Chapter 9: Paul Disbelieved Continued.—Jerusalem Visit IV. and Last Invasion Visit. The Purpose Concealed: Opposition Universal; Among His Own Disciples, and Among Those of the Apostles
Section 3: The Design Indefensible
All this—is it not enough? Well then, take this one other—this concluding proof. In the teeth of all their endeavours, and among them, some that will be seen extraordinary enough, to prevent it,—was undertaken the fourth and last of his four recorded visits to their residence—Jerusalem.
But, in the first place, in the utter indefensibility of the design, shall be shown the cause, of the opposition so universally made to it.
Tired of a mixture of successes and miscarriages,—disdaining the conquests he had been making in so many remote, and comparatively obscure regions of the world,—he had formed—but at what precise time, the documents do not enable us to pronounce—the determination, to exhibit his glories on the two most illustrious of theatres:—in the two capitals—Jerusalem, of the Jewish, and now of the Christian world; Rome, of the whole classical heathen world:—and in the first place, Jerusalem, now, for the fourth time since his conversion. It was at Ephesus, as we have seen, this determination was first declared.
To Rome, he might have gone, and welcome: namely, in so far as his doctrines could have confined themselves within the limits of those of Jesus: which, however, it will be seen, they could not: but, success being moreover supposed, nothing but good could such visit have had for its result.
But, by a visit to any place other than Jerusalem, various were the points of spleen and ambition, that could not have been satisfied. Nothing would serve him, but, over that Edom Jerusalem, he would, in the first place, cast forth his shoe.
Unless the eleven most confidential servants, selected by Jesus himself to be the propagators of his religion, were altogether unworthy of the task thus allotted to them,—nothing to the good purposes of that religion could be more palpably unnecessary, nothing to the purposes of peace and unity more pernicious, than the intrusion thus resolved upon. That the number of these legitimately instituted Apostles had as yet suffered any diminution, is not, by any of the documents, rendered so much as probable. Neither in the works of Paul himself, nor in that of his historiographer, is any intimation to any such effect to be found. In their own judgments, had there been any need of coadjutors—any deficiency of hands for the spiritual harvest,—they well knew how to supply it. Of the sufficiency of such knowledge, they had given the most incontestable proofs: the election of Matthias was the fruit of it. They showed—and with a disinterestedness, which has never since had, nor seems destined to have, any imitators—that, in the Christian world, if government in any shape has divine right for its support, it is in the shape of democracy;—representative democracy—operating by universal suffrage. In the eye of the Christian, as well as of the philosopher and the philanthropist, behold here the only legitimate government: the form, the exclusion of which from the Christian world, has been the object of that league, by which, by an unpunishable, yet the most mischievous—if not the only mischievous—sort of blasphemy, the name of Christian has been profaned.
This method of filling offices, was no more to the taste of Paul, than to that of a Napoleon or a George. He determined to open their eyes, and prove to them by experience, that monarchy,—himself the first monarch—was the only legitimate form of government. The difficulties of the enterprise were such as could not escape any eyes:—least of all his own: but to die or conquer was his resolve: so he himself declares.49 What, in case of success, would have been the use made by him of it? The fate of the Apostles may be read in the catastrophe of Saint Stephen: the vulgar herd would, in his eyes, have been as declaredly foolish as the Galatians.
The invasion was not less inconsistent with good faith, than with brotherly love, peace and unity. It was a direct violation of the partition-treaty: that treaty, of which he gives such unquestionable evidence against himself, in the boast he makes of it to his Galatians.