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32 the theatre. Some, therefore, were crying one thing, and some
another; for the congregation was confused, and the greater part 33 did not know for what they had come together. And they thrust
forward Alexander, from amongst the multitude, the Jews urg
ing him on. And Alexander, beckoning with his hand, would 34 have made a defence to the people. But when they knew that
he was a Jew, one voice arose from them all, crying out, for about 35 the space of two hours, Great is Diana of the Ephesians! But the
chancellor, having pacified the people, said, Ephesians, what man is there that does not know that the city of the Ephesians
is devoted to the great Diana, and to the image that fell down 36 from Jupiter? Since, then, these things are incontestible, it is
necessary for you to be quiet, and to do nothing in a precipitate 37 manner; for you have brought these men, who are neither 38 robbers of temples nor blasphemers of your.goddess. If, there
fore, Demetrius, and the artificers that are with him, have
a charge against any one, courts are held; and there are the 39 proconsuls; let them implead one another. But if you are in
quiring any thing concerning other matters, it shall be deter40 mined in a legal congregation. And, indeed, we are in danger
of being called in question for the insurrection which has hap
pened this day, as there is no cause by which we can account 41 for this concourse. And when he had said these things, he dis
missed the congregation.
38. Roman Proconsuls. It is probable that the province of Asia was at this time administered by Celer and Ælius-procurators, aster the death of Silanus.
39. “A lawful assembly.”—Forth with dismissed the assembly. Exxaeth often translated church, is the term here used, and certainly indicates any kind of assembly, sacred or profane, common or special; and not merely a building of stone, brick, or wood.
PRACTICAL THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS. No one can, with devout attention, read the Acts of the Apostles without observing what a prominence is given to the Holy Spirit, as the prime agent, in the sanctification and salvation announced in the gospel.
In the opening of the book of Acts, we are told, that our Divine Master gave charge to the Apostles by the Holy Spirit, and that before his ascension he promised that they should, soon after he left them, be baptized in the Holy Spirit. in selecting an Apostle, in the place of Judas, they quote David as speaking concerning Judas, by the Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit descended from heaven audibly, and was as visible on the persons of the Apostles as was the Messiah in his personal ascent to heaven.
Joel, speaking by the Spirit and of the outpouring of the Spirit, is quoted as proof that its descent was a subject of ancient prophesy; and, after quoting this, Peter announces the fact that the Messiah, now in heaven, had received the Holy Spirit as its dispensator, and by his authority promises it on reformation and bap. tism to all that heard him that day.
When Peter and John were arraigned before the rulers, elders and Scribes, by Sadducean influence, because of preaching the resurrection of Christ, and of the dead by him, Peter addressed them, being "filled with the Holy Spirit.” And when they were dismissed from the presence of that council, and had returned to their own company and had related the affair to them, they all united in one concert of prayer until the place in which they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” Thus the Apostles were sustained and comforted by the Holy Spirit, and, therefore, appealed to it in proof of their mission, saying, "We are Christ's witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who submit to his gove ernment."
When they proceeded to the election of officers in the Christian church, the person placed at the head of the first seven was “Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit;" who, when addressing his persecutors, said to them:—"You do always resist the Holy Spirit; as did your fathers so do you.” They gnashed their teeth at him in fury; but he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looking steadfastly into heaven, saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
When Samaria received the word of the Lord, Peter and John going down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit; and imparted it to them by the imposition of their hands. And when Peter preached to the Gentiles, the Holy Spirit fell on all them that heard the word, and they spake with tongues glorify. ing God. Then God gave to the Gentiles the same gifts of the Spirit vouchsafed-to the Jews.
Filled with that same Holy Spirit, Paul struck with blindness Elymas the sorceror, because of his sceking to pervert the right ways of the Lord. “But the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.”. So matters, proceed through this book, which opens to us the Christian dispensation as propounded by the plenipotentiaries of the Messiah.
I wonder not that some of the ancients called the book of Acts the GOSPEL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. They had “the gospel of Christ reported by the four evangelists; one of whom also reported the Gospel of the Holy Spirit. Christianity is a manifestation of the whole Godhead, in the salvation of man; a new volume in the celestial library, for angels to read. Nature, as philosophers call it, both in the facts of its existence and in the course of its movements, reveals the wisdom, and power, and goodness of God. But nature is dumb as respects the mysteries of that being of beings, as to nature and personality. The Old Testament reveals the more al perfections and the moral government of God, and intimates in
omise, in prophecy and in type, a new development of divinity. Hence, what Moses said, by authority, in commanding Aaron to bless the typical people of God, Paul expounds in his Apostolic benediction. Aaron the High Priest on this wise blessed—“The Lord bless thee and keep thee. The Lord make his face shine upon thee and be gracious to thee. The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee and give thee peace But Paul blessed thus—"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all.” Num. vi. 24–26: 2 Cor. xiii. 14.
The new institution is in this, as in other respects, better than the old. The old was but star light and moon light. The new is the risen day. God and man are both revealed in the new. And God is revealed to man by dwelling in man, so far as man can comprehend him now. God and man dwelt together in Paradise. God now dwells in man, in the person of Jesus, and by the Holy Spirit in his people; and God and man shall again dwell together in a new and eternal Paradise. This is nature, grace, and glory as respects
But while we apprehend, we do not comprehend these things. We still see through a glass darkly. We do not, indeed, comprehend ourselves, nor can we. “The greatest miracle to man is man.” The book of ActS OF APOSTLES is to us, as respects this subject, invaluable. No one can understand it and doubt as to the personality of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We are, in preaching faith, reformation and baptism, but disclosing the commission, and developing the names of the Godhead.
In working miracles, the Apostles, or rather the Holy Spirit in them, addressed the prejudices of men as much as in the manner of preaching. In selecting demonstrations of supernatural power he seems to be governed by the pretences of the adversary and the prejudices of the people, as Moses, of old, withstood by Jannes and Jambres. The magicians were beat, themselves being judges; and the sons of Sceva are likewise beaten both in letter and spirit. We have not these sensible powers and demonstrations of the Spirit now, simply because they are not needed. But we do need its comforts, its joys and its peace; and these we have in its presence, in our hearts, shedding abroad the love of God in us, and influencing us to think, feel and act in harmony with the will of God. We are, therefore, encouraged by precept, by promise and by example to ask the Holy Spirit. The great teacher himself said, and let us remember.it, that “If we give good things to our children that ask us, how much more will our Father in heaven give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him."
DISCIPLINE.-N. VII. In our last number we finished our inquiries into the teachings of the New Testament upon the office of Elder, or Bishop, by presenting in a connected view all the allusions and explanations therein made concerning it, either by evangelist or apostle. The result of this search was the conclusion that this office is not formally defined; that the circumstances which led to its institution are not stated; and that, in the first allusions to it, there is reason to believe that its nature and relations were already familiar to those who made up the first Christian churches, to-wit: Jews, accustomed to and trained up under the discipline of the synagogue. At the same SERIES 11.-VOL. V.
time we discovered, from the actions referred to this officer and the descriptions given him of his qualifications, many important duties which devolved upon him; and thus we were enabled to learn much of practical utility, concerning his official relations. 1. They were to rule; 2. to take heed of the flock; 3. to watch against heretics; 1. to feed the Church; 5. to teach the disciples; 6. to labor in word and doctrine; 7. to confute gainsayers; 8. to exhort; 9. to be conspicuous for hospitality, and 10. to lay on hands in the ordination of evangelists. These various duties are all spoken of as properly belonging to the elders or bishops as such, and, whilst some of them, here separate. ly mentioned, may generally be included under the terms used to designate others, the fulness of the scriptural instructions; on this subject, must be the more apparent to all, from the very minute detail which they give us of what an elder should both be and do. We cannot stop now to inquire, as we may hereafter do, what is meant by ruling and all the other terms describing the duties of the elders, but with the single remark, that the Holy Spirit has evidently assigned them an arduous task which they may not lightly avoid or neglect, and given them a rank deserving and requiring the highest respect and veneration for those over whose souls they are still to watch. We proceed to inquire, What do the scriptures teach us concerniag the office of Deacon?
We have already adverted to the term and seen that, in its common acceptation, it means simply minister; as “minister of God," “minister of the gospel,” “minister of circumcision," "minister of the law,” &c.; so that in its official sense, if it have one, we must look for its meaning out of its simple and primary definition. An induction, then, of the cases in which it is thus employed in the scriptures will best open to us the light of divine truth. The first occurrence of the term in this sense, reckoning chronologically, is in 1 Tim. ij., 8–12. "The deacons in like manner must be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not per sons who earn money by base methods; holding fast the secret of the faith in a pure conscience. But let these also be first proved; then let them exercise the office of the deacon, being without blame. Let the deacons be the husband of one wife, ruling well their children and their families. For they who have performed the office o a deacon well procure to themselves an excellent degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus." Here it is express. ly taught that this is an office, since the performance of his work is called the performance of the office of a deacon; but whilst we are informed as to his religious and moral qualifications, rothing is said
specifically of his duties. Before they should be called upon to enter on them, it is, indeed, i equired that they should have been first proved. They are to be men of gravity, candor, sobriety, and above the grovelling pursuits of avarice; at the same time noted for their sincere and conscientious adherence to the secret of the faith. They are also to rule well their children and their families; but what they are to do as officers is not affirmed. The practical effects of a faithful discharge of their duties seem to have been the procure ment of a higher degree, or greater influence and regard, or it may be, promotion to the rank of elder, and the acquisition of great boldness in the faith; but this does not settle the question what those duties were. We have the term employed, in its official sense, in but one other place in the scriptures, (Phil. i. 1,) where it is merely introduced to indicate that these officers, in the church at Philippi, were included in the address; but while the officer is not elsewhere spoken of, the office is: and in Acts vi. we have the most satisfactory teaching on this subject to be found in the New Testament. It reads thus—“Now, in those days, the number of the disciples being multiplied, there arose a murmurring of the Hellenists against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration (diakonia). And the twelve, having called the multitude of the disciples together, said, It is by no means agreeable, that we should leave the word of God to attend tables; therefore, brethren, look out from among yourselves, seven men of attested character, full of the Spirit and wisdom, whom we may set over this business. We will constantly attend to prayer and the ministry of the word.” Accordingly, they selected seven, and the Apostles having prayed, laid hands on them, and thus appointed them over this business.This is an important passage upon this subject; for although the seven are not called deacons, yet the office they were to perform was diakonia, (deaconship,) and as they acted, in its discharge, by a solemn official appointment, there can be no doubt of the propriety of denominating them official deacons. Still, the specific object for which these seven were appointed is all that we are taught, as to the duties of this order. This was the daily ministration, which the Apostles afterwards explained to mean the waiting or attending at tables; a service peculiar to the days of a community of goods, and, therefore, no longer needed in the church, in this sense. Yet, as the church still has its sund raised, by the weekly contribution, for the assistance and support of the poor, who are always with us, she still has need of this officer, specifically for the same duty. We discover nothing here, however, nor yet in the other allusions to