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soner of Jesus Christ and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved and fellow-labourer; and to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellow-soldier, and to the church in thy house.” Now turn back to the Epistle to the Colossians, and you will find Archippus saluted by name amongst the Christians of that church. Say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it," (iv. 17.) The necessary result is, that Onesimus also was of the same city, agreeably to what is said of him, “he is one of you." And this result is the effect either of truth which produces consistency without the writer's thought or care, or of a contexture of forgeries confirming and falling in with one another by a species of fortuity of which I know no example. The supposition of design, I think, is excluded, not only because the
purpose to which the design must have been directed, viz. the verification of the
passage our epistle, in which it is said concerning Onesimus, “ he is one of you,” is a purpose, which would be lost upon ninety-nine readers out of a hundred ; but because the means made use of are too circuitous to have been the subject of affectation and contrivance.
Would a forger, who had this purpose in view, have left his readers to hunt it out, by going forward and backward from one epistle to another, in order to connect Onesimus with Philemon, Philemon with Archippus, and Archippus with Colosse ? all which he must do before he arrives at his discovery, that it was truly said of Onesimus," he is one of you.”
THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS,
It is known to every reader of Scripture, that the First Epistle to the Thessalonians speaks of the coming of Christ in terms which indicate an expectation of his speedy appear.
“ For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds—But ye,
brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief." (Chap. iv. 15, 16, 17. ch. v. 4.)
Whatever other construction these texts may bear, the idea they leave upon the mind of an ordinary reader, is that of the author of the epistle looking for the day of judgement to take place in his own time, or near to it. Now the use which I make of this circumstance, is to deduce from it a proof that the epistle itself was not the production of a subsequent age. Would an impostor have given this expectation to St. Paul, after experience had proved it to be erroneous ? or would he have put into the apostle's mouth, or, which is the same thing, into writings purporting to come from his hand, expressions, if not necessarily conveying, at least easily interpreted to convey, an opinion which was then known to be founded in mistake? I state this as
an argument to show that the epistle was contemporary with St. Paul, which is little less than to show that it actually proceeded from his
ancient forgeries were executed in the life-time of the person whose name they bear; nor was the primitive situation of the church likely to give birth to such an attempt.
No. II. Our epistle concludes with a direction that it should be publicly read in the church to which it was addressed : “ I charge you by the Lord, that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren.” The existence of this clause in the body of the epistle is an evidence of its authenticity ; because to produce
a letter purporting to have been publicly read in the church of Thessalonica, when no such letter in truth had been read or heard of in that church, would be to produce an imposture destructive of itself. At least, it seems unlikely that the author of an imposture would voluntarily, and even officiously, afford a handle to so plain an objection.Either the epistle was publicly read in the church of Thessalonica during St. Paul's lifetime, or it was not. If it was, no publication could be more authentic, no species of notoriety more unquestionable, no method of preserving the integrity of the copy more
If it was not, the clause we produce would remain a standing condemnation of the forgery, and one would suppose, an invincible impediment to its success.
If we connect this article with the preceding, we shall perceive that they combine into one strong proof of the genuineness of the epistle. The preceding article carries
the date of the epistle to the time of St. Paul; the present article fixes the publication of it to the church of Thessalonica. Either therefore the church of Thessalonica was imposed upon by a false epistle, which in St. Paul's life-time they received and read publicly as his, carrying on a communication with him