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apostolical character, which it was the office of the Holy Ghost to confer, had been previously bestowed on him. He had now all the endowments of an apostle, and, thus qualified, he returned with Barnabas to Antioch, ready to enter upon the work with which the third period of the Holy Spirit's dispensation commences.
John Acts xii. 25. (better known by the name of Mark) accompanied them.
to Jerusalem, it might have been supposable, at least by his objectors, that it came from Peter and John, and not, as he asserts, from Jesus Christ; but, in the absence of all the apostles from the scene, even this slight ground for suspicion was removed.
It is somewhat surprising, by the way, that any doubt on the subject of Paul's apostleship should have existed, consid
ering that an apostle was known by so unequivocal a mark as the possession of superior miraculous power. On this, accordingly, he ultimately rests his claims, and prevails over the jealous attempts of his rivals and enemies. It is surprising, but it is, after all, quite consistent with the waywardness of man's heart.
PREACHING TO JEWS, DEVOUT GENTILES, AND
ST. PAUL'S FIRST APOSTOLICAL JOURNEY.
ROUTE. Antioch in Syria; Seleucia; Salamis; Paphos; Perga in Pamphylia; Antioch in Acts xiii. to Pisidia; Iconium; Lystra; Derbe; Lystra again; Iconium again; Písidia again; xv. 30. Perga again; Attalia; Antioch in Syria, (second time;) Phænicia; Samaria; Jerusalem; Antioch in Syria, (third time.)
The return of Paul and Barnabas to Antioch was followed by Acts xi. 26. their formal mission to the idolatrous Gentiles. And here we cannot but observe how carefully the Holy Spirit has declared, in its dealings with the early Church, that from the first its operations, as guide and governor, were twofold; that it exercised an occasional and extraordinary authority, by means of visions, and sundry forms of revelation, inspiration, and endowment; and also a permanent authority, unaccompanied by extraordinary signs, by means of the Church as a body, which Church was and is its Temple. Thus the intercourse of the Holy Spirit with Christians, as a society, was not unlike his intercourse with them as individuals. Of the Church He required certain forms, such as the laying on of hands and prayer; and to these attached his ordinary operations. These were indispensable to its authority, whatever manifestations of the Spirit were made independently of them. Notwithstanding, then, that Barna- Separation bas and Saul had been appointed to the conversion of the Gentiles of Barnabas by an especial communication of the Holy Ghost, it was necessary, their offices we find, that some further grace should be imparted,—some further by the Spirit. sanction given to them, which could only be conveyed, according to the system of the Spirit's dispensation, through certain forms and ceremonies of the Church. Without these forms the Church had Acts ix. 15; no power to confer, and the individuals were incapable of receiving, a portion of the spiritual endowment.
The mode in which grace was conferred on individuals, was analogous to that in which authority was given to the Church. It mattered not what extraordinary gifts were bestowed; as Christians,
The Holy Ghost conveyed under particular forms.
-as redeemed, they were obliged to be formally baptized. The extraordinary gifts of the Spirit descended on them as agents and instruments, employed for the general welfare; the ordinary gifts, as objects of regeneration and redemption, and for their individual welfare. Many individuals are conspicuous for both kinds of endowment; and so it was with the Church itself. There was an ordinary grace or authority in it, which it exercised by means of stated forms, and independently of all extraordinary manifestations: and ever as occasion required, that same Divine Person, who dwelt in it, and from whom the authority proceeded, gave some extraordinary display of his government. In both cases what was occasional has passed away; what was regular and continual still remains.
In making these assertions, however, we must be prepared to meet two questions.
The first is, How do we know, that there was in the early Church a secret and regular operation of the Holy Ghost exercised in these outward forms?
Secondly, How do we know, that it did not cease with the extraordinary operation?
The case now offering itself for consideration, namely, the appointment of Barnabas and Saul, is one of several which furnish to every candid mind a sufficient reply to the first question. The bare circumstance, that the forms of fasting, laying on of hands, and prayer, were observed even with persons “ full of the Holy Ghost,” and already called to be apostles of the Lord, is a strong ground of presumption that such was the case. But the terms of the narrative render it yet stronger: “ Then having fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, dismissed them; they then, having been sent forth by the Holy Spirit,” &c. In the original, the connexion between the two sentences is perhaps more forcibly marked by oớv, than by the English illative conjunction “then. Without reference, however, to grammatical nicety, no one can read the sentences, and attend to the train of thought running through them, and through the whole passage to which they belong, without acknowledging that their being sent forth by the Holy Ghost referred to the ceremony of prayer, &c. Nor does it affect the argument, that the Holy Ghost had specially directed the Church to ordain these
For, that this was only a revelation of God's will and special interference, and not an investiture of power delegated to the Church, is manifest,—inasmuch as the investiture of power had already taken place, and the words of the Divine message
contain a reference to it as already in force, and are, indeed, an acknowledgActs xiii. 2. ment and proof that it was so. The Holy Ghost said, Separate
me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
The next question was, Supposing this ordinary and indispensable operation of the Spirit to have been exercised in the primitive Church, how do we certainly know that it did not cease with that
Acts xiii. 3, 4.
continues to be so
which was extraordinary? If the latter was given as a sign of the reality of the former, the sign being removed, what proof have we now that the thing attested exists?
To this also there is an adequate reply; and it depends on the And still truth of this proposition, “ If we are assured that God has appointed any outward forms as the means of Divine grace or Divine authority, conveyed. we are bound to believe that they will continue effectual, until God has annulled the appointment. If instead of the ceremony of baptism, e.g. it had pleased Him to appoint a pool like that of Bethesda, which at certain seasons should be troubled by his angel; and to ordain, that all who had diseases should go to that pool on these occasions to bathe for their recovery: we should be bound to rely on the efficacy of the pool, until God should make known that his decree had been annulled. In the case of the pool, this would require no positive sign; because, the effects being sensible, when the waters ceased to heal, its failure would be of itself proof that God had ceased to impart a virtue to it. On the same principle, no formal, no positive sign or revelation was necessary, to inform the Church that the extraordinary operation of the Spirit and the power of working miracles were withdrawn. The failure of its ministers in their attempts to work miracles, was itself the sign that God had annulled the temporary grant. But as the ordinary operations of the Spirit were always unseen and unfelt, the only indication of their failure and cessation would be a positive revelation. Until such is given, we are obliged to believe in them as a duty, and have as much reason to do so, as to suppose that to-morrow the sun will be the means of conveying light and warmth.
But to return to Barnabas, Saul, and their assistant, Mark, Route of whom we left preparing for their journey. Their course through Cyprus first, (probably on account of the connexion of Acts xiii. 4. Barnabas with that island,) thence across to the continent, and through the countries of Pamphylia, Pisidia, and Lycaonia. On their arrival in Pamphylia, Mark must have become more alive to Mark quits the risk of the enterprise ; for, although thus far their reception had been gracious, he forsook the apostles and returned. His place Acts xiii. 13. seems to have been supplied by Titus, although it is not expressly so stated. Adverting to what has been already observed of the office of deacons, it is not unlikely that Mark had accompanied the apostles in that capacity, and that on his refusal to proceed, some one would be wanted to act as deacon in the performance of the Christian Church service, wherever there might be an opportunity. That Titus was accordingly sent for-possibly from Antioch—is inferred from his being found in their company at the end of the Gal. ii. 1. journey.
The mode in which the mission was conducted was, as the reader Their may recollect, to preach first to the Jews and proselyted Gentiles, and then to the idolaters. Notwithstanding this marked precedence Acts xiii 4.
method of » preaching
and preference, all their persecutions arose from the former. From the Gentiles (when the Jews did not prepossess their minds against them) all they had to fear as yet, was a misapprehension of their
object,—lest their miracles might make them appear to the multiActs xiv. 11. tude as gods come down to them in the shape of men.
Another point to be observed in their proceedings is, that they Acts xiv. 23. ordained presbyters in every Church on their return. So brief a
ministry could hardly have qualified any of the new converts for
the office, unless some miraculous interposition of the Spirit had Acts xi. 26. taken place, such as was supposed to have occurred at Antioch in Pisidia—the first scene of idolatrous conversion.
DECREE OF THE COUNCIL OF JERUSALEM.
Gentiles, he was commissioned by the Church of Syrian Antioch to Acts xv. 1, 2. proceed with Barnabas to Jerusalem, for the purpose of taking the
sense of the Church there respecting a question which was now warmly canvassed at Antioch. Peter's mission, as was observed, received indeed the sanction of Judaizing Christians; but their old prejudices were still so strong, as to make them expect that these new associates, to whom the apostles had opened the gate of Christianity, should first pass through that of Judaism. They accordingly insisted on the Gentile converts at Antioch being circumcised, and made to conform to all the Jewish law. Jerusalem being still the residence of the apostles, and therefore the chief seat of Church authority, to Jerusalem was the decision of the question referred.
That the decree of the Christian body there only related to the devout Gentile Christians, is certain ; because none but these had as yet been admitted into the Church of Antioch. What confirms this is, that the decree was obviously framed with reference to their condition as such.
St. Peter spoke first in the assembly which had been called for assembly.
discussing the question, and declared his opinion to be, that on the Gentile party the Church ought not to impose a burthen of ceremonies which neither the Jewish party nor their fathers could bear. St. James supported him in his view of the question, and proposed the words of the decree, in a manner which shows that he fully coincided with St. Peter, and did not think that he was placing any
Debate in the
yoke on the neck of the Gentile converts which they had not borne Acts xv. 19, before their conversion. “ Wherefore my opinion is, not to introduce
any thing which may disturb and confound those Gentiles who turn to God ;47 but to command them to abstain from meats offered to
47 This is certainly the force of magá. The word παρενοχλείν expresses that confusion of thought which would almost certainly have been produced in the
mind of a convert taught Judaism and Christianity together, as two distinct systems. He was in danger of considering them both necessary and both coex