Page images

tle to the Hebrews ? If our apostle was equal to such an undertaking, is there any thing unreasonable in supposing, that when he wrote a letter which he hoped the learned Jewish doctors would read, he would be at more than ordinary pains in perfecting its style, to render it more the object of their attention ? For he knew, that if they were convinced of the truth of the gospel by the reasonings in this letter, their conversion would smooth the way to the conversion of their brethren, and make the Judaizing Christians, in particular, lay aside their attachinent to the law of Moses, whereby they had so greatly disturbed the peace of the church.

3. The passages in the epistle to the Hebrews, which many have thought unsuitable to the character of an apostle, and which have been urged as proofs that this epistle cannot be Paul's, are the following.—Heb. ii. 1. On this account we ought to attend the more earnestly to the things which were heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.-Ver. 3. How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which beginning lo be spoken by the Lord, was confirmed to us by them who heard him ?--And chap. xii. 1. Laying aside every weight, and the sin easily committed, Let us run with perseverance the race set before us. In these passages, the writer of the epistle, it is said, speaks of himself as one not distinguished, in any respect, from common Christians. And more particularly in the second passage, according to Grotius and Le Clerc, he speaks of himself as one of those who received the knowledge of the gospel, not from Christ, but from his apostles. Whereas Paul, in his epistle to the Galatians, hath repeatedly asserted that he received his knowledge of the gospel, not from men, but immediately from Christ himself. To these things Wetsten, Pierce, Lardner, and others, reply, that it is Paul's manner to join himself with those to whom he writes; especially when going to say any thing dishonourable to them. Thus, Ephes. ii. 3. With whom also we all had our conversation formerly, in the lusts of our flesh, doing the inclinations of the flesh, and of the imaginations, and were by nature children of wrath, even as others. In some passages also of his epistles, he ranks himself with the idolatrous Gentiles, Tit. iii. 3. as doth the apostle Peter likewise, 1 Epist. iv. 3.-Farther, Grotius and Le Clerc are wrong in saying, that the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews speaks of himself, chap. ii. 3. as having received the knowledge of the gospel from them who heard Christ preach the great salvation. What he says is, that the great salvation which. was begun to be spoken by the Lord, was confirmed to him by them who heard Christ : that is, the glad tidings of the great salvation given to Paul by Christ, were confirmed to him by the preaching of the apostles. Now, so far is this from being unsuitable to Paul's character as an apostle, that in his other acknowledged cpistles, he often appealed to the testimony of the eye-witnesses in confirmation of things made known to himself by revelation. For example; Acts xiii. 30, 31. I Cor. xv. 5, 6, 7, 8.

2 Tim. ii. 2.-In like manner, Peter appealed to the tes. timony of the other apostles, 1 Epist. i. 12. Which things have been reported to you by them who have fireached the gospel to you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. So also Jude appealed to the testimony of his brethren apostles in confirmation of the things which he wrote in his epistle. See ver. 17.

What hath been advanced under the foregoing heads, must, I think, convince impartial readers, that the want of Paul's name in the epistle to the Hebrews, the elegance of its style, and the passages which are said to be unsuitable to the character of an apostle, afford no presumption that it was not written by him. Wherefore, if there is positive evidence that the epistle to the Hebrcws was written by Paul, it ought to be received as his, notwithstanding some modern commentators, justly esteemed for their learning, have afiected to doubt of it.

III. It therefore remains to propose the arguments, by which St. Paul is proved to be the writer of the epistle to the Hcbrows.

1. The first is ; the most ancient and by far the most universal tradition of the church, hath constantly ascribed this epistle to the apostle Paul.-But of this enough hath been said in the first article of the present section, to which the reader is referred.

2. The second argument is ; if an author's method of handling his subjects, together with his manner of reasoning, are sure marks by which he may be distinguished, as all good judges of composition allow, we shall without hesitation pronounce Paul the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews. For therein we find that overflowing of sentiment briefly expressed, which distinguisheth Paul from all other writers. Therein also are abrupt transitions from the subject in hand to something subordinate, but at the same time connected with it, which having pursued for a little while, the writer returns to his subject, and illustrates it by arguments of great force, couched, sometimes in a short expression, and sometimes in a single word, all which are peculiar to Paul.-In this epistle likewise, contrary to the practice of other writers, but in Paul's manner, we meet with many elliptical expressions which are to be supplied, either from the foregoing, or from the following clauses. In it also, as in Paul's acknowledged epistles, we find reasonings addressed to the thoughts of the reader, and answers to objections not proposed, because being obvious, the writer knew they would naturally occur, and therefore needed to be removed. Lastly, after Paul's manner, the author of the epistle to the Hebrews, hath subjoined to his reasonings many exhortations to piety and virtue: All which, to persons who are judges of writing, plainly point out the apostle Paul as the author of this epistle.

3. In the epistle to the Hebrews there are many sentiments and expressions which Paul hath used in the epistles acknowledged to be his—For example, Heb. i. 2. Heir of all things, and ver. 3. an image of his substance, are parallel to Col. i. 15. The image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature.--Heb. ii. 7. Thou hast made him for a little while less than angels, Thou hast crowned him with glory and honour, and hast set him over the works of thy hands : are sentiments parallel to Philip. ii. 8. Being in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even the death of the cross. 9. And therefore God hath exceedingly exalted him, and hath bestowed on him a name which is above every name. 10. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, &c. See also Ephes. i. 20, 21, 22.-What is said Heb. v. 12, about milk as food for babes, but strong meat for full grown men, we have, 1 Cor. iii. 2. Milk I gave you and not meat, for ye were not then able to receive it.Heb. viii. 1. Who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens :. And chap. xii. 2. Sat down at the right hand of the throne of God; are expressions similar to Ephes. i. 20. And set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.—Heb. x. I. The law containing a shadow of good things to come : is the same with Col. ii. 17. Which are a shadow of things to come.Heb. x. 33. Ye were made a spectacle both by aflictions and repiroaches. Cor. iv. 9. We are made a spectacle to the world. Heb. xiii. 16. But to do good and to communicate forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased : is similar to Philip. iv. 18. where Paul, after thanking the Philippians for having communicated to his necessities, calls that good work, A smell of a sweet savour, a sacrifice acceptable, and weil pleasing to God.


VOL. v.

The writer of this epistle, chap. x. 30. quoting Deut. xxxii. 35. addeth the words, saith the Lord, which are neither in the Hebrew nor the LXX. just as Paul hath done in two of his citations from the Old Testament, Rom. xiv. 11. 2 Cor. vi. 17. -Heb. xiii. 18. The writer of this epistle saith, We are fully persuaded we have a good conscience. The same declaration Paul made before the council, Acts. xxiii. 1. and before Felix, Acts xxiv. 16. and to the Corinthians, 2 Cor. i. 12.-Heb. xii. 14. Follow peace with all men.-Rom. xii. 18. Live peaceably with all men.--Heb. xiii, 20. God is called, The God of peace. This title is given to God no where but in Paul's writings, Rom. xv. 33. xvi. 20. 2 Cor. xiii. 11. Philip. iv. 9. 1 Thess. v. 23. 2 Thess. iii. 16. The Lord of peace.—Heb. xii. 1, 2, 3. 12. There is a beautiful allusion to the athletic exercises, to which there are many similar allusions in Paul's other epistles. This remarkable coincidence of sentiments and expressions in the epistle to the Hebrews, with the sentiments and expressions in Paul's acknowledged epistles, is no small presumption that this epistle is of his writing also.

4. In the epistle to the Hebrews there are interpretations of some passages of the Jewish scriptures, which may properly be called Paul's, because they are to be found only in his writings. For example, Psal. ii. 7. My Son thou art : to day I have begotten thee ; is applied to Jesus, Heb. i. 5. just as Paul, in his discourse to the Jews in the synagogue of Antioch in Pisidia, applied the same passage of scripture to him ; Acts xiii. 33.-In like manner, the explication of Psal. viii. 4, and of Psal. cx. 1, given by Paul, 1 Cor. xv. 25. 27. is found, Heb. ii. 7,8.–So also the explication of the covenant with Abraham given, Heb. vi. 14. 18. is no where found but in Paul's epistle to the Galatians, chap. iii. 8, 9. 14. 18.

5. There are, in the epistle to the Hebrews, doctrines which none of the inspired writers have mentioned, except Paul.-In particular, the doctrines of the mediation and intercession of Christ, explained Heb. iv. 15, 16. vii. 22. 25. are no where found in the books of the New Testament, except in Paul's epistles, Rom. viii. 34. Gal. iii. 19, 20.—The title of Mediator, which is given to Jesus, Heb. vii. 22. viii. 6. ix. 15. xii. 24, is no where applied to Jesus, except in Paul's epistles, 1 Tim. ii. 5.-In like manner, none of the inspired writers except Paul, Heb. viii. 1.–4. have informed us that Christ offered the sacri. fice of himself in heaven. And that he did not exercise his priestly office on earth, but only in heaven.

6. In the epistle to the Hebrews, we find such enlarged views of the divine dispensations respecting religion ; such an extensive knowledge of the Jewish scriptures, according to their ancient and true interpretation, which Paul, no doubt, learned from the celebrated doctors under whose tuition he studied in his younger years at Jerusalem ; such a deep insight also into the most recondite meanings of these scriptures, and such admirable reasonings founded thereon for the confirmation of the gospel revelation, as, without disparagement to the other apostles, seem to have exceeded, not their natural abilities and education only, but even that degree of inspiration with which they were endowed. None of them but Paul, who was brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, and who profited in the Jewish religion and learning above many of his fellow-students, and who, in his riper years, was intimately acquainted with the learned men of his own nation, Acts ix. 1, 2. 14. xxvi. 4, 5. and who was called to the apostleship by Christ himself, when for that purpose he appeared to him from heaven, nay, who was caught up by Christ into the third heaven, was equal to the subjects treated of in this most admirable epistle.

Before the controversy concerning the author of the epistle to the Hebrews is dismissed, it may be proper to mention the argument by which Grotius hath endeavoured to prove that it was written by Luke, or at least was translated by him into Greek from the apostle's Hebrew autograph. His argument is this ; There are in the epistle to the Hebrews, some Greek words used in a sense which they have not in Paul's other epistles, but which are found in that sense in Luke's writings. Now, allowing this to be true, Grotius's conclusion by no means follows. For every one knows, that the use of a few words in an unusual sense, doth not constitute what is called a writer's style. Besides, Hallet hath shewed, that there are also in the epistle to the Hebrews, words used in an uncommon sense, which are not found in Luke's writings, but which Paul in his other epistles hath used in that sense. Wherefore, if in the former case it is argued that Paul was not the author of the epistle to the Hebrews, it may, in the latter case, be argued with equal reason, that Luke was neither the author nor the translator of that epistle. The truth is, as Hallet observes, “ There is nothing in the u argument either way. And if the argument had not been of.

« PreviousContinue »