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** heed to the miniftry which tholi haft re** ceived in the Lord that thou fulfil it'k (iv. 17). The neceflary refult is, that Onefimus alfo was of the fame city, agreeably to what is faid of him, " he is one of *( you." And this refult is the effect, either of truth which produces confiftency without the writers thought or care^ or of a contexture of forgeries confirming and falling in with one another by a (pecies of fortuity of which I know no example* The fuppofition of defign, I think, is excluded, not only becaufe the purpofe to which the defign muft have been direfted, viz. the verification of the paflage in our epiftle, in which it is faid concerning Oneiimus, "he is one of you,*' is a purpofe which would be loft Upon ninety-nine readers out of a hundred; but becaufe the means made ufe of are too circuitous to have been the fubjecT: of affectation and contrivance. Would a forger, who had this purpofe in view, have left his readers to hunt it out, by going forward and backward from one epiftle to another, in order

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to connect Onefimus with Philemon, Philemon with Archippus, and Archippus with Colofle? all which he muft do before he arrives at his difcovery, that it was truly faid of Onefimus, "he is one of you."

CHAP.

CHAP. IX.

.

THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE
THESSALONIANS.

No. I.

IT is known to every reader of fcripture, that the firft epiftle to the Theflalonians fpeaks of the coming of Chrift in terms which indicate an expectation of his fpeedy appearance: "For this we fay unto you by '* the word of the Lord, that we which are "alive and remain unto the coming of the "Lord fhall not prevent them which are "afleep. For the Lord himfelf fhall defcend "from heaven with a fhout, with the voice "of the archangel, and with the trump of "God, and the dead in Chrift fhall rife "firft; then 'we which are alive and re"main,{hz\]becaughtuptogetherwiththem "in the clouds—But ye, brethren, are not "in darknefs, that that day mould overtake "you as a thief" (chap. iv. 15, 16, 17. chap. v. ver. 4).

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Whatever other conftru&ion thefe texts may bear, the idea they leave upon the mind of an ordinary reader, is that of the author of the epiftle looking for the day of judgement to take place in his own time, or near to it. Now the ufe which I make of this circumftance, is to deduce from it a proof that the epiftle itfelf was not the production of a fubfequent age. Would an impoftor have given this expectation to St. Paul, after experience had proved it to be erroneous B or would he have put into the apoftle'a mouth, or, which is the fame thing, into writings purporting to come from his hand, expreffions, if not neceHarily conveying, at leaft eaiily interpreted to convey, an opinion which was then known to be founded in miflake? I (bate this as an argument to. ihew that the epiftle was contemporary with St. Paul, which is little lefs than to mew that it actually proceeded from" his pen., For I queftion whether any ancient forgeTies were executed in the life.time of the perfon whofe name they bear; nor was th» jjrimitive fituatioa of the church likely to, give birth to fuch an attempt*

No, No. II.

Our epiftle concludes with a direction, that it'mould be publicly read in the church to which it was addrefled: "I charge you "by the Lord, that this epiftle be read ** unto all the holy brethren." The exiftence of this claufe in the body of the epiftle is an evidence of its authenticity; becaufe to produce a letter purporting to have been publicly read in the church of Theflalonica, when no fuch letter in truth had been read or heard of in that church, would be to produce an impofture deftructive of itfelf. At leaft, it feems unlikely that the author of ah impofture would voluntarily, and even officioufly, afford a handle to fo plain an objection. Either the epiftle was publicly read in the church of Theflalonica during St. Paul's life-time, or it was not. If it was, no publication could be more authentic, no fpecies of notoriety more unqueftionable, no method of preferving the integrity of the copy more fecure. If it was not, the claufe we produce would reU 4 main

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