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THE SECOND EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS. No I.
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 hath 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 the same confident boasting." (Chap. ix. 2-4.) 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 a 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 ine of the Lord, 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, 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 first five 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 at 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 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." (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. 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, exceeding 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." (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 the wrong, nor for his cause that had suffered wrong; but that our care for you, in the sight of God, might appear unto you." There were, it is true, various topics of blame noticed in the First Epistle; but there was none, except this of the incestuous marriage, which could be called a transaction between private parties, or of which it could be said that one particular per
son had "done the wrong," and another particular person "had suffered it." Could all this be without foundation? or could it be put in the Second Epistle, merely to furnish an obscure sequel to what had been said about an incestuous marriage in the First?
3. In the sixteenth chapter of the First Epistle, a collection for the saints is recommended to be set forwards at Corinth: "Now, concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, so do ye." (xvi. 1.) In the ninth chapter of the Second Epistle, such a collection is spoken of, as in readiness to be received: "As touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you, for 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 hath provoked very many." (ix. 1, 2.) This is such a continuation of the transaction as might be expected; or, possibly it will be said, as might easily be counterfeited; but there is a circumstance of nicety in the agreement between the two epistles, which, I am convinced, the author of a forgery would not have hit upon, or which, if he had hit upon it, he would have set forth with more clearness. The Second Epistle speaks of the Corinthians as having begun this elemosynary business a year before: "This is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago." (viii. 10.) "I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago." (ix. 2.) From these texts it is evident, that something had been done in the business a year before. It appears, however, from other texts in the epistle, that the contribution was not yet collected or paid; for brethren were sent from St. Paul to Corinth, to make up their bounty." (ix. 5.) They are urged "to perform the doing of it." (viii. 11.) "And every man was exhorted to give as he purposed in his heart." (ix. 7.) The contribution, therefore, as represented in