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enius. For this cause, Clemens of Alexandria, supposed it to be written in Hebrew, and to be translated to Greek by St. Luke, the evangelist; the style of it, as he says, being like to that which is used in the Acts of the Apostles. And yet, the latter is acknowledged by all to be purely Greek, whereas the former is accused of being full of Hebraisms; so little weight is to be laid on these critical censures, wherein learned men perpetually contradict one another!
The sum of this objection is, that St. Paul was "rude in speech," which is manifest from his other epistles; but the style of this is pure, elegant, florid, such as hath no affinity with his, so that he cannot be esteemed the penman of it. But this is of little force; for Paul in that place is dealing with the Corinthians about the false teachers who seduced them from the simplicity of the gospel, by their vain, affected eloquence, and strains of rhetoric utterly unbecoming the work they pretended to be engaged in. Puffed up with this singularity, they contemned St. Paul as a rude, unskilful person, unable to rival them in their fine pompous declamations. In answer to this, he first tells them, that it became not him to use (σoiav 2078, 1 Cor. i, 7,) wisdom of words, or that kind of speech with which orators flourish; or (didanles avopaTIVES GOQias Roys, 1 Cor. ii, 13.) the cords that man's wisdom teacheth, an artificial composition of words to entice thereby; which he calls (υтɛроxиν λoy8, chap. ii, 1,) excellency of speech; and which, for many reasons, it did not become him to use for the same ostentatious design, as the seducers and false apostles did. Again; he answers only by concession, (ei de nai idiwins To hoyw) 'suppose I were rude or unskilful in speech,' doth the matter in question depend upon that? Is it not manifest to you, that I am not so in the
knowledge and mystery of the gospel? "He doth not confess that he is so, saith Austin, but grants it for their conviction." And in this sense concur Oecumenius, Aquinas, Lyra, Catharinus, Clarius, and Capellus, with many others on the place. If, then, by (Aoyos) speech be intended that enticing rhetoric wherewith the false teachers entangled the affections of their unskilful hearers, we may grant that St. Paul was unskilful in it, and are sure that he would make no use of it; and it is denied that any footsteps of it appear in this epistle; but if any thing of solid, convincing, unpainted eloquence be intended, it is evident that he neither did, nor justly could confess himself unacquainted with it. He, therefore, only made a concession of the objection made against him by the false teachers, to manifest, that they could gain no manner of advantage thereby.
Neither are his other epistles written in so low and homely a style as is pretended. I shall now only add the words of a person who was no incompetent judge in things of this nature: "When I well consider," says he, speaking of St. Paul," the genius and character of his "style, I confess I never found that grandeur in Plato "himself, which I find in him, when he thundereth out "the mysteries of God; nor that gravity and vehemence "in Demosthenes which I find in him, when he intends "to terrify our minds with a dread of the Divine judg"ment; or when he would solemnly warn them, or "draw them to the contemplation of his goodness, or "exhort to the performance of the duties of piety and "mercy. Nor do I find a more exact method of teach"ing in those great and excellent masters, Aristotle, and "Galen, than in him."* Upon the whole, I shall con
*Boz. Annot. in 2 Cor. xi, 6.
fidently assert, that there is no manner of defect in any of his writings; and that every thing (considering the matter and nature of it, in whose name, and to whom he wrote,) is expressed as it ought to be for the end proposed. And hence it is, that there is such a variety in his way and manner of expressing himself in sundry of his episties.
It may then be granted, though it be not proved, that there is some dissimilitude of style between this and the rest of Paul's epistles, since the argument treated of is diverse from that of most of the others; many circumstances in those to whom he wrote were singular; to which we may add, that the spring and mode of his reasonings are peculiarly suited to the condition of those to whom he wrote. Besides, in the writing of this epistle there was in him an especial frame and incitation of spirit, occasioned by many occurrences relating to it. His intense love to them to whom he wrote, being his kinsmen according to the flesh, affectionately remembered by himself, and inimitably expressed, Rom. ix, 1, 3, did undoubtedly exert itself in his treating about their greatest and nearest concernment. The prejudices and enmity of some of them against him,recorded in several places of "the Acts," and remembered by himself in some of his other epistles, lay also under his consideration. Much of the subject he treated about was a matter of controversy, which was to be debated from scripture, and according to which those with whom he dealt thought they might dissent from him, without any prejudice to their faith or obedience. Their condition also must needs greatly affect him; for they were now not only under present troubles, dangers, and fears, but (positi inter sacrum et saxum) at the very door of ruin, if not delivered from the snare of obstinate adherence to Mosaical institu
tions. Now they who know not what alterations in style, and manner of writing, these things will produce, in those who have ability to express their conceptions, and the affections wherewith they are attended, know nothing of this matter. Neither is it to be omitted, that there is such a coincidence in many phrases in this epistle, compared with the rest of St. Paul's, as will not allow us to grant such a discrepancy in style, as some imagine. Many of them have been gathered by others; and, therefore, I shall only point to the place from whence they are taken below.*
§6. 2. It is objected, that the epistle is (avertygaPos) unsubscribed; and, indeed, this being once taken notice of, and admitted as an objection, the rest were but men's needless diligence to give countenance to it. And the strength of it lies, not in its being without inscription; for so is the epistle of St. John, concerning which it was never doubted that he was the author of it; but, in the constant usage of Paul, prefixing his name to all his other epistles; so that unless a just reason can be given, why he should divert from that custom, it may be supposed to be none of his.
Now, by the title which is wanting, must be intended, either the mere titular superscription, 'the epistle of Paul to the Hebrews,' or the inscription of his name,
* See chap. i, 1, compared with 2 Cor. xiii, 3; chap. ii, 14; Gal. i, 16; Ephes. vi, 12; chap. ii, 2; with Ephes. v, 26; chap. iii, 1; with Phil. iii, 14. 2 Tim. i, 9, chap. iii, 16; with Rom. v, 2; chap. v, 14, with 1 Cor. xi, 6; Phil. iii, 15; Ephes. iv, 13, chap. v, 13, with 1 Cor. iii, 2; chap. vi, 2, with Col. ii, 2. 1 Thes. i, 5; chap. vii, 18, with Rom. viii, 3. Gal. iv, 9, chap. viii, 6, 9, with Gal. iii, 19, 20. 1 Tim. ii, 5, chap. x, 1, with Col. ii, 17; chap. x, 22, with 2 Cor. vii, 1; chap. x, 23, a phrase peculiar to St. Paul, and common with him, chap. x, 33, with 1 Cor. iv, 9; chap. x, 36, with Gal. iii, 22; chap, x, 39, with Thes. v, 2 Thes. ii, 14, chap. xii, 1, with 1 Cor. ix, 24; chap. xiii, 10, with Ephes. iv, 14; 1 Cor. ix, 13, 1 Cor. x, 18, chap. xiii, 15, 16, with Rom. xii; 1 Phil. iv, 8, chap. xiii, 20, with Rom. xv, 35 ¡ Rom .xvi, 20, 2 Cor. xiii, 2, Phil. iv, 9, 1 Thes. 5, 23.
joined with an apostolical salutation, in the epistle itself. For the first it is uncertain of what antiquity the titular superscription of any of the epistles are; but most certain, that they did not originally belong to them, and are, therefore, destitute of all authority. The transcribers, it may be, have at pleasure made bold with them, as with the subscription also of some of them, as to the place from whence they were sent, and the persons by whom. Though this, therefore, should be wanting, (and yet there is some variety. about it, both in ancient copies of the original, and translations, the most owning and retaining it;) yet it would be of no moment, seeing we know not whence any of them are. The remainder of the objection, then, is taken from the want of the usual apostolical salutation, as a part of the epistle.
Some of the ancients, and principally Theodoret, insist, that, if in writing to the Hebrews, Paul had prefixed his name, he might have seemed to transgress the line of his allotment, as the apostle of the Gentiles. But on this supposition it seems he did what was not meet for him to do; he entered on the charge of another, only he conceals his name, that he might not appear to be doing what was unwarrantable and unjustifiable!
Others insist on the prejudices that many of the Hebrews had against him. The persecuting party of the nation looked on him as an apostate, a deserter of the cause wherein he was once engaged, and one that taught apostasy from the law of Moses; yea, as they thought, that set the whole world against them and all that they gloried in, Acts xxi, 28, and what enmity is usually stirred up on such occasions all know, and his example is a sufficient instance of it. To which it has been justly added, that he was no ordinary person, but