Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

circumstance which is found in our present First Epistle to the Corinthians; namely, the case and punishment of the incestuous person. Upon the whole, then, we see, that it is capable of being inferred from St. Paul's own words, in the long extract which we have quoted, that the First Epistle to the Corinthians was written after St. Paul had determined to postpone his journey to Corinth ; in other words, that the change of his purpose with respect to the course of his journey, though expressly mentioned only in the Second Epistle, had taken place before the writing of the First: the point which we made out to be implied in the history, by the order of the events there recorded, and the allusions to those events in the First Epistle. Now this is a species of congruity of all others the most to be relied upon. It is not an agreement between two accounts of the same transaction, or between different statements of the same fact, for the fact is not stated; nothing that can be called an account is given; but it is the junction of two conclusions, deduced from independent sources, and deducible only by investigation and comparison.

This point, viz. the change of the route, being prior to the writing of the First Epistle, also falls in with, and accounts for, the manner in which he speaks in that epistle of his journey. His first intention had been, as he here declares, to “ pass by them into Macedonia :” that intention having been previously given up, he writes, in his First Epistle, “ that he would not see them now by the way,” i. e. as he must have done upon his first plan; but that he trusted to tarry awhile with them, and possibly to abide, yea and winter with them.” i Cor. chap. xvi. 5,6. It also accounts for a singularity in the text referred to, which must strike every reader: “ I will come to you when I pass through Macedonia ; for I do pass through Macedonia.” The supplemental sentence, “ for I do pass through Maces donia,” imports that there had been some previous communication upon the subject of the journey; and also that there had been some vacillation and indecisiveness in the apostle's plan: both which we now perceive to have been the case. The sentence is as much as to say, “ This is what I at last resolve upon.” The expression, “ bræv Mars. ooviav dienow,” is ambiguous; it may denote either “ when I pass, or when I shall have passed, through Macedonia :" the considerations offered above fix it to the latter sense. Lastly, the point we have endeavoured to make out, confirms, or rather, indeed, is necessary to the support of a conjecture, which forms the subject of a number in our observations upon the First Epistle. that the insinuation of certain of the church of Corinth, that he would come no more amongst them, was founded on some previous disappointment of their expectations.

No. V. But if St. Paul had changed his purpose before the writing of the First. Epistle, why did he defer explaining himself to the Corinthians, concerning the reason of that change, until he wrote the Second ? This is a very fair question; and we are able, I think, to return to it a satisfactory answer. The real cause, and the cause at length assigned by St. Paul for postponing his visit to Corinth, and not travelling by the route which he had at first designed, was the disorderly state of the Corinthian church at the time, and the painful severities which he should have found himself obliged to exercise, if he had come amongst them during

the existence of these irregularities. He was willing therefore to try, before he came in person, what a letter of authoritative objurgation would do amongst them, and to leave time for the operation of the experie ment. That was his scheme in writing the First Epistle. But it was not for him to acquaint them with the scheme. After the epistle had produced its effect (and to the utmost extent, as it should seem, of the apostle's hopes); when he had wrought in them a deep sense of their fault, and an almost passionate solicitude to restore themselves to the approbation of their teacher; when Titus (chap. vii. 6, 7. 11.) had brought him intelligence “ of their earnest desire, their mourning, their fervent mind towards him, of their sorrow and their penitence; what carefulness, what clearing of themselves, what indignation, what "fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what revenge," his letter, and the general concern occasioned by it, had excited amongst them; he then opens himself fully upon the subject. The affectionate mind of the apostle is touch ed by this return of zeal and duty. He tells them that he did not visit them at the time proposed, lest their meeting should have been attended with mutual grief; and with grief to him imbittered by the ' reflection, that he was giving pain to those, from whom alone he could receive comfort. I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness; for, if I make you sorry, who is he that maketh me glad but the same which is made sorry by me?" (chap. ii. 1, 2.) that he had written his former epistle to warn them beforehand of their fault, “ lest when he came he should have sorrow of them of whom he ought to rejoice;” (chap. ii. 3.) that he had the farther view, though perhaps unperceived by them, of making an experiment of their fidelity, “ to know the proof of them, whether they were obedient in all things,” (chap. ii. 9.) This full discovery of his motive came very naturally from the apostle, after he had seen the success of his measures, but would not have been a seasonable communication before. The whole composes a train of sentiment and of conduct resulting from real situation, and from real circumstance, and as remote as possible from fiction or imposture.

No. VI.
Chap. xi. 9. « When I was present with

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »