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I wish to be observed is, that in comparing, upon this subject, the epistle with the history, we do not find a recital in one place of what is related in another; but that we find, what is much more to be relied upon, an oblique allusion to an implied fact.
Our epistle purports to have been written near the conclusion of St. Paul's imprisonment at Rome, and after a residence in that city of considerable duration. These circumstances are made out by different intimations, and the intimations upon the subject preserve among themselves a just consistency, and a consistency certainly unmeditated. First, the apostle had already been a prisoner at Rome so long, as that the reputation of his bonds, and of his constancy under them, had contributed to advance the success of the gospel : “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places ; and many of the brethren in the Lord waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” Secondly, the account given of Epaphroditus imports, that St. Paul, when he wrote the epistle, had been in Rome a considerable time: “He longed after you all, and was full of heavincss, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.” Epaphroditus was with St. Paul at Rome. He had been sick. The Philippians had heard of his sickness, and he again had received an account how much they had been affected by the intelligence. The passing and repassing of these advices must necessarily have occupied a large portion of time, and must have all taken place during St. Paul's residence at Rome. Thirdly, after a residence at Rome thus proved to have been of con
siderable duration, he now regards the decision of his fate as nigh at hand. He contemplates either alternative, that of his deliverance, ch. ii. 23. “Him therefore (Timothy) I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me ; but I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly;" that of his condemnation, ver. 17, “ Yea, and if I be offered* upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all.” This consistency is material, if the consideration of it be confined to the epistle. It is further material, as it agrees, with respect to the duration of St. Paul's first imprisonment at Rome, with the account delivered in the Acts, which, having brought the apostle to Rome, closes the history by telling us, " that he dwelt there two whole years in his own hired house."
Chap. i. 23. “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better.”
With this compare 2 Cor. chap. v. 8. “We are confident and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” The sameness of sentiment in these two quotations
is obvious. I rely however not so much upon that, as upon the similitude in the train of thought which in each epistle leads up to this sentiment, and upon the suitableness of that train of thought to the circumstances under which the epistles purport to have been written, This, I conceive, bespeaks the production of the same mind, and of a mind operating upon real circumstances. The sentiment is in both places preceded by the contemplation of imminent personal danger. To the Philippians he writes, in the
* Αλλ' ει και σπειδoμαι επι τη θυσια της πιστεως υμων, if my blood be poured out as a libation upon the sacrifice of your faith.
twentieth verse of this chapter, “ According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also, Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death.” To the Corinthians, “ Troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecutod, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus.” This train of reflection is continued to the place from whence the words which we compare are taken. The two epistles, though written at different times, from different places, and to different churches, were both written under circumstances which would naturally recal to the author's mind the precarious condition of his life, and the perils which constantly awaited him. When the Epistle to the Philippians was written, the author was a prisoner at home, expecting his trial. When the Second Epistle to the Corinthians was written, he had lately escaped a danger in which he had given himself over for lost. The epistle opens with a recollection of this subject, and the impression accompanied the writer's thoughts throughout.
I know that nothing is easier than to transplant into a forged epistle a sentiment or expression which is found in a true one; or, supposing both epistles to be forged by the same hand, to insert the same sentiment or expression in both. But the difficulty is to introduce it in just and close connexion with a train of thought going before, and with a train of thought apparently generated by the circumstances under which the epistle is written. In two epistles, purporting to be written on different occasions, and in different periods of the author's history, this propriety would not casily be managed.
Chap. i. 29, 30'; ii. 1, 2. “For unto you is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake, having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me. If there be, therefore, any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies : fulfil ye my joy ; that ye be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind."
With this compare Acts xvi. 22: “And the multitud (at Philippi) rose up against them (Paul and Silas); and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them; and when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the failer to keep them safely; who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks."
The passage in the epistle is very remarkable. I know not an example in any writing of a juster pathos, or which more truly represents the workings of a warm and affectionate mind, than what is exhibited in the quotation before us*. The apostle reminds his Philippians of their being joined with himself in the endurance of persecution for the sake of Christ. He conjures them by the tics of their common profession and their common sufferings, to “fulfil his joy;" to complete, by the unity of their faith, and by their mutual love, that joy with which the instances he had received of their zeal and attachment had inspired his breast. Now if this was the real effusion of St. Paul's mind, of which it bears the strongest internal character, then we
• The original is very spirited Eι τις εν παρακλησις εν Χριση, και τι παραμυθιον αγαπης, και τις κοινωνία ανευματος, και τινα σπλαγχνα και οικτιρμοί, πληρωσατε με την харау. .
have in the words “the same conflict which ye saw in me,” an authentick confirmation of so much of the apostle's history in the Acts, as relates to his transactions at Philippi ; and through that of the intelligence and general fidelity of the historian.
THE EPISTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS.
HERE is a circumstance of conformity between St. Paul's history and his letters, especially those which were written during his first imprisonment at Rome, and more especially the Epistles to the Colossians and Ephesians, which, being too close to be accounted for from accident, yet too indirect and latent to be imputed to design, cannot easily be resolved into any other original than truth. Which circumstance is this, that St. Paul in these epistles attributes his imprisonment not to his preaching of Christianity, but to his asserting the right of the Gentiles to be admitted into it without conforming themselves to the Jewish law. This was the doctrine to which he considered himself as a martyr. Thus, in the epistle before us, chap. i. 24. (I Paul) “who now rejoice in my sufferings for you”-“for you,” i. e. for those whom he had never seen; for a few verses afterwards he adds, “I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh.” His suffering therefore for them was, in their general capacity of Gentile Christians, agrecably to what he explicitly declares in his Epistle to the Ephesians, iv. 1. “ For this