« הקודםהמשך »
dows 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 pro duced 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 afterward 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 supposititious 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, how. ever, 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. 9–11.) 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." And to the same effect, or rather more to present purpose, apostle writes in the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians : « Even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat," i, e, at
No. III. 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 uld 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 be 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 in. firmities."
Imagine an impostor sitting down to forge an epistle in the name of St. Paul. Is it credible that it should come into his head to give such a direction as this; so remote from every thing of doctrine or discipline, every
the public expense. “ 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." Could a designing or dissolute poor take advantage of bounty regulated with so much caution; or could the mind whicli dictated those sober and prudent directions be influenced in his recoinmendations of public charity by any other than the properest motives of beneficence ?
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 sug. gested 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 Tima thy 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 afterward forget it. Of this the passage before us bears strongly the appearance. In actual letters, in the negligence of real correspond. ence, examples of this kind frequently take place; sel. dom, 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.
No. V. 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 shew forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe in him to life everlasting.”
What was the mercy which St. Paul here commemorates, and what was the crime of which he
ccuses himself, is apparent from the verses immediately preceding: “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath en
abled 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.” (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. “For this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew 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 cir. cumstances 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 great masters of the ancient tra. gedy 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.
No. I. 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 tuo journeys to Rome is confirmed by a great variety of hints and al. lusions in the epistle before us, compared with what fell from the apostle's pen in other letters purporting to have been written from Rome. That our present epistle was written whilst St. Paul was a prisoner, is distinctly intimated by the eighth verse of the first chapter: “ Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner." And whilst he was a prisoner at Rome, by the sixteenth and seventeenth verses of the same chapter: “The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain : but when he was in Rome he sought me out very diligently and found me.” Since it appears from the former quotation that St. Paul wrote this epistle in confinement, it will hardly admit of doubt that the word chain, in the latter quotation, refers to that confinement; the chain by which he was then bound, the custody in which he was then kept. And if the word "chain" designate the author's confinement at the time of writing the epistle, the next words determine it to have been written from Rome: “He was not ashamed of my chain; but when he was in Rome he sought me out very diligently.” Now that it was not written during the apostle's first imprisonment at Rome, or during the same imprisonment in which the epistles to the Ephesians, the Colossians, the Philippians, and Philemon, were written, may be gathered, with considerable evidence, from a comparison of these several epistles with the present.
I. In the former epistles the author confidently looked forward to his liberation from confinement, and his