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tles that he would impart to them the holy spirit, to guide and assist them in the great work ot'establishing Christianity in the world.
We might summarily acconnt for the prevalence of the gospel, by considering that it was the cause of God, and that it received divine aid and support. But in accon:plishing his moral purposes, the Deity tisually operates by means of human agency. In this instance, the apostles were made instruments of spreading the gospel through the nations of the earth. They were endued with both knowledge and power from on high. In adılressing the Jews, they refer to the predictions contained in their sacred books; and speak of Jesus of Nazareth as the great prophet whom their vation had long expected. They insist that he is the Messiah, of whom Moses, David and other inspired men had written, and whose coming had long been anticipated by their pious ancestors. The Gentiles they addressed in a different manner, as being involved in the grossest errors, respecting the character of God and the terms of acceptance with him. To both Jews and heathens, they declared the doctrine of a future life, and of a resurrection to an incorruptible existence, on the authority of their divine Master, wlio rose from the tomh himself, and thus gave full proof that all mankind will be rai-ed from the sleep of death. They taught a sublime system of morals, such as the world had never known: They declared the great fundamental article of all true religion and true philosophy, that there is but one God, the Maker, Preserver and moral Governor of men: that all the gods of the heathen were false and imaginary deities : and that God was propitious and gracious, requiring all men to repent, and offering them pardon and favor by Jesus, the Messiah, whom he had constituted the spiritual Prince and Savior of the moral world. To give authority to these doctrines, and to prove that they were commissioned from heaven to teach them, they were en: abled to perform miracles, and to speak languages which they had never learned. As might have been expected, the effect was great and extensive. Men of fair and honest minds, whatever had been their errors and prejudices of education, embraced the doctries of the gospel : and within forty years from the death of Christ, who had been crucified as a malefactor, immense multitudes in all parts of the
civilized world were numbered among the disciples of Jesus of Nazareth; of those some of the greatest philosophers of
At the feast of Pentecost, soon after the resurrection and ascension of Christ, where the apostles were endowed with miraculous power, there were visiting at Jerusalem dvout Jews from almost every part of the world then civilized. These must have communicated something of a knowledge of the gospel on their return to the several countries they inhabited. And the apostles afterwards travelled into various parts of Italy, Greece, Persia, India, Arabia, Egypt, Ethiopia, &c. for the sole purpose of teaching the truths of our holy religion, Peter and Paul, attended by Luke and Mark, preached at Rome, and in other cities of Italy. St.Paul also went through the different states of Greece more than once, accompanied by Luke, Barnabas, Silas, or Timothy. Some have supposed that he was in Spain, and even in Britain. But there is no authentie account that he was ever in either of these countries, though it was, at one time, his determination to have visited Spain. He was also in Arabia soon after his conversion. There too, probably he testified of Christ; though one object of his returning into that country, might have been private ineditation. The apostle John is also supposed to have visited Rome ; . as he certainly did many sities and countries of Greece, teaching the history, and declaring the doctrines of his divine Master. Matthew taught in Ethiopia and in Parthia; Thomas, in Persia; Bartholomew, in the western parts of India. Andrew is supposed to have preached to the Scythians and others bordering on the north of Greece in Europe. Philip, after travelling through various parts of Judea and making disciples, is said to have gone into Phrygia, and other states of Greece in the western parts of Asia. And Jude, the brother of James, known also by the name of Libbeus and 'Thaddeus, preached the gospel in Mesopotamia, an extensive country, north of Judea and Syria, and eastward of Greece in Asia.
The greater portion of this book is but a history of the labors and preaching of the apostle Paul. He was a powerful instrument in the hands of providence, for spreading the knowledge of the glorious gospel. He was naturally ardent, zealous and persevering. He was born of Jewish
parents, and educated in the religion of his fathers with great care and strictness. In Tarsus, a Grecian éity, the place of his birth and early education, he must have enjoyed great advantages for acquiring Sunan kuowledge. Greece had then been long celebrated for its academies and instructors. Great progress had been made in various branches of literature and science; particularly in philology, in rhetoric and oratory. To excel as a disputant and as a public speaker, was the highest praise. si. Paul, no doubt, had accustomed himself to these exercises. He was un eloquent man and a logician; and considering the place of his birth and family, was probably acquainted with the peculiar tenets of the various sects of philosophers, whose systems were then received. Uuder the instruction of Gemaliel, a learned Jewishi rabbi of Jerusalem, he was perfectly taught the customs, rites and doctrines of the Mosaje law, and became versed in all the traditions and fanciful opinions of the Hebrew school. This man, thus endowed, and thus qualified, God saw fit, in his infinite wisdom and grace, to select as an apostle and missionary in the cause of Christianity—the cause of moral truth and of virtue to this our benighted, degenerate world. God was pleased to reveal to him his Son, Jesus Christ; and to make him instrumen. tal, through the influence of the gospel and of his Holy Spirit, "of turning men from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they might thus receive forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance among those who are sanctified." The apostle was not disobedient to the heavenly direction; but testified to the Jews first, and also to the heathens, that Jesus Christ was the long-expected Messiah, the Sent of God, who had come to enlighten and bless the world. Much of the history of the apostolic services and journies of this wonderful man is given by Luke in the following book. Nor can it be perused, we think, by a serious and candid mind, without perceiving marks of that infinite wisdom and power, which worketh all things according to its own most gracious and incomprehensible purposes ; overruling the weakness, the folly, the prejudices, and even the wickedness of men, for the instruction and improvement of his great moral family on the earth. These remarks we will close with some quotations from early Christian writers, relative to this book of the Acts of the tposthes. Theodoret, in hiscommentary on Colossians iv.14, "Luke the beloved physician saluteth you," says, “This is he who wrote the divine gospel and the history of the Acts.” Jerome observes, in a letter concerning the study of the seriptures, that the Acts of the Apostles seems to premise a bare bistory; but if we consider that the writer is Luke the physician, we shall soon discern that every word is suited to heal the maladies of the soul. Augustin says, "Luke, after having written a gospel, containing a history of Clirist's words and works to the time of his resurrection and ascension, wrote such an account of the Acts of the Apostles as he judged sufficient for the edification of believers; and it is the only history of the apostles, which has been received by the church; all others being rejected as not to be relied on." The testimonies of ancient writers quoted in the preface to St. Luke's gospel may also be examined in reference to the following history of the apostles.
I THEOPHILUS, I composed the former
narrative* of all which Jesus clid and taught; 2 until the day in which he was taken up, after
that he, through the Holy Spirit, had given
commandment unto the apostles whom he had 3 chosen : to whom also he shewed himself alive
after his suffering, by many infallible proofs ; being seen of them forty days, and speaking of
the things relative to the kingdom of God :t 4. And being assembled together with them, he
commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the proinise of
the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of 5 me. I For John indeed baptized with water ;
but ye shall be baptized withị the Holy Spirit, 6 not many days hence. Now when they were
come together, they inquired of him, saying; Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the
* This refers to his gospel, which Luke addressed to the same person.
+ Or, the Christian religion.