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18; xxiv. 13.
our Lord's prophecies, as distinguished from all others, whether of Distinction the Old or the New Testament.
The exercise of the predictive power, proved in all cases alike, Prophecies. that the prophet was commissioned by God. But the constant and unvaried employment of that very prophetic spirit for doctrinal instruction-its use, in short, for purposes not prophetical, could only have been designed to indicate, what it does most plainly, that the prophet wielded that Divine instrument at pleasure, and not as one, " who spake only as the Holy Ghost moved him.” In Christ, the prophetic faculty was exercised as his own; in his Apostles and others, it was only exhibited as through agents and instruments. The language of the inspired mortal is, “I cannot go beyond the Num. xxii. commandment of the Lord, to do either good or bad of mine own mind;" that of the Author of inspiration, “ If I will that he tarry John xxi. 22. till I come, what is that to thee?" It would be easy to pursue this subject further, but it may
be sufficient merely to add, that in considering the secondary use to which Christ applied the Divine agency, as an indication that he was a Divine person, it deserves notice that it was of himself, or of his kingdom, or of his work—of himself, in short, either immediately or remotely, that he caused his miracles to speak. So that every miracle, every prophecy, is used by him for some purpose beyond its specific and appropriate one, and that purpose one connected with himself, “ The works which the Father hath given me John v. 36. to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me that the Father hath sent me.”
His sermons, exhortations, precepts, commandments, all lead us General forcibly to the same conclusion. All are addressed to mankind, no of his less than the law from Mount Sinai, in the person of God himself. Discourses. As to the language, it is, “ A new commandment I give unto you.” John xiii. 34. “ It was said to them' of old time, Thou shalt not kill; but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment.” Still more may the matter of his discourses be appealed to, for marks of a difference occasioned by the same cause. Our Lord did not, indeed could not, preach the whole of Christianity to his disciples and to the world ; because the subject was incomplete, until he had suffered on the cross, risen from the dead, and ascended into heaven. The most essential points of Christian instruction were precisely those which could not yet be given, for the simple reason, that the events out of which they arose had not yet taken place. Hence his assertion, “ It is John xvi. 7. expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”
Christianity then, strictly speaking, commenced with the preaching
3 Matt. v. 21, 22, and Whitby on the passage.
Acts i. 6.
Christianity of the apostles. It is the dispensation of the Spirit, and by the begun by the Apostles.
Spirit only has it been conducted. Our Lord is the subject, the
foundation stone, not the founder of it. It holds up to us as the 1 Tim. iii. 16. object of our faith, “God manifested in the flesh ;' but the world
is directed to this truth, and assisted in embracing it, and acting on it, by God manifested by the Spirit. The apostles accordingly were expressly forbidden to begin their ministry, until the formal sign was given, that the Comforter had descended amongst then. Until that event, the world was no more under the Christian dispensation than Israel was under the Mosaic before the Law was actually given,--whatever anticipation, either Moses on the one hand or the apostles on the other, might be supposed to have had of the revelation which was preparing. That the apostles were imperfectly acquainted with the leading principles of Christianity, is evident
beyond a doubt. Why else, indeed, should it be necessary to send John xiv. 26. one, not only “ to bring all things to their remembrance,” but “to
teach them all things?” Why that expression of disappointment Luke xxiv. and despondency, “We trusted that it had been he which should
have redeemed Israel,” if indeed they knew aught of the doctrine of redemption by his death? None, surely, who understood the nature of Christ and of Christ's kingdom can be supposed to have put such a question to him Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel ?” a question which goes the farther to prove that our Lord was not fully qualifying his disciples to instruct the world; that manifestly as it arose from ignorance and error, he did not attempt to correct them; but only referred them to the coming of Him, whose proper office it was to do so, and reminded them of
the only part which he had qualified them to assume, to be his Acts i. 7, 8. witnesses. “He said unto them, It is not for you,” (or as it may
be rendered,) you cannot be expected, “ to know the times or seasons which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be my witnesses.
Even after that first descent of the Holy Ghost, Christianity was periods of Apostolic
in its infancy. The illumination of the Spirit was gradual, and as History
more light was required, then, and then only, was the supply given. It is easy to trace three distinct periods in the Apostolic History, in the first of which the Church was kept in ignorance of the second, and had advanced far upon the second before the third was declared to them, and each by a special revelation. Their ministry commenced with the Jews alone. It appears certain, that the apostles themselves did not then understand that it was ever to be extended beyond their countrymen. Their ancient national error was not yet
4 Thus St. Paul, in his use of this for an habitation of God through the very metaphor, addresses the Ephesian Spirit."-Eph. ii. 22. Church, as a building whose " chief corner-stone was Jesus Christ, in whom," 6 See Lord Barrington's Miscellanea adds he, “ye also are builded together Sacra.
Acts. xiii. 2.
removed, that through Judaism the world must be admitted to the The Gospel benefits of the Messiah's advent-must be saved, not as the sons of preached to fallen Adam, but as the children of righteous Abraham. Under A.D. 33-41. this impression they taught through Judæa, Samaria, and at last Acts xi. 19. at Antioch.
Then it was, that, by a special vision sent to Peter, his scruples Acts x. 10. were first removed, and he was made to understand, by the conversion of Cornelius and his household, that a door was opened to the Gentiles. But to what Gentiles? Not to all indiscriminately, but to To Jews and such as, like Cornelius, were • devout Gentiles, fearing God' otherwise known as “proselytes of the gate.” Gentiles who, without becoming altogether Jews, had adopted their belief in the one true God, and sought acceptance with him by alms, by fasting, and by prayer. Yet of the baptism even of these, St. Peter's report A.D. 41-45. to the Church of Jerusalem is but an apology. “ Forasmuch then Acts xi. 17. as God gave them the like gift, as he did unto us who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, what was I, that I could withstand God?”
Lastly, a further light broke forth on the Church, when, by To Jews, another express revelation, Paul and Barnabas were separated for the conversion of the idolatrous Gentiles. Of all the wonderful Idolaters. counsel of the Lord, this was considered the most wonderful. This it is which is especially styled “the mystery of godliness,” the revealing of which produced a sensation, both within and without the Church, to which no one who would understand the writings and the history of the great apostle of the Gentiles, should be inattentive.
These three classes of converts—the Jewish, the devout Gentile, and the idolatrous Gentile continued to be addressed and treated as in certain respects distinct, until “the end of all things,” the grand consummation which took place in the destruction of Jerusa- A.D. 70. lem, and the downfal of the nation. By this act of Divine visitation, the Jewish society was dissolved, and the Jews were no longer entitled to be treated as a distinct civil body. With this event, accordingly, ceased that scrupulous regard which previously the Christian preachers had paid to them as such. The converted Jew was henceforth under no civil obligation to retain the customs of his fathers, and the proselyte of the gate was released from obedience to a society which was extinct, and was henceforth no more bound to abstain from things strangled and from blood, than was the idolater who had never entered into a compact with the worshippers of the temple. Christ's kingdom was come.
Lardner argues from this slow and missible. For, the apostles, as witnesses, gradual illumination of the inspired may have recorded or assisted others in Church, that neither St. Matthew nor recording facts, before the full import St. Luke's Gospel could have been com- of those facts was revealed to them; and posed very early; inasmuch as both dis- St. Luke and St. Matthew write narraplay an insight into that mystery, which tives in the strictest sense, and not treawas reserved for the last stage of revela- tises. tion. But his reasoning is scarcely ad
WHAT PREPARATION CHRIST HAD MADE BEFORE HIS DEPARTURE FOR
THE ESTABLISHMENT OF CHRISTIANITY. Notwithstanding the assertion, that the establishment of Christianity was the province of the Comforter-of God the Holy Ghost —that assertion by no means implies that our Saviour's ministry contributed nothing towards the forming of that institution, of which he was properly the subject. During his abode on earth, he had
sent forth twelve of his followers, and again seventy, with a comMatt. x. 5, 7; mission to baptize, and to proclaim “the kingdom of heaven is at Mark vi. 7,12 hand.” He had instituted the sacraments, and had appointed a
form of prayer. All which may be considered as preparatory to that which was peculiarly the work of the Holy Spirit, and analogous to that preparation which had been made for his appearance on earth as our Redeemer, by the previous manifestations of God. Accordingly, although his teaching, it may be, embraces all the essential doctrines of Christianity, yet from the very
form adopted, that of parables, symbolical miracles, and didactic prophecies, the truths so deposited with his followers were plainly not designed to be understood, until the Holy Spirit should not only have brought all Christ's ministry to their remembrance, but taught them also all things implied and intended by it. Until such assistance was given, they were in possession of a revelation which they did not understand; and without this assistance there can be no question that the Christian doctrines could never have been understood, explained, and preached. So, likewise, the Mosaic establishment had continued in its most important features inexpressive, ineffectual, and useless, until our Saviour's fulfilment of the law displayed it in its true character, and explained its chief meaning. In short, from Adam until Christ, the scheme of man's redemption was prefigured; in Christ's ministry it was accomplished; by the Spirit it was explained. From Adam until Christ, the religious knowledge of the world was like the gradual dawning of light which precedes the sunrise, and from which we infer the existence and anticipate the approach of the sun itself. Christ came; but his coming was as when the sun has risen in mist and cloud, and can scarcely be discerned. And then came the Holy Spirit, like the breath of heaven which blows aside the cloud, and enables us to look upon
the of all the day-light with which we have been gradually blessed. So, also, our present condition as a Church may have some latent connexion with futurity, which we shall then only be qualified to perceive, when God shall again manifest himself, and we “see him even as he is.'
What is now to be considered is, how far the ministry of the Holy Prophetic Spirit had been anticipated by our Saviour.
I. His promulgation of the Christian doctrines has already been teaching. noticed, as conveyed in a form not designed to be understood until
character of His
the illumination of the Holy Ghost should be applied ; many of them depending on events which had not as yet taken place; as e.g. the doctrine of the Atonement, which arose out of his death, and of the Resurrection, which was testified by himself rising from the grave. The most remarkable anticipation, however, was the command to baptize in the name of the Holy Ghost, as well as of the Father and the Son; inasmuch as God, in the person of the Spirit, had not yet assumed the government of the Church.
II. With a like prospective view, the twelve apostles had been the commissioned, first, by baptism and preaching repentance, to prepare
Apostles. men for the new era; secondly, in his last interview with them, to be his witnesses. Their former commission (as from its nature might seem natural) expired on their return to resume their attendance on him; but this latter (as appears from its character and from his own words) they were intended to bear permanently under the new dispensation. Hence the office of apostle was really twofold. He was a witness of Christ, and he was a minister of the Witnesses of Holy Ghost. By virtue of his former appointment he was invested Christ and with the power of working miracles, which power he accordingly of the
Holy Ghost. received from Christ himself. In the latter capacity he was furnished with those extraordinary endowments of the Holy Ghost, which are therefore called peculiarly the gifts of the Spirit. Of these it is the Psalmist speaks, when he describes our Lord as “ascending up on high to receive gifts for men. For thus Christ Ps. Ixviii. 18. also said, “ If I go not away, the Comforter will not come; but if Jolin xvi. 7.
I will send him unto you.' As witnesses, then, the apostles performed those miracles which are termed “signs ” (onesia) and * wonders ;” (régata); and inasmuch as this office was of our Lord's appointing, to him perpetually, and not to the Holy Spirit, they refer them.” Thus Peter bids the lame man at the beautiful gate of the 7 The scriptural expression is “ in his pronoun this, they attached a solemn and ," and " in that name;
mysterious meaning, from the days of of speaking, which seems to denote an Moses. The origin of this is plainly set anxiety to avoid conveying the notion of forth in Exodus, (iii. 13,) “ And Moses Tritheism, in teaching the doctrine of said unto God, Behold, when I come the Trinity. It reminds the Christian, unto the children of Israel, and shall say that he of whom the Scriptures are speak- unto them, The God of your fathers hath ing, was the same God, in whose for- sent me unto you; and they shall say mer name the old revelations had been unto me, What is his name? what shall I made, and the miracles of old had been say unto them? And God said unto wrought; that it was “God in Christ Moses, I AM That I AM: and he said, reconciling the world unto himself.”— Thus shalt thou say unto the children of 2 Cor. v. 19.
Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you;
and Accordingly, when the apostles were God said moreover unto Moses, Thus forbidden to preach Christianity to the shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, Jews, the prohibition is said to have been The Lord God of your fathers, the God " that they speak henceforth to no man of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and
(Acts iv. 17.) No one the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto acquainted with the Scriptures of the you: this is my name for ever, and this is Old Testament can suppose that the my memorial unto all generations.” God Jews, in making use of this expression, commanded Moses to announce to his were pointing to Jesus either as people, that he had appeared in a new preacher or as a worker of miracles. To name ; but God said moreover to him, the term, used in a second intention, that he must caution his people, that he which is here denoted by the emphatic was still the same God of their fathers,
in this name.