Billeder på siden

the term, calling them, as here, brethren or believers. They probably thought that it rendered them too much like the different sects of philosophers, which were called after the names of their leaders.

18. And the day following Paul went in with us unto James, and all the elders were present.

James was one of the apostles, who resided many years at Jerusalem-the rest were the elders of dif ferent churches in the city.

19. And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry, or, by his services."

This work was done by the apostle; yet so accustomed was he to see God in every thing, that he ascribes it to him; and, strictly and philosophically speaking, the work was his; for he furnished Paul with ability to perform it; not in a miraculous way, but by endowing him with talents that qualified him for preaching the gospel.

20. And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, they praised God for this fresh proof of his goodness to mankind, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe, and they are all zealous for the law;

21. And they are informed of thee that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Mo

ses, saying, that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs, i. e. of Moses.

22. What is it therefore? rather, "what is to be done therefore?" The multitude must needs come together; for they will hear that thou art come.

23. Do this, therefore, that we say unto thee. We have four men which

have a vow on them;

The vow, it seems, was that of the Nazariteabstaining from wine and letting the hair grow long.

24. Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads; and all may know that those things whereof they were informed concerning thee are nothing, but that thou thyself also walkest orderly and keepest the law.

To assume the vow of a Nazarite, after recovery from illness or some remarkable deliverance, seems to have been a common practice among the Jews at this time. The accomplishment of a vow of this kind. is thought by many to have been the object of Paul's late journey to Jerusalem. As the expences of the vow were considerable, it was a popular act to bear a part or the whole of them for those who could not afford to do it themselves. For this reason Agrippa, when he came to the throne, ordered, as Josephus tells

Vol. 3.]

us, a good number of Nazarites to be shaved, in order to ingratiate himself with the people*. A similar act the brethren at Jerusalem now advise Paul to perform, in order to remove the prejudices entertained against him by his countrymen, as encouraging men to forsake the law. Of the prudence and propriety of this advice there is much reason to doubt. One thing at least is certain, that it did not answer the purpose intended. For it proved the cause of the tumult which was afterwards excited.

25. As touching the Gentiles who believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from things strangled and from fornication, from every species of idolatry†.

The apostles and first Christians, as long as the temple stood, thought proper to conform to the law of Moses; but after the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, they exempted themselves, as well as the Gentiles, from observing it.

26. Then Paul took the men, and the next day, purifying himself with them, entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.


Lardner, Vol. i. pp. 211, 212. See the note on Acts xv. 20.


1. From the example of the apostles and the Christians at Ephesus and Tyre, we may learn in what manner religious friends should take leave of each other-by prayer, private or public, by committing each other to the divine protection and blessing. For this purpose the apostle and his friends knelt down on the shore of that dangerous element on which he was about to embark, and with no other covering than the canopy of heaven; and he addressed his petition to Him who rules over the sea as well as over the land. From such an act of devotion they would rise with minds free from anxiety and care. The apostle would pursue his voyage with alacrity, knowing that he was under the protection of God; his friends would return to their several occupations with tranquillity and composure, satisfied with having done for him the best thing they were able to do-commend him to the care of Heaven. In this manner let us also introduce devotion to God into all our transactions; when we separate from our friends and when we meet them again; when we go to rest at night and when we rise in the morning; when we engage in important undertakings and when we abandon them; when we prosper and when we fail. By thus introducing the Divine Being into all our concerns, we shall render our pleasures more delightful, our pains and sorrows less burthensome.

2. Let us admire the fortitude of this illustrious advocate of the truth, in going up to Jerusalem, notwithstanding the predictions of so many prophets foretelling his sufferings there, and notwithstanding the importunate entreaties of his friends. It was not the fortitude of constitutional courage or of stoical

apathy, but the fortitude of a man who felt all the tender sympathies of human nature, who wept with his friends when they wept, and whose heart was almost broken by their anxious cares for his own safety, It was the fortitude of a man who acted from principle and not from feeling; whose sense of duty and desire to do good were stronger than the love of friends, of liberty or of life. Where shall we find so illustrious a pattern of Christian integrity and zeal? No where but in him who went up to the same city, with the certain prospect before him of dying a most ignominious and painful death,

3. Let us adopt the language of these pious Christians under similar disappointments, and learn to say, like them, The will of the Lord be done.

If our friends are doomed to affliction which we cannot prevent; if we are ourselves overtaken by great and unexpected calamities; if schemes for doing good which we had long entertained and fondly cherished are defeated by events over which we had no controul, in all these circumstances let us learn to say, with cheerful resignation, The will of the Lord be done.

Acts xxi. 27. to the end.

We left Paul joining with some Nazarites in fulfilling a vow, by bearing a share of their expences, and by performing the like ceremonies, at the desire of the brethren at Jerusalem, in order to satisfy the Jewish Christians that he observed the law of Moses. We shall now see, in the remainder of the chapter, that this action did not remove the suspicion of his countrymen in general, but proved the occasion of a tumult and of a violent attempt against his life, which they were prevented from executing only by a of soldiers.

« ForrigeFortsæt »