« PreviousContinue »
pressions, were intended to convey the saine meaning, and to relate to the fame 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 TPITOV TETİ ερχομαι does not mean that he was coming a third time, but that this was the third time he was in readineis to come, τριτον ετοιμως Exwv. I do not apprehend, that after this it can be necessary to call to our aid the reading of the Alexandrian manuscript, which gives ετοιμως εχω ελθειν 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 TPITÓV TYTO sexouco 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
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
that it is not the collusion of fortuitous propofitions which we have to deal with, but that a thread of truth winds through the whole, which preserves every circumstance in its place.
66. We are come as far as to you also, in preaching the Gospel of Chrift; 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 failed 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. “ 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.
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
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 afligned 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 controverfy itself was dead, and the question no longer interesting to any description of readers-whatever. Now the controversy concerning the circumcision of the Gentile