Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

undissembled cheerings of almost the entire body nexion of the colonies, at the moment of their of educated men throughout Europe. They used revolt, with France—and the prevalence of a the only language then common to the civilized peculiarly eager and uncorrected commercial temworld, and a language which might be imagined per—and the absence of every sort and semto have been framed and finished designedly to blance of restraint upon opinion—were concurrent accomplish the demolition of whatever was grave circumstances, belonging to the infancy of the and venerated ; a language, beyond any other, of American Union, of a kind which put to the raillery, of insinuation, and of sophistry; a lan- severest test the intrinsic power of Christianity, in guage of polished missiles, whose temper could retaining its hold of the human mind. Could penetrate not only the cloak of imposture, but the infidel experimenters have wished for conditions shield of truth.

more equitable under which to try the respective 8. “ At the same portentous moment the shocks forces of the opposing systems ? and upheavings of political commotion opened a 11. “And what has been the issue? It is true thousand fissures in the ancient structure of moral that infidelity holds still its ground in the United and religious sentiment, and the enemies of Chris- States, as in Europe, and there, as in Europe, keeps tianity, surprised by unexpected success, rushed company with whatever is debauched, sordid, opforward to achieve an easy triumph. The firmest pressive, reckless, ruffian-like. But at the same and the wisest friends of old opinions desponded, time Christianity has gained rather than lost and many believed that a few years would see ground, and shows itself there in a style of as Atheism the universal doctrine of the western much fervour and zeal as in England; and, pernations, as well as military despotism the only form haps, even has the advantage in these respects. of government.

Wherever, on that continent, good order and in9. “ It is hard to imagine a single advantage telligence are spreading, there also the religion of that was lacking to the promoters of infidelity, or a the Bible spreads. And if it be probable that the single circumstance of peril and ill omen that was English race, and language, and institutions, will, not present to deepen the gloom of the friends of in a century, pervade its deserts, all appearances religion. The actual issue of that signal crisis is favour the belief that the edifices of Christian

in the freshness of a recent event. worship will bless every landscape of the present Christianity has triumphed. But shall it be said wilderness that shall then 'blossom as the rose’ or if said, believed that the late resurrection of the religion of the Bible has been managed in the VI. We have now taken a brief, and, necessarily, cabinets of monarchs ? Have kings and emperors imperfect, view of the guarantees which we posgiven this turn to public opinion, which now com- sess for the original divine character of the revepels infidelity to hide its shame behind the very lation comprised in the sacred Scriptures, and for mask of hypocrisy that it had so lately torn from the integrity and preservation of the text by which the face of the priest? To come home to facts it has been handed down to us. These guarantees with which all must be familiar. Has there not are of the most satisfactory description, each one been heard, within the last few years, from the of them possessing at least the highest degree of most enlightened, the most sober-minded, and the probability; and the combined strength of the freest people of Europe, a firm, articulate, spon- whole furnishing an amount of moral demonstrataneous, and cordial expression of preference, and tion which cannot be challenged for any other of enhanced veneration, towards Christianity? ancient writings, nor be resisted by any ingenuous

10. “ The spread of the English stock, and lan- mind, surrendered up to the deliberate and dispasguage, and literature, over the North American con- sionate investigation of its claims. The word of tinent, has afforded a distinct and very significant Jehovah is “a sure word;" it comes to men in the indication of the power of Christianity to retain its “ demonstration of the Spirit," and with “ power," hold of the human mind, and of its aptness to run “bringing down high imaginations, and everything hand in hand with civilization, even when unaided which exalteth itself against God;" humbling man, by those secular succours to which its enemies in that it may raise him to the dignity of “a son of malice, and some of its friends in over-caution, God," and justifying to worlds—seen and unseenare prone to attribute too much importance. The the inscrutable providence of its beneficent and tendency of its republicanism, which obviously has only wise" Author. some strong affinity with infidelity-and the con

before our eyes

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

CHAPTER IV.

SACRED INSTITUTIONS.

CHRISTIAN

In the prosecution of that divine purpose which , taments, this spirit and practice are impressively we have seen it to have been the great object of demanded, Psalm cxxxiii. ; Isai. xi. 12–14; 1 revelation to accomplish, the Supreme Being has, Cor. xii. 31, xii. 1–13. To increase their numfrom time to time, prescribed various institutions, bers, to proselyte from the world, to wait and wish and enjoined various duties. The discussion of for the accomplishment of sacred prophecy, to be some of these pertains more to the science of theo- united and unceasing in their exertions, is their logy than to the art of interpretation ; but there are imperative duty and highest joy. * others of them, comprising details, both of ceremony and of import, that are so frequently spoken of or

§ 2. Of the Patriarchal Church. alluded to in the sacred writings, as to render the knowledge of them indispensable to the biblical 1. The Patriarchal church was limited in its interpreter. To these we shall now invite attention, faith, and simple in its ritual and worship. The adverting to the former class of institutions only object of the dispensation under which it existed, in so far as they are expressly and incontro- was to inculcate the doctrine of redemption, through Fertibly described in the Scriptures.

the piacular death of the woman's promised seed; with its necessary concomitant—the doctrine of a

recovered happy immortality. The church, at SECTION I.

this period, therefore, comprised those who received THE CHURCH-PATRIARCHAL, JEWISH, AND

and confided in these doctrines; as Abel, who

obtained a witness from God that he was rightMembers of the Church—The Patriarchal Church, The Jewish

eous (Heb. xi. 4); Enoch, who walked with Church ; Members of the Jewish Church ; Corrupt Judaism God (Gen. v. 24; Heb. xi. 5); Noah, who was -Jewish Sects—the Christian Church; its Constitution; its heir of the righteousness which is by faith (IIeb. Plurality; Equality of its Members; its Submission to Divine xi. 7); Abraham, who, taught the doctrine of reAuthority.

demption, through the interrupted sacrifice of § 1.-Of the Church, generally.

Isaac, looked for a heavenly country, and died in

the faith (Heb. xi. 8/19); Isaac, Jacob, and The truths of divine revelation were published Joseph, with many of their contemporaries and and tendered to the acceptance of the world—of descendants, no doubt taught by their discourse mankind at large ; but they have been, in all ages, and example, who by faith anticipated things to received only by a few out of the general mass, come, and obtained a good report (Heb. xi. 20— which few, thus distinguished from the rest, have 22, &c.). constituted “the church of the living God," or the

2. The Patriarchal church consisted of two assembly of believers and worshippers, Acts ii. 47, periods. The first, from Adam to the flood; vii. 38; Heb. i. 12. The Greek appellation during which the apostasy of Cain and his deErzinola, from ex, out of, and ranew, I call, is scendants took place, which consisted in the rejecclearly derivable from bap kehl, a calling, a gather- tion of the atonement, and which at length spread ing together, an assembly. It is applied to the amongst the descendants of Seth. The second general collection of the Israelitish people (Deut. period was from Noah to the establishment of the xviii. 16); to the universal body of Christians Levitical dispensation; the apostasy from which (Matt

. xvi. 18); and to any particular organized consisted in astronomical hero-worship; while the body or congregation (Acts xvi. 5; Rev. i., ii., iïi.) doctrine of the atonement was strenuously mainAmong the characteristics of this community, must tained. # especially be noted, the fidelity of the members to 3. The priesthood, whose duty was to offer themselves, to each other, and to God (Gen. v. 24, vi. 8, 22; Exod. xx. 3—17; Psalm xv. ; Matt. v., vi., vü.; Phil. iv. 8). But every thing is included * See “ Outlines of a Biblical Cyclopædia,” in Critica Bibin the spirit of hearty and habitual co-operation ; lica, vol. ii., pp. 495, 496. " striving together,” or as the oữvad.outtes me the three Dispensations inay be advantageously consulted.

+ On this interesting topic, Faber's Treatise on the Genius of ugg of Phil. i. 27, reads, " jointly contending

For the proofs of these statements the reader must be rewith one soul.” In numerous places of both Tes- ) ferred to Faber's Treatise, already spoken of.

sacrifices, instruct the people, and superintend the church, and hence the whole nation is said to be worship offered to Jehovah, under the patriarchal sanctified or holy, Lev. xx. 8, xxi. 8, xxii. 9, 16, dispensation, originally belonged to the first-born, 32, &c. In the later period of their history the Cain; but he forfeited it by apostate infidelity Jews were distinguished into two classes, viz., and murder. It then devolved upon Seth and his Hebrero Jeres, and Hellenistic Jeres or Grecians, posterity, and was handed down through Noah, as they are called in our translation, John xii. 20; Shem, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—Esau having Acts vi. 1, ix. 29, xi. 20. The former spoke and sold his birthright to his younger brother—and conducted their worship in the Hebrew, or rather thence to the time of Moses.

Syro-Chaldaic language; and the latter in the 4. Of what may be called the discipline of the Greek tongue. And although as members of the patriarchal church, we know little or nothing; the Jewish church they were considered as equally notices comprised in the book of Genesis (which, holy, the former were, nevertheless, considered as with a few passages in the Epistles to the Gala- being the most honourable. Hence Paul boasts tians and Hebrews, constitute the only records (Phil. iii. 5) that he was “a Hebrew of the Hewe have of this period) being few in number, and brews,” i. e., a Hebrew speaking and worshipping scant of information.

God in his own tongue. But, notwithstanding

that the Jewish religion was peculiarly adapted to $ 3.-Of the Jewish Church.

the Jewish nation, leave was given for the admis

sion of proselytes, who were invested with certain 1. The Jewish church retained the same great privileges on their abjuration of idolatry, and suband fundamental article of faith as that which mission to the worship of the true God. Of these constituted the prime feature of the patriarchal proselytes there were three kinds, viz., slaces who theology, but with additions called for by the pecu- embraced Judaism without receiving their freeliar character of the times when it was consti- dom, proselytes of the gate, and proselytes of righttuted, and the awful apostasy from the

cousness.t faith

pure which prevailed almost universally in the world.

(1) Slaves who embraced Judaism without reThe law given to the Hebrews by Moses was not ceiving their liberty were either foreigners, who intended in any way to interfere with or set aside had been by some means bought into Jewish the covenant made with Abraham, but rather to families, or they were the children of these preserve it intact, and insure its fulfilment. Such foreigners. Of this kind of proselytes was Eliezer is the reasoning of Paul, in his Epistle to the of Damascus, the steward of Abraham's house Galatians, who appear to have mistaken this (Gen. xv. 2, 3), and to this does God compare matter. The gospel

, as he argues, was preached Israel when he says, in Jer. ii. 14, “Is he a hometo Abraham, and the covenant of faith made with born slave; why is he spoiled ?” him was so confirmed as to be incapable of being

(2) Proselytes of the gate were persons who, annulled :—“ And this I say, that the covenant without undergoing circumcision, on observing the that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the Mosaic ritual, engaged to worship the true God, law, which was four hundred and thirty years

and observe the seven precepts of Noah. Naaman after, cannot disannul, that it should make the the Syrian (2 Kings v. 18) and Cornelius the cenpromise of none effect. For if the inheritance be turion (Acts x. 2) are thought to have belonged of the law, it is no more of promise : but God to this class. gave it to Abraham by promise. Wherefore then

(3) The proselytes of righteousness were more serveth the law? It was added because of trans- highly favoured than the proselytes of the gate, gressions, till the seed should come to whom the for they might trade with Jews, marry with Jews, promise was made, and it was ordained by angels enter within the sacred fence of the temple, and in the hand of a mediator,” Gal. iii.

partake of the annual feasts. I There were seve2. Godwyn distinguishes the people of Israel ral things, however, to which they were bound to into two sorts, Hebrews and Proselytes. Jennings submit

, before they were entitled to these priviadvances a step higher, and divides the whole leges ; as, instruction in the principles of the world, after the formation of the Hebrew com- Jewish religion, circumcision, baptism, the offermonwealth, into Jews and Gentiles.* The form of the Hebrew government being theocratic, each member of the state was also a member of the + It is right to observe bere, that Jennings and other writers ing a sucrifice to Jehovah, &c. After having be sacred and inviolable, 1 Sam. xxiv. 5–8; 2 submitted to the rites of circumcision and baptism, Sam. i. 14. the scholars who had attended as witnesses gave (2) The PROPHETS formed another class of the proselytes a certificate, which, when presented sacred persons, and were raised up by God himto any synagogue, constituted them church mem- self, to be the ministers of his dispensation. The bers while they resided within the bounds.* If business of the prophets was not merely to reveal the head of a family was in this way baptized, secret things, whether past, present, or future ; the infants and slaves were baptized at the same but also to instruct the people, and interpret the time, without asking their consent; the former, law and will of God. According to St. Augustine, because they could not give it; and the latter, as they were the philosophers, divines, instructors, and being the master's property, and having no rights guides of the people; forming the bulwarks of reliof their own. Sons arrived at years of maturity gion, as witnesses of the Divine presence,

conceive this rabbinical distinction of proselytes to have had no existence in fact. See Jewish Antiq., b. i., chap. 3, at the

end, * Jewish Antiquities, b. i., chap. 3.

# Prideaux, Connex. A. A. C. 428.

and were not baptized unless they wished it.t living monuments of his will. In the earliest ages

(4) The female proselytes were received by of the world, some individuals were raised up to baptism and sacrifice. I

sustain this sacred office; but from Moses to Ma(5) We must not omit to remark, that, after lachi there was an uninterrupted succession of these having submitted to the prescribed rites, the pro- public teachers, who testified against the misdoings selyte was considered as having been born again. of the people, laboured to call them back to a Thus the Jews say, “When a man is made a pro- sense of their duty, and comforted and animated selyte he is like a new-born infant," and " he hath the pious and sincere, by predictions of future a new soul.” They even went so far as to main- blessings. Their mode of living was most frugal, tain that the bond of natural relation between and their apparel was generally very plain. Their him and his kindred was now dissolved. Some fidelity and zeal in the service of Jehovah frehare supposed that there is an allusion to the pro-quently exposed them to cruel persecutions, in selyte's renunciation of his natural relations in which they chose rather to submit to death than to Luke xiv. 26, where our Lord says, “ If any man sully their sacred character. The gift of prophecy come unto me, and hate not his father and mother, was not always annexed to the priesthood : there and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, were prophets of all the tribes, and sometimes rea, and his own life also, he cannot be my dis- even among the Gentiles. Godwyn observes that, ciple;" and that there is a like allusion in the fol- for the propagation of learning, colleges and schools lowing passage: “Hearken, O daughter, and in- were erected for the prophets. The first intimation eline thine ear: forget also thine own people, and we have of these is in 1 Sam. x. 5, where the comthy father's house," Ps. xlv. 10. Tacitus, in his pany of prophets are supposed to have been students character of the Jews, having mentioned their in a college of prophets at Gibeath. These students custom of circumcision, as adopted by proselytes, were called sons of the prophets, and are frequently adds, “ They then quickly learn to despise the mentioned in after-ages, even in the most degenegods, to renounce their country, and to hold their rate times (see 2 Kings ii. 3, 5, iv. 38); and it parents, children, and brethren in the utmost con- seems from 1 Kings xviii. 4, that they were very tempt.” It is probable this unnatural contempt, numerous. They were educated under a proper which the Jewish doctors taught proselytes to master (who was commonly, if not invariably, a entertain of their nearest relations, might be one prophet) in the knowledge of religion and of sacred thing, on account of which they are said to have music (1 Sam. x. 5, xix. 20), and were thereby " made them two-fold more the children of hell qualified to be public teachers of religion. It than themselves," Matt. xxii. 15. ||

seems that the prophets were generally chosen out 3. Among the sacred persons in the Jewish of these schools. (See Amos vii. 14, 15.) It was constitution, we may properly enumerate :- usual among the heathen to designate all such per

(1) The Kings, who were the vicegerents of sons as were conversant with divine things by the God, as the supreme magistrate of the state, and name of prophet, in conformity with which Paul

, whose persons were, consequently, considered to when citing a passage from Epimenides, calls him

a prophet (Tit. i. 12). Speaking of prophets in

the Christian church, the same apostle clearly deBasnage, Relig. of Jews, b. V., chap. 6, 7.

fines their character by saying, that “he who pro † Lightfoot, Hor. Heb. Matt. jii. 6. Brown's Jewish Antiquities, vol. ii., 8, sect. 5. | Jennings' Jewish Antiq., b. i., ch. 3.

8 De Civitate Dei, l. xviii., ch. 41.

[ocr errors]

phesieth, speaketh unto men to edification, and Nazariteship. Maimonides says, that he who exhortation, and comfort” (1 Cor. xiv. 3).* would partake in the Nazariteship of another,

(3) NAZARITES were persons separated from went to the temple, and said to the priest, “ In the use of certain things, and peculiarly devoted such a time such a one will finish his Nazariteor consecrated to the service of God. The law ship ; I intend to defray the charge attending the relative to the Nazareate is given in Numb. vi. shaving off his hair, either in part or in the The vow of the Nazarite consisted in the follow- whole.” When Paul came to Jerusalem (Acts ing particulars : (1) He consecrated himself in a xxi. 23, 24), James, with other brethren, advised very especial and extraordinary manner to God. that to quiet the minds of the converted Jews, he (2) This was to continue for a certain time, eight should unite with four persons, who had vows of days or a month, but perhaps seldom less than a Nazariteship, and contribute to their charges and year, that he might have a full growth of hair ceremonies, by which the people would perceive to burn in the fire, which is under the sacrifice that he did not disregard the law, as they had of the peace-offering. (3) During the time of his been led to suppose. I separation he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor used any vinegar formed from an inebriating liquor, nor ate fresh or dried grapes, nor tasted

$ 4.-Of Corrupt Judaism. even the kernels or husks of any thing that had grown upon the vine. (4) He never shaved his

1. It is impossible to take even a cursory head, but let his hair grow, as the proof of his survey of the Jewish religion, without being struck being in this separated state, and under vows of with its vast superiority over the most refined and peculiar austerity. (5) He never touched any exalted system adopted by the heathen nations of dead body, nor did any of the last offices, even

antiquity, even where these had borrowed most of to his nearest kin, but was considered as the their light from the Sun of righteousness, which priests, who were wholly taken up with the ser- shone with such resplendent glory in Judea. Its vice of God, and regarded nothing else. (6) “All principles were so congenial with the nature and the days of his separation he was holy;" during character of man, his obligations and duties, his the whole time he was to be incessantly employed wants and desires ; its advantages so numerous in religious acts. Perpetual Nazarites, as Samp- and manifest; and its ritual so fascinating and son and John Baptist, were consecrated to their engaging ; that it would seem almost impossible Nazariteship by their parents. Those who made that its subjects should ever abandon it in favour a vow of Nazariteship out of Palestine, and could of the disgusting rites and degrading superstitions not come to the temple when their vow was

of idolatrous worship. Nevertheless, it is a lamentexpired, contented themselves with observing the able fact, that the people who were favoured with abstinence required by the law, and cutting off this revelation, and destined to be the preservers their hair in the place where they were : the and teachers of the knowledge of the true God, offerings and sacrifices prescribed by Moses, to be at various periods of their history abandoned their offered at the temple by themselves, or by others temple and oracle—their religion and their Godfor them, they deferred till a convenient oppor

to mix with the surrounding nations in the imtunity. Hence Paul, being in Achaia, having purities of their worship; and at others, engrafted made the vow of a Nazarite, had his hair cut off upon

their

pure and hallowed system of doctrines at Cenchrea, a port of Corinth, but deferred the sundry idolatrous rites. complete fulfilment of his vow till he came to

2. To trace the rise and progress of idolatry Jerusalem, Acts xviii. 18. When a person found among the Jewish people, or even to enumerate that he was not in a condition to make a vow of the idols and idolatrous customs adopted by them, Nazariteship, or that he had not leisure fully to during the period of their history prior to the perform it, he contented himself with contributing captivity, would greatly exceed the limits of this to the expense of the sacrifices and offerings of

work. We can only observe, therefore, that the those who had made and were fulfilling this vow.

first palpable exhibition of a desire to relapse into By this means he became a partaker of such idolatrous practices was made under circumstances

of the most aggravating character, in the well

known matter of the golden calf. Under the * See Godwyn's Moses and Aaron, b. i., chap. vi.; Jennings' administration of the judges there was an awful Antiq. b. i., chap. vi.; Stillingfleet's Orig. Sac. p. 92, &c.; Lamy's Appar. Bib. b. i., chap. vi.; Dr. A. Clarke on 1 Cor. xiv, 3. + Dr. A. Clarke on Numb. vi. 5.

Calmet's Bib. Ency., art. “Nazarite."

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »