Abbildungen der Seite

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 errors 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 error 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 Cappellus, in that part of his Historia Apostolica Illustrata, which is entitled De Ordine Epist. Paul., writing (p. 73.] upon the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, triumphs unmercifully over the want of sagacity in [Cardinal] Baronius, who, it seems, [in his Annales Ecclesiastici, ad A. Chr. 58. § 36.] 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 in Crete, where the epistle places him, was at that time sent by the apostle from Macedonia to Corinth. “ Animadvertere est,” says Cappellus, “magnam hominis “ illius aßreglav, qui vult Titum a Paulo in Cretam ab

ductum, 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, Cappellus himself falls into an error of the same kind, and more gross and palpable than that which he reproves. For he begins the chapter [p. 72.]

by stating the Second Epistle to the Corinthians and the First Epistle to Timothy to be nearly cotemporary; to have been both written during the apostle's second visit into Macedonia ; and that a doubt subsisted concerning the immediate 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 “ Paulus 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 since : whereas if the epistle be posterior 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 Cappellus 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 appeared 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 cotemporary, 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 posterior 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 cotemporaries 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 : [c. 47.] “ 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 Apol“ los, 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 name of Fortunatus does occur, c. 58, that of a Corinthian well known to St. Paul, 1 Cor. xvi. 17.]

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 Christian 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 re“ cited, 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,

* See Lardner, vol. xii. p. 22.

* وو


“ you have Thessalonica. If you can go to Asia, you “ have Ephesus ; but if you are near to Italy, you have “ Rome.") * 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 original 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 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 do not mean simply to assert, that, within the space of a hundred and fifty years, St. Paul's epistles were read in those countries, for I believe that they were read and circulated from the beginning ; but that proofs of their being so read occur within that period. And when it is considered how few of the primitive Christians wrote, and of what was written how much is lost, we are to account it extraordinary, or rather as a sure proof of the extensiveness of the reputation of these writings, and of the general respect in which they were held, that so many testimonies, and of such antiquity, are still extant. “ In the remaining works of Irenæus, Cle“ment of Alexandria, and Tertullian, there are perhaps “ more and larger quotations of the small volume of the “ New Testament, than of all the works of Cicero, in the

writings of all characters for several ages.” I We must add, that the epistles of Paul come in for their full share of this observation ; and that all the thirteen epistles, except that to Philemon, which is not quoted by Irenæus or Clement, and which probably escaped notice merely by its brevity, are severally cited, and expressly recognised as St. Paul's, by each of these Christian writers. The

* Lardner, vol. ii. p. 598. † Vide Lardner's Recapitulation, vol. xii. p. 53. | Ibid.

« ZurückWeiter »