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But no one has faid so much for it as the present Archbishop of Canterbury, in his Preliminary Discourse to his Translation of the Apoftolick Fathers, Chap. IX. §. 12, 13, 14, 15. But that this opinion also is improbable, will presently appear from what follows; for,
1.) Had the Apostle intended here any Epistle wrote to Laodicea, he could not, with any tolerable propriety of speech, have expressed himself as he does; he must, as the Greek Scholiafts fay, rather have wrote προς Λαοδικέας, Or Λαοδικείαν, than en Aaodiusias, i. e. he would have faid, the Epistle to Laodicea, and not the Epiftle from the Laodiceans.
2.) Had he meant any Epistle of his writing, it cannot be thought but he.would have called it his Epiftle. How improbable is it, that when he was speaking of an Epistle of his own writing to Laodicea, he thould stile it that from Laodicea, and not rather say, My Epistle which I wrote to Laodicea ? These two arguments hold equally against both the above-mentioned opinions; but besides
It argues against the first, viz. Sir Norton Knatchbull's and Le Clerc's, that Paul refers to fome Epistle of his to Laodicea, now lost, that no one of the primitive Christians, besides Marcion, till the fourth century, has ever made the least mention of such Epiftle. None of the fupposed Apoftolical writers, as Clemens, Hermas, &c. none of the Fathers of the first, second, or third century, feem so much as to have heard of fuch an Epiftle; the Syriack interpreter also knew nothing of it. Further, who, that has ever heard of the great zeal of the first Christians, can imagine they would, through any careJefsnefs, lose a treasure of so much value ? Laying therefore all this together, with the general proof that no Canonical book is loft, Part II. Ch. III. and the opposition that is in the conftruction of the Apostle's words to this interpretation, I need say no more to confute an opinion fo groundless and precarious.
The other of Grotius and his followers is indeed more confiderable ; but against this I argue,
(1.) That the criticisms of Grotius, by which he supports it, viz. his reading την Λαοδικείας for την έκ Λαοδικείας, i. e, the
Epistle of the Laodiceans, for the Epistle from the Laodiceans, is precarious, and plainly formed to serve a turn; it being contrary to all manuscripts that were ever yet seen, and all the Versions, except the corrupt barbarous Vulgate, and all the citations of this place in the writings of the Fathers.
(2.) That if this reading were the true one, and Paul called it the Epistle of the Laodiceans, it does not follow that he meant an Epistle of his to them; but his words may with equal, and more propriety of speech, be construed of their writing it, than of their receiving it, and his writing it. Nor is that of any force which he urges out of the civil law, and Dr. Hammond after him, That an Epistle is his, to whose messenger it is delivered, especially when it is received by him ; for the decrees of the law in after times can be no proper explications of, or make any alterations in, the idiom of a language. Besides, what is a more common way of speech, than to say, That is the Epifle of such an one, when we mean, the person who wrote it? But I must not omit observing, that the main strength of this opinion lies in this, urged by Grotius, Hammond, Whitby, and after them by Dr. Mill, viz. that Marcion gave the title of The Epistle to the Laodiceans to that which is now called The Epiftle to the Ephesians : but neither is this of any weight; for
1.) Though Tertullian (as above) says this of Marcion, yet I observe, that in the same place he reckons this an interpolation of Marcion's, and not true, Marcion ei titulum aliquando interpolare geftiit, viz. Marcion took upon him to give this false title to the Epistle to the Ephesians ; and if he by a false act did this, how could Paul do it? The authority they depend upon is directly against them ; which I wonder these learned men did not observe. It is in vain therefore for Grotius to say, “ Cur in eâ re mentiretur, &c.” There was no reafon for Marcion to lie or forge in this instance; and no less vain for Dr. Mill to say, Though Marcion was a Heretick, yet there was no heresy in this. It is enough that it is false, and Tertullian himself calls it a forgery.
a See Dr. Mill, Var. Lect, in loc.
2.) It is very probable, Tertullian was mistaken in afferting this of Marcion, viz. that he changed the titles ; because, as I have above shewn, Epiphanius is more worthy of credit ; seeing he faw and wrote a criticism upon Marcion's Apostolicon, in which, he says, he reckoned the Epistle to the Ephesians, and that to the Laodiceans, as two distinct and different Epiftles. There are indeed fome other things urged in favour of this opinion, as that of Grotius and Dr. Whitby, ver. 9. that there is a great resemblance between the Epistle to the Colossians, and that to the Ephesians, both in the doctrines and exhortations, and in the very expressions ; so that it is not to be wondered the Apostle would have that Epistle also read to the Colossians, to let them fee that he wrote the same doctrine, and gave
the same instruction to other Churches, and there. fore this Epistle here ftiled 'Ex Acadıxelas, was the fame with that now intitled, To the Ephesians; but if this is an argument of any force, it will prove the very contrary to their purpose ; for if the two Epistles were so exactly alike, there seems to be the lefs reason for his orders to the Coloffians to procure it, and read it among them. The other arguments of the same fort I may perhaps elsewhere consider, but shall omit now, judging what I have said fufficient to prove, that St. Paul wrote no Epistle to the Laodiceans, which is now loft; so that the Epistle to the Ephesians did not formerly go under that denomination.
Having had here occasion thus to discuss these words of St. Paul, I shall only subjoin two or three more opinions concerning them, with that which seems to me most probable upon the whole.
1. Theophylact * fupposes, Paul meant the first Epiffle which he wrote to Timothy, αύτη γαρ εκ Λαοδικείας έγραφη, becaufe it was dated from Laodicea. But this is not probable;
(1.) Because the Epistle to Timothy was written after this to the Colofians. Of which hereafter.
(2.) Because these subscriptions, or dates of the Canonical. Epiffles are of very precarious and uncertain original, not
• In Col. iv. 16,
being affixed to them till a considerable time after they were first written.
(2.) Dr. Lightfoot proposes a like conjecture, viz. that if any one be not satisfied with the explication of the words as spoke of an Epistle sent by the Laodiceans to Paul, let him, says he, rather understand them of the first Epistle of John, as written by him from Laodicea, than think it was an Epistle written by Paul from Laodicea, which is lofta. To which I answer ;
1.) That it is not certain, whence this Epistle was written.
2.) That it is probable, if Paul had meant John's Epiftle, he would have mentioned John's name.
3.) Others suppose it the same as the Epifle to Philemon, « whom Paul calls his fellow-labourer, exercising his ministry « in the neighbour city of Laodicea, which was sent by One« fimus, and for the sake of Onesimus, who was a Coloflian, « was to be read at Colofs. But this is a conjecture fo en" tirely groundless, as to deserve no answer."
That upon the whole, which seems most probable is, that Paul means fome Epistle written by the Laodiceans, which perhaps he sent together with his own Epistle to the Colossians, as what might be useful to be read among them; and in this opinion I find several of those learned men, whom I have mentioned in the beginning of this discourse. However, it is very
evident from the various interpretations of these words of St. Paul, what it was which first gave occasion to the forgery of an Epiftle under his name to the Laodiceans ; and from what bas been said concerning them, that St. Paul wrote no such Epiftle.
Harmony of the New Test. p. 137 and 153. * See Mf. Adam's Exposition on
the place, among those which go under the general name of Mr. Pool's English Annotations.
CHA P. VIII.
The present Epifle to the Laodiceans is not the same with the
antient one under that Title in Marcion's Apoftolicon.' It is spurious and Apocryphal. It is composed out of St. Paul's genuine Epistles, especially that to the Philippians. Eras
mus's Opinion of it. A Conjecture concerning its Original. III.
Laodiceans, is not the same which was in Marcion's Apostolicon, and which was seen by Epiphanius.
1. I gather this from those words which Epiphanius produces out of that Epiftle to the Laodiceans, which was in Marcion's Apoftolicon, viz. There is one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in all a; but neither these words, nor any like them, are to be found in the present Epistle; the old one therefore, and the present one, were not the same. I must indeed own, that these words are in the Epistle to the Ephelians (iv. 5, &c.), and this Epiphanius himself obferves by but this cannot be any objection to the force of my argument, because that Father, who saw and read Marcion's Apostolicon, not only mentions these as two diftinet Epistles, but expressly in the three several places cited, blames Marcion for taking this passage out of the Epistle to the Laodiceans.
2. I conclude the present one, and the antient Epistle to the Laodiceans, to be two different Epistles, because that which we have now contains nothing in it, that is ör can by any be thought erroneous, or heterodox ; but the old one was, by reason of the false doctrines it contained, rejected by the primitive Church. Thus Philastrius informs us;