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of the first, we shall perceive the meaning of the passage to be this;–that they who are diligent in good works, need not fear the reproach that they observe not the Levitical law, since their good works, which are the fruits of their faith and religious knowledge, will make their calling and election sure. The deluge, which is not a common subject in apostolic epistles, is mentioned both in 1 Peter iii. 20. and in 2 Peter ii. 5. ; and in both places the circumstance is noted that eight persons only were saved, though in neither place does the subject require that the number should be particularly specified. Now it is true that St Peter was not the only apostle, who knew how many persons were saved in the ark; but surely none can suppose that any other Apostle would forge an epistle in the name of St. Peter, and yet no man but he, who by habit had acquired a familiarity with the subject, would ascertain the precise number, where his argument did not require it. It is evident from a comparison of 1 Peter ii. 13, 14, with Romans xiii. 1–5. either that St Peter had read St Paul's epistle to the Romans, or that St Paul had read the first epistle of St Peter; but the author of the second epistle speaks, in express terms, (a) of the epistles of St Paul. Now no other writer of the New Testament has quoted from any part of the New Testament; consequently we have in these epistles a criterion, from which we may judge that they were written by the same person.” Michaelis agrees with Bishop Sherlock, that there is some difference between the style of the second epistle and that of the first; but he does not think the difference greater than what is often found in the style of the same man writing at different periods of his own life, whilst he contends that there is such a similarity in the use of words, in an uncommon sense, in both epistles, as affords a convincing proof that both must have been written by the same man. It has been objected to the second epistle, that the same word aper? is used (chap. i. 3, and 5.) in two different senses, and that its common meaning “virtue” is applicable to neither of them. “But this very word, says the professor, is used likewise in the first epistle in a peculiar sense, though few commentators have observed it ; and consequently the obscurity which attends doorn, 2 Peter i. 3. is rather an argument that both epistles were written by the same person. In 2 Peter i. 8. this favourite word of the apostle's signifies glory, and so it does in 1 Peter ii. 9.; but in the fifth verse of the second chapter it denotes courage, especially that kind of courage which must attend the faith of a true Christian, but which, at the same time, must be accompanied with knowledge, that they who possess it may not become undaunted martyrs of error and prejudice. The sentences in the second epistle are seldom fluent or well-rounded, but have the same extension as those of the first ;. and words which occur most frequently in the first epistle, are sure to be found in the second, as drawrpoo, for instance, which is found six or seven times in the first epistle, occurs at least twice within the narrower compass of the second.” For these reasons Michaelis is decidedly of opinion that the second epistle ascribed to St Peter is undoubtedly his, and ought therefore to be universally received as a part of the canonical Scripture. Of all the epistles which have heen thought of doubtful authority, not one has occasioned so much controversy among divines and ecclesiatical historians as the epistle to the Hebrews. Is it an epistle 2 Is it quoted by St Peter 2 If it be an epistle, to what community was it sent 2 What was the situation of that community ? At what time was it written ? In what language was it written ? If it was written in Hebrew, by whom was it translated into Greek 2. What is the character of its Greek style? Who was the author of this epistle 2 Is it canonical ? And what are its contents 2– Are so many questions which have been agitated among critics and commentators, and, of which some are of little importance, and others such as cannot now be answered,
(a) Chap. iii, 15, 16.
That it is an epistle, and was sent to the Hebrew Christians of Jerusalem and Palestine in general, a few years before the breaking out of the Jewish war, has been completely proved by Michaelis, and is indeed evident to every one who reads the epistle with attention, and is at all acquainted with the history of those times. Whether it is particularly quoted by St Peter, Michaelis is doubtful, and so am I; but the arguments by which he endeavours to prove.that it was written in Hebrew appear to me very far from being conclusive; and it is difficult to forbear from smiling at the attempt to point out instances, in which the translator has mistaken the sense of an original, which the critic, making that attempt, never saw, and which, by his own confession, has been lost for at least 1600 years My own opinion is, that it is no translation; for there is just as little force in the argument, that it was natural for the author to write to the natives of Palestine in what was then called Hebrew, as there would be in the argument that it was natural for St Paul to write to the natives of Rome in Latin.
On the question, whether St Paul was or was not the author of the epistle, Michaelis represents the fathers of the church as pretty equally divided in opinion ; but whoever shall take the trouble to look into Lardner's account of this epistle, will perceive that the representation is very unfair, and that at least three to one of the luminaries of the ancient church were decidedly of opinion that St Paul was the author. To state even the names of the numerous witnesses, who in the four first centuries attributed this epistle to St Paul, would swell the bulk of a prefatory discourse beyond all proportion; and Lardner's works, which are remarkable for the fidelity of their quotations, may be easily found by any man who wishes for complete information on the subject. That the epistle contains many sentiments, and even many phrases, which might have naturally flowed from the pen of St Paul, Michaelis admits; but it is not impossible, he says, that these might have flowed from some other pen He passes over, without notice, the very important circumstance, that the epistle appears (a) to have been written in Italy; but the mention of Timothy's being set at liberty, and the proposal to visit with him the community to which the epistle was addressed, he admits to be more likely to have been made by St Paul than by any other person whatever; but still they might have been made by some other person
From such perverse reasonings as these, the critic who writes so rationally on the second epistle of St Peter, and the second and third of St John, concludes the probability to be that St Paul was not the author of the epistle to the Hebrews | The reader, who wishes to see the question fairly stated, and fairly and fully argued, will do well to peruse the fourteenth section of the twelfth chapter of Lardner's Supplement, toge. ther with the works which are there quoted. In the meantime, if, without giving himself that trouble, he will duly consider who but St Paul could have been the author of the epistle to the Hebrews, it is probable that he will not long have any doubt about the matter. That the epistle displays an immense fund of Jewish learning—such, indeed, as none of the apostles but St Paul, and perhaps Barnabas, can be supposed to have possessed, is not only admitted but contended for by Michaelis; that its author likewise understood thoroughly the Christian scheme, must be evident to every man who has read the epistle with attention, and has himself any tolerable notion of that scheme; and that Barnabas, who is represented by St Luke as not so fluent a speaker as St Paul, was the author of an epistle more eloquent than St Paul has been thought capable of writing, * as it is not likely in itself, is given up by Michaelis; whilst he
(a) Heb. xiii. 24. ing style than his other epistles; though it is acknow
* Öne of the objections usually made to St Paul's ledged at the same time that the Greek of some parts being the author of the epistle to the Hebrews, is, of the other epistles is very pure : that it is written in purer Greek and in a more flow
acknowledges that St Paul, in some of his speeches, especially at Athens, displays that eloquence and retundity of periods, which characterise the epistle in question. But if all this be true, may we not ask, what Christian but St Paul, was in the year 66, or in any year before the destruction of Jerusalem, at once so thoroughly acquainted with the Jewish and Christian religions, and, occasionally at least, so eloquent as the author of the epistle to the Hebrews? Our critic acknowledges, that the subject of the abolition of the Levitical law, and of its inefficacy even to the Jews themselves, is treated in a more clear and comprehensive manner in the epistle to the Hebrews than in any other book of the New Testament; he contends on all occasions, I think very unreasonably, that none but the apostles were endowed with the miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost: and is it possible that the man who thought thus, could really be of opinion that an unknown, anonymous letter-writer, destitute of all these gifts, was capable of treating a subject so important to the progress of the Gospel, in a more masterly manner than all the apostles, on whom the gifts of the Holy Ghost were bestowed for no other purpose than to enable them to propagate the Gospel ? Such appears not to have been always his opinion. In the second chapter of his work, where he treats of the authenticity of the New Testament at large, after having proved by the arguments which have been already quoted from him, (a) that St Paul and none else could be the author of the epistles to the Galatians and Thessalonians, he adds; “To the Jewish converts likewise, who were in danger of becoming apostates from the religion, which they had adopted, the same apostle represents the greatness of their crime, if they rejected a religion, to which God bore witness with signs and wonders, and with divers gifts of the Holy Ghost. (b) And he reminds them in another passage, (c) that they had tasted of the heavenly gift (i. e. the New covenant), and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost. To suppose that an impostor could write to the converts or adversaries to the new religion not only these, (d) but even subsequent epistles, with a degree of triumph over his opponents, and yet maintain his authority, implies ignorance and stupidity, hardly to be believed in any man, not only in the Hebrews and Galatians, but even in the inhabitants of Thessalonica and Corinth, cities which never lay under the weight of so heavy a suspicion.” This is true; but pray, how much more rational would it have been in the Hebrews, who were committed to the apostleship of St Peter, and in Jerusalem, to the episcopal superintendance of St James, both unquestionably apostles and inspired, to have paid the smallest regard to an anonymous letter written by an uninspired and unknown individual? If such conduct would have been equally foolish, with paying regard to an impostor, it follows, on Michaelis's own principles, that St Paul must not only have been the author of the epistle to the Hebrews, but also have been known to be the author by those, to whom that epistle was immediately sent, and by whom it was so faithfully preserved. It appears therefore, that there is no reason whatever for calling in question the authenticity of any one of those books of the New Testament, which, in the days of Eusebius, were considered as of doubtful authority, though acknowledged by the greater part of Christians to be canonical Scripture. . To the authenticity of the four Gospels, the Acts of the apostles, and the fourteen epistles of St Paul, no objection was ever made by Christians of any denomination; though some of the early heretics admitted the inspiration of such of these tracts only as they thought most favourable to their own peculiar notions. We have indeed seen that it was utterly impossible, at any period, since the commencement of the Christian era, to forge such books as the Gospels and Acts, and impose them on the church as the genuine writings of those apostles and
(a) Supra, p. 14, and 15. of this Introduction. (b) Heb. ii. 1–4. (c) Ibid vi. 4, 5. (d) The epistles to the Galatians and Hebrews, the first to the Thessalonians; and the first to the Corinthians.
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evangelists to whom they are ascribed; we have seen likewise that it was equally impossible, at the period when St Paul is said to have lived, and for at least two generations after it, to have gained the smallest credit to the epistles ascribed to him, if these epistles had not been genuine; and the citations that we have from them in writings of the third generation, prove that they were then considered as authentic. “In the remaining works of Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertulian, there are, says Lardner (a), perhaps more and larger quotations from the small volume of the New Testament, than from all the works of Cicero in the writings of all characters for several ages.” Of these quotations, at least their full share are made from the epistles of St Paul; and if the epistle of St James, the second of St Peter, the second and third of St John, together with the epistle of St Jude, be less frequently quoted, the omission may easily be accounted for. Converts from the philosophical schools of Athens and Alexandria, very soon introduced into the church, questions of deep discussion ; and they in their turn generated heresies, for the confutation of which these five epistlesse furnished no arguments. The case was very different with respect to the epistles of St Paul, the four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the first epistle of St John ; and as almost all the writings of the early fathers of the church, after the apostolic age, are in a greater or less degree controversial, citations from all these tracts abound in them, whilst there is nothing in the epistles of St James, &c. that could have been introduced into those controversies without impertinence. All these epistles, however, are recognised, as we have seen, by the council of Laodicea; and it is evident that the intention of the members of that council was not to decree for the first time what books were to be received as canonical Scripture, but to declare what were not to be so received. They decree “ that Psalms composed by private men (Januoi Riarizci), or uncanonical books, ought not to be read in the church; but only the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments,” and then they proceed to enumerate those books; but when they speak of uncanonical and canonical books before that enumeration, they surely must mean that the canon of Scripture had been settled long before they assembled, though the increase of heretical books had then made it necessary for the information of the people, to distinguish the true from the false. They could not probably enumerate all the books that were to be rejected; but their purpose was served by enumerating those which the church had received, and forbidding all others to be read in the public service, as canonical Scripture. There has in different ages been much controversy concerning the nature and extent of that inspiration under which the apostles and evangelists wrote the books of the New Testament. This question was maturely considered by Warburton; and as the conclusion to which he arrived, after stating the arguments fairly and forcibly for all the opinions that have been held by men of any eminence, is now, I believe, universally admitted. I shall give it in his own words (b). Of this inspiration we can from the premises deduce no other notion but this—“That the Holy Spirit so directed the pens of these writers, that no considerable error should fall from them;-by enlightening them with his immediate influence in all such matters as were necessary for the instruction of the church, and which, either through ignorance or prejudice, they might otherwise have represented imperfectly, partially, or falsely; and by preserving them by the more ordinary means of Providence, from mistakes of consequence, concerning those things, of which they had acquired a competent knowledge by the common way of information. In a word, by watching over them incessantly; but with so suspended a hand, as permitted the use, and left them to the guidance, of their own faculties, while they kept clear of error, and then only in
(a) Recapitulation, vol. xii. p. 53. (b) See his Doctrine of Grace, &c. book i, ch. 7 terposing when, without that Divine assistance, they would have been in danger of falling.” That this is the true notion of the inspiration by which the Christian Scriptures were written, can admit of no rational doubt among Christians themselves; for it is the very inspiration by which St Paul himself says that he wrote his first epistle to the Corinthians. Treating of the expediency or inexpediency of marriage in those days of persecution, he says—(a) “Unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband; but to the rest speak I, not the Lord, If any mart have a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away;” and afterwards, (b) when he declares it to be his judgment that a widow would be happier by remaining in that state than by being married to another husband, he speaks with some diffidence of that judgment being directed by the Spirit of God: —“She is happier, says he, if she so abide, after my judgment; and I think also that I have the Spirit of God”—Sox3 = x:y. Trouw Owo oxar. Nor need any man be alarmed at our not being able, on this moderated notion of inspiration, to distinguish between those parts of Scripture which were written under the immediate and supernatural influence of the Spirit of God, and those which were the product of human knowledge directed, as in every pious and honest man it is always directed, by the ordinary influence of the same Blessed Spirit. It is enough for us to know that every sentence of Scripture is infallibly true; and, as the learned and ingenious prelate observes, it is of no consequence to us, whether that truth be secured by direct inspiration, or by that virtual superintendance of the Spirit, which, as it enables every true Christian to work out his own salvation with fear and trembling, preserved the apostles and evangelists, when writing the books of the New Testament, from falling into error. It would be improper to conclude this Introduction, without taking some notice of the immense number of various readings which the industry of modern criticism has discovered in the various manuscripts, ancient and modern, of the Greek Scriptures. These variations are indeed very numerous, and they have given much uneasiness to some weak minds; but there is not one of them that in the smallest degree affects a single article of the Christian faith, or a single duty of Christian practice. The greater number of them go no farther than to substitute one word for another of the same import as connected with the context—as Kvolo, for Qiao, and vice versa, or the contraction zzy... for zai yo. In some manuscripts of great antiquity, passages of considerable length are indeed omitted, as the story of the woman taken in adultery, which we have in the received text of the Gospel by St John viii. 8–12. and what is said of the heavenly witnesses in the first epistle of the same apostle, v. 7, 8. but of these passages the former affects not in the smallest degree either the faith or the practice of a Christian ; and I would have a very poor opinion of the intellectual powers of that man, who should lay great stress on the latter as a proof of the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity. “It is not agreed among the orthodox themselves, that this text relates to the consubstantiality of the three persons in the Godhead. It is my opinion that it does not; and this I take to be the reason, that it is so seldom alleged by the ancient writers in proof of the Trinity.” These are the words of Bishop Horsley, (c) and they express sentiments that have long been mine; but the consubstantiality of the three persons in the Godhead can be proved by so many other texts, of which the authenticity has never been called in question, that we should lose nothing essential to the faith by abandoning this text as an interpolation. The faith, indeed, is so completely supported by every manuscript, that Michaelis somewhere informs us, that his countrymen, who expected to accomplish great things by the collation of manuscripts and ancient versions, had, when