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&c. or 5442.
A. M. 4037, opera nostra, vel quidvis aliud nostri, aut remittere peccata nostra, aut personas nostras Ann. Dom. acceptare: quod tamen, si instrumentalis causa justificationis fides sit, plane dicendum
Vulg. Er. 33. esset." &c. or 31.
But though I would not call faith, nor any thing else which could be predicated of men, an instrument or instrumental cause of our justification; faith is evidently not only a condition, but when compared with our good works or repentance, a condition 7' ox of Christian justification. The reason is very obvious. The man who has heard the Gospel preached, who has read his Bible with attention, and who yet claims eternal life as inherent in the nature of his soul, or as the merited reward of his good works, renounces all the privileges of the Gospel covenant, and challenges the utmost rigour of Divine justice of the justice of that Almighty Being, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity with favour, and who chargeth even his angels with folly. Such a man is no Christian, though he may profess to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was a teacher sent from God, and even the Son of God incarnate. The greatest sinner, therefore, who retains his Christian faith, is not in so deplorable a state as this; for he is still a Christian, a member of Christ's household, however unworthy, and has not fallen wholly from that state of salvation or justification, into which he was admitted at his baptism; but the man who claims eternal life to himself, either as an inherent right, or as a debt, disdains to rest his salvation on the interposition of a Redeemer, and however moral his life may be, is in a much worse state than a virtuous heathen. In some of the various mansions of our Heavenly Father's house, places, I doubt not, are prepared for many virtuous heathens by a Saviour of whom they never heard, and in whom, of course, they could not actually believe; but the mere moral or rational Christian (as such men very improperly call themselves) rejects every heavenly possession but such as he has merited of God by his services, and exposes himself to the fate-indeed challenges the fate of those citizens in the Gospel, (a) who " sent a message after their sovereign, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us."]
(a) St Luke xix. 12-28.
FROM THE ASCENSION OF CHRIST TO THE COMPLETION OF THE
M. 4037, AFTER that our Blessed Saviour was ascended out of sight, the apostles and other From Acts. i.
1. Dom. disciples still stood gazing up to heaven, until two angels, in the shape of men, and glo
10. to the end,
c. or 31.
g. Er. 33, riously apparelled, came and informed them, that their Lord and Master, who was then departed into heaven, should, at the great day of judgment, in the same visible manner, come again from thence; whereupon they all returned to Jerusalem full of joy and consolation, and, being about an hundred and twenty in number (besides Mary the mother of our Lord, and some other pious women who had attended him in his ministry), they there spent their time in acts of religious worship, assembling daily in a certain upper room which they had made choice of for that purpose.
In one of these assemblies, St Peter, reminding them that the number of the apostles which our Lord had appointed was originally twelve, but that Judas, by his transgression, had forfeited that honour, thought proper to propose the choice of another person to succeed in his place; and especially such an one as had been familiarly conversant
+ Some annotators are of opinion, that the upper room where the apostles and other believers so frequently met together, was one of the chambers of the temple, which not only served for the use of the priests, but stood constantly open likewise for any religious assemblies. It is granted, indeed, that in the temple there were several upper rooms, but then, that they belonged to any besides the priests and Levites, is an assertion destitute of proof; nor is it easy to conceive, how a company of poor fishermen and Galileans, who were odious to the priesthood for their Master's sake, should be permitted to come in such numbers as the Sacred History takes notice of, and to hold their assemblies, which were thought destructive to the established religion, within the verge of the temple. As therefore it was a thing very common among the Jews to have their oratories, or private chapels, on the tops of their houses, where they generally met to read the law, and to treat of any religious matters: so it is much more probable, that this was a room belonging to some private family that were
converts to the Christian faith, where, consequently,
The words, according to our translation, are these,-"That he might take part of the ministry and apostleship, from which Judas, by transgression, fell, that he might go to his own place," Acts i. 25. Here several commentators and divines make several reflec tions on the modesty and charity of St Luke, the au thor of the Acts of the apostles, in that he does not say that Judas was damned, but only that he went to
A. M. 4037, with our Saviour from first to last, that so he might be a competent witness both of his &c. or 5444. doctrines and miracles, his life and death, and especially his resurrection from the dead. Vulg. Er. 33, To this the company readily assented; and having appointed Joseph, * surnamed Barsabas, and Matthias, one of the seventy disciples, for the two candidates, they solemnly implored the Divine direction in what they were going to do, and so, drawing lots, elected Matthias, upon whom the lot fell, into the number of the twelve apostles.
&c. or 31.
When the vacancy of the sacred college was thus filled up, the apostles and other disciples were all met together in their accustomed place, on the day of Pentecost †; when on a sudden a prodigious noise, much like the rushing of a loud impetuous wind, filled all the house where they were, and a kind of fiery vapour or exhalation, formed into the figure of a man's tongue, but divided a little at the tip, sat on the head of each of them; whereupon they were all immediately filled with the Holy Ghost, t2 and, by its Divine inspiration, began to speak in several different languages.
At this time there were Jews of every quarter of the world sojourning in Jerusalem, besides proselytes, who from almost all nations came thither to the celebration of the feast; and no sooner did they hear of this miraculous event, but they began to wonder
his place, without pretending to determine the matter; whilst others imagine, that this expression denotes a particular place of damnation, appropriated to Judas because of the heinousness of his crime: But if we consider the original, we shall find, that the words do not relate to Judas, but Matthias. Judas, by his transgression, had forfeited his share in the ministry another was to be chosen into it: this person, when so chosen, succeeds him in his zango, his lot or portion of the ministry, and so is now to go to his TOTOV Toy dior, proper place or province. It is but then enclosing the words "from which Judas by transgression fell," within a parenthesis, and then they will have no relation to the following, "that he might go to his own place:" For these belong entirely to Matthias, or the person that should be chosen into the apostleship, and plainly denote, that he should go and take possession of the place, or office, which Judas had forfeited, and not at all, that Judas should go to his place of punishment. Hammond's Annotations, and an Essay towards a New Translation. [See, however, Whitby on the place, who seems to have removed every objection which can be made to the common interpretation.]
He was one of our Lord's first disciples, and is reckoned by the ancients among the number of the seventy. Some suppose that he was one of the brethren or relations of our Blessed Saviour, whom the Gospels make mention of; and Papias relates one particular in his life, viz. That having on a certain time drank poison, it had no effect on him, as our Saviour had promised those who should believe on him. However this might be, it is certain, that he continued in the apostolic ministry to the end, and, having suffered a great deal from the Jews, at last died in Judea, and there obtained a crown of martyrdom. Calmet's Commentary, and Fleury's Ecclesiastical History.
This word is derived from the Greek TT, which signifies the fiftieth, because the feast of Pentecost was celebrated the fiftieth day after the sixteenth of the month Nisan, which was the second day of the feast of the passover, Lev. xxiii. 15, 16.; and for the
same reason it is called the feast of weeks, because it was observed seven weeks after the passover, Deut. xvi. 9. It was at first instituted in order to oblige the Jews to repair to the temple of the Lord, there to acknowledge his dominion and sovereignty over all their labours, and there to render thanks to him for the law, which he gave them on the like day, viz. the fiftieth day after their departure out of Egypt. In like manner, the Christian church celebrates the feast of Pentecost fifty days, or seven weeks after the passover, or the resurrection of our Blessed Saviour, to put us in remembrance, that the gifts of the Spirit were then poured out in a plentiful manner, as the first fruits of our Saviour's ascension into heaven, and that the Gospel began to be published by the apostles on the same day that the ancient law was given to the Hebrews. Calmet's Dictionary, Pool's and Beausobre's Annotations.
It is a question much debated, whether the all here mentioned relates to the whole hundred and twenty, who are said to have been present at this time, Acts i. 15. or to the twelve apostles only: And, in some measure to solve this, we may observe, that when the apostles came to appoint the seven deacons, they ordered the assembly to "look out among them men full of the Holy Ghost," Acts vi. 3.; which plainly implies, that there were several persons among them remarkable for such extraordinary gifts, yet we cannot suppose any time so proper for their reception of these gifts as this wonderful day of Pentecost. Nay, if the apostles themselves, by the imposition of their hands, could communicate the Holy Ghost to those whom they ordained ministers in particular churches; it seems unreasonable to think, that such persons as had been constant companions of Christ and his apostles, and were to be the great preachers of the Gospel in several parts of the world, should not at this time be endowed with the like gifts. So that from hence we may, with St Chrysostom and others, be allowed to infer, that "the Holy Ghost fell, not only upon the apostles, but also upon the hundred and twenty that were in company with them." Whitby's Annotations.
not a little, how persons illiterate, and all born in the land of Galilee, should be able, From. Acts i. with so much facility, to speak the languages of the several countries from whence they 10. to the end. came but others, who were willing to elude the force of the miracle, imputed their talking at this wild extravagant rate (as they called it) to the power and strength of new wine f.
Hereupon the apostles all stood up, and Peter, as president of the assembly, took upon him to confute this injurious calumny, by shewing the audience, "That then it was early in the morning, the third hour of the Jewish day +2, and, consequently, no proper time to have eaten or drank any thing; that the present effusion of the Holy Ghost was a full completion of that famous prophecy in Joel (a), where God had expressly promised it ; that Jesus of Nazareth was the person who had poured down these extraordinary gifts upon his church; that from the testimony of holy David it plainly appeared, that God all along intended to raise him from the dead, and exalt him to his right hand; and that the present mission of the Holy Ghost abundantly declared, that the same person whom they, by Divine permission, had crucified, God had ordained to be "both Lord and Christ."
This sermon, though the first that St Peter made in public, was so very moving to the audience, that it converted no less than three thousand souls ; who thereupon were received into the profession of the Christian faith by baptism; and, by their diligent attention to the apostles' doctrine afterwards, their constant attendance on public prayers, their frequent celebration of the Lord's supper, their cheerful intercourse with one another, their parting with their goods and possessions, and communicating to every one according to their necessities, (even to the love and admiration of all that beheld them), were daily and hourly confirmed therein.
Not long after this, as Peter and John, about 3 three o'clock in the afternoon, were
+ As it was not, at this time the season for new wine, these scoffers may be supposed to mean no more than any strong agreeable liquor, whether natural or made by art. The ancients, we are told, had a secret how to make a wine which would preserve its sweetness all the year round, and which they gene. rally used for a morning's draught.
-Quoniam vacuis committere venis, Nil nisi lene decet, leni præcordia mulso Prolueris melius.Hor. lib. ii. Sat. 4. But it seems incredible, that any men in their senses should think, that either wine or any other liquor should enable the apostles to speak all languages, and to declare the wonderful works of God. It is well conjectured, therefore, by our learned Lightfoot, that they who said this were men of Judea, who, not understanding what the apostles spake in other languages, imagined that (as drunken men are wont to do) they babbled some foolish gibberish which they could make nothing of. Calmet's Commentary, and Beausobre's and Whitby's Annotations.
+ About nine o'clock with us, which was the ordinary time for their morning sacrifice and prayer, before which they never used to eat or drink any thing. Nay, on their festival days it was customary with them not to eat or drink until the sixth hour, i. e. noontime, that they might be more fit for and intent upon the service of the day: And from this custom the apostle draws an argument, which in those sober times was thought to be conclusive. Pool's Annotations. (a) Joel ii. 21.
|| A quick and plentiful.harvest this! but it is high-
+ Though, by the death of Jesus Christ, all sacri
A. M. 4037, going into the temple to pray, they saw a poor cripple, who was forty years old, and &c. or 5444 had been lame from his mother's womb, lying at the beautiful gate, and begging an Vulg. Er. 33, alms of those that went in. Silver and gold (as Peter told the man) he had none to &c. or 31. give him, but, (what was much more valuable) in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, he intended to heal him; and no sooner was the words spoken than the cure was effected. His joints were made straight, and his nerves became strong, so that he went along with the apostles into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.
Every one knew that this was the person who had been the lame beggar at the temple gate; and as he kept close by the two apostles, when the multitude, in much amazement, came flocking together to them in Solomon's porch †, St Peter took this occasion to inform them, "That it was by the efficacy of the name of Jesus, (whom they had crucified, but God had raised from the dead) and not by any power or holiness of their own, that this impotent man was made whole; that their crucifixion of Jesus was, in some measure, a sin of ignorance, but his rising again, and advancement to a celestial kingdom, a sure evidence of his being the promised Messiah; that the coming of such a Messiah, as well as the whole evangelical state, was all along foretold, not only by Moses, but by every prophet that succeeded him; and therefore, as they were the professed descendants of the prophets, and heirs of the covenant ratified with Abraham, God had made the first overtures of mercy to them, in hopes that they would receive the Gospel of his beloved Son, and repent of the iniquities which they had done unto him."
This was the purport of St Peter's speech; and such was its efficacy, that it converted no less than five thousand of its hearers. But as the apostles were thus busied in instructing the people, at the instigation of the + priests and Sadducees, the captain
law, were utterly abolished, and a new covenant in-
* Several of the gates (as Josephus tells us) were
frontispiece of that place where the Divine Majesty vouchsafed to dwell. De Bello Jud. lib. vi. c. 6. and Whitby's Annotations.
+ Some are of opinion, that this porch, being one of those which Solomon built, had the fortune to es cape (at least some part of it) when the Babylonians set fire to the temple, and that, though Herod the Great pulled it down, and rebuilt it in a more magni. ficent manner, it still retained its ancient name. It is certain, from Josephus, that the vast foundation of the east side of the court of the Gentiles, which Solomon built, was still subsisting in the time of the se cond temple; and as Herod, when he repaired that, made no alteration in this part of the work, the por tico or cloister, which upon the old foundation was built round this court, might, in memory of so great a prince, and first founder of the temple, still be called by Solomon's name. Joseph. Jewish History, lib. xv. c. 14. and Calmet's Commentary.
+ These were three different kinds of men, and upon different accounts prejudiced against the apostles. The priests were offended, because the apostles, whom they looked upon only as private men, undertook publicly to teach and instruct the people. The Sadducees were displeased, because, in testifying that Christ was risen, and "become the firstfruits of them that slept," they effectually preached the resurrection of the dead; a doctrine which these men detested. And the captain, who was placed with a band of soldiers near the temple, in order to guard it, seeing such a croud of people gathered together about the apostles, began to be apprehensive of a tumult: but whether this captain was a Jew or a Roman, it is difficult to determine, unless we will