Page images
PDF
EPUB

Julian Pe- selves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and con- Antioch.
riod, 4760. firmed them.
Valgarðra,
49.

another, and that the higher order possessed powers which were
not enjoyed by the lower. The Gentile Churches were princi-
pally founded by the apostle St. Paul; and the question thero.
fore respecting the constitution of these Churches divides itself
into several branches, first, whether any, or what control was
exercised by the apostle himself over the Churches in general
under his jurisdiction; and secondly, whether there are any
proofs that he delegated to others the powers be had himself
exerted. These points appear to be at once docided by two
passages of Scripture, the one Acts xiv. 23. where we read that
the apostles Barnabas and Saul ordained them elders in every
Church ; and the other in Titus j. and v. where St. Paul tells
Titus-“ I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldest ordain elders
in every city, as I had appointed thes;" and he then proceeds to
descant on the necessary qualifications of him, on whom the
honour of ordination should be conferred.

The Church at this time was one Society, and it was subject
throughout to the superintendence of the apostles.

The apostles at Jerusalem till this time took care to superintedd all the converts : they commissioned Barnabas to go as far as Antioch, where the greatest number of proselytes were assembled. He obeyed, and visited the several Churches as far as Antioch, and confirmed the converts in their faith. The account of his mission is so briefly related, that we are informed only in the most general terms of the manner in which he exerted his authority. But this instance proves that the apostles possessed the right of superintendence over the Churches out of Judea, as well as those in their own country, or they could have bad no authority to send one of their number to the Church of Antioch.

Tbe title “ Prophets,” whicbis given in this passage to Judas and Silas, and is applied to a class of teachers inferior to the apostles, naturally leads us to inquire concerning the nature of the gifts that were imparted to the Church at this time, as well as the consequent gradations in the ministry which those gifts were intended to produce.

Even in the bestowment of these holy gifts an order and distinction was observed, which clearly points out a distinct gradation of rank in ecclesiastical goveroment. We will begin with the apostles, who were distinguished above all the others by the most excellent gifts and powers; next to whom were placed the prophets, who were inspired' men, foretold future events, and were also preachers of the Gospel : while others, from the portion of grace they had received, necessarily were considered of subordinate rank.

There is ever an harmonious uniformity in the plans of Provi. dence, enforcing the same divine truths.

“ As at the first settling of the Church of Israel in the wilderness (says the deeply learned Lightfoot), so it was in the first settling of the Gospel. The first fathers of the Sanhedrim in the wilderness were endued with divine gifts, such as we are speaking of; but when that generation was expired, those that were to succeed in that function and employment, were such as were qualified for it by education, study, and parts acquired. So was it with this first age of the Gospel, and the ages succeeding. At the first dispersing of the Gospel, it was absolutely needful that the first planters should be furnished with such extraordinary gifts, or else it was not possible it should be planted,

Julian Peo 83 And after they had tarried there a space, they were Antioch. riod, Valgar Æra,"

po let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles. 49.

as may appcar by a plain instance-Paul comes to a place
where the Gospel bad never come; he stays a month or two,
and begets a Church; and then he is to go his way, and to leave
them. Who now, in this Church, is fit to be their minister?
they being all alike but very children in the Gospel; but Paul
is directed by the Holy Ghost to lay his bands upon such and
such of them, and that bestows upon them the gift of tongues
and propbesying; and now they are able to be ministers, and to
teach the congregation. But, after that generation, when tbe
Gospel was settled in all the world, and committed to writing,
and written to be read and studied, then was study of the Scrip.
tures the way to enable men to unfold the Scriptures, and fit
them to be ministers to instruct others; and revelations and in-
spirations neither needful nor safe to be looked after, nor hope.
ful to be attained unto. And this was the reason why Paul,
coming but newly out of Epbesus and Crete, when he could
have ordained and qualified ministers with abilities by the im-
position of his hands, would not do it, but left Timothy and
Titus to ordain, though they could not bestow these gifts; be-
cause he knew the way that the Lord had appointed ministers
thenceforward to be enabled for the ministry, not by extraordi-
nary ipfusions of the Spirit, but by serious study of the Scrip.
tures ; not by a miraculous, but by an ordinary ordination." ,

1. The apostles, then, were expressly chosen and appointed
by our Lord himself. (John xx. 21. xvii. 18. Acts i, 24, 25.)

2. They had all seen Cbrist in the flesh, aŭtorra, (Acts i. 8.) and so became witnesses of his resurrection. (1 Cor. xv. 5. 7.)

3. They were personally instructed by our Lord. (Luke xxiv. 45. John xx. 22. Acts xi. 4.)

4. They were infallible in their teaching. (Joho xiv. 26. and xvi. 13. Luke xij. 11, 12. Matt. x. 19, 20.)

5. They were the common instructors of the world. (Matt. xxix. 19. Mark xvi. 15.)

6. They had the power of imparting to others the gifts of the Holy Spirit. (Acts viii. 6, 7. 15. 17.)

7. They were endowed with miraculous powers. (Matt. x. d. Acts iii. 6.)

8. They had miraculous power to punish offenders. (Acts v. 8, 9.)

9. Their wonderful success in their ministry was miraculous. (Acts xi., 41, &c.)

In all these respects St. Paul was equal to either of the apos-
tles.

1. He was called by Christ himself. (Gal. i. 1.)
2. He saw Christ. (1 Cor. ix. 1.)
3. Was taught by Christ. (Gal. i. 12.)
4. Was infallible. (2 Cor. xiii. 3. I Thess. ii. 13. and iv. 8.)
5. Teacher of the world. (Acts ix. 5. I Tim. ii. 7.)
6. Imparted the Spirit. (Acts xix. 6. 1 Tim. iv. 14.)
7. Miraculous powers. (Acts xix. 11, 12. xxii. 9.)
8. Power to inflict punishment. (2 Cor. x. 3–6. Acls xiii. 8.)

9. And no apostle was more successful in his ministry. (Acts
xxvi. 18. 1 Thess. xi. 5. Rom. xv. 17-19.)

It is exceedingly difficult to define with accuracy the precise powers of the miraculous gifts, and the exact titles of the ministers who were severally endowed with them, and the functions which they individually performed in the Church. Grotius, Vj. tringa, Lightfoot, and many others of the most learned, have

sa Pe 94 Notwithstanding, it pleased Silas to abide there still. Antioch. , 4760,

35 Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teach'ing and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.

[ocr errors]

discussed the subject, and have come to different conclusions.
The principal theologian of later days, who has written on this
part of the sacred narrative, is Lord "Barrington, with whom Dr.
Hales, with the exception of some trifling differences of opinion,
is generally agreed.

The former has arranged the gifts of the Spirit, the offices of
those persons on whom they wore confirmed, and their different
titles, in the following manner.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

tongues.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[graphic]

a That Aoyos copias signifies the knowledge that was the peculiar gift of an apostle, see the second Essay, in the Miscellanea Sacra.

b That λόγος γνώσεως signifies the knowledge peculiar to the highest
rank of prophets, see the second Essay.

c By hiotus, Mr. Locke here understands such a fall persuasion of
the truths which the teacher taught, as enabled him to speak with the
assurance and authority that became a teacher or a doctor. (Locke in

loc.) And that faith stands for a firm persuasion or assurance, may be
· seen in many other places; see 1 Cor. xiii. 2. Matt. xvii. 20. Mark iv.
40. Luke xvii. 6. Rom. xiv. 22, 23. James v. 15.

& Gifts of healing, ver. 30. may signify the gifts that were beneficial
to men's bodies, as teaching was to their minds; and might, perhaps, be
exercised on the illuminating prayer of faith. The reason of the gift of
healing being given may have been-1. That it had been sometimes given
to prophets under the Old Testament. 2. That it was beneficial. 3. That
it was necessary to cure the distemper inflicted by the power of the apos-
tles in the exercise of discipline in the Church.

e Working of miracles being distinguished here from the gifts of beal-
ing, may signify something that implies a greater power; as raising the
dead ; laying storms; turning water into wine ; feeding multitudes with
a small quantity of provisions, &c. These two gifts are evidently trans-
posed in the three lists.

By tpoonreía here may be understood, that lower sort of pro-
phecy, of which St. Paul chiefly treats, (1 Cor. xiv.) and which Lord Bar-
rington considers as branched out into lower revelations, exhorting, pray-
ing, and singing in the Spirit. Though I apprehend the same word, namely,
Trpoonreía, Rom. xii. 6. and Eph. iv. Il. means the higher sort of pro-
phecy, as it stands there before the gift of teaching ; whereas here it is
placed after it.

& As prophecy takes in lower revelations, exhortation, praying, and
singing in the Spirit: so perhaps dlakpioeus TVEVPátwv may signify
the particular gift which those had who were most able to judge, whe-

ther those several performances proceeded from the Spirit or no; see
1 Cor. xiv. 29. where the apostle says, "Let the prophets speak, two
or three at a time, and let the others jndge," (or discern), Brakpuyétw.
day. Where judging, or discerning, follows prophesying, as duaspigels
TTVEUPOTwy follows a poonreía here; see also i Cor. ii. 15. where the
spiritual man is said to judge, or discern, even the things revealed by the
higher prophets.

h 'Avrih veus, in the second list (helps) may answer to prophecy;
inasmuch as those who had the gift of lower prophesy were the persons
that chiefly assisted, or helped the Christians in the public devotions.

i KubepvcELG stands here, as I suppose, for discerners or triers of
spirits.

k Perhaps the apostle makes yévn yworõv, in the second list, answer
both to tongues and to the interpretation of tongues in the first.

1 And perhaps yacogaus laloŪVTES, in the third list, may compre-
hend prophecy, discernment of spirits, and the gift of tongues in the
first list; inasmuch as these were generally the subjects those spoke of
who had the gift of tongues. For we may always observe, throughout
the history of the Acts, that those who had the gift of tongues prophe-
cied, or spoke, the wonderful things of God, or magnified God : and
St. Paul, in the fourteenth chapter, seems to intimate, that at least many
of those who had the gift of tongues, could prophesy, in the sense I
have explained it; because he bids them prophesy rather than use the
gift of tongues. St. Mark uses the gift of tongues even in something a
larger sense than this; and puts it for all the illumination which was
ever uttered by the gift of tongues, (Mark xvi. 17.) as is plain from his
not mentioning any other gift of illumination there. St. Paul places this
gift last, except the interpretation of tongues, because it was of the least
use and benefit in the Church, 1 Cor. xiv. 19_23; and in order to beat
down the folly of the Corinthians, who prided themselves so extravagantly
in it.

« PreviousContinue »