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and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all.”
No. I. But can we show that St. Paul visited Ephesus after his liberation at Rome? or rather, can we collect any hints from his other letters which make it probable that he did ? If we can, then we have a coincidence. If we cannot, we have only an unauthorised supposition, to which the exigency of the case compels us to resort. Now, for this purpose, let us examine the Epistle to the Philippians and the Epistle to Philemon. These two epistles purport to be written whilst St. Paul was yet a prisoner at Rome. To the Philippians he writes as follows: “I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.” To Philemon, who was a Colossian, he gives this direction : “But withal, prepare me also a lodging, for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.” An inspection of the map will show us that Colosse was a city of the Lesser Asia, lying eastward, and at no great distance from Ephesus. Philippi was on the other, i. e., the western side of the Ægean sea.
If the apostle executed his purpose ; if, in pursuance of the intention expressed in his letter to Philemon, he came to Colosse soon after he was set at liberty at Rome, it is very improbable that he would omit to visit Ephesus, which lay so near to it, and where he had spent three years of his ministry. As he was also under a promise to the church of Philippi to see them “ shortly;" if he passed from Colosse to Philippi, or from Philippi to Colosse, he could hardly avoid taking Ephesus in his way.
Chap. v. 9. “ Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old."
This accords with the account delivered in the sixth chapter of the Acts : “ And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration."
It appears that, from the first formation of the Christian church, provision was made out of the public funds of the society for the indigent widows 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 produced 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 afterwards 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 suppositious fact. *
No. III. Chap. ij. 2, 3. A bishop 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
* 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, however, 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 her 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, 10, 11). And, in another place (ver. 16), “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 our present purpose, the Apostle writes in his second Epistle to the Thessalonians (iii. 10): “ Even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat,” i. e. at 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 which dictated these sober and prudent directions be influenced in his recommendations of public charity by any other than the properest motives of beneficence ?
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 would 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 he 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.
No. IV. Chap. v. 23. "Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake, and thine often infirmities.”
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 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 suggested 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 Timothy 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 afterwards forget it. Of this the passage before us bears strongly the appearance. In actual letters, in the negligence of a real correspondence, examples of this kind frequently take place; seldom 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,