Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the Christian elders ; being a Jew, would be under the ecclesiastical discipline of the high priest and of the Jewish Sanhedrim.

Now, as both these systems affected the whole of private, social, and public life, it is clear that their claims would require continual adjustment in the case of those who considered both as binding on the conscience; but respecting this adjustment we are told nothing.

Such a state of things, of course, could not be permanent, but it was in force during the whole period embraced by New Testament history. This

may be the true reason why so little is told us respecting the ecclesiastical organization of the Church of Jerusalem, the mother of all Churches. If more had been told us, it might have misled us; for, owing to the Jewish element pervading it, much in that Church must have been temporary, and so no rule for the Church in

after ages.

The few notices of its organization or government all teach one principle, viz., Apostolic rule merging into Episcopal.

It remains now to show, that in the life, acts, and writings of the Apostle of the Gentiles, we have the principles enunciated which necessarily developed into that government which the earliest ecclesiastical history represents as pervading the Church,

It pleased the Lord to raise up another Apostle, one not of the twelve, to gather the Gentiles into His fold.

His Apostolic commission came, as he expressly states, not "of men, neither by man," i.e., not by popular election, or by designation of the other Apostles, but directly from Christ. His solemn setting apart to his office was by the sensible interference. one would almost say, by the word

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

had "

of mouth, of the Holy Ghost. “The Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul to the work whereunto I have called them” (Acts xiii. 2). Even in his case the laying on of hands was not dispensed with. Though he

seen the Lord,” and had been “caught up into Paradise," he had yet to submit to the Divinely-appointed rite.

After this, his life was spent in visiting the countries bordering on the Mediterranean Sea, founding Churches, superintending them, revisiting them, writing letters warning them against false teachers, or reproving them for not continuing in the doctrine which he had taught them, or answering questions which they had sent him by letter.

His personal history closes very abruptly after the account of his arrival in Rome.

I said that in the case of the Church of Jerusalem we are told nothing respecting the mode in which the twelve Apostles brought their joint authority to bear on the Church.

Not so with St. Paul. He exercised over the Churches which he had planted undivided Apostolical authority, and he did not allow this authority to be disputed. He based its exercise upon his Apostolic commission, which he asserted, often in strong terms, at the head of his Epistles ; and he grounded this commission on the direct will of God.

The following are instances :

• Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an Apostle by whom (i.e., by Jesus Christ) we have received grace and Apostleship.” (Rom. i. 1, 5.)

"Paul, called to be an Apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God.” (1 Cor. i. 1; also 2 Cor. i. 1, and Erhes. i. 1.)

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

“Paul, an Apostle (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father).” (Gal. i. 1.)

It is to be particularly noticed, that though in several Epistles he associates other persons with himself, as sending the opening salutation, yet he takes care never to join these persons with himself as bearing the Apostolio commission. It is, “Paul, an Apostle, and Sosthenes our brother" (1 Cor. i. 1); “Paul, an Apostle, and Timothy

our brother(2 Cor. i. 1); “Paul, an Apostle, and

. Timotheus our brother(Coloss. i. 1)."

In every Church, harassed by false teachers, he reasserts very decidedly his Apostolic authority. In the Epistle to the Galatians, he intimates his equality with James, Peter, and John, and how they had arranged together that he should take the Gentiles, they the circumcision (Gal. ii. 9).

In the two Epistles to the Corinthian Church, also distracted by false teachers, we find several direct assertions of his Apostolic authority; such are (1 Cor. iv. 9), “I think God hath set forth us the Apostles last;" (ix. 9), “ Am I not an Apostle ? am I not free ? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord ? are not ye my work in the Lord ?" (ver. 5), “ Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other Apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas ?" (xv. 9), “For I am the least of the Apostles, that am not meet to be called an Apostlo, because I persecuted the Church of God; but by the grace of God I am what I am.”

1 In the Epistle to the Philippians he drops the assumption of A postleship, and this enables him to associate Timothy with him. self as a fellow-servant of Christ. In the two Epistles to the Thessalonians he does not style himself anything, and so we read: Paul and Sylvanus and Timotheus unto the Church of the Thessalonians,” &c.

[ocr errors]

X

Compare this with“ I suppose I am not a whit behind the very chiefest Apostles” (2 Cor. xi. 5), and with “In nothing am I behind the very chiefest Apostles, though I be nothing ” (xii. 11).'

We have now to consider the exercise of this authority on the part of the Apostle. A man who has but once read his Epistles can have but one opinion on this matter, which is, that St. Paul exercised this authority autocratically.

He exercised, it is true, this authority with all the love and tenderness of a parent. He never exercised it for selfish purposes or personal ends. He called himself, and he acted as, the least of all and the servant of all. He abased himself. He worked with his own hands rather than be chargeable. He entreated his converts, he implored them; he was with them in meekness and fear, and in much trembling (1 Cor. ii. 3); he even made their prayers a condition of his salvation (Phil. i. 19): but, with all this, he never let the reins of power out of his own hands; he never permitted his authority to be called in question, and he allowed no opposition. The following instances will show that I have not overstated this. I take them in order.

“I will come unto you shortly, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.” " What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness ?” (1 Cor. iv. 19, 21.)

“I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed. In the Name of our Lord

'Trepalav, however, may be used ironically, as the " much” Apostles-referring to the pretentiousness of the false teachers.

1

over

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan,” &c. (1 Cor. v. 3—5.)

“I wrote unto you in an Epistle, not to keep company with fornicators; but now I have written unto you not to keep company,” &c. (1 Cor. v. 9, 11.)

“I command, yet not I, but the Lord So ordain I in all Churches." (1 Cor. vii. 10, 17.)

"I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them unto you.'

“ The rest ” (of the regulations respecting the Eucharist) “will I set in order when I come.” (1 Cor. xi. 2, 34.)

“Concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order

the Churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week, let every one of you," &c. "If Timotheus come, see that he may

be with

you

with. out fear.” (1 Cor. xvi. 1, 10.)

“If I forgave anything, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ.” (2 Cor. ii. 10.)

66 Titus remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him. I rejoice, therefore, that I have confidence in you in all things” (vii. 15, 16).

In the next chapter, the eighth, we have an instance of his contrasting his Apostolic authority with the natural influence which such a father in Christ ought to possess :

-“ I speak not by commandment. . . . Herein I give my advice" (verses 8, 10); but in the latter chapters he returns again to the authoritative :

“ Being absent, now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that if I come again I will not spare ” (xiii. 2).

“It is a good thing to be zealously affected always in a

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

a

« AnteriorContinuar »