Imatges de pàgina

“ those very persons to whom the Holy Spirit revealed those “ things which are of the highest authority in religion, some“ times wrote only as faithful historians, and at other times as “ prophets under the influences of divine inspiration ; and that “ these writings are so different from each other, that the one “ sort are to be imputed to themselves as the authors, the “ other to God as speaking by them; the former are of service 6 to increase our knowledge, the other of authority in religion, " and canonical.” So far he. To support which sentiment, I will only add the instance of Solomon's writings, who, though undoubtedly inspired in some of his writings, yet can by none be supposed to be so in all, as when he wrote his Herbal, his Five Thousand Songs, his Dissertations in Natural Philosophy, about Birds, Insects, Fishes, &c.a And, if we will credit Josephus, “some books of Magic and Conjuration, in which “ were described effectual methods of casting out devils, and “ curing distempers by enchantment, with forms of exorcising “ evil spirits, so that they should never return;" an art, says that historian, which our countrymen to this day retain from Solomon b. Such books (notwithstanding the famous historian pretends, “ that the arts which they contain were given him “ by inspiration”) I hope the most bigotted advocate for tradition would be unwilling to admit into his canon, if they should be ever found.

3. The bare citation of any book in an allowedly sacred writing is not sufficient to prove that book ever to have been canonical. If it does, we must then receive as the word of God the Greek poems of Aratus, Menander, and Epimenides; for passages are taken out of each of these by St. Paulc. And yet this is all which the church of Rome can say for several of those books which they suppose are now wanting in the canon. a See 1 Kings iv. 32. &c.

ginning of his poem called Phæno• Παρέσχε δ' αυτώ μαθείν ο Θεός, και την κατά των δαιμόνων τέχνην εις ωφέλει- p. 314, 315. et. lib. 5. p. 597. where αν και θεραπείας τους ανθρώπους. 'Επωδάς

more of the same poet's τε συνταξάμενος αίς παρηγορείται τα νοσή. . ματα, και τρόπους εξορκώσεων κατέλειπεν, i Cor. xv. 33. the verse, o desgovoru οίς ενδούμενα τα δαιμόνια ως μηκέτ' επαν

ήθη χρήσθ' ομιλίαι κακαι is taken out of sadzīv ixdoárovos. Antiq. Jud. 1. 8. c. 2.

Tit. i. 12. the verse, Keños úsi yenthose words, του γαρ γένος εσμέν. He σται, κακά θηρία, γαστέρες αργα is taken was a poet of Cilicia, where St. Paul out of Epimenides. was born. The words are in the be


See Clem. Alex. Strom. lib. ).

there are

verses with this.

Menand. in Thaid.

C Aratus is cited Act. xvii. 28. for

But he who has a mind to read more of this controversy may see it well managed by Whitakerd, Rivet e, Spanheim f, and Turretin 8, in the places referred to at the bottom of the page, as far as it concerns any books supposed to have been once received by the old Jewish church, but now lost.

CHAP. III. The opinion of the most learned men, grounded on 1 Cor. v. 9.

that St. Paul wrote another Epistle to the Corinthians besides the two now extant, examined and confuted, by a critical discussion of the place, and the testimony of Clemens

Romanus. HAVING in the foregoing chapter attempted some general proof, that no truly canonical book is now wanting, I apprehend I shall not do justice to that subject, if I do not further observe, that many learned men, not only of the Romish, but reformed church, have been persuaded, that St. Paul wrote several other Epistles to the converted churches, besides those which we now have. This Calvin, Beza, Grotius, Capellus, and many others have asserted: Drusius has carried the matter somewhat further h, and tells us, “if these pieces were now “extant, they ought to be esteemed as much canonical as any “ others of his writing.” The only foundation of this hypothesis is, that St. Paul seems to refer to a former Epistle of his, 1 Cor. v. 9. whence, say these learned men, it is probable he “ wrote another Epistle to the church of Corinth, besides “ the two which are extant, and several other Epistles now “ quite perished.” Mr. Le Clerc is so very sanguine on this head, as to suppose “ there might be good reasons for tearing “ and burning them after they were read, and that we should “ not have been at all the less disciples of Christ, if several of “ those Epistles, which we now have, had been lost i.” But as this opinion exceedingly lessens the authority of the canon, I shall here briefly discuss it, and critically inquire into that text, which is the principal and indeed only foundation of it. But before I come more particularly to make any inquiry, or examine into this matter, I desire it may be carefully observed, that the examination I here propose does no way interfere with the inquiry I propose to make into the books of the catalogue above; the question in that case being concerning books, which, for the most part, were certainly once really extant, but are to be proved spurious and apocryphal: but the question here is, whether such and such pieces ever were in being at all; which are supposed to have been really wrote by the apostles. Inasmuch then as all that has been urged on the affirmative side of the question is gathered from that one text aforementioned, I apprehend, all that is necessary will be a particular discussion of that. In order to which I observe,

d Controvers. I. de Script. Quæst.

VI. c. 9.

• Isagog. ad Script. Sacr, c. 6.
f Dub. Evang. Par. 2. Dub. 88, 89.
, Instit. Theol. Loc. 2. Quæst. 7.

h Præterit. 1. 6. in loc.

i Supplement to Dr. Hammond, and the Vindication of Dr. Hammond, p. 53, 54.

That it has been thought by many, that St. Paul wrote an Epistle to the Corinthians, before either of those of his Epistles to that church, which are now extant. This hypothesis is founded on those words of St. Paul, 1 Cor. v. 9. I wrote to you in an epistle, not to company with fornicators : which Epistle, they suppose, must necessarily have been one preceding this. This has been generally the opinion, not only of the writers of the Romish church, but also of many of the most celebrated protestants; such as Calvink, Beza!, Drusiusm, Pareus", Grotius°, Mr. Le Clercp, Dr. Collins9, Capellus, Dr. Mill', and others, who make no doubt to affirm, that “ St. Paul did not

only, besides the Epistles, which we now have under his “ name, write this former Epistle to the Christians at Corinth, “ but several others, now lost as this is; and that we have

very great reason with gratitude to acknowledge the kind “ providence of God, which has preserved to us so many of “ the apostle's writings.” In answer to this opinion I would observe,

1. That it is very improbable, because, not one of the ancient Christian writers have ever mentioned any such epistle ; nor is there to be found, in all antiquity, any citation out of it,

k Comment. in loc.
I Annot. in loc.
m Præterit, lib. 6. in loc.
"Annot. in loc.
• Annot. in loc.

P Annot. in loc.

9 See his English Annotations on this Epistle.

See Dr. Mill's Prolegom. §. 8.


or so much as the most distant reference to it: it being a thing never thought of by any of the fathers, that St. Paul wrote more than the fourteen Epistles we now have. Hence the most early writers of Christianity, who are supposed to have been contemporary with St. Paul himself, such as Clemens Romanus, Polycarp, &c. though they several times take passages out of his Epistles, and even out of those two which are now extant, to the church at Corinth, have not the least obscure intimation of


other. 2. There are very many circumstances, both relating to the time and occasion of that, which we now call the first Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, which will evidently prove, that it was the first he ever wrote to that church. For the proof of this, I must refer the reader to what is hereafter said in the particular dissertation on this Epistle.

3. I offer it as a conjecture to the learned in Christian antiquities, whether the following passage in Clemens Romanus do not prove the Epistle now called the first to the Corinthians, to be the first which St. Paul wrote to that church. The words of Clemens are ș, “ Take again the Epistle of the blessed apo“stle Paul into your hands. What was it that he first wrote

in the beginning of his Epistle? He did truly by the Spirit write to you concerning himself, and Cephas, and

Apollos, because even at that time you were formed into “ divisions or parties.” The passage he refers to of St. Paul is plainly that in the first chapter of the present first Epistle, v. 12. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, &c. Clemens, 66 this is what St. Paul first of all wrote to you, or 6 what he wrote the first time of his writing ;" than which I cannot see what else it was possible for Clemens to mean by the words apôtoy šypawey. Now hence I argue, that if Clemens, who is supposed contemporary with St. Paul, and to have wrote this Epistle to the church of Corinth, not long after St. Paul, did imagine that apostle had wrote no epistle to that church before that which he there cites, and which is now

Αναλάβετε την επιστολής του μακα- αυτού τε Κηφά, και 'Απόλλω, διά το και ρίου ΙΙαύλου του αποστόλου: τί πρώτον τότε προσκλήσεις υμάς πεποιήσθαι. Εpist. υμίν εν αρχή του ευαγγελίου έγραψεν, επ' 1. ad Corinth. p. 106. αληθείας πνευματικώς επέστειλεν υμίν περί


to you


- Now," says


[ocr errors]

called the first, we have the fairest reason to conclude, there was no one written sooner.

The only objection which I can think of, that can be made against this, is, that what Clemens calls Paul's Gospel, (Eủayyeniou] I translate his Epistle. To which it is easy to answer, that besides that the words, which he cites, are in the forementioned place of his Epistle, it has been often observed by Clement's commentatorst, that the word gospel is used frequently for any of the sacred books of the New Testament, as the word law is frequently put for all the books of the Oldu.

4. It being thus probable, that St. Paul did not write a former Epistle to the Corinthians, we have just ground to interpret the contested passage in a different sense from that commonly received ; and this, I think, may be very easily done, without any violence done to the expression, of this same Epistle, and what he had before wrote to them in it. "Eygallo úpīv

Tŷ TITO, I have wrote to you in the Epistle, or this Epistle, i.e. I have told you in the foregoing part of my letter. So he had indeed several times in the preceding part of the chapter, ver. 2. 5. 6. that they should have no conversation with the incestuous person. I know it is commonly objected, that this sense cannot be just, because of the words ver. 11. But now I have written to you ; “ which,” say Beza, Pareus, and Le Clerc, “must needs be meant of another distinct time “ of writing, and not the same;" and this indeed is the main strength of their opinion. But a close consideration of the context will make it very clear, that no such inference can be justly drawn from the words, Nuvi sè šypapa úzīv, But now I have written to you. In the beginning of the chapter he had declared to them, it was their duty to avoid the society of fornicators, and such sort of persons. It is plain from ver. 10. he apprehended they were in danger of mistaking his meaning, by extending the prohibition so far, as not to have any converse at all with the world; i. e. with the Gentiles, who were generally guilty of these crimes. The apostle found it necessary to prevent their mistake, and therefore repeats what he had before wrote, and tells them how they should understand it, viz.

t See Patr. Junius and Dr. Fell in loc.

u John X. 34. xiv. 21.

xv. 25. and 1 Cor.

« AnteriorContinua »