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to love much. And this love was not an inactive, dormant principle in them, for it manifested itself in the most substantial acts of kindness and liberality. “ There were none among them that lacked, for as many as were possessed of lands or houses sold them, and laid the amount down at the apostles' feet, and distribution was made according as every man had need."* It is evident, therefore, that they were not connected together by any of those ties which constitute the spring of action in the kingdoms of this world. In men actuated by such noble and disinterested principles, human policy could have no place. Their fears, their hopes, their joys, and their sorrows were all of a spiritual and heavenly tendency; and they were animated by one object of pursuit, the attainment of that glory, honour, and immortality, promised them by the Lord Jesus.

Thus was the kingdom of Christ established with all possible evidence that it was not of this world. What laws were given were of divine origin and authority, they were held superior to all other laws. We ought, say the servants of Jesus, to obey God rather than man. What power appeared, was the power of God, working in a miraculous manner, and with supernatural efficacy. The design of this extraordinary interposition was not to restore again the kingdom to Israel, or to bestow the honours and the riches of the world on the followers of Christ; but to deliver them from the present evil world, and save them from perishing in the destruction that awaits it. So far were they from being allowed the hope of reigning in this life, that they were assured of being exposed to poverty, contempt, and every form of persecution. Neither their principles nor their practices were conformable to this world; nor were their hopes or fears to be engaged by the concerns of it; but they were to wait for the

• Acts iv. 34.

SECT. 11.] Ministry of the Apostles.

17 return of the Lord Jesus Christ, and expect to reign with him in glory

If such be a just representation of the church or kingdom of Christ as it appeared in its first establishment, it is manifest that, wherever we trace it in subsequent periods, we must find something that resembles it in its leading features. We shall discern a people, holding the same views of the character and work of the Saviour; owning subjection to him as the King whom God hath set upon his holy hill of Zion; evincing their allegiance to him by an implicit obedience to his laws, institutions, and ordinances; and rejecting the doctrines and commandments of men. As the church at Jerusalem was the first Christian church established by the ministry of the apostles, so it was designed to serve as a pattern, in its faith and order, to all succeeding churches, to the end of the world. It was constituted under the direction of the twelve inspired apostles, who for a course of time acted as the elders, bishops or overseers of the flock of Christ, took up their station in it, and, under divine direction, gave forth the law to regulate the practices of all other churches : for out of Zion was to go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.*

Having briefly glanced at this heavenly kingdom in its first establishment, and seen its origin, nature, laws, immunities, and the character of its subjects, I now proceed to trace its subsequent history, agreeably to the account given of it by the prophet Daniel. “And in the days of these kings shall the God of Heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed ; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all other kingdoms; and it shall stand for ever.” ch. ii. 44.

* Acts xv. 6. 29–29. Isaiah ji. 2.


” says

The success which attended the first publication of the gospel, is very beautifully described in the book of the Revelation, ch. vi. 1, 2. by a vision which the apostle had of the Lamb, opening the first seal."“ And I saw,” he, “and behold a white horse; and he that sat on him had a bow, and a crown was given unto him, and he went forth conquering and to conquer." The history of the apostles and first preachers affords a striking comment on these words, at the same time, that it illustrates to us an ancient prediction concerning the Messiah ;* for now we see the standard of Christ first erected as an ensign to the nations; from hence went forth the rod of his strength, by which he ruled in the midst of his enemies, and (from that time, or) in that day of his power, the willing nations submitted to him cheerfully, and “ numerous as drops of morning dew.”

Among the Jews there were daily three stated hours of prayer, at which times some went up to the temple, and others prayed in their own houses with their faces directed towards the temple. The first of these stated times of devotion was at nine in the morning, which was the time of their offering the lamb for the morning sacrifice; the second at twelve at noon, called by them the time of the great meat-offering; and the third, at three in the afternoon, when they offered the lamb for the evening sacrifice. Two of the apostles, viz. Peter and John, going up together into the temple, on one of these occasions, were addressed by a poor cripple who solicited alms from them. The man had been lame from his infancy, and was carried daily to the gate of the temple, where he importuned the alms of the worshippers as they passed him. The apostles fixing their eyes upon him, demanded his attention to what they were about to say; assured him that silver and gold they had none, but that such as they

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sect. 11.) Peter and John visit the Temple.

19 had they were ready to communicate, adding, “ In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”* The power of the glorified Saviour gave energy to the word of his servants. Peter

Peter took him by the hand and lifted him up; his feet and ancle bones received strength, and the invalid was in an instant restored to the entire and perfect exercise of his limbs. Wonder and amazement seized the minds of the spectators of this miracle ; the people collected together in vast concourse around the apostles in Solomon's porch, "greatly wondering" at what had taken place, but wholly unable to account for it. Peter seized the opportunity, a most favourable one unquestionably, to draw their attention to the grand theme of his ministry, the death and the resurrection of his Lord. He first reprehended their stupidity in supposing, for a moment, that a work so far exceeding the power of man, and so much above the course of nature, could have been accomplished by their own agency, or in virtue of their own holiness; pressed home upon them their guilt in putting to death the Prince of life; boldly testified that God had raised him again from the dead; and declared that the miracle which they had witnessed, was effected solely by the power of Christ. The apostle admitted that their guilt had arisen from their own ignorance, and that of their rulers; and that God, whose province it is to educe good out of evil, who makes the wrath of man to praise him, and ordereth all things after the counsel of his own will, had over-ruled their wicked devices to subserve at once his own glory and the happiness of sinful man. He, therefore, exhorted them to repent and believe the gospel which he now preached, and which it was the divine good pleasure should first of all be made known among them who were the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with the fathers. He declared to them that Jesus of Nazareth was that great Prophet whose coming had been foretold by Moses; and of whom he was only the type; that it was their indispensable duty to hear Him in all things whatsoever he should speak; and reminded them of the warning which Moses himself had denounced against every one that should not hear that great Prophet. Unto you first,says he,“ God having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.”

* Acts iii. 1, &c.

This discourse produced a second harvest of converts to the Christian faith ; for “many who heard the word believed; the number being about five thousand.”*

By this time, however, the enemies of Jesus began to take the alarm. Peter had scarcely done speaking, when the priests and Sadducees, with the captain of the temple, rushing upon them, forcibly apprehended Peter and John, and committed them to prison On the following day the Jewish Sanhedrim, their supreme court of judicature, was convened. It consisted of the rulers or chief priests; the heads of the twenty-four courses; the elders of the other tribes; and the Scribes who were doctors of the law, commonly of the tribe of Levi. This great national council sat at Jerusalem. Annas, who had formerly been high priest but was ejected by the Roman procurator, was with them, and Caiaphas (his son-in-law), who was now high-priest; the very persons who had procured the death of Jesus Christ, and who of course were highly concerned to suppress this new doctrine. John and Alexander, two distinguished personages among the Jews, with others who were related to the high priest, were also present upon this interesting occasion. It was the custom for the Sanhedrim to sit almost in a circle, and to place the prisoners in its centre. The apostles

• Acts iv. 4.

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