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that these pathetic effusions, drawn for the most part from his own sufferings and situation, usually precede a command, soften a rebuke, or mitigate the harshness of some disagreeable truth.
The Subscriptions of the Epistles. Six of these subscriptions are false or improbable ; that is, they are either absolutely contradicted by the contents of the epistle, or are difficult to be reconciled with them.
I. The subscription of the first Epistle to the Corinthians states that it was written from Philippi, notwithstanding that, in the sixteenth chapter and the eighth verse of the epistle, St. Paul informs the Corinthians, that he will “tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost ;” and notwithstanding that he begins the salutations in the epistle, by telling them “the churches of Asia salute you ;” a pretty evident indication that he himself was in Asia at this time.
II. The epistle to the Galatians is by the subscription dated from Rome; yet, in the epistle itself, St. Paul expresses his surprise “ that they were so soon removed from him that called them ;” whereas his journey to Rome was ten years posterior to the conversion of the Galatians. And what, I think, is more conclusive, the author, though speaking of himself in this more than
other epistle, does not once mention his bonds, or call himself a prisoner; which he has not failed to do in every one of the four epistles
written from that city, and during that imprisonment.
III. The first Epistle to the Thessalonians was written, the subscription tells us, from Athens; yet the epistle refers expressly to the coming of Timotheus from Thessalonica (iii. 6); and the history informs us, Acts xvii. 5, that Timothy came out of Macedonia to St. Paul at Corinth.
IV. The second Epistle to the Thessalonians is dated, and without any discoverable reason, from Athens also. If it be truly the second ; if it refer, as it appears to do (ii. 2), to the first, and the first was written from Corinth, the place must be erroneously assigned, for the history does not allow us to suppose that St. Paul, after he had reached Corinth, went back to Athens.
V. The first Epistle to Timothy the subscription asserts to have been sent from Laodicea; yet, when St. Paul writes, “I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, πρευομενος εις Μακεδονιαν (when I set out for Macedonia)," the reader is naturally led to conclude, that he wrote the letter upon his arrival in that country
VI. The Epistle to Titus is dated from Nicopolis in Macedonia, whilst no city of that name is known to have existed in that province.
The use, and the only use, which I make of these observations, is to show how easily errors and contradictions steal in where the writer is not guided by original knowledge. There are only eleven distinct assignments of date to St. Paul's epistles (for the four written from Rome may be considered as plainly cotemporary); and of these, six seem to be erroneous, I do not attribute any authority to these subscriptions. I believe them to have been conjectures founded sometimes upon loose traditions, but more 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 Capellus, in that part of his Historia Apostolica Illustrata, which is entitled De Ordine Epist. Paul. writing upon the second Epistle to the Corinthians, triumphs unmercifully over the want of sagacity in Baronius, who, it seems, 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 Capellus, “magnam hominis illius åßreflav, qui vult Titum a Paulo in Cretam abductum, 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, Capellus himself falls into an error of the same kind, and more gross and palpable than that which he reproves. For he begins the chapter 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 Capellus 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.