Page images
PDF
EPUB

6

than as any settled intention ; for the first thought was, 'Whomsoever you shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality to Jerusalem :' and, in the sixth verse he adds, 'that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go. This epistle purports to be written after St Paul had been at Corinth; for it refers throughout to what he had done and said amongst them whilst he was there. The expression, therefore, "When I come,' must relate to a second visit; against which visit the contribution spoken of was desired to be in readiness.

But though the contribution in Achaia be expressly mentioned, nothing is here said concerning any contribution in Macedonia. Turn therefore, in the third place, to the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, chap. viii. ver. 1–4, and you will discover the particular which remains to be sought for : Moreover, bretheren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the Churches of Macedonia ; how that, in a great trial of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality : for to their power, I bear record, yea and beyond their power, they were willing of themselves; praying us, with much entreaty, that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. To which add chap. ix. ver. 2: 'I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago. In this epistle we find St Paul advanced as far as Macedonia, upon that second visit to Corinth, which he promised in his former epistle; we find also, in the passages now quoted from it, that a contribution was going on in Macedonia at the same time with, or soon however following, the contribution which was made in Achaia; but for whom the contribution was made does not appear in this epistle at all: that information must be supplied from the first epistle.

Here, therefore, at length, but fetched from three different writings, we have obtained the several circumstances we inquired after, and which the Epistle to the Romans brings together, viz. a contribution in Achaia for the Christians of Jerusalem; a contribution in Macedonia for the same; approaching journey of St Paul to Jerusalem. We have these circumstances—each by some hint in the passage in which it is mentioned, or by the date of the writing in which the passage occurs—fixed to a particular time, and we have that time turning out, upon examination, to be in all the same: namely, towards the close of St Paul's second visit to the peninsula of Greece. This is an instance of conformity beyond the possibility, I will venture to say, of random writing to produce. I also assert, that it is in the highest degree improbable that it should have been the effect of contrivance and design. The imputation of design amounts to this: that the forger of the Epistle to the Romans inserted in it the passage upon which our observations are founded, for the purpose of giving colour to his forgery by the appearance of conformity with other writings which were then extant. I reply, in the first place, that, if he did this to countenance his forgery, he did it for the purpose of an argument which would not strike one reader in ten thousand. Coincidences so circuitous as this, answer not the ends of forgery; are seldom, I believe, attempted by it. In the second place I observe, that he must have had the Acts of the Apostles, and the two Epistles to the Corinthians, before him at the time. In the Acts of the Apostles, (I mean that part of the Acts which relates to this period) he would have found the journey to Jerusalem ; but nothing about the contribution. In the First Epistle to the Corinthians he would have found a contribution going on in Achaia for the Christians of Jerusalem, and a distant hint of the possibility of the journey; but nothing concerning a contribution in Macedonia. In the Second Epistle to the Corinthians he would have found a contribution in Macedonia accompanying that in Achaia; but no intimation for whom either was intended, and not a word about the journey. It was only by a close and attentive collation of the three writings, that he could have picked out the circumstances which he has united in his epistle; and by a still more nice examination, that he could have determined them to belong to the same period. In the third place, I remark, what diminishes very much the suspicion of fraud, how aptly and connectedly the mention of the circumstances in question, viz. the journey to Jerusalem, and of the occasion of that journey, arises from the context, Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you; for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company. But now I go unto Jerusalem, to minister unto the saints ; for it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jeru

and an

[ocr errors]

salem. It hath pleased them verily, and their debtors they are; for if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things. When, therefore, I have performed this, and have sealed them to this fruit, I will come by you into Spain. Is the

passage in Italics like a passage foisted in for an extraneous purpose ? Does it not arise from what goes before, by a junction as easy as any example of writing upon real business can furnish ? Could any thing be more natural than that St Paul, in writing to the Romans, should speak of the time when he hoped to visit them; should mention the business which then detained him; and that he purposed to set forwards

upon his journey to them, when that business was completed?

No. II.

By means of the quotation which formed the subject of the preceding number, we collect, that the Epistle to the Romans was written at the conclusion of St Paul's second visit to the peninsula of Greece; but this we collect, not from the epistle itself, nor from any thing declared concerning the time and place in any part of the epistle, but from a comparison of circumstances referred to in the epistle, with the order of events recorded in the Acts, and with references to the same circumstances, though for quite different purposes, in the two Epistles to the Corinthians. Now would the author of a forgery, who sought to gain credit to a spurious letter by congruities, depending upon the time and place in which the letter was supposed to be written, have left that time and place to be made out, in a manner so obscure and indirect as this is ? If, therefore, coincidences of circumstances can be pointed out in this epistle, depending upon its date, or the place where it was written, whilst that date and place are only ascertained by other circumstances, such coincidences may fairly be stated as undesigned. Under this head I adduce,

Chap. xvi. 21-23. "Timotheus, my work-fellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you. I, Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord. Gaius, mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you; and Quartus, a brother.

With this passage, I compare Acts xx. 4. * And there accompanied him into Asia, Sopater of Berea ; and,

of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus ; and, of Asia, Tychicus, and Trophimus.' The Epistle to the Romans, we have seen, was written just before St Paul's departure from Greece, after his second visit to that peninsula; the persons mentioned in the quotation from the Acts are those who accompanied him in that departure. Of seven whose names are joined in the salutation of the church of Rome, three, viz. Sosipater, Gaius, and Timothy, are proved, by this passage in the Acts, to have been with St Paul at the time. And this is perhaps as much coincidence as could be expected from reality, though less, I am apt to think, than would have been produced by design. Four are mentioned in the Acts who are not joined in the salutation ; and it is in the nature of the case probable that there should be many attending St Paul in Greece who knew nothing of the converts at Rome, nor were known by them. In like manner, several are joined in the salutation who are not mentioned in the passage

referred to in the Acts. This also was to be expected. The occasion of mentioning them in the Acts was their proceeding with St Paul upon his journey. But we may be sure that there were many eminent Christians with St Paul in Greece, besides those who accompanied him into Asia.*

But if any one shall still contend that a forger of the epistle, with the Acts of the Apostles before him, and having settled his scheme of writing a letter as from St Paul upon

his second visit into Greece, would easily think of the expedient of putting in the names of those persons who appeared to be with St Paul at the time, as an obvious recommendation of

[ocr errors]

* Of these Jason is one, whose presence upon this occasion is very naturally accounted for. Jason was an inhabitant of Thessalonica in Macedonia, and entertained St Paul in his house upon his first visit to that country. Acts xvii. 7.--St Paul, upon this his second visit, passed through Macedonia on his way to Greece, and, from the situation of Thessalonica, most likely through that city. It appears, from various instances in the Acts, to have been the practice of many converts to attend St Paul from place to place. It is therefore highly probable, I mean that it is highly consistent with the account in the history, that Jason, according to that account a zealous disciple, the inhabitant of a city at no great distance from Greece, and through which, as it should seem, St Paul had lately passed, should have accompanied St Paul into Greece, and have been with him there at this time. Lucius is another name in the epistle. A very slight alteration would convert Acursos into Aouras, Lucius into Luke, which would produce an additional coincidence : for, if Luke was the author of the history, he was with St Paul at the time; inasmuch as, describing the voyage which took place soon after the writing of this epistle, the historian uses the first person-We sailed away from Philippi.' Acts xx. 6.

6

the imposture; I then repeat my observations: first, that he would have made the catalogue more complete; and secondly, that with this contrivance in his thoughts, it was certainly his business, in order to avail himself of the artifice, to have stated in the body of the epistle, that St Paul was in Greece when he wrote it, and that he was there upon his second visit. Neither of which he has done, either directly, or even so as to be discoverable by any circumstance found in the narrative delivered in the Acts.

Under the same head, viz. of coincidences depending upon date, I cite from the epistle the following salutation : Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my helpers in Christ Jesus, who have for my life laid down their own necks; unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Chap. xvi. 3.-It appears, from the Acts of the Apostles, that Priscilla and Aquila had originally been inhabitants of Rome; for we read, Acts xviii. 2, that 'Paul found a certain Jew, named Aquila, lately come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome. They were connected, therefore, with the place to which the salutations are sent. That is one coincidence; another is the following: St Paul became acquainted with these persons at Corinth during his first visit into Greece. They accompanied him upon his return into Asia ; were settled for some time at Ephesus, Acts xviii. 19-26, and appear to have been with St Paul when he wrote from that place his First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1 Cor. xvi. 19. Not long after the writing of which epistle, St Paul went from Ephesus into Macedonia, and, after he had gone over those parts, proceeded from thence upon his second visit into Greece ; during which visit, or rather at the conclusion of it, the Epistle to the Romans, as hath been shown, was written. We have therefore the time of St Paul's residence at Ephesus after he had written to the Corinthians, the time taken up by his progress through Macedonia (which is indefinite, and was probably considerable), and his three months' abode in Greece: we have the sum of these three periods allowed for Aquila and Priscilla going back to Rome, so as to be there when the epistle before us was written. Now what this quotation leads us to observe is, the danger of scattering names and circumstances in writings like the present, how implicated they often are with dates and places, and that nothing but truth can preserve

« PreviousContinue »