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A. M. 4012, the abrogation of the former and the utter ruin of the latter, to a generation of men &c. or 5509. now ripe for destruction.
This is the substance of St Stephen's speech, which is far from being incongruous or immethodical; though, had he been permitted to bring it to a conclusion, (as it is plain it was interrupted by the noise and clamour of the rabble) it might have appeared to a better advantage. This however must be said in vindication of what are supposed to be errors in it,-1st, (a) That Terah might die in Charran, before his son Abraham removed into Canaan. For though it be said that, (b) at "seventy years of age, he begat Abraham, Nahor, and Haran," yet it does not therefore follow, that Abraham was the eldest of these. It is not the eldest, but the worthiest that is frequently first named in Holy Writ; for that Haran, who is last named, was considerably older than Abraham, is evident from Abraham's marrying his daughter, who was only ten years younger than himself. And therefore, if we do but suppose that, sixty years after that Terah began to beget children, he begat Abraham, the father will be two hundred and five years old, (c) at which age he died, when the son was no more than seventy-five, at which time he removed into Canaan (d).-2dly, (e) That though there be a difference between Moses and St Stephen, in the number of those who went down with Jacob into Egypt; yet this only arises from the different designs of the two accountants. For the design of Moses is to tell us how many Jacob and his offspring amounted to, omitting his sons wives; that of St Stephen, how many all the kindred were whom Joseph called into Egypt. In the light that Moses considers them they were seventy, but then several of these must be left out of St Stephen's number, viz. Joseph and his two sons, who were in Egypt already, Hezron and Hamul, who were not yet born, and Jacob whom he reckons apart. Now, take out these six from the seventy, and there will remain sixty-four, which, by adding the eleven wives of Jacob's sons, are just seventyfive-3dly, That St Stephen no where insinuates that Jacob was buried in Sychem ; for his words are, (f) " so Jacob went down into Egypt, and there died, he and our fathers, and were carried, i. e. our fathers, were carried over into Sychem :" (g) for if Joseph desired to have his bones carried into the land of Canaan there to be interred, there is reason to believe, that the other fathers desired the same, as having the same faith in the promises, and the same interest in the land that Joseph had; and that if they did desire the same, the rest of the tribes, bearing the same honour to their patriarchs that the tribe of Joseph did to him, would think themselves equally concerned to preserve their bones, in order to be carried out of Egypt with them, and to be buried together with Joseph's bones (as not improbably they were) at Sychem, though the remains of Jacob might be laid in another place.
It is a deference, I think, which we owe to the Spirit of God, whenever we find an opposition between sacred and profane authors that cannot be well reconciled, to impute the error or mistake to the latter: Now the Jewish historian Josephus tells us of one Theudas, who, in the fourth year of Claudius, set up for a great prophet and worker of miracles, but was soon routed, and destroyed by Cuspius Fadus, the Roman governor; and St Luke, as he represents the sentiments of Gamaliel, tells us of one of the same name, who arose in the reign of Augustus, and some time before the insurrection of Judas the Gaulanite, which happened upon account of the taxation, when Cyrenius was governor of Syria: But why should we account both these, who are so widely distant in point of time, to be one and the same person? Instead of charging Gamaliel, or rather St Luke, with a lapse of memory in this piece of chronology, it is more reasonable to think, (h) that the Theudas of Josephus, and that of Gamaliel, were two
(a) Kidder's Demonstration of the Messiah, part ii. pag. 85. (b) Gen. xi. 26. (c) Ibid. ver. 22. (d) Sec vol. i. of this Work, p. 246, 247. (e) Kidder, ibid. p. 86. (f) Acts vii. 15, 16. (g) Kidder ibid. pag. 89. and Whitby's Annot. in locum. (h) Whitby's Annotations, and Calmet's Commentary in locum.
10. to the end.
men, but, not unlikely, father and son, or tutor and scholar; and that this name was from Acts i. given to the latter Theudas, (even as parents call their own children by their names) or that he himself assumed it, in imitation of the former Theudas, whom he delighted to follow in his appellation, as well as his enthusiastic folly. To this purpose Origen informs us, that, having gathered from the Scriptures, that the time of the Messiah was come, first Theudas, and after him Judas of Galilee, raised tumults in the time of the taxing; and therefore the fathers unanimously say, that those words of our Saviour, "all that came before me are thieves and robbers," do relate to these two, Theudas, and Judas of Galilee. So extremely evident it is, that the ancient fathers agreed in this, viz.-That there was a Theudas, pretending to great matters, even before the coming of our Lord, though his insurrection was so trifling, having but (a) about four hundred men who joined him, that the Jewish historian has taken no notice of it.
Another concession, that I think we may fairly claim in behalf of the sacred penmen, is, that the same licence of expression, which profane writers make so much use of, may sometimes be allowed them; which will quite destroy the objection against the hyperbolical phrase in St Luke, of (b) Jews residing at Jerusalem out of every nation under heaven; though, upon a short enquiry into the several dispersions of that people, we may be able, in some measure, to vindicate the truth of it, even in the very letter.
To this purpose we may observe, that before their final dispersion by the Romans, the Jews had suffered two captivities, or great dispersions, besides some smaller scatterings. The first was of the ten tribes of Israel by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, who is said to have carried them away, (c) and planted them in Halah and Habar, and in the cities of the Medes; and as these never returned to dwell in their own country, they are the Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, i. e. the Persians of the province of Ely. mais, whom St Luke, (d) in his subsequent enumeration, intends. The second captivity was by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, when he carried away the other two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and (e) placed them in Babylon, and other of his territories. Now, though a good part of these, at the end of seventy years, returned from their captivity, yet great numbers of them, finding themselves happily situated under princes, who indulged them a free exercise of their religion, never visited their native country, except it was at some of their great annual festivals; and of the number of these, we may suppose those to be whom St Luke calls (f) the dwellers in Mesopotamia. Besides these two great dispersions, there happened a third in the days of Ptolemy Soter (g), who surprised the city of Jerusalem, and carrying away above an hundred thousand of its inhabitants, placed them in his garrisoned cities, and other places dependant on Alexandria.
Now from these three principal dispersions did proceed those lesser scatterings in all parts of the Roman empire and elsewhere. From that of Babylon and Mesopotamia sprang those (h) of Cappadocia, Pontus, Phrygia, Pamphylia, and other parts of Asia Minor; and from that of Egypt and Alexandria, were derived those of Libya, Cyrene, and all other Hellenists whatever, in the several parts of the Roman empire. Add to all this, the many natives of Judea itself, who, upon one occasion or other, chose to live among the Gentiles, and more especially at Rome, which was then the metropolis of the whole world; and from hence might proceed (i) those strangers of Rome, Jews and Proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, whom the apostle, in like manner, enumerates.
Agrippa, we read in his speech to the Jews, dissuading them from rebelling against the Romans, for fear of bringing a sad calamity, not upon themselves only, but upon the whole nation, wherever dispersed among the Gentiles, sticks not to say, that (k)
(b) Chap. ii. 5.
(f) Acts ii. 19. (i) Ibid. ver. 11.
(a) Acts v. 36. 4e) 2 Kings xxiv. 16. 9, 10. VOL. III.
(c) 2 Kings xvii. 6.
(g) Joseph. Antiq. 1. 12. c. 2. (k) Joseph. de Bello, 1. 2. c. 16.
(d) Acts. ii. 9.
A. M. 4102,"there was no people in the world who had not some of their nation dwelling among &c. or 5509. them;" and therefore we need less wonder, that we find the Sacred History asserting, that Jews of every nation under heaven were at this time met at Jerusalem, when, (a) not only a great festival, in which "all their males were to appear before God," summoned them thither; but their earnest expectation likewise of the promised Messiah, whose time of coming, according to the prediction of their prophets, was now accomplished, might make them more desirous to return to their native country, there, with an holy impatience, "to wait for the consolation of Israel."
(b) What makes it very difficult to give a distinct account of the offices and orders of the Christian ministers in the apostolic age, is the shortness of the historical part of the New Testament, which seldom extends farther than the first plantation of churches; and the design of the epistolary part, which, being written to persons lately converted to Christianity, was to acquaint them with the principles of their religion, and to arm them against false teachers, rather than instruct them in the form of church government However, by a due attention to what we read, we may observe,-That the apostles were the first and most distinguished of our Blessed Lord's disciples, chosen by him to be his more immediate attendants, and, in the course of his ministry, admitted to a greater confidence and familiarity than the rest: That upon his leaving the world, he commanded them to testify the truth of his resurrection and ascension, and to publish the doctrines and mysteries of the Gospel in all nations, and, at the same time, gave them authority to govern the churches which they should establish every where: (c) That, to enable them to discharge their weighty offices, they were endued with superior courage, and gifts extraordinary, that what they had in their instructions they might publish and testify to the greatest audience, and in times of the greatest danger : That having by this means spread the Christian religion far and wide, they settled churches in the several places, where they had made a sufficient number of converts, with proper ministers to attend the offices of religion, while themselves proceeded in the great affair of propagating the Gospel in other countries: (d) That in the churches which they thus had founded, they retained the chief authority, and had all other ministers, of what quality soever, subject to them, as appears from St Paul's epistles to Timothy and Titus, indited in a style which sufficiently speaks a superiority over them: And that, in virtue of their commission from Christ, they exercised a power of making such laws and constitutions as were found necessary for the good government of the church; of enforcing these laws with such penalties as the nature of transgressions required; of ejecting the incorrigible from the communion of the saints; of pardoning and receiving the penitent; of conferring the gifts of the Holy Ghost; of choosing proper persons to administer in holy offices; and of appointing their successors to rule and preside in the church.
This is the most of what we learn concerning the apostles and their distinct offices: And in relation to the inferior ministers of the Christian church, we may observe,That long before the departure of the apostles from Jerusalem, St James, called our Lord's brother, was made fixed bishop of that city; that his diocese (e), to speak in modern language, contained many myriads (upides) of Jews converted to the Christian faith; that he had under him many presbyters to feed the different portions of that large flock, besides seven deacons, who had been solemnly ordained by the apostles : That in the churches of Ephesus and Crete, St Paul gives Timothy and Titus plain rules for their conduct in the ordination of bishops and deacons; so that Timothy and Titus must have been bishops themselves, otherwise they could not have ordained others
(a) Beausobre's Annot. in locum.
(b) Archbishop Potter's Discourse on Church Government. (d) Archbishop Potter on Church Government.
to that office: That though the words bishop and elder * or presbyter be used promis- From Acts i. cuously, and often applied to the same person, there was then an order superior to that, 10. to the end. which entitled those who were placed in it to be called the angels or apostles of particular churches, such as the angels of the seven churches in the proconsular Asia (a), and Epaphroditus, St Paul's brother and companion in labour, called in our version (b) the messenger, but in reality the apostle (άóστonor) of the Philippian converts; and that, though persons of the highest order in the church are sometimes called presbyters or elders (as St John calls himself an elder, though at the same time he was chief bishop of Asia), yet this might be done upon different accounts, since the same man might be an elder with regard to his age, and an apostle or angel or bishop of a church with regard to his office: And that bishops were officers in the Christian church, appointed by the apostles to be their successors in the government of it, and in their absence, or upon their demise, to exercise the same functions as it was in the case of Timothy and Titus: That the elders, supposing them distinct from bishops, were those "who had been with Christ from the beginning," and having received the Holy Ghost at the same time that the apostles did, were sometimes chosen into their number (as were Matthias and Barnabas), and, upon account of their extraordinary gifts (though they were not fixed ministers), had a right to officiate wherever they came, a share in the government of the church, and a seat in all their councils and synods: That in the great variety of gifts which Christ bestowed upon his church, some of these elders, very probably, were prophets, whose principal work it was, by expounding the prophecies of the Old Testament, and foretelling future events to convince the Jews; and others evangelists, who, by writing the Gospel by inspiration, and preaching it to infidels who never heard of it, made it their business to convert the Gentiles; that, though in some churches, when first established, we find only a bishop and his deacons, without any mention of the intermediate order of presbyters; yet when the number of Christians increased, the bishop ordained others to officiate in the congregations where he could not be present, and to assist him in the other parts of his pastoral charge; and were at that time called teachers, and afterwards presbyters or priests: That these presbyters were a settled order in the church, superior to deacons, but, in the matter of ordination and confirmation by the imposition of hands, inferior to bishops, though, in all other respects, their
* Allowing it to be true, that these names in Scrip. ture are used promiscuously, (which yet is by very learned men, and upon very good authority, denied) yet still this is no proof, that presbyters must be advanced to the dignity of bishops, or bishops sunk to the level of presbyters. For although the term presbyter is, at present, used to denote the office of those who assist the bishop, and are subject to him in discharging some of the ministerial functions, yet in the days of the apostles, the bishops might be called presbyters, though they had then other presbyters subject to them. For although all presbyters are not bishops, yet all bishops are presbyters; although the former may not perform the function of the latter, the latter may perform the functions of the former; what offices are incumbent upon a presbyter, those a bishop has a right to perform, and may therefore, upon that account, very justly be called a presbyter. It is allowed on all hands, that under the Jewish dispensation, there were three orders of ecclesiastical persons, the high priest, the priest, and the Levites; and yet in the first institution of these orders, the word priest is used promiscuously, as well of the high priest as of the inferior priests; so that Aaron himself, the first
high priest in the book of Moses, is never dignified
Ann. Dom. 98, &c.
A. M. 4102, equals, and alike empowered to dispense the word, administer the sacraments, and of&c. or 5509. fer up the prayers of the people: That deacons (as their very name imports) were persons appointed to attend on the bishops, and (according to the original institution of their order) to take care of the poor," i. e. to enquire into the necessities of every one, and to apply a suitable relief to them out of the church's treasure, though (from the examples of St Philip and Stephen) we find, that their employment likewise was to baptize converts and children, and to preach the Gospel to the adult: And that the brethren were properly what we now call the laity of the church; but then, as the laity at that time were endued with special gifts, by these they were entitled to have some share in the administration of the church; were present with the apostles and elders at the council of Jerusalem; and had leave given them to choose proper persons out of their body, and to present these to the apostles, while they were alive, and afterwards to the bishops, but had no power at all of their own accord to ordain or appoint them to any sacred office: We may observe, I say, that such were the several orders of men in the beginning of the Christian church, such the diversities of their gifts, and such the differences of their administrations. But as it must be owned. that several of these were extraordinary persons, and continued no longer than the apostolic age; so to have a full and distinct account of such standing officers as were to abide for ever, we must have recourse to the testimony of antiquity, which perfectly agrees in this,-That after the apostles days they were no other than bishops, presbyters, and deacons And accordingly Ignatius (to mention one evidence for all), after he had been forty years bishop of Antioch (to which dignity he was promoted by the bands of Peter the apostle, and therefore cannot be supposed to be ignorant of the state of the primitive church), in his exhortation to the people to be obedient to the ministers of it, tells us of "the bishop presiding in the place of God; the presbyters as the council of the apostles; and the deacons as the ministers of Christ;" and therefore, says he, "he that is within the altar is pure; but whoever does any thing without the bishop, the college of presbyters, and the deacons, his conscience is defiled;" and therefore, says he again," adhere to the bishop, the college of presbyters, and the deacons :”—A sufficient attestation that these were the standing ministers of the Christian church in those days.
That Timothy and Titus were bishops of Ephesus and Crete, and both such by the appointment of the apostle St Paul, we have the testimony of all antiquity to convince us; but if, by saying that they were bishops, we mean, that they took upon them these churches, or dioceses, as their fixed and peculiar charge, in which they were to preside for term of lite, we are much mistaken. Upon St Paul's going to Macedonia (a), he exhorts "Timothy to abide at Ephesus," in order to correct several abuses; and yet (b), in his second epistle, we find him entreating him to come to Rome, where he continued (as the ancients conjecture) to the time of the apostle's martyrdom. In like manner, St Paul (c) "left Titus in Crete, to ordain elders in every city, and to set in order the things that were wanting;" but no sooner had he done this, than he sent for him the very next year to Nicopolis; and having sent Artemas to supply his place, took him along with him to Rome, and then sent him into Dalmatia, upon the great affair of propagating the Gospel, till at length, after the apostle's death, he returned again to Crete.
The truth is, these two persons were not only bishops but evangelists likewise; and the work of an evangelist (as Eusebius informs us) was this,-" To lay the foundation of the faith in barbarous nations, to constitute in them pastors, and, having committed to them the cultivating of these new plantations, to pass on to other countries and nations." So that, according to this, these two evangelists were not in a condition to
(a) 1 Tim. i. 8.
(c) Tit. i. 5.
(b) 2 Tim. iv. 9.