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teachers in our own times, for the apostles were aided by the Holy Spirit which obtained in the primitive churches in their generation and in the last days of the Mosaic, or Hebrew world, after which they ceased.

The errors that the apostles encountered were many and various. Some denied the resurrection of the dead and demanded to know how the dead were raised up, and with what body they come. Others said that the resurrection was past already, and overthrew the faith of some. Others were presumptuous and spake evil of dignities, whereas angels bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But the chief difficulty, and the one which occasioned the apostles the most trouble, arose from among those that believed, who were Jews, and who were of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, who mixed up matters of the faith of Christ with the works of the law, and could not, or would not be taught the right ways of the Lord. They travelled among the churches that were established in the cities of the Gentiles, and wrought much havoc and evil among the disciples; and so determined and irrepressible were they, that in Antioch, where a large church had been established by the labors of Paul and others, so much did they trouble the church there and resist Paul and Barnabas, that something decisive had to be done, and so it is recorded in the fifteenth chapter of the Acts concerning them and what was done; for Luke says, “And certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.”

When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain other of them should go up to Jerusalem, unto the apostles and elders, about this question. And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles, and they caused great joy unto the brethren. THE GREAT CONFERENCE AT JERUSALEM, CONSISTING OF THE

APOSTLES AND ELDERS, AND CHURCH AT JERUSALEM This was evidently one of the most important conventions ever held in the church of Christ since his ascension into heaven, to settle and determine by the aid of the Holy Spirit as to how much of the law of Moses the Gentile converts to Christianity were required to keep and observe. And this question, involving the great question of justification before God, as to whether men were to be justified by the law of faith, or by the law of Moses, or by a mixture of the two, was now to be fully discussed and settled by the inspired apostles of Christ and the church in Jerusalem in conference assembled, and therefore it is said, “And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they (Paul and Barnabas) declared all things that God had done with them. But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying that it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses."

Thus the issue was fairly stated before the conference. The advocates of this error which was destructive of the faith were bold men, and not afraid to maintain and argue their question in the very teeth of the apostles themselves, and therefore the conclusions arrived at in that conference, and published from thence, are of the greatest and most important character to the churches, not only of that day but to all God-fearing men down to the times in which we live, for the advocates of some features of that error still live to champion their cause.

This question was then thoroughly debated, for it is said, And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter, and when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up and said unto them, Men and brethren, Ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God which knoweth the hearts, bear them witness, giving them the Holy Spirit, even as he did unto us and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we, were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be saved even as they."

These statements of Peter are clear and forcible; as he says, the Lord at the first made choice of him, that the Gentiles by his mouth should hear the word of the Gospel and believe; and as God gave them the Holy Spirit as well as he gave it to the Jews, purifying their hearts by faith, this was proof positive that God accepted Gentiles without the works of the law, for Peter, when he baptized the household of Cornelius, which he referred to above, did not by God's command enjoin upon Cornelius and all his household that they should be circumcised and keep the law, in order that they might be saved, and mark, Peter did not even say that they should be saved even as we, but on the contrary, "We believe that we shall be saved even as they,”— that is by faith, and not by the works of the law. Then it is said, “ All the multitude (for they were many) kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.” And the bearing that these facts had upon the question was this, that all these things were done in making the Gentiles obedient to the faith, without having anything to do with the works of the law.

When Paul and Barnabas had concluded their interesting narrative, and after they held their peace, James answered saying, "Men and brethren, hearken unto me. Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.” And to this agree the words of the prophets, as it is written (Amos 9: 11-12), “After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works, from the beginning of the world.”

The Scriptures which James here quotes to show that the conversion of the Gentiles, as reported in this vast assembly by Peter, Paul, and Barnabas, was in conformity with the Scriptures, and the Scripture which he quotes from the Prophet Amos, relate to the future building up of the throne of and kingdom of David in the latter days, that, as Amos says, “ they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the Gentiles, which are called by my name, saith the Lord.” Now it is testified by Zachariah saying, “And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and shall be his people.” The Lord's name will be

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named upon them, and these nations will be subject to, and serve the nation of Israel, when David's throne is built up for evermore; and it is said by Isaiah (60: 12), “The nation and kingdom that will not serve thee, shall perish; yea those nations shall be utterly wasted."

This Scripture shows how subservient the nations of the earth will be the day that the tabernacle of David is built up, when many people shall go

Come ye and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." And Paul also in his letter to the Romans

” (15:12) quotes from the same prophet, Isaiah, saying, “There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.” These Scriptures, like that quoted by James, show that God intended to call the Gentiles, that his name might be named upon them also, and that they might be joint heirs with his people Israel.

THE SENTENCE OF JAMES “Wherefore," said James, “my sentence is, that we trouble not them which from among the Gentiles are turned to God; but that we write unto them that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses in old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogue every Sabbath day.”

These things that James spake, together with what had gone before, pleased the elders and the whole church. And as Moses of old time was read in the synagogues every Sabbath day, so it was necessary that the churches of the Gentiles should have something from the holy apostles of Christ to read in their religious gatherings, that they might know and understand the will of God concerning them, and therefore it is added, “ Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch, with Paul and Barnabas, namely Judas, surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren; and they wrote letters by them after this manner.”

THE LETTERS OF THE APOSTLES AND BRETHREN " The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles, in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: forasmuch as we have heard that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment; it seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you, with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men that have hazarded their lives for the name of Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that ye abstain first, from meats offered to idols; second, and from blood; third, and from things strangled; fourth, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare you well.” These four commandments are all contained in the law, and occupy a very important place there, and are

enforced by very stringent laws, and the violation of them was punishable with severe penalties. Nevertheless these laws appear to have had a universal application to all men.

Touching the first, God has declared, saying, “My glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images." And Jesus said, “ The greatest of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord: and, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.” Again it is written, “ Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.” It is said that God's name is jealous, for he is jealous of the homage of his worshippers, lest they should honor other gods than himself, and consequently the Gentile converts to Christianity were forbidden to eat meats offered in sacrifice to idols, lest they provoke the Lord to jealousy.

Second, that ye abstain from eating blood: this command is not peculiar to the law of Moses. When God after the flood enlarged the things that might be used for food, he gave permission to Noah and his posterity saying, “ Every moving thing that liveth, shall be meat for you, even as the green herb, have I given you all things.” But he made one exception saying, “ But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.” This has been God's law for all the families of the earth; the life or spirit of all Aesh dwells in the blood, and as the blood is the life, the Creator has plainly and positively forbidden the children of men in all ages since the days of Noah to eat blood. When the law of Moses was given to the children of Israel, so strict was this law that it is said in the seventeenth chapter of Leviticus, “And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers which sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood, I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood and will cut him off from among his people; for the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar, to make an atonement for your souls. Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood; and whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth or catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten, he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust, for it is the life of all Aesh. The blood of it is the life thereof, therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh; whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.”

This statute is frequently repeated in the law, and death is the penalty for its violation; and when the gospel was sent to the Gentiles, and when churches were established and built up in Gentile countries, then this command was laid upon them again by the Holy Spirit and the apostles of Christ in conference assembled at Jerusalem, and is therefore of full binding force to this day. But some say in self-defence, who transgress this righteous and good law of God, misapplying the words of Christ, "Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man.” Then pray how come Adam and Eve to be defiled by eating that which God had forbidden, and so as God has forbidden his creatures to eat blood, those who transgress that law and eat blood, are defiled, and the wrath of God abideth on them.

Third, things strangled to death are also forbidden to be eaten, as such still

contain the blood in the flesh, and flesh with the blood is forbidden to be eaten by the law of God.

Fourth, fornication is forbidden. “Marriage," it is written, “is honorable and the bed undefiled, but whoremongers and adulterers, God will judge.”

Again, Paul says, “Every sin that a man doeth, is without the body, but he that committeth fornication, sinneth against his own body. What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price? Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God's."

THE CONFERENCE DISMISSED

“So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle; which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation. And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them. And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles.” Then Paul chose Silas, and went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches. “Then came he to Derby and Lystra, and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.” Observe here that Paul did not have Timothy circumcised that he might be saved, but, as Paul desired him as a fellow worker unto the kingdom of God, and that he might have access to the Jews as well as the Gentiles, in order therefore to remove Jewish prejudice, as his mother was a Jewess, Paul had him circumcised; so that was not a violation of the decision arrived at in the conference.

"And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep that were ordained of the apostles and elders that were of usalem. And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in numbers daily."

THE APOSTLES' DECREES

Although the apostles' decrees form one of the most important documents to the churches of Christ for their special observance that were ever issued, and although they are of divine authority and binding upon every Gentile convert to Christianity (for they were not only the product of the labors of the inspired apostles, Paul among the number; in solemn conference assembled in the holy city, but the decrees were endorsed by the Holy Spirit, for say they in their letters to the churches, " It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things "), I say, notwithstanding all these important considerations, these decrees are almost forgotten and lost sight of, and their binding character discarded by the religious teachers in the sects of our times who founder around and grope at noon-day as in the night, under the veil that covers all nations, understand

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