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CONTINUOUS HISTORY OF ST. PAUL.
When Dr. Paley remarked, in his Exposition of the Argument of the Horæ Paulinæ (p. 9. as here reprinted), that his own subject, in that work of unrivalled merit and originality, had never been proposed or considered in the same view before ; it is much to be lamented, that he did not advance one step farther in his reflections. It might have occurred to his mind, that neither Ludovicus Cappellus nor Bishop Pearson nor Dr. George Benson nor Dr. Lardner, in the continued history of St. Paul's life which each of them had written, made up from the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles joined together, could have given the whole of that history under its only true and natural aspect. They were not qualified to give it so ; inasmuch as not one of those authors, however successful as to some of the Epistles, had been fortunate enough to take the whole of them in that just succession, which Dr. Pi's own labours in the Horæ Paulinæ have so admirably contributed to point out and establish.
If happily for the cause of sacred learning Dr. Paley had thus reflected, he must have felt that a great desideratum, therefore, remained : and if he had then bent the powers of his mind to the task, such a complete narrative, on a correct and clear arrangement of all the
materials for it, might have been the result, as would have left nothing to regret in that great line of apo
. stolic literature.
But what is the consequence now ? Numerous and important as the points are, bearing on the apostle's personal history, which have their incidental illustration in the Horæ Paulinæ; yet for want of some collective retrospect to exhibit the points so gained in a distinct line of view, that value of his admirable work is even yet perhaps imperfectly estimated, while the farther task, to carry out those great beginnings of the Horæ Paulinæ into something like a regular narration, after the lapse of fifty years, is left for other hands, however inferior, to execute.
In the pursuit and execution of a design arduous enough, as a Christian and a Scholar, I have, with God's blessing, honestly done my best. The faithful labour now of some years has been assiduously devoted to the employment ; and it would be an affectation of humility to dissemble the hope, that those efforts will be found not to have been bestowed in vain.
It must be immediately seen, that in tracing my course through the Pauline epistles, Dr. Paley's chart has been steadily kept in view ; but it will be evident also, that I have not failed to take accurate observations of my own. On this point, indeed, every attentive reader is enabled to judge for himself. The passages
in the H. P. are referred to more frequently, perhaps, than the occasion may always demand; and the texts from the New Testament are produced or quoted with similar exactness.
The object of the work, in whatever degree it is satisfactorily effected, will be to exhibit in a clearer light than before the series and succession of the labours and writings of St. Paul in every stage of his apostolic course, and to develope the circumstances of every person and place, at all important, with which the Acts or the Epistles represent him connected.
In speaking thus largely, however, of the design on which these pages are occupied, as a solemn protest against misrepresentation let me now declare : that I do not believe one fact in the least affecting the historical evidence of Christianity, much less one word of truth necessary to the salvation of its followers, remains in these days, or can remain, for human ingenuity to discover and demonstrate. And yet so long as ever the Christian student shall take an interest in contemplating the truths and evidences of our common faith, no sincere attempts like the present to improve the clearness and consistency with which it may be historically viewed, will ever be unnecessary or ever be unwelcome.
My plan of proceeding in this work is easily seen on the inspection of its contents. The Acts of course constitute the basis of the sacred narrative; while such facts and circumstances, omitted in the direct history or slightly touched only, as can be supplied from the Epistles, in the place which invites their insertion, are duly incorporated with the Acts.
But this is generally done in a manner so plain and favourable for consulting and verifying, that the reader can instantly refer to the particulars concerned, and judge on inspection for himself. The use which is here made of "
made of “undesigned coincidences” to complete or qualify passages in the apostolic history, forms a very essential part of the work, as the references to the H. P. will sufficiently show. Something also will be found to be done, where the coincidences, when seen, are direct and obvious enough ; and that, in some cases, where without close and patient investigation, the light thrown from one passage on another could not have been elicited. Additions of this latter kind, when they occur, it must be left to the reader to appreciate.
In order to preserve as much as might be the line of personal narrative without interruption, whatever in the way of argument became necessary for elucidating either facts or reasonings, has been generally set aside for separate perusal, in an Appendix of Dissertations ; for all of which the best attention that can be given, may be reasonably claimed. The most important subject of the whole, perhaps, from its involving so deeply and extensively the just succession of apostolic events, is that in Appendix D, p. 152., on the “developement of Corinthian transactions,” &c., and especially at p. 160. s. 6., the “ Original argument against the early date of the Epistle 1 Timothy.”
By no single cause of error, perhaps, have learned men been more speciously misled than by their confounding the apostle's departure from Ephesus after the riot, in Acts xx. 1., with that mentioned to Timothy, in 1 Tim. i. 3. And no pains therefore can be considered superfluous which may serve to exhibit the misdating of that one event in its true light, as disturbing the harmony of all others any way connected with it.
The posteriority indeed of that epistle (and of the Epistle to Titus along with it) to St. Paul's first imprisonment at Rome constitutes the very column; on which the calculation here adopted and maintained for what is called the Last apostolic progress, has entirely to rest for its support. And I feel no hesitation in declaring myself, to the full extent of moral proof, convinced; that such in the main, as here elicited from the two Epistles, must those facts have been which fill
up the interval, otherwise quite blank, betwixt the first and second times of imprisonment at Rome.
On the subject of Chronology, some farther account