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inhabitants of the city, that the apostles solemnly protested against them—that they were clear of their blood-that they did not acknowledge them as God's people, but counted them as bad as heathens; and that the Lord would shake them off as vile. Very probably, the twelve complied literally with this direction. We read of Paul and Barnabas doing so afterwards, in Acts xiii. 51: when a persecution was raised against them by certain of the inhabitants of Antioch, "they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium." Very similar to this form of protestation by shaking off the dust of the feet, was that by shaking the raiment. Thus, Nehemiah writes (v. 13): "Also I shook my lap, and said, So God shake out every man from his house, and from his labour, that performeth not this promise: even thus be he shaken out and emptied." In like manner, as we read, Acts xviii. 6, when the Jews at Corinth "opposed themselves and blasphemed," Paul "shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads, I am clean; from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles."
By Matthew's account, our Lord said much more to the apostles at this time: in particular, he forewarned them of the various kinds of opposition they would have to encounter; and he exhorted them to be courageous and faithful, from a consideration of a particular providence, and of the heavenly glory that awaited them. These things you will find written in the 10th chapter of that evangelist, from the 16th verse to the end of the chapter. Having received their instructions, and these serious counsels, the apostles, "departed," as Luke informs us, "and went through the towns, preaching the gospel," or the good news of salvation through Jesus the Messiah, and working miracles of "healing every
Before mentioning the return of the apostles from their mission, Luke tells us something of the feelings of Herod, with regard to Jesus, whose fame had now become great. "Now Herod," that is, Herod Antipas, "the tetrarch"the governor, who was called a tetrarch, because he succeeded to a fourth part of his father Herod the Great's do-minions, and who also bore, at least in Galilee, the title of king-this Herod "heard of all that was done by Jesus; and he was perplexed;" he was as a traveller bewildered, and not knowing what road to take, or what to think, "because it was said of some that John was risen from the dead; and of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of
the old prophets was risen again. And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is this of whom I hear such things?" As we formerly considered the history and martyrdom of John the Baptist, when lecturing on the 3d chapter, we shall not now go into any repetition, but merely remark, that we have here an illustration of the powerful workings of a guilty conscience. Both Matthew and Mark* expressly tells us that when Herod heard of the fame of Jesus, he said, "This is John the Baptist." It is truly awful to have a guilty and accusing conscience! This was enough to perplex and torment Herod in the midst of all his wealth, luxury, and power. Let us seek to obtain and to preserve a conscience void of offence; that its testimony, instead of being our torment, may be our rejoicing. Luke adds, that Herod "desired to see" Christ. There was curiosity in this desire-curiosity to ascertain if he were really only John risen from the dead, and curiosity to see a miracle done by him. There was also malice in this desire; for, we read in chapter xiii, verse 31st, that some of the Pharisees said to Christ, "Get thee out, and depart hence; for Herod will kill thee" or, more exactly, wishes to kill thee. This desire to see Christ was gratified, afterwards, as we find in the 23d chapter, from the 7th verse, when Pilate sent Jesus to Herod. Then, however, "Herod and his men of war set him at nought." How useless the compunctions of mere natural conscience, when not introductory to pardoning mercy and regenerating grace! Let every sinner see to it that his convictions be followed out to conversion; and every believer, that his consciousness of any thing wrong be the forerunner of actual amendment.
But let us observe, in conclusion, some instructions, of general application, which may be drawn from the account of the mission of the apostles: and we have here much instruction in reference both to ministers and people.
First, In reference to ministers, we have here several rules, in regard to their qualifications and appointment. From the apostles standing in the relation of disciples before their designation to the apostleship, we infer that men ought themselves to be converted to God, before they engage in the work of converting others that they ought to be Christians, before they become Christian teachers. It is true that the Lord may effect good by the instrumentality of careless men: but it is surely those who are in earnest
* Matt. xiv. 1; Mark vi. 14.
and enlightened, who are generally most useful; and woe to those who preach to others, and are yet castaways themselves! To every such person the words of the Most High seem to apply, with peculiar force: "What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?" This truth ought to be plainly stated; and yet, how unbecoming would it be to do so in an uncharitable and self-confident spirit, and in a sarcastic tone! When we advert to it, may it be with godly jealousy over ourselves, with meekness, humility, and love.
Again, from the apostles being kept along with Christ to be more fully instructed, before they were sent out, we infer that none should be employed as teachers till they be well qualified by previous instruction. They ought to be taught of God by the Holy Spirit; and, as miraculous gifts have ceased, they can only expect that teaching in the way of diligent and prayerful study. They ought, plainly, to have such an education, such a degree of human learning, as is requisite to their understanding the letter of the divine record, and to their coming forward with respectability and advantage, according to the progress of the times, and the various classes of people to whom they have to minister. Sufficient time should be given for acquiring, and for proving that they have acquired, the necessary character and knowledge. Every man ought to be a Christian; but every Christian is not fit to be a teacher. 66 Lay hands suddenly on no man,' writes Paul to Timothy: and he also says that " a bishop or Christian minister, who is the overseer of a flock, must be "apt to teach," and "not a novice."
But further still, as the apostles were formally appointed and ordained to their office, and sent forth to preach, by Christ, we infer, that so must all ministers, in so far, at least, as is applicable to a time when Christ's presence, and miraculous calls, appointments, and gifts have ceased. Preachers ought to have that inward call of the Spirit, which is known by a fitness and a decided desire for the work of the ministry, and a longing to promote the cause of Christ and the salvation of men. But in addition to this, and in place of the direct and immediate nomination to the office by Christ himself, there ought, now that he has ascended on high, to come appointment and ordination by those to whom he has intrusted this power, namely, those who are already in the ministry. Paul says to Timothy, "The things that
* 2 Tim. ii. 2.
thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also:" and to Titus, * “I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders," or bishops, or ministers, as the context shows, "in every city." You will see how this plainly scriptural idea bears against the propriety of any persons undertaking the work of preaching, who are not expressly appointed to it by Christ's ministers. We hold, that there is a scriptural distinction between the office of a minister and the situation of the people, however learned and pious, which cannot, without much danger, be disregarded. When, then, a layman becomes pious, and feels a desire to preach, ought he, as a layman, to follow out that desire, or ought he to be encouraged to do so by others? By no means. God is the God of order, and not of confusion, in the Churches; and no man is entitled to break through that order under pretence of a higher call, when inspiration has ceased. If, indeed, such a person change to the ministerial calling entirely, that may be very commendable; though he should think well before he take such a step, for Paul lays down the general rule for converts, when he says, "Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called." It is not enough to plead, in defence of such irregularities, the good that has been done, or may be done, by such persons: for, the good done, is done, not because of these irregularities, but in spite of them, while no little evil, on the whole, results from them. We are not to plead for any error because there may be piety and zeal in those who hold it, or because God may render them of some use to his cause. Suppose, in this countryfor we shall not say what necessity might justify, were men cut off from all Christian Churches-suppose a layman of piety, talents, and great property and influence, from an impulse of unfeigned zeal, appears in the pulpit, and even does some good by his preaching; do we allow that he acts well, or for the benefit of the Church, on the whole, by that step? By no means. He, in the first place, transgresses a divine appointment; and, secondly, as to usefulness, he would have been much more useful, in all probability, if he had not stepped out of his own proper sphere. He intrudes into a field in which there are already many diligent and skilful labourers, and he, in a great measure, cuts himself off from the likelihood of benefiting those in his own station of life, +1 Cor. vii. 20.
* Tit. i. 5.
and indeed all sober, thinking people, who become suspicious of him, and who are often prejudiced against what is scriptural and rational in his views and conduct, by what they readily perceive to be unscriptural and extravagant. We speak here the language of truth and soberness, and not of bigotry, or envy. There is very little in Scripture which can be twisted into the support of such a system. As to the case * of Eldad and Medad, who prophesied in the camp, which led Moses, instead of envying, or forbidding them to prophesy, to say, "Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them!" these two men were previously fixed on by Moses, as part of the seventy elders-not to insist on the consideration that the Spirit of God rested on them miraculously, which must always have been sufficient; and therefore, this case is in favour of the position we are establishing. And in the case of the man mentioned in a subsequent part of this chapter, whom the disciples wished our Lord to forbid to cast out devils, because he walked not with them-there, too, there was the gift of miracles, which was a sufficient authority, but which is not bestowed on any in our day. In fact, as soon as we can trace anything like a regularly constituted Church in the Old Testament, we find the difference distinctly marked between the people, and those who were to minister before the Lord in public things. No example of this is more decisive than that of king Uzziah (2 Chron. xxvi. 18), whom, when he went into the temple to burn incense, Azariah and the priests withstood faithfully, saying, "It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the Lord, but to the priests, the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense; go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed: neither shall it be for thine honour from the Lord God." And, though sometimes, the term priests, under the New Testament, is applied in common to all Christians, every thing ceremonial being now done away; yet we have seen that the distinction between ministers and people, teachers and taught, is clearly kept up throughout the New Testament: so that, with regard to the Christian ministry, it should still be the rule that " no man taketh this honour to himself, but he who is ordained of God, as was Aaron," and we may add, who is outwardly ordained by those who are already in the office.
* Numb. xi. 26.