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ed unto the Lord. Then tidings of these things came unto the Church which was in Jerusalem; and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch; who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart, they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost, and faith; and much people was added unto the Lord. Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul,” The good man was so overjoyed, he must have his brother Saul, to witness with him, these triumphs of grace over the Gentiles. "And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass a whole year, they assembled themselves with the Church, and taught much people." Thus Zion" clothed herself with the Gentiles. It is added. the disciples, were called Christians, first in Antioch." These disciples were correlates of the Jewish disciples. To them however, the name Christian, was first applied. The Jewish disciples had not been called Christians. The Church at Jerusalem, was not called Christian. It was still Israel. It is worth while to notice what follows. "And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem to Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be a great dearth throughout all the world. Then the disciples, (i. e. the christians in Antioch) every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea. Which also they did, and sent it by the hands of Barnabas and Saul." Thus, in a public manner, they acknowledged their affiliation.
The next accession to the Church is in Antioch, in Pisidia, under the ministry of Saul and Barnabas; who had been, by a special designation, ordained to a mission among the Gentiles. Of the converts who were made in this Antioch, who were partly Jews, but principally Gentiles, it is testified; "And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost." During this first mission among the Gentiles, numerous
converts were made successively, at Iconium, Lystra, and several other cities. For it is said; Acts xiv. 23. "And when they had ordained them elders in every Church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed." Thus were these Churches collected and organized, by missionaries from the Mother Church in Judea.
The mission of Paul and Barnabas, with certain others to the Church in Jerusalem, on the subject of circumcision, as the metropolis of the Holy kingdom; their consultation, and reply; and the joyful acceptation of it, by the Gentile Christians in Antioch, mightily confirm the doctrine, that a new kingdom was not now set up among the Gentiles; but that the believ ing Gentiles did merely accede, and unite themselves to a kingdom already existing, in the persons of believing Jews. Next the Gospel was propagated, and Churches formed and organized, in Greece, and Macedonia. But it is not necessary to pursue the history of the accession of the Gentiles any farther. This accession of the Gentiles, it will be perceived, exactly coincides with, and is in fulfilment of the promises wrought into the Abrahamic covenant, and made in prophecy to the Messiah and to his Zion. They correspond with the declarations and with the prayer of Christ, relative to this event.
We have only to notice farther, two or three passages in the Epistles which speak of the incorporation of the Gentiles into the Israel of God. The allegorical representation of Paul in the 11th of Romans, which has already been under our view, will here readily occur to us. It hath appeared, that by the olive tree, Israel is represented as one indissolvable society. Into this society, as an original stock, the Gentiles are represented by Paul, as engraffed. Being engraffed, they are borne, just like the remaining natural branches, by the root, and partake of the fatness of the olive tree. All the blessings of the covenant are a common inheritance, and descend to the one sort of believers as richly as to the other. That the Gentile
believers did accede to Israel, and that their conversion was in fulfilment of the promises of the covenant of circumcision, is plainly asserted in the 15th chapter of this Epistle; beginning at the 8th verse. "Now this
I say, that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision, for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the Fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy as it is written, For this cause, I will confess to thee, among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice ye Gentiles with his people." Thus, Christ is the executor of the promises of the covenant, in the conversion of the Gentiles. Its promises did then, in part, terminate upon the Gentiles. And they are placed with the believing Jews, under that one covenant. In perfect agreement with which, is Paul's observation in the 4th chapter of this Epistle, 11th verse. "And he (Abraham) received the sign of circumcision, a seal, &c. that he might be the Father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed to them also." Conformably he says, in his epistle to the Galatians; iii. 9.. "So then, they which are of faith, are blessed with faithful Abraham.” "Also 29th verse. "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs, according to the promise." See how undeniably the system of adoption is actually carried out, in the accession of the Gentiles.
This union of believing Jews and Gentiles, is brought into view by this same Apostle, in I. Corinthians, xii. 18. "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free, and have all been made to drink into one spirit."
I will trouble the reader with but two more quotations. They are both found in the Epistle to the Ephesians. The one is in the 1st chap. 9, and 10 verses. "Having made known unto us, the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself; that in the dispensation of
the fulness of times, (the Gospel day) he might gath er together in one, all things in Christ; both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him.” Mr. Locke is of the opinion, that by "things in heaven, and things on earth," is meant, Jews and Gentiles. There is much reason to think his opinion is correct. If so, then the passage is peculiarly to our purpose. And then the 6th verse of the 2d chapter, as the Apos tle is addressing the Gentile converts, will cogently illustrate the idea we are upon. "And has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Ev ovgavois. The same words εν ουρανοίσ. in the original which are used in the other verse.— How indeed, can any other admissible interpretation be put upon the words? In what heavenly places are Gentile converts called to sit together, but in the Church of Israel? The scope of this Epistle, and especially the following context, favors this interpretation, and seems to make it necessary. A consideration of this context, will bring us to the other quotation intended. It begins at the eleventh verse, and reaches quite to the end of the chapter. This whole passage is so much to our purpose, that I shall take leave to quote the whole of it. "Wherefore remember, that ye being. in time past, Gentiles in the flesh, who are called uncircumcision, by that which is called circumcision in the flesh, made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were afar off, are made nigh, by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and broken down the middle wall of partition between us : Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of command. ments, contained in ordinances, for to make,in himself, of twain, one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God, in one body, by the, cross, having slain the enmity thereby; and came, and
preached peace to you, which were afar off, and to them that are nigh. For through him we both have an access by one Spirit, unto the Father. Now there. fore, ye are no more strangers, and foreigners, but fellow citizens of the saints, and of the houshold of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the Chief corner stone; in whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are builded together, for an habitation of God, through the Spirit."
This passage scarce needs a comment. By being brought nigh, is evidently to be understood, being brought by adoption to the Messiah, who is enthroned king over Israel, therefore into the family of Israel. By the one new man, is plainly intended, not an absolutely new society, as Dr. Jenkins, absurdly, and against the whole current of scripture, contends; but Israel new modified, by the immense addition of Gentile believ ers. The terms used in the verse, to which this clause belongs, imply this. A Society cannot be dissolved by accessions which are made to it, let them be ever so numerous. It is rather strengthened and perpetuated by this accession.
The other phrases in the passage, in one body— household of God-an holy temple-an habitation of God through the Spirit--coincide with, and confirm this idea.
. It is justly said by Mr. Peter Edwards, that "the terms, both and us, mean Jews and Gentiles; that a partition, is that which separates one society, or family, from another; and that the breaking down of the partition wall, brings the two societies, or families, into
A wide and effectual door being thus opened for the Gentiles, and the propagation of the Gospel among them, being accompanied with abundant effussions of the Holy Spirit; the children of the desolate soon became more numerous, by far, than those of the mar ried wife.