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ST. PAUL PROCEEDS TO THESSALONICA-CHAP. XII.
Julian Pe- openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us Philippi. riod, 4761. into prison: and now do they thrust us out privily? nay Vulgar Æra,
verily; but let them come themselves, and fetch us out.
38 And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans.
38 And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city.
ACTS xvii. 1-10.
2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath-days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures'.
3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.
4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul
This passage is generally quoted as one of those which prove the identity of the service of the primitive Church with that of the synagogue. In the instance of reading the Scriptures in both, the parallel certainly exists. This subject, bowever, having been already in some measure considered, I shall merely observe, in this place, that we never read that any one of the primitive Churches had such an officer as the Archisynagogus, or were governed by the ten, the twenty-three, &c. neither were the primitive Churches built by the side of rivers ; and many other points of dissimilarity might be shewd.
Some writers indeed have gone to the opposite extreme, and derived the principal customs which prevailed among the early Christians to the Heathen institutions established among them. The fact seems to be, that as the Jewish synagogues were necessarily the first places of Worship, very many useful customs were derived from the Jewish synagogue-service: and, as the number of the Gentile converts increased from the Heathen worship, some customs might be derived from them also. The Churches, in things indifferent, were left to their own discretion: there was, however, a general similarity of worship, as well as an unity of faith, among all the primitive Churches. As at the Reformation, our Church-service was not formed upon the model of the service of the Romish Church ; yet our reformers wisely retained whatever was useful; so were many customs of the synagogues preserved. The worship of God was placed upon a right foundation : there was neither a servile deference paid to antiquity, neither was there any capricious, or useless, or jealous removal of ancient customs, merely because they were established.
Julian Pe- and Silas ; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, Tbesvaloriod, 4762. and of the chief women not a few.
nica. Vulgar Æra.
5 But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, 51.
took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and
6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason
7 Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Cesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.
8 And they troubled the people, and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.
9 And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.
opposition to the Judaizing Teachers, that faith in
$1. Gal. i. 1-5.
1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but
10 Revelation is the language of heaven, spoken by the lips of men; and no where through the volume of Scripture do we more legibly read its characters of light, than in the portion to which we have now arrived, the Epistles of St. Paul.' It is here that the discoveries are made which complete the perfection of the Christian dispensation. The preaching of Christ was past-the generation of witnesses wbo heard him speak “ as man never spake,” was rapidly dying away; the reign of the Holy Spirit had began, and the divine teaching was recalled to the minds of the Evangelists, and the deepest mysteries of God were imparted to the apostles. In the Gospels we read what Christ in his humility declared on earth, in the Epistles are recorded what Christ on his throne of glory spake through the Spirit from heaven. Why should it excite our surprise, therefore, that all those who passionately long, or serenely hope, for their eventual attainment of the promises of God, should be so much attached to this portion of their holy Revelation ; when others again, of a different character, who seem unable to appreciate their sublime excellencies, would altogether exclude them, as abounding with observations and directions which were primarily of a temporary bature only, and consequently, as they assert, irrelevant to the Christians of the present age. On this principle nearly the whole of our Scriptures may be rejected as useless, for all the sacred books, either wholly, or in part, were first written to answer some temporary object, bow. ever profitable they may bave been for instruction, reproof, and doctrine to the Catholic Church for ever. Man is the
THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS-CHAP. XII.
Julian Pe- by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him Thessaloriod 4762. from the dead ;)
same in all ages, and in all countries. However his customs and
Here it is that we are presented with a picture of the heart
The errors wbich distracted the Church in the apostolic age, are the same in principle as those wbich bave always flourished, and which are abundantly prevalent in our own day. Even now the advocates of natural religion, and the asserters of the power of human reason, like the Goostics of the apostolic age, embarrass themselves and their readers with vain philosophy, and crude speculations on the existence of God, the nature of the soul, the origin of the world, or the eternity of matter. Anticbristian metaphysicians still deserve the censure of “ profane and vaip babblings.” The Greek, the Oriental, and Jewish VOL. II.
Julian Pe- 2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the Thessaloriod, 4762. churches of Galatia :
nica. VulgarÆra, 51.
philosophy, united all their jargon to oppose a system of spiri-
Did the Gnostics “ forbid to marry, and command to abstain
Among the various errors of the apostolic age which are censured in their different compositions, we meet with no traces of that fatal error which has been reserved only for modern presumption: we find no denial, of the miraculous evidenccs upon which Cbristianity is founded, or of the facts which it records, as the basis of the doctrines it enforces. This effort of the enemy of the Church was reserved for the present critical and enlightened age, in which that reasoner is considered the most wise who departs farthest from the only true wisdom; and bewildered in the clouds and mists of error, puts darkness for light, and light for darkness.
If we turn to those subjects in which man may imaginc himself
The distant throne, the sapphire blaze
TAE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS-CHAP. XIL.
211 Julian Pe- . g Grace be to you, and peace, from God the Father, Thessaloriod, 4762. and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
nica, Valgar Æra, 51.
In them we are confirmed in the belief of our own resurrection in the assurance that this corruptible must put on incor. ruption. They corroborate the events related in the Gospels, and are the most decisive evidences we can possess of the rapid increase of Christianity. In them we hear, as it were, the angel of God declare, that time shall be no more." We see the Saviour of the world resign his mediatorial kingdom to bis Fatber, that God may be all in all the harvest of the Church gathered in-the eternity that is past united to the eternity that is to come, and man made partaker of a heavenly and glorious immortality.
With respect to the crime of dividing or disturbing the Churches, the apostolic Epistles every where abound with the most explicit injunctions on this point-“I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment: for it hath been declared unto me, of you, my brethren, that there are contentions among you. Submit' to those that have the rule over you, for they watch for your souls, as those that must give an account ;" with many other passages to the same purpose.
Still farther ; there are various portions of the Epistles, which incontrovertibly relate to our own times, and to times yet to arrive : those portions, namely, which are predictive. of this description are the Epistle of St. Jude; a part of the second Epistle of St. Peter ; of St. Paul's second Epistle to the Thessalonians, and of both his Epistles to Timothy'; and of the Epistles of St. John. It is needless to name other passages, or to enlarge on those prophecies which have been specified; for who will deny them to pertain to the faith and the practice of the present age?
We must not, however, regard the Epistles as communications of religious doctrines not disclosed before: as displaying the perfection of a system, of which merely the rude elements had been indicated in the writings of the four Evangelists. The object of the Gospels seems supposed to be almost exclusively this : to prove, by a genuine narrative of miraculous facts, that Jesus Christ was the promised Redeemer; and thus to lay ground for the belief of the doctrinal truths, which he should afterwards reveal by the Holy Ghost in the Epistles.
Is this opinion, says a Jearned modern (a), consistent with antecedent probability? Does it appear a natural expectation, that our blessed Redeemer, « 'in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily," to whom the “ Holy Ghost was given without measure," should restrict within such scanty limits his personal communications of divine truths to his disciples : that he should thus restrict such communications to bis apostles during the whole period of his public ministry, before his crucitixion and after his resurrection Is this opinion easily reconcileable with the declarations of the inspired writers, that, while our Lord“ dwelt among them, they beheld his glory, as the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth," (John i. 14.): and that “after his passion he was seen of them forty days, speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” (Acts i. 3.)
To bring the point in debate to the specdicst issue, we will inquire, what are the new articles, wbat is the new article, of