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events affecting himself, convey an assertion so positive and absolute as we may at first sight apprehend. In the first chapter of the Epistle to the Philippians and the twenty-fifth verse, “ I know," says he, “ that I shall abide and continue with you all, for your furtherance and joy of faith.” Notwithstanding this strong declaration, in the second chapter and twenty-third verse of this same Epistle, and speaking also of the very same event, he is content to use a language of some doubt and uncertainty:—“ Him, therefore, I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me. But I trust in the Lord, that I also myself shall come shortly." And a few verses preceding these, he not only seems to doubt of his safety, but almost to despair; to contemplate the possibility at least of his condemnation and martyrdom:-“ Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with
But can we show that St Paul visited Ephesus after his liberation at Rome? or rather, can we collect any hints from his other letters which make it probable that he did? If we can, then we have a coincidence. If we cannot, we have only an unauthorised supposition, to which the exigency of the case compels us to resort. Now, for this
purpose, let us examine the Epistle to the Philippians and the Epistle to Philemon. These two Epistles purport to be written whilst St Paul was yet a prisoner at Rome. To the Philippians he writes as follows:-“ I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.” To Philemon, who was a Colossian, he gives this direction:-“ But withal, prepare me also a lodging, for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.” An inspection of the map will show us that Colosse was a city of the Lesser Asia, lying eastward, and at no great distance from Ephesus. Philippi was on the other, i.e. the western, side of the Ægean Sea. If the Apostle executed his purpose; if, in pursuance of the intention expressed in his letter to Philemon, he came to Colosse soon after he was set at liberty at Rome, it is very improbable that he would omit to visit Ephesus, which lay so near to it, and where he had spent three years of his ministry.
of his ministry. As he was also under a promise to the church of Philippi to see them “shortly;" if he passed from Colosse to Philippi, or from Philippi" to Colosse, he could hardly avoid taking Ephesus in his way,
CHAP, V, 9, “Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old.”
This accords with the account delivered in the sixth chapter of the Acts. “And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.” It appears that, from the first formation of the Christian church, provision was made out of the public funds of the society for the indigent widows who belonged to it. The history, we have seen, distinctly records the existence of such an institution at Jerusalem, a few years after our Lord's ascension; and is led to the mention of it
very incidentally, viz. by a dispute, of which it was the occasion, and which produced important consequences to the Christian community. The Epistle, without being suspected of borrowing from the history, refers, briefly, indeed, but decisively, to a similar establishment, subsisting some years afterwards at Ephesus. This agreement indicates that both writings were founded upon real circumstances.
But, in this article, the material thing to be noticed is the mode of expression: “Let not a widow be taken into the number.” No previous account or explanation is given, to which these words, “into the number," can refer; but the direction comes concisely and unpreparedly: “Let not a widow be taken into the number.” Now, this is the way in which a man writes, who is conscious that he is writing to persons already acquainted with the subject of his letter; and who, he knows, will readily apprehend and apply what he says by virtue of their being so acquainted: but it is not the way in which a man writes upon any other occasion; and, least of all, in which a man would draw up a feigned letter, or introduce a suppositious fact.*
* It is not altogether unconnected with our general purpose to remark, in the passage before us, the selection and reserve which St Paul recommends to the governors of the church of Ephesus in the bestowing relief upon the poor, because it refutes a calumny which has been insinuated, that the liberality of the first Christians was an artifice to catch converts; or one of the temptations, however, by which the idle and mendicant were drawn into this society: “Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work. But the younger widows refuse," v. 9, 10, 11. And, in another place, “If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed," v. 16. And to the same effect, or rather more to our present purpose, the Apostle writes in the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, ch. iii, 10, “Even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat," i.e. at the public expense:
CHAP. iii, 2, 3, “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach ; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre, but patient; not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house."
“No striker:" That is the article which I single out from the collection, as evincing the antiquity at least, if not the genuineness, of the Epistle; because it is an article which no man would have made the subject of caution, who lived in an advanced era of the church. It agreed with the infancy of the society, and with no other state of it. After the government of the church had acquired the dignified form which it soon and naturally assumed, this injunction could have no place. Would a person who lived under a hierarchy, such as the Christian hierarchy became when it had settled into a regular establishment, have thought it necessary to prescribe concerning the qualification of a bishop, “that he should be no striker?” And this injunction would be equally alien from the imagination of the writer, whether he wrote in his own character, or personated that of an Apostle.
CHAP. V, 23, “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake, and thine often infirmities.”
Imagine an impostor sitting down to forge an Epistle in the name of St Paul. Is it credible that it should come into his
For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busy-bodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread,” ver. 11, 12. Could a designing or dissolute poor take advantage of bounty regulated with so much caution; or could the mind which dictated those sober and prudent directions be influenced in his recommendations of public charity by any other than the properest motives of beneficence?.
head to give such a direction as this; so remote from every thing of doctrine or discipline, every thing of public concern to the religion or the church, or to any sect, order, or party in it, and from every purpose with which such an Epistle could be written? It seems to me that nothing but reality, that is, the real valetudinary situation of a real person, could have suggested a thought of so domestic a nature.
But if the peculiarity of the advice be observable, the place in which it stands is more so. The context is this: “ Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure. Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake, and thine often infirmities. Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.” The direction to Timothy about his diet stands between two sentences, as wide from the subject as possible. The train of thought seems to be broken to let it in. Now when does this happen? It happens when a man writes as he remembers; when he puts down an article that occurs the moment it occurs, lest he should afterwards forget it. Of this the passage before us bears strongly the appear
In actual letters, in the negligence of real correspondence, examples of this kind frequently take place; seldom, I believe, in any other production. For the moment a man regards what he writes as a composition, which the author of a forgery would, of all others, be the first to do, notions of order, in the arrangement and succession of his thoughts, present themselves to his judgment, and guide his pen.
Chap. i, 15, 16, “ This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit, for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” What
which St Paul here commemorates, and what was the crime of which he accuses himself, is apparent from the verses immediately preceding:-“ I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.”—Ch. i, 12, 13. The whole quotation plainly refers to St Paul's original enmity to the Christian name, the interposition of Providence in his conversion, and his subsequent designation to the ministry of the Gospel: and by this reference affirms, indeed, the substance of the Apostle's history delivered in the Acts. But what in the passage strikes my mind most powerfully, is the observation that is raised out of the fact. vi For this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” It is a just and solemn reflection, springing from the circumstances of the author's conversion, or rather from the impression which that great event had left upon his memory. It will be said, perhaps
, that an impostor acquainted with St Paul's history, may have put such a sentiment into his mouth; or, what is the same thing, into a letter drawn up in his name. But where, we may ask, is such an impostor to be found? The piety, the truth, the benevolence of the thought, ought to protect it from this imputation. For, though we should allow that one of the greatest masters of the ancient tragedy could have given to his scene a sentiment as virtuous and as elevated as this is, and at the same time as appropriate, and as well suited to the particular situation of the person who delivers it; yet whoever is conversant in these inquiries will acknowledge, that to do this in a fictitious production is beyond the reach of the understandings which have been employed upon any fabrications that have come down to us under Christian names.
THE SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY.
It was the uniform tradition of the primitive church, that St Paul visited Rome twice, and twice there suffered imprisonment; and that he was put to death at Rome at the conclusion of his second imprisonment. This opinion concerning St Paul's two journeys to Rome is confirmed by a great variety of hints