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decrees to keep, that were ordained by the apostles and elders, which were at Jerusalem." And that the decree was designed for all Gentiles, appears from the words of St. James, who proposed it; ver. 19," Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God." And long after this, when St. Paul was come again to Jerusalem, the same James, the residing apostle in that city, says to him, ch. xxi. 25, "As touching the Gentiles, which believe, we have written, and concluded."
And from the beginning all christians every where, for a good while, supposed themselves to be bound by them, and did observe them, as we know from many ancient authors still extant. But since the fourth century, they have been little regarded by those christians, who used the Latin tongue.
. Moreover, I did formerly P allege a passage of Mr. Hallett, arguing very clearly and strongly to the like purpose.
I did likewise at that time argue, that there never were, in ancient times, among the Jews, two sorts of proselytes; and that all those men, who, in the Old Testament, are called proselytes, or strangers, or strangers within thy gates, were men circumcised. I have here added more arguments to the same purpose in the observations upon the Noachic precepts.
I must therefore entreat those learned men, who say the regulations of the apostles and elders at Jerusalem were sent to uncircumcised Gentiles, whom they call proselytes of the gate, to give some better proof that there were such men, than they have yet done. Otherwise, I must still think their scheme chimerical, and without foundation.
They are the more obliged to do this, because upon many other occasions, they bring in those half-proselytes, in their explications of the scriptures.
To call any uncircumcised men Jewish proselytes, as our learned author does here, though such men are never called proselytes in the New Testament; nor, as I think, in the Old; is unwarrantable, and unbecoming men who profess to be inquirers after truth."
• See the chapter of St. Cyprian, before referred to, Vol. iii.
Dr. Ward is not alone in this way of speaking. Dr. Hammond's paraphrase of Acts x. 2, in Le Clerc's Latin version, is thus: Hic Cornelius erat Judaicæ religionis proselytus-licet circumcisus non esset. I do not see how any men of judgment and candour can approve of this. For a paraphrast ought not to add to the original. See by all means Dr. Doddridge's upon that text.
An uncircumcised proselyte appears to me to be as truly an impropriety and contradiction, as an uncircumcised Jew. For a proselyte is a Jew by religion, though not by birth.
I am arguing with my late learned friend whose Dissertations are before me. But I ought to be understood to argue with all others, who have adopted the same senti
It is not to be expected, that I should repeat here what I said formerly. But if I could contribute any thing farther toward clearing up this point, I should willingly add a few more observations.
I then said, 'I did not believe that the notion of two 'sorts of Jewish proselytes can be found in any christian 'writer, before the fourteenth century, or later.'
I shall now add, I cannot at present say certainly, which is the most ancient commentator, in whom I have met with it; whether Cardinal Cajetan, or Alphonsus Tostatus, or another. For I cannot now refer to the place. I either made no written extract, or have lost it. But I well remember to have read in some commentator about their times, this observation. Some say, there were two sorts of Jewish proselytes, but it is a mistake. There was but one. That is proof, that the notion of two sorts of proselytes was then embraced by some.
But though I cannot now say where I met with that observation, I have by me divers extracts made from Alphonsus Tostatus, who" flourished in the fifteenth century, and died in the year 1454. From which extracts it appears, that himself acknowledged but one sort of Jewish proselytes, and that by " strangers within their gates, and sojourners,' he understood men circumcised, who had embraced the Jewish religion.
Upon Exodus, ch. xii. he says, 'A native is he, who was 'born in the Hebrew religion, having a Hebrew father. A sojourner is one, who comes from Gentilism into the Jew'ish religion.'
Upon Exodus xx. explaining the fourth commandment, he says, That" by "strangers within thy gates" are meant
See Vol. vi. ch. xviii.
u See Du Pin, and Morery. Indigena dicitur, qui in Hebræorum ritu natus est, quia patrem Hebræum habebat. Colonus dicitur, qui ad colendum verum Deum transit, ad ritum Judaïcum veniens de Gentilitate. In Ex. cap. xii. Qu. lviii. T. II. p. 160. E. Colon. Agrip. 1613.
Advena, qui est intra portas tuas.'] Id est, etiam observabunt diem sabbati advenæ de Gentilitate conversi ad Judaïsmum. Et isti sunt intra portas tuas, id est, intra portas civitatum tuarum. In Ex. xx. Qu. xiv.
⚫ converts from Gentilism to Judaism. They also must ob'serve the sabbath. They dwell within thy gates, that is, 'within the gates of thy cities.'
Upon Matt. xxiii. 15, he saysProselyte denotes a 'man converted to Judaism. The Jewish people consisted of two parts. Some were Jews by ancient descent, and ⚫ were called the children of Israel; others were converted 'from among the nations to Judaism. And these were called by three names, sojourners, strangers, and proselytes. Those two divisions are very common in the books of Moses: "the children of Israel, and the strangers that sojourn among you :" particularly in the seventeenth chapter of Leviticus; that is, such as were Jews by birth, 'or such as were converted to Judaism. So also Ezek. xiv.
1, "Every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that 'sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, ' and setteth up his idols in his heart." It is evident, that by the stranger is meant a proselyte, who had been con'verted to God. Otherwise he could not be separated 'from him.'
I have transcribed but a small part of his notes upon Matt. xxiii. 15, which are large, and well deserve to be read by such as have opportunity. So far as I am able to judge, be always speaks agreeably to the true tenour of the Mosaic law, and is altogether unbiassed by modern Rabbinical interpretations.
I cannot say whether Erasmus was acquainted with the notion of two sorts of proselytes, or not. He speaks very judiciously in his comment upon Matt. xxiii. 15. Where says: Proselyte is a Greek word, equivalent to stranger. For so the Hebrews called those whom they received
⚫ from other nations into communion with them.'
Philip Melancthon also was a learned man. He was born in 1497, and died in 1560. I think, we may be posi
* Dicendum est, quod proselytus denotat hominem conversum ad Judaïsmum. Judæi autem distinguebantur in duo, quia quidam ex origine primâ erant Judæi; et isti vocabantur filii Israël. Alii erant conversi de Gentibus ad Judaïsmum; et isti vocabantur tribus nominibus. sc. advenæ, peregrini, et proselyti. Et ista duo nomina sunt multum usitata in libris Moysis; sc. homo de filiis Israëlis et de advenis, qui peregrinantur inter vos. Lev. xvii. id est, sive sit de Judæis ex genere, sive de illis qui conversi fuerunt ad Judaïsmum. Ezech. xiv. Homo de domo Israël, et de proselytis, quicunque advena fuerit in Israël, si alienatus fuerit a me, et posuerit idola sua in corde suo. apparet, quod erat jam conversus ad Deum, qui proselytus est, quia alias non potuit a Deo alienari, &c. In Matt. cap. xxiii. Qu. 87. p. 325.
y Proselytus Græca vox est, πpoonλuros, nobis advena.' Sic enim dicebatur Hebræis, quem ex alienâ natione in suæ legis consortium receperant. Erasm.
tive, that he knew nothing of any proselytes, but such as were circumcised, and thereby obliged to observe all the ́ritual ordinances of the law of Moses. His comment upon Matt. xxiii. 15, is very observable. And I shall transcribez it.
"Here you may learn, that God had a church at all times, even among the Gentiles. And in the times of the king'dom of Israel and Judah there were three states of men, who were members of the church.
• The first state was the seed of Abraham. Those were "to be circumcised, and to keep the ceremonies according to the law of Moses.
The second state was that of the proselytes, that is, strangers, who were not of the seed of Abraham, but yet "were willing to be a part of that people, and were willing 'to be circumcised. These, because they were willing to be circumcised, were bound to observe all the other cere"monies. Of this number was Urias.
• The third state are such as in the Acts are called religious men, that is, heathens, as Naaman the Syrian, Nabuchodonosor, Cyrus, Cornelius, and many others, who learned the promises concerning the coming of the 'Messiah, and the doctrine concerning the true God, and
concerning good works, agreeably to the decalogue. "These were not circumcised, nor did they observe the 'Mosaic ceremonies.'
So writes Melancthon, and, as I think, according to the sense of all christian writers of the first twelve centuries, and later.
I shall not proceed any lower in the inquiry, when that opinion, which now prevails so much, had its first rise among christians.
But I shall proceed in my argument.
The word, proselyte, occurs four times in the books of the
z Hic discatis, quod Deus omni tempore sibi colligit ecclesiam, etiam ex gentibus. Ac tempore regni Israël et Juda, erant tres status hominum, qui erant membra ecclesiæ.
Primus status erat semen Abrahæ. Hic oportuit circumcidi, et servare cæremonias juxta legem Mosis.
Secundus status erat proselytorum, id est, advenarum, qui non erant nati ex semine Abrahæ, sed tamen volebant esse pars hujus populi, et volebant circumcidi. Hi, quia volebant circumcidi, debebant etiam servare alias cæremonias, ut Urias.
Tertius status erat, qui in Actis vocantur viri religiosi, id est, Ethnici, ut Nahaman Syrus, Nabocodonosor, Cyrus, Cornelius, et alii multi. Qui discebant promissiones de venturo Messia, et doctrinam de vero Deo, et de bonis operibus, juxta Decalogum. Et tamen nec circumcisi erant, nec servabant cæremonias Mosaïcas. Melancthon, in Matt. T. III. p. 545. Witteb. 1563.
New Testament. Matt. xxiii. 15; Acts ii. 10; ch. vi. 5; and ch. xiii. 43. I suppose it to be universally allowed by learned men, that in the first three texts by proselyte is intended a man circumcised after the manner of Moses. Nor do I know, that there is any doubt about the fourth and last text. And the place was so understood by ancient christian writers. And among the moderns Grotius is very clear, that hereby are intended proselytes, or as he calls them, after the now prevailing custom, and to prevent mistake, proselytes of righteousness.
However, as this text is somewhat particular, I shall consider it distinctly. "Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes, followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God, των σεβομένων προσης AUTOV. I know, that by deßouevo, in this place, Dr. Ward did not understand a religious distinction or denomination, but a personal character. Ecumenius speaks to the like purpose. He says, These persons were so called because they were sincere and fervent in their religion.' It is used in the same sense by Josephus, when he says that Alexandra, widow of Alexander Janneus, was a religious woman, or religious toward God.
Afterwards Ecumenius seems to give another interpretation, saying; Or otherwise he calls the proselytes wor'shippers properly. He addresseth himself to them before,
saying, "Men of Israel, and ye that fear God." [Comp. ver. 16, and 26.] calling the proselytes "men that feared "God." Thus he gives to the former the honour of their birth, calling them "men of Israel." And though he
The note of Lucas Brugensis upon Matt. xxiii. 15, is so neat and pertinent, that I shall put it down here. Proselytum.'] Græca vox est, Latine sonans advenam,' quem Hebræi efferunt Ger, quâ significant eum, quem ex alienà natione in suæ legis consortium adduxerint: qui a gentilitate ad judaismum adductus est, non natione Judæus, sed adoptione factus, ac in legis Mosaïcæ fœdera acceptus; quasi dicas adventitium ad religionem, quod opponitur Judæo nato. Luc. Brug.
b Secuti sunt multi Judæorum, et colentium advenarum.']—Significat eos, qui naturâ gentiles erant, sed religione Judæi, quos Græci proselytos vocant. Bed. in loc. Vid. et Ecum. in loc. p. 115, 116.
c⚫ Colentium advenarum.'] Non Græcorum, sed eorum, qui legi Mosis se subdiderant, advenæ justitiæ. Grot. in Act. xiii. 43.
Σεβόμενες ενταυθα τε και προϊων τες περι το οικειον σεβας θερμες και διαπυρες και ζηλωτας των αλλων μαλλον καλεί. (Ecum. in Act. Ap. p. 115. -σεßоμεvn Tερι TO ELov. De B. J. 1. 1. v. 2. And see Vol. i.
f -η σεβομενες ιδιως προσηλυτες καλει. Και δημηγορων εμπροσθεν, και λεγων, Ανδρες Ισραηλιται, και οι εν ύμιν φοβεμενοι τον Θεον, φοβέμενες του Θεον τες προσηλυτες εκαλει, τες μεν απο το γενες σεμνυνων, και Ισραηλιτας εξονομαζων, τες δε ότι μη τετο είχεν ειπειν, απο θρησκειας ισαζων. Ib. p. 116.