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they, are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible. Let such an one think this, that such as we are in word by LETTERS when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present. Hence it has been argued that Paul had already written more than one even several letters to the Corinthians. But to this it is answered, that it is very common to speak of one epistle in the plural number, as all know: and Paul might well write as he here does, though he had hitherto sent only one epistle to the persons to whom he is writing. And from so long a letter as the first Epistle to the Corinthians is, men might form a good judgment concerning his manner of writing LETTERS, though they had seen no other."

3. In Col. iv. 16. Paul desires the Colossians to send to Laodicea the epistle which they themselves had received, and to send for another from Laodicea, which was also to be read at Colossæ. His words are these: When this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea: — και την εκ Λαοδικείας ἵνα και ύμεις αναγνώτε. Now the former part of this verse is clear: but it is not so clear what epistle St. Paul meant by ή επιβολή εκ Λαοδικείας. These words have been interpreted three different ways.

(1.) Η επιβολη εκ Λαοδικείας has been explained, as denoting an epistle, which had been written from Laodicea to Paul.' This epistle has been supposed to have contained several questions, proposed to the Apostle by the Laodiceans, which he answered in the epistle to the Colossians; and hence it has been inferred that Paul ordered them to read the former, as being necessary toward a right understanding of the latter. But this opinion is erroneous: for if Paul had received an epistle from Laodicea, the capital of Phrygia, he would have returned the answer to the questions, which it contained, to Laodicea itself, and not to a small town in the neighbourhood. Besides, there would have been a manifest impropriety in sending to the Colossians answers to questions, with which they were not acquainted, and then, after they had the epistle, which contained the answers, desiring them to read that which contained the questions.

(2.) Another opinion is, that Paul meant an epistle which he himself had written at Laodicea, and sent from that place to Timothy, because the Greek subscription to the first epistle to Timothy is gos Τιμοθεον εγραφη απο Λαοδίκειας. This opinion is defended by Theophylact but it is undoubtedly false. For it is evident from Col. ii. 1. that Paul had never been at Laodicea, when he wrote his epistle to the Colossians and if he had, he would not have distinguished an epistle, which he had written there, by the place where it was written, but by the person or community to which it was sent. It was not Paul's custom to date his epistles: for the subscriptions, which we now find annexed to them, were all added at a later period, and by unknown persons. If, therefore, he had meant an epistle, which

1 Lardner's Works, 8vo. vol. vi. p. 668.; 4to. vol. iii. pp. 467, 468.

he himself had written at Laodicea, he certainly would not have denoted it by the title of ἡ επιςολη εκ Λαοδικείας.

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(3.) There remains, therefore, no other possible interpretation of these words, than an epistle, which the Laodiceans had received from Paul,' and which the Colossians were ordered to procure from Laodicea, when they communicated to the Laodiceans their own epistle.

But, as among the epistles of Paul in our own canon, not one is addressed to the Laodiceans in particular, the question again occurs: Which, and where is this epistle?

1. There exists an epistle, which goes by the name of Paul's epistle to the Laodiceans. This, however, is undoubtedly a forgery, though a very antient one: for Theodoret, who lived in the fifth century, in his note to the passage in question, speaks of it as then extant. But this is manifestly a mere rhapsody, collected from Paul's other epistles, and which no critic can receive as a genuine work of the apostle. It contains nothing which it was necessary for the Colossians to know, nothing that is not ten times better and more fully explained in the epistle, which Paul sent to the Colossians; in short, nothing which could be suitable to Paul's design.

2. As the epistle, therefore, which now goes by the name of the epistle of Paul to the Laodiceans, is a forgery, the apostle might mean an epistle, which he had sent to the Laodiceans, and which is now lost. An objection, however, to this opinion, (namely, that he had sent an epistle to the Laodiceans in particular) may be made from Col. iv. 15., where Paul requests the Colossians to salute Nymphas, who was a Laodicean. If he had written a particular epistle to the Laodiceans, he would have saluted Nymphas rather in this epistle, than in that to the Colossians.

3. There remains a third explanation, which is not clogged with the preceding difficulty, namely, that Paul meant an epistle, which he had written partly, but not solely for the use of the Laodiceans. This epistle, in all probability, is that which is called the epistle to the Ephesians; because Laodicea was a church within the circuit of the Ephesian church, which was the metropolitan of all Asia. And as Ephesus was the chief city of Proconsular Asia, this epistle may refer to the whole province.1

The preceding are the most material instances, which have afforded occasion for the supposition that Paul wrote epistles, which are now lost. There are indeed three or four other examples, which have been conjectured to refer to lost epistles; but as these conjectures are founded on misconceptions of the apostle's meaning, it is unnecessary to adduce them. Thus it is evident that no part of the New Testament is lost, and that the canon of Scripture has descended to our times, entire and uncorrupted.

1 Michaelis, vol. iv. pp. 124-127. Edwards on the Perfection, &c. of Scripture, vol. iii. pp. 470, 471.





I. The writers of the Old and New Testaments had a perfect knowledge of the subjects they relate; and their moral character, though rigidly tried, was never impeached by their keenest opponents.-II. If there had been any falsehood in the accounts of such transactions as were generally known, they would have been easily detected for these accounts were published among the people, who witnessed the events related by the historians. 1. This proved at large concerning the Old Testament; and, 2. Concerning the New Testament; the writers of which were contemporary with and eye-witnesses of such events, and have related such actions as could not have been recorded if they had not been true; they were moreover neither deceived themselves, nor did or could deceive others, in their relations, not being either enthusiasts or fanatics, but, on the contrary, men of the strictest integrity and sincerity.III. The credibility of the Scriptures further confirmed by the subsistence to this very day of monuments instituted to perpetuate the memory of the principal facts and events therein recorded. And, IV. By the wonderful establishment and propagation of Christianity.

SATISFACTORY as the preceding considerations are, in demonstrating the genuineness, authenticity, and uncorrupted preservation of the books of the Old and New Testaments as antient writings, yet they are not of themselves sufficient to determine their credibility. An author may write of events which have happened in his time and in the place of his residence, but should he be either credulous or a fanatic, or should we have reason to suspect his honesty, his evidence is of no value. In order, therefore, to establish the credibility of an author, we must examine more closely into his particular character, and inquire whether he possessed abilities sufficient to scrutinise the truth, and honesty enough faithfully to relate it as it happened.

That the histories contained in the Old and New Testaments are credible; in other words, that there is as great a regard to be paid to them, as is due to other histories of allowed character and reputation, is a FACT, for the truth of which we have as great, if not greater, evidence than can be adduced in behalf of any other history. For the writers of these books had a perfect knowledge of the subjects which they relate, and their moral character, though rigidly tried, was never impeached by their keenest opponents: if there had been any falsehoods in the accounts of such transactions as were public and gene

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rally known, they would easily have been detected; and their statements are confirmed by monuments subsisting to this very day, as also by the wonderful propagation and establishment of Christianity.


I. In the first place, The writers of the books of the Old and New Testament had a perfect knowledge of the subjects which they relate and their moral character, though rigidly tried, was never impeached by their keenest opponents.

The authors of these books were, for the most part, contemporary with and eye-witnesses of the facts which they have recorded, and concerning which they had sufficient opportunity of acquiring full and satisfactory information: and those transactions or things which they did not see, they derived from the most certain evidences, and drew from the purest sources. If a man be deemed incompetent to record any thing but that which he sees, history is altogether useless: but a satisfactory degree of certainty is attainable on events, of which we were not eye-witnesses; and no one who reads these pages doubts the signing of Magna Charta, or the battles of Agincourt or Waterloo, any more than if he had stood by and seen the latter fought, and the seals actually affixed to the former. We owe much to the integrity of others; and the mutual confidence, on which society is founded, requires with justice our assent to thousands of events, which took place long before we were born, or which, if contemporary with ourselves, were transacted at some remote spot on the face of the globe. Who will affirm that Rapin or Hume were incompetent to produce an history, which, making some allowances for human prejudices, is worthy the confidence and the credit of our countrymen? Yet neither the one nor the other was the witness of more than an insignificant portion of his voluminous production. But if, by drawing from pure sources, a man is to be deemed competent to relate facts, of which he was not an eye-witness, then the writers of the Bible, in those particular events of which they were not eye-witnesses, but which they affirm with confidence, are entitled to our credit.1

1. Thus, it is evident in the four last books of the Pentateuch, that Moses had a chief concern in all the transactions there related, as legislator and governor of the Jews. Every thing was done under his eye and cognizance; so that this part of the history, with the exception of the last chapter of Deuteronomy (which was added by a later writer), may, not improperly, be called the history of his life and times. He speaks of himself, it is true, in the third person; but this affords no ground for suspecting either the genuineness of his writings or the credibility of their author. Xenophon, Cæsar, and Josephus write of themselves in the third person; yet no one ever questions the genuineness or credibility of their writings on that account. And for the first book of the Pentateuch, or that of Genesis, we have already seen that he is competent to the relation of every event, and that he had sufficient authority for all the facts therein recorded.2

1 Dr. Collyer's Lectures on Scripture Facts, p. 553.

2 See pp. 55-60. supra.

In like manner, the authors of the subsequent historical books, as Joshua, Samuel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, relate the transactions of which they were witnesses; and where they treat of events prior to their own times, or in which they did not actually participate, they derived their information from antient coeval and public documents, with such care, as frequently to have preserved the very words and phrases of their authorities; and very often they have referred to the public annals which they consulted. Moreover, they published their writings in those times when such documents and annals were extant, and might be appealed to by their readers; who so highly approved of their writings, and recommended them to posterity, that they were preserved with more care than the more antient and coeval monuments, which were lost in the lapse of time. So also the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and others, where they relate events that took place before their own times, derived their narratives of them from the authentic documents just noticed; but concerning the facts that occurred in their own times, which indeed, for the most part relate to the degeneracy, corruption, or idolatry of their countrymen, whom they reproved for those crimes, and urged them to repentance, they are contemporary and native witnesses. But, supposing the authors of any of these books, -as those of Joshua and Samuel,- were not known, it would not follow (as some have objected) that because it was anonymous, it was therefore of no authority. The venerable record, called Doomsday Book, is anonymous, and was compiled from various surveys (fragments of some of which are still extant) upwards of seven hundred and thirty years since; yet it is received as of the highest authority in the matters of fact of which it treats. If this book has been preserved among the records of the realm, so were the Jewish records, several of which (as the books of Jasher, Abijah, Iddo, Jehu, and others that might be mentioned) are expressly cited. The books above mentioned are therefore books of authority, though it should be admitted that they were not written by the persons whose names they bear.1

2. In like manner, the writers of the New Testament were con

1 "If any one having access to the journals of the lords and commons, to the books of the treasury, war-office, privy council, and other public documents, should at this day write an history of the reigns of George the first and second, and should publish it without his name, would any man, three or four hundreds or thousands of years hence, question the authority of that book, when he knew that the whole British nation had received it as an anthentic book, from the time of its first publication to the age in which he lived? This supposition is in point. The books of the Old Testament were composed from the records of the Jewish nation, and they have been received as true by that nation, from the time in which they were written to the present day. Dodsley's Annual Register is an anonymous book, we only know the name of its editor; the New Annual Register is an anonymous book; the Reviews are anonymous books; but do we, or will our posterity, esteem these books as of no authority? On the contrary, they are admitted at present, and will be received in after ages, as authoritative records of the civil, military, and literary history of England, and of Europe. So little foundation is there for our being startled by the assertion, 'It is anonymous and without authority.' Bp. Watson's Apology, in answer to Paine's Age of Reason, p. 36. 12mno. London, 1820.

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