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pels, proceeds to the Acts, and considers what he allegeth thence as the doctrine, particularly of the apostles. And Mill supposeth, that? in the most ancient times the Acts were placed with the epistles, but before them, as the first book of that part. However it is observable, that the Cambridge manuscript has the Acts of the Apostles, though it has not the epistles. But then Mill says, that ^ volume once had the epistles, as well as the gospels. And therefore, probably, the book of the Acts stood at the head of that part which contained the epistles. And for certain, I think it best that the historical books of the New Testament should appear together. Accordingly, as we have seen, the Acts do in many ancient catalogues immediately follow the gospels. And I wish that Mr. Wetstein had followed that order which now prevails, and that he had not placed the Acts of the Apostles, as he has done, at the head of the catholic epistles, and after the epistles of St. Paul.
3. In the catalogues lately alleged, we have seen St. Paul's epistles sometimes preceding the catholic epistles, at other times following them. Here the order, as seems to me, is of little consequence. But I rather prefer our present order, which places St. Paul's epistles first: because, excepting only the epistle to the Hebrews, all of them have been all along universally acknowledged: whereas among the seven catholic epistles, there are but two, which have not been at some times contradicted books. Moreover St. Paul's epistles immediately follow the historical books in Eusebius. Whence I am willing to infer, that it is the most ancient order.
4. I must say something about the order of St. Paul's epistles severally. Our order is that of his thirteen epistles, which have been universally acknowledged, and then the epistle to the Hebrews, about which there had been doubts in the minds of many for a good while.
Among the ancients there is some variety. To the Romans, the Corinthians, the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Philippi- ans, the Colossians, the Thessalonians, Hebrews, Timothy, Titus, Philemon. Sor in the Festal Epistle of Athanasius, and8 in the Synopsis ascribed to him, and1 in the catalogue of the council of Laodicea, and u in the Alexandrian manuscript. In others may be found our present order, as v in the iambic poem of Amphilochius, the w Syrian catalogue in Ebedjesu, x Jerom, in his article of St. Paul, y Augustine in his work of the christian doctrine, z (Ecumenius, and many others.
P Primo loco posita sunt Acta Apostolorum. Subsecutae sunt epistolae
indubitato apostolicae, quas corrogare undique lieeret. Proleg. num. 195.
iMarci evangelio suffixa est etiam notula, significans, post illud proxime poni librum Actuum. Verum haec est scribae recentioris. Sequens enim folium, quod prima facie duodecim postremos versus epistolae tertiae B. Joannis exhibet, altera primam partem capitis primi Actorum, clare indicat Exemplar hoc jam olim, praeter Evangelia et Acta, complexum fuisse catholicas saltern epistolas. Mill. Proleg. num. 1270.
r Vol. iv. p. 155.
Epiphanius, observing how Marcion had disturbed the order of St. Paul's epistles, says, thata in some editions of the New Testament, the epistle to the Hebrews was the fourteenth, in others the tenth, being placed before the two epistles to Timothy, and the epistles to Titus and Philemon: and thatb in all good copies the epistle to the Romans was the first, not that to the Galatians, as Marcion had disposed them.
Theodoretc and Chrysostomd have particularly taken notice, that the epistle to the Romans was placed first, though it was not the first in the order of time.
Concerning the reason of that disposition of the epistle to the Romans, Theodoret observes, * that6 it had been placed
*first, as containing the most full and exact representation
*of the christian doctrine in all its branches. But some say, * it had been so placed out of respect to the city to which * it had been sent, as presiding over the whole world.'
I have sometimes thought that first observation might be applied to all St. Paul's epistles, as the ground and reason of their situation. For the first five epistles, that to the Romans, the two to the Corinthians, and the epistles to the Galatians, and the Ephesians, are the largest of St. Paul's epistles. And all that follow are shorter, excepting the epistle to the Hebrews, which has been placed after those sent to churches, or last of all, after those likewise which were sent to particular persons, because its genuineness was not universally allowed of.
But the other, the dignity of the cities and people to whom the epistles were sent, has been more generally supposed to be the ground and reason of the order in which they are placed. How this is represented by Mill, may appear in his own words, whichf I place below.
8 See Vol. iv. p. 163. 'P. 182. « Vol. v. p. 82
v Vol. iv. p. 292. * P. 321, 322. * p. 451.
y P. 494. z Vol. v. D. 154, 155.
a Haer. 42. p. 373. C.
b Uavra de ra avnypafya ra awa Kcii aXrjQrj Rrjv Trpog' Po^tatsg f^a^t Trpwn/r, ai>x' we ffv Mapjcuuv, Tijv irpoQ FaXarae cra£a£ TrpwrT/v. H. 42. p. 373. D. c Vol. v. p. 17. d Vol. iv. ch. cxviii. num. vii. 2.
e llporera^acFL Se Rrjv irpog 'Pbi/iai&g, a»e TravrTOSairrjv ex&ffav SidaffKoXiav, Kcli Rrjv Twv SoypaTuv cucpifieiav Sia TrXsiovwv tiiSctffKeffav. TtvfQ tie on Mi Rrjv Tto\iv TifjiwvrtQ, *. X. Theod. Pr. in Ep. S. P. T. III. p. 6. VOL. VI. Z
I also shall show this as well as I can. Epistles to churches are placed first. Afterwards those to particular persons. The epistles to churches are placed very much according to the rank of the cities or places to which they were sent. The epistle to the Romans is placed first, because Rome was the chief city of the Roman empire. The two epistles to the Corinthians come next, because Corinth was a large, and polite, and renowned city. Galatia was a country in which were several churches, and therefore the epistle to them might be placed before others, written to one church only. Nevertheless, the epistles to the Romans and the Corinthians have been preferred, as is supposed, upon account of the great eminence of those two cities. The epistle to the Ephesians follows next, because Ephesus was the chief city of Asia, strictly so called. Afterwards follow the epistles to the Philippians, the Colossians, and the Thessalonians. But how to account for this order, according to the method we here observe, 1 do not well know. Colosse indeed might be reckoned a city of inferior rank, and Philippi was a Roman colony. But Thessalonica was the chief city of Macedonia, in which Philippi stood. And if the epistles were disposed according to the dignity of places, it is not easy to conceive why the two epistles to the Thessalonians were placed after those to the Philippians, and the Colossians. So that in this method, as seems to me, the order of the epistles is made out in but a lame and imperfect manner. And there may be reason to apprehend that the brevity of the two epistles to the Thessalonians, especially of the second, procured them this situation, though they are the first written epistles of our apostle, and indeed the first written of all the sacred scriptures of the New Testament.
Among the epistles to particular persons, those to Timothy have the precedence, as he was a favourite disciple of St. Paul, and those epistles are the largest and fullest. The epistle to Titus comes next, as he was an evangelist. And that to Philemon is last, as he was supposed by many to be only a private christian. Undoubtedly Titus was a person of greater eminence, and in a higher station than Philemon. Moreover, by many the design of that epistle was thought to be of no great importance.
f la iis vero disponendis, (excepta una ad Hebraeos, de qua mox,) spectata est omnino dignitas ecclesiarum et hominum, quibus missae sunt. Epistola ad ecclesias Galatiae, quae erat integra provincia, merito praecedebat illas, quae ad unam datae erant civitatem, Laodiceam, Philippos, Colossenses, Thessalonicam. His tamen praeponere visum est epistolas ad Romanos et Corinthios, ob eminentem harum urbium dignitatem, qua provinciam istam superare videbantur. Epistolas integris ecclesiis inscriptas sequuntur, quae ad singulos homines datae sunt. Proleg. num. 237.
The epistle to the Hebrews is fitly enough placed after the rest, because for a while it was doubted of, as before said. I likewise think it to be the last written of all St. Paul's epistles.
5. Some learned men, who have examined the chronology of St. Paul's epistles, have proposed, that they should be placed in our Bibles according to the order of time. Dr. Wall, at the end of the preface to his Critical Notes upon the Testament, has an argument to this purpose.
But first, it will be difficult to alter the order which has been so long established in all editions of the original Greek, and in all versions. Secondly, The order of their times has not been yet settled. Many, I suppose, are of opinion, that Dr. Wall's order is not right. Must the order be altered again and again, to suit every one's fancy? That would create a very troublesome and disagreeable confusion.
I think that the knowledge of the order in which St. Paul's epistles were written, must be very entertaining and useful: and I have done what is in my power to find it out. But I am far from desiring that they sliould be placed, and bound up together, according to my calculations. Before an attempt of that kind is made, the order of time should be settled, and determined, to the general satisfaction of all learned and inquisitive men. And judicious christians, who have studied the chronological order of the writings of the New Testament, may have an advantage by it, though the books are continued in their present order.
6. I say nothing here concerning the order of the seven catholic epistles, because I have spoken to it sufficiently in a preceding s chapter.
7. Finally, the book of the Revelation is now placed the last of all, and has been generally so placed in former times, and very fitly, ash Mill says in his observations upon the order of the books of the New Testament, * it being1 prophetical of things to be hereafter fulfilled, and therefore of a 'different kind from the rest: and having also near the end 'that remarkable clause, ch. xxii. 18, 19, containing a caution against adding to, or taking from it: which may be 'applied to all the books of scripture.' To which might be added, that there are not wanting divers reasons to think it is the last written of all the books of the New Testament.
g See this Vol. p. 161, 162.
h Agmen vero Novi Fcederis librorum claudit Apocalypsis; quae cum circa diversum plane a reliquis versetur argumentum, atque minus apte inter evangelia et epistolas media fuisset interposita, commodissime in fine omnium collocata fuit; quoniam tanquam liber propheticus futura respicit adhuc implenda; ac denique insignem illam habet in calce clausulam de non addendo quidpiam isti prophetiae, vel ab ea detrahendo: qua etiam ad omnes N. T. hbros accommodata, canonem universum veluti obsignare convenientissimum videbatur. Mill. Proleg. num. 239.
That the Books of the New Testament, consisting of a collection of sacred writings, in two parts, one called Gospels, or Evanyelicon, the other Epistles, or Apostle, or Apostles, or Apostolicon, were early known, read, and made use of by christians.
THAT the gospels, the Acts, and the epistles of the New Testament, or divers of those epistles, were soon well known, much read, and collected together, may be argued from internal marks and characters, and from testimony. 1. Internal marks and characters are such as these.
1. It is obvious from the nature of the thing. Who composes and publishes any works without desiring to have them perused? It is very likely, therefore, that the authors of the books of the New Testament, who were at the pains of writing histories, or epistles, would take care that they should be known. The same zeal that prompted any man to write, would induce him to provide for the publication. The importance of the subject would justify a concern to spread the work. AH must allow, that there never were, and that there cannot be, any writings, containing more important facts and principles. To suppose that any of these writers were indifferent about the success and acceptance of what they had composed, is very absurd and unreasonable.
2. All the writings, of which the New Testament consists, were addressed to some, who would set a great value on them, and would willingly recommend them to others. All the epistles, and the Revelation, as is manifest, are sent to