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the epistle was written between the first and second of these journeys. If St. Paul, had been already twice at Corinth, this supposition must be given up: and every argument or observation which depends upon it falls to the ground. Again, the Acts of the Apostles not only record no more than two journeys of St. Paul to Corinth, but do not allow us to suppose that more than two such journeys could be made or intended by him within the period which the history comprises; for from his first journey into Greece to his first imprisonment at Rome, with which the history concludes, the apostle's time is accounted for. If therefore the epistle was written after the second journey to Corinth, and upon the view and expectation of a third, it must have been written after his first imprisonment at Rome, i. e. after the time to which the history extends. When I first read over this epistle with the particular view of comparing it with the history, which I chose to do without consulting any commentary whatever, I own that I felt myself confounded by this text. It appeared to contradict the opinion, which I had been led by a great variety of circumstances to form, concerning the date and occasion of the epi
stle. At length however it occurred to my thoughts to inquire, whether the passage did necessarily imply that St. Paul had been at Corinth twice; or, whether, when he says “ this is the third time I am coming to you," he might mean only that this was the third time that he was ready, that he was prepared, that he intended to set out upon his journey to Corinth. I recollected that he had once before this purposed to visit Corinth, and had been disappointed in this purpose ; which disappointment forms the subject of much apology and protestation, in the first and second chapters of the epistle. Now, if the journey in which he had been disappointed was reckoned by him one of the times in which “ he was coming to them," then the present would be the third time, i. e. of his being ready and prepared to come; although he had been actually at Corinth only once before. This conjecture being taken up, a farther examination of the passage and the epistle, produced proofs which placed it beyond doubt. 6 This is the third time I am coming to you:” in the verse following these words he adds, “ I told you before, and furetel you, as if I were present the second time; and being absent, now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare.” In this verse, the apostle is declaring beforehand what he would do in his intended visit: his expression therefore, “ as if I were present the second time,” relates to that visit. But, if his future visit would only make him present among them a second time, it follows that he had been already there but once.Again, in the fifteenth verse of the first chapter, he tells them, “ In this confidence, I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit;" Why a second, and not a third benefit? why deuregav, and not τριτην χαριν if the τριτον ερχομαι, in the fifteenth chapter, meant a third visit? for, though the visit in the first chapter be that visit in which he was disappointed, yet, as it is evident from the epistle that he had never been at Corinth from the time of the disappointment to the time of writing the epistle, it follows, that if it was only a second visit in which he was disappointed then, it could only be a second visit which he proposed now. But the text which I think is decisive of the question, if any question remain upon the subject, is the fourteenth verse of the twelfth chapter : “ Behold the
third time I am ready to come to you :" Ids tgotov storplas exw sadeir. It is very clear that the τριτον ετοιμως εχω ελθειν of the twelfth. chapter and the rgitov Teto egxopar of the thirteenth chapter, are equivalent expressions, were intended to convey the same meaning, and to relate to the same journey. The comparison of these phrases gives us St. Paul's own explanation of his own words; and it is that very explanation which we are contending for, viz. that tgitov, T8TO 'EgXquat does not mean that he was coming a third time, but that this was the third time he was in readiness to come τριτον ετοιμως εχων. I do not apprehend, that after this it can be necessary to call to our aid the reading of the Alexandrian manuscript, which gives Etoipides syw sadew in the thirteenth chapter as well as in the twelfth ; or of the Syriac and Coptic versions, which follow that reading; because I allow that this reading, besides not being sufficiently supported by ancient copies, is probably paraphrastical, and has been inserted for the purpose of expressing more unequivocally the sense, which the shorter expression TQITOV T8TO sexopeat was supposed to carry. Upon the whole, the matter is sufficiently certain nor do I propose it as a new
interpretation of the text which contains the difficulty, for the same was given by Grotius long ago; but I thought it the clearest way of explaining the subject, to describe the manner in which the difficulty, the solution, and the proofs of that solution, successively presented themselves to my inquiries. Now, in historical, résearches, a reconciled; inconsistency becomes a positive argument. First, because an impostor generally guards against the appearance of inconsistency; and secondly, because, when apparent inconsistencies are found, it is seldom that any thing but truth renders them capable of reconciliation. The existence of the difficulty proves the want or absence of that caution, which usually, accompanies the consciousness of fraud ; and the solution proves, that it is not the collusion of fortuitous propositions which we have to deal with, but that a thread of truth winds through the whole, which preseryes every circumstance in its place.
No. XII. Chap. x. 14–16. “ We are come as far as to you also, in preaching the Gospel of Christ; not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men’s labours; but