so much as an attempt, on the part of his anonymous biographer,—either by his own mouth, or by that of his hero,—to assign a motive. Violated—that is to say, by and on the part of Paul: for, of Peter, no further mention is, in all this history, to be found.
The truth is—that, instead of "the Acts of the Apostles," the History of Paul—namely, from the time of his conversion to the time of his arrival at Rome—would have been the more proper denomination of it. Of any other of the Apostles, and their acts,—little, if anything, more is said, than what is just sufficient, to prepare the reader, for the history of Paul, by bringing to view the state of the Christian world, at the time of his coming upon the stage. As to Saint Peter,—the author's chief hero being all along Saint Paul, in whose train, during this last-mentioned of his excursions, he represents himself as being established,—what is said of Saint Peter and his achievements, stands, as it were, but as an episode. And though, by this historiographer, no mention is made of the partition-treaty, it has eventually been of use to us, by serving to show what, at the time of entering into that engagement, was the situation of St. Peter; and how good the title is, which the transaction presents to our credence,—as being so natural, because so manifestly for the advantage of both the contracting parties, as well as of the religion of Jesus, in so far as that of Paul was conformable to it.