« PrécédentContinuer »
THE APOSTLES RETURN TO JERUSALEM-CHAP. IX.
Jalan Pe. 13 And when they were come in, they went up into Jerusalem. nod, 4742. Valgarðra,
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. Tbe 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 converted 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 kpell 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 bim 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 ope. rations 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.
Jalian Pe- and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholo- Jerusalem. riod, 4742. Vulgar Æra,
mew, and Matthew, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon 29. Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.
Without Revelation, therefore, it is certain that man never could bave 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 ho 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 hy 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 (9).
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 undoubled evidence in our favour, to prove that Revelation was necessary to man, and that he is unable of bimself 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 uncer. tainty-for endless and useless theories—for premises without conclusions-death without hope—and a God, without other proofs of his mercy than he bas bestowed alike upon the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air!
(a) Jones' (of Nayland's) Works, vol. vii. p. 294. (6) That which the modern specalators 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 doctripes 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 fature 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 nnassisted exercise of his intellectual powers, if he were placed in the world by his Creator, without any communication being made to bim relative to that Creator's will and attributes.-Faber on the Three Dispensations, vol. i. p. 74. (c) See Stillingfleet's Origines Sacra-Faber's Origin of Pagan Idolatry--Gale's Court of the Gentiles-Young on Idolatry, and many other treatises,
MATTHIAS APPOINTED TO THE APOSTLESHIP-CHAP. IX.
Julian Pesiod, 4712.
14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and Jerusalem. Valga Era, supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of
Jesus, and with his brethren.
ACTS i. v. 15. to the end.
which fully prove the truth of this position. (d) See Gale's Court of
the Old Testament, on this sub-
?" From this event many have inferred the right of popular interference in the election of ministers. He indeed must be a superficial reader who draws this conclusion, which an accurate consideration of the history directly invalidates. The election was made under peculiar circumstances, wbich can never recur; before the platform of the Church was decisively established; before the apostles had received power from on high; and when their number was confessedly incomplete. If the number of names, which were together about an hundred and twenty, bad been designed to comprehend the whole Church of that period, and the women, who followed Christ from Galilee, (and for whose exclusion on this occasion there is no satisfactory reason,) are included in the number, the eleven apostles and the seventy disci. ples, who would not separate before Pentecost, will form a very considerable part of the congregation. But in the interval between the resurrection and the ascension of our Lord the Church was so numerous, that above five hundred brethren (1 Cor. xv. 6.) could be collected at one time and place to see him; and the circumstances of his appearance to bis disciples were not such as to afford an opportunity of assembling them for a particular purpose, nor would they at this crisis be forward in declaring themselves, nor is it probable that any of them would return to bis home, before the feast, which he came to celebrate at Jerusalem. St. Peter, however, standing up in the midst of the hundred and twenty disciples, that is, of less than a fourth part of the brethren, addressed himself only to the men and brethren, an exclusive salutation of the apostolic college, as some have supposed, but which appears to be an indiscriminate manner of addressing an audience, whether of ministerial per. sons specifically, of disciples generally, or even of Jews and Heathens. Its precise application must be determined from other relative expressions in the apostle's discourse. Now the repeated use of the pronoun US, (Acts i. 17. 21, 22.) in speak. ing of Judas, who was numbered with us; of the men, who have companied with us; of the Lord Jesus going in and out among us, and of his being taken from us; and of the new candidate's being a witness with us of his resurrection, scems to imply in the speaker a peculiar connection and identity of
Julian Pe. 16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have Jerusalem, riod, 4742. been fulfilled which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of Vulgar&ra, David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide
to them that took Jesus.
office with the persons whom he was addressing; and indeed
But whatever was tbe capacity of the elec-
MATTHIAS APPOINTED TO THE APOSTLESHIP-CHAP. IX.
Talia Pe- 17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained Jerusalem.
od 172: part of this ministry. Fulgar #ra,
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. (5) Vidal's Translation of Mosheim, note, p. 136, vol. i. (c) See Kuinoel, sect. 2. lib. N. T. Histor. Com. in loc. and Schleusner iv voc. «Añpos.
$ This passage, Acts i. 19. ought to be in a parenthesis, as being spoken by St. Luke. Esse hunc vebum pro additamento Lucæ babendum 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, ukedaud Syr. Chald. N737 kpn ager cadis. scil. cruentus dypòs aipatos, 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 verso in a parenthesis.