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the Chaldee original, though in the text our translators have used the word gain. Now, though it is true that the Chaldeans wished to gain time according to the common acceptation of the phrase in English, it is probable that the sense of opportunity was also conveyed by the original expression Tòy kaspór. The delay was a mean to an end. The present interpretation was deferred for the purpose of some favourable opportunity either for avoiding any future interpretation, if peradventure the King should find his uneasiness subside, and be indisposed to ask for one, or for turning to their advantage any intermediate contingent events, which might assist the astrologers in giving such an interpretation as would be consolatory or satisfactory to the King.
The 8th verse in this chapter of Daniel, therefore, seems to me to signify, I know of a certainty that you would, by all means, obtain a more favourable opportunity for avoiding explanation altogether, or attempting it with better effect, because ye see that the thing is gone from me, that is, not as some interpreters say, the edict for your destruction has been already issued by me, but because the particulars of the dream itself are gone from me-for it is plain from the context that the King's spirit had been troubled—that the Chaldeans had promised to show the interpretation if he could tell them the dream—and that the King in his reply insists upon being informed of the dream itself, as well as of the interpretation, when from the agitation of his mind he had only a dim and confused recollection of what he had dreamed.
The expression εξαγοράζεσθαι τον καιρόν became it should seem proverbial amongst the Hellenistic Jews. It acquired the general signification of gaining favourable opportunities; and the specific use to which those opportunities were to be applied, may sometimes have been expressly stated in speaking or writing, though we are ourselves left to collect it from the context, in the passages where the phrase occurs in the New Testament, as well as in Daniel.
In the 5th chapter of the Ephesians, verses 15 and 16, we read this, " See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil.” It is observable now that in the foregoing passage, as well as in the Epistle to the Colossians, the Apostle employs the very same words, redeeming the time, when he is inculcating the very same duty of circumspection and prudence; and that the same ground existed for this circumspection in the immoral habits and malicious disposition of the adversaries to Christianity.
The Ephesians were to walk circumspectly and redeem the time, because the days were evil. The Colossians were to walk in wisdom to those that were without, and to redeem the time, because in the inhuman reign of Nero St. Paul was already, not, as has sometimes been supposed erroneously, cast into prison at Rome, but fastened according to the Roman custom upon his right hand by a chain, one extremity of which was holden by a soldier, who walked about with him and guarded him-because these bonds were thrown upon him for speaking the mystery of Christ—and because the dangers
which had already overtaken St. Paul impended more or less over his Colossian converts. For
you will take notice, the reason which is directly stated in the text of the Epistle to the Ephesians is to be inferred from a circumstance, which is stated in verse 3 chapter 4 of the Epistle to the Colossians, “ withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds."
Now the opportunity for gaining a more important and serious hearing to the preachers of the gospel would be the result of the wisdom with which they and their followers walked towards those that were without; and the want of such wisdom would have occasioned the loss of such opportunity-would have created additional obstacles to the propagation of the gospel, and additional difficulties to those who were already converted to it.
Having explained tòy kaspòv as signifying opportunity, I think it proper for me to explore the probable import of εξαγοραζόμενοι. The word εξαγοpážu specifically signifies to recover by purchase that which is the property of another; and in this sense it does not occur in the New Testament. But in the Epistle to the Galatians it is metaphorically transferred to the redemption of mankind from their captivity to sin by the blood of Christ. With a greater latitude of metaphor it is used by St. Paul, both in my text and in the Epistle to the Ephesians, for obtaining some object with the same earnestness, solicitude, and intense application of the whole
mind, which persons engaged in bargains employ for pecuniary advantages.
It may be worth while to add, that in order to express emphatically the idea of securing, or obtaining, passages, borrowed from the act of buying, occur in other writers, and have been adduced by Hammond, Wolfius, and other learned men, to illustrate the word now under consideration in the writings of St. Paul. Thus Plutarch says of Scipio, that seeing the blind fury of the enemies, &aeyer ωνεί θαι του χρόνου την ασφάλειαν-He said he would purchase, or effectually secure safety, by paying or giving time. And so a father of the Christian church, speaking of Julian's dissimulation, says o pev Ewyouμενος τον καιρόν, purchasing or anxiously securing for himself a more favourable opportunity for crushing those whom he hated. (See Greg. Nazian. Orat. Cont. Julien, quoted by Hammond upon Ephes. cap. v. verse 16.)
Thus we see how the terms which originally signified the act of purchasing are figuratively applied to the act of securing any future object, with the cautious and vigilant attention of purchasers. What was the specific object in the view of the Apostle, when he wrote to the Ephesians, is clearly, and I think accurately, stated in the words of Schleusner, a well known lexicographer, Quærite opportunitatem sancte vivendi et alios emendandi, hoc enim, quo vivimus, tempore multa sunt virtutis impedimenta. Nearly the same object was in the mind of the Apostle, when he instructed the Colossians to walk in wisdom to them that are without. They were so to walk if possible, as to avoid the dangers to which they were exposed from the inalice and obstinacy of their enemies. They were to let their spirit be rávTOTE èv zápıtı, always mild and courteous, as became the teachers of a benevolent religion, who were assisted by the grace of God; and as inen, who, if called upon before magistrates or others to give an account of the hope that was in them, knew how they ought to answer in a way at once most conducive to the credit of their own religion—to the preservation of their own safety in evil times, and so as to soften rather than to exasperate the prejudices of their persecutors.
The Colossians are not called upon to recover any past time, which had been lost or mis-spent, but to attend to the present difficulties and perils by which they were surrounded, and to be upon the watch to avail themselves of any future occasion which might occur, for discharging their christian duties, and perhaps propagating the Christian faith, at once with safety to themselves, and with usefulness to the sacred cause in which they were engaged.
They were to treat with gentleness the mistakes and preposessions even of unbelievers. They were to restrain the excesses of that zeal, which often accompanies recent conversion, especially where the conviction of men is deep and unfeigned, and when the subjects upon which they are convinced visibly relate to the glory of God, and the happiness of his creatures. They were to endure patiently, but not to provoke rashly, the rigours of persecution. They