Imatges de pÓgina
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observance of the Sabbath; and yet it is so consistent with the tenour of Christ's teachings and practice, that no sound argument can be urged to controvert its expediency and usefulness. Upon the same grounds we plead the propriety of Ordination Services. Neither the present manner of conducting them, nor the present style of preaching, is strictly agreeable to the original model. Circumstances of time and place have compelled us to depart from the primitive node of worship, and circumstances, equally uncontrollable, have given a different character to the service in question; but the object of each is the same, distinctly and essentially the same, as in the days of the apostles. The Sabbath is still dedicated to moral and religious purposes; Ordinations are still intended to recognize the public teachers of religion, to recommend them to the favour of God, and to aid their inexperience by tried wisdom and affectionate counsel. It is granted that, in the earliest age of the Christian Church, some special powers were communicated by prayer and ordination: it must also be granted that the preaching of the apostles was by Divine inspiration: yet who con tends that there should be no public instructions on the Sabbath because the days of inspiration have passed by? If it be admitted that the teach ings of ministers endowed only with ordinary intellectual and moral pow ers, are agreeable to the spirit of Christ's intentions, it must also be conceded that the service of Ordination adapted to the present state of mankind, must be equally proper and obligatory, and equally removed from the character of will-worship. No facts are more plainly recorded in the New Testament than the ceremonies which accompanied the ordination or setting apart of persons for special employments or different offices in the church. They might be principally used for conveying to them supernatural powers in proof of their appointment. But, besides these gifts, they received directions peculiarly suitable to the work they had to perform and the difficulties they had to surmount, and were commended to

See Acts yi. 6, ix, 17, xiii. 3, 4; 1 Tim. iii. 10.

the protection of God by a solemn act of prayer. It is these latter instructions that we can imitate and employ; and, as long as no pretensions are usurped, there must be considerable propriety in following a scriptural practice to aid the inability of youth, and supply the wants of inexperience. I argue only on the proper use of the service; for, as to the communication of spiritual authority by the imposition of hands,

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every rational believer in the truths of Christianity discards at once the idea of a ceremony founded upon such an utter misapprehension of the meaning of scripture and the present state of society, and which can be entertained for a moment only on the supposition that the miraculous gifts enjoyed by the first promulgators of the gospel, have been transmitted, in regular and unimpaired succession, to the religious teachers of modern times.” *

Again, your correspondent asks, whether the service "is not objectionable as accompanied, in many cases, with a considerable degree of usurpation, and, in general, calculated to impress men's minds with superstitious notions, especially with regard to the validity and sacredness of the clerical office and character?”

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This objection is clearly founded on the abuse of the service." It would be very easy to select the corruptions from the best institutions in order to fix upon them the stigma of supersti tion. Neither "priestly usurpations," nor ghostly pretensions," are at all necessarily connected with this service. We may associate "superstitious notions" with any rites, however rational and obligatory; in proof of which I need only allude to a too general feeling respecting one of the positive institutions of Christianity: but even Ruris Colonus, I am persuaded, would not argue from that circumstance that it should be altogether abandoned. It ought to be an additional reason for enforcing its observance, by rendering it simple as its object is important, and stripping it of those repulsive corruptions which the superstitions of former ages have thrown around it. The same reasoning will apply to the

See the Rev. J. J. Tayler's Ordination Service, p. iv.

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service of ordination. If any super stitious and corrupt ceremonies have been mingled with it, let them be condemned and omitted; but let an enlightened discrimination preserve what is scriptural and beneficial. In the present manner of conducting the service, nothing like usurpation or dominion is exercised over the mind, unless the terms be applied to an act of devotion, or to "language of fraternal equality and affection." Nor, in my opinion, is any undue authority attached to the clerical office and character. If they be raised in the estimation of mankind by this service, it is only by a statement of the duties connected with them, and the obligations to fulfil them. No end can be more legitimate than this; for while it impresses upon the mind of the minister the important character he has to sustain, it also solicits from his congregation that allowance for im. perfections which must necessarily appear in the prosecution of a work so arduous.

So far, Sir, in my view, is the ser. vice of Ordination from lying under the above objections, that it appears to me eminently scriptural in its origin, reasonable in its object, and bene. ficial in its tendency. After a new connexion is formed between a minister and a congregation, there is some. thing peculiarly proper in their uniting to solicit the prayers and exhortations of experienced pastors to strengthen and consecrate the union so lately formed. The duties which relate to their mutual relation may have been acknowledged by them; but by the minister especially, young and inex. perienced, there will be felt many difficulties which only his more ad vanced brethren can remove, because they only have known them. The very relation in which he stands to his people, while it enables him to enter at some length into their duties, places him in a delicate situation with respect to the nature and extent of his own. While he is fearful, on the one hand, of promising more than he is able to perform; and, on the other, of not promising so much as his people have been accustomed to receive, or as they have a right to expect;-what can be so satisfactory as to be told, by the voice of encouragement and affection, what those duties are which

really belong to the office of a minister, and to be told them by one who has himself performed them in an exemplary manner, who is himself a pattern of those virtues and acquirements which are so indispensable to the due discharge of those duties? What can be a greater excitement to virtuous exertion, in both minister and congregation, than the presence and blessing of those excellent servants of Christ who have devoted their talents and labours to the diffusion of Christianity, and who may come to strengthen the hands of their brother, to give him and his people affectionate counsel, and to solemnize their mutual connexion?

With such views of this service, I cannot better conclude this letter, which has run out to a much greater length than I expected, than by quoting a passage on the subject from Dr. Priestley: When the design of Ordination, as above explained, is well understood; when the person ordained shall have performed every part of the ministerial duty before, as well as after, his ordination, though the naine given to the service no longer suggests the idea that was formerly annexed to it, no superstition is encouraged. And since the connexion between a minister and his congregation, and especially the first that he forms, is a very serious concern, there cannot surely be any impropriety-but, on the contrary, the greatest propriety-in making it an occasion of solemn prayer; and then exhortation or admonition from a minister of greater age and experience to one who has but lately entered upon the office, is particularly seasonable. I cannot help, therefore, expressing my wish, that some service, to which the name of Ordination may well enough be given, may bẹ kept up among us; at the same time, that every precaution is taken to prevent superstition with respect to it." FRANKLIN BAKER.

SIR,
THE more I review the statements

ness of Christianity," the more I am sometimes tempted to incline to what seems to me to have been his convic

* See Preface to the Discourse containing a View of Revealed Religion.

tion with regard to the person and office of Christ, viz. that he was not a man born as other men are, but by the miraculous intervention of the Supreme Being, and therefore, in a peculiar as well as emphatical sense, denominated his Son: that, so born, he, like Adam, was not by the necessity of his nature subjected to death; or, in what I conceive to be the full meaning of his own very remarkable declaration, that, when he died, he abdicated, in obedience to the will of God, a life which it was not in the power of men, at any time, to take away: that the death of such a second Adam, in point of nature, was the means appointed by God, in the good pleasure of his justice and mercy, to redeem mankind from the penalty passed on the whole human race for the transgression of their progenitor, viz. the grave; thus being made not only "a living soul," but also "a quickening spirit:" and that faith in the efficacy of this sacrifice is the distinguishing tenet between the Jew and the Christian.*

It is not my intention, at present, to appeal, in confirmation of this opinion, to the unquestionable faith of the apostles in the entirety, the unity, the individuality of their Son of God, on the one hand; nor to the almost overwhelming sense they manifestly entertained of his love in dying for the sins of mankind, on the other. As little am I disposed, just now, to remark on the probability, derived from analogy, of such a mode of redemption, or the complete apology which alone it seems to afford for that otherwise apparently anomalous extreme of horrors with which the most intrepid, as well as the meekest, of mankind contemplated an event so perilous to the apprehension of every mortal human being, and, in his own case, divested of every terror but its concomitant pain. My sole object in these few lines is to inquire whether

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one of the strongest objections to the narrative of the miraculous conception of our Saviour, viz. its not being referred to or hinted at by any of the apostles, be as well founded as some of its patrons suppose; or rather, perhaps, to submit to their reconsideration the two following texts, which appear to me to militate against such a conclusion:

Rom. i. 3, 4: "Made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness" (in the holy spirit,) "by the resurrection from the dead." What are we to understand here by the phrase, "the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness"? Coupled with the preceding member of the sentence, my imagination or my understanding descries in it no less than an express and obvious reference to the fact in question. The resurrection from the dead testifies, it is said, that he who was of the seed of David, &c., was the Son of God, &c. Translated into other words, the testimony seems to my mind to be, that the man Jesus was in a peculiar sense the offspring of the Spirit of God, in the sense here described in terms by the apostle. This only is the full extent of the deposition. There is a remarkable coincidence seemingly in the phraseology of the disputed narrative and the supposed allusion to it in this place. "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee," (the Virgin Mary,)“ and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; THEREFORE," (the verse proceeds,)" that holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God." "It was not possible" that such a descendant of David "should be holden of death;" and thus his almost immediate resurrection from the grave attests the miraculous conception and birth of the Messiah. Such a person was "our Lord Jesus Christ."

The other text to which I would recall the attention of Unitarians is Gal. iv. 4-7: "God sent forth-HIS Son made of a woman." Does not this statement remarkably correspond with the former? If the fact were undisputed, would it not be considered as a precise and exact description of the Christ? Is it not, then, a strong presumption in favour of the authenticity

of the narrative? Or, may it not at least answer in some degree the purpose for which it is now produced, to tempt the reader to pause before he too dogmatically concludes the utter ignorance of all the apostles of an event happily recorded by two of the four evangelists.

time, and with the same view, sent thither the Apostle Paul-namely, to be tried before Cæsar. Josephus, at the risk of his life and fortune, followed his friends to the capital; and, having by his address and influence effected their deliverance, he returned to take an active part in the affairs of his country, where the flames of war had already broken out.

AN APOSTOLIC CHRISTIAN.

4. In the twentieth book of his Jewish Antiquities, Josephus has given a very long and very interesting account of the conversion of the royal

family

to

Dr. J. Jones's further Proofs of Josephus being a Christian Advocate.

1. that the

N my last paper [XIX. 722

Judaism which Josephus defends in his immortal work against Apion, is the Judaism of the New Testament. It follows, therefore, that he must mean the Judaism of the New Testament wherever he speaks of Judaism in other parts of his works. Now, Josephus speaks of the religion of the Jews in connexion with great events at Jerusalem, Cæsarea, Alexandria, Antioch, Damascus, Rome, &c.; and in these places there is independent evidence that, on each occasion, he means what we now call Christianity, or, as the Jewish believers considered and designated it, the religion of Moses and the prophets improved and perfected by Jesus Christ. In other words, there is abundant evidence to prove that Josephus, in many parts of his Jewish Antiquities and his Jewish War, is the historian and apologist of the gospel.

2. Whenever the writings of Josephus shall, as they ought, be studied in connexion with the existing circumstances of that age, there will appear sufficient grounds for believing that he had the gospel always before him; and, well knowing that its records were before the public, he took every fair opportunity, without notifying his intention, to state facts calculated to illustrate or to verify them.

3. From the Memoirs which Jose phus gives of his own life-one of the most important and interesting pieces of biography extant-we may infer that he early classed himself with the followers of Jesus, and finished his education under a Christian minister. In the twenty-sixth year of his age, some of the priests who had become converts to the gospel, were sent to Rome by Felix, who, about the same

religion; and his narrative contains decisive evidence that the religion of which he speaks is the same with that which was disseminated by Paul. The person who effected the conversion of that family was Ananias: and we are left to infer that this Ananias was no other than he who is mentioned in the Acts as the friend of that apostle; for he taught Izates, the young prince who had now succeeded to the throne, that, in embracing the religion of the Jews, it was not necessary to submit to the rite of circumcision in order to worship God with acceptance. This was the doctrine of a Christian Jew, and of a Christian Jew only. A still more remarkable and characteristic circumstance is interwoven with the history. Paul and his brethren, in disseminating the gospel, were followed to every place by emissaries of the Gnostics or antichristian teachers at Jerusalem. Ananias encountered the same opposition on the conversion of Izates; for Eleazar, who affected. to be a man of superior wisdom and skill in the law of Moses, obtained admission to the court, assailed the prince with tremendous curses, unless he submitted to the rite of circumcision; and thus he effected his purpose, contrary to the advice of Ananias.The characters of Helen and Izates, as drawn by the pen of Josephus, are the finest on record; and the object of the historian is to illustrate the happy influence of Christianity on the lives of those who embraced it among the Gentiles.

5. Josephus is the historian and apologist of the Jewish Christians under the name of Essenes. From the days of Moses to John the Baptist, that people formed an order of men distinguished, not as a separate reli

skill, yet with great caution, to bring
forward the principal men of Jerusa
lem as disapproving the cruel sentence
passed upon him by Ananus, and
bearing testimony to the truth of the
gospel.

gious sect, but by their superior know
ledge of the Scriptures, by greater
purity of manners, and a more ardent
zeal in the service of God. They
constituted the sons of the prophets
mentioned in the Book of Kings, of
whom Elijah was one; and here, even
so late as the days of Josephus, the
Pharisees and Sadducees finished their
education, and were qualified to fill
the highest offices in the church and
in the state. At the head of this body
was John the Baptist when our Lord
appeared. By submitting to his bap-
tism, Jesus became an Essene; and
by the testimony which the Baptist
bore to him, the Essenes became
Christians, excepting a considerable
portion of the higher order, who se
ceded, and, uniting with the Pharisees,
formed the Gnostic school. It is well
known that the Essenes are not men-
tioned, nor alluded to, in the New
Testament. The reason is, that the
writers of the Christian Scriptures
were themselves of the number, and
could not speak of the Essenes but
under those names by which they
speak of themselves. Josephus avail
ed himself of these circumstances,
and, in order to exclude the charge of
being innovators and heretics brought
against the followers of Jesus, he de-
scribes them as that body of people
who from immemorial ages had been
held in the highest veneration for their
learning and probity.

8. Soon after the resurrection of Jesus, the Gnostic imposture was taught in Rome. The authors were a Jew, guilty of every crime, and mentioned by Paul in Rom. ii., and some Egyptian priests, with the famous Simon of Samaria. These pretended that Jesus was one of the pagan gods miraculously conceived; and they instigated Tiberius to propose his deification to the senate in order to place him in the Pantheon. Simon, at somewhat a later period, finding that there existed a statue in honour of a Sabine divinity called Simo Sanco, pretended, from the similarity of his name, that he was that divinity. The senate, from malice towards Jesus, connived at the trick, and either erected a new statue to Simon, or more exactly inscribed his name on the old. It was natural for the people of Rome to conclude that Jesus was himself a magician, similar in character to those who pretended to teach his religion in the capital. These circumstances induced Josephus to take a decisive course. He takes Jesus from Judea, and Simon from Samaria, and places them together before the view of the Romans. On one hand, he bears testimony to the wisdom, the love of truth, and the works, which distinguished our blessed Lord: he fixes the time of his appearance in opposition to the deceivers, who assigned an earlier period for his birth: he excludes from his real history the doctrines of his divinity and miraculous birth, and represents the men who endeavoured to impose these doctrines on the emperor and the Roman people, as villains to be held in execration. On the other hand, he held forth Simon to public infamy, as a liar, an impostor, and a disturber of the public peace, though the senate, from hatred against the truth, had affected to raise him to divine honours. Such is the origin of the passage in Josephus respecting Christ which filled all Europe with disputes for a hundred years.

6. Josephus speaks of the Gnostics, the worst and most bitter enemies of the gospel, under the name of zealots. These men, uniting by means of their einissaries with the pagan priests and philosophers, were the chief agents in causing the corruption of Christianity and the ruin of their country; and Josephus holds them forth to the indignation of mankind, as the most depraved and wicked men that ever lived. It will be found an interesting fact, that the men thus described by the Jewish historian are the very same with those whose character is delineated by Peter and Jude; and that coincidence will prove the means of placing the genuineness of those Epistles beyond contradiction.

9. Our Lord predicted the fall of Jerusalem with a detail of particulars

7. Josephus has, in the nineteenth book of his Antiquities, given an account of the death of James, the brother of our Lord; and in that brief narrative he has contrived, with great

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