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II. The Epistle to the Galatians is by the subscription dated from Rome; yet, in the epistle itself, St Paul expresses his surprise that they were so soon removing from him that called them ;' whereas his journey to Rome was ten years posteriour to the conversion of the Galatians. And what, I think, is more conclusive, the author, though speaking of himself in this more than any other epistle, does not once mention his bonds, or call himself a prisoner; which he had not failed to do in every one of the four epistles written from that city, and during that imprisonment.
III. The First Epistle to the Thessalonians was written, the subscription tells us, from Athens; yet the epistle refers expressly to the coming of Timotheus from Thessalonica (chap. iii. 6.): and the history informs us, Acts xviii. 5, that Timothy came out of Macedonia to St Paul at Corinth.
IV. The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians is dated, and without any discoverable reason, from Athens also. If it be
, truly the second ; if it refer, as it appears to do, (ch. ii. 2.), to the first, and the first was written from Corinth, the place must be erroneously assigned, for the history does not allow us to suppose that St Paul, after he had reached Corinth, went back to Athens.
V. The First Epistle to Timothy the subscription asserts to have been sent from Laodicea; yet, when St Paul writes, 'I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, πορευομενος ως Μακεδονιας (when I set out for Macedonia), the reader is naturally led to conclude, that he wrote the letter upon his arrival in that country.
VI. The Epistle to Titus is dated from Nicopolis in Macedonia, whilst no city of that name is known to have existed in that province.
The use, and the only use, which I make of these observations, is to show, how easily errours and contradictions steal in where the writer is not guided by original knowledge. There are only eleven distinct assignments of date to St Paul's Epistles (for the four written from Rome may be considered as plainly contemporary); and of these, six seem to be erroneous. I do not attribute any authority to these subscriptions. I believe them to have been conjectures founded sometimes upon loose traditions, but more generally upon a consideration of some particular text, without sufficiently comparing it
with other parts of the epistle, with different epistles, or with the history. Suppose then that the subscriptions had come down to us as authentic parts of the epistles, there would have been more contrarieties and difficulties arising out of these final verses, than from all the rest of the volume. Yet, if the epistles had been forged, the whole must have been made up of the same elements as those of which the subscriptions are composed, viz. tradition, conjecture, and inference: and it would have remained to be accounted for, how, whilst so many errours were crowded into the concluding clauses of the letters, so much consistency should be preserved in other parts.
The same reflection arises from observing the oversights and mistakes which learned men have committed, when arguing upon allusions which relate to time and place, or when endeavouring to digest scattered circumstances into a continued story. It is indeed the same case; for these subscriptions must be regarded as ancient scholia, and as nothing more. Of this liability to errour I can present the reader with a notable instance; and which I bring forward for no other purpose than that to which I apply the erroneous subscriptions. Ludovicus Capellus, in that part of his Historia. Apostolica Illustrata, which is entitled De Ordine, Epist. Paul, writing upon the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, triumphs unmercifully over the want of sagacity in Baronius, who, it seems, makes St Paul write his Epistle to Titus from Macedonia upon his second visit into that province; whereas it appears from the history, that Titus, instead of being at Crete where the epistle places him, was at that time sent by the apostle from Macedonia to Corinth.
Animadvertere est,' says Capellus, 'magnam hominis illius absfon, qui vult Titum a Paulo in Cretam abductum, illicque relictum, cum inde Nicopolim navigaret, quem tamen agnoscit a Paulo ex Macedoniâ missum esse Corinthum.' This probably will be thought a detection of inconsistency in Baronius. But what is the most remarkable, is, that in the same chapter in which he thus indulges his contempt of Baronius's judgment, Capellus himself falls into an errour of the same kind, and more gross and palpable than that which he reproves. For he begins the chapter by stating the Second Epistle to the Corinthians and the First Epistle to Timothy to be nearly contemporary ; to have been both written during the apostle's second visit into Macedonia; and that a doubt subsisted concerning the imme
THE SUBSCRIPTIONS OF THE EPISTLES.
diate priority of their dates; 'Posterior ad eosdem Corinthios Epistola, et Prior, ad Timotheum certant de prioritate, et sub judice lis est ; utraque autem scripta est paulo postquam PauÎus Epheso discessisset, adeoque dum Macedoniam peragraret, sed utra tempore præcedat, non liquet. Now, in the first place, it is highly improbable that the two epistles should have been written either nearly together, or during the same journey through Macedonia ; for, in the Epistle to the Corinthians, Timothy appears to have been with St Paul; in the epistle addressed to him, to have been left behind at Ephesus, and not only left behind, but directed to continue there, till St Paul should return to that city. In the second place it is inconceivable, that a question should be proposed concerning the priority of date of the two epistles ; for, when St Paul, in his Epistle to Timothy, opens his address to him by saying, as I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus when I went into Macedonia,' no reader can doubt but that he here refers to the last interview which had passed between them; that he had not seen him
whereas if the epistle be posteriour to that to the Corinthians, yet written upon the same visit into Macedonia, this could not be true; for as Timothy was along with St Paul when he wrote to the Corinthians, he must, upon this supposition, have passed over to St Paul in Macedonia after he had been left by him at Ephesus, and must have returned to Ephesus again before the epistle was written. What misled Ludovicus Capellus was simply this, that he had entirely overlooked Timothy's name in the superscription of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians. Which oversight appears not only in the quotation which we have given, but from his telling us, as he does, that Timothy came from Ephesus to St Paul at Corinth, whereas the superscription proves that Timothy was already with St Paul when he wrote to the Corinthians from Macedonia.
In the outset of this inquiry, the reader was directed to consider the Acts of the Apostles and the thirteen Epistles of St Paul as certain ancient manuscripts, lately discovered in the closet of some celebrated library. We have adhered to this view of the subject. External evidence of every kind has been removed out of sight; and our endeavours have been employed to collect the indications of truth and authenticity, which apeared to exist in the writings themselves, and to result from a comparison of their different parts. It is not however necessary to continue this supposition longer. The testimony which other remains of contemporary, or the monuments of adjoining ages, afford to the reception, notoriety, and public estimation of a book, form, no doubt, the first proof of its genuineness. And in no books whatever is this proof more complete, than in those at present under our consideration. The inquiries of learned men, and, above all, of the excellent Lardner, who never overstates a point of evidence, and whose fidelity in citing his authorities has in no one instance been impeached, have established, concerning these writings, the following propositions :
I. That in the age immediately posteriour to that in which St Paul lived, his letters were publicly read and acknowledged.
Some of them are quoted or alluded to by almost every Christian writer that followed, by Clement of Rome, by Hermas, by Ignatius, by Polycarp, disciples or contemporaries of the apostles; by Justin Martyr, by the churches of Gaul, by Irenæus, by Athenagoras, by Theophilus, by Clement of Alexandria, by Hermias, by Tertullian, who occupied the succeeding age. Now when we find a book quoted or referred to by an ancient author, we are entitled to conclude, that it was read and received in the age and country in which that author lived. And this conclusion does not, in any degree, rest upon the judgment or character of the author making such
reference. Proceeding by this rule, we have, concerning the First Epistle to the Corinthians in particular, within forty years after the epistle was written, evidence, not only of its being extant at Corinth, but of its being known and read at Rome. Clement, bishop of that city, writing to the church of Corinth, uses these words : “ Take into your hands the Epistle of the blessed Paul the apostle. What did he at first write unto you in the beginning of the gospel ? Verily he did by the Spirit admonish you concerning himself, and Cephas, and Apollos, because that even then you did form parties.”
This was written at a time when probably some must have been living at Corinth, who remembered St Paul's ministry there, and the receipt of the epistle. The testimony is still more valuable, as it shows that the epistles were preserved in the churches to which they were sent, and that they were spread and propagated from them to the rest of the Christain community. Agreeably to which natural mode and order of their publication, Tertullian, a century afterwards, for proof of the integrity and genuineness of the apostolic writings, bids any one, who is willing to exercise his curiosity profitably in the business of their salvation, to visit the apostolical churches, in which their very authentic letters are recited, ipsæ authenticæ literæ eorum recitantur. Then he goes on: 'Is Achaia near you? You have Corinth. If you are not far from Macedonia, you have Philippi, you have Thessalonica. If you can go to Asia, you have Ephesus; but if you are near to Italy, you have Rome.'t I adduce this passage to show, that the distinct churches or Christian societies, to which St Paul's Epistles were sent, subsisted for some ages afterwards; that his several epistles were all along respectively read in those churches; that Christians at large received them from those churches, and appealed to those churches for their originality and authenticity.
Arguing in like manner from citations and allusions, we have, within the space of a hundred and fifty years from the time that the first of St Paul's Epistles was written, proofs of almost all of them being read, in Palestine, Syria, the countries of Asia Minor, in Egypt, in that part of Africa which used the Latin tongue, in Greece, Italy, and Gaul. I I do not mean simply to assert, that, within the space of a hundred
* See Lardner, vol. xii. p. 22.
# Ib. vol. ii. p. 598. # See Lardner's Recapitulation, vol. xii. p. 53.