« VorigeDoorgaan »
may be elicited, and to direct the attention to that which appears on
the whole to be the most satisfactory reply. Extent of I. The first question is, Was this a general council? that is, did this Council.
it represent the whole Church? or only one branch of it, namely, the Church of Jerusalem? There is nothing in St. Luke's account of it to imply, even remotely, that it assumed the former character. It was not general, as composed of the heads of all the Churches, for none were present but the ambassadors of Antioch; and these came to consult, and not to join the council: nor again as composed
of all the apostles; for St. Paul, and doubtless Št. Barnabas too, Aets xv. 22. were apostles; and they were present indeed, but it was in the
character of ambassadors, and not of delegates. Inquiry II. The next question is, Was it an inspired or uninspired council ? inspiration. The opponents of the authority of general councils, in later times,
have mainly insisted on the former view; and point out this circumstance as creating the essential line between this and any that has been subsequently held. The learned and candid Mosheim agrees so far with this view, as to suppose, that all the business on this occasion being left to the apostles, they, as inspired persons, must have pronounced an inspired decision. Perhaps all inquiries into the ecclesiastical affairs of this extraordinary period lean too much to the notion, that every transaction in which an inspired person appears, must have been the result of immediate inspiration. As far as the narrative guides us, no such intimation is given in the present instance; and it may be safely asserted, that the apostles themselves were not throughout their ministry passive agents of the Holy Spirit. The office of that blessed Comforter was to guide them to the truth, when the truth could not otherwise be obtained. Judging from the apparent course of his government, we should say, that had there been error suggested, his presence would have been
55 De Rebus Christian. ante Const. The Bible is the only book in the world Magn. p. 153.
which appeals to God for its authority,
without affecting or pretending to the 56 Thus St. Paul writes to the Corin- immediate authorship of God. Mahomet thians, “ Unto the married I command- publishes, but Allah indites, the Koran; not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife and its very style is more than human. depart from her husband," &c.
The authors of the Bible, on the other to the rest speak I, not the Lord, If any hand, write, as God's servants act. The brother hath a wife,” &c.-See 1 Cor. modes of thought, the manner, the lanvii. 10, 12.
guage, are different in each, and in each, The greater part of what the apostles no less than his actions, his own. Here wrote was, doubtless, entirely the sug- and there are marks of an inspiration gestion of their own minds, and, properly which dictates to the very letter; but speaking, uninspired. Its authority is not ordinarily it is only a Divine superinat all diminished by this circumstance, tendence, preventing error or omission, if we grant (what it would be absurd to and interposing only for that purpose. doubt) that every wrong suggestion must God has enabled man to record and to have been checked by the impulse of the teach his Word, as he has enabled him Spirit, every deficiency supplied by to do his will; not by superseding the actual revelation, and every failure or use of his natural faculties, but by aiding fault of memory miraculously remedied. them. With a view to both, his Spirit The revelation was miraculous, but it was was given, in order to be called in when recorded just as any man would record assistance should be needed, and was any ordinary information which might hence designated by the expressive name be the result of reasoning, or of report. ΠΑΡΑΚΛΗΤΟΣ. .
attributed to the
manifested, or a divine impulse given to some particular members of the council—but not otherwise. It was Christ only whose inspiration was perpetual, and who needed no fresh communication as new emergencies presented themselves. 67 What was meant by the expression, “It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us,” will Acts xv. 28. perhaps be seen more clearly when we examine the third question.
III. Under what character was the Church of Jerusalem appealed Character to by the Church of Antioch? Whatever the practice might be in later times, as yet, no jurisdiction was exercised by one Christian Church of society over another—not even by the Church of Jerusalem over her children in Christ. Paul and Barnabas had been sent to convert the idolatrous Gentiles, (important as this measure was beyond all others which engaged the attention of the early Christians,) solely by the appointment of their own Church at Antioch, without the advice or knowledge of the sister Church at Jerusalem. In the present instance, too, they were commissioned with an embassy, the circumstances of which, if duly considered, must satisfy any candid inquirer, that its object was not perhaps even advice and assistance in deliberation. First, certain members of the Church of Jerusalem come to the Church at Antioch, preaching a new doctrine—a doctrine of which the Church at Antioch had received no intimation, even although Paul, so highly favoured, was with them. They taught the brethren, and said, “Except ye be circumcised, after Acts xv. I. the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. It was natural, therefore, that they of Antioch should send to Jerusalem, to ascertain whether any credence was to be given to the report of these men who had come from them—whether the Church there, the apostles or other members, had indeed received any new communication from the Holy Spirit, concerning the universal obligation of the Jewish rites, as necessary to salvation. For a full investigation of the matter the Church was assembled, and it being found that the notion had originated with certain unauthorized persons of the Pharisaical sect, in their perverse zeal for the law, Peter and James Acts xv. 5. explained the inexpediency of making any innovation; and Paul and Barnabas were dismissed, together with some members of their own society, to assure the Church of Antioch, that no new revelation had been given on the subject--that their rule at Jerusalem, the only one sanctioned by the Holy Ghost, was to oblige the converts to observe that which they were accustomed to observe before their conversion, and nothing more.
If the foregoing remarks are correct, we must seek elsewhere for
57 It was, perhaps, to indicate this that the Bible records the failure of the disciples, in their attempt to perform certain miracles. “This kind,' says Jesus, “ goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." It is not said, that they were incapable of performing these miracles, but
it is intimated, that their endowment was different from Christ's,-that they must first, by means of stated forms, apply for specific powers from God, and then, indeed, these, and greater than these, should they perform.-See Matt. xvii. 21; Mark ix. 29.
Cautions to be observed
On General the origin of general councils, and find some other foundation for
the authority which has since been claimed for them. Elsewhere, also, we must search for an example in the apostolical age of Church exercising jurisdiction over another. As to general councils, indeed, they obviously cease to be practicable as soon as the union of the universal Church has been dissolved; in truth, they were before that event impracticable--the history of these councils proves it—as to all purposes of unanimity. One Church may ask advice of another, or refer a difficult question to another; but for independent and unassociated Churches to meet all in one council, is a practical contradiction. It supposes the Church to be one, in the same sense, in which each separate Christian society alone is, and ever was, one, from the first establishment of our faith. Christian unity, the never-failing plea for these measures, has been so often a topic of bitter controversy, that we need not wonder at its assuming at this day a difficult and subtile character. More of it by and by.
In concluding these remarks, one caution suggests itself which in reading
cannot be too early inserted in a review of the progress of ChrisEcclesiastic tianity. It is, not to look at every portion of the ecclesiastical
structure as it appears rising under the hands of the Divine Builder, as if conveying a correct notion of the finished work. Objects prominent at first, and resembling in their use the scaffolding or props of a real building, were afterwards removed. Others, by the application of new pieces, became so altered as not immediately to be recognised. One part, without undergoing any alteration, was yet gradually plastered up and removed out of sight. Another, the Divine Architect has left to the discretion of posterity, to be modified from time to time so as to suit the changing circumstances of those who were to occupy it. In examining this edifice, much more in the bold attempt to repair it, the most judicious method is, not to begin by comparing it with the rude draughts in which it was projected; but rather to survey the Church as it stands, and removing one by one (where needful) those parts which are detected to be the unauthorized work of men's hands, to let the holy Builder's name appear on those parts alone of the remainder, on which it is visible in his own writing. This only is “not to diminish, not to add thereto;" and this is what our reformers did.
Second mission to the Gentiles
We have conducted Paul and Barnabas through their embassy to
Jerusalem, and must now prepare to trace their second mission to of Paul and the idolatrous Gentiles. It is probable that they remained at
Antioch no longer than was necessary for securing the disputed rights of the Gentile converts at that place, an office which seems to have devolved on Paul alone. Peter had indeed been the especial apostle of the devout Gentiles, of whom alone the Gentile portion of the Church at Antioch was at first composed; and on this account, no doubt, soon followed Paul and Barnabas thither. But his arriva!
was, probably, only a signal for the zealots to press their point more earnestly. So successful were they, that the Gentile advocate shrank from his office, and was ready to yield to their demands. Barnabas followed his example. Paul alone retained his firmness, Gal. ii. 11. roused his noble fellow-labourer to a sense of his duty, and for a time quieted the spirit of faction. All was now ready for a second apostolical journey; the Church Their
separation. was at rest, and the services of Barnabas and Paul were no longer required at home. But the reader will recollect, that henceforth he is to trace their course of ministerial labour apart. On the grounds Acts xv. 39. of their separation, and on its probable results, it is unnecessary to dwell; but, leaving Barnabas's future history for a subsequent consideration, let us follow the record of the Holy Spirit, and holding the thread which He has left us, pass on through the gradual enlargement of the covenant, under the agency of the great apostle selected for this
purpose. One previous observation may not, indeed, be unacceptable to him, who feels that it is inconsistent with the character of these good and holy men, friends from their youth, thus to have parted in bitterness, under circumstances which might seem sufficient to have repressed all private differences. Did they part in bitterness? Paul afterwards spoke of Barnabas with respect and affection, and 1 Cor. ix..6; received even Mark into his service when he thought him worthy of Col. iv. 10; it. But that zeal which was strong enough to have subdued the 2 Tim. iv. 11. mere impulse of anger, had a similar power over feelings of friendship, and even over the ties of nature. Who shall say, that in voluntarily separating their coạrse for ever, as appears to have been the case, each was not submitting to a painful restraint, under the consciousness of doing the best for the great good cause ? Who shall say, that each may not, by virtue of this very act, have inherited a portion of the reward promised to those who should forsake father, mother, brethren, or friends, for the sake of Christ and of his Gospel ?
Hence we obtain a further proof, if indeed any such be requisite, that the extraordinary inspiration of the apostles was not an abiding or continual endowment, but only occasional. On matters of doubt or difference the Holy Spirit interposed its aid. But here no interference took place; probably, because the result of the disagreement was most beneficial to the common welfare; because both were right. By a division of ministerial labour between the only two who had as yet been commissioned to the idolatrous Gentiles, the extension of the Gospel was promoted. It has been remarked, that Paul only was recommended to the grace of God. St. Luke's silence, however, does not altogether imply, that Barnabas received no such formal dismissal. In Paul's case alone it might be mentioned, because to him now, and to the details of his mission, the narrative was to be limited.
St. PAUL'S SECOND APOSTOLICAL JOURNEY.
From A.D. 53–56.
Acts xv. 41; and xvi. to xviii. 22.
Rest of Syria; Cilicia; Derbe; Lystra; Iconium; Phrygia; Galatia; Troas; Samothracia; Neapolis; Philippi; Amphipolis; Apollonia; Thessalonica; Beræa; Athens; Corinth; Cenchræa; Ephesus; Cæsarea; Jerusalem; Antioch in Syria.
Acts xv. 22.
Probable number of Converts.
Silas and Judas Barsabas were the messengers appointed by the on St. Paul. Church of Jerusalem to accompany Paul and Barnabas on their
return to Antioch. Here Silas was induced to remain, and being a prophet, was fixed on by Paul as a fit substitute for the fellowlabourer of whose assistance he was now to be deprived. Soon after he commenced his journey, he found at Lystra another meet
companion in the young and faithful Timothy. At Troas, it would Acts xvi. 11. seem, from the narrative of the Acts, that Luke was added to their company.
This then is the little band of Christian heroes, whose progress, under the second mission of the Holy Spirit to the idolatrous Gentiles, we are now to consider.
In what numbers these were added to the Church cannot be determined from the sacred record. Mention is made of the success of the mission at Philippi, at Beræa, at Athens, and especially at Corinth; and from St. Paul's Epistle to the Thessalonians, it appears that some conversion of idolaters took place amongst these also. Probably some were converted in most of the places through which the apostle and his company journeyed, the notices in the Acts
being evidently limited to the more remarkable instances, such as Acts xvii. Dionysius the Areopagite, and “the honourable women" at Beræa. 11-13, 34.
It is not, of course, intended to pursue the apostle through the several stages of his work, but, agreeably with my plan, only to point to those parts of his route at which for any reason it may
be desirable that we should pause.
Thus, passing over the immediate points of his journey, at Troas we find him receiving from his Divine Guide an especial communication. As one of the various modes in which God was wont to visit his servants and the agents of his will, this, then, deserves to be particularly noticed.
1 Thess. i.