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THE APOSTLES RETURN TO JERUSALEM-CHAP. IX.
Jalian Pe. 13 And when they were come in, they went up into Jerusalem.
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 vic-
tory over prejudice. All distinctions of right and wrong were
confounded. Tbe grossest debauchery triumphed. Then pro-
scription 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 infa-
mous 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 preced-
ing sufferings of mankind into idle tales. The kingdom ap-
peared to be changed into one great prison; the inhabitants
converted into felons; and the common doom of man com-
muted for the violence of the sword and the bayonet, the suck-
ing 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 sub-
ject 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 Sove-
reign, 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 impos-
sible it is for bim to lay any foundation for such knowledge,
other than that which is already laid in the revealed will of
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 operations till it be supplied with materials to work upou, 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 conyeyed 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 po 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 be 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 himself to discover those interesting and important truths wbich 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 has bestowed alike upon the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air!
(a) Jones' (of Nayland's) Works, vol. vii. p. 294. (b) That which the modern speculators call natural religion, is the offspring of cultivated minds, thoroughly imbned 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 cominunication being made to him 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.
9 Julian Pe- 14 These all continued with one accord in riod, 4712.
prayer and Jerusalem. Vulgar Æra, supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of
Jesus, and with his brethren.
Matthias by lot appointed to the Apostleship, in the place
ACTS i. v. 15. to the end.
15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of
the disciples, and said, (the number of the names together
were about an hundred and twenty.)
which fully prove the truth of this position. (d) See Gale's Court of
the Gentiles, Enfield's Origin of Philosophy, and the note in the
second volame of the Arrangement of the Old Testament, on this sub-
ject. , (e) Bishop Porteus's Charge, Tracts 266, 267. Horne's Crit.
Introd. vol. i. p. 32. (1) Horne, vol. i. p. 31–35. (9) Bishop Van
Mildert's Boyle's Lectures, vol. ii. p. 68. This is one of the most
valuable books ever given to the world. See also Dr. Dwight's ex-
cellent Discourses on Infidelity.
?" 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 accurato
consideration of the bistory directly invalidates. The election
was made ander peculiar circumstances, which 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 bundred 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 in-
cluded in the pumber, 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 be-
tween 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 par-
licular purpose, nor would they at this crisis be forward in de-
claring 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 can-
didate's being a witness with us of his resurrection, soems to
imply in the speaker a peculiar connection and identity of
Julian Pe 16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have Jerusal riod, 4742. been fulfilled which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of Yulgar&ra, David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide
to them that took Jesus.
office with the persons whom he was addressing; and indeed
the allusion to the ascension exclusively confines his meaning
to the apostles. It is also worthy of remark, that in tko ad-
dress of the apostles to the multitude of the disciples on the
day of Pentecost, this particularity of persons is actually ob-
served; Look YE out seven men, wbom WE may appoint over
this business, (Acts vi. 3.). Again, the apostle speaks of Judas,
as having obtained part of this ministry, of this ministry with
which you and I are entrusted, and which in the subjoined
prayer is described as the ministry and apostleship, or ministry
of the apostleship, (Acts i. 17. 21.) He speaks likewise in a
demonstrative manner of certain persons, who were present,
(ver. 21.) and out of whom the election was to be made, as dis-
tinguished from those whom he was addressing, and who were
to make the election; and whom be supposes to be acquainted
with the circumstances which rendered it necessary to supply
the place of Judas from among those wbo had been their con.
stant companions from the beginning (Acts i. 22.) To be a .
witness of the resurrection is an expression frequently appro-
priated in the Scriptures to the apostles, and to them alone;
and to be made a witness of the resurrection with us, is to be
raised to the apostolate with us. It may also be supposed, that
the electors were possessed of equal authority with St. Peter,
and placed the same reliance on their own judgment as on his
recommendation ; be maintained the necessity of substituting
one for Judas, they nominated two candidates, and left the
ultimate choice to the searcher of Hearts; while in the elec-
tion of the deacons seven men were required by the apostles,
and seven men were accordingly elected. Hence it may be con.
cluded, that the persons whom St. Peter addressed, and who
were to elect the candidates, were the apostles themselves.
The choice of the electors was however limited; they were not to
elect any new and inexperienced convert, but one of those who
had companied with them all the time that the Lord Jesus had
gone in and out among them, a description highly appropriate
to the Seventy; and if the application to them be admitted,
and if it be maintained, in opposition to the preceding argu-
ment, that St. Peter's discourse was addressed to them in con-
nection with the apostles, the natural conclusion will be, that
the Seventy nominated, and the apostles approved, and Bar-
sabas and Matthias must both be included in the number of
the Seventy. But whatever was the capacity of the elec-
tors, whethier apostles, or the Seventy, or both acting in
concert, they appointed two; they did not presume to sup-
ply the vacancy by the nomination of an individual successor;
they did not before the effusion of the Spirit esteem themselves
competent to judge of the respective merits of the candidates,
whom they proposed; they commended their case in earnest
prayer to God, and left the matter to his arbitration and decision;
and with this diffidence in their own judgment, and this refer.
ence of the whole affair to the divine pleasure, it is most in-
consistent to suppose, that they would appeal to the opinion of
an indiscriminate multitude. The election was concluded by
lots, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and in devont acquiescence
in the divine preference, without any imposition of hands,
wbicb on other occasions was the form of ministerial ordina-
MATTHIAS APPOINTED TO THE APOSTLESHIP-CHAP. IX. 11 liu Pec i7 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained Jerusalem. ind, 4742. part of this ministry. Fugu Era,
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.
ences from this history must be drawn with care and delibera-
tion; the circumstances of the Church were peculiar : St.
Peter's discourse was not addressed indiscriminately to the
people; the powers of the electors were limited, and they were
exercised in dependance on the divine will ; the persons elected
were persons of experience in the service of the Lord; the
choice was decided by God, who may have ruled the votes of
the electors not less than the fall of the lots. Matthias there-
fore became an apostle by the will not of man, but of God; he
was translated from an inferior condition, which was therefore
distinct from the superior one to which he was admitted; he
was oumbered with the eleven by virtue of the divine prefer-
ence: and every trace of popular election, and of ministerial
ordination is excluded (a.)
Mosheim (b), concludes, from the mode of expression here
adopted by St. Luke, that the successor of Judas was not
chosen by lot, as is generally supposed, but by the suffrages of
the people. St. Luke says, kai sakav kúpes avrov; but Mo-
sheim thinks, that if the Evangelist wished to say they cast
Iots, he would have written και έβαλον κλήρον, or κληρές. But as
it is impossible to roason from what the Evangelist ought to
have written, rather than from what he has written, we cannot
place much confidence in his remarks, particularly when we
consider the manner in which the Jews usually express this
idea. Their pbrase being (see Levit. xvi. 8.) 571 in). which
corresponds to the Greek word klñpos, used by the apostle;
they gave, or cast forth the lot. As the foundation of Mo-
sheim's argument is thus removed, it cannot be vecessary to
examine his inferences. The correct interpretation of a pas-
sage of Scripture destroys a whole legion of errors. It was but
one blow of the axe that chased away the spectres and phan-
toms in the enchanted grove of Tasso (c.)
(a) Morgan's Platform of the Christian Church, p. 29, &c. (6) Vidal's Translation of Mosheim, note, p. 136, vol. 1. (c) See Kuinoel, sect. 2. lib. N. T. Histor. Com. in loc. and Schleusner is 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 bota a reliquis sejungendus, ukedaud Syr. Chald. 2727 ypn ager cædis. scil. cruentus a ypos 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. •