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inconsiderable, upon the Third person of the Adorable Trinity :-As though this Divine Agent were the immediate Author of their frequent and flagrant offences against piety and decency. The Great Head of the church, it should be remembered, except in extraordinary cases, and for extraordinary purposes, never bestows his
a way that shall supersede the necessity of industry and application; but designs that his ministers shall qualify themselves for performing their professional services by the diligent use of the abilities which he has given them.
The Apostles were far from indulging that rude spirit of Vandalism that decries human learning. Till I come, is the direction of one of them, who was both a man of learning and filled with the Holy Ghost, -give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.- Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.–Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. The erudite author of these inspired declarations was a decided advocate for human learning in a preacher of the gospel. He well knew the value of the acquisition when accompanied by divine grace, and consecrated to the service of Christ; and because it was liable to abuse in the hands of unprincipled men, he was not for proscribing it from the christian church, or leaving it as an implement to be wielded in opposition to the truth by the enemies of God. It is a remarkable fact, and one that shows the deference which the Spirit of truth pays to human science, that this same Apostle, who was distinguished above the others
by his literary attainments, was selected by our Lord to indite a larger portion of the epistles of the New Testament than all the rest of them put together. Of these, which consist of twenty-one, no less than fourteen are from the pen of the great Apostle of the Gentiles. And those expressions which occur in his writings, in which he affirms that he came not to his hearers with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto them the testimony of God, and that his speech and his preaching were not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the spirit and of power, — are not to be construed as a disparagement of human learning ; but as intended merely to condemn the philosophical rant, and that tawdry, meretricious species of eloquence, which are known to have been of such high repute with the effeminate and voluptuous Greeks and Romans of his day.
We cannot but advert in this place to a censurable affectation which some public speakers betray, who would be thought to be able on any emergency to rise and address an assembly from the impulse of the moment, and without the labour of a previous preparation. Generally speaking, the individuals, who are so solicitous to pass themselves off for geniuses, might spare themselves the pains which they not unfrequently take to apprize their audience that they speak entirely without premeditation, for, if possessed of only a very scanty share of discernment, their hearers will quickly make the discovery for themselves.
In this connexion, too, it will not be improper to observe, that in their extraordinary character,which enabled them more successfully to effect a
rapid and extensive propagation of the christian religion that should serve as a proof of its divine origin to all future ages,—the Apostles have no suc
In point of official dignity, they were placed by their Divine Master on a footing of the most perfect equality with each other. From desiring or consenting to be called of men Rabbi, they were peremptorily prohibited; and were distinctly informed, that he of them who should be least in humility should be greatest in the kingdom of God, which was the only pre-eminence after which they might lawfully aspire. Nor, in our apprehension is there any thing to be found in the writings of the NewTestament, or in the practice of the primitive Apostolic churches, that furnishes a plausible pretext for prelatical distinctions among their successors in the ministry. The Elders of Ephesus, whom the Apostle requested to meet him at Miletus, as he was on his way to Jerusalem, in his farewell address to them after they were assembled, are styled Overseers or Bishops. Elders and bishops, then, are obviously used in this instance as correlative terms. But of these Elders, it seems, there were several, and all of them belonged to the city of Ephesus. But the entire city of Ephesus, in point of extent, was greatly inferiour to the jurisdiction of a single Diocesan Bishop of modern times. The Elders of Ephesus, therefore, could not possibly have been bishops in the sense in which this term has since been employed by the advocates of the Hierarchy; but simply the bishops or pastors of particular churches or congregations.
1V. Another topic presented for consideration in the text, is the field of labour which the Apostles were
They were directed to go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter not: but to go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The Samaritans were a sort of mongrel Jews, who had taken possession of a portion of the Holy Land after the ten tribes were carried captive to Babylon under Shalmaneser, and who, in consequence of the evils which they experienced in their new settlement from the incursions of wild beasts, with which it was greatly infested, made application to Esarhaddon, the king, for the appointment of some one who should teach them the religion of the country, by way of averting the calamities which they supposed were sent upon them as a judgment for their previous neglect of the Deity who presided over that region. The king, agreeably to their request, sent to them an Hebrew priest, who instructed them in the Jewish religion, and gave to them a copy of the law of Moses, of which, it is said, there are versions still extant in the Samaritan dialect, though corrupted with many mistakes. In this way the Samaritans blended the Jewish religion with their own idolatries, and adopted only so much of the former as they imagined would be necessary to ensure their temporal safety. Their religion of course was a heterogeneous mixture of truth and falsehood. They worshipped they knew not what; and by their opposition to the Jews, while engaged in re-building the temple under Ezra and Nehemiah, as well as by their improper conduct in many other respects, they had rendered themselves so completely obnoxious to the Jews that all intercourse between them was cut off: And though our Lord himself on one occasion went and preached the gospel to them with surpri
sing success, at present he would not allow the Apostles to do it, but strictly enjoined it upon them to conduct towards these people precisely as if altogether heathen. The field of labour, therefore, which was prescribed to the Apostles at this time, was merely that part of the land of Judea which was inhabited by the lineal descendants of Abraham :- And even when the restriction in question was subsequently removed, and they were directed by their risen Master to go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature, still to this extended commission was appended the special limitation that they should begin at Jerusalem :-a limitation by which they were prevented from making any considerable exertions to extend the light of the gospel to the Gentiles until after the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, which happened, if I mistake not, about ten or twelve years from the crucifixion of Christ.
But why, it may be asked, this restriction of the labours of the Apostles for so long a time to the lost sheep of the house of Israel? We answer, because they were beloved for the fathers' sakes. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were their progenitors, and on account of the eminent piety of those distinguished Patriarchs, with whom the Almighty entered into solemn covenant, he was pleased to regard their posterity with peculiar and strong affection. For centuries, too, as a nation, they had borne the burden of a costly and painful ritual, which was designed gradually to prepare the way for the Advent of the Messiah, and the attendant blessings of his gospel,—which forms another consideration that entitled them to priority, in enjoying the privileges of the christian dispensation over all other people. In ad