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Julian Period, 4751
to 4753. Vulgar Æra, 38 to 40.
arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Palestine. Peter, she sat up.
41 And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive 70.
70 I shall here take the opportunity of observing to the Jew who may disbelieve that Jesus of Nazareth was the true and expected Messiah, that the declarations of the New Testament are not only supported by miracles of the same, or of greater extent and wonder, than those of Moses (which I have attempted to shew in a former note,) but that every testimony which demonstrated the truth of the Mosaic dispensation, was vouchsafed in support of the Christian revelation also.-If miraculous gifts were imparted to the Sanhedrim, on its first establishment, (Num. xi. 25.) they were likewise granted at the early meeting of the infant Church of Christ, as a pledge of the presence of his Holy Spirit.-Were extasies and visions permitted to the prophets of the olden Church, so likewise were they in the apostolic age. St. Paul had his vision in the temple; and again the Lord appeared to him, and comforted him. (Acts xxiii. 11.) To St. Peter a sheet descended from heaven, for the purpose of unfolding to him the great truth that the Gentiles also were to be made partakers of the Gospel-blessings.-If a super-human knowledge of God, and of the invisible world, be an internal proof of the inspiration of the writers of the Old Testament, which of these can bear any comparison with the discoveries of the unseen state revealed in the transfiguration, when the spirits of men were seen as they will appcar in glory at the last great day-or in the resurrection of our Lord, when the same body assumed new and mysterious properties-when angels were its guardians, and the spirits of the dead arose? Have any of the inspired anticipations of the old prophets exceeded those of St. Paul, who was exalted to a state where he heard things which it was not lawful for man to utter? or have they equalled the more glowing and sublime representations of the Apocalypse, when the beloved disciple, wrapt in the highest visions, describes the perfection of the spiritual temple, and the removal of the curse from mankind?—Did the Urim and Thummim mysteriously communicate the will of God to the suppliant priest? Christ himself has spoken to us in the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and has committed to us the lively oracles.-Was the voice from the mercy-seat heard by the privileged lawgiver of Israel? Did it whisper in Eden, or speak in thunder at Sinai ? Was it heard by Elisha in the wilderness, or by Daniel in Babylon? so also did it thrill into the ears of the priests and the people in the temple, carrying conviction to the inquiring Greeks. It proclaimed, at the baptism of Christ, from the mercy-seat of heaven, "This is my beloved Son." It arrested the persecuting Paul, breathing out vengeance and slaughter.-Were the angels of heaven the visitors of Abraham at his tent, or of Jacob at Mahanaim? so were they also the glorious ambassadors from heaven, announcing the advent of the Prince of Peace, the promised Messiah. Was the prophet the discerner of spirits, when he inquired of his servant, "Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee?" so likewise did Peter penetrate into the deepest recesses of that covetous heart, which he declared to be in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.-Was Gehazi struck with leprosy? so also was Elymas with blindness, and Ananias with instant death.
THE CHURCHES ARE AT REST-CHAP. IX.
42 And it was known throughout all Joppa; and Palestine. many believed in the Lord.
43 And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa, with one Simon a tanner ".
The Churches are at rest" from Persecution, in consequence
-Did Moses foretel the eventual dispersion of Israel nearly two
If the mission of Christ was not confirmed by such stupendous
71 The trade of a tanner was esteemed by the Jews so contemptible, that all those who followed it were required to mention the same before their marriage, under the penalty of the nuptials becoming void. It is recorded in the Mischna, that after the death of a man whose brother exercised the trade of a tanner, the wise men of Sidon decided, that the widow of the deceased was permitted to decline intermarrying with that brother.
This custom explains to us the probable reason why the Evangelist might have been so particular, in relating so apparently a trivial circumstance, as the lodgings of the apostle. St. Peter took up his abode with the most mean and despised of his own countrymen, although at this time without divine interposition, he would have refused to preach to Cornelius, an honourable Gentile.-See Schoetgen, vol. i. p. 447.
See various ordinances among the Jews, ap. Wetstein in loc. expressive of contempt for the occupation of a tanner.
12 Dr. Lardner, contrary to the decision of the generality of commentators, has ondeavoured to shew that the rest or peace
riod, 4753. Vulgar Æra,
ACTS ix. 81.
31 Then had the churches rest "3 throughout all Judea
or prosperity which the Church now enjoyed, was not to be
73 We have now proceeded through the history of the Church
At this period the infant Church presented to the world, wherever they were scattered, whether in Jerusalem or in the provinces, the interesting spectacle of unbroken "unity and godly love." There were no controversies, no heartburnings, no mutual jealousies, to disturb that holy calm, the fruit of righteousness; they obeyed to the utmost that new commandment given to them, "Love one another." When any occasion of dissatisfaction occurred, such for instance as the complaints of the Grecians on account of their widows, the wound was immediately healed, and the commands of their appointed heads respected and obeyed. They were one fold, under one shepherd. They continued stedfast in the Apostles doctrine and fellowship, in frequent celebration of the communion, in thanksgiving and prayers. They were united in doctrine, practice, and discipline, the three great and only preservatives of real unity and true piety among men.
I. The articles of their doctrine may be easily summed upThey believed that Jesus was Lord and Christ, that is, that he was the divine personage, the manifested God of the Patriarchs, the true Messiah, Acts ii. 36.-They believed in the necessity of repentance for the crucifixion of the Prince of Life, and of conversion from Judaism to Christianity, as well as from sin to holiness, Acts iii. 38.-the resurrection of Christ, Acts ii. 31. -the elevation of Christ till the time of the restitution of all things, Acts iii. 21.-that Christ was the prophet, like unto Moses, Acts iii. 22.-the (eventual) overthrow of the Jewish dispensation, Acts vi. 14. and as we find also from the speech of St. Stephen-the doctrine of the atonement of Christ, Acts viii. 32-35. and salvation to man by Christ alone; for there is no other name given under heaven, whereby we can be saved. That they believed in the necessity of personal holiness, and of the influences of the Holy Spirit, is evident from the manifestations of the Spirit, under which they so immediately lived, and which on every fit occasion they so gladly bestowed. (See Acts iii. 26.) These were the articles of their faith, established on the facts related in the Gospels, of whose truth they must have been convinced from the testimony of eye-witnesses. The great majority of Christians in all countries, however they may have added to the simplicity of the Christian Creed, believe in these, the fundamental and essential doctrines of their faith. But this agreement, which ought to have been a sacred bond of union among Christians, has not protected them from those various
THE CHURCH AT JERUSALEM-CHAP. IX.
Jalian Pe- and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking Lydda.
divisions and controversies which make the enemies of the Lord
The twelve articles of the Apostles Creed may be collected
I. I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven
II. And in Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord, Acts ii. 38.
IV. Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and
V. He descended into hell the third day he arose again from the dead, Acts ii. 27. 31. iii. 15. iv. 33.
VI. He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God, the Father Almighty, Acts iii. 13. 21. v. 31.
VII. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead, Acts iii. 21.
VIII. I believe in the Holy Ghost, Acts ii. 38. v. 32.
IX. The holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints,
X. The forgiveness of sins, Acts ii. 38. v. 31.
XI. The resurrection of the body-(this is implied in the resurrection of Christ, see Art. V.)
XII. And the life everlasting. This is implied in the belief in the ascension-see Art. VI.
II. The practice or religious conduct of the Church of Jerusalem, was consonant with their knowledge. Personal religion was the criterion of their faith. They were in frequent communion. Their prayers were many-their adherence to the doctrines of the apostles was stedfast-their boundless liberality was founded upon its most acceptable source, self-denial, and the sacrifice of the things of the flesh-their motive was the will of God. Peace, and joy in God, love to each other, personal holiness, and consequent happiness, characterized this holy communion, and Paradise seemed again restored to this favoured portion of mankind. Since this golden age, has no Christian Church been so perfect or so prosperous. Never, it is to be feared, will the same felicity be revived, till that Millennial period, which the wise and good have always anticipated, in that petition, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven;" when the curse of sin shall be removed from the carth, and the nations shall become the inheritance of the anointed of God; and the uttermost parts of the earth shall be his possession (a).
III. The union and happiness which were so eminently en. joyed by the Church of Jerusalem, under the government of the apostles, must have been materially promoted by the observance of one system of discipline. The Church of the Jews established by Moses, was one religious society, comprising the whole nation. When the same God, who had given the Mosaic law, imparted the new dispensation to his chosen people, the first object of Christianity seems to have been, to continue to preserve the whole nation as one religious society. For this purpose they were for many years publicly appealed to, by the teaching, miracles, and fulfilment of the prophecies by our Lord. They were next appealed to by the apostles, and their attempts were also fruitless. Then only it was, that the nation of the Jews, considered as a people in their corporate capacity, re
Julian Pe- in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Lydda. riod, 4753. Ghost, were multiplied.
Vulgar Era, 40.
presented by their senate and legislature, rejected the God of their
In all inquiries of this nature, it is our first duty to refer to
An apostle was elected from among the brethren to fill the place of Judas-we infer therefore that the apostólic office was superior to that of the disciples
The persons who sold their lands for the benefit of the poor, placed the proceeds at the disposal of the apostles.-It has been inferred, therefore, that the apostles not only directed the general concerns of the Church, but ordered even the management of the contributions. The primitive Church believed, from this instance, that the benefactions of the members of a Church, for religious purposes, should be consigned to the charge of the governors and rulers of those Churches, and not be distributed at the caprice or pleasure of private individuals.
The election of deacons has been already considered. They were chosen from among the people, presented to the apostles, and appointed to the service for which they were required, after they had been approved by the twelve.-The primitivo Church has uniformly considered the election of the seven deacons, and their appointment by the apostles, to be the right mode of ordination among Christians for ever. The conduct of Christ and his holy apostles, the men who were moved by the Spirit of God, was believed to be as binding among Christians, as the institutions of the law of Moses were obligatory among the Jews.
After the death of Stephen, the great body of the Church, as has been before observed, was dispersed all round Jerusalem. The apostles alone continued in that city; and we read, in consequence of the great success of Philip the Deacon and Evangelist in Samaria, the twelve sent down two of their number to impart to the new converts the gift of the Holy Ghost. Whether this was done merely to strengthen the new converts-or to confirm them in the usual sense of that word-or to ordain elders for the purpose of supplying the incipient congregations