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have not seen my face in the flesh.” Col. ch. ii. 1. Although, therefore, St. Paul had formerly.met with Philemon at some other place, and had been: the immediate instrument of his conversion, yet Philemon's faith and conduct afterwards, inasmuch as he lived in a city which St. Paul had never visited, could only be known to him by fame and reputation.
No. IV. The tenderness and delicacy of this epistle have long been admired : “ Though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient, yet for love's sake I rather beseech thee, being such a one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ. I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds." There is something certainly very melting and persuasive in this, and every part of the epistle. Yet, in my opinion, the character of St. Paul prevails in it throughout. The warm, affectionate, authoritative teacher is interceding with an absent friend for a beloved convert.
He urges his suit with an earnestness, befitting perhaps not so much the occasion, as the ardour and sensibility of
his own mind. Here also, as every where, he shows himself conscious of the weight and dignity of his mission; nor does he suffer Philemon for a moment to forget it: “I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient.” He is careful also to recall, though obliquely, to Philemon's memory, the sacred obligation under which he had laid him, by bringing to him the knowledge of Jesus Christ ; “ I do not say to thee, how thou owest to me even thine own self besides.” Without laying aside, therefore, the apostolic character, our author softens the imperative style of his address, by mixing with it every sentiment and consideration that could move the heart of his .correspondent. Aged and in prison, he is content to supplicate and entreat. Onesimus was rendered dear to him by his conversion and his services: the child of his affliction, and " ministering unto him in the bonds of the Gospel.” This ought to recommend him, whatever had been his fault, to Philemon’s forgiveness : “ Receive him as myself, as my own bowels.”
Every thing, however, should be voluntary. St. Paul was determined that Philemon's compliance should flow from his own bounty:
“ Without thy
mind would I do nothing, that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.;" trusting nevertheless to his gratis tude and attachment for the performance of all that he requested, and for more : 14 Have ing confidence in thy obedience, I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also de more than I say." - St. Paul's discourse at Miletus; his speech before Agrippa ; his Epistle to the Romans, as hath been remarked (No. VIII.); that to the Galatians, chap. iv. 11-20;.to the Philippians, chap. i. 29-chap. ii. 2; the Second to the Corinthians, chap. vi. 1-13; and indeed some part or other of almost every epistle exhibits examples of a similar applican tion to the feelings and affections of the persons whom he addresses. And it is observable, that these pathetic effusions, drawn for the most part from his own sufferings and situation, usually precede a command, soften a rebuke, or mitigate the harshness of some disagreeable truth.
THE SUBSCRIPTIONS OF THE EPISTLES.
Six of these subscriptions are false or improbable; that is, they are either absolutely contradicted by the contents of the epistle, or are difficult to be reconciled with them.
1. The subscription of the First Epistle to the Corinthians states that it was written from Philippi, notwithstanding that, in the sixteenth chapter and the eighth verse of the epistle, St. Paul informs the Corinthians that he will 6
tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost;" and notwithstanding that he begins the salutations in the epistle by telling them “ the churches of Asia salute you ;” a pretty evident indication that he himself was in Asia at this time.
II. The Epistle to the Galatians is by the subscription dated from Rome; yet, in the epistle itself, St. Paul expresses his surprise “ that they were so soon removing from him that called them;" whereas his journey to
Rome was ten years posterior to the conversion of the Galatians. And what, I think, is more conclusive, the author, though speaking of himself in this more than
other epistle, does not once mention his bonds, or call himself a prisoner; which he had not failed to do in every one of the four epistles written from that city, and during that imprisonment.
III. The First Epistle to the Thessalonians was written, the subscription tells us, from Athens; yet the epistle refers expressly to the coming of Timotheus from Thessalonica (ch. iii. 6); and the history informs'us, Acts, xviii. 5, that Timothy came out of Macedonia to St. Paul at Corinth.
IV. The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians is dated, and without any discoverable reason, from Athens also. If it be truly the second; if it refer, as it appears to do (ch. ii. 2), to the first, and the first was written from Corinth, the place must be erroneously assigned, for the history does not allow us to suppose that St. Paul, after he had reached Corinth, went back to Athens.
V. The First Epistle to Timothy the subscription asserts to have been sent from Laodicea; yet, when St. Paul writes, “ I be