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and second chapters of the epistle. Now, if the journey in which he had been disappointed was reckoned by him one of the times in which " he was coming to them," then the present would be the third time, i. e. of his being ready and prepared to come; although he had been actually at Corinth only once before. This conjecture being taken up, a farther examination of the passage and the epistle, produced proofs which placed it beyond doubt . "This is the third time I am coming to you:" in the verse following these words he adds, " I told you before, and foretel you, as if I were present the second time; and being absent, now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare." In this verse, the apostle is declaring beforehand what he would do in his intended visit: his expression therefore, " as if I were present the second time," relates to that visit. But, if his future visit would only make him present among them a second time, it follows that he had been already there but once.— Again, in the fifteenth verse of the first chapter, he tells them, "In this confidence, I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit:" Why a second, and not a third benefit! why Sevrepav, and not rpivqv xaPlv ^ tne rpirov cpxo/xai, in the fifteenth chapter, meant a third visit 1 for, though the visit in the first chapter be that visit in which he was disappointed, yet, as it is evident from the epistle that he had never been at Corinth from the time of the disappointment to the time of writing the epistle, it follows, that if it was only a second visit in which he was disappointed then, it could only be a second visit which he proposed now. But the text which I think is decisive of the question, if any question remain upon the subject, is the fourteenth verse of the twelfth chapter: "Behold the third time I am ready to come to you:" Io« rpirov rroifiws ex« c\Beiv. It is very clear that the rpirov eroipMS exw e\0tiv 01 the twelfth chapter and the rpirov Tsto epxofiai of the thirteenth chapter, are equivalent expressions, were intended to convey the same meaning, and to relate to the same journey. The comparison of these phrases gives us St. Paul's own explanation of his own words; and it is that very explanation which we are contending for, viz. that rqirov Tsto epxojual does not mean that he was coming a third time, but that this was the third time he was in readiness to come, rpirov eroifius exwv- I do not appre
hend, that after this it can be necessary to call to our aid the reading of the Alexandrian manuscript, which gives irsgmi eXu cA.0ew in the thirteenth chapter as well as in the twelfth; or of the Syriac and Coptic versions, which follow that reading; because I allow that this reading, besides not being sufficiently supported by ancient copies, is probably paraphrastical, and has been inserted for the purpose of expressing more unequivocally the sense, which the shorter expression rpirov Tsto cpxo/JUu was supposed to carry. Upon the whole, the matter is sufficiently certain: nor do I propose it as a new interpretation of the text which contains the difficulty, for the same was given by Grotius long ago: but I thought it the clearest way of explaining the subject, to describe the manner in which the difficulty, the solution, and the proofs of that solution, successively presented themselves to my inquiries. Now, in historical researches, a reconciled inconsistency becomes a positive argument. First, because an impostor generally guards against the appearance of inconsistency; and secondly, because, when apparent inconsistencies are found, it is seldom that any thing but truth renders them capable of reconciliation. The existence of the difficulty proves the want or absence of that caution, which usually accompanies the consciousness of fraud; and the solution proves, that it is not the collusion of fortuitous propositions which we have to deal with, but that a thread of truth winds through the whole, which preserves every circumstance in its place.
Chap. x. 14—16. "We are come as far as to you also, in preaching the Gospel of Christ; not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men's labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you, according to our rule, abundantly to preach the Gospel in the regions beyond you."
This quotation affords an indirect, and therefore unsuspicious, but at the same time a distinct and indubitable recognition of the truth and exactness of the history. I consider it to be implied by the words of the quotation, that Corinth was the extremity of St. Paul's travels hitherto. He expresses to the Corinthians his hope, that in some future visit he might "preach the Gospel to the regions beyond them;" which imports that he had not hitherto proceeded "beyond them," but that Corinth was as yet the farthest point or boundary of his travels.—Now, how is St. Paul's first journey into Europe, which was the only one he had taken before the writing of the epistle, traced out in the history? Sailing from Asia, he landed at Philippi; from Philippi, traversing the eastern coast of the peninsula, he passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia to Thessalonica; from thence through Berea to Athens, and from Athens to Corinth, where he stopped; and from whence, after a residence of a year and a half, he sailed back into Syria. So that Corinth was the last place which he visited in the peninsula; was the place from which he returned into Asia; and was, as such, the boundary and limit of his progress. He could not have said the same thing, viz. 1' I hope hereafter to visit the regions beyond you," in an epistle to the Philippians, or in an epistle to the Thessalonians, inasmuch as he must be deemed to have already visited the regions beyond them, having proceeded from those cities to other parts of Greece. But from Corinth he returned home; every part therefore beyond that city, might properly be said, as it is said in the passage before us, to be unvisited. Yet is this propriety the spontaneous effect of truth, and produced without meditation or design.
THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS.
The argument of this epistle in some measure proves its antiquity. It will hardly be doubted, but that it was written whilst the dispute concerning the circumcision of Gentile converts was fresh in men's minds: for, even supposing it to have been a forgery, the only credible motive that can be assigned for the forgery, was to bring the name and authority of the apostle into this controversy. No design could be so insipid, or so unlikely to enter into the thoughts of any man, as to produce an epistle written earnestly and pointedly upon one side of a controversy, when the controversy itself was dead, and the question no longer inter-esting to any description of readers whatever. Now the controversy concerning the circumcision of the Gentile Christians was
of such a nature, that, if it arose at all, it must have arisen in the beginning of Christianity. As Judea was the scene of the Christian history; as the Author and preachers of Christianity were Jews; as the religion itself acknowledged and was founded upon the Jewish religion, in contradistinction to every other religion then professed amongst mankind; it was not to be wondered at, that some of its teachers should carry it out in the world rather as a sect and modification of Judaism, than as a separate original revelation; or that they should invite their proselytes to those observances in which they lived themselves. This was likely to happen: but if it did not happen at first; if, whilst the religion was in the hands of Jewish teachers, no such claim was advanced, no such condition was attempted to be imposed, it is not probable that the doctrine would be started, much less that it should prevail, in any future period. I likewise think, that those pretensions of Judaism were much more likely to be insisted upon, whilst the Jews continued a nation, than after their fall and dispersion; whilst Jerusalem and the temple stood, than after the destruction brought upon them by the Roman arms, the fatal cessation of the sacrifice and the priesthood, the humiliating loss of their country, and, with it, of the great rites and symbols of their institution. It should seem therefore, from the nature of the subject, and the situation of the parties, that this controversy was carried on in the interval between the preaching of Christianity to the Gentiles, and the invasion of Titus; and that our present epistle, which was undoubtedly intended to bear a part in this controversy, must be referred to the same period.
But, again, the epistle supposes that certain designing adherents of the Jewish law had crept into the churches of Galatia; and had been endeavouring, and but too successfully, to persuade the Galatic converts, that they had been taught the new religion, imperfectly and at second hand; that the founder of their church himself possessed only an inferior and deputed commission, the seat of truth and authority being in the apostles and elders of Jerusalem; moreover, that whatever he might profess amongst them, he had himself at other times, and in other places, given way to the doctrine of circumcision. The epistle is unintelligible without supposing all this. Referring therefore to this, as to what had actually passed, we find St. Paul treating so unjust an attempt to undermine his credit, and to introduce amongst his converts a doctrine which he had uniformly reprobated, in terms of great asperity and indignation. And in order to refute the suspicions which had been raised concerning the fidelity of his teaching, as well as to assert the independency and divine original of his mission, we find him appealing to the history of his conversion, to his conduct under it, to the manner in which he had conferred with the apostles when he met with them at Jerusalem: alleging, that so far was his doctrine from being derived from them, or they from exercising any superiority over him, that they had simply assented to what he had already preached amongst the Gentiles, and which preaching was communicated not by them to him, but by himself to them; that he had maintained the liberty of the Gentile church, by opposing, upon one occasion, an apostle to the face, when the timidity of his behaviour seemed to endanger it; that from the first, that all along, that to that hour, he had constantly resisted the claims of Judaism; and that the persecutions which he daily underwent, at the hands or by the instigation of the Jews, and of which he bore in his person the marks and scars, might have been avoided by him, if he had consented to employ his labours in bringing, through the medium of Christianity, converts over to the Jewish institution, for then "would the offence of the cross have ceased." Now an impostor who had forged the epistle for the purpose of producing St. Paul's authority in the dispute, which, as hath been observed, is the only credible motive that can be assigned for the forgery, might have made the apostle deliver his opinion upon the subject in strong and decisive terms, or might have put his name to a train of reasoning and argumentation upon that side of the question which the imposture was intended to recommend. I can allow the possibility of such a scheme as that. But for a writer, with this purpose in view, to feign a series of transactions supposed to have passed amongst the Christians of Galatia, and then to counterfeit expressions of anger and resentment excited by these transactions; to make the apostle travel back into his own history, and into a recital of various passages of his life, some indeed directly, but others obliquely, and others even obscurely bearing upon the point in question; in a word, to substitute narrative for argument, expostulation and
complaint for dogmatic positions and controversial reasoning, in a writing properly controversial, and of which the aim and design was to support one side of a much agitated question—is a method so intricate, and so unlike the methods pursued by all other impostors, as to require very flagrant proofs of imposition to induce us to believe it to be one.
In this number I shall endeavour to prove,
1. That the Epistle to the Galatians, and the Acts of the Apostles, were written without any communication with each other.
2. That the Epistle, though written without any communication with the history, by recital, implication, or reference, bears testimony to many of the facts contained in it.
1. The Epistle, and the Acts of the Apostles were written without any communication with each other.
To judge of this point, we must examine those passages in each, which describe the same transaction; for, if the author of either writing derived his information from the account which he had seen in the other, when he came to speak of the same transaction, he would follow that account. The history of St. Paul, at Damascus, as read in the Acts, and as referred to by the Epistle, forms an instance of this sort. According to the Acts, Paul (after his conversion) was certain days with the "disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. But all that heard him were amazed, and said, Is not this he which destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? But Saul increased the more in strength, confounding the Jews which were at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him. But their laying wait was known of Saul; and they watched the gates day and night to kill him. Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket. And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples." Acts, chap. ix. 19—26.
According to the Epistle, "When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's wonvb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his own Son in me, that I might reach him among the heathen, immediately conferred not with flesh and blood, neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus: then, after three years, I went up to Jerusalem."
Beside the difference observable in the terms and general complexion of these two accounts, " the journey into Arabia," mentioned in the epistle, and omitted in the history, affords full proof that there existed no correspondence between these writers. If the narrative in the Acts had been made up from the Epistle, it is impossible that this journey should have been passed over in silence; if the Epistle had been composed out of what the author had read of St. Paul's history in the Acts, it is unaccountable that it should have been inserted.*
The journey to Jerusalem related in the second chapter of the Epistle (" then, fourteen years after, I went up again to Jerusalem") supplies another example of the same kind. Either this was the journey described in the fifteenth chapter of the Acts, when Paul and Barnabas were sent from Antioch to Jerusalem, to consult the apostles and elders upon the question of the Gentile converts; or it was some journey of which the history does not take notice. If the first opinion be followed, the discrepancy in the two accounts is so consider*ble, that it is not without difficulty they can be adapted to the same transaction: so that upon this supposition, there is no place for suspecting that the writers were guided or assisted by each other. If the latter opinion be preferred, we have then a journey to Jerusalem, and a conference with the principal members of the church there, circumstantially related in the Epistle, and entirely omitted in the Acts; and we are at liberty to repeat the observation, which we before made, that the omission of so material a fact in the history is inexplicable, if the historian had read the Epistle; and that the insertion of it in the Epistle, if the writer derived his information from this history, is not less so.
* N. B. The Acts of the Apostles simply inform us that St. Paul left Damascus in order to go to Jerusalem, " after many days were fulfilled." If any one doubt whether the words " many days" could be intended to express a period which included a term of three years, he will find a complete instance of the same phrase used with the same latitude in the first book of Kings, chap. ii. 38, 39. " And Shimei dwelt at Jerusalem many days: and it came to pass at the end of three years, that two of the servants of Shimei ran away."
St. Peter's visit to Antioch, during which the dispute arose between him and St. Paul, is not mentioned in the Acts.
If we connect, with these instances, the general observation, that no scrutiny can discover the smallest trace of transcription or imitation either in things or words, we shall be fully satisfied in this part of our case; namely, that the two records, be the facts contained in them true or false, come to our hands from independent sources.
Secondly, I say that the epistle, thus proved to have been written without any communication with the history, bears testimony to a great variety of particulars contained in the history.
1. St. Paul in the early part of his life had addicted himself to the study of the Jewish religion, and was distinguished by his zeal for the institution, and for the traditions which had been incorporated with it. Upon this part of his character the history makes St. Paul speak thus: "I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city of Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers; and was zealous towards God, as ye all are this day." Acts, chap. xxii. 3.
The epistle is as follows: " I profited in the Jews' religion above many of my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of the fathers." Chap. i. 14.
2. St. Paul, before his conversion, had been a fierce persecutor of the new sect. "As for Saul, he made havock of the church; entering into every house, and, haling men and women, committed them to prison." Acts, chap. viii. 3.
This is the history of St. Paul as delivered in the Acts; in the recital of his own history in the epistle, "Ye have heard," says he, "of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God." Chap. i. 13.
3. St. Paul was miraculously converted on his way to Damascus. "And as he journeyed he came near to Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord 1 And the Lord said, I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest; it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he, trembling and astonished, said. Lord, what wilt thou have me to do V
Acts, chap. ix. 3—6. With these compare the epistle, chap. i. 15—17: "When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood, neither went I up to Jerusalem, to them that were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus."
In this quotation from the epistle, I desire it to be remarked how incidentally it appears, that the affair passed at Damascus. In what may be called the direct part of the account, no mention is made of the place of his conversion at all: a casual expression at the end, and an expression brought in for a different purpose, alone fixes it to have been at Damascus; " I returned again to Damascus." Nothing can be more like simplicity and undesignedness than this is. It also draws the agreement between the two quotations somewhat closer, to observe that they both state St. Paul to have preached the Gospel immediately upon his call: "And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God." Acts, chap. ix. 20. "When it pleased God to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen, immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood." Gal. chap. i. 15.
4. The course of the apostle's travels after his conversion was this: He went from Damascus to Jerusalem, and from Jerusalem into Syria and Cilicia. "At Damascus the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket; and when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples." Acts, chap. ix. 25. Afterwards, " when the brethren knew the conspiracy formed against him at Jerusalem, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus, a city in Cilicia." Chap. ix. 30. In the epistle, St. Paul gives the following brief account of his proceedings within the same period: "After three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days; afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia." The history had told us that Paul passed from Caesarea to Tarsus: if he took this journey by land, it would carry him through Syria into Cilicia; and he would come, after his visit at Jerusalem, "into the regions of Syria and Cilicia," in the very order in which he mentions them in the epistle. This supposition of his going from Caesarea to Tarsus,
by land, clears up also another point. It accounts for what St. Paul says in the same place concerning the churches of Judea: "Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia, and was unknown by face unto the churches of Judea, which were in Christ: but they had heard only that he which persecuted us in times past, now preacheth the faith, which once he destroyed; and they glorified God in me." Upon which passage I observe, first, that what is here said of the churches of Judea, is spoken in connection with his journey into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. Secondly, that the passage itself has; little significancy, and that the connection is inexplicable, unless St. Paul went through Judea * (though probably by a hasty journey) at the time that he came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. Suppose him to have passed by land from Caesarea to Tarsus, all this, as hath been observed, would be precisely true.
5. Barnabas was with St. Paul at Antioch. "Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul; and when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church." Acts, chap. xi. 25, 26. Again, and upon another occasion, " they (Paul and Barnabas) sailed to Antioch: and there they continued a long time with the disciples." Chap. xiv. 26.
Now what says the epistle? "When Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed; and the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation." Chap. ii. 11,13.
6. The stated residence of the apostles was at Jerusalem. "At that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles." Acts, chap. viii. 1. "They (the Christians at Antioch) determined that Paul and Barnabas should go up to Jerusalem, unto the apostles and elders, about this question."
* Dr. Doddridge thought that the Caesarea here mentioned was not the celebrated city of that name upon the Mediterranean sea, but Caesarea Phihppi, near the borders of Syria, which lies in a much more direct line from Jerusalem to Tarsus than the other. The objection to this, Dr. Benson remarks, is, that Csesarea, without any addition, usually denotes Caesarea Palestine.