« AnteriorContinuar »
Prerace...Sect. I. That Paul is the author of this epistle...II. Of the people
to whom this epistle was written ; of the occasion of writing it; and of thc
PREFACE.....Sect. I. The history of Simon Peter... II. The authenticity
of this epistle established..... III. Of the persons to whom it was directed.....
OF ST. PAUL'S
EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS.
He authenticity of the epistle to the Hebrews having been disputed, both in ancient and modern times, it will be necessary, before other matters are introduced, to state fairly, and to examine impartially, the arguments on each side of the question, that we may know where the greatest weight of evidence lieth. This is the more necessary, not only because the chief doctrines of the gospel are more expressly asserted and more fully explained in the epistle to the Hebrews, than in any other of the inspired writings ; but because these doctrines are confirmed in that epistle, by testimonies brought from the writing. of Moses and the prophets. Wherefore, if the authenticity of the epistle to the Hebrews is established, and it is shewed to be the production of an inspired apostle, the peculiar doctrines of the gospel, being confirmed therein by the Jewish as well as by the Christian revelation, they will appear in so clear a light, that the controversies concerning them, which have so long divided the church, ceasing, greater unity of faith and love, it is to be hoped, will at length take place, than hath hitherto subsisted among the disciples of Christ.
Of the Author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Although the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews hath in no part of it introduced his own name, we are certain, that the
persons to whom it was sent were at no loss to know who he was. For in three passages of the epistle, as well as by the messenger who carried it, he made himself known to the Hebrews to be the apostle Paul. The first is, chap. x. 34. Ye suffered with me in my bonds ; alluding to some assistance which the Hebrews had given to Paul, during his imprisonments in Jerusalem and Cæ
See however, chap. x. 34. note 1.-The second passage is, chap. xiii. 18 : Pray for us.-19. And I the more earnestly beseech you to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.
A request of this kind, from an unknown person, would have been perfectly ridiculous.—The third passage is, chap. xiii. 23. Know that our brother Timothy is sent away, with whom, if he come soon, I will see you. For, as Timothy was often called by Paul, his brother, (2 Cor. i. 1. Col. i. 1.) and was known, not only in the Gentile countries but in Judea, to be Paul's constant companion, by telling the Hebrews that his brother Timothy was sent away on some errand, and by promising, if he returned soon, to bring him with him when he visited them, this writer clearly discovered himself to be the apostle Paul. But if the Hebrews knew that the letter which they received was written by Paul, we may very well suppose, with Hallet, that as often as they had occasion to speak of their letter, they would speak also of its author ; and, that the persons to whom they spake of him, would in like manner hand down his name to those who came after them.
Since therefore, the writer of this epistle, from the time it was delivered to the Hebrews, must have been known by tradition to be Paul, it is reasonable to expect that it would have been quoted as his by some of the authors of the first age. Nevertheless, in the most ancient Christian writings now remaining, this epistle is not quoted at all, till the end of the second century ; at which time it began to be mentioned by some, whilst it was overlooked by others. This silence of the ancients was in a great measure owing, I imagine, to the Hebrews themselves, who were at no pains to make their letter known to the Gentiles, supposing that it had little or no relation to them.If the reader desires to know who of the ancients have quoted this cpistle, and who have neglected to mention it, he will find a full account of both in Hallet's introduction to this epistle, and in Lardner on the Canon, vol. ii. p. 331.–To his account Lardner subjoins the following historical remark : “It is evi“ dent that this epistle was generally received, in ancient times,