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Corinthians which is now before us; and he begins his epistle in this wise: “Blessed 66 be God, even the father of our Lord “ Jesus Christ, the father of mercies, and " the God of all comfort, who comforteth “ us in all our tribulation, that we may be 66 able to comfort them which are in
any “ trouble, by the comfort wherewith we " ourselves are comforted of God. For, as “ the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so
our consolation also aboundeth by Christ: " and whether we be afflicted, it is for your 6 consolation and salvation, which is ef“ fectual in the enduring of the same suffer
ings, which we also suffer; or whether we “ be comforted, it is for your consolation " and salvation; and our hope of you is “ steadfast, knowing that, as yeare partakers “ of the sufferings, fo shall ye be also of the 66, confolation. For we would not, brethren, “ have you ignorant of our trouble which
came to us in Asia, that we were pressed “out of measure, above strength, info“ much that we despaired even of life; but “ we had the sentence of death in ourselves, " that we should not trust in ourselves, but
« in God which raises the dead, who deli“ vered us from so great a death, and doth “ deliver; in whom we trust that he will “ yet deliver us.” Nothing could be more expressive of the circumstances in which the history describes St. Paul to have been, at the time when the epistle purports to be written; or rather, nothing could be more expressive of the sensations arising from these circumstances, than this passage. It is the calm recollection of a mind emerged from the confusion of instant danger. It is that devotion and solemnity of thought, which follows a recent deliverance. There is just enough of particularity in the passage, to shew that it is to be referred to the tumult at Ephesus: “ We would not, brethren, have 16 you ignorant of our trouble which came “ to us in Afia.” And there is nothing more; no mention of Demetrius, of the seizure of St. Paul's friends, of the interference of the town-clerk, of the occasion or nature of the danger which St. Paul had escaped, or even of the city where it happened; in a word, no recital from which a suspicion could be conceived, either that the author of the
epistle had made use of the narrative in the Aas; or on the other hand, that he had sketched the outline, which the narrative : in the Acts only filled up. That the forger of an epiftle, under the name of St. Paul, should borrow circumstances from a history of St. Paul theii extant; or,, that the author of a history of St. Paul should gather materials from letters bearing St. Paul's name, may be credited: but I cannot believe that any forger whatever should fall upon an expedient so refined, as to exhibit sentiments adapted to a situation, and to leave his readers to seek out that fituation from the history; still less, that the author of a history should go about to frame facts and circumstances, fitted to supply the sentiments which he found in the letter. It may be said, perhaps, that it does not appear from the history, that any danger threatened St. Paul's life in the uproar at Ephesus, so imminent as that, from which in the epistle he represents himself to have been delivered. This matter, it is true, is not stated by the historian in form; but the personal danger of the apostle, we cannot doubt must have been extreme, when the
“ whole city was filled with confusion;" when the populace had “ feized his com• panions;" when, in the distraction of his mind, he insisted
coming forth amongst them;" when the Christians who were about him " would not fuffer “ him ;” when “ his friends, certain of “ the chief of Asia, sent to him, defiring " that he would not adventure himself " in the tumult;" when, lastly, he was obliged to quit immediately the place and the country, “ and, when the tumult was
ceased, to depart into Macedonia.” All which particulars are found in the narration, and justify St. Paul's own account, " that i “ he was pressed out of measure, above
strength, insomuch that he despaired
even of life, that he had the sentence of “ death in himself;" i. e. that he looked upon himself as a man condemned to die.
No. IV. It has already been remarked, that St. : Paul's original intention was to have visited Corinth in his way to Macedonia : “ I was “ minded to come unto you before, and to “ pass by you into Macedonia” (2. Cor.
chap.i.ver. 15, 16). It has also been remarked that he changed this intention, and ultimately resolved upon going through Macedonia first. Now upon
this head there exists a circumstance of correspondency between our epistle and the history, which is not very obvious to the reader's observation; but which, when observed, will be found, I think, close and exact. Which circumstance is this: that though the change of St. Paul's intention be expressly mentioned only in the second epistle, yet it appears, both from the history and from this second epistle, that the change had taken place before the writing of the first epistle; that it appears however from neither, otherwise than by an inference, unnoticed perhaps by almost every one who does not sit down
professedly to the examination.
First, then, how does this point appear from the history? In the nineteenth chapter of the Acts, and the twenty-first verse, we are told, that “ Paul purposed in the spirit, “ when he had passed through Macedonia 6 and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem. So he RS sent into Macedonia two of them that