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SECOND JOURNEY OF PAUL—ANOTHER SOJOURN AT GALATIA.
Hardly had Paul returned to Antioch, when he began forming new projects. His ardent soul could not brook repose. On the one hand, he proposed to enlarge the rather limited field of his first mission: on the other, the desire to see again his dear Churches 60of Galatia, to confirm them in the faith, pursued him incessantly. The tenderness which that strange nature appeared in some respects to lack, had been transformed into a powerful faculty of loving the communities which he had founded. He had for his Churches the sentiments that other men have for that which they love the most. This was indeed a special gift of the Jews. The feeling of association with which they were imbued caused them to give to the esprit de famille applications altogether novel. The synagogue and the church were thus what the monastery was to the Middle Ages, the beloved home, the hearth of the warmest affections, the roof under which people sheltered that which they held most dear.
Paul communicated his design to Barnabas. But the friendship of the two Apostles, which had been proof against the severest tests, which no susceptibility of amour propre, no freak of character had been able to lessen, received now a cruel blow. Barnabas proposed to Paul to take John, surnamed Mark, with them: Paul flew into a passion. He could not pardon John-Mark for having abandoned the first mission at Perga, at the moment when it had entered upon the most perilous stage of the journey. The man who had once refused to go on with the work, appeared to him as unworthy of being enrolled anew. Barnabas defended his cousin, whose motives, in fact, it is probable Paul judged with too much severity. The quarrel waxed very hot: it was impossible to come to an understanding. That old friendship which had been the condition of the evangelic preaching, gave place for a time to a miserable question of individuals. To speak truly, it is allowable to suppose that the rupture was based on deeper reasons. It is a miracle that the always increasing pretensions of Paul, his pride, his eagerness to be absolute chief, had not already twenty times rendered relations 61impossible between two men whose reciprocal positions had entirely changed. Barnabas had not the genius of Paul; but who can tell whether in the true hierarchy of souls, which is regulated by the order of goodness, he did not occupy a still higher rank? When we recall what Barnabas had been to Paul; when we think that it was he who at Jerusalem had silenced the not altogether groundless defiances of which the new convert was the object;—who went to seek at Tarsus the future Apostle, as yet isolated and uncertain as to his path;—who introduced him into the young and active life of Antioch;—who, in a word, made him an Apostle,—one cannot help seeing in that open rupture a motive of secondary importance, a gross act of ingratitude on the part of Paul. But the exigencies of the work were too powerful for him. What man of action is there that has not once in his life committed a great crime of the heart?
The two Apostles then separated from each other. Barnabas and John-Mark embarked at Seleucia for Cyprus. History from this point loses sight of his wanderings. While Paul marches on to glory, his companion, falling into obscurity the moment he quitted him who illuminated him with his rays, wears himself out with the labours of an unrecorded apostleship. The enormous injustice which often regulates the things of this world, presides over history like as over everything else. Those who undertake the rôle of self-devotion and unostentation, are ordinarily forgotten. The author of the Acts, with his ingenuous conciliatory policy, has, without wishing it, sacrificed Barnabas to the desire that he entertained of reconciling Peter to Paul. By a sort of instinctive lack of the principle of compensation, on the one hand diminishing and subordinating the importance of Paul, on 62the other, the author has enhanced the importance of Paul at the expense of a modest fellow-worker, who had not a part cut out for him, and who was not weighted in history with the unequal weights which result from the arrangements of parties. Hence arises the ignorance in which we are placed as to what belongs to the apostleship of Barnabas. We only know that that apostleship continued to be very active. Barnabas remained faithful to the grand rules which Paul and he had established during their first mission. He did not take with him in his peregrinations female companions; he lived always by his work, never accepting anything from the Church. He again encountered Paul at Antioch. The imperious temper of Paul provoked a fresh discord between them; but the nature or sentiment of the holy work carried all before it; the communion between the two Apostles remained intact. Labouring each in his own way, they remained in communication the one with the other, mutually informing one another of their labours. In spite of the greatest dissensions, Paul continued always to treat Barnabas as a fellow-worker, and to consider him as dividing with himself the work of the apostleship of the Gentiles. Ardent, hot-headed, and susceptible, Paul soon forgot, when the great principles to which he had devoted his life were not in question.
In place of Barnabas, Paul selected for his companion Silas, the prophet of the Church at Jerusalem, who had remained at Antioch. He was probably not sorry at the defection of John-Mark, who, it seems, wished to be near Peter. Silas possessed, it is said, the title of a Roman citizen, which, joined with his name of Silvanus, induces the belief that he was not of Judea, or that he had already had occasion to familiarise himself with the world of the Gentiles. Both departed, recommended by the brethren to the grace of God. These forms were not at that time 63vain. People believed that the finger of God was everywhere; that each step of the Apostles of the new kingdom was directed by the immediate inspiration of Heaven.
Paul and Silas journeyed by land. Taking to the north, across the plain of Antioch, they traversed the defile of Amanus, the Assyrian passes; then rounding the end of the Gulf of Issus they crossed the northern ridge of Amanus by the Amanida pass; they then traversed Cilicia, passing probably through Tarsus, emerging from Taurus doubtless by the celebrated Cilician passes—one of them the most frightful mountain pass in the world; penetrating thence into Lycaonia; finally reaching Derbe, Lystra, and Iconium.
Paul found his dear Churches in the same state in which he had left them. The faithful had persevered, and their numbers had increased. Timothy, who was but an infant at the time of his first journey, had become an excellent subject. His youth, his piety, and his intelligence, delighted Paul. All the faithful of Lycaonia testified highly of him. Paul attached him to himself, loved him tenderly, and always found in him a zealous collaborateur, or, rather, a son (it is Paul himself who uses this expression). Timothy was a man of great candour, modesty, and reserve. He had not assurance enough to undertake the chief rôles; he lacked authority, especially in Greek countries, where the minds of the people were frivolous and fickle; but his self-denial made of him an unequalled deacon and secretary to Paul. Paul moreover declared that he had not another disciple who was so completely according to his heart. Impartial history is compelled to withhold, to the advantage of Timothy and of Barnabas, a portion of the glory monopolised by the all-absorbing personality of Paul.
Paul, in attaching Timothy to himself, foresaw 64grave embarrassments. He feared that, in his communications with the Jews, Timothy, uncircumcised as he was, could only be a source of repulsion and of trouble. It was, in fact, known everywhere that his father was a Pagan. A multitude of timorous people would decline to hold intercourse with him: the quarrels, which had hardly been laid to rest by the interview at Jerusalem, would be revived. Paul recalled the difficulties he had experienced in regard to Titus. He resolved to anticipate these; and, in order to avoid being brought later to make a concession to the principles he had recoiled from, he circumcised Timothy himself. This was altogether in conformity with the principles which had guided him in the affair of Titus, and which he always practised. But he had never been induced to say that circumcision was necessary to salvation; for, in his eyes, that would have been an error of faith. Yet circumcision being in itself not a wicked thing, he thought that it might be practised, in order to avoid scandal and schism. His great rule was that an apostle ought to be all things to all men, and to yield to the prejudices of those whom he wished to gain over, when these prejudices in themselves were merely frivolous, and did not contain anything absolutely reprehensible. But, at the same time, as if he had a presentiment of the tests that the faith of the Galatians was about to be put to, he made them promise never to listen to another teacher than himself, and to anathematise all other teaching save his own.
From Iconium Paul probably went to Antioch in Pisidia, and completed thus the visit of the principal Churches in Galatia, founded during his first journey. He resolved then to enter upon new territory; but grave doubts restrained him. The thought of attacking the West of Asia Minor, that is to say, the province of Asia, came into his mind. It was the 65part of Asia the most populated. Ephesus was the capital of it; it contained the beautiful and flourishing cities of Smyrna, Pergamos, Magnesia, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Colossus, Laodicæa, Hierapolis, Tralles, Miletus, in which the centre of Christianity was soon to be established. It is not known what turned St Paul away from carrying his efforts in that direction. “The Holy Spirit,” says the writer of the Acts, “forbade him going to preach in Asia.” The Apostles, it must be borne in mind, were reputed to obey, in choosing the direction of their courses, inspirations from on high. Sometimes there were real motives, reflections, or positive indications which they dissimulated under this language. Sometimes there was also the absence of motives. The opinion that God made known to man his volitions by means of dreams, was widespread, just as it is still in our day in the East. A dream, a sudden impulse, an unpremeditated movement, an inexplicable noise (bath kôl), appeared to them as the manifestations of the Spirit, and decided the route of the mission.
What is certain is that, from Antioch in Pisidia, instead of going in the direction of the brilliant provinces of the south-east of Asia Minor, Paul and his companions plunged more and more into the heart of the peninsula, which contained provinces much less celebrated and less civilised. They traversed Phrygia Epictetus, passed probably through the towns of Synnada and Æzana, and reached the confines of Mysia. There, their indecision returned. Should they turn to the north towards Bithynia, or continue west and enter Mysia? They essayed first to enter Bithynia, but untoward events supervened, which they took for the indications of the will of Heaven. They imagined that the spirit of Jesus did not wish that they should tarry in that country. They then traversed Mysia from one end to the other, and arrived at Alexandria-Troas, a considerable 66port almost opposite Tenedos, and not far from the site of ancient Troy. The apostolic band made thus, in almost a single journey, a distance of more than a hundred leagues, across a country little known, and which, destitute of Roman colonies and Jewish synagogues, did not offer them any of the facilities they had found elsewhere.
These long journeys in Asia Minor, full of sweet ennuis and mystical dreams, are a singular mixture of sadness and of charm. Often the route is hard; certain cantons are peculiarly rugged and barren. Other parts, on the contrary, are full of freshness, and do not correspond at all to the ideas that we are accustomed to embrace in that vague phrase, the East. The mouth of the Orontes marks, both in relation to nature and in relation to races, a well-defined line of demarcation. Asia Minor, both for aspect and for the style of landscape, recalls Italy or our South, at the eminence of Valence and of Avignon. The European is not out of his native climate there, as he is in Syria or in Egypt. It is, if I may say so, an Aryan, not a Semitic country, and it is not to be doubted that one day it will be occupied anew by the Indo-European race (Greeks and Armenians). Water there is abundant: the towns are as if inundated by it. Certain points, such as Nymphi, Magnesia in Siplyus, are veritable paradises. The smooth mountain slopes which bound almost everywhere the horizon, present such varieties of infinite forms, and sometimes of fantastic shapes, that they would be regarded as idle fancies if an artist dare to imitate them. There are summits indented like the teeth of a saw, sides torn and slashed, strange cones, and perpendicular walls, in which are finely exposed to view all the beauties of the stone. Thanks to the numerous chains of mountains, the waters are living and sparkling. Long rows of poplars, small 67plane-trees, in the wide surface of the winter torrents, superb stumps of trees, where the feet plunge into pools, and which jut out in dark tufts from the foot of each mountain, these are the solace of the traveller. At the source of each stream the caravans stop to water. The journey continues for days and days upon the narrow lines of antique pavement which for centuries have borne travellers so diverse, and oftentimes fatigued; but the halts are delicious. A repose of an hour, a piece of bread eaten upon the banks of these limpid streams, running in beds of pebbles, sustains one for a long time.
At Troas, Paul, who in certain parts of that journey seems not to have followed any well-defined plan, became once more irresolute as to which route he should choose. Macedonia appeared to him to offer a fine harvest. It appears that he was confirmed in that idea by a Macedonian whom he encountered at Troas. He was a doctor, an uncircumcised proselyte, by the name of Lucanus or Lucas. This Latin name would lead one to believe that the new disciple belonged to the Roman colony of Philippi; his rare knowledge, in fact, of nautical geography and of navigation would, however, rather incline to the idea that he was a Neapolitan: the ports and all the coast of the Mediterranean appear to have been remarkably familiar to him.
This man, to whom was reserved so important a part in the history of Christianity, seeing he was to be the historian of the Christian origins, and seeing his judgment, self-deceptive as to the future, was to regulate the ideas that were formed in the early times of the Church, had received a sufficiently careful Jewish and Hellenic education. He had a gentle and conciliatory mind, a tender and sympathetic soul, a modest temperament, inclining to self-effacement. Paul loved him much, and Luke, on his part, was always faithful to his master. Like Timothy, Luke 68appeared to have been born expressly to be the companion of Paul. Submission and blind confidence, unbounded admiration, a desire to be submissive, unlimited devotion, were his habitual sentiments. It might be said that it was this absolute abnegation of self that made le moine hibernais in the hands of his abbot. The ideal of “the disciple” was never so perfectly realised. Luke was literally fascinated by the superiority of Paul. His affability as a man of the people proclaimed itself incessantly; his idle fancy showed him always to be a model of perfection and of happiness; an honest man, a good master in his family, of which he was the spiritual head; a Jew at heart, who was converted with all his house. He esteemed the Roman officers, and unhesitatingly believed them to be virtuous. One of the objects he admired the most was a good centurion, pious, benevolent towards the Jews, well served, well obeyed. He had probably studied the Roman army at Philippi, and had been much struck with it. He naturally supposed that discipline and the hierarchy were things of a moral order. His esteem for the Roman functionaries was also great. His title of doctor implies that he possessed medical knowledge, which is proved besides by his writings, but does not imply a scientific and rational culture, which few doctors possessed then. What Luke was par excellence was “the man of firm will”—the true Israelite at heart, he to whom Jesus brought peace. It is he who has transmitted to us, and who probably composed, those delicious canticles of the birth and of the infancy of Jesus, those hymns of the angels, of Mary, of Zachariah, of old Simeon, in which shone out in tones so clear and so joyous the happiness of the new alliance, the Hosanna of the pious proselyte, the accord re-established between the fathers and the sons in the enlarged family of Israel.
Everything tends to the belief that Luke was 69touched by grace at Troas; that he was attached from that time to Paul, and persuaded him that he would find in Macedonia an excellent field. His words made a great impression upon the Apostle. The latter believed he saw in a vision a Macedonian, standing up, who invited him, saying unto him, “Come over and help us.” This was received by the apostolic group as a command of God that they should go to Macedonia, and they waited only a favourable opportunity to depart thence
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