« السابقةمتابعة »
from Paganism, and the schools of the later Platonists, made to it in the beginning of the second century.
All the historical and other writings of professed christians, which are extant, agree, as is before observed, in attributing this Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, to a very early disciple, though not an apostle, named Luke. The writer himself informs us, that his name was Silas ; that he was one of those chief men among the : brethren, whom the Apostles and the Elders, with the whole church at Jerusa. lem, sent to acquaint the converted Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia, with their decision respecting the only observances of the Jewish Law, that were judged necessary for them ; that he himself was a prophet, a duly qualified teacher of the Gospel, and preached much to the people at Antioch, to exhort them to continue in the faith they had adopted; that when his co-delegate, Judas, returned to Jerusalem to the Apostles there, he chose to remain in Antioch with Paul and Barnabas ; that upon the separation which took place, in consequence of a dissension between these two, he was chosen by Paul to supply the place of Barnabas; and that from that time, to his being sent prisoner to Rome,
and during his residence in that imperial city, he continued Paul's constant adherent, friend and fellow-traveller.
That it was Silas, who wrote these two histories, appears thus. From the conclusion of the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth chapter of the Acts, we find that when Paul left Antioch, no one but Silas accompanied him, as far as Derbe and Lystra; and that there they were joined by Timotheus, whom Paul chose also to travel with him ; that they three went through Phrygia and Galatia, and came to Troas, where Paul, in a vision, was directed to go over into Macedonia : “ and « after he had seen the vision,” says the author, “ immediately we endeavoured to go “ into Macedonia, assuredly gathering, that “ the Lord had called us to preach the Gospel unto them."
This is the first passage in which the writer speaks in his own person; and in the same person, he frequently expresses himself afterwards to the end of his history. Now, since it is evident from this part of the Acts, compared with 2 Cor. c. i. v. .19, and with the address of both the epistles to the Thessalonians, that Paul had no attendants when he first preached the Gospel in Macedonia and Greece, besidės Silas or
Silvanus, of which last name Silas is merely an abbreviation, and Timotheus, one of those two must be professedly the writer of these histories. That it was not Timotheus, appears from Acts c. xx. v. 4 and 5, where the author enumerates Timotheus amongst those disciples who accompanied Paul, on his return into Asia, and adds, “ these going before,
tarried for us at Troas." It is Silas or Silva. nus alone, therefore, who professes himself to have been the author of both these important histories. And his manner of informing us that he was so, affords infinitely greater satisfaction respecting the truth of his information, than could be derived from any titular ascription of them to him, either by himself or others. And though this circumstance, at first, has the appearance of contradiction to the universal historic testimony, which attributes them to Luke, they really only confirm the veracity of each other; for Lucas, that is Luke, is exactly the same abbreviation of Lucanus, a name derived from lucus, a grove or wood, that Silas is of Silvanus from Sylva, a word of the same signification. Since, therefore, we find that amongst those Jewish Christians, particularly, who were most conversant amongst the Greeks and Romans, it was customary to change their original Hebrew names, without doubt, the more to familiarize themselves to those people, as Tabitha was exchanged for the Greek word Dorcas, and Saul for the Roman name Paulus; and as is still usual with the Jews in every country ; it seems clear that the name of the author of these histories, which in the Hebrew most probably was some word of similar import, viz. belonging to a grove or wood, might be translated indifferently by the Roman names, Lucanus or Silvanus,* and though he was, at first, called Silas, yet upon the persecution raised by Nero, or some other prudential reason, it might be deemed right to vary it to Luke, for, many circumstances concur to render it highly probable, that the Lucas whom Paul mentions to Timothy in his second Epistle, as the only person who remained with him, is the very same as Silas, both which names, if re-translated into the original Hebrew name, must be expressed by the same word. A very probable circumstance, which may well account for later writers calling him by that
* In the same manner, the Hebrew name Aaron, might have been familiarized to the Romans, by being rendered Collinus or Montanus ; and an Englishman of the name of Wood, might domesticate his very name
in France, hy calling himself either Du Bois, or La Forét.
It appears, then, upon the united testimony of the early Christian writers, and of the author himself, corroborated by that of the Apostle, with whom he was joined in the commission to preach the Gospel in Macedonia and Greece, that these two books were really written by Silas or Luke, who was so well qualified a witness of what he relates, that he was the approved friend and assistant of all the Apostles, from whom he could not fail to receive perfect information, of every fact and doctrine he has recorded, previous to his own conversion; and was so considerable a personage in the transactions he has related afterwards, that, in the words of the Roman Poet, he might justly have called himself a relater of events, quæque ipse vidi, et quorum pars magna fui; events whereof he had not only been an eye-witness, but in which he himself had been, for the most part, actively concerned.
On reviewing and comparing these two histories of Luke, we find the dates of all the important facts clearly and accurately ascertained ; there appears in them a perfect har