« AnteriorContinuar »
to follow him. "The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." Acts xi. 26. There are two places of that name mentioned in scripture, the one in Pisidia, and the other in Syria. See Acts xiii. 14, and xi. 19-26, and xiii. 1-3. Antioch in Syria is the place where this name originated. A question naturally arises, by whom was this name first given to the disciples? Was it of divine, or of human origin? In its application at first it must have been given them by divine appointment, or the disciples took it to themselves, or it must have been applied to them by others. It has been thought by some, that the great love the disciples had to Christ led them to call themselves by his name. To this it may be replied; if this name had originated from the disciples, instead of its being said, "the disciples were called Christians, it ought to have been said, "the disciples called themselves Christians first at Antioch." Others have thought that this name was at first given to the disciples by divine appointment.* Had this been the case, I think it is probable we should have found it more frequently used in the subsequent history of the Acts of the Apostles, and in their Epistles; which were all written, a considerable time after the
Those, who consider the name Christian as of divine appointment, suppose χρηματισαι in Acts xi.
26, means "to be named by divine appointment, or direction." In proof of this, Mat. ii. 12, 22. Luke ii. 26. Acts x. 22. Heb. viii. 5, and xi. 7, and xii. 25, have been quoted. Parkhurst, in his Greek Lexicon, says he cannot, however, find that the verb ever has this signification.
disciples were called Christians at Antioch. It is found in two other places only in scripture; and in both used, rather as a term of reproach, and a name by which the disciples were known as objects of persecution in the world, than an honourable name in
use among themselves. When the apostles wrote their epistles to the churches, or when Christians addressed one another, they used the terms saints, brethren, &c. but never addressed each other by the name Christian. This name is used in Acts xxvi. 28 by king Agrippa to Paul. After having heard the apostle defend himself against the false charges brought against him by the Jews, he says, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." This intimates, that disgrace was associated with that name in the minds of men, and that to become a Christian was in other words to become an object of persecution. This is more explicitly stated in the other passage where this name occurs; 1 Pet. iv. 16, "Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God on this behalf."
It has, therefore, been thought by others, that this name was not of divine appointment, but that it was given at first to the disciples of Christ, as a term of reproach. This opinion is confirmed, from what historians say of the people of Antioch, where this name originated, that they were famed for scurrilous jesting. This name in those days, might arise in a similar way with names in these days. Thus, in philosophy, those who have embraced Newton's system,
are called Newtonians; and those secures esteem and respect. who have received Plato's Temporal loss was then opinions, are called Platonists. nected with its application; now, In religion, those, who have re- worldly gain. The name, as ceived Calvin's system, are called now used, seems to have changed Calvinists; and those who have its original meaning; and the embraced the doctrines of greater part of those, to whom it Arminius are called Arminians; is applied, to be destitute of the and those who believe as Luther original character. Many names believed are called Lutherans. have been invented, and applied These names are applied to to the disciples of Christ, besides persons, who become followers that of Christian. In these days, of those who framed these the world is filled with denomirespective systems. In like man- nations, and their tendency has ner the disciples at Antioch been to lead the followers of might receive the name Chris- Christ to become followers of tian, from their having embraced men. These things ought Christ's system, and becoming not SO to be. If disciples his followers. Whatever way of Christ, we ought to follow this name originated, the disci- Christ only, and not to be serples of Jesus Christ have no vants of men. Names may cause to be ashamed of it; but change their original meaning; it has been, and still is for a original names may now be aplamentation, that many called plied to improper persons; yea, Christians are a disgrace to the new names may be invented, and name. In those days, it was ex- applied to the disciples of Christ; pressive of character; in these but let us ever remember, that days, it is merely nominal. In the character of a true disciple those days, it was applied to a is unchangeable. Now, as well few; in these days, to all indis- as formerly, "if any man will be criminately. When first given, Christ's disciple, he must deny it was probably applied as a term himself, and take up his cross, of reproach; but now, it has be- and follow him." come a title of honour. Then, it exposed to persecution; now, it
To be continued.
The following Extract is from the Christian Mirror, a recent publication. It will serve to exemplify the faults to which a person of ardent feelings is liable, even when earnestly engaged in pursuing a religious course.. [Evan. Int.
"Miss L. was a young lady of an amiable temper, great sincerity, and uncommon flow of spirits; to these natural qualifica
tions was added every accomplishment which might be expected from an affluent situation in life; her company was sought
by all the young and gay of her acquaintance, and every visit seemed dull, if Miss L. was not of the party.
"Her friends, however, discovered that she suddenly became gloomy and melancholy; her company was no longer pleasant, and she, whom every one had admired and flattered, was sneered at as a Methodist,* and avoided as a religious enthusiast; the only kind of enthusiasm which worldly people uniformly condemn. A man may be an enthusiast in poetry, painting, music, or philosophy; that is, he may be unreasonably at tached to them, and the world will admire him for that very attachment; but let him shew as great a zeal for the cause of God, and the welfare of his soul, (a cause to which our attachment can never be unreasonably strong, nor our attention too eager) and every tongue will condemn him.
"The following circumstance occasioned the change in Miss L. which rendered her so very disagreeable to her former admirers. On a Lord's day evening one of her friends proposed going to hear a popular minister, who was to preach in the town where she lived. As, from unexpected disappointments, they could not make up their party at cards, it was thought the dull hour might as well be passed away in the house of God, and accordingly these two ladies agreed to go. The discourse was occasioned by the death of a young person who had been suddenly called into eternity: the
The name of Methodist is applied to many classes of dissenters in England.
sermon was adapted to the event, and, for once in her life, Miss L. became serious. She listened, mused, wondered at the truths she heard, and in vain endeavoured to conceal her flowing tears. When the service was over she went home with her companion, but not a word was spoken. Each of them carefully concealed from their friends the place where they had been; the one, because she was ashamed of what she felt, and the other, because she was angry with herself, for having been the occasion of all this anxiety and distress to her amiable friend. It was, however, soon visible enough to all, that Miss L. was deeply affected with something; but nobody could account for it; one suspected she was ill, another that she had been offended: they were willing to suppose any thing, rather than that their gay companion could be so weak as to be affected by any thing said in a pulpit. They thought of a thousand other causes, while she at an early hour retired to her chamber; but it was to weep, not to rest. The faithful warnings of the preacher still rung in her ears, and she could not sleep. Her distress continued for several days, and was increased by the attempts of her friends to remove it. Their amusements, their pleasures, their vain conversation, was loathsome to her : instead of healing they aggravat ed the wound in her conscience; and in the whole circle of her acquaintance there was not one who could direct her to a remedy. At length it was settled, by all, that she had lost her senses; and the poor distracted giri became the subject of conversation
and pity in every company. It was found out that she had been meddling with religion, and there was not a doubt but it had made her mad. Every expression of sympathy for her was mingled with caution against having too much to do with religion; and her connexions rejoiced in the persuasion, that they had just enough to carry them to heaven, without the possibility of its causing any derangement on earth. Indeed, her distress was so great, that, had she not met with relief, it might have ended in real lunacy but he, who knoweth our infirmities, and remembereth we are but dust, administered to her strong consolation. Under hearing the same minister, who had filled her mind with terror, she experienced a degree of comfort. While he was representing Christ as the able and willing Saviour of the chief of sinners, her fears were dissipat ed, the garment of praise was given her for the spirit of heaviness, and the oil of joy for mourning. She now became as cheerful as ever, but her happiness flowed from a different source: praise was continually in her lips. She became anxious to bring her acquaintance to the same Saviour whom she had found, and fondly imagined if they would but give her a hear ing, they must be convinced.
"As her carnal acquaintance soon forsook her she acquired a new set of acquaintance, who, though inferior to her former ones in quality,, in fortune, and in rank, were greatly superior to them in virtue, piety, and solid worth. Their society contributed much to her comfort, and Vol. III. No. 1941
She had a
growth in grace. heart peculiarly formed for the enjoyments of Christian communion, and she frequently stood in need of the counsel, and sometimes of the gentle rebukes of her judicious friends. Her inexperience in religion, and the warmth of her temper, frequently led her into errors. She was always judging of her state in the sight of God, by her own frame and feelings: thus, if she was in a lively frame, she would think well of her state, but when her natural spirits sunk, she would then imagine there was no grace in her heart. The last sermon she heard was the worst, or the best she had ever heard in her life: and if the preacher did but move the passions, however injudicious, or erroneous, if not grossly so, he was sure to have her applause. If any person appeared at all under serious impressions, Miss L. would at once pronounce them converted, and was, sometimes, angry with the more grave and thoughtful, who wished to judge of the tree not by its blossoms, but by its fruits. Her friends lamented her want of self-government; she was somehow betrayed into levities unbecoming her profession. Being in the habit of feeling and speaking warmly, she often made strong declarations of attachment, when, perhaps, she hardly meant half what she said; and sometimes she would make promises, without considering whether she could fulfil them; not to say that she now and then forgot to fulfil them when she was able to do it.
"Hasty in her decisions, she would often say and do many im
prudent things, and frequently did not use the best means for attaining desirable objects: though it must be allowed, by her activity in embracing seasons of doing good, she often accomplished her end, when the more prudent and cautious Christian has lost the season, in reflecting upon the most proper means of improving it. The poor often felt her benevolence, and the afflicted were often refreshed by her kind and friendly visits her soul was disposed to sympathy; she wept with them that wept, and rejoiced with them that rejoiced. Lukewarm professors would be disposed to mark every little failing in a character whose zeal reproached their own indifference and it is to be lamented that she so often furnished them with an opportunity. Her more intimate friends admired the excellencies, without overlooking the' defects of her character, and would sometimes warn her of her danger neither was she backward in taking reproof: but whether the warnings were not given with sufficient faithfulness, or repeated with sufficient frequency, we cannot determine: however it was, Miss L. seemed but little benefitted by them; her natural disposition got the better of every effort, and she continued the same imprudent, affectionate, changeable, amiable creature.
"At length her haste and imprudence became its own cure; and the kind providence of God accomplished that by afflictions, which the concern of her friends had in vain attempted. A few months after Miss L.'s conversion, her relatives became so far reconciled as to behave towards her with civility, and she visited
them occasionally. At first her visits were short, and she was always upon her guard; being generally accompanied by some Christian friend. But one day, unhappily, she made one among a large party, composed of carnal and worldly persons. Miss L.
was determined to show them she was not ashamed of her religion; indeed, pride, under the disguise of zeal, was her principal motive for making this visit: accordingly she took the first opportunity of introducing her favourite subject; none of the company seemed disposed to listen to her, except a military gentleman, who was too polite not to attend to a lady. Miss L: delighted that at length she had obtained a hearing, went on most fluently, began to fancy she was doing good, and at last could not help exclaiming, 'Dear captain D. how I long for your conversion !' The captain replied, with his accustomed politeness, I should be happy, Miss L. to be converted by you, would you favour me with another interview.' This was agreed to without a moment's thought. From that time they became intimate. The captain left off swearing, and other outward immoralities, attended Miss L. with the utmost assiduity to the house of God, admired all that she admired, and so completely won her affections, that he very soon possessed himself of her fortune, and her person, by a precipitate marriage. It was in vain that her friends argued with her on the propriety of waiting to see if there was really a change in the heart of the person to whom she was about to attach herselffor life. She was too proud of her convert to