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Jalian Pe- preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath- Jerusalem.
should be added to the end of the 15th ; being then road, the
Why are these things forbidden, he observes, more than eating
it is not the order in which they are mentioned by St. James. Why forbid to the Gentile converts at Antioch, what was allowed to the Corinthians, (1 Cor. iv. 25. 27. 31. viii. 10. 28.) Thus it is evident that all Gentile Christians are not bound to observe the decree, and therefore it is not probable that it should be more necessary for the Gentiles of Antioch than those of Corinth.
As Christ's kingdom is not of this world, his doctrine and laws make no difference in civil regulations. He that is subject to heathen powers must be so still. He that is married, must not seek to be loosed. Christian parents must love heathen children. Christian children must obey heatben parents, &c. Also 1 Cor. vii. 18. 20. the principal character of the Christian religion is an entire freedom to comply with all customs in which there is no moral turpitude. In this the decree agrees, for it is only a list of abstinences that were enjoined on Proselytes of the Gate, in virtue of the obedience they owed to the civil law of Palestine.
St. Paul, so far from enjoining these abstinences to the idola. trous Gentiles, expressly declares that nothing is unclean of itself (Rom. xiv. 14. 20. Tit. i. 15. I Cor. x. 25. 27.); and no where, in any epistle to the idolatrous Gentiles, does he insist upon or even mention the decree : indeed his argument (Gal. v. 24.) expressly forbids a compliance with the Jewish customs. His reasoning is, that if a Gentile considered circumcision to be necessary to salvation, he laid a weight upon an obedience to the law of Moses, which was in effect renouncing the mediation of Christ, and seeking to be justified by an observance of that law by which“ po flesb living could be justified.” A Jew might be circumcised, and obey all the laws of Moses, and yet vot renounce Cbristianity; indeed, St. Paul bids the Jews continue Jews; that is, obey the laws of their country as the laws of their country, but not seek justification from an observance of them. If this hypothesis be true, the authority of this decree only lasted as a civil regulation, while the Jewish polity lasted, and therefore the advice founded upon it must cease with the existence of the Jewish nation, and indeed never could have been addressed to the idolatrous Gentiles.
Origen (continues Lord Barrington) was of opinion that the four probibitions contained in the decree were particularly addressed to Proselytes of the Gate, though he imagined the decree itself to be addressed to all Christians.
The reason why these things were forbidden to the Proselytes of the Gate was, tbat they were at that time the chief enticements to, and concomitants of idolatry. And as renouncing idolatry was the only reason why any one should desire to become a proselyte, and the only reason the Jews should grant it (as an idolater being guilty of high treason under a theocracy was not to be suffered to live,) Mosos expressly forbad those things which accompanied idolatry, and were likely to tempt them to a commission of the crime.
PAUL AND BARNABAS GO UP TO JERUSALEM-CHAP. XI. 183 Julian Pe- 22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the Jerusalem. riod, 4760. Valgar Æra, 19.
That the decree only related to the Proselytes of the Gate, is attempted to be proved by many other considerations, to which the reader is referred.
Lord Barrington further considers the Church at Antioch to bave been at first designed by Gud, in his Providence, and continued all aloog, as a Church made up of Proselytes of the Gate, to prepare Paul and Barnabas for preaching to the idolatrous Gentiles; and the Jewish Cbristians for receiving the news of whole churches being composed of those who had been idolatrous Gentiles; and to be in some sort, if I may so express it, the mother Church of the idolatrons Gentiles, as Jerusalem was of the Jews. For as the apostles and apostolic men were sent from the Church at Jerusalem to convert Jews, Samaritans, and Proselytes of the Gate, to which afterwards they returned to give an account of their success; so were the apostles Barnabas and Saul sent on their first peregrination by the Church at Antioch, to convert the idolatrous Gentiles to the faith, (Acts xiji. 2, 3. 5.) and return thither at the end of it, and “ rehearse all that God hath done with them.” (Acts xiv, 26, 27.) Moreover it is to be observed, that Paul set out from Antioch on bis second and third peregrination, (Acts xxviii. 22, 23.); and perhaps Barnabas and Mark did so likewise, (Acts xiv. 39.) It is also highly probable, that after his first imprisonment at Rome, when he went up to Jerusalem, he might from thence go again to Antioch, as his custom was every other time lie went up to Jerusalem after commencing an apostle ; in wbich case we have grounds for io ferring that he set out again from that place on his fifth peregrination, which we gather from other passages of Scripture he went upon; though St. Luke does not carry the history of St. Paul so far. Before having written this note, from the unassisted study of Scripture, I bad come to the same conclusion, in opposition to those who would refer the apostles' journeyings from Jerusalem. Antiocb was a city extremely well suited to these designs of Providence. It was situated in Syria, a country that was thought by the Jews to be of a sort of middle nature, between the holiness they ascribed to Palestine, and the pollution of other countries; and like the Proselytes of the Gate, being neither holy nor profane (c), it became consequently a region fit for a great Church of the Proselytes of the Gate converted to the faith. If this should be allowed, it accounts for the rise of the question-For it does not seem probable that Jews should require idolatrous Gentiles, who had never dwelt or sojourned in Palestine, to be bound by Moses's law--wbich they considered as obligatory only on themselves, or on those wbo would become Jews. And indeed I have some doubt wbe. ther at any time the zealots insisted on the necessity of the idolatrous Gentiles observing the laws of Moses, as they did in relation to the Proselytes of the Gate. Tbis hypothesis agrees with Peter's argument, which is entirely taken from the case of Cornelius, from which he deduces that as the Holy Ghost was given to this devout proselyte, on the observance only of these four precepts, and not of any of the other laws of Moses ; in like mander the same conditions, and no others, should be required of the Proselytes of the Gate, who had been converted to Chris. tianity at Antioch. There was a famous Jewish university at Antioch, and we learn both from Josephus (d), and the Roman laws (e), that it was full of Jews, and of Proselytes of the Gate, vbo were always numerous where there were many Jews, and comprehended generally most of the well-disposed Gentiles,
Julian Pe- whole church, to send chosen men of their own company Jerusalem. '
tianity by the men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who were among
However correct and ingenious this system of Lord Barring-
The probibition against idolatry does not seem to me to have been designed to forbid the mere offering of idolatrous worship to imagos of wood and stone; but to condemn also the indul. gence of those vices which were sanctioned by the heathens, who had appointed a god or a goddess as the presiding patron of every vice.
The prohibition to eat the blood of the animal that was pera mitted to be used for food, might not have been designed only against luxury, as Delaney imagines; nor to prevent certain idolatrous practices, as Spencer and Young have represented. It is well known, tbat the blood of the animal that was to be offered in sacrifice, and afterwards eaten by the worshipper, was poured out at the foot of the altar. Blood was an emblem of natural life; as the blood was poured out at the altar, so was it necessary that he who would approach to God with acceptance, must sacrifice the inferior and animal nature, and offer anto God a spiritual bomage. The blood aptly typified also that divine sacrifice, whose blood was poured out, and who gave his life as a sacrifice for many; and thus the meaning of the prohibi. tion to abtain from blood would be, “ Remember Him who shed his blood for you, and die unto the world, with its affoctions and lusts, drawing near to God with a pure and contrite heart.”
The abstaining from things strangled might have had a simiJar meaning. In these the blood was not poured out, and the sacrifice could not be accepted. This still declared, that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin-that the sacrifice of flesh is required of all of us that we may become new creatures.
The last command to abstain from impurity, requires no observation.
I am confirmed in this view of the meaning of the apostolic decree, by the consideration that all the rites and ceremonies of the Mosaic law had a spiritual as well as a typical signification. They were designed to keep the Jews as a distinct people, and to serve as a wall or partition between the Gentiles and themselves; but they all afforded likewise a moral instruction, and thus became the schoolmaster to bring them to the Christ, who was to come: in the same way these enactments might have been formod to enforce the remembrance of that Messiah who had now appeared, and was cxalled to the right band of God.
PAUL AND BARNABAS GO UP TO JERUSALEM-CHAP. XI.
Jalian Pe- to Antioch, with Paul and Barnabas ; namely Judas sur. Jerusalem. riod, 4760. Valgar Æra, 49.
It cannot be necessary to stop bere to refute the conjecture of Bently, that instead of topveias, in this passage, we should read youpeias, as this emendation is unsupported by the authority of any manuscript. Neither does the interpretation of the word Topveia, by Michaelis, who refers it to flesh offered to idols, and sold in the shambles, appear worthy of farther notice.
Dr. Delaney bas endeavoured to prove that the prohibition to eat blood is still binding upon the Churches of Christ; and Dr. A. Clarke has embraced his opinion. I cannot say their reasoning appears to be conclusive. The arguments of Dr. Hammond, Dean Graves, &c. &c. appear much more supported—that the prohibition has ceased upon this principle, that laws are no longer binding, when the reasons for their enactment cease to cxist. If at some future day, when it shall please God to bring about the accomplishment of his prophecies, and receive the Jews into his Church again, the eating of blood and of things strangled shall prove a stumbling-block to the converts, it will then perhaps, and not before that time, become the duty of Christians to obey the decree of the apostolic council.
Grotius (S) asserts that the converts were bound to abstain from blood, because it was so ordained to all the sons of Noah. He quotes from Tertullian, that the Emperor Leo considered it unwholesome, and prohibited it by an edict. He further argues, that the observance of a command so easy, was not liable to the charge of superstition, and that the eating blood made men fierce and savage.
He then endeavours to prove that the Christians were not commanded to abstain from blood, merely lest the Jews should be offended, which he would prove from the fact, that the converts abstained from blood, where no Jews were present, a circumstance which rests upon the authority of Eusebius and Tertullian. Grotius proceeds to demonstrate this point from tho apostolical constitutions.
Dorschæus replies to these assertions, that the precepts of Noah obliged only the Proselytes of the Gate—that it is even doubtful if these precepts are other than a Rabbinical tradition -it is doubtful if all thc prccepts of Adam and Noah were binding on mankind in general. He asserts, it is not true that Christ took notbing from the precepts of Adam and Noah, and only added to them new precepts. He then invalidatos thé authority of Tertullian, and the Emperor Leo; and in reply to the two last observes, that the facility of obedience is no criterion of the reasonableness of a command, and ridicules the opi. pion, that eating blood in a state prepared by cookery can be injurious.
Dorschæus then attempts to shew that it was by no means an universal opinion among Christians, that they were to abstain from blood, and refuses to depend on arguments drawn exclusively from the apostolical constitutions.
Witsius has shewn, in his discussion on the council at Jerusa.
(a) See Homer Odyss. I 470, and N 26. Virg. Ecl. 3. 77, &c. &c.
Julian Pe- named Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the bre-Jerusalem. riod, 4760. thren: Valgar Æra, 49.
23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner, The apostles, and elders, and brethren, send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch, and Syria, and Cilicia:
24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:
25 It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you, with our beloved Barnabas and Paul.
26 Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
27 We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth.
28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things :
29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication : from which, if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
with the Decree of the Church at Jerusalem, on the sub-
ACTS xv. 30-35.
31 Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.
32 And Judas and Silas, being prophets" also them
47. The instance of Cataline's practical allusion to oustoms of this nature
?! The chapter of this arrangement of the New Testament,