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hierarchy, such as the Christian hierarchy became when it had settled into a regular establishment, have thought it necessary to prescribe concerning the qualification of a bishop, "that he should be no striker?" And this injunction would be equally alien from the imagination of the writer, whether he wrote in his own character or personated that of an apostle.
Chap. v. 23. "Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities."
Imagine an impostor sitting down to forge an epistle in the name of St. Paul. Is it credible that it should come into his head to give such a direction as this; so remote from every thing of doctrine or discipline, every thing of public concern to the religion or the church, or to any sect, order, or party in it, and from every purpose with which such an epistle could be written? It seems to me that nothing but reality, that is, the real valetudinary situation of a real person, could have suggested a thought of so domestic a nature.
But if the peculiarity of the advice be observable, the place in which it stands is more so. The context is this: "Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure. Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities. Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after." The direction to Timothy about his diet stands between two sentences as wide from the subject as possible. The
train of thought seems to be broken to let it in. Now when does this happen? It happens when a man writes as he remembers; when he puts down an article that occurs the moment it occurs, lest he
should afterwards forget it. Of this the passage before us bears strongly the appearance. In actual letters, in the negligence of real correspondence, examples of this kind frequently take place; seldom, I believe, in any other production. For the moment a man regards what he writes as a composition, which the author of a forgery would, of all others, be the first to do, notions of order, in the arrangement and succession of his thoughts, present themselves to his judgment and guide his
Chap. i. 15, 16. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit, for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe in him to life everlasting."
What was the mercy which St. Paul here commemorates, and what was the crime of which he accuses himself, is apparent from the verses immediately preceding: "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief." (Chap. i. 12, 13.) The whole quotation plainly refers to St. Paul's original enmity to the Christian
name, the interposition of Providence in his conversion, and his susequent designation to the ministry of the gospel and by this reference affirms indeed the substance of the apostle's history delivered in the Acts. But what in the passage strikes my mind most powerfully is the observation that is raised out of the fact. "For this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting." It is a just and solemn reflection, springing from the circumstances of the author's conversion, or rather from the impression which that great event had left upon his memory. It will be said, perhaps, that an impostor acquainted with St. Paul's history may have put such a sentiment into his mouth; or, what is the same thing, into a letter drawn up in his name. But where, we may ask, is such an impostor to be found? The piety, the truth, the benevolence of the thought ought to protect it from this imputation. For though we should allow that one of the great masters of the ancient tragedy could have given to his scene a sentiment as virtuous and as elevated as this is, and at the same time as appropriate and as well suited to the particular situation of the person who delivers it; yet whoever is conversant in these inquiries will acknowledge, that to do this in a fictitious production is beyond the reach of the understandings which have been employed upon any fabrications that have come down to us under Christian names.
THE SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY.
It was the uniform tradition of the primitive church, that St. Paul visited Rome twice, and twice there suffered imprisonment; and that he was put to death at Rome at the conclusion of his second imprisonment. This opinion concerning St. Paul's two journeys to Rome is confirmed by a great variety of hints and allusions in the epistle before us, compared with what fell from the apostle's pen in other letters purporting to have been written from Rome. That our present epistle was written whilst St. Paul was a prisoner is distinctly intimated by the eighth verse of the first chapter: "Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner." And whilst he was a prisoner at Rome, by the sixteenth and seventeenth verses of the same chapter: "The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain but when he was in Rome he sought me out very diligently and found me." Since it appears from the former quotation that St. Paul wrote this epistle in confinement, it will hardly admit of doubt that the word chain, in the latter quotation, refers to that confinement; the chain by which he was then bound, the custody in which he was then kept. And if the word "chain" designate the author's confinement at the time of writing the epistle, the next words determine it to have been written from
Rome: "He was not ashamed of my chain; but when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently." Now that it was not written during the apostle's first imprisonment at Rome, or during the same imprisonment in which the epistles to the Ephesians, the Colossians, the Philippians, and Philemon were written, may be gathered, with considerable evidence, from a comparison of these several epistles with the present.
I. In the former epistles the author confidently looked forward to his liberation from confinement, and his speedy departure from Rome. He tells the Philippians (chap. ii. 24), "I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly." Philemon he bids to prepare for him a lodging; "for I trust," says he, "that through your prayers I shall be given unto you." (Ver. 22.) In the epistle before us he holds a language extremely different: "I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day." (Chap. iv. 6-8.)
II. When the former epistles were written from Rome, Timothy was with St. Paul; and is joined with him in writing to the Colossians, the Philippians, and to Philemon. The present epistle implies that he was absent.
III. In the former epistles Demas was with St. Paul at Rome: "Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas greet you.' In the epistle now before us: "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is gone to Thessalonica."