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Barnabas is sent to confirm

CHAP, XI.

the new converts in the faith.

A.M.cir. 4017.
A. D. cir. 43.

A. D. cir. 43.
An. Olymp.

23 Who, when he came, and had 25 Then departed Barnabas to A. M. cir.4017. An. Olymp. seen the grace of God, was glad, and Tarsus, for to seek Saul : cir. CCV.3. -exhorted them all, that with purpose

26 And when he had found him, he cir. CCV. 3. of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass,

, 24 For he was a good man, and "full of the that a whole year they assembled themselves with Holy Ghost and of faith : ‘and much people the church, and taught much people ; and the was added unto the Lord.

disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

Ch. 13. 43. & 14. 22.

.9 ch. 6. 5. + ver. 21. ch. 5. 14.

4 Ch. 9. 30. Or, in the church.

Verse 23. Had seen the grace of God] That is, had Lord: he who in his works denies him, does not cleave to seen the effects produced by the grace of God. By the grace him. Such a one is not of God; if he ever had the salvation of God, we are to understand, 1. his favour; 2. the mani- of God, he has lost it ; he is fallen from grace : nor is there festations of that favour, in the communication of spiritual a word in the Book of God, fairly and honestly understood, blessings ; and, 3. principles of light, life, holiness, &c. that says, such a person shall absolutely and unavoidably arise producing effects demonstrative of the causes from which | from his fall. they sprung. Barnabas saw that these people were objects Verse 24. For he was a good man] Here is a proper chaof the divine approbation ; that they were abundantly blessed racter of a minister of the gospel. and edified together, as a Christian church ; and that they 1. He is a good man: his bad heurt is changed; his evil had received especial influences from God, by his indwelling dispositions rooted out ; and the mind that was in Christ imSpirit, which were to them, incentives to faith, hope, and planted in him. love, and also principles of conduct.

2. He is full of the Holy Ghost. He is holy, because the Was glad] Not envious because God had blessed the la- Spirit of holiness dwells in him : he has not a few transient bours of others of his Master's servants ; but rejoiced to find | visitations or drawings from that Spirit ; it is a resident in his - that the work of salvation was carried on by such instruments soul, and it fills his heart. It is light in his anderstanding ; as God chose, and condescended to use. They who cannot it is discrimination in his judgment : it is fixed purpose and rejoice in the conversion of sinners, because they have not determination in righteousness, in his will ; it is purity, it is been the means of it; or because such converts or their mi-love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, meekness, tempernisters have not precisely the same view of certain doctrines ance, and fidelity, in his affections and passions. In a which they have themselves; shew that they have little, if word, it has sovereign sway in his heart; it governs all pasany thing, of the mind that was in Christ, in them.

sions, and is the motive and principle of every righteous With purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.] action. These converts had begun well ; they must continue and 3. He was full of faith. He implicitly credited his Lord; persevere : God gave them the grace, the principle of life and he knew that he could not lie; that his word could not fail : action ; it was their business to use this. If they did not, he expected not only the fulfilment of all promises, but also the gift would be resumed. Barnabas well knew, that they every degree of help, light, life, and comfort, which God must have the grace of God in them, to enable them to do any might at any time see necessary for his church : he prayed good; but he knew also, that its being in them, did not neces for the divine blessing, and he believed that he should not sarily imply that it must continue there. God had taught him, pray in vain. His faith never failed, because it laid hold on that if they were not workers together with that grace, they that God who could not change. Behold, ye preachers of would receive it in vain; i. e. the end for which it was given the gospel ! an original minister of Christ. Emulate his piety, would not be answered. He therefore exhorted them in his faith, and his usefulness. TOGETEI T75 xcpdias, with determination of heart; with set, Much people was added unto the Lord.] No wonder, when fixed purpose and resolution, that they would cleave unto the they had such a minister, preaching, by the power of the Lord, T.POJUEVEIV TW Kupiw, to remain with the Lord; to Holy Ghost, such a gospel as that of Jesus Christ. continue in union and fellowship with him ; to be faithful in Verse 25. To Tarsus, for to seek Saul] The persecution keeping his truth, and obedient in the practice of it. To raised against him, obliged him to take refuge in his own city, be a Christian is to be united to Christ, to be of one spirit where, as a Roman citizen, his person was in safety. See with him : to continue to be a Christian, is to continue in chap. ix. 29, 30. that union. It is absurd to talk of being children of God, and Verse 26. He brought him unto Antioch] As this city of absolute final perseverance, when the soul has lost its spi was the metropolis of Syria, and the third city for import. ritual union. There is no perseverance, but in cleading to the ance in the whole Roman empire, Rome and Alexandria

Agabus the prophet

THE ACTS.

THE

foretels a great famine.

A.M.cir.4047.
A. D. cir. 43.

A. D. cir. 13.
An. Olymp.

27 1 And in these days came · pro- || that there should be great dearth A. M. cir.4047 An. Olymp. phets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. throughout all the world : which

28 And there stood up one of them came to pass in the days of Claudius cir. CCV. 3. named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit, Cæsar.

cir. CCV. 3.

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alone being more eminent, Barnabas might think it expedient appellation of brethren was frequent among them. It was to have for his assistant a person of such eminent talents as the design of God to make all who believed of one heart and Saul; and who was especially appointed by Christ to pro one soul, that they might consider him as their father, and claim the gospel to the Gentiles. Saul appears also to have live and love like children of the same household. A Chrisbeen a thorough master of the Greek tongue, and, conse- || tian, therefore, is the highest character which any human quently, the better qualified to explain the gospel to the being can bear upon earth; and to receive it from God, as Greek philosophers, and to defend it against their cavils. I those appear to have done, how glorious the title ! It is Barnabas also, being a native of Cyprus, chap. iv, 36. where however worthy of remark, that this pame occurs in only the Greek language was spoken, was judged to be proper three places in the New Testament, here, and in chap. xxi. for this mission, perhaps on this account, as well as on ac

28. and in 1 Pet. iv, 16. count of his disinterestedness, holiness, and zeal.

Verse 27. Cume prophets from Jerusalem] Though the And the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.7 || term prophet is used in the New Testament simply to siguily It is evident they had the name Christians from CHRIST a teacher, (see the note on Gen. xx. 7. where the subject is their master ; as the Platonists and Pythagoreans had their largely explained,) yet here it evidently means also, such as name from their masters, Plato and Pythagoras. Now, as were under divine inspiration, and foretold future events. these had their name from those great masters, because they | This was certainly the case with Agabus, ver. 28. though attended their teaching, and credited their doctrines; so the perhaps his ordinary character was that of a teacher, or disciples were called Christians, because they took Christ for preacher. It seems from various scriptures, Rom. xii. 1. Cor. their teacher, crediting his doctrines, and following the rule | xiii. & xiv. that the prophets of the New Testament were, of life laid down by him. It has been a question, by whom 1. Teachers or preuchers in general. 2. Persons who, on was this name given to the disciples ? Some think, they as- l special occasions, were under the influence of the Divine sumed it; others, that the inhabitants of Antioch gave it to Spirit, and then foretold certain future events. 3. Persons them; and others, that it was given by Saul and Barnabas. ) who recited hymns to the honour of God in the public asThis latter opinion is favoured by the Codex Bezæ, which | semblies of the Christians. 4. Persons who prayed in those reads the 25th and 26th verses thus : And hearing that Saul assemblies, having sometimes the gift of tongues, at other was at Tarsus, he departed, seeking for him; and having times not. From Ephes. ii. 20. and iii. 5. we learn that the found him, he besought him to come to Antioch ; who, when prophets of the Christian church were inferior to the aposthey were come, assembled wilh the church a whole year, and tles; but from ver. 11. of Eph. iii. we see that they were instructed a great number; and there, they first called the superior to all other teachers, even to evangelists and disciples at Antioch, Christians.

pastorse The word xequatican, in our common text, which we Verse 28. Agabus] This prophet, of whom we know notranslate were called, signifies, in the New Testament, to thing, is once more mentioned, chap. xxi. 19. He was proappoint, warn, or nominate by divine direction. In this sense bably a Jew, but whether converted now to Christianity, we the word is used Matt. ii. 12. Luke ii. 26. and in the pre cannot tell. ceding chapter of this book, ver. 22. If therefore the name Great dearth throughout all the world The words eo' was given by divine appointment, it is most likely that Saul Gay Try Oumoupeny probably here mean, the lund of Judea; and Barnabas were directed to give it; and that, therefore, though sometimes by this phrase, the whole Roman empire is the name Christian is from God, as well as that grace and intended. In the former sense the disciples appear to have holiness which are so essentially required and implied in the understood it, as the next verse informs us; for they detercharacter. Before this time, the Jewish converts were sim- mined to send relief to their brethren in Juded, which they ply called, among themselves, disciples, i. e. scholars; be- could not have done had the famine been general. It does lievers, suints, the church, or assembly: and by their ene not appear that they expected it to extend even to Antioch in mies, Nazarenes, Galileans, the men of this way, or sect; Syria, where they then were, else they would have thought and perhaps by other names, which are not come down to us. of making provision for themselves. They considered themselves as one family; and hence the It is well known from history, that there were several fue

The disciples of Antioch send relief

CHAP. XI.

to the poor Christians in Judea.

A.M.cir. 4047.
A. D. cir. 43.

every man

A. D. cir. 43.

29 Then the disciples,

30 Which also they did, and sent A. M.cir. 4047. An. Olymp. according to his ability, determined it to the elders by the hands of Bar- An. Olymp.

to send relief unto the brethren nabas and Saul. which dwelt in Judea :

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cir. CcV. 3.

* Rom. 15. 26. 1 Cor. 16. 1. 2 Cor. 9. 1.

5 Ch. 12. 25.

mines in the reign of Claudius. Dion Cassius, lib. IX. men- | in cap. 5. sect. 2. he says, that this happened “ when Tibetions a severe famine in the first and second year of the reign || rius Alexander succeeded Cuspius Fadus; and that under of Claudius, which was sorely felt in Rome itself. This fa- | these procurators, the famine happened, in which Queen Hemine, it is supposed, induced Claudius to build a port at lena, at a vast expense, procured relief to the Jews.” Dr. Ostia, for the more regular supply of Rome with pro- || Hudson's note on this passage in Josephus deserves to be visions.

copied : “ This," says he, “is that famine foretold by AgaA second famine happened about the fourth year of this bus, Acts xi. 28. which happened when Claudius was consul reign, which continued for several years, and greatly afilicted the fourth time, (A. D. 47,) and not that which happened the land of Judea. Several authors notice this, but parti- | when Claudius was consul the second time, and Cæsina was cularly Josephus, Ant. lib. xx. cap. 5. sect. 2. where hav- his colleague, (A. D. 42,) as Scaliger says, upon Eusebius, ing mentioned Tiberius Alexander, as succeeding to the p. 174. Now when Josephus had said, a little after, cap. 5. procuratorship in the place of Cuspius Fadus, be says, that sect. 2. that Tiberius Alexander succeeded Cuspius Fadus as " “during the government of these procurators, a great famine procurator, he immediately subjoins, under these procurators afflicted Judea.” ETI TOUTGIS On xau Toy jayar Adpov xaTa TYY || there happened a great famine in Judea.From this it is Ιουδαιαν συνεβη γενεσθαι.

evident, that this famine must have continued several years, A third famine is mentioned by Eusebius, in An. Abra- || as it existed under both these procurators. Fadus, says Mr. hami, which commences with the calends of October, A. D. || Whiston, was not sent into Judea till after the death of 48. which was so powerful “ in Greece, that a modius (about | Agrippa, i. e. towards the end of the fourth year of Clauhalf a bushel of grain) was sold for six drachms,” about dius, in the end of A. D. 44. or beginning of 45. So that this three shillings and sixpence English. Vid. Euseb. in Chron. famine foretold by Agabus, happened on the fifth, sixth, and edit. Scalig. The same author mentions another famine in seventh years of Claudius, A. D. 45. 46. and 47. See WhisRome, in the tenth year of Claudius, of which Orosius gives | ton's Josephus ; and see Krebs' Observat. in Nov. Test. on the details, lib. vii.

this place. A fourth famine, which took place in the eleventh year of Verse 29. Then the disciples-determined to send relief] Claudius, is mentioned by Tacitus, Annal. lib. xii. sect. 43. These were probably Gentile converts; and as they consiin which there was so great a dearth of provisions, and fa- | dered themselves receiving the spiritual blessings, which they mine in consequence, that it was esteemed a divine judg- | now so happily enjoyed, through the means of the Christians ment. Frugum quoque egestas, et orta ex ea fames, in pro- in Judea; they resolved to communicate to them a pordigium accipiebatur. At this time, the same author tells us, tion of their temporal goods : and every man did this, acthat in all the stores of Rome, there were no more than fif- cording to his ability, i. e. he gave a certain proportion of teen days provision; and had not the winter been uncom- | the property with which the providence of God had enmonly mild, the utmost distress and misery must have pre- trusted him. The community of goods had for some time Failed.

ceased. It may now be enquired, to which of these famines in the Verse 30. And sent it to the elders] These probably reign of Claudius does the prophecy of Agabus refer? Most mean, those who first believed on Christ crucified, either of learned men are of opinion, that the famine of which Agabus the seventy disciples mentioned Luke chap. x. or the one prophesied was that mentioned above, which took place in hundred and twenty mentioned chap. i. 15.; or the seven the fourth year of this emperor, A. D. 47. This famine is deacons, chap. vi. 5. Some have divided the primitive disparticularly mentioned by Josephus, Ant. lib. xx. cap. 2. ciples into three classes : 1. The autOTT, those who were sect. 5. who describes it as a very great famine, in which | eye-witnesses. 2. The atasxas, those who were the first many died for want of food.”—“ That Helena, Queen of fruits, or converts of the apostles' preaching. 3. The diacoAdiabene, who had embraced the Jewish religion, sent some 2006, those who were the successors of the preceding, from of her servants to Alexandria, to buy a great quantity of whom they had received the doctrines of the gospel. It is corn; and others of them to Cyprus, to buy a cargo of dried likely the deacons are meant, whose office it was to take care figs, which she distributed to those who were in want.” And of the poor. See chap. vi. 1, &c.

66

Observations on some important

THE ACTS.

subjects in the preceding chapter.

1. Among many highly interesting subjects which have come || ing to Rome. If it be merely Roman, it cannot be catholic; if under review in the preceding chapter, we must have parti it be catholic, it cannot be confined to Rome: but it is not cacularly noticed, 1. the care the church of Christ took to tholic nor universal, in any sense of the word; for it contains have young converts confirmed in the truths they had received, but a small part of the people who profess Christianity. The and built up on their most holy faith, ver. 22. It was indis term Protestant has more common sense in it; but not much pensably necessary that a foundation should be laid; and it more piety. Almost all sects and parties proceed in the was not less so, that a proper superstructure should be raised. same line ; but Christian is a title seldom heard of; and the For this work, it was requisite that different gifts and talents spirit and practice of Christianity but rarely occur. When should be employed, and Barnabas and Saul must be sent to all return to the spirit of the gospel, they will probably reconfirm in the faith, those whom the disciples, who had been sume the appellative of Christians. scattered by the persecution raised about Stephen, had con 3. An early fruit of Christianity, was mercy to the poor; verted to Christ, ver. 19–22. It is a great thing to have and especially to the poor followers of Christ. He has left souls converted to the Lord; it is greater to have them built the poor ever with us, as his representatives, to exercise our up on their most holy faith : and few persons, even among bowels of commiseration; and thus teach us to feel and the ministers of Christ, have talents for both. Even when practise mercy. To every man professing Christianity, the Paui planted, it required Apollos to water. A frequent religion of Jesus Christ says most authoritatively, With interchange of godly ministers in the church of Christ, is of every man who is pinched by poverty, share what the provithe utmost consequence to its stability and increase.

dence of God has not made absolutely necessary for thy own 2. It appears that CHRISTIANS, was the first general appella

What God has given us more than we need, is tive of the followers of our blessed Lord; and there is presump entrusted to us for the benefit of those that are in poverty tive evidence, as we have seen, that this appellative came by || and affliction. He who can, and does not help the poor is a divine appointment : how very few of those who profess this | disgrace to Christianity: and he who does not lend his hand religion, are satisfied with this title! That very church that for the support of the cause of God, is a worthless member of arrogates all to itself, has totally abandoned this title, and its the church of Christ. Ile who shews no mercy, shall have members call themselves Roman Catholics, which is absurd ; || judgment without mercy. And he who spends in pampering because the adjective and substantive include opposite ideas: the flesh what should be given to the poor, shall have a fearcatholic, signifies universal; and Roman, signifies of, or belong. Il ful account to give in the day of the Lord.

CHAPTER XII. Ilerod persecutes the Christians, 1. Kills James, 2. And casts Peter into prison, 3, 4. The church makes inces.

sunt prayer for his deliverance, 5. An angel of God opens the prison doors and leads him out, 6—10. Peter rejoices, and comes to the house of Mary, where many were praying, and declares how he was delivered, 11–17. The soldiers who kept the prison are examined by Herod, and he commands them to be put to death, 18, 19. Ilerod is enraged against the people of Tyre, but is appeased by their submission, 20. Ile makes an oration to the people, receives idolatrous praises, and an angel of the Lord smites him, and he dies a miserable death, 21–23. The word of God increases, 24. Barnabas and Saul, having fulfilled their ministry, return from Jerusalem accompanied by John Mark, 25.

OW about that time Herod the 2 And he killed James the brother A. M. cir.4048. An. Olymp. king a stretched forth his hands of John with the sword.

An. Olymp. to vex certain of the church.

3 And because he saw it pleased the cir. CCV. t.

A.M.cir. 4018.
A. D. cir. 44.

Nigabytre che fore her lande | | of John Wichithe sword

.

A. D. cir. 44.

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NOTES ON CHAP. XII.

emperor Caligula, and was put in possession of all the territoVerse 1. Herod the king] This was Flerod Agrippa, ries formerly held by his uncle Philip, and by Lysanias; viz. the son of Aristobulus, and grandson of Ilerod the Great; he Iturea, Trachonitis, Abilene, with Gaulonitis, Batanæa, and was nephew to Herod Antipas who beheaded John the Bap Penias. To these the emperor Claudius afterwards added tist, and brother to Herodias. He was made king by the || Judea and Samaria; which were nearly all the dominions

Herod having killed James, seizes

CHAP. XII.

Peter and throws him into prison.

A. M. cir.4018. Jews, he proceeded further to take | him in prison, and delivered him to A. M.cir. 1048. An. Olymp. Peter also. Then were “the days of four quaternions of soldiers to keep An. Olyinp. eir. CCV.4. unleavened bread.

him ; intending after Easter to bring 4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him forth to the people.

cir. CCV. 4.

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possessed by his grandfather Herod the Great. See Luke iii. the fourteenth day of the first vernal full moon; but the 1. see also an account of the Ilerod family, in the note on | Easter of the Christians, never till the next sabbath after said Matt. ii. 1.

full moon: and to avoid all conformity with the Jews in this To ver certain of the church.] That is to destroy its chief | matter, if the 14th day of the first vernal full moon happen ornaments and supports.

on a sabbath, then the festival of Easter is deferred till the Verse 2. lle killed Jumes the brother of John with the sabbath following. The first vernal moon is that whose 14th sword.] This was James the greater, son of Zebedee, and day, is either on the day of the vernal equinox, or the next must be distinguished from James the bess, son of Alpheus. 14th day after it. The vernal equinox, according to a decree This latter was put to death by Ananias the high-priest, dur of the council of Nice, is fixed to the 21st day of March : and ing the reign of Nero. This James with his brother John therefore the first vernal moon is that, whose 14th day falls were those who requested to sit on the right and left hand of || upon the 21st of March; or the first 14th day after. Hence our Lord. See Matt. xx. 23. and our Lord's prediction was it appears that the next sabbath after the 14th day of the vernow fullilled in one of them, who by his martyrdom drank nal moon, which is called the Paschal term, is always Easof our Lord's cup, and was baptized with his baptism. By ter day. And therefore, the earliest Paschal term, being the the death of James, the number of the apostles was reduced 21st of March; the 22d of March is the earliest Easter possito eleven; and we do not find that ever it was filled up. The ble: and the 18th of April being the latest Paschal term, apostles never had any successors: God has continued their the seventh day after, that is the 25th of April, is the latest doctrine, but not their order.

Easter possible. By killing with the sword, we are to understand, beheading. The term Easter, inserted here by our translators they borAmong the Jews there were four kinds of deaths : 1. Ston- rowed from the ancient Anglo-Saxon service books; or from ing, 2. burning, 3. killing with the sword, or beheading, and the Version of the Gospels, which always translates the to 4. strangling. The 3d was a Roman as well as a Jewish

Tiarxa of the Greek by this term, e. g. Matt. xxvi. 2. Ye mode of punishment. Killing with the sword was the punish- || know that after two days is the feast of the passover. pite ze ment which, according to the Talmud, was inflicted on those 4 æfter tpam dazum beoð Eastro. TWitz ge that aefter ttpam who drew away the people to any strange worship, Sanhedr. | Dagum beoth Eastro. Ibid. v. 19. And they made ready fol. iii. James was probably accused of this, and hence the the passover. and hig gezearpodon hym Easter-þenunga. punishment mentioned in the text.

and hig gegearwodon hym Eafter-thenunga, (i. e. the paschal Verse 3. He proceeded to take Peter also] He supposed supper). Prefixed to Matt. xxviii. 1. are these words, that these two were pillars on which the infant cause rested; ! Đyr sceal on Easter apen. This part to be read on Easter and that if these were removed, the building must necessarily even.

And before ver. 8 these words, Þyr sceał on frizecome down.

dæz on þære odre Eartre-pucan. Mark xiv. 12. And the The days of unleavened bread.] About the latter end of first day of unleavened bread when they killed the pussover. March or beginning of April; but whether in the third or And dam forman dæge azımorum, da hı Eajtron offrodon. fourth year of the emperor Claudius, or earlier or later, can And tham forman daege azimorum, tha hi Eastron offrodon. Other not be determined.

examples occur in this version. Wiclif used the word Four quaternions of soldiers] That is sixteen, paske, i.e. passover ; but Tindal, Coverdale, Becke, and Cardor four companies of four men each, who had the care of the marden following the old Saxon mode of translation, insert prison ; each company taking in turn, one of the four watches Easter: the Geneva Bible, very properly renders it the passof the night.

over. The Saxon, Easter, Eajtre, Eastro, Eastra and EarIntending after Easter to bring him forth] Μετα το tron, are different modes of spelling the name of the goddess 79579., after the pass-over. Perhaps there never was a more Easter, whose festival was celebrated by our Pagan forefathers unhappy, not to say absurd translation, than that in our text. on the month of April; hence that month, in the Saxon ca. But before I come to explain the word, it is necessary to ob- lendar, is called Easter-monad, Easter mouth. Every view serve, that our term called Easter, is not exactly the same we can take of this subject, shews the gross impropriety of re. with the Jewish passover. This festival is always beld ontaining a name every way exceptionable, and palpably absurd.

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