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For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it: but the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.” (Ib. ii. 20, 21, 22.)
PAUL AND BARNABAS-AT ANTIOCH.
" And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the gentiles besought, that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.”
Acts xiii. 42.
In this chapter we have among other matters the account of a remarkable accident of the Kingdom, with the sum of St. Paul's first discourse that he made to a mixed congregation in a certain synagogue during his visit with Barnabas to the church at Antioch. And a very interest. ing discourse it is, as an example of the way of preaching Christ originally practised: which was in connection with the Law and the prophets; not Gospel without Law, nor Law without Gospel; still less the insidious mode of ABSTRACT PREACHING *, or preaching without either, for fear that only one preached alone might do good, as it needs must if preached sincerely: it was Christ on all hands; here the Law, and there the Gospel, and both together. “ For Christ (says the orator in one of his epistles) is the end of the Law for righteousness to every one that believeth:” (Rom. x. 4 :) it was two testaments to one effect; salvation, the bequest, and Christ the only testator ;-two covenants to one end, the righteousness of God,“whose service is perfect freedom :" identifying Jesus as the Christ; the harbinger of mercy sent into the world for its salvation, the Messiah who had so long been ex
Vulgarly called “ Milk and Water,” by those who overrate its inn. portance.
pected, and was now to be enjoyed by all who sincerely desired it ;-by declaring glad tidings to them, “ How that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us, their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again,” (Acts xiii. 32, 33,-advertising them, That through this man is preached unto you the FORGIVENESS OF SINS. And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses," (Ib. 38, 39, -and warning them to be careful how they neglected so great salvation. “ Beware therefore, (said he,) lest that come upon you which is spoken of in the prophets ; Behold ye despisers, and wonder, and perish : for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in nowise believe, though a man declare it unto you.” (Ib. 40, 41.)
There was life in this preaching, to turn men to the righteousness of Christ, or “the word of salvation,” (Acts xiii. 26,) as the apostle here calls it; without which that heavenly righteousness had been as unattractive and consequently as inefficient as the law of Moses, which made nothing perfect.” (Heb. vii. 19.) This was to preach Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God: (Cor. I. i. 24:) “ who (as the same apostle avers) of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption ;” (Ib. 30;) not Christ a dead letter; but “the Life and the Light of men.” (John i. 4.) “And of his fulness have all we received; and grace for grace (says that divine preacher, St. John the evangelist). For the law was given by Moses; (says he) but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ”: (Ib. 16, 17 :) which answers, I take it, to what St. Paul means by Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God. “And such trust have we through Christ to God ward: (says he) not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God: who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”
(Cor. II. iii. 4, &c.) The apostles were ministers not merely of literal maxims and precepts, which are the body of the Old Testament; but equally, or rather more, of grace and truth, which are the spirit of both Testaments; but chiefly of the New. And the sum or abstract of St. Paul's first discourse at Antioch, for it does not consist with what we read elsewhere of his “ long preaching" (Acts xx. 9,) to take the account that we have of the same for a verbal report *, --is, as I said before, an interesting specimen of his ability that way. One particular in the form of that discourse especially seems worth imitating, for a change : for once on a time, and before a mixed or only half-taught congregation like the apostle's, which is the apostle's deduction of his argument from the beginning. But the substance and effect of the apostle's discourse are most deserving of general attention: while I find the latter, namely, its effect rather to be at this time my proper or most suitable argument. For, excepting the phrase,
Those words," there is nothing in the text that relates to St. Paul's sermon particularly: it merely says, that " when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue the gentiles besought, that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath ;” with an understanding, it may be supposed, that they were to be preached also in the same place, namely in the synagogue : which reminds me to say a few words concerning the place with its correlative, the church,--and its superior, the temple that to which the church or synagogue owes an undoubted allegiance-in the first or theoretical part of my discourse.
§ 1. To shew then what it is, or rather what it should be; the material church or synagogue is now, or should be, a public place of meeting for the purpose of prayer and instruction--preparatory to divine communion and worship in the highest. As there is but one God, so was there originally but one place of worship, being the heart
• Verbal reporting, I apprehend, is a recent invention.
of one man, and the only man upon earth : such was the first altar or temple. But after that one by falling from God became divided in himself and so propagated the seeds of dissension in his issue, the one heart was no longer to be found : a religious dispute began among men only in the first generation, and issued fatally for one of the only two brothers who were then living upon the whole face of the earth. (Gen. iv. 1, &c.) It must have been a grievous loss for the father of Cain and Abel, to lose the best of his sons in this manner : a great trial it must have been for both father and mother, and remind them strongly of their fatal transgression, to be thus bereft in a manner of both sons at once, and left more forlorn than ever! But still it pleased God, whose goodness is infinite, to give them still another son of the same quality with Abel whom Cain slew : that other son was Seth. " And to Seth, to him also there was born a son: and he called his name Enos. Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.” (Ib. 26.) This is the first account that we have of any joint, or public-worship : namely in the age of Enos. For Cain and Abel seem to have had two several altars; and the consequence was, that of the former slaying his brother as before signified, because he would not offer as he did, but in the way that was most acceptable to God. (Ib. 3, 4.)
It may be inferred from what I have now cited and said, that altars are older than churches or synagogues : the oldest temple being also that which is made without hands. There might possibly have been artificial temples, as well as churches or synagogues, for different purposes before the flood: but it does not appear that ever a one of them had survived that universal catastrophe, to be left as it were for a pattern. So it was necessary to have a new one, or an altar at least, after the flood.
“ And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled a sweet
savour*: and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake: for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth ; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. While the earth remaineth-seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” (Gen. viii. 20, &c.)
What altars may have been raised next, and really for the sake of worship, if any, Scripture does not inform us: but it informs us of a certain tower that was builded, or begun building however, for the sake of ostentation : which the Lord would not suffer to proceed. For the Lord had taken notice of this sample of vanity in the children of men from on high. “And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them which they have imagined to do. Go to : let us go down and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth.” (Gen. xi. 6, &c.) And thereupon, we may imagine “ the children of men” exhibiting just such another scene of confusion as an ant hill when it has just been overturned.
The next altar that we read of, was that raised to the same God by Abram on the occasion of a temporal promise in the plain of Moreh, a part of the land of Canaan; when he was come with Sarai, his wife, and Lot, his brother's son, and all the substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran -not a few perhaps. “And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land : and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him.” Then he builded another; as we read. And he removed thence unto a mountain on the east of Beth-el,
* Here the margin refers us very judiciously to a passage in St. Paul's excellent epistle to the Ephesians. (Eph. v. 2.)