صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

serve; and when united, they form a temper more truly christian than vehement affections suddenly taken up, and too often as suddenly laid down. You see how soon the excessive veneration for Barnabas and Paul passed away, and was succeeded by an antipathy so strong as to thirst for their blood. Had the people been wise and moderate enough to form a just estimate of their characters, this could not have happened; they would in the first instance have known them to be but men ; and in the next, men so deserving of their respect and esteem, that they could not have been persuaded to do them injury or wrong. A candid caution frequently improves into confidence and affection; while sudden sympathies often end in uncharitableness and dislike.

[ocr errors]

St. Paul, whom they supposed dead, being restored, rose up and came into the city; and the next day departed with Barnabas to Derbe," whence, after having preached the Gospel and taught many there, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and to Antioch. This was a striking proof of intrepidity, after the persecutions they had met with from the inhabitants of those cities; but it was necessary for confirming the souls of the Disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith," for that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

In the 23d verse of this chapter, we read of the ordination of Elders in every church. Without entering into the argument, whether these Elders were Bishops or not, it is plain that they were persons ordained by the Apostles to minister in the church and preach the Gospel and of course were invested with the spiritual gifts necessary to their office. In other words; to them was committed the care of the churches, with delegated power, in the absence of the Apostles, to propagate and establish the faith in the same manner as would be done by the Apostles themselves when present.

The fourteenth chapter concludes with an account of the Apostles returning by their former course through Pisidia and Pamphilia." And when they preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia; and then sailed to Antioch," in Syria, whence they had first set out on their mission. Here they related to the church" all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles."

Thus ended the first commission given to Paul, in which Barnabas was his associate: and it was executed with diligence, fidelity, and zeal, to the enlarging and edifying of the church, and to the glory of God. For which, and all his other mercies, let us bless and praise his holy name.



WHILST Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch,

where, as the last verse of the foregoing chapter informs us, they abode long time with the disciples,"

-a matter of some difficulty and trouble arose, touching the terms of admission for Gentiles in the Christian church. With unprejudiced believers this point had been already settled by the vision of St. Peter, and the whole subsequent transaction; especially, by that part which crowned the argument, the gift of the Holy Ghost to Cornelius and his Company. But many of the Jews still held fast their beloved errors; nor could they endure the thought of relinquishing the distinction so long annexed to their laws and institutions. Under this influence, certain men, which came down from Judea, taught the brethren, except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.”Judea, or (to speak with more precision) its metropolis, Jerusalem, being the fountain head whence the Christian religion was to flow into all nations,

and also the chief seat of apostolical authority, whatever opinions came from that quarter, especially pretending the sanction of such authority, (as appears from verse 24 to have been the case,) were likely to be received with great deference by the brethren in other places. To prevent the ill effects of such doctrines preached by such men," Paul and Barnabas had so small dissention and disputation with them :" and when the matter could not be decided among themselves, (each party adhering -strongly to their own opinion,) the brethren at Antioch determined to send Paul and Barnabas, with some other persons, to Jerusalem, unto the Apostles and Elders, about this question," Who being escorted on part of their way by the church, passed through Phænice and Samaria; and as they went

declaring the conversion of the Gentiles, they caused great joy unto all the brethren." Upon their arrival at Jerusalem they deliver their message as contained in the fifth verse: which seems to be a juster method of conceiving this passage, and more agreeable to the occasion, than to suppose it the words of the historian. For in the next verse we find the Apostles and Elders came together, for to consider of this matter." What matter? clearly it should seem, what was just mentioned, that there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees, which believed, saying, that it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them

to keep the law of Moses," an expression of exactly the same import with the question agitated at Antioch, and for the decision of which the embassy had been sent.-After much disputing on the subject, Peter rose up, and reminding them how God had chosen him to be the instrument of first calling in the Gentiles, to whom God bare witness, by giving them the Holy Ghost, and purifying their hearts by faith, he adds, "Now, therefore, why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the Disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear ?" That is, after the clear and wonderful evidence which God hath given of his accepting the Gentiles, and of his cleansing them from sin, by a purification infinitely more effectual than legal ceremonies, why do ye go on to tempt him, to distrust and oppose his will thus manifestly revealed; and why impose upon the Gentile converts a slavery and burden, intolerable to our fathers and to ourselves; because no man, however strict an ob server of the law, could so perfectly discharge every duty as to be fully justified by his works, nor purge his conscience from the guilt of sin? But we believe, says he, that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they." As if he had said, even we, who have been bred up in the reverence and observance of the law, yet do not hope for salvation through its means, but by faith in Christ; for there is none other name or

« السابقةمتابعة »