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conceptions of his character. Many serve the integrity of his law, and yet facts attest this. Witness the curse live in sin ? If we really believe that of nature; the troubles of men ; the it was on account of our violation of overflowing scourge; the fire from the law that the Son of the Blessed the Lord out of heaven; the death- became a servant of servants, shall bed of an awakened but an we not reverence that law, and shun changed sinner; their worm that dieth every appearance of evil ?. If we not, and the fire that is not quenched. really believe that God made the Can we say, in the face of such tes- manifestation of his forgiving mercy timonies, that God is indifferent to the occasion of a brighter display of the sanctions of his law ? No. Ver- the holiness, and justice, and good, ily there is a God that judgeth in ness of his character and law, shall the earth. But, in the incarnation we not serve before him, in holiness and cross of Christ, we have a singu- and righteousness, all the days of our lar and overwhelming confirmation of life? w his own exclamation, “But thou art God manifest in flesh is a mystery holy!” The fact that Christ died, of godliness, because abundant provishows that the divine nature is in- sion is thereby made for the pardon and finitely, eternally, and unchangeably acceptance of the most guilty of Adam's opposed to all sin. - It shows that children. Let it not be said that, in God cannot but hate it-cannot but this view of it, the cross is a mystery punish it; and that it is utterly and of ungodliness. We may safely leave infinitely impossible to pass it by in the refutation of this objeetion to whomsoever, on whomsoever it is those who have received a plenary found. If it had been possible to pardon for all their transgressions, pardon sin when charged against any and have washed their robes in the in divine reckoning, infinite love, and blood of the Lamb. What is salvawisdom, and power, would have all tion? A deliverance from sin, and stood forth to prevent the sufferings not a liberty- to sin. Shall we con of the Son of God, who had no sin of tinue in sin that grace may abound? his own, but was charged by impu. God forbid. There can be no partation only with the sin of others. don, no acceptance, and no holy perAnd, if he was smitten, no other can formance, so long as we are under possibly escape without rendering guilt. An unpardoned person cansatisfaction to the law; and they who not be a godly person. What is macannot present the righteousness of terially good may be done, but the Christ, must bear it in their own state, and feelings, and motives, are persons. Let us rejoice that, when utterly at variance with the spirit of Christ condemned sin, he at the same evangelical obedience. By the intime justified the sanction of the law. carnation and sufferings of Christ, When he made a show of principali- ample provision is made for justifyties and powers, he also magnified ing the persons, and sanctifying the the law and made it honourable. services, of those who were formerly How mysterious, and yet how inti- condemned and ungodly. To those mately connected with godliness, that who are in Christ Jesus there is no hé 'who was above all law should be condemnation, and they walk not made under it, should live under it, after the flesh but after the spirit. and die under it! And he did this The moral transformation, as well as not merely to save sinners, but that the formal justification of sinners, is the character of a Three-one God secured. The law is fulfilled and might be vindicated in their salva- magnified, and pardon follows. The tion. Can any one behold this evi- Lord is well pleased with Emmanuel's dence of God's determination to pre- righteousness, and all who embrace

it are accepted as in the Beloved. In our measure let us be even as he In the face of Christ we behold the was in this world. master-stroke of divine wisdom in Without controversy, the incarna, finding out the witty invention,' tion is a mystery of godliness, inashow could God' be just and the justi- much as it demonstrates the exceeding fier of the ungodly--& problem that greatness of God's love to men. - Love would have for ever baffled the wit is one of the divine attributes which of men and the intellect of angels. has peculiar attractions for his raWe can now look to all God's per- tional creatures. We are overawed fections, and to all the requirements by his majesty. We see our impoof the divine law, and yet see in the tency in his power, our foolishness cross a way of deliverance from sin in his wisdom, and our sinfulness in and its consequences. And if any his holiness : but the love of our God shall urge that their sins are pecu- and Father throws a mild lustre,

e over liar, singularly aggravated, that word all his character. It is in his love meets their case. The blood of we see a Father's pity and a Saviour's Jesus Christ, God's own Son; clean- lansom. The deep and delightful seth us from all sin." Let the most emphasis with which man can speak guilty and polluted on earthput of divine love, arises from the fact, God in remembrance of this, and that he is the only object of it in conthey will assuredly find that the God nexion with the incarnation of him of truth will vot deny himself. ::

who is the fellow of the Lord of ** The mystery of the incarnation is Hosts. To love men fallen is truly calculated to advance godliness, be marvellous. The question, however, cause all the commands of God were was-How shall it be seen to be a realized and answered in the perfect ex- holy love? The death of the Lord of ample of Christ. The Saviour diéd glory is a sufficient answer. To create as an example as well as a substitute. us pure, and happy, and immortal, He suffered, leaving us an example was great love, but the exceeding that we should follow in his steps. greatness of God's love is seen in the The pattern which men are called to mission of Christ--in his kindness to imitate, is perfect. The gospel teaches the prodigal who had spurned his all to aspire after the image of God: love, and would have none of him. and it is one of the innumerable In Christ's incarnation and death, we proofs of the wisdom of God in a behold the ocean of divine love rollmystery, that it is adapted to our ing in all its Majesty--an infinite present state, seeing it has brought love exhibited in an infinite exhibiGod nigh unto us. Infinite Perfec- tion; for “God so loved the world tion - Eternal Virtue--has been ma- that he gave his only begotten Son, nifested in flesh and dwelt among us. that whosoever believeth in him We are then to CONSIDER Him of should not perish, but have everlastwhom it is recorded, that he was ing life.” And He whom the Father holy, harmless, undefiled, and sepa- sent, willingly came. He did not cling rate from sinners. All his children to the hand that gave him, but said are predestinated to be conformed to -"Lo, I come; to do thy will I take his image. It became him to fulfil delight.” Shall we not, therefore, love all righteousness. He was the Living him who first loved us ? And this is Law. His. obedience was perfect. our love to Christ, that we keep his Even his enemies found no fault in commandments. This is the proof him. In the various parts of his ma- that we love him as we love none nifested character, we have a com- else. Let this love, constrain us. plete, matchless example: “Go and Love is the fulfilling of the law is do likewise," is the divine command. godliness. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy ing for the mercy of our Lord Jesus faith, praying in the Holy Ghost; keep Christ, unto eternal life." C. M, yourselves in the love of God, look

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The matter on which this assembly Christ on the subject, but drew conwas called to decide was one of very clusions from their own observation great importance. It was, whether and experience, and from the Old it was necessary that a convert from Testament Scriptures. Peter states heathenism to Christianity, besides that he was the first who preached believing on Christ, should be circum- the gospel to the Gentiles; that he cised and keep the law of Moses. preached salvation through Christ On this subject Paul afterwards re- without the works of the law; and ceived a full revelation, and wrote he draws the proper conclusions from the Epistle to the Galatians, to es- his success. * Men and brethren," tablish the belief that a man is justi- says he, “ye know how that, a good fied by faith without the works of the while ago, God made choice among law. He assures that church that he us, that the Gentiles by my mouth had this doctrine from heaven, and should hear the word of the gospel

, denounces a curse on him who holds and believe. And God, which knowan opposite scheme. “For I certify eth the heart, bare them witness, you, brethren, that the gospel which giving them the Holy Ghost as he was preached of me was not after did unto us, and put no difference beman: for I neither received it of tween us and them, purifying their man, neither was I taught it but by hearts by faith. Now, therefore, revelation of Jesus Christ: Though why tempt ye God to put a yoke on we, or an angel from heaven, preach the neck of the disciples which any other gospel unto you than that neither our fathers nor we were able which we have preached, let him be to bear? But we believe that, through accursed.” But when the opposite the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, doctrine was taught at Antioch, we shall be saved, even as they.” though he opposed and condemned Paul and Barnabas, the decided eneit, he says nothing about his having mies of the necessity of circumcision, a revelation from heaven denouncing took the same ground with Peter, it as unsound and dangerous. At and “declared what miracles and Jerusalem there were at least two wonders God had wrought among apostles, perhaps more, and it is the Gentiles by them.” James draws likely many others, who were occa- a similar conclusion from an Old sionally inspired; but none of them Testament prophecy, and proposes a seem to have had a revelation from resolution, which was unanimously God on the subject. When they adopted by the assembly. met to discuss and decide, they pro

Now all this is very

remarkable. ceeded like men uninspired. At Supernatural revelations were then first the assembly was far from being very common in their church meetunanimous. “There was much dis- ings. Paul says to a Christian church, puting.” What the friends of legal “When ye come together, every one doctrine said we are not told; but of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, when apostles rose to speak, they do hath a revelation, hath an interpretanot say that they had the mind of tion." The apostles usually spake

and acted in the church as men who the elders who ruled, and those who were immediately guided by the also laboured in word and doctrine, Lord. In the choosing of a successor The church had been but lately to Judas, the proposal of Peter was formed, and in many things had not acquiesced in, and acted on as com- been distinctly organized. From this ing from the Head of the church, history we are led to conclude, that From the same source evidently came the churches through Palestine were the decision of the twelve respecting in a great measure dependent on Jethe election and ordination of deacons. rusalem, from which apostles, evanBut in the case before us a most mo- gelists, and others, went out to mimentous matter is to be settled, and nister through the country, The with as little delay as possible; and yet elders seem to have superintended no one in the church has a direct reve- those churches. When the disciples lation from God on the subject. A at Antioch determined to send relief reference has been made of the cause to the brethren which dwelt in Judea, from the church of Antioch to the they did it, and sent it to the elders apostles and elders, which is unani- by the hands of Barnabas and Paul. mously taken up, and decided upon When, long after this, Paul came to information drawn from providence bring alms to his nation, and offerings, and scripture. No Christian will he carried them up to Jerusalem, conclude that men so wise and good Paul also, and Barnabas, were mem went wrong in adopting this plan. bers of the assembly. After it had They were shut up to it by the pro- met, had entered on the consideravidence of God, and their decision tion of the business, and many memhad the sanction of heaven, by its ac

bers had delivered their opinion, they cordance with subsequent revela- were heard with much interest, de tions on the subject, and the efficacy claring what miracles and wonders which it had in giving peace and God had wrought among the Gencomfort to the church. Taking a tiles by them.” It was not merely view of the whole matter, it seems to with a view to give an account of be intended for an example to the their mission, for this they had done church in the management of her before, v. 4. “ And when they were affairs. It occurred at the time when come to Jerusalem they were received God was teaching her the doctrines of the church, and apostles, and elshe was to believe, and the govern- ders, and they declared what things ment she was to administer. The God had done with them.” In ch. most prominent persons in it were xvi. 4, the decrees are termed “the the men whom God employed to di- decrees which were ordained of the rect the church. The procedure is apostles and elders which were at distinctly detailed ; and it is such as Jerusalem :” But Jerusalem is menmay be followed in any age. As it tioned there merely as the place is evidently intended for the direc- where the decrees were passed ; and tion of the church, it may be useful there is nothing to intimate that the to inquire what instructions it com- apostles and elders who resided at municates. It teaches,

Jerusalem were the only members of I. That general Synods of office- the assembly. Paul and Barnabas bearers in the church should meet to in their speeches followed the same determine those matters which cannot tone of argument with Peter; and, as otherwise be properly settled. Of this they did not preach the necessity of assembly the apostles and elders were circumcision, plead, that the mind of members. The elders, as distin- God on the subject was evident from guished from the apostles, were the their success. There were other pastors and rulers of the church; commissioners from Antioch in

assembly; and probably they were ceived on his apostolic inspiration the men who had contended with and authority; but many of them are Paul and Barnabas, and who de- introduced as if others wrote along fended the side of error after the as- with him. Timothy is joined with sembly had entered on business. him in four of them ; Timothy and

Antioch stood connected with the Silvanus in two; and, in closer res churches among the Gentiles some- semblance to the case before us, an. what in the same way as did Jeru- other epistle begins,.“ Paul, an salem with the churches in Palestine. apostle, and all the brethren which From it had Barnabas and Paul been are with me, unto the churches of Gasent on their mission, and to it they latia.” But to the brethren this case returned and gave an account of their was not referred, nor did they meet labours and success. They may be to judge in it, nor did the authority of considered as, along with the other it come from them. The deputies went disciples from Antioch, representa- up- to Jerusalem unto the apostles tives of the Syrian churches. They and elders about this question;":"the had, indeed, ordained elders in every apostles and elders came together for church, but it was when they had to consider of this matter;" “ the visited them the second time; and decrees were ordained of the apostles these office-bearers, so lately intro- and elders which were at Jerusalem.”. duced into the church, were not so II. That matters which cannot be likely to possess that intelligence and judiciously settled in a particular deexperience which were necessary for partment of the church, should be deciding in a matter of such import- referred to a general assembly. There ance. What progress the gospel had arose, at Antioch, a difference of opimade in other departments of the nion on a subject in which God had world we cannot tell; but in this Sy- not given a precise revelation; and, nod there seems to be collected the when they could not agree, they very representatives of the churches men- properly came to a determination to tioned in this book. If all the sur- refer the matter to the apostles and viving apostles were present and the elders, to meet at Jerusalem. It is history leads us to think so)-if the an example of a court of review. The elders in Judea were present, along decision given in the matter, and the with Barnabas and Paul, and other acquiescence of the church in it, teach deputies from Antioch,--there was a us, that, when a matter is regularly collection of all the church rulers au- brought before a general synod, it is thorized and fitted to judge in such a warranted to give a decision, to which matter. It had as much of the cha- the different parts of the church racteristic of a general assembly of ought to submit. There may arise the church, as what, in the then questions in the church to which existing circumstances, it could well it is not easy to apply any of her ge have.

neral laws, and for the settlement of There were in the assembly pri- which there is no sanctioned precevate church members called “ The dent, and these cases ought to be reBrethren,” and they joined in the ferred to a general meeting of rulers. salutation to the churches, and per. Thus, we obtain a judgment from the haps in the choosing of the commis- collected wisdom of the church, more sioners. But they are brought for.. likely to be right than if it were given ward in the letter merely in compli- by à part, and, as it comes from ance with the custom of the age. the whole, having more l authoritya There is nothing more certain, than When a church is somewhat extendthat Paul's epistles were sent from ed, there may matters arise in which him as an individual, and were re- different parts of it - are concernede

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