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THE ARGUMENT. As I keep hearing the Epistles of the blessed Paul read, and that twice every week, and often three or four times, whenever we are celebrating the memorials of the holy martyrs, gladly do I enjoy the spiritual trumpet, and get roused and warmed with desire at recognizing the voice so dear to me, and seem to fancy him all but present to my sight, and to behold him conversing with me. But I grieve and am pained, that all people do not know this man, as much as they ought to know him ; but some are so far ignorant of him, as not even to know for certainty the number of his Epistles. And this comes not of incapacity, but of their not having the will to be continually conversing with this blessed man. For it is not through any natural readiness and sharpness of wit that even I am acquainted with as much as I do know, if I do know any thing, but owing to a continual cleaving to the man, and an earnest affection towards him. For, what belongs to men beloved, they who love them know above all others; inasmuch as they have them in their thoughts. And this also this blessed Apostle shews in what he said to the Philippians; Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, Phil. 1, because I have you in my heart, in my bonds, and in the defence and 7. confirmation of the Gospel. And so ye also, if ye be willing to apply to the reading of him with a ready mind, will need no other aid. For the word of Christ is true which saith, Seek, and ye Mat. 7, shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. But since the 7. more part of those who here gather themselves to us, have taken
Study of Holy Scripture needful to all. Rom. upon themselves the bringing up of children, and the care of a Argum. wife, and the charge of a family, and for this cause cannot afford
to give themselves wholly to this labour, be ye at all events awake to receiving those things which have been brought together by others, and set apart as much attentiveness to the hearing of what is said as ye give to the gathering together of goods. For even unseemly as it is to demand only as much of you, yet still one must be content if ye give as much. For from this it is that our countless evils have arisen—from ignorance of the Scriptures; from this it is that the plague of heresies has broken out so rife; from this that there are negligent lives; from this labours without advantage. For as men deprived of this daylight would not walk aright, so they that look not to the gleaming of the Holy Scriptures must needs be frequently and constantly sinning, in that they are walking in the worst of dark
And that this fall not out, let us hold our eyes open to the bright shining of the Apostle's words; for this man's tongue shone forth above the sun, and he abounded more than all the rest in the word of doctrine ; for since he laboured more abundantly than they, he also drew upon himself a large measure of the Spirit's grace. And this I constantly affirm, not only from his Epistles, but also from the Acts. For if there were any where a season for oratory, to him men every where gave place. Wherefore also he was thought by the unbelievers to be Mercurius, because he took the lead in speech. And as we are going to enter fully into this Epistle, it is necessary to give the date also
at which it was written. For it is not, as many think, before all 3 Mss. the others, but before all that were written from Rome, yet
subsequent to the rest, though not to all of them. For both
those to the Corinthians were sent before this: and this is plain Rom. from what he wrote at the end of this, saying as follows: But 15, 25.
I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints: for it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the
poor saints which are at Jerusalem. But in writing to the 1 Cor. Corinthians he says: If it be meet that I also, they shall go
with 16, 4.
me; meaning this about those who were to carry the money from thence. Whence it is plain, that when he wrote to the Corinthians, the matter of this journey of his was in doubt, but when to the Romans, it stood now a decided thing. And this being allowed, the other point is plain, that this Epistle was after those. But that to the Thessalonians also seems to me to be before the Epistle
to the Corinthians: for having written to them before, and having 1 Thes. moved the question of alms to them, when he said, But as touching 4, 9.
Dates of Epistles, how proved, not useless.
3 brotherly love, ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are laught of God to love one another. And indeed ye do il toward all the brethren: then he wrote to the Corinthians; for I know the 2 Cor. forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of 9, 2. Macedonia, thal Achaia was ready a year ago, and your zeal hath provoked very many; whence he shews that they were the first he had spoken to about this. This Epistle then is later than those, but prior to those from Rome ; for he had not as yet set foot in açáron the city of the Romans where he wrote this Epistle, and this he shews by saying, I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some Rom. 1, spiritual gift. But it was from Rome he wrote to the Philippians; wherefore he says, All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Phil. 4, Cæsar's household : and to the Hebrews from thence likewise, wherefore, he says, all they of Italy salute them. And the Heb. 13,
24. Epistle to Timothy, he sent also from Rome, when in prison; which seems to me, too, to be the last of all the Epistles; and this is plain from the end: For I am now ready to be offered, he 2 Tim.
4, 6. says, and the time of my departure is at hand. But that he ended his life there, is clear, I may say, to every one.
And that to Philemon is also very late, (for he wrote it in extreme old age, wherefore also he said, as Paul the aged, and now a prisoner in Phil. 9, Christ Jesus,) yet previous to that to the Colossians. And this again is plain from the end. For in writing to the Colossians, he says, All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, whom I have sent Col. 4, with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother. For this was that Onesimus in whose behalf he composed the Epistle to Philemon. And that this was no other of the same name with him, is plain from the mention of Archippus. For it is he whom he had taken as worker together with himself in the Epistle to Philemon, when he besought him for Onesimus, whom when writing to the Colossians he stirreth up, saying, Say to Archippus, Take heed to Col. 4, the ministry which thou hast received, that thou fulfil it. And that to the Galatians seems to me to be before that to the Romans. But if they have a different order in the Bibles, that is nothing wonderful, since the twelve Prophets, though not succeeding one another in order of time, but standing at great intervals from one another, are in the arrangement of the Bible placed in succession. Now Haggai and Zachariah (and others) prophesied after Ezekiel and Daniel, and many' after Jonah and Zephaniah and all the rest. I most Yet they are nevertheless joined with all those from whom they 3 Mss. stand so far off in time.
But let no one consider this an undertaking beside the purpose, nor a search of this kind a piece of superfluous curiosity : for the