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served in the history; but which makes what is said in the history more significant, probable, and consistent. The history bears marks of an omission; the epistle by reference furnishes a circumstance which supplies that omission.
Chap. ii. 14.
“ For ye, brethren, became followers or of the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ “ Jesus ; for ye also have suffered like things of your “ own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews.”
To a reader of the Acts of the Apostles, it might seem, at first sight, that the persecutions which the preachers and converts of Christianity underwent, were suffered at the hands of their old adversaries the Jews. But, if we attend carefully to the accounts there delivered, we shall observe, that, though the opposition made to the gospel usually originated from the enmity of the Jews, yet in almost all places the Jews went about to accomplish their purpose, by stirring up the Gentile inhabitants against their converted countrymen. Out of Judea they had not power to do much mischief in any other way. This was the case at Thessalonica in particular : “ The Jews which « believed not, moved with envy, set all the city in an • uproar.” Acts, xvii. 5. It was the same a short time afterwards at Beræa : “ When the Jews of Thessalonica “ had knowledge that the word of God was preached of “ Paul at Beræa, they came thither also, and stirred up “ the people.”
Acts, xvii. 13. And, before this, our apostle had met with a like species of persecution, in his progress through the Lesser Asia : “In every city the
unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made “ their minds evil affected against the brethren." Acts, xiv. 2. The epistle therefore represents the case accurately as the history states it. It was the Jews always who set on foot the persecutions against the apostles and their followers. He speaks truly therefore of them, when he says in this epistle, “ they both killed the Lord Jesus
“ and their own prophets, and have persecuted us— for“ bidding us to speak unto the Gentiles." (ii. 15, 16.) But out of Judea it was at the hands of the Gentiles, it was “ of their own countrymen,” that the injuries they underwent were immediately sustained : “ Ye have suf“ fered like things of your own countrymen, even as they 66 have of the Jews.”
The apparent discrepancies between our epistle and the history, though of magnitude sufficient to repel the imputation of confederacy or transcription (in which view they form a part of our argument), are neither numerous, nor very difficult to reconcile.
One of these may be observed in the ninth and tenth verses of the second chapter : “ For ye remember, “ brethren, our labour and travel; for labouring night “ and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of
you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and “ unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that be« lieve.” A person who reads this passage is naturally led by it to suppose, that the writer had dwelt at Thessalonica for some considerable time; yet of St. Paul's ministry in that city, the history gives no other account than the following : “ that he came to Thessalonica, “ where was a synagogue of the Jews; that, as his specification of his ministry, it has usually been taken for granted that Paul did not continue at Thessalonica more than three weeks. This, however, is inferred without necessity. It appears to have been St. Paul's practice, in almost every place that he came to, upon his first arrival to repair to the synagogue. He thought himself bound to propose the gospel to the Jews first, agreeably to what he declared at Antioch in Pisidia; “it was necessary or that the word of God should first have been spoken “ to you.” Acts, xiii. 46. If the Jews rejected his ministry, he quitted the synagogue, and betook himself to a Gentile audience. At Corinth, upon his first coming thither, he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath ; “ but when the Jews opposed themselves, and blasphemed, “ he departed thence,” expressly telling them,
manner was, he went in unto them, and three sabbathdays reasoned with them out of the scriptures ; that
some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and “ Silas.” The history then proceeds to tell us, that the Jews which believed not set the city in an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, where Paul and his companions lodged ; that the consequence of this outrage was, that “ the brethren immediately sent away Paul “ and Silas by night unto Beræa.” Acts, xvii. 1–10. From the mention of his preaching three sabbath-days in the Jewish synagogue, and from the want of any
from “ henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles ; and he re“ mained in that city a year and six months.” Acts, xviii. 6–11. At Ephesus, in like manner, for the space of three months he went into the synagogue; but, “ when divers were hardened and believed not, but spake “ evil of that way, he departed from them and separated “ the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one “ Tyrannus ; and this continued by the space of two
years.” Acts, xix. 9, 10. Upon inspecting the history, I see nothing in it which negatives the supposition, that St. Paul pursued the same plan at Thessalonica which he adopted in other places; and that, though he resorted to the synagogue only three sabbath days, yet he remained in the city, and in the exercise of his ministry amongst the Gentile citizens, much longer ; and until the success of his preaching had provoked the Jews to excite the tumult and insurrection by which he was driven away.
Another seeming discrepancy is found in the ninth verse of the first chapter of the epistle : “ For they them“ selves show of us what manner of entering in we had “ unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to
serve the living and true God, [and to wait for his " Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even “ Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.”] This text contains an assertion, that, by means of St.
Paul's ministry at Thessalonica, many idolatrous Gentiles had been brought over to Christianity. Yet the history, in describing the effects of that ministry, only says, that “ some of the Jews believed, and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few." (xvii. 4.) The devout Greeks were those who already worshipped the one true God; and therefore could not be said, by embracing Christianity, “to be turned to God from idols.'
This is the difficulty. The answer may be assisted by the following observations. The Alexandrian and Cambridge manuscripts read (for των σεβομένων Ελλήνων πολύ πλήθος) των σεβομένων και Ελλήνων πολύ πλήθος. In which reading they are also confirmed by the Vulgate Latin. And this reading is in my opinion strongly supported by the considerations, first, that oi osóuevos alone, i. e. without "Emanues, is used in this sense in this same chapter, Paul being come to Athens, diezéyeto εν τη συναγωγή τους Ιουδαίοις και τους σεβομένοις : secondly, that σεβόμενοι and "Έλληνες no where come together. The expression is redundant. The oi gebójevou must be "Emanues. Thirdly, that the xai is much more likely to have been left out incuriâ manus than to have been put in.
Or, after all, if we be not allowed to change the present reading, which is undoubtedly retained by a great plurality of copies, may not the passage in the history be considered as describing only the effects of St. Paul's discourses during the three sabbath-days in which he preached in the synagogue ? and may it not be true, as we have remarked above, that his application to the Gentiles at large, and his success amongst them, was posterior to this ?
THE SECOND EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS.
IT may seem odd to allege obscurity itself as an argument, or to draw a proof in favour of a writing, from that which is usually considered as the principal defect in its composition. The present epistle, however, furnishes a passage, hitherto unexplained, and probably inexplicable by us, the existence of which, under the darkness and difficulties that attend it, can only be accounted for upon the supposition of the epistle being genuine ; and upon that supposition is accounted for with great ease. The passage which I allude to is found in the second chapter : [vv. 3.. 8.]
“ That day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be re“ vealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth and ex“ alteth himself above all that is called God, or that is
worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple “ of God, showing himself that he is God. Remember
ye not, that WHEN I WAS YET WITH YOU I TOLD “ YOU THESE THINGS ? And now ye know what with“ holdeth, that he might be revealed in his time ; for the
mystery of iniquity doth already work, only he that
now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way ; " and then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord “ shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall
destroy with the brightness of his coming.” It were superfluous to prove, because it is in vain to deny, that this passage is involved in great obscurity, more especially the clauses distinguished by Italics. Now the observation I have to offer is founded upon this, that the passage expressly refers to a conversation which the author had previously holden with the Thessalonians upon