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Julian Period, 4753. Vulgar Æra,
received over his Christian Churches. His own words are, “As Lydda, the Father hath sent me, even so send I you."
That the Sanhedrim, about the time of our Lord's incarnation, possessed and exerted the privilege of sending out apostles, is amply demonstrated by several Roman laws (1). The Jews were allowed, says Mr. Briscoe, to meet to pay their firstfruits, and to send them together, with whatever money they pleased, to Jerusalem for offerings (m), and to appoint proper officers to carry it. They were suffered also to determine all disputes and controversies among themselves in a judicial way. They were not only thus indulged in the use of their own customs and laws, but, what is much more, if any laws of the country, where they inhabited, interfered with their customs, they were dispensed with, and not obliged to comply with those laws. Thus, for instance, they were dispensed with in not attending courts of judicature, or giving bail on their sabbaths or feastdays.
Thus may it be sufficient to shew, that when the Gospel was preached to the Church, while it consisted of Jewish converts only, the authority which was exercised by the apostles was not a new thing, nor inconsistent with the manners and customs of the people under their former Mosaic discipline. The same principle of government was adhered to, that order, unity, and faith might still prevail. But instead of the persecuting letters and the armed bands, which were the credentials of the apostles of the former economy, the chosen apostles of the legislator of a better dispensation, were known by the influences of the Spirit, by holiness, purity, patience, and love. They were armed only with the power of truth and miracles, and they proclaimed the Messiahship of Jesus of Nazareth, and the glad tidings of salvation to all mankind. The Spirit of God, attended with its visible influences, the outward means of grace; the Christian priesthood and the Christian people were united in one faith and one discipline; the religion of the heart, which alone is spiritual and efficacious, was preserved by a stedfast adherence to the prescribed rites and forms of the apostolic Church: for the primitive Christians believed that He who gave the wine of the kingdom to man, provided also the earthen vessels, by which its spirit was preserved.
(a) Vitringa gives a beautiful description of the union of the Church at Jerusalem. Primæ Ecclesiæ Christianæ, Deo per præconium Christi atque Apostolorum et copiosam distributionem donorum spiritus sancti lucem è tenebris producente, formosa erat et splendissima facies. Omnia, ut vere solent, ridebant. Doctrinæ suæ constabant castimonia. Nihil in cultu, nihil in sacratissimis religionis symbolis adulterimum regiminis forma optima et ecclesiæ indoli convenientissima. Disciplinæ vigebat exercitium incorruptæ. Diaboli adversus ecclesiam ferocientis impetus eatenus à Deo cohibebantur, ut per satellites suos, principes mundanos, cursum Evangelii non sufflamen atterit. Hæreticis nullus adhucdum in ecclesia locus. Et, quod optimum et maximum et post doctrinæ sinceritatem præcipuam in ecclesia considerationem meretur, excellebat divina illa credentium ævi apostolici societas, quibuslibet virtutibus Christianis, et perfusa erat largo imbre donorum spiritus sancti. Hic conspicua erant fides illibata, vegeta, corroborata, omnia tentans, omnia potens, Zelus pro divina gloria et caussa Christi Regis ardentissimus, nulla metuens pericula, nullis languescens malis; charitas rara, inaudita, et quasi supergressa limites lege præscriptos, gratissima animorum concordia, juncta simplicitate, omnes de malo suspiciones excludenti; mansuetudo, benignitas, humilitas, et quæ plura in Christiano homine prædicanda sunt. His virtutibus elegante harmonia intexta erant dotes scientiæ, sapientiæ, prudentiæ, sanctitatis, prophetiæ, linguarum, charismatum, vepyeías, miraculorum, quæ hunc
THE CHURCH AT JERUSALEM-CHAP. IX. Jalian Pe- ecclesiæ primævæ statum divinum prorsus efficiebant ac cœlestem, eique Damascus. riod, 4748. magnam apud exteros consiliabant reverentiam. Rectores, omnibus Vulgar Æra, necessariis virtutibus donisque instructi, sua erga plebem officia diligenter observabant, absque affectato in eam imperio; plebs Christiana rectoribus cum honore præstabat obsequium; vel potius, omnes ut fratres se uni regi et domino, Christo Jesu, arctissimo amoris vinculo compacti subjiciebant, ab ejus herentes ore, ejusque ducti spiritu.Vitringa Observ. sacræ, lib. iv. cap. vii. p. 901. (b) Principem vero post patriarchas dignitatis locum obtinebant illi quos APOSTOLOS Vocabant, nisi nos fallit Epiphanius, lib. 1. tom. 2. Hæres xxx. §. 4. Προσεδρεύεσι γὰρ τῶ πατριάρχη, καὶ σὺν αὐτῷ πολλάκις, καὶ ἐν νυκτὶ, καὶ ἐν ἡμέρα, συνεχῶς, διάγεσι, διὰ το συμβελεύειν, καὶ ἀναφέρειν αὐτῶ τὰ κατὰ νόμον. Assident enim hi patriarchæ, et cum eo sæpius din, noctuque continuo versantur: quod eidem a consiliis sint ac de iis referant quæ ad legem pertinere videbantur. Est enim aurum coronarium, quæ diversarum ordines curiarum vel amore proprio, vel indulgentiarum lætitia, vel rebus prospere gestis, admoniti, in coronis aureis signisque diversis obtulerit. Lege iv. Cod. Theod. de Aur. Coron. Witsii. Exerc. Sac. xii. de Historia Hieros. p. 653. Succedit vox, mbw quam sibi attribuit Ahias, 1 Reg. xiv.6. 75x mbw x ubi LXX. AπóσTOλov vertunt. Habebant etiam, vel np, áñóσrodas tñç έkkλnoias, nuncios, cœtus, qui mandata deferrent ad synagogas Hierosolymam, vel victimas et decimas ad sacerdotes: maxime qui diopaxμov, semisiclum, tributum quotannis ex lege in sacrarium differendum, exigerent. Dein collapsis Judæorum rebus retenta tamen in synagoga vox, AmoσTÓλWV est; talesque signate dicebantur, qui patriarchæ assessores et legati erant, ejusque έγκύκλια, γράμματα, circulares literas ad sygnagogas deferebant pecuniis per capita colligendis, speciatim auro coronario, corona scilicet patriarchali ornandæ, quod loco didragmi exigebant patriarchæ in partibus tam orientis, quam occidentis.-Wits. Melet. Leid. p. 22. (c) Lightfoot's Works, Pitman's edition, vol. iii. p. 196. (d) Schoetgen Hora Hebraicæ, vol. i. p. 937. who has added this also to his quotations. Sic ex Nedarim apud R. Samuel Ben David in fol. 28. 2.
num sacerdotes הסר שמואל הני כהני שלוחי דיין הם או שלוחי דרחמנא
apostoli proprie an vero apostoli Dei? Quid inde vero? resp. Si dici-
Julian Pe- candum ad deum legatis, sed præstabat omnino ut hic actus a præ- Damascus. riod, 4748. side presbyterii ceu a legato tam presbyterii quam ecclesiæ totius peraVulgar Era, geretur. Vitringa de Synag. veter. lib. iii. pars. 2. p. 913. (g) Bishop
Jeremy Taylor on Episcopacy, p. 19. small 4to. edit. Oxford. 1642.
Julian Period, 4753.
THE PROSELYTES ARE CONVERTED-CHAP. X.
Vulgar Era, The Gospel having now been preached to the Jews in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the Provinces; the Time arrives for the Conversion of the devout Gentiles, or Proselytes of the Gate'.
1 In the arrangement of this part of the present work, it will be perceived that I have adopted, in opposition to the authority of Drs. Lardner, Doddridge, and Hales, the opinion of Lord Barrington and Dr. Benson, that the Gospel was preached to the proselytes of the gate, before it was addressed to the idolatrous Gentiles. That the whole controversy may be fully and explicitly placed before the theological student, I shall submit to him the generally received opinion respecting the proselytes, on which Lord Barrington's hypothesis is grounded, and Dr. Lardner's objections, with the manner in which those objections may be removed. It will then be necessary to enter into the various reasons and authorities by which the opinion of Lord Barrington is supported and corroborated. Prideaux (a) gives the following account of the supposed different classes of proselytes. He states, there were two sorts of proselytes among the Jews, 1st. The proselytes of the gate. 2d. The proselytes of justice (righteousness). The former they obliged only to renounce idolatry, and worship God according to the law of nature, which they reduced to seven articles, called by them the Seven Precepts of the Sons of Noah. To these they held all men were obliged to conform, but not so as to the law of Moses. For this they reckoned as a law made only for their nation, and not for the whole world. As to the rest of mankind, if they kept the law of nature, and observed the precepts above mentioned, they held that they performed all that God required of them, and would by this service render themselves as acceptable to him, as the Jews by theirs; and therefore they allowed all such to live with them in their land, and from hence they were called an i. e. sojourning proselytes, and for the same reason they were called also 3, i. e. proselytes of the gate, as being permitted to dwell with those of Israel within the same gates.
The occasion of this name seems to be taken from these words in the fourth commandment, i. e. And the strangers which are within thy gates; which may as well be rendered, Thy proselytes which are within thy gates; that is, the proselytes of the gate, that dwell with thee. For the Hebrew word ger, which signifies a stranger, signifieth also a proselyte, and both in this place and in the fourth commandment denote the same thing. For no strangers were permitted to dwell within their gates, unless they renounced idolatry, and were proselyted so far as to the observance of the seven precepts of the sons of Noah. Though they were slaves taken in war, they were not permitted to live with them within any of the gates of Jerusalem, on any other terms; but, on their refusal thus far to comply, were either given up to the sword, or sold to some foreign people. And as those who were thus far made proselytes were admitted to dwell with them, so also were they admitted into the temple, there to worship God; but were not allowed to enter any farther than into the outer court, called the court of the Gentiles. For into the inner courts, which were within the enclosure, called the chel, none were admitted, but only
such as were thorough professors of the whole Jewish religion.
The other sort of proselytes, called the proselytes of justice,
It was on this generally received opinion that Lord Barrington (b) framed his hypothesis, which demonstrates, beyond a doubt, the separate manner in which the Jews, the devout Gentiles, or proselytes of the gate, were severally converted to the Christian faith. The holy Gospel, like the grain of mustard seed, was of gradual developement, and progressively revealed to the world. We have already seen that the Gospel was first preached to the Jews, and that the first Christian Church was established at Jerusalem. The period in which the Gospel was confined to the Jews and proselytes of righteousness, who enjoyed all the privileges of the former, is supposed to commence, according to Lord Barrington, at the year 29, and end in the year 41. The second period, when the Gospel was preached to the proselytes of the gate, begins at the year 41 to 45. The third, when it was preached to the idolatrous Gentiles, is from the year 45 to the year 70, which brings us to the end of the Jewish age, and the destruction of the Jewish state and nation, which implied the abolition of the law of Moses, relieved the Jews and the proselytes of the gate from their adherence to those laws, and consequently destroyed the distinction of the three periods; all men being then bound only to the faith and obedience of the Gospel, and a subjection to the laws of those countries in which they respectively resided. The more minute divisions of the noble author it will not be necessary to notice, as they appear to me less corroborated than the others, and are not referred to in the present arrangement.
Dr. Lardner's proposition, in reply to this hypothesis of three divisions, is-there was but one sort of proselytes (c).
He then proceeds to describe them by the usual characteristics universally acknowledged to belong to proselytes of righteousness-they were called "strangers, or proselytes within the gate," and "sojourners," as they were allowed to dwell or sojourn among the people of Israel. They were so called because they could not possess land; the whole of Canaan being, by the law of Moses, appropriated to the twelve tribes only.
1. In defence of this hypothesis, Dr. Lardner quotes Exod. xii. 48. Lev. xvii. 8. Num. ix. 14. and xv. 15, 16. all of which ordain a perfect similiarity between the Israelite and the so