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It has been usual in a Preface to this excellent epistle, to make some enquiry concerning its author; the people to whom it was addressed; the time when, and the language in which, it was originally written. I do not profess to throw any additional light on these particulars, which have been fully discussed by the learned. The commonly received opinions respecting these things are well known, and with these I fully agree. But as many adopt current opinions without examining into the grounds of them, it may be useful to such persons to lay before them the evidence on which the received opinions respecting these particulars are founded.
I. As to the AUTHOR of this epistle, though his name is nowhere mentioned in it, yet it is very clear from the epistle itself, that the Apostle Paul was the writer of it,
1. It can admit of no doubt that those to whom it was more immediately directed must have known the author of
Indeed, the writer himself plainly supposes this; for he writes to them as one whom they knew, and of whom they had compassion in his bonds, chap. x. 34; and he beseeches them to pray for him, and that they should the rather do this, that he might be restored to them the sooner, chap. xiii. 18, 19. A request of this nature from an unknown person would be very strange indeed. But these things exactly agree with the account we have of
Paul, who was kept a long while prisoner at Cesarea, Acts xxiv. 27, where his christian friends were permitted to come and minister to him, ver. 23, from whence he was afterwards carried a prisoner to Rome to be tried before Cæsar, chap. xxviii. 16 ; so that as he was sent ound from Judea to Rome, his return from Rome to Judea was properly a restoring of him to them; and it is for this that he requests their prayers. Again, he says, “Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty, with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you,” Heb. xiii. 23. Whether the word apolelumenos be translated, is set at liberty, or, is sent away on some errand, as some think it means, it makes no difference as to the present point. Timothy was well known to be Paul's intimate companion and fellow-labourer, whom he sometimes calls his son and often his brother, as here, and is also joined with him in several of his epistles, see 2 Cor. i. l; Colos. i. 1; 1 Thess. iii. 2 ; Philem. ver. 1; so the Hebrews could be at no loss to see that Paul was the writer. Farther, he sends them the salutations of the saints of Italy, ver. 24, where he must have been when he wrote this epistle ; and he concludes it with Paul's usual benediction, ver. 25, which, when written with his own hand, was the token in every epistle, 2 Thess. iii. 17, 18. So that the exact agreement of these particulars with what we find in the history of Paul, clearly shews that he was the author of the epistle to the Hebrews. This farther appears,
2. From the author's manner of reasoning, and the method of handling his subject in this epistle, such as, his overflowing sentiment briefly expressed—abrupt transitions and returns to his subject-reasonings addressed to the thoughts and latent objections of his readers--his practical exhortations subjoined to the doctrinal part, &c.
All which are perfectly in Paul's manner of writing in his other epistles.
3. From sentiments and expressions in this epistle similar to those in Paul's other writings; compare Heb. i. 2, 3, with Col. i. 15.—Heb. ii. 7, with Phil. ii. 8, 9, 10; Eph. i. 20, 21, 22.—Heb. v. 12, with 1 Cor. iii. 2.-Heb. viii. 1, and chap. xii. 2, with Eph. i. 20.-Heb. x. 1, with Col. ii. 17.-Heb. x. 33, with 1 Cor. iv. 9.—Heb. xii. 14, with Rom. xii. 18.—Heb. xiii. 16, with Phil. iv. 18.Heb. xii. 18, with Acts xxiii, 1, chap. xxiv. 16; 2 Cor. i. 12.—Heb. xiii. 20, with Rom. xv. 33, chap. xvi. 20; 2 Cor. xiii. 11; Phil. iv. 9; 1 Thess. v. 23; 2 Thess. iii. 16.
4. From the interpretation of some Old Testament passages in this epistle, which are to be found nowhere else but in Paul's discourses and writings. Thus, Psal. ii. 7, is applied to Jesus, Heb. i. 5, and v. 5, as it is also by Paul in Acts xiii. 33.-Psal. viii, 4, and ex. 1, is explained and applied to him, Heb. ii. 7, 8, and x. 12, 13, even as Paul does in 1 Cor. xv. 25, 27.—The covenant made with Abraham, Gen. xii. 3, and xxii. 16—19, as explained in Heb. vi, 13–19, is nowhere else to be found but in Paul's epistle to the Galatians, chap. iii.
5. There are also some doctrines and terms in the epistle to the Hebrews, which are not to be found in the New Testament except in Paul's writings; such as Christ's entering into heaven to minister and make intercession there, Heb. vii. 25, viii. 2, ix. 12, which is mentioned by Paul in Rom. viii. 34. And though in 1 John ü. 1, Christ is termed an Advocate with the Father, yet the title of Mediator is nowhere given him but in this epistle, Heb. viii. 6, ix. 15, and xii. 24, except in Paul's first epistle to Timothy, chap. ii. 5.*
* See Macknight's Preface to this epistle, p. 10, 11.
These arguments, which are all drawn from the epistle itself, compared with Paul's other writings, appear to me sufficient proof that he was the author of this epistle.
If Peter wrote his two epistles to the believing Jews who were dispersed throughout the different places mentioned, 1 Pet. i. 1, it will furnish us with another proof that Paul was the author of the epistle to the Hebrews. His words are, “ and account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation, even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given unto him, hath written unto you; as also, in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to be understood,” &c. 2 Pet. iii. 15, 16. Now, we have no epistle written by Paul to the Jews in particular, if this to the Hebrews be not it. Besides, Peter mentions some things in the epistle he refers to, which are to be found in this, such as that the long-suffering " of our Lord is salvation,” Heb. vi. 12, 15, chap. ix. 28, chap. x. 36, 37, and also some things which
hard to be understood," and which the author of this epistle acknowledges, chap. v. 11. But as Peter's epistles do not appear to be addressed solely to the Jews, as the epistle to the Hebrews evidently is, I do not insist on this passage as a conclusive proof that he refers to that epistle. Yet the passages in Peter's epistles, by which some attempt to shew that they were written only to the Gentiles, such as 1 Pet. i. 14, ii. 9, 10, iv. 3, will prove
this ; for as to 1 Pet. ii. 10, it is taken from Hos. i. 10, iii. 23, and is spoken of the ten tribes; and with respect to 1 Pet. iv. 3, it is also applicable to the same people, who, during their dispersed and unconverted state among the heathen, wrought the will of the Gentiles, by conforming to them in their vices, and even in their abominable idolatries, according