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OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS.
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INTRODUCTION TO THE FIRST EPISTLE
IN my preface to the Epistle to the Romans I have made several extracts from Dr. Paley's Hore Pauline, in which, from internal evidence, he demonstrates the authenticity of that epistle. His observations on the first Epistle to the Corinthians are distinguished by the same profound learning and depth of thought: and as, in an age in which scepticism has had an unbridled range, it may be of great consequence to a sincere inquirer after truth to have all his doubts removed relative to the authenticity of the epistle in question; and as Dr. Paley's observations cast 'considerable light on several passages in the work, I take the liberty to introduce them, as something should be said on the subject; and I do not pretend to have any thing equal to what is here prepared to my hands. I have scarcely made any other change than to introduce the word section for number.
Before we proceed to compare this epistle with the history, says Dr. Paley, or with any other epistle, we will employ one section in stating certain remarks applicable to our argument, which arise from a perusal of the epistle itself.
By an expression in the first verse of the seventh chapter, "Now, concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me," it appears that this letter to the Corinthians was written by St. Paul in answer to one which he had received from them; and that the seventh, and some of the following chapters, are taken up in resolving certain doubts, and regulating certain points of order, concerning which the Corinthians had in their letter consulted him. This alone is a circumstance considerably in favour of the authenticity of the epistle; for it must have been a far-fetched contrivance in a forgery first to have feigned the receipt of a letter from the church of Corinth, which letter does not appear, and then to have drawn up a fictitious answer to it, relative to a great variety of doubts and inquiries, purely economical and domestic; and which, though likely enough to have occurred to an infant society, in a situation and under an institution so novel as that of a Christian church then was, it must have very much exercised the author's invention, and could have answered no imaginable purpose of forgery, to introduce the mention of it at all. Particulars of the kind we refer to are such as the following: the rule of duty and prudence relative to entering into marriage, as applicable to virgins and to widows; the case of husbands married to unconverted wives, of wives having unconverted husbands; that case where the unconverted party chooses to separate, or where he chooses to continue the union; the effect which their conversion produced upon their prior state; of circumcision; of slavery; the eating of things offered to idols, as it was in itself, or as others were affected by it; the joining in idolatrous sacrifices; the decorum to be observed in their religious assemblies, the order of speaking, the silence of women, the covering or uncovering of the head, as it became men, as it became women. These subjects, with their several subdivisions, are so particular, minute, and numerous, that though they be exactly agreeable to the circumstances of the persons to whom the letter was written, nothing I believe but the existence and the reality of those circumstances could have suggested them to the writer's thoughts.
INTRODUCTION TO THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS.
But this is not the only nor the principal observation upon the correspondence between the church of Corinth and their apostle which I wish to point out. It appears, I think, in this correspondence, that although the Corinthians had written to St. Paul, requesting his answer and his directions in the several points above enumerated; yet that they had not said one syllable about the enormities and disorders which had crept in amongst them, and in the blame of which they all shared; but that St. Paul's information concerning the irregularities then prevailing at Corinth had come round to him from other quarters. The quarrels and disputes excited by their contentious adherence to their different teachers, and by their placing of them in competition with one another, were not mentioned in their letter, but communicated to St. Paul by more private intelligence: "It hath been declared unto me, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ." (i. 11, 12). The incestuous marriage " of a man with his father's wife," which St. Paul reprehends with so much severity in the fifth chapter of this epistle, and which was not the crime of an individual only, but a crime in which the whole church, by tolerating and conniving at it, had rendered themselves partakers, did not come to St. Paul's knowledge by the letter, but by a rumour which had reached his ears: "It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife; and ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you." (v. 1, 2.) Their going to law before the judicature of the country rather than arbitrate and adjust their disputes among themselves, which St. Paul animadverts upon with his usual plainness, was not intimated to him in the letter, because he tells them his opinion of this conduct before he comes to the contents of the letter. Their litigiousness is censured by St. Paul in the sixth chapter of his epistle: and it is only at the beginning of the seventh chapter that he proceeds upon the articles which he found in their letter; and he proceeds upon them with this preface: "Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me (vii. 1); which introduction he would not have used if he had been already discussing any of the subjects concerning which they had written. Their irregularities in celebrating the Lord's Supper, and the utter perversion of the institution which ensued, were not in the letter, as is evident from the terms in which St. Paul mentions the notice he had received of it: "Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse; for first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you, and I partly believe it." Now that the Corinthians should, in their own letter, exhibit the fair side of their conduct to the apostle, and conceal from him the faults of their behaviour, was extremely natural and extremely probable: but it was a distinction which would not, I think, have easily occurred to the author of a forgery; and much less likely is it, that it should have entered into his thoughts to make the distinction appear in the way in which it does appear, viz. not by the original letter, not by any express observation upon it in the answer, but distantly by marks perceivable in the manner, or in the order in which St. Paul takes notice of their faults.
§ This epistle purports to have been written after St. Paul had already been at Corinth: "I, brethren, when I came unto you, came not, with excellency of speech or of wisdom" (ii. 1): and in many other places to the same effect. It purports also to have been written upon the eve of another visit to that church: "I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will” (iv. 19); and again: "I will come to you when I shall pass through Macedonia" (xvi. 5). Now the history relates that St. Paul did in fact visit Corinth twice; once as recorded at length in the eighteenth, and a second time as mentioned briefly in the twentieth chapter of the Acts. The same history also informs us (Acts xx. 1) that it was from Ephesus St. Paul proceeded upon his second journey into Greece. Therefore, as the epistle purports to have been written a short time preceding that journey; and as St. Paul, the history tells us, had resided more than two years at Ephesus before he set out upon it, it follows that it must have been from Ephesus, to be consistent with the history, that the epistle was written; and every note of place in the epistle agrees with this supposition. "If, after the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not?"
INTRODUCTION TO THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS.
(xv. 32.) I allow that the apostle might say this wherever he was; but it was more natural and more to the purpose to say it if he was at Ephesus at the time, and in the midst of those conflicts to which the expression relates. "The churches of Asia salute you." (xvi. 19.) Asia, throughout the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of St. Paul, does not mean the whole of Asia Minor or Anatolia, nor even the whole of the proconsular Asia, but a district in the anterior part of that country called Lydian Asia, divided from the rest much as Portugal is from Spain, and of which district Ephesus was the capital. "Aquila and Priscilla salute you." (xvi. 19.) Aquila and Priscilla were at Ephesus during the period within which this epistle was written. (Acts xviii. 18, 26.) "I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost." (xvi. 8.) This, I apprehend, is in terms almost asserting that he was at Ephesus at the time of writing the epistle.-"A great and effectual door is opened unto me." (xvi. 9.) How well this declaration corresponded with the state of things at Ephesus and the progress of the gospel in these parts, we learn from the reflection with which the historian concludes the account of certain transactions which passed there: "So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed" (Acts xix. 20); as well as from the complaint of Demetrius, "that not only at Ephesus, but also throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded, and turned away much people." (xix. 26.) "And there are many adversaries," says the epistle. (xvi. 9.) Look into the history of this period: "When divers were hardened and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them and separated the disciples." The conformity therefore upon this head of comparison is circumstantial and perfect. If any one think that this is a conformity so obvious, that any forger of tolerable caution and sagacity would have taken care to preserve it, I must desire such a one to read the epistle for himself; and, when he has done so, to declare whether he has discovered one mark of art or design; whether the notes of time and place appear to him to be inserted with any reference to each other, with any view of their being compared with each other, or for the purpose of establishing a visible agreement with the history in respect of them.
§ Chap. iv. 17-19: "For this cause I have sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord; who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church. Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come unto you; but I will come unto you shortly, if the Lord will." With this I compare Acts xix. 21, 22: "After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem; saying, "After I have been there, I must also see Rome; so he sent unto Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus."
Though it be not said, it appears I think with sufficient certainty, I mean from the history, independently of the epistle, that Timothy was sent upon this occasion into Achaia, of which Corinth was the capital city, as well as into Macedonia: for the sending of Timothy and Erastus is, in the passage where it is mentioned, plainly connected with St. Paul's own journey: he sent them before him. As he therefore purposed to go into Achaia himself, it is highly probable that they were to go thither also. Nevertheless, they are said only to have been sent into Macedonia, because Macedonia was in truth the country to which they went immediately from Ephesus; being directed, as we suppose, to proceed afterwards from thence into Achaia. If this be so, the narrative agrees with the epistle; and the agreement is attended with very little appearance of design. One thing at least concerning it is certain; that if this passage of St. Paul's history had been taken from his letter, it would have sent Timothy to Corinth by name, or expressly however into Achaia.
But there is another circumstance in these two passages much less obvious, in which an agreement holds without any room for suspicion that it was produced by design. We have observed that the sending of Timothy into the peninsula of Greece was connected in the narrative with St. Paul's own journey thither; it is stated as the effect of the same resolution. Paul purposed to go into Macedonia; so he sent two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus." Now in the epistle also you remark, that when the apostle mentions his having sent Timothy unto them, in the very next sentence he speaks of his visit: "For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, &c. Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you; but I will come to you shortly,