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the superscription of the Epistle to the Colossians is joined with him in this. Tychicus did not salute Philemon, because he accompanied the Epistle to Colosse, and would undoubtedly there see him. Yet the reader of the Epistle to Philemon will remark one considerable diversity in the catalogue of saluting friends, and which shows that the catalogue was not copied from that to the Colossians. In the Epistle to the Colossians, Aristarchus is called by St. Paul his fellow-prisoner, Colos. iv. 10; in the Epistle to Philemon, Aristarchus is mentioned without any addition, and the title of fellow-prisoner is given to Epaphras.
And let it also be observed, that notwithstanding the close and circumstantial agreement between the two epistles, this is not the case of an opening left in a genuine writing, which an impostor is induced to fill up; nor of a reference to some writing not extant, which sets a sophist at work to supply the loss, in like manner as, because St. Paul was supposed, Colos. iv. 16, to allude to an epistle written by him to the Laodiceans, some person
has from thence taken the hint of uttering a forgery under that title. The present, I say, is not that case ; for Philemon's name is not mentioned in the Epistle to the Colossians ; Onesimus's servile condition is no where hinted at, any more than his crime, his flight, or the place or time of his conversion. The story, therefore, of the epistle, if it be a fiction, is a fiction to which the author could not have been guided by any thing he had read in St. Paul's genuine writings.
* Dr. Benson observes, and perhaps truly, that the appellation of fellow-prisoner, as applied by St. Paul to Epaphras, did not imply that they were imprisoned together at the time ; any more than your calling a person your fellow-traveller imports that you are then upon your travels. If he had, upon any former occasion, travelled with you, you might afterwards speak of him under that title. It is just so with the term fellow-prisoner.
Vy. 4, 5. “I thank my God, making mention of
thee always in my prayers ; hearing of thy love and “ faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and 66 toward all saints."
“ Hearing of thy love and faith.” This is the form of speech which St. Paul was wont to use towards those churches which he had not seen, or then visited: see Rom. i. 8; Ephes. i. 15; Col. i. 3, 4. Toward those churches and persons, with whom he was previously acquainted, he employed a different phrase : as, “ I thank “ my God always on your behalf," 1 Cor. i. 4; 2 Thess. i. 3; or, “ upon every remembrance of you, Phil. i. 3; 1 Thess. i. 2, 3; 2 Tim. i. 3; and never speaks of hearing of them. Yet I think it must be concluded, from the nineteenth verse of this epistle, that Philemon had been converted by St. Paul himself : “ Albeit, I do not say to thee, how thou owest unto me
thine own self besides.” Here then is a peculiarity. Let us enquire whether the epistle supplies any circumstance which will account for it. We have seen that it may be made out, not from the epistle itself, but from a comparison of the epistle with that to the Colossians, that Philemon was an inhabitant of Colosse ; and it farther appears, from the Epistle to the Colossians, that St. Paul had never been in that city: “I would that ye “ knew what great conflict I have for you and for them “ at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face “ in the flesh.” Col. ii. 1. Although, therefore, St. Paul had formerly met with Philemon at some other place, and had been the immediate instrument of his conversion, yet Philemon's faith and conduct afterwards, inasmuch as he lived in a city which St. Paul had never visited, could only be known to him by fame and reputation.
The tenderness and delicacy of this epistle have heen long admired : “ Though I might be much bold in Christ “ to enjoin thee that which is convenient, yet for love's sake “ I rather beseech thee, being such a one as Paul the
aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ. I be“ seech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten « in my bonds." There is something certainly very melting and persuasive in this and every part of the epistle. Yet, in my opinion, the character of St. Paul prevails in it throughout. The warm, affectionate, authoritative tead is interceding with an absent friend for a beloved convert. He urges his suit with an earnestness, befitting perhaps not so much the occasion, as the ardour and sensibility of his own mind. Here also, as every where, he shows himself conscious of the weight and dignity of his mission ; nor does he suffer Philemon for a moment to forget it: “ I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin “ thee that which is convenient." He is careful also to recall, though obliquely, to Philemon's memory, the sacred obligation under which he had laid him, by bringing to him the knowledge of Jesus Christ : “ I do not say to “ thee, how thou owest to me even thine own self besides." Without laying aside, therefore, the apostolic character, our author softens the imperative style of his address, by mixing with it every sentiment and consideration that could move the heart of his correspondent. Aged and in prison, he is content to supplicate and entreat. Onesimus was rendered dear to him by his conversion and his services; the child of his affliction, and “ministering unto “ him in the bonds of the gospel.” This ought to recommend him, whatever had been his fault, to Philemon's forgiveness : Receive him as myself, as my own bowels."
Every thing, liowever, should be voluntary. St. Paul was determined that Philemon's compliance should flow from his own bounty : “ Without thy mind “ would I do nothing, that thy benefit should not be as it “ were of necessity, but willingly :” trusting nevertheless to his gratitude and attachment for the performance of all that he requested, and for more: “ Having confidence in
thy obedience, I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou " wilt also do more than I say.
St. Paul's discourse at Miletus [A. xx. 18...]; his speech before Agrippa [xxvi. 1...); his Epistle to the Romans, as hath been remarked (No. VIII.); that to the Galatians, iv. 11–20; to the Philippians, i. 29. ii. 2; the Second to the Corinthians, vi. 1–13; and indeed some part or other of almost every epistle, exhibits examples of a similar application to the feelings and affections of the persons whom he addresses. And it is observable, 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 ;” 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, [i. 6.] 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 any 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 (iï. 6.); and the history informs us, Acts, xviii. 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. 3.] “ I besought thee to abide still at
Ephesus, πορευόμενος εις Μακεδονίας (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