Images de page

leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."

Dr. Benson tells us, that from this passage, compared with chapter xvi. 8, it has been conjectured that this episde was written about the time of the Jewish passover; and to me the conjecture appears to be very well founded The passage to which Dr. Benson refers us is this: "I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost." With this With this passage he ought to have joined another in the same context: "And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you :" for, from the two passages laid together, it follows that the epistle was written before Pentecost, yet after winter; which necessarily determines the date to the part of the year, within which the passover falls. It was written before Pentecost, because he says, "I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost." It was written after winter, because he tells them, "It may be that I may abide, yea, and winter with you." The winter which the apostle purposed to pass at Corinth, was undoubtedly the winter next ensuing to the date of the epistle; yet it was a winter subsequent to the ensuing Pentecost, because he did not intend to set forwards upon his journey till after the feast. The words, "let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth," look very like words suggested by the season; at least they have, upon that supposition, a force and significancy which do not belong to them upon any other; and it is not a little remarkable, that the hints casually dropped in the epistle, concerning particular parts of the year, should coincide with this supposition.





No. I.

WILL not say that it is impossible, having seen the First Epistle to the Corinthians, to construct a second with ostensible allusions to the first; or that it is impossible that both should be fabricated, so as to carry on an order and continuation of story, by successive references to the same events. But I say, that this, in either case, must be the effect of craft and design. Whereas, whoever examines the allusions to the former epistle which he finds in this, whilst he will acknowledge them to be such as would rise spontaneously to the hand of the writer, from the very subject of the correspondence, and the situation of the corresponding parties, supposing these to be real, will see no particle of reason to suspect, either that the clauses containing these allusions were insertions for the purpose, or that the several transactions of the Corinthian church were feigned, in order to form a train of narrative, or to support the appearance of connexion between the two epistles.

1. In the First Epistle, St. Paul announces his intention of passing through Macedonia, in his way to Corinth: "I will come to you when I shall pass through Macedonia." In the Second Epistle, we find him arrived in Macedonia, and about to pursue his journey to Corinth. But observe the manner in which this is made to appear: "I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago, and your zeal had provoked very many: yet have I sent the brethren,

lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready, lest haply, if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not you) be ashamed in this same confident boasting." (Chap. ix. 2, 3, 4.) St. Paul's being in Macedonia at the time of writing the epistle, is, in this passage, inferred only from his saying, that he had boasted to the Macedonians of the alacrity of his Achaian converts; and the fear which he expresses, lest, if any of the Macedonian Christians should come with him unto Achaia, they should find his boasting unwarranted by the event. The business. of the contribution is the sole cause of mentioning Macedonia at all. Will it be insinuated that this passage was framed merely to state that St. Paul was now in Macedonia; and, by that statement, to produce an apparent agreement with the purpose of visiting Macedonia, notified in the First Epistle? Or will it be thought probable, that, if a sophist had meant to place St. Paul in Macedonia, for the sake of giving countenance to his forgery, he would have done it in so oblique a manner as through the medium of the contribution? The same thing may be observed of another text in the epistle, in which the name of Macedonia occurs: "Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach the gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus, my brother; but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia." I mean, that it may be observed of this passage also, that there is a reason for mentioning Macedonia, entirely distinct from the purpose of showing St. Paul to be there. Indeed, if the passage before us show that point at all, it shows it so obscurely, that Grotius, though he did not doubt that Paul was now in Macedonia, refers this text to a different journey. Is this the hand of a forger,

[blocks in formation]

meditating to establish a false conformity? The text, however, in which it is most strongly implied that St. Paul wrote the present epistle from Macedonia, is found in the fourth, fifth, and sixth verses of the seventh chapter: "I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation; for, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest; without were fightings, within were fears: nevertheless, God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus." Yet even here, I think, no one will contend, that St. Paul's coming to Macedonia, or being in Macedonia, was the principal thing intended to be told; or that the telling of it, indeed, was any part of the intention with which the text was written; or that the mention even of the name of Macedonia was not purely incidental, in the description of those tumultuous sorrows with which the writer's mind had been lately agitated, and from which he was relieved by the coming of Titus. The five first verses of the eighth chapter, which commend the liberality of the Macedonian churches, do not, in my opinion, by themselves, prove St. Paul to have been in Macedonia at the time of writing the epistle.

2. In the First Epistle, St. Paul denounces a severe censure against an incestuous marriage, which had taken place amongst the Corinthian converts, with the connivance, not to say with the approbation, of the church; and enjoins the church to purge itself of this scandal, by expelling the offender from its society: "It is reported commonly, that there is fornication among you, and such fornication, as is not so much as named amongst the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife; and ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you; for I, verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though

I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed; in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord." (Chap. v. 1-5.) In the Second Epistle, we find this sentence executed, and the offender to be so affected with the punishment, that St. Paul now intercedes for his restoration. "Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many; so that, contrariwise, ye ought rather to forgive him and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow; wherefore I beseech you, that ye would confirm your love towards him.” (2 Cor. chap. ii. 7, 8.) Is this whole business feigned for the sake of carrying on a continuation of story through the two epistles? The church also, no less than the offender, was brought by St. Paul's reproof to a deep sense of the impropriety of their conduct. Their penitence, and their respect to his authority, were, as might be expected, exceedingly grateful to St. Paul: "We were comforted not by Titus's coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind towards me, so that I rejoiced the more; for, though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent; for I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though it were but for a season. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance; for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing." (Chap. vii. 7—9.) That this passage is to be referred to the incestuous marriage, is proved by the twelfth verse of the same chapter: "Though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done

« PrécédentContinuer »