Page images

fame epistle, and speaking also of the very fame event, he is content to use a language of fome doubt and uncertainty : “ Him “ therefore I hope to send presently, so foon as I shall see how it will go with me; but

I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall “ come shortly.” And a few verses preceding these, he not only seems to doubt of his safety, but almost to despair ; to contemplate the possibility at least of his condemnation and martyrdom: “ Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service “ of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you 66 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 unauthorized 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.

66 These

These two epistles purport to be written whilst St. Paul was yet a prisoner at Rome. To the Philippians he writes as follows: 66 I trust in the Lord that I also myself 66 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 Coloffe was a city of the Leser 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 Coloffe foon after he was set at liberty ar 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.

No. No. II.

Chap, v. ver. 9. “Let not a widow be “ taken into the number under threescore, 46 years old.”

This accords with the account delivered in the fixth chapter of the Acts. “ And in " those days, when the number of the dif46 ciples was multiplied, there arose a mur“ muring of the Grecians against the He

brews, because their widows were negleEted " 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, á 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 occafion, and which produced important confequences 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 agreemeut indicates that both writings were founded upon real circumstances.

But, in this article, the material thing to be noticed is the mode of expression : 66 Let not a widow be taken into the num« ber.” No previous account or explanation is given, to which these words, “ into " the number," can refer; but the direction comes concisely and unpreparedly. “ Let 6 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


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*.


not the

* 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 go


No. III.

Chap. iii. ver. 2, 3. “ A bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigi

[ocr errors]

vernors 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 “ faints' feet; if she have relieved the amicted, if she have “ diligently followed every good work!, but the younger “ widows refuse" (v. 9, 10, 11). And, in another place, “ If any man or woman that believeth have wi“ dows, 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: “ Even when we were “ with you, this we commanded you, that if any would "not work, neither let himn eat," i. e. at the public expence? “ for we hear that there are some which walk “ among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busy“ bodies; now thein that are such, we command and

exhort, by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness

" they

« PreviousContinue »