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THE CHURCH AT JERUSALEM-CHAP. IX.
Jalian Pe- or to bestow the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, (for all Lydda. riod, 4753. these have been inferred,) it is not necessary to decide. The Valgar Era, important fact is certain; the ministerial function was controlled and subject to a superior ecclesiastical authority, which was demonstrated by the fulfilling of more solemn duties than subordinate preachers were empowered to perform. Christian teachers exercised government over other Christian teachers, and likewise over their converts, without either the permission or the interference of the people. And from the recorded fact, we are justified in concluding that this system of ecclesiastical discipline was uniformly observed by the apostles, and, as such, must be the best model for all their successors.
Before the Gentiles, or the Proselytes of the Gate, were invited to become members of the Christian Church, St. Paul was miraculously converted. Three years after which he preached Christ in the synagogues, apparently without either the sanction of an apostle, or the request of the people. This illustrious convert, although he cannot be admitted as a general example, had also authority for what he did. He was (as Biscoe on the Acts, p. 271, has proved,) an ordained elder, doctor, or teacher, among the Jews, and possessed the privilege of preaching in the synagogues. In addition to this human ordination, he was miraculously filled with the Holy Ghost, as a qualification for his high office. He was set apart by the divine Head of the Church himself, who appeared to him from heaven, and com. missioned him to go to the Gentiles.
We are now brought to the most important part of the subject-the nature of the authority which was thus exercised by one class of Christian teachers over both the other teachers and the first converts: or, in other words, of what nature was the apostolie office, and what kind of government therefore is to be exercised in the Christian Church? It will appear, from the united testimony of the Scripture itself, and the authority of some of the most learned theologians who have adorned the Christian world, yet who have been adverse to the episcopal regimen, that the word apostle was well known among the Jews, and that it denoted an officer of high influence and authority, who exercised a delegated power over the ministers and people of separate and distant congregations.
Though the Jews where dispersed throughout the world at the time of our Lord, their numerous congregations were under the control of the High Priest and Sanhedrim; and the persons who were sent by them were called their apostles. While every separate congregation was governed by its own rulers of the synagogue, or councils of ten, or three, or twenty-three, the whole Jewish Church, through all its departments, was subject to the authority of the heads of the Church at Jerusalem, and the Romans protected the Jews in exercising the right of governing their own countrymen (b). The Jews, therefore, were accustomed to submit to the control of the Sanhedrim, and would not, when converted to Christianity, object to a continuance of that form of government to which they had thus submitted. We will, however, consider the word in all its significations.
I. The word apostle, áñóoroλog, says the learned Witsius, literally signifies one who is sent forth. It was used among the Greeks for the word
II. Φρεσβεὺς ἀποστελλόμενος, μεσίτης εἰρήνης ἕνεκα, i. e. an ambassador, one sent forth, a mediator to make or establish peace. III. More especially, ὁ στρατηγὸς κατὰ πλῶν πεμπόμενος, the leader sent on a naval expedition. Hesychius.
IV. Nuμpaywyds, one sent to bring the bride to the house of her husband. Phavorinus.
Julian Pe- In all which senses it is singularly descriptive of the office Lydda. riod, 4753. of the apostles-they were ministers of peace, and commanders of Vulgar Era, that great expedition which was directed to the Isles of the Sea, and to the Gentile world; which in Scripture is frequently represented under the emblem of the sea. It was their high office also to present the Christian Church as a chaste virgin to Christ.
In Hebrew, the word áróσroλos, or apostle, corresponds to
is frequently used, not only ,מלאך שליח orשלוח מלאך the titles
of angels, but of prophets and priests, Hag. i. 13. Malac. ii.
It corresponds also to the word bw. The Jews had their
In the Jerusalem Talmud (Sanhed. fol. 18. col. 4.) we are presented with the form of the letters which were issued by the Sanhedrim, from which we learn that the expression "to the brethren," was in common use, and referred to the Jews, whether priests or not, who had authority in the provinces ; and to whom the Sanhedrim gave the power to put its decrees in force. It must however be observed, says Lightfoot (d), that it was not the awe of the power of the Sanhedrim, so much as the innate ambition of the Jews to continue as one people, which made them obedient. And the letters therefore which St. Paul received from the Sanhedrim to the brethren at Damascus, we must suppose not to be imperative, but declarative and persuasive. This is the remark of Lightfoot, and it is no doubt correct; it proves however the point under discussion : that authority was exercised over the synagogues of the Jews, and that the persons who were deputed to exercise it were called apostles: and, we may add too, that the same desire of union among themselves, which induced the foreign Jews to submit to the jurisdiction of their High Priest and Sanhedrim, ought to be a prevailing motive to union among Christians.
In Joma, fol. 18. 2. ap Schoetgen, vol. i. p. 936. we find the Jews were also accustomed to call the High Priest apostle, as implying probably that a part of his power was the result of their decisions, and that He therefore was in one sense the possessor of a delegated authority; if so, the analogy is here complete. We read-The elders of the Sanhedrim bind the High Priest by an oath, and say unto him, Oh, our great High Priest,
we are the apostles of the Sanhedrim ; thou ,אנו שלוחי בית דין
art our apostle, mw, and the apostle of the Sanhe-
In Gemara, fol. 19. 1 fin. R. Hunna fil R. Jehoscua, says,
Sohar Exod. fol. 21. col. 84. adverba, Levit. xiv. 1. Hoc modo veniet sacerdos ad sancta, xx, apostolus omnium (e).
The word apostle, says Mosheim (ƒ), it is well known, signifies a legate, an ambassador, a person entrusted with a particular mission. The propriety, therefore, with which this appel
THE CHURCH AT JERUSALEM-CHAP. IX.
Jalian Pe- lation was bestowed by Christ on those friends whom he thought Lydda. riod, 4753. proper to select for the propagation of his religion throughValgar Era, out the world, is manifest from this its common acceptation. But
the reader will perhaps discover a peculiar force in this term ;
The learned writer then goes on to shew the great pro-
Julian Pe- to question the credibility of what is thus said. But let us Lydda.
says Mosheim, has never hitherto attracted the attention of
Mosheim goes on to prove, that the aversion of the Jews to
The learned Vitringa (h), who had endeavoured to identify the officers of the Christian Church entirely with those of the synagogue, writes, that he is doubtful of the meaning of the words may bw. I cannot suspect this eminent theologian of disingenuousness, or I should be inclined to suppose that his ignorance in the present instance could be accounted for in no other way; for he expresses himself on other occasions with sufficient decision. St. Paul, in two passages of his Epistles, (2 Cor. viii. 23. Phil. ii. 25.) decidedly applies the expression "Apostles of the Churches," to Epaphroditus and Titus, both of whom, ecclesiastical history informs us, were bishops, Vitringa, (p. 913.) would apply the term exclusively to the collectors of the money provided by the Churches for the necessities of their members: and to this sense it is also limited by Witsius, Benson, Doddridge, and the divines in general who object to that form of Church government which existed in the early ages of Christianity. It is certain the of fice of the apostle embraced with this, other duties of a much higher and important nature: and these several duties, with the high authority attached to them, must be included in our definition of the office of the apostle.
THE CHURCH AT JERUSALEM-CHAP. IX.
Bishop Taylor has placed this part of the subject in its Lydda. od, 4753. proper light. Now these men were not called 'Aróσroλo, mesalgar Era, sengers, in respect of these Churches sending them with their
contributions: 1. Because they are not called the apostles of
Vitringa proceeds further to assert, in the most positive man-
Vitringa, however, acknowledges, in another place (k), that the Sanhedrim sent out persons with ample powers to _superintend the synagogues out of the precincts of the Holy Land.
St. Paul calls Christ the Apostle and High Priest of our (i. c. the Christian) profession, (Heb. iii. 1.) He was an apostle, as having received a delegated authority from God over his worshippers; for we read, God anointed him to preach the Gospel to the poor. He was the High Priest, as he himself sent out apostles, with the same delegated authority as he had