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The proper purpose of the following work is, to bring together, from the Acts of the Apostles, and from the different epistles, such passages as furnish examples of undesigned coincidence; but I have so far enlarged upon this plan, as to take into it some circumstances found in the epistles, which contributed strength to the conclusion, though not strictly objects of comparison.
It appeared also a part of the same plan, to examine the difficulties which presented themselves in the course of our enquiry.
I do not know that the subject has been proposed or considered in this view before. Ludovicus Capellus, Bishop Pearson, Dr. Benson, and Dr. Lardner, have each given a continued history of St. Paul's life, made up from the Acts of the Apostles and the epistles joined together. But this, it is manifest, is a different undertaking from the present, and directed to a different purpose.
If what is here offered shall add one thread to that complication of probabilities
by which the Christian history is attested, the reader's attention will be repaid by the fupreme importance of the subject; and my design will be fully answered.
HE first passage I shall produce from
this epistle, and upon which a good deal of observation will be founded, is the following:
“ But now I go unto Jerusalem, to mio nister unto the saints; for it hath pleased of them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the
saints “ which are at Jerusalem.” Rom. xy. 25, 6.
In this quotation three distinct circumstances are stated—a contribution in Macedonia for the relief of the Christians of Jerusalem, a contribution in Achaia for the same purpose, and an intended journey of St. Paul to Jerusalem. These circum. stances are stated as taking place at the same time, and that to be the time when the epistle was written. Now let us enquire whether we can find these circumstances
elsewhere ; and whether, if we do find them, they meet together in respect of date. Turn to the Acts of the Apostles, chap. xx. ver. 2, 3, and you read the following ac
" When he had gone over those parts (viz. Macedonia), and had given " them much exhortation, he came into “ Greece, and there abode three months; “ and when the Jews laid wait for him, as
he was about to fail into Syria, he pur“ posed to return through Macedonia.” From this paffage, compared with the ac-, count of St. Paul's travels given before, and from the sequel of the chapter, it appears, that
upon St. Paul's second visit to the peninsula of Greece, his intention was, when he should leave the country, to proceed from Achaia directly by sea to Syria ; but that, to avoid the Jews, who were lying in wait to intercept him in his route, he so far changed his purpose as to go back through Macedonia, embark at Philippi, and pursue his voyage
from thence towards Jerusalem. Here therefore is a journey to Jerusalem ; þut not a syllable of any contribution. And as St. Paul had taken several journeys to
Jerusalem before, and one also immediately after his first visit into the peninsula of Greece (Acts xviii. 21.), it cannot from hence be collected in which of these visits the epistle was written, or, with certainty, that it was written in either. The silence of the historian, who professes to have been with St. Paul at the time (c. XX.. V, 6.), concerning any contribution, might lead us to look out for some different journey, or might induce us perhaps to question the consistency of the two records, did not a very accidental reference, in another part of the fame history, afford us sufficient ground to believe that this silence was omission. When St. Paul made his reply before Felix, to the accusations of Tertullus, he alledged, as was natural, that neither the errand which brought him to Jerusalem, nor his conduct whilst he remained there, merited the calumnies with which the Jews had afpersed him. 66 Now after many “ years (i. e. of absence) I came to bring “ alms to my nation and offerings ; whereupon “ certain Jews from Asia found me puri“ fied in the temple, neither with multitude