« ElőzőTovább »
work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest : that thy ox and thy ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger may be refreshed :" see there ver. 9. Lev. xix. 9, 10, “And when ye reap the harvest of your land- thou shalt not gather the gleaning of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard. Thou shalt leave them for the poor, and the stranger. Lam the Lord your God.” See also Lev. xxv. 5, 6. and 38. and Deut. xvi. 13, 14. “ Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine. And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy mán-servant, and thy maid-servant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow that are in thy gates.” And again, very particularly, Deut. xxvi. 11–13. “And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing, which the Lord thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thy house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you. When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thy increase— and hast given it unto the Levite, and the stranger, the fatherless and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled. Then thou shalt say before the Lord thy God: I have brought away the hallowed things out of my house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, according to thy commandment.” These instances of kindness are strongly enforced, Deut. x. 17-19. . I shall add a text or two, somewhat different, though still to the like purpose. Deut. xii. 12. " And ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God, ye and your sons, and your daughters, and your men-servants, and your maid-servants, and the Levite that is within your gates. Forasmuch as he has no part, nor inheritance with you.” And ver. 18. “ Thou must eat them before the Lord thy God, in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy man-servant, and thy maid-servant, and the Levite that is within thy gates." See also Deut. x. 9.
By “ stranger,” [and “ stranger within thy gates, and the stranger that sojourneth with thee, [or) in thy land,” I always understand proselytes, men circumcised according to the law of Moses: or, as they are now often called, “ proselytes of the covenant, [or] of righteousness." If the Levites are said “ to have no inheritance,” and are styled “ Levites within thy gates,” as they are in some texts just cited, though there were allotted to them cities, with their suburbs, out of the inheritance of the other tribes, as is manifest from Numb. xxxv. 1-8. and Josh. xiv. 1-5. all strangers, though circumcised, and admitted to full communion in all religious ordi. nances, may well be called “ sojourners, and the strangers within thy gates."
Once more. As God, in his laws, delivered to the children of Israel, was not unmindful of the stranger: so likewise does David remember them in his devotions. Ps. cxv. 9-13. “ () Israel, trust thou in the Lord. O house of Israel, trust thou in the Lord. Ye that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord. The Lord will bless the house of Israel : he will bless the house of Aaron. He will bless them that fear the Lord, both small and great,” cxviii. 2–4. “ Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever. Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever. Let them that fear the Lord say, that his mercy endureth for ever.''' Ps. cxxxv. 19, 20. « Bless the Lord, O house of Israel. Bless the Lord, O house of Aaron, Bless the Lord, O house of Levi. Ye that fear the Lord, bless the Lord.”
These men, who fear the Lord, mentioned after all the divisions of the people of Israel, I suppose to have been strangers, or proselytes. Hereby we are led to understand St. Paul's ad. dress in the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia. Acts xiii. 16. ^ Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.” And ver. 26. ~ Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.” Here, by them that feared God, must be meant proselytes. For that none were present, but such as were Jews, either by birth or religion, appears from ver. 42. and what there follows.
Proselytes are mentioned among the hearers of St. Peter's first sermon, preached at Jerusalem, after our Lord's ascension. Acts ii. 10. I suppose, proselytes to be meant by Grecians here, ch. vi. 1. and ix. 29. .
Who they were, we cannot say exactly. But there might be many such men in Judea, and in other countries all over the world, where the Jewish people resided. Some of them may have been descendants of such as had joined themselves to the people of Israel in former times : and others may have been new converts to the Jewish religion.
I have imagined, that proselytes now living in Judea, who were poor, may have been chiefly, or for the most part, servants of the Roman governors, or of their officers : who having come into Judea with their masters, were converted to the Jewish religion : and, when their masters returned home, got leave to stay behind. Having renounced gentilism, they could not expect very agreeable treatment from their friends and relatives at home. And though they had not the prospect of any considerable advantage in Judea, yet they might; hope for civilities among those, whose religion they had embraced. Besides, new converts have a great deal of zeal. Some of them might conceive a particular affection for the land of Israel, and the city of Jerusalem, where was the temple.
Beside these servants of Roman officers, who had resided in Judea, probably, there were others, who had served Jews out of Judea : who, having for some reasons left their masters, chose to come, and seek subsistence in Judea, not being willing to serve heathens.
There might be also divers other persons of different stations, who being converted to Judaism, preferred Jerusalem to all other places.
Nicolas, chosen to be one of the seven, a proselyte of Antioch, now at Jerusalem, was, very probably, a man of good substance. And it is observable, that Helena, queen of the Adiabenes, not long after her conversion went to a Jerusalem. And she must have often visited that city, or resided there very much. For she was there, when her son Izates died. And several of the brothers, and sons of Izates were shut in at the last siege of Jerusalem.
That therefore is my third and last argument, that these Grecians were proselytes : foras. much as upon their complaints a proselyte was chosen to be one of the seven, to preside in the daily ministration, even Nicolas of Antioch. The rest, I presume, were Hebrews, that is, Jews by birth, descendants of the patriarchs. Some of whom may have been born in Judea, others of them out of it, but were now at Jerusalem.
It is not sufficient reason to believe that any of the rest were proselytes, or that all the rest were Jews, who were born in other countries, because their names are Greek. For several of our Saviour's disciples had Greek names, though they were all men of Galilee : as Philip, and Andrew, and Thomas called Didymus, and Simon, called also Cephas, and Peter, by which last name he was generally called, and best known.
That Stephen was a Jew by birth, is highly probable from the whole of his speech before the council, and particularly from the beginning of it. Acts vii. 2." Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia.”
Philip, the second of the seven, was a person of great eminence, who preached the gospel in Samaria, and wrought there many miracles. Acts viii. 1–5. Who also converted the chamberlain, and treasurer of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. There cannot be any reason to make a doubt, whether Philip, so eminent an evangelist, of an order next in authority and dig. nity to Christ's apostles, was of the seed of Israel. It would be altogether absurd to suppose, that one so early employed in such signal services for promoting the gospel, was only a proselyte. .
When the Eunuch had been baptized, “ the spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the Eunuch saw him no more. But Philip was found at Azotus; and passing through, he preached in all the cities, till he came to Cæsarea,” ver. 39, 40. There he seems to have settled. For there he was, when St. Paul came to Jerusalem in the year fifty-eight, as we learn from Acts xxi. 8–10. “ And the next day we came to Cæsarea. And we entered into the house of Philip, the evangelist, which was one of the seven, and abode there."
Stephen suffered martyrdom soon after he was chosen. Philip likewise, as we perceive, not long after removed from Jerusalem. Indeed, the seven seem to have been appointed upon occasion of a particular emergency. However, the other five, or some of them, may have stayed at Jerusalem, and may have continued to officiate in the service, to which they had been ap. pointed. And moreover, others may have been chosen in the room of Stephen, who died, and of Philip, who removed.
Dr. Whitby upon Acts vi. 1. objects against our opinion from ch. ix. 29. where it is said,
• Jos. Ant. 1. 20. j. 6.
o Ib. iii. 3.
e De B. J. l. 6. vi, 1.
“ That Paul disputed against the Grecians : but they went about to slay him.” “Which, as he • argues, shows they must be Jews by birth, and not only strangers of other nations come hither. • For how dared they to kill a Jew among the Jews, without bringing him to their tribunals ?
Which is an argument of no moment. For I presume, that neither had a Jew by birth a right to assassinate a man without any trial. And, generally, such things must have been disliked. But a proselyte might attempt it as well as another. And considering, how unpopular a person Paul now was, the killing him might be passed by, and overlooked, or even approved of, by whomsoever it was done. Proselytes were as likely, as any men, to be bigoted in their senti. ments, and to practise violence against those who differed from thein. What sort of men most of the proselytes of that time were, may be concluded from what qur Lord said to the pharisees without reserve. Matt. xxiii. 15. But there were some of a better temper, who believed in Jesus after his resurrection, and joined themselves to his apostles, when the profession of his name must have exposed them to difficulties.
To me it seems, that there is great propriety in St. Luke's style, calling the Jews, who were of the seed of Israel, Hebrews, and proselytes, Hellenists, Grecians, or, perhaps "Hellenes, Greeks, from their origin. For I have sometimes been much inclined to think that to be the true reading in this text, as well as in the rest. And Dr. Ward says, p. 155. "That the word • Ennyvise, Hellenists, is used only by St. Luke in this book, and is not perhaps to be found in ( any other writer so ancient.' Indeed, I believe, it is not to be found in Josephus. And the uncommonness of the word may cause a suspicion, that it is the invention of some Christian ; though it is ancient. For, in this text, it is in the Alexandrian manuscript. And the word may be seen in `Chrysostom.
Any, who are pleased to consider all that was before said, concerning the word Hebrew, are able to judge, whether there is not some special propriety in St. Luke's style, according to this interpretation. A Hebrew, denoting a Jew by ancient descent, must be fitly opposed to Grecians, or Greeks, thereby understanding proselytes, who were Jews, by religion only, and not by birth.
The opinion, for which I argue, has been espoused by many learned men, as • Beza, · Basnage, and · Pearson. Which last has asserted it with great strength, and neatness, in a few words. Insomuch, that it may be thought somewhat strange, that this opinion has not been generally received, without farther dispute. I have enlarged, being desirous to establish and illustrate it to the best of my power.
Page 159. Diss. xxxviii. "The term Holy Ghost, in the New Testament, denotes both a per. son and a power.'
P. 159. · That it often denotes a power, cannot be questioned, as where the apostles and other Christians at that time, are said to be filled with the Holy Ghost. But that it signifies also a person, seems evident from the following passages among others.'
That Dissertation concludes in this manner, p. 161. •We meet with zapiruce ©£8, “ the gift of « God,” Rom. vi. 23. and sapiguee Xpose, the “ gift of Christ,” 2 Tim i. 6. according to some (copies : though others have it , “the gift of God," as it is in our version. And agreeably • to all analogy apicueta Ayx Ilveupatos must signify “the gifts of the Holy Spirit,” in a per•sonal sense : since that word is never used otherwise, but of persons in the New Testament, • where the donor is mentioned.'
a In Act. Ap. hom. 14, p. lll. tom. IX.
d Hic autem 'Enamusai opponuntur 'E6821015 Neque enim Hebræi, neque Judæi erant, hoc est, genere : non Hebræi ex Hebræis Sed Judæi tantum religione, id est, proselyti. Hi igitur proselyti, cum, antequam circumciderentur,
'EXXYYES, sive Gentiles fuerint, etsi jam religione facti Judæi, et totias legis impletionem in se suscipientes, tamen a Judæis seu Hebræis, stirpe et genere ab Abrahamo deducto Superbientibus, inferiori loco habebantur. Unde neglectus viduarum, et ex eo neglectu murmur, seu yoyyuonos TWY 'Enayo 21507. Pearson Lect. 3. in Act. Apost. num. V. ,
But for this last our author refers not to any text, as he does for the two former ; because, I suppose, he found not any such text in the New Testament. Nor do I know of any.
This observation therefore is unsupported by proper authority, and is what one would not have expected in so accurate a writer as Dr. Ward. I think we ought here to recollect, that these Dissertations are posthumous.
But I have no intention to enter into an argument upon this subject. There a was an anonymous tract published not long ago, where it is treated more distinctly, to which I refer,
Page 174. Diss. xlii. "To whom the apostolic decree Acts xv. was directed. And whether it was perpetual.'
As this chapter will be of considerable length, I shall divide it into the following sections.
III. To whom the apostolic decree was directed : and that there was but one sort of Jewish proselytes.
IV. General observations, showing the occasion, and design of the apostolic decree.
I. INTRODUCTION. Before I make any remarks upon this article, I would observe, that a good while ago, in the chapter of St. Cyprian, I carefully considered the various readings of this decree, as it stands in the book of the-Acts of the apostles, ch. xv. 20, 29, and xxi. 25. The result of which was, that the readings in our present copies of it, in the New Testament, are right. It was a long discussion. But I do not repent the labour of it. It has formerly, and does still afford satisfaction.
Says our learned author, p. 174. • The decree is directed Tois ade2Q015 EĞ Edvæv, that is, as seems most probable, to all the Heathen converts in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia, who were not proselytes of the gate, before they embraced christianity. For the Jewish proselytes were always • obliged to regard the things therein mentioned, as they were all contained in the precepts given • to Noah. And therefore we do not find in Acts x. that Peter laid any such injunctions upon • Cornelius, and his company.'
Dr. Ward, as seems to me, useth those words, “ proselytes of the gate, and Jewish proselytes,” very improperly. But of that more hereafter.
It may be proper to observe here, that the author of Miscellanea Sacra has advanced an opinion, not known before, that the decree of the council of Jerusalem was directed to such converts to christianity only, as were “ proselytes of the gate," and were, before their conversion to christianity, obliged to observe the several regulations contained in this decree. Which opi. nion has been embraced by several.
Dr. Ward does not differ much from them. He thinks that d such things, as were before required of “ proselytes of the gate,” were in the decree, enjoined upon all converts to christianity, in the countries above-mentioned. But, he says, there was no need of giving such injunctions to Cornelius, he having before observed the like things, as a “ proselyte of the gate,” living in Judea.
Upon this scheme I now make no remarks. I put down these things here at present, only by way of explication of our author's sentiment. : 'II. The NoACHIC PRECEPTS. Dr. W in the words just cited, speaks of the precepts
a Şee the first postscript to a letter written in 1730, p. 116. "See Miscell. Sacra. Essay iv. However, see also Hammond • Vol. II. p. 13–20.
upon Acts xv. 29. * See Hammond as before referred to..
given to Noah. And at p. 177. says, " That the several things contained in the apostolic decree, • are all included in the Noachic precepts.'
I therefore shall now show, what are called the seven precepts of Noah, or the sons of Noah, taking my account from Ainsworth, where I believe they are rightly represented. Which is more than can be said of some others, who talk much of them.
Says that exact and diligent writer, in his Annotations upon Gen. ix. 4. “ But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.” · The Hebrew doctors make this • the seventh commandment given to the sons of Noah, which all nations were bound to keep, • as there had been six from Adam's time. The first against idolatry, the worship of stars, • images, &c. the second against blaspheming the name of God; the third against shedding of • blood; the fourth against unjust carnal copulations, whereof they made six sorts: 1. with a 'man's own mother: 2. or with a father's wife : 3. or with his neighbour's wife : 4. or with his • sister by the mother's side: 5. or with mankind: 6. or with beasts. The fifth precept was ' against rapine, or robbery. The sixth to have judgment, or punishment for malefactors. And runto Noah was added the seventh, which is here mentioned. Which they understand to forbid • the eating of any member, or of the flesh of a beast, taken from it alive. Whosoever in the ' world transgressed any of these seven commandments wilfully, the Jews held, he was to be • killed with the sword. But the Heathen, who would yield to obey these seven precepts, • though they received not circumcision, nor observed the other ordinances given afterwards to • Israel, they were suffered to dwell as strangers among the Israelites, and to dwell in their land.'
Upon all which I beg leave to make the several following observations. . · First. Fornication is not mentioned among the several kinds of unjust carnal copulation. This omission has been observed by a Grotius. The reason of it, I do not stay to inquire.
Secondly. Every thing, here mentioned, is of a moral nature, even the seventh precept, as well as the rest. For it condemns cruelty. It is not, to forbear eating blood, but to eat the member, or the flesh of a beast taken from it alive. Which is great cruelty, and even barbarity.
Thirdly. This whole article, as seems to me, is a Jewish way of representing the law of nature, by which all men are obliged. For sons of Adam, and sons of Noah, comprehend the whole world. By the law of nature all are obliged. Jews and Christians, who are under a par. ticular law of revelation, are not exempted from this law, and its several obligations: but are as much subject to it as other men.
Fourthly. As this scheme is the scheme of Jewish masters only, it need not to be received without examination. Rabbinical and Thalmudical writers may be of use. But they are not infallible. Indeed, I had rather learn Jewish antiquities from the scriptures, and such other Jewish writers, as lived before our Saviour's coming, or were contemporary with Christ and his apostles, than from later Jewish authors.
Fifthly. These precepts deliver a wrong interpretation of Gen. ix. 4. the command given to Noah, relating to food. They represent it to forbid the eating of any member, or of any flesh of a beast taken from it alive; which is a wrong account, as must be apparent to all. The words are: “ But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.” Or, as in Lev. xvii. 14. “ Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh. For the life of all flesh is the blood thereof." And see Deut. xii. 23. And this law, as delivered to Noah, was understood by Josephus to forbid the eating of blood. Which must induce us to believe, that this is a false, and late interpretation: and that this whole scheme of Noachical precepts is a modern thing. Several learned men have argued in the like manner.
Sixthly. If the Jewish doctors say, (as undoubtedly many Christian commentators now do:)
Ita interpretatur et Josephus. Ant. I. i. cap. 3.
• Inter præcepta Adamo et Noæ data, Judæi non ponunt interdictum scortandi. Grot. in Act. xv. 20.
b‘Excepto quod carnem cum sanguine non comedetis.] Hebræi recentiores, et, ut credo, Christiavorum odio, sentiunt vetari hic esum membri rapti de animali vivo- At certe vetustiores Hebræorum non ita interpretatos satis docet Josephus, qui ait, xwpis aiuatoS' EY THIW, 72p 8510 myuxy. Quem sensum iisdem prope verbis hic expressit Rabbi Sardias, et quidem sequuntur non ignobiles Hebræorum magistri. Gro. ad Gen. ix. 4.
At posteriores Rabbini inter præcepta Noacho data, quæ ad totum genus humanum pertinere ab iis putantur, hoc recensent, sensumque esse volunt, membrum animalis vi"ventis non esse comedendum' Sed hæc posterioris ævi commenta exigui sunt, ad expositionem horum librorum, usûs. Cleric. in Gen. ix. 4.