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Roman government a little longer. His long refidence at Jerusalem, where he was stationary at least for the most part, had given him an oppor. tunity, by a blameless life, to abate the prejudice of his unbelieving countrymen, and to extort the eribure of praise from the populace in general. About the year of our Lord 60, he wrote his catholic epistle. It is addressed to Jews in general ; sometimes he speaks to christians, fometimes to infidels, like a person well known, and of considerable influence among both. The co. vetousness, inhumanity, and perfecuting spirit of the nation are described in strong colours, and he writes like one who foresees the speedy desolation which was to overtake them. By the practical turn of his doctrine, by his descanting on the vices of the tongue*, their partiality to the rich, and contemptuous treatment of the poor in christian assemblies t, and his direction against vain swearing f, it is but too evident, that the church had confiderably declined from its original purity and fimplicity; and that the crafts of Satan, aided ever by natural depravity, were wearing out apace the precious fruits of that “out-pouring” of the Spirit, which has been described. Such is the common course of things in all fimilar cafes, within the like period of about thirty years. The Lord had not however forsaken his church; and the members of it were in a perfecuted state, and were brought before Jewish magiitrates g, and vexed, so far as the rage of this infatuated nation had power to exert itself. He particularly exhorts them to patience under their trials, and a resignation to the Divine Wiil.

About the same time, or ittle after, this church was favoured with the epistle to the He

brews, * Chap. iii. † Chap. ii. # Chap. v. Chap, ü, 6.


brews, which seems to have been written by Sk. Paul

As apostacy, partly through the fashionable and natural evil of self-righteousness, and partly through the cruelty of persecution, was the great evil to be feared among them, he directs them particularly to maintain the christian faith. He largely and distinctly shews the accomplishment of all Mosaic types in Jesus. His prieithood, facrifice, and intercession are amply described. The privileges and benefits of his salvation are distinctly stated. He exhorts them to constancy in the simple faith of Christ. He recommends them to persevere in supporting their christian assemblies, from which some+ had declined, probably through fear of persecution. He reminds them of the leverities they had patiently undergone after their first illumination, of the companion which his sufferings had excited among them, and how cheerfully they had endured the spoiling of their goods, from the confidence they “ had of a better " and enduring substance." The whole turn of his exhortation Thews, that they were in a state of grievous molestation at the time of writing this epistle. And yet from their dulness in divine things, very strongly reprehended I, it is certain their spiritual taste was declined. The persecution of St. Paul at Jerufalem probably excited a genesal hostility againit ihe church. That it did not proceed to blood $, seems owing to no other cause than the protection of the Roman government. He is particularly earnest in exhorting them to remember and hold fast the grace of the gospel, which their first ministers had taught them, to consider that

Jesus * St. Peter, in his second epistle to the Jews, reminds them of St. Paul's letter io them, which could have been no other than this epistle.

+ Heb. x. 25. I C. v. ver. 12. $ xii. 4.

Jesus Christ was their great object, and that a return to Jewish dependencies would ruin their fouis. On the whole, we have here the most glorious views of the gospel, and the most distinct inforınation of the nature of a true adherence to it; though I see no evidence on the face of the epistle for concluding, that he forbad them that fame occasional and prudential compliance with Judaism in external observances, which all the Apostles practised. It was the departure of the heart from the Lord Jesus, against which he warned them. He dwells not largely on particular duties. He had not lived much among them, and special details of practical matters came better from the pastoral pen of James.

Thus earnestly did these two Apostles instruct and warn a declining church. But grace has its seasons! God will not always strive with man; yet the use of the epistles will remain, till time shall be no more.



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THE Holy Land was divided into three pro

vinces, Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. This laft was in a situation so peculiar, as to deserve to be considered distinctly. And of the churches of the two former I have not much more to say, than that their state, by fair analogy, may be estimated from that of the mother church. Indeed a strong foundation had been laid for their conversion by the ministry of John the Baptist, and by that of our Lord in the days of his fesh. The angel Gabriel had foretold of the son of Zacharias, " that many of the children of Israel he should “ turn to the Lord their God*.” Repentance was his theme, and by this he prepared the way of the Lord. Jesus himself condescended in his subordinate capacity of prophet and teacher to pursue the same method, though no regular churches were yer formed. He promised that the gift of the Holy Ghost should be vouchsafed to his disciples, and we have several intimations to that a greater degree of success, of purity, of knowledge, and of glory, should attend his religion after he should leave this world, than during his personal ministry I.


Judea and Galilee being thus prepared for the gospel, the blessed tidings began to be spread through them, and to be attended with rapid fuccess, loon after the first persecution which arose about Stephen. Those who had felt the Aame of Divine Love in Jerusalem, being obliged to fee, preached through these regions, and many thou. sands were converted, as we have seen. The mother church, no doubt, was the most numerous, but various churches in the country must have contributed to make up the fum. The small size of Palestine may tempt fome to wonder, if many thousands became christians, how the main body of the nation could yet remain in infidelity. The amazing populousness and fertility of the country accounts for this. The number of populous towns, in Galilee particularly, is astonishing, as appears from Josephus's narrative of the Jewish


Luke i. 2. t John xiv. and xvi. t Let this account once for all, for the much greater use which ! make of the Acts and of the Epistles, than of the four Gospels. These last are indeed inestimable; but their uses are of another kind, and fall not within the plan of this work.

war. The single town of Gadara, near the lake of Gennezaret, by no means a town of the first magnitude, maintained two thousand swine*. If then the importance of regions be measured by the number of inhabitants, rather than by the extent of ground, this small country might vie perhaps with modern Russia.

Of these churches the first instruments were not the Apostles themselves, though they doubtless visited them afterwards, and confirmed them. James the son of Zebedee would not confine his labours to Jerusalem, till the time of his martyrdom, no more than the rest of the twelve, if perhaps we except James the son of Alpheus, who was the first standing Pastor of Jerusalem.

These churches, most probably, followed the example of the Parent-church, both in its first love and comfortable progress, and also in its unhappy declension. Peter's activity in establishing them was very conspicuous.“ The Lord wrought effectu- . ally” in him for the conversion of the Jews all along t. He passed through all quarters, and visited the places molt remote from the capital, such as Lydda, Saron, and Joppa I. In all these places the Spirit of God accompanied his work. It was in this last city that the Lord by him raised Tabitha from the dead. I lhould scarce have mentioned this miracle, in a work which professes all along to record the ordinary, not the extraordinary operations of the Holy Ghost, were not the woman distinguished by “ her good works and “ alms-deeds which she did.” All the widows stood by Peter weeping, and shewing the “ coats and gar- . "ments which she had made, while she was 'with 66 them." Thus had this woman's faith evidenced jtself by good works, and the Spirit of Piety and of

Prayer * Mark v, 13. t Gal. ü. 8. Acts ix.

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