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Christians; so that a schism was produced in the city, one party siding with the Jews, the other with the Apostles: the former, however, having gained over the rulers, intended to ill treat and stone* them; but being aware of it, they fled to the other cities of Lycaonia, namely, Lystra and Derbe, and the surrounding region, where they preached the Gospel, Acts xiv. 1—7.

At Lystra, Paul performed that signal miracle of curing a cripple from his birth; which so astonished the multitude, that they exclaimed, in their vernacular tongue, (which is supposed to have been a dialect of the Syriac) The gods are descended to us in the likeness of men! And they called Barnabas, Jore; and Paul, for his eloquence, Mercury. And this, perhaps, from the traditional fable of Jupiter and Mercury, visiting their ancestor, Lycaon, as travellers, and turning him into a wolf, for his inhospitality. Ovid's Metamorph. But the Apostles, expressing their grief and horror, by rending their clothes, with great difficulty restrained the priest of Jupiter's temple, outside the city, from offering them sacrifices of oxen, crowned with garlands. Paul's short speech on this occasion is admirable.

Disclaiming their intended worship, he declared that he and Barnabas were not gods, but men of like infirmities with themselves; who, by preaching the Gospel, wished to turn them from their vain idols to the LIVING GOD, who made the heaven, the earth, and the sea, and all things therein.

2. That although GOD, for many generations past, had suffered all the heathen to walk in their own ways, and follow their own inventions, Eccl. vii. 29, yet that He had never left himself unwitnessed, by the continued "providence of his goodness,” (ayа ожоv,) by sending us refreshing showers from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with "food and gladness +," ver. 13-18. From these premises, he left them to draw the obvious and necessary conclusion, that it was the height of stu

Paley has ingeniously adduced this intention to stone the Apostles, as a proof of the critical accuracy of the history, and its exact correspondence with the Apostle's declaration, "Once was I stoned," 2 Cor. xi. 25, namely, afterwards at Lystra, as Luke relates, Acts xiv. 19. Had Paul been represented as actually stoned at Iconium, it would have contradicted his declaration.

+ Newton, in the Scholium generale of his immortal Principia, has finely improved this argument of the Apostle." From blind metaphysical necessity, which is always and every where the same, there arises no variation of things," p. 529; or no variety of moist and fruitful; of dry and barren seasons, produced by GOD'S PROVIDENCE only; in order to reward or punish his rational creatures, Psalm cvii. 31–43.

pidity and ingratitude, to transfer to the creature the worship, due only to THE CREATOR; as more fully stated in his Epistle to the Romans, i. 19—25.

But the unbelieving Jews from Antioch and Iconium, coming to Lystra, soon changed the sentiments of the fickle multitude from veneration to persecution; insomuch that having stoned Paul, they dragged him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. However, when the disciples came about him, to mourn over him, we may presume, he arose, as it were, from the dead, and entered into the city, after his miraculous resurrection; for such we may deem it, when he was immediately able to walk, after all his bruises, and to quit the city next day, and retire with Barnabas and his party to Derbe, ver. 19, 20.

It is truly remarkable, that Paul here suffered the fate of Stephen. And the same zeal for GOD and CHRIST, now drew down on him alone, the fury of that tumultuous assembly; for Barnabas, Timothy, and the rest, were not molested. The Apostle himself refers to this, 2 Cor. xi. 25; and to his persecutions at Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra, "out of all which THE LORD delivered him," 2 Tim. iii. 10, 11.

Having preached the Gospel with considerable effect in Derbe, they undauntedly retraced their steps, and returned through Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, confirming the new converts in the faith, notwithstanding those persecutions which were to be their passports to heaven. And attending no less to discipline than to doctrine, they ordained presbyters in every Church, to regulate its concerns. And so, having traversed all Pisidia, they went to Pamphylia, and having preached in its capital, Perga, they took shipping at Attalia, and returned to Antioch in Syria, the mother Church, after a circuit of about two years. There they recounted to the congregation, how GOD had prospered their mission, and opened to the Gentiles a door of faith for the reception of the Gospel.

At Antioch, their head quarters, they remained no little time with the disciples, probably about two years more, ver. 21-28. The wisdom of Providence appointing their chief residences in capital cities, Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus, Corinth, Rome, &c. where there was the greatest number of well-informed persons, and the greatest resort of strangers.


This was assembled to counteract and censure the first remarkable heresy that disturbed the harmony and concord which had hitherto prevailed in the infant Church.

The rise and progress of this heresy may thus be collected from the NEW TESTAMENT.

OUR LORD, during his ministry, warned his disciples "to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees," meaning their doctrine, Matt. xvi. 6—12. After his death, a considerable revolution took place in the sentiments of the Pharisees, (probably through the influence of Gamaliel, as we have seen,) and numbers of them believed in CHRIST, and were converted to his Church. But they brought with them their Jewish prejudices, and their proselyting spirit. "And some of their sect, who believed, had stood up at Jerusalem, (even at the time of Herod's persecution, A.D. 44,) saying, that it was necessary for the Gentile converts to be circumcised, and to keep the LAW OF MOSES, that they might be saved, in addition to the GOSPEL, and a party of them went down to Antioch from Jerusalem and Judea, to teach this doctrine," Acts xv. 1—5.

After Paul's second return from Jerusalem to Antioch, Acts xii. 25, he and Barnabas had no small contest and controversy with these Judaizing teachers, whom he found there, and describes as "certain intermeddling false brethren, who came to spy out the freedom of the Gentile Church in JESUS CHRIST, to enslave them to the law of Moses," Gal. ii. 4. And such was their influence, that Peter, who came to Antioch, after his deliverance from Herod, although he had freely associated, at first, with the Gentile converts, and did eat with them, yet now withdrew, and separated himself, fearing these Judaizing teachers; who came, as they pretended, with commission from James, the Bishop of Jerusalem. And the rest of the Jews also, or Jewish Christians at Antioch, temporized with him, so that even Barnabas was drawn away by their hypocrisy, Acts xv. 2, Gal. ii. 4, 11-13.

But Paul did not yield in deference to them, not even for

Elavεornoav should be rendered, "had stood up," Acts xv. 5, marking the origin of this heresy at Jerusalem, which was afterwards endeavoured to be introduced, from Judea, at Antioch, ver. 1, according to Lardner's judicious remark, Vol. VI. p. 273.

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a moment; that the truth, or genuine doctrine of the GoSPEL might thoroughly continue, with respect to the Gentile Church. -And he withstood even Peter himself, publicly to his face, because he was blameable. "For," says he, "when I saw that they walked not rightly, according to the truth of the GOSPEL, I said unto Peter, before them all, If thou thyself, who art a Jew, livest in the Gentile, and not in the Jewish fashion, why compellest thou the Gentile converts to Judaize ?”—why deny them that liberty you at first took yourself?--But this building of the Law upon the Gospel, he proved to be sinful: "for if," says he, "I build up again what I had pulled down, I render myself a transgressor: we (Christians) knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but only through faith in JESUS CHRIST.--For if justification is to be procured by the law, then CHRIST died in vain," Gal. ii. 14-21. This seems to be the drift of the Apostle's argument in this most perplexed and involved chapter, as summed up afterwards, chap. v. 1—6.

Peter himself appears to have been convinced of his error, for he then meekly made no reply; and nobly retrieved his character afterward, by publicly supporting Paul's doctrine.


At length the Church of Antioch, (probably by revelation,) sent a deputation, consisting of Paul and Barnabas, and some others of their body, to Jerusalem, in order to have the decision of the Apostles and Presbyters, or heads of the Mother Church, on this important controversy. And in a General Council held thereon, after much debate, Peter stood up, and spoke decidedly against the Judaizers; recounting the first establishment of the Gentile Church, in the case of Cornelius, by the HOLY SPIRIT, by the baptism of the Spirit, conferred on them without circumcision; and concluding with this warning: "And now why tempt ye GOD, or resist the decree of the HOLY SPIRIT, by endeavouring to impose a yoke upon the necks of the disciples of the uncircumcision, which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear, Ezek. xx. 25, Gal. iii. 19, instead of the comparatively light yoke and easy burden of the Christian covenant, Matt. xi. 30. For we, [Jewish converts,] believe that we shall be saved, after the same manner as they, [the Gentile,] only through


grace of OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, (Ephes. ii. 5,) Gal. ii. 1, Acts xv. 2, xv. 6—11.

This was precisely Paul's doctrine, in its full extent, rejecting circumcision and the law of Moses, as unnecessary even for the Jews themselves. But the council did not go so far; following the prudent advice of James, their president. They endeavoured to moderate between both parties; and passed a decree, that the Gentile Churches should no more be disturbed, nor their minds unsettled, about the question of circumcision; only requiring of them to abstain from gross violations of the Mosaical law; such as, 1. partaking of meats sacrificed to idols; 2. fornication, the usual handmaid of idolatry, Exod. xxxii. 6, Numb. XXV. 1,2; 3. eating blood, or strangled animals with the blood in them, which was also a primitive precept, Gen. ix. 4.

And while they censured these proselyting, Pharisaical teachers, as acting without any commission from the Apostles and the Mother Church, they commended their "beloved Barnabas and Paul, as men who had hazarded their lives for the name of OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST," and sent this decree by them, jointly, with two of their own leaders, Judas and Silas, to the Gentile Churches of Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia, Acts xv. 13—29, which was received with great joy, ver. 30, 31.

This temperate decree, dictated, indeed, by the HOLY SPIRIT, afforded a perfect model to all future general councils, how to maintain the harmony and communion of the Catholic, or universal Church; thus rejecting and censuring a mischievous heresy, erring in fundamentals, and subversive of CHRISTIAN FAITH; and yet mildly respecting the prejudices of weak and scrupulous brethren, still attached to the Mosaical institutions. The Gentile Churches being only required to avoid such gross violations of the law of Moses, as would necessarily offend their Jewish brethren, so as to break off all communion between them, and produce an irreconcileable schism; while the latter were bound to insist no more upon the necessity of circumcision to salvation, and of abstaining from other unclean meats, forbidden. by the Levitical law. And by this sage decree, Paul appears to have governed the Churches which he planted; shewing the most considerate attention to their prejudices in matters indifferent; holding that all things lawful were not at all times expedient to be required, 1 Cor. vi. 12, as not tending to edification, 1 Cor. x. 23.

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