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being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead." Here the causes of offence are distinctly stated. They are, that they taught the people, and that they taught the doctrine of the resurrection. The government was now in the hands of the Sadducees, who did not believe in a resurrection, and hence the preaching of this dogma was particularly offensive to them.
In the 5th chapter we read that the Apostles were again brought before the council, because, in disregard of the orders of the rulers, they continued to teach. The accusation against them this time is: That they had filled Jerusalem with their doctrine, and intended to bring this man's (Christ's) blood upon the rulers,* that is, render these latter accountable for his death.
In the 6th and 7th chapters, the sacred historian has recorded the accusation brought against Stephen, and his death. The accusation is, that he had said, that Jesus of Nazareth would destroy the holy city or temple, and change the customs instituted by Moses.f We are told that to obtain evidence of the truth, even of this charge, it was necessary to suborn witnes
But surely this would have been a totally useless piece of villainy, if it could have been proved that he sought openly to introduce strange or hitherto unknown objects of worship, as the doing so would have rendered him clearly amenable to the laws of his country. I
While on the subject of Stephen, I would observe, that the vision, with which this first of Christian martyrs was favoured, to animate him in the hour of danger and of death, is perfectly decisive of the Trinitarian controversy. We are told, that she saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God." Here God, and Jesus who stands at his right hand, are spoken of as two perfectly distinct beings. To sit or stand on the right hand of a king or throne, is a figure of speech, derived from oriental customs, and denotes that the one thus represented as sitting or standing at the right hand of the throne, is next in authority under the king.|| When, therefore, our Saviour is represented as sitting or standing on the right hand of God, the meaning is, that, in his state of exaltation, he is next in authority under God. But surely, the God on the throne, and Jesus standing on the right hand
* V.28. + Acts vi. 14. Deut. xiii. 5. Acts vii. 55.
|| This explains to us the request of the mother of James and John, rccorded "Matt. xx 21, and the reason why that request gave so much offence to the other disciples.
of the throne;-the Being from whom the power emanates, and the minister to whom that power is delegated,-are not --cannot be—the same being.
Among the first heralds of the cross, no one was subject to so many, and such bitter persecutions from the Jews, as the Apostle Paul. The cause of this is sufficiently obvious. The Jews had hitherto considered themselves as being alone God's chosen people. They believed, that they alone were within the pale of salvation, and that whoever wished to share in this privilege, could do so only by submitting to the Mosaic ritual. Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles, and the friend and advocate of Christian liberty. He refused to subject the heathen converts to the yoke of the Mosaic ritual, and taught, that men can be saved by faith in Christ, without the observance of the law. This conduct was particularly galling to the national pride of the Jews; and to this source we may trace much of that spirit of peculiar animosity with which they persecuted this Apostle.
In the 18th chapter, we are told, that while at Corinth, the Jews dragged him before the tribunal of Gallio, and accused him of persuading “men to worship God contrary to the law."* We read in several other places of the ill treatment and the various persecutions which Paul met with from the Jews, where no particular reason for such treatment is assigned; but what we find in the 21st chapter of the Acts, will throw some light on the cause of this universal ill will. We are there told that, while in the temple at Jerusalem, he was seized by some Jews, who exclaimed: “Men of Israel help; this is the man that teaches all men everywhere against the people, and the law, and this place; and further, brought Greeks also into the temple; and has polluted this holy place."
Here we have the charges brought against Paul distinctly stated. He is accused of teaching against the people; because he taught that the Jews were not alone God's chosen people, but that the Gentiles also were called to be saved: of teaching against the law; because he taught that a submission to, and an observance of the Mosaic ritual, was not necessary to salvation and of teaching against the Temple; because he taught, that God could be worshiped acceptably elsewhere, as well as at Jerusalem. He is also accused, though as it appears, falsely, of polluting the Temple, by bringing Greeks into it. Such are the charges brought against
* Acts xviii. 13.
+ Acts xxi. 28.
Paul;—but we have not one word of his introducing new objects of worship, or of his teaching that there are three distinct persons in the Godhead.
It is worthy of notice, in connection with this subject, that the Jews appear to have listened with calmness to Paul, while, from the stairs of the Castle, he related to them his conversion to Christianity, on the way to Damascus; but the moment he mentions his mission to the Gentiles, they break out into ungovernable rage. *
After Paul's imprisonment, we find him frequently brought before divers tribunals. Let us now see what charges are there alledged against him.
When brought before the Jewish council, he states that it is "on account of the hope and the resurrection of the dead," that he is called in question;t and from the letter of Claudius Lysias to Felix, the Governor, it appears that the accusation was entirely of questions respecting the Jewish law.
In the 24th chapter, we find the charges brought against Paul by the Jewish rulers, before the Roman Governor, Felix. They are, that he is a pestilent fellow;-a mover of sedition among the Jews;-a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes; --and that he had attempted to profane the temple. Paul denies the charges brought against him; but admits, that after the manner which the Jews called heresy or sectarianism, he worshiped the God of his Fathers.
In the 25th chapter, we read of the accusations of Paul before the Roman Governor Festus. It is there said, # that the Jews laid many and grievous complaints against him, which they could not prove. The nature of these charges is not mentioned, but we may gather them from Paul's vindication, in which he says: “Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, or yet against Cæsar, have I offended in anything at all;" Ŝ and in the account which Festus afterwards gives to king Agrippa of this examination, he describes the charges brought, as being questions "of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive." I
In Paul's defence before king Agrippa, recorded in chapter 26th, he states two causes for his imprisonment, namely, his preaching the resurrection, and his mission to the Gentiles; 1 and he states also the doctrines he had preached, namely, that men should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance;"* and, "that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.” ť
* Acts xxii. 1-21. + Acts xxiii. 6.
Compare V. 6-7-17-21.
| Acts xxv. 7.
Il V. 19.
I have thus endeavored carefully to trace, both the leading doctrines which the Apostles taught, and the accusations which their enemies brought against them, and the result of my examinations may be thus summed up. The great fundamental doctrine, which the Apostles preached, is, that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, or anointed Messenger of God; and in connection with this they taught, that God had raised him from the dead, and appointed him to be the future Judge of mankind. The accusations brought against the Apostles are, that they taught, through Jesus, the resurrection from the dead; and that an observance of the Mosaic rites and ceremonies was not necessary to salvation. I have not intentionally passed by a single passage which could have a bearing on the subject of my inquiry; and yet, 1 have not found even the slightest allusion to the doctrines of the Trinity, or of the personal Deity of Christ, but on the contrary, much that is totally irreconcilable with them. How the minds of other persons will be affected by this result I do not pretend to foresee; but to my mind it is convincing proof, that, what the Apostles taught, was pure simple Unitarianism; and hence, that so long as the Apostles lived, the Christian Church remained Unitarian.
Art. II.-BOOK OF RUTH.
BY J. F. CLARKE, LOUISVILLE, KY,
TRANSLATED FROM GÖTHE'S 66 NOTES AND ILLUSTRATIONS TO THE
WESTERN ORIENTAL DIVAN.'
[It may be interesting to some of our readers to be made acquainted with the views of the greatest of modern critics, with respect to the literary merits of certain parts of scripture. God's word is beautifully adapted to all parts of man's complex nature; it can move not simply his conscience and reason, it also acts on the Imagination, and the sentiment of Beauty. With respect to these latter traits, the judgments of a great poet and chief in literature like Göthe, are of more value than those of the theologian and divine, whose taste and imagination, as has been well remarked by John Foster, are too frequently wholly uncultivated and dormant. As a piece of fine writing also, the following extract is well worthy of attention.]
* V. 20.
+ V. 23.
Artless poetry is in every nation the first kind; it lies at the foundation of all subsequent; the more freshly and naturally it manifests itself, the more happily do succeeding epochs unfold themselves.
When we speak of oriental poetry, it becomes necessary to speak of the Bible, the oldest collection. A great part of the Old Testament is written in an elevated strain, is enthusiastic, and belongs to the region of Poetic art.
Still vividly recollecting the time in which Herder and Eichhorn in person enlightened these subjects to us, we compare the high enjoyment with the clear oriental sunrise. What such men bestowed upon us, and left with us, can now only be hinted at, and the haste with which we pass over these treasures must be pardoned.
Yet for the sake of example, we will notice the Book of Ruth, which can be contemplated in reference to its high object of procuring becoming and interesting ancestors for a king of Israel, and also as the loveliest little whole of an epic and idyl form which has been transmitted to us.
We will then stop a moment with this lofty song as the tenderest and most inimitable expression of passionate graceful love which has come down to us. We indeed grieve that the poems fragmentarily interwoven and rudely put together afford us no pure and complete enjoyment, and yet we are enraptured to find ourselves living in the same circumstances with the characters of the poem. Through and through floats the mild atmosphere of the loveliest district of Canaan; rural simple circumstances; vineyards, gardens, and spiceries; something of city confinement, but also a royal court with its stateliness in the back ground. The main subject ever continues to be the ardent inclination of youthful hearts, which seek, find, repel, and attract each other under a variety of very simple circumstances.
I have often thought of connecting together, and giving some unity to this lovely confusion; but the very riddling inexplicability gives to these few pages, grace and individuality,