William Paley.

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he had written on the subject before.

3. ■ The second epistle is written in the joint
name of Paul, Silvanus, and Timotheus, and it
cautions the Thessalonians against being misled
" by letter as from us" (mj Si yi/^^v.) Do not these
words, Si 1)/^ OK. appropriate the reference to some
writing which bore the name of these three teach-
ers "? Now this circumstance, which is a very
close one, belongs to the epistle at present in our
hands ; for the epistle which we call the First
Epistle to the Thessalonians contains these names
in its superscription.

4. The words in the original, as far as they are
material to be stated, are these: eie to ^>) t»%su.s o-a-

jWXTO^, fic-^T6 Stcc KayoVj fit^TS §1 £n-*trTOA.ijc, ws Si •/ilJiMVf ivg

oTi si-jo-Ttixfv >i >i/.cipx Tou XpKTTou. Uuder tliB wciglit
of the preceding observations, may not the words
ftyfTc iiu, Kiyov, f^.vtTs Si £^i(rTox«f, lus ^1 tifi<ji>v, be con-
strued to signify quasi nos quid tale aut dixcri-
mus aut scripserimus* intimating that their words
had been mistaken, and that they had in truth
said or written no such thiiiii 1


The I^irst Epistle to Timothy.

From the third verse of the first chapter, " as I
besought thee to abide still at Ephesus when 1

* Should a contrary intcriiretation be preferred, I do
not think that it implies the coneliisioii that a false
epistle liad tln'ii heen published in the apostle's name. It
w\\\ completely satisfy the allusion in the text to allow
th:it some one or othin- at Thessalonica had pretended
1u iKivi! been told by St. Paul and his companions, or to
have seen a letter from tliein, in which they had said
that the day of (Christ was at hand In like manner as]
Acts, XV. 1,24, it is recorded that some had pretended to
have received instructions from the church at Jerusa-
lem, which had been received, " to whom they gave no
such commandment." And thus Dr. Benson interpreted

the passage /'ilTS dft^ariixi, /j-^n Six ;Ti.fu,u»T!Ji, ^„t; Six

'■■'I '■■■', ."ii-s ^' ja-TTo/.xc, tvi ii Vi/iov, "n(M- be dismayed
■by ;juv revelation, or discnurse, or ppislle, which aiiv
one shall pretend lo have heard or received from us."

went into Macedonia," it is evident that this epis-
tle was written soon after ISt. Paul had gone to
Macedonia from Ephesus. Dr. Benson fixes its
date to the time of ^t. Paul's journey recorded in
the beginning of the twentieth chapter of the Acts :
" And after the uproar (excited by Demetrius at
Ephesus) was ceased, Paul called unto him the
disciples, and embraced them, and departed ibr to
go into Macedonia." And m this opinion Dr.
Benson is followed l)y Michaclis, as he was pre-
ceded by the greater part of the commentators wlio
have considered the question. There is, however,
one objection to the hypothesis, which these learn-
ed men appear to me to have overlooked ; and it is
no other than tliis, that the superscription of the
Second Epistle to the Corinthians seems to prove,
that at the time St. Paul is supposed by them to
have written this epistle to Timothy, Timothy in
truth was with St. Paul in Macedonia. Paul, as
it is related in the Acts, left Ephesus " for to go
into Macedonia." When he had got into Mace-
donia, he wrote his Second Epistle to the Corin-
thians. Concerning this point there exists little
variety of opinion. It is plainly indicated by the
contents of the epistle. It is also strongly imi)lied
that the epistle was written soon after the apostle's
arrival in Macedonia ; for he begins his letter by a
train of reflection, referring to his persecutions in
Asia as to recent transactions, as to dangers from
which he had lately been delivered. But in the
salutation with which the epistle opens, Timothy
was joined with St. Paul, and consequently could
not at that time be " letl behind at Ephesus."
And as to the only solution of the difiiculty which
caia be thought of, viz. that Timothy, though he
was left behind at Ejjhesus upon St. Paul's de-
parture from Asia, yet might Ibllow him so soon
after, as to come up with the apostle in Macedo-
nia, before he wrote his Epistle to the CorintI Jans ;
that supposition is inconsistent with the terms and
tenor of the epistle throiighout. For the writer
speaks uniformly of his intention to return to
Timothy at Ephesus, and n(jt of his expecting
Timothy to come to him in Macedonia: " These
things write 1 unto thee, hoping to come unto thee
shortly ; but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know
how thou oughtest to behave thyself," ch. iii. 14,
15. " Till I come, give attendance to reading, to
exhortation, to doctrine," ch. iv. 13.

Since, therefore, the leaving of Timothy behind
at Ephesus, when Paul went into Macedonia,
suits not with any journey into Macedonia, re-
corded in the Acts, I concur with Bishop Pearson,
in placing the date of this epistle, and the journey
referred to in it, at a period subsequent to St.
Paul's first imprisonment at Rome, and conse-
quently subsequent to the aera up lo which the
Acts of the Apostles brings his history. The
only difficulty which attends our o[)iiiion is, that
St. Paul must, according to us, have come to Ej)he- .
sus after his liberation at Rome, contrary as it
should seem, to what he foretokl to the Ephcsian
elders, " that they should sec his face no more."
And it is to save thciiifallibility of this prediction,
and for no other reason of v.eight, tiiat an earlier
date is assigned to this epistle. The prediction
itself, however, when considered in connexion
with the circumstances under which it was de-
livered, does not seem to demand so mtich anxiety.
The words in question are found in the twenty-
fifth verse of the twentieth chapter of the Acts:
" And now, behold, 1 know that ye all, among



wliom 1 have gone preachiiig the kingdom of God,
shall see my face no more." In the twenty-second
and twenty-third verses of the same chapter, i. e.
two verses" before, the apostle makes this declara-
tion : '■ And now, hehokl, I go bound in the spirit
mito Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall
betidl me there : save that tlie Holy Ghost witness-
eth in every city, saying that bonds imd afihctions
abide me." This '• witnessmg of the Holy Ghost"
was undoubtedly prophetic and supernatural. But
it went no iarther than to foretell that bonds and
afflictions awaited him. And I can very well con-
ceive, that tliis might be all which wa.s communi-
cated to the apostle by extraorthnury revelation,
and tiiat the rest was the conclusion of his own
mind, the desponding inference wluch he drew
from strong and repeated intuuations of approach-
innr danger. And the expression " I know," which
St° l-aul here uses, docs not, ])erhaps, when ap-
plieo to future events atieciing hunself, convey an
assertion so positive and absolute as we may at
first i^ight apurehend. In the first chapter of the
Epistle to the Philippians, and the twenty-fifth
verse, " I know," says he, " that I shall abide and
contiiiue with you all, for your furtherance and
joy of laith." "jS^otwithstanding this strong decla-
ration, in the second chapter and twenty-third
veise of this same epistle, and spealving also of the
very same event, he is content to use a language
of some doubt and imcertainty : " Him therefore I
hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how
it uill go uilk me. But I trust in the Lord that
I also myself shall come shortly." And a few
verses preceding these, he not only seems to. doubt
of his safety, but almost to despair ; to contemplate
the possibihty at least of his condemnation and
martyrdom : " Yea. and if 1 be ofiered upon the
sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice
with you all."

No. I.

But can we show that St. Paid visited Ephesus
after his liberation at Rome ] or rather, can we
collect any hmts from his other letters which make
it probable that he did ] If we can, then we have
a coincidence. If we cannot, we have only an
unauthorised supposition, to which the exigency
of the ease compels us to resort. jN'ow, for this
purpose, let us examine the Epistle to the Phihp-
plans and the Epistle to Philemon. These two
epistles pm-port to be written whilst St. Paul was
yet a prisoner at Rome. To the Philippians he
writes as follows : '• I trust in the Lord that I also
myself shall come shortly." To Philemon, who
was a • ©"olossian, he gives this direction: '"But
withal, prepare me also a lodging, for I trust that
through your prayers I shall be given unto you."
An inspection of the map will show us that Co-
losse was a city of the Lesser Asia, lying eastward,
and at no great distance from Ephesus. Phihppi
was on the other, i.e. the western side of the
iEgean sea. If the apostle executed his purpose ;
if, in pursuance of the intention expressed in his
\e^£i- to Pliilemon, he came to Colosse soon after
he wfas set at liberty at Rome, it is very improba-
ble that h^ .would omit to visit Ephesus, wliich lay
so near to it, and where he had spent three years
of his ministry. As he was also under a promise
to the church" of Pliilfiipi to see them '• shortly ;"
if he passed from Colosse to Philippi, or from
Pluhppi to Colosse, he could hardly avoid takuig
Ephesus in liis way.


No. II.

Chap. V. 9. " Let not a widow be taken into
the number under threescore years old."

This accords with the account delivered in the
sixth chapt. r of the Acts. " And in those days,
when the number of the disciples was multiplied,
there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against
the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected
in the daily ministration." It appears that, from
the first formation of the Christian church, provi-
sion was made out of the public funds of the socie-
ty for the indigent widows who belonged to it.
The liistory, we have seen, distinctly records the
existence of such an institution at Jerusalem, a
few years after our Lord's ascension; and is led
to tlie mention of it very incidentally, viz. by a
disi)ute, of which it was the occasion, and which
produced important consequences to the Christian
community. The epistle, without being suspected
of borrowing from the histor,-, refers, briefly in-
deed, but decisively, to a similar establishment,
subsisting some years afterwards at Ephesus.
This atrreement indicates that both wiitings were
founded ujion real circumstances.

But, in tills article, the material thing to be no-
ticed is the mode of expression : " Let not a widow
be taken into the- number. "i-^No previous account
or explanation is given, to vfiich these words,
"into the number," can refer; but the direction
comes concisely and unpreparedly. " Let not a
widow be taKen into the number." Now this is
the way in which a man writes, who is conscious
that he is writing to persons already acquainted
witli the subject of his letter ; and who, he knows,
will readily apprehend and apply what he says by
virtue of their being so acquainted : but it is not
the way in which a man writes upon any other
occasioii; and least of all, in which a man would
draw up a feigned letter, or introduce a supposi-
tious fact.* ', '

No. III.
Chapter iii. 2, 3. " A bishop then must be

* It is not altogether unconnected with our general
purpose to remark, in the passage before us, the selection
and reserve which St. Paul recommends to the gover-
nors of the church of Ephesus in the l-;esto-.vins relief
upon the poor, because it refutes a calunuiy which hag
been insinuated, that the l|bejality of tlietirst Christiana
was an artitice to catch convert.-; ; or one of the tempta-
tions, however, by which the idle and mendicant were
drawn into this society: "Let not a widow he taken in-
to the number under threescore years old, having been
the wife of one man, well reported of for good works ;
if she have brought up children, if she have lodged
strangers, if she have washed the saints" feet, if she have
relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed
everv good work. But the younger widows refuse,"
v. 9, 10, 11. And in another plac«, '• If any man or
woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve
tliem, and let not the church be charged ; that it may
relieve them that are widows indeed." And to the same
effect, or rather more to our ])resent purpose, the apostle
writes in the Second Epistle to the Tliessalonians :
" Even when we were with you, this we commanded
you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat,"
I. e. at the public e.xpense. " For we hear that there are
some which walk among you disorderly. 7corldiig not at
all, but are busy bodies. Now them that are such we
command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that
with quietness they work, and eat their own bread."
Could a designing or dissolute poor take advantage of
bounty resulated with so much caution; or could the
mind which dictated those sober and prudent directions
be influenced in his recommendations of public chanty
by any other than the properest motives of beneliceuce?



blameless, the husband of one wiffe, vigilant, sober,
of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to
teach ; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of
filthy lucre ; but patient, not a brawler, not covet-
ous ; one that ruleth well his own house."

" No striker :" That is the article which I single
out from the collection as evincing the antiquity
at least, if not the genuineness, of the epistle ;
because it is an article which no man would have
made the suliject of caution who lived in an ad-
vanced jera of the church. It agreed with the in-
fancy of the society, and with no other state of it.
After the government of the church had acquired
the dignified form which it soon and naturally
assumed, this injunction could have no place, j
Would a person who lived under a hierarchy, such
as the Christian hierarchy became when it had
settled into a regular establishment, have thought
it necessary to prescribe concerning the qualifica-
tion of a bishop, " that he should be no striker 1"
And this injunction would be equally ahen from
the imagination of the writer, whether he wrote
in his own cliaracter, or personated that of an
apostle. ;

No. IV. ^

Chap. V. 33. " Drink no longer water, but use
a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often

Imagine an impostor sitting down to forge an
epistle m the name of St. Paul. Is it credible that
it should come into his head to give such a direc-
tion as this ; so remote from every thing of doc-
trine or discipline, every thing of pubUc concern
to the religion or the church, or to any sect, order,
or party in it, and from every purpose with which
such an epistle could be written 1 It seems to me
that nothing but reality, that is, the real valetudi-
nary situation of a real person, could have sug-
gested a thought of so domestic a nature.

But if the peculiarity of the advice be observable,
the place in which it stands is more so. The con-
text is this: "Lay hands suddenly on no man,
neither be partaker of other men's sins : keep thy-
self pure. Drink no longer water, but use a Uttle
wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often in-
firmities. Some men's sins are open beforehand,
going before to judgment; and some men they
follow after." The direction to Timothy about
his diet stands between two sentences, as wide
from the subject as possible. The train of thought
seems to be broken to let it in. Now when does
this happen 1 It happens when a man writes as
he remembers ; when he puts down an article that
occurs the moment it occurs, lest he should after-
wards forget it. Of this the passage before us
bears strongly the appearance. In actual letters,
ui the negligence of real correspondence, examples
of this kind frequently take place ; seldom, I be-
lieve, in any other production. For the moment
a man regards what he writes as a composition,
which the author of a forgery would, of ail others,
be the first to do, notions of order, in the arrange-
ment and succession of his thoughts, present
themselves to his judgment, and guide his pen.

No. V.

Chap. i. 15, 16. " This is a faithful saying,
and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ jfesus
came into the world to save sinners; of whom I
am chief Howbeit, for this cause I obtained mer-
cy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth

all long-sufTering, for a pattern to them which
should hereafter believe in him to Ufe everlasting."
What was the mercy which St. Paul here com-
memorates, and what was the crime of which he
accuses himself, is apparent from the verses im-
mediately preceding: "I thank Christ Jesus our
Lord, wlio hath enabled me, for that he counted
me faithful, putting me into the ministry ; who
icas before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and
injurious: but I obtained merc^, because I did it
ignorantly in unbelief," ch. i. 12, 13. The whole
quotation plainly refers to St. Paul's original en-
mity to the Christian name, the interposition of
Providence in his conversion, and his subsequent
designation to the ministry of the Gospel ; and by
this reference affirms indeed the substance of the
apostle's history delivered in the Acts. But what
in the passage strikes my mind most powerfully,
is the observation that is raised out of the fact.
" For this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first
Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering,
for a pattern to them which should hereafter be-
lieve on him to life everlasting." It is a just and
solemn reflection, springing from the circumstances
of the author's conversion, or rather from the im-
pression which that great event had left upon his
memory. It will be said, perhaps, that an impos-
tor acquainted with St. Paul's history, may have
put such a sentiment into his mouth ; or, what is
the same thing, into a letter drawn up in his name.
But where, we may ask, is such an impostor to be
found '? The piety, the truth, the benevolence of the
thought, ought to protect it from this imputation.
For, though we should allow that one of the great
masters of the ancient tragedy could have given to
his scene a sentiment as virtuous and as elevated
as this is, and at the same time as appropriate, and
as well suited to the particrdar situation of the
person who delivers it ; yet whoever is conversant
in these inquiries wUi acknowledge, that to do
this in a fictitious production is beyond the reach
of the understandings which have been employed
upon scny fabrications that have come down to us
under Christian names.


The Second Epistle to Timothy.
No. I.

It was the uniform tradition of the primitive
church, that St. Paul visited Rome twice, and
twice there suffered imprisonment ; and that he
was put to death at Rome at the conclusion of his
second imprisonment. This opinion concerning
St. Paul's two journeys to Rome is confirmed by
a great variety of hints and allusions in the epistle
before us, compared with what fell from the apos-
tle's pen in other letters purporting to have been
written from Rome. That our present epistle was
written whilst St. Paul was a prisoner, is dis-
tinctly intimated by the eighth verse of the first
chapter: " Be not thou therefore ashamed of the
testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner."
And whilst he was a prisoner at Rome, by the
sixteenth and seventeenth verses of the same
chapter : " The Lord give mercy unto the house
of Onesiphorus ; for he oft refreshed me, and was
not ashamed of my chain : but when he was in
Rome he sought me out very diligently and found



me." Since it appears from the former quotation
that St. Paul wrote this epistle in confinement, it
will hardly admit of doubt that the word chain, m
the latter quotation, relers to that confinement ;
the cliain by which he was then bound, the custo-
dy in wliich he was then kept. And if the word
" chain" designate the author's confinement at the
time of writing the epistle, the next words deter-
mine it to have been written from Rome: "He
was not ashamed of my chain ; but when he was
in Rome he sought me out very diligently." Now
that it was not written during the apostle's first
imprisomnent at Rome, or during the same im.-
prisonment in which the epistles to the Ephesians,
the Colossians, the Philippians, and Philemon,
were written, may be gathered, with considerable
evidence, from a comparison of these several epis-
tles with the present.

I. In the former epistles the author confidently
looked forward to his liberation from confinement,
and his speedy departure from Rome. He tells
the Philippians (ch. ii. 24,) " I trust in the Lord
that I also myself shall come shortly." Philemon
he bids to prepare for him a lodging : " for I trust,"
says he, " that through your prayers I shall be
given unto you," ver. 22. In the epistle before us
he holds a language extremely different : " I am
now ready to be offered, and the time of my de-
parture is at hand. I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course, I have kept the faith :
henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of
righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous
Judge, shall give me at that day," ch. iv. G — 8.

II. When the former epistles, were written
from Rome, Timothy was with St. Paul ; and is
joined with him in writing to the Colossians, the
Philippians, and to Philemon. The present epis-
tle implies that he was absent.

III. In the former epistles, Demas was v/ith
St. Paul at Rome : " Luke, ^he lieloved physician,
and Demas, greet }'ou." In the epistle now before
us: " Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this
present world, and is gone to Thessalonica."

IV. In the former epistles, Mark was with St.
Paul, and joins in saluting the Colossians. In
the present epistle, Timothy is ordered to bring
him with him, " for he is profitable to me for the
ministry," ch. iv. 11.

The case of Timothy and of Mark might be
very well accounted for, by supposing the present
epistle to have been written before the others ; so
that Timothy, who is here exhorted " to come
shortly unto him," ch. iv. 9, might have arrived,
and that Mark, "whom he was to bring with
him," ch. iv. 11, might have also reached Rome
in sufficient time to have been with St. Paul when
the four epistles were written ; but then such a
supposition is inconsistent with what is said of
Demas, by which the posteriority of this to the other
epistles is strongly indicated ; for in the other epis-
tles Demas was with St. Paul, in the present he
hath "forsaken him, and is gone to Thessalo-
nica." The opposition also of sentiment, with
respect to the event of the persecution, is hardly
reconcileable to the same imprisonment.

The two following considerations, which were
first suggested upon this question by Ludovicus
Capellus, are still more conclusive.

1. In the twentieth verse of the fourth chapter,
St. Paiil informs Timothy, " that Erastus abode
at Corinth," EeKtrxo; ii^nviv ev KagivS^. The form
of expression implies, that Erastus had staid be-

hind at Corinth, when St. Paul left it. But this
could not be meant of any journey from Corinth
wliich St. Paul took prior to his first imprison-
ment at Rome ; for when Paul departed from Co-
rinth, as related in the twentieth chapter of the
Acts, Timothy was with him : and this was the
last time the apostle left Corinth before his coming
to Rome ; because he left it to proceed on his way
to Jerusalem ; soon after his arrival at which
place he was taken into custody, and continued
in that custody till he was carried to Caesar's tri-
bunal. There could be no need therefore to in-
form Timothy that " Erastus staid behind at Co-
rinth" upon this occasion, because if the fact was
so, it must have been known to Tunothy, who was
present, as well as to St. Paul.

2. In the same verse our epistle also states the
following article: " Trophimus have I left at Mi-
letum sick." AVhen St. Paul passed through Mi-
letum on his way to Jerusalem, as related Acts
XX, Trophimus was not lei't behind, but accom-
panied him to that cit3^ He was indeed the oc-
casion of the uproar at Jerusalem, in consequence
of which St. Paul was apprehended ; for " they
had seen," says the historian, " before with him
in the city, Trophimus an Ephcsian, whom they
supposed that Paul had brought into the temple."
This was evidcnth' the last time of Paul's being
at Miletus before his first imprisonment ; for, as *
hath been said, after his apprehension at Jerusa-
lem, he remained in custody till he was sent to

In these two articles we have a journey re-

Online LibraryWilliam PaleyThe works of William Paley ... : Containing his life, Moral and political philosophy, Evidences of Christianity, Natural theology, Tracts, Horæ Paulinæ, Clergyman's companion, and sermons, printed verbatim from the original editions .. → online text (page 57 of 161)