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a considerable time; and while they were there,
a dispute arose between them and some Jewish
Christians of Judæa. These men asserted, that
the Gentile converts could not obtain salvation
through the Gospel, unless they were circum-.
cised; Paul and Barnabas maintained the con-
trary opinion (a). This dispute was carried on
for some time with great carnestness; and it
being a question, in which not only the present,
but all future Gentile converts, were concerned,
it was thought right that Paul and Barnabas,
with some others, should go up to Jerusalem to
consult the Apostles and Elders concerning it.

They passed through Phænicia and Samaria, 49. and upon their arrival at Jerusalem (b), a council

was assembled for the purpose of discussing this important point. Peter and James the Less were present, and delivered their sentiments, which coincided with those of Paul and Barnabas; and after much deliberation it was agreed, that neither circumcision, nor conformity to any part of the ritual Law of Moses, was necessary in Gentile converts; but that it should be recommended to them to abstain from certain specified things prohibited by that Law, lest their indulgence in

them

(a). Acts, c. 15. v, 1 and 2. (b) Gal, c. 2. v. ka

them should give offence to their brethren of the circumcision, who were still very zealous for the observance of the ceremonial part of their antient religion. This decision, which was declared to have the sanction of the Holy Ghost, was communicated to the Gentile Christians of Syria and Cilicia by a letter written in the name of the apostles, elders, and whole church at Jerusalem, and conveyed by Judas and Silas, who accompanied Paul and Barnabas to Antioch for that purpose.

Though the Mosaic institution was pronounced by this high authority not to be obligatory upon those who had embraced the Gospel, yet the · attachment of the Jewish Christians to the rites and ceremonies, to which they had been so long accustomed, continued to be the cause of frequent dissensions in the Church of Christ; and we find that St. Paul, upon several occasions (c), subsequent to the council at Jerusalem, conformed to the Law of Moses, not indeed as a matter of necessity, but in compliance with the prejudices of the Jews, and that he might make them better disposed to the reception of the Gospel : “ And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I Inight gain the Jews (d).

Not (c) Acts, c. 16. v.3. Acts, C. 21. v. 26.

(d) 1 Cor. c.9. v. 20. - Vol.I,

A A

Not long after Paul's return to Antioch, Peter came thither (e), and at first associated freely with the Gentile converts ; but he afterwards withdrew himself from them, through fear of incurring the displeasure of some Jewish Christians, who had come from Jerusalem. Paul publicly, and with great severity, reproved him for this instance of weakness or dissimulation, and pointed out the impropriety and inconsistency of such conduct. This circumstance, among many others, shews with what a jealous eye the Jewish Christians looked upon Heathen converts. :

IV. Paul, having preached a short time at Antioch, proposed to Barnabas, that they should visit the churches, which they had founded in different cities (f). Barnabas readily consented; but while they were preparing for the journey, there arose the disagreement between them already mentioned(8), and which ended in their separation. In consequence of this dispute with

Barnabas, Paul chose Silas for his companion, 50. and they set out together from Antioch. They

travelled through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches, and then came to Derbe and

Lystra

(e) Gal. c.2. V, 11. . (f) Acts, c. 15. v. 36. (f) In the history of St. Mark.

Lystra (h). Thence they went through Phrygia and Galatia, and being desirous of going into Asia Propria, or the Proconsular Asia (i); they were forbidden by the Holy Ghost. They therefore went into Mysia; and not being permitted by the Holy Ghost to go into Bithynia, as they had intended, they went to Troas. While Paul was there, a vision appeared to him in the night, “ There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us." . Paul knew this vision to be a command from Heaven, and in obedience to it immediately sailed from Troas to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis, a city of Thrace; and thence he went to Philippi, the principal city of that part of Macedonia. Paul remained some time at Philippi, preaching the Gospel; and several occurrences, which took place in that city, are recorded in the Acts (k). · Thence he went through Amphipolis and Apollonia to Thessalonica (1), where he preached in the synagogues of the Jews on three successive sabbath days. Some of the Jews, and many of

the (h) Acts, c. 16.

(i) That part of Asia in which are Ephesus, Mi. letus, &c.

(k) C. 16. v. 12. &c. :
(1) Acts, c. 17. ve

ia A A2

the Gentiles of both sexes, embraced the Gospel; but the unbelieving Jews, moved with envy and indignation at the success of St. Paul's preaching, excited a great disturbance in the city, and irritated the populace so much against him, that the brethren, anxious for his safety, thought it prudent to send him to Berca, where he met with a better reception than he had experienced at Thessalonica. The Beræans heard bis instructions with attention and candour, and having compared his doctrines with the antient Scriptures, and being satisfied that Jesus, whom he preached, was the promised Messiah, they embraced the Gospel; but his enemies at Thessalonica, being informed of his success at Berca, came thither, and by their endeavours to stir up the people against him, compelled him to leave that city also.

He went thence to Athens (m). The inhabitants of that once illustrious seat of learning are represented as being at this time in the highest degree addicted to idolatry and superstition, and as passing their time in the most frivolous manner. St. Paul " disputed in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.” Some of the stoic and epicu

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