« FöregåendeFortsätt »
riod, 4742. Vulgar Era,
THE APOSTLES RETURN TO JERUSALEM-CHAP. IX.
13 And when they were come in, they went up into Jerusalem. an upper room, where abode both Peter and James,
attachment to the government; and the gross infraction of any moral or social duty was deemed a proof of civism, and a victory over prejudice. All distinctions of right and wrong were confounded. The grossest debauchery triumphed. Then proscription followed upon proscription, tragedy followed after tragedy, in almost breathless succession, on the theatre of France; the whole nation seemed to be converted into a horde of assassins. Democracy and atheism, hand in hand, desolated the country, and couverted it into one vast field of rapine and of blood. The moral and social ties were unloosed, or rather torn asunder. For a man to accuse his own father was declared to be an act of civism, worthy of a true republican; and to neglect it was pronounced a crime, that should be punished with death. Accordingly women denounced their husbands, and mothers their sons, as bad citizens and traitors. While many women-not of the dress of the common people, nor of infamous reputation, but respectable in character and appearance -seized with savage ferocity between their teeth the mangled limbs of their murdered countrymen. The miseries suffered by that single nation, have changed all the histories of the preceding sufferings of mankind into idle tales. The kingdom appeared to be changed into one great prison; the inhabitants converted into felons; and the common doom of man commuted for the violence of the sword and the bayonet, the sucking boat and the guillotine. To contemplative men it seemed, for a season, as if the knell of the whole nation was tolled, and the world summoned to its execution and its funeral. Within the short space of ten years not less than three millions of human beings are supposed to have perished in that single country, by the influence of atheism, and the legislature of infidelity. I well know it will be thought by many, that this part of the subject has been exhausted. But in one sense, it can never be exhausted. The fearful warnings of that dreadful revolution ought to be indelibly impressed upon society, so long as a Sovereign, or a State, remain in the civilized world.
Thus it appears that man has never yet been able, by the mere light of nature, to attain to a competent knowledge of religious truth. Let us now take a different view of the subject, and endeavour to shew, by arguments of another kind, how impossible it is for him to lay any foundation for such knowledge, other than that which is already laid in the revealed will of God.
From a consideration of the powers and faculties of the human understanding, it is demonstrable that it cannot attain to knowledge of any kind without some external communication. It cannot perceive, unless the impression be made on the organs of perception: it cannot form ideas without perceptions: it cannot judge without a comparison of ideas: it cannot form a proposition without this exercise of its judgment: it cannot reason, argue, or syllogize, without this previous formation of propositions to be examined and compared. Such is the procedure of the human understanding in the work of ratiocination; whence it clearly follows that it can, in the first instance, do nothing of itself: that is, it cannot begin its operations till it be supplied with materials to work upon, which materials must come from without: and that the mind unfurnished with these, is incapable of attaining even to the lowest degree of knowledge.
and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholo- Jerusalem.
Without Revelation, therefore, it is certain that man never could have discovered the mind or will of God, or have obtained any knowledge of spiritual things. That he never did attain to it, appears from a fair and impartial statement of the condition of the Heathen world before the preaching of Christianity, and of the condition of barbarous and uncivilized countries at the present moment. That he could never attain to it, is proved, by shewing that human reason, unenlightened by Revelation, has no foundation on which to construct a solid system of religion; that all human knowledge is derived from external communications, and conveyed either through the medium of the senses, or immediately by divine inspiration; that those ideas which are formed in the mind through the medium of the senses can communicate no knowledge of spiritual things; and that, consequently, for this knowledge he must be indebted wholly to Divine Revelation (g). If, then we find, from the very nature of man, as well as from the records of all history, that he has never been able to invent for himself a consistent scheme of religion; if his human reason is utterly incapable of arriving at any satisfactory conclusions respecting God and his Providence, the nature of the soul, or his own destiny in another state-if all his ideas on these subjects are clearly traceable to Revelation, and as soon as he steps over this boundary he launches at once into the chaos of conjecture and uncertainty; we have the most undoubted evidence in our favour, to prove that Revelation was necessary to man, and that he is unable of himself to discover those interesting and important truths which relate both to his present and future existence; and the decided superiority of Revelation over every other system which the ingenuity or sagacity of man have either invented or proposed, is the hallowed and ratifying seal of its divine origin. Who then will yet refuse to enter this holy temple of Christianity? who will still reject the religion of Christ, for infidel philosophy and metaphysical uncertainty-for endless and useless theories-for premises without conclusions-death without hope-and a God, without other proofs of his mercy than he has bestowed alike upon the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air!
(a) Jones' (of Nayland's) Works, vol. vii. p. 294. (b) That which the modern speculators call natural religion, is the offspring of cultivated minds, thoroughly imbued with an early and extensive knowledge of religion, and endeavouring, by subtle distinctions, to separate the doctrines and duties which could only have been known by revelation, from those which they suppose to be discoverable by the power of hnman reason only. After all the reasonings of Wollaston, Clarke, and others, on this subject, the only point of real importance has been disregarded. The question is, whether there has ever been found a nation who have been governed by natural religion; or, whether this natural religion has made any discoveries concerning God, or the soul of man, or the nature of the future world, or on any of these sublimer subjects, which are at all comparable to those which are given to us in revelation. Natural religion, (says Faber,) denotes that religion which man might frame to himself by the unassisted exercise of his intellectual powers, if he were placed in the world by his Creator, without any communication being made to him relative to that Creator's will and attributes. Faber on the Three Dispensations, vol. i. p. 74. (c) See Stilling fleet's Origines Sacra-Faber's Origin of Pagan Idolatry-Gale's Court of the Gentiles-Young on Idolatry, and many other treatises,
Julian Period, 4742.
MATTHIAS APPOINTED TO THE APOSTLESHIP-CHAP. IX.
14 These all continued with one accord in
prayer and Jerusalem.
Valgar Era, supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of
Matthias by lot appointed to the Apostleship, in the place
ACTS i. v. 15. to the end.
15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of
which fully prove the truth of this position. (d) See Gale's Court of
2 "From this event many have inferred the right of popular
16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have Jerusalem. riod, 4742. been fulfilled which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of Vulgar Era, David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide
to them that took Jesus.
office with the persons whom he was addressing; and indeed the allusion to the ascension exclusively confines his meaning to the apostles. It is also worthy of remark, that in the address of the apostles to the multitude of the disciples on the day of Pentecost, this particularity of persons is actually observed; Look YE out seven men, whom WE may appoint over this business, (Acts vi. 3.) Again, the apostle speaks of Judas, as having obtained part of this ministry, of this ministry with which you and I are entrusted, and which in the subjoined prayer is described as the ministry and apostleship, or ministry of the apostleship, (Acts i. 17. 21.) He speaks likewise in a demonstrative manner of certain persons, who were present, (ver. 21.) and out of whom the election was to be made, as distinguished from those whom he was addressing, and who were to make the election; and whom he supposes to be acquainted with the circumstances which rendered it necessary to supply the place of Judas from among those who had been their constant companions from the beginning (Acts i. 22.) To be a witness of the resurrection is an expression frequently appropriated in the Scriptures to the apostles, and to them alone; and to be made a witness of the resurrection with us, is to be raised to the apostolate with us. It may also be supposed, that the electors were possessed of equal authority with St. Peter, and placed the same reliance on their own judgment as on his recommendation; he maintained the necessity of substituting one for Judas, they nominated two candidates, and left the ultimate choice to the Searcher of Hearts; while in the election of the deacons seven men were required by the apostles, and seven men were accordingly elected. Hence it may be concluded, that the persons whom St. Peter addressed, and who were to elect the candidates, were the apostles themselves. The choice of the electors was however limited; they were not to elect any new and inexperienced convert, but one of those who had companied with them all the time that the Lord Jesus had gone in and out among them, a description highly appropriate to the Seventy; and if the application to them be admitted, and if it be maintained, in opposition to the preceding argument, that St. Peter's discourse was addressed to them in connection with the apostles, the natural conclusion will be, that the Seventy nominated, and the apostles approved, and Barsabas and Matthias must both be included in the number of the Seventy. But whatever was the capacity of the electors, whether apostles or the Seventy, or both acting in concert, they appointed two; they did not presume to supply the vacancy by the nomination of an individual successor; they did not before the effusion of the Spirit esteem themselves competent to judge of the respective merits of the candidates, whom they proposed; they commended their case in earnest prayer to God, and left the matter to his arbitration and decision; and with this diffidence in their own judgment, and this reference of the whole affair to the divine pleasure, it is most inconsistent to suppose, that they would appeal to the opinion of an indiscriminate multitude. The election was concluded by lots, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and in devout acquiescence in the divine preference, without any imposition of hands, which on other occasions was the form of ministerial ordina
MATTHIAS APPOINTED TO THE APOSTLESHIP-CHAP. IX.
ian Pe- 17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained Jerusalem. igar Era, part of this ministry.
18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
(19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood $.)
tion, he was numbered with the eleven apostles. The infer-
Mosheim (b), concludes, from the mode of expression here
(a) Morgan's Platform of the Christian Church, p. 29, &c. (b) Vidal's Translation of Mosheim, note, p. 136, vol. i. (c) See Kuinoel, sect. 2. lib. N. T. Histor. Com. in loc. and Schleusner in voc. кλñρoç.
This passage, Acts i. 19. ought to be in a parenthesis, as being spoken by St. Luke. Esse hunc vebum pro additamento Lucæ habendum satis dilucide verba ipsa docent. Quorsum enim Petrus Apostolis dixisset, Judæ triste fatum omnibus Hierosolymitanis innotuisse? quam absone fuisset etiam voces Akeldama, omnibus præsentibus satis notæ, interpretatio! Accedit etiam quod ager ille haud dubio hoc nomen successu demum temporis accepit. Est igitur hic versus parentheseos nota a reliquis sejungendus, dzeλdaμà Syr. Chald. 7 pm ager cardis. scil. cruentus aypòs aïμaros, Matt. xxvii. 8 (a).
(a) Kuinoel Comment. in lib. Hist. N. T. vol.iv. p. 18. See also Pfeiffer Dubía vexata Cent. 4. on the word Aceldama. Doddridge also, with other critics, places this verse in a parenthesis.