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Egypt, and many other places in which it had been re ceived. There are two things eminently conspicuous in the design of this book; first, to show the miraculous establishment of christianity, by the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, both upon the apostles and the churches, agreeably to the promises of Christ: and, secondly, to develope the gracious purposes of the God of mercy, in bringing the Gentiles into his church, according to the Old Testament predictions. Considered merely as a human witness, Luke, the writer of this book, was better qualified than any other to draw up an authentic history of the apostles, as he was the faithful companion of Paul many of his labours and journies. Besides, as he was a physician, and a man of superior education, Luke was capable of forming a sound judgment upon the various miracles which were wrought by Paul; and from his testimony, so direct and circumstantial, we have convincing proofs of their divine reality.
The Acts of the Apostles is divided into twenty-eight chapters, containing six principal sections.
Section I. Relates the proceedings of the apostles during ten days at Jerusalem, until the feast of Pentecost, ch. i. In this section there are to be remarked, 1. The particulars relating to the ascension of Christ. 2. The unanimity of the first christian church in the exercises of devotion.
3. Their election of a qualified disciple to be an apos tle in the room of the traitor Judas.
Sec. II. Relates the first publication of christianity as the gospel of salvation to all nations; and the rise and progress of the mother church at Jerusalem, until the murder of Stephen, ch. ii.-vii. In this section the most remarkable things are,
1. The miraculous qualification of the apostles, by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, to prepare them to execute their apostolical commission, by preaching the gospel in all languages, ch. ii.
2. The addition to the church of about three thousand persons, as the effect of Peter's sermon in their conver sion to Jesus Christ, ch. ii.
3. The healing of the man born a cripple, by Peter and John, ch. iii.
4. The addition to the church of several thousand more converts, ch. iv.
5. The vain threatenings of the Jewish council against the apostles, ch. iv.
6. The extraordinary liberality of the primitive believers, the effect of their eminent personal godliness,
7. The awful death of Ananias and of his wife Sapphira, as a judgment upon them for their hypocrisy and lying, ch. v.
8. The imprisonment of the apostles, ch. v.
9. The election of the seven deacons to manage the temporal affairs of the church, ch. vi.
10. The iniquitous condemnation, and the martyrdom of pious Stephen, ch. vii.
Sec. III. Records the persecution of the church at Jerusalem, the dispersion of the disciples, and the establishment of churches among the Gentiles, ch. viii.—xii. In this section the most remarkable things are,
1. The formation of a christian church at Samaria, ch. viii.
2. The conversion of the Ethiopian nobleman, ch. viii. 3. The extraordinary conversion of the blood-thirsty persecutor Saul, ch. ix.
4. The preparation of Peter, by means of a divine vision, to welcome the Gentiles into the church of Christ, ch. x.
5. The conversion of the Roman centurion Cornelius, and the establishment of a christian church at Cesarea, ch. x.
6. The martyrdom of the apostle James, ch. xii.
7. The imprisonment of Peter, and his deliverance by an angel, ch. xii.
8. The judgment of God upon the impious king Herod,
Sec. IV. Narrates the labours of Paul and Barnabas until their separation, ch, xiii.—xv. In this section the things most remarkable are,
1. The special designation of Paul and Barnabas to missionary labours, ch. xiii.
2. The infliction of blindness upon Elymas the sorcerer, ch. xiii.
3. The preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles at Antioch, ch. xiii.
4. The healing of the cripple at Lystra, where Paul was stoned to death, and miraculously restored to life, ch. xiv.
5. The decision of the apostles, with the assembled church, concerning the Levitical ceremonies, ch. xv.
Sec. V. Contains an account of the labours of Paul among the Gentiles, from whom he gathered many christian churches, ch. xvi..-xx. The most remarkable things in this section are,
1. The introduction of the gospel into Europe, ch. xvi. 2. The conversion of Lydia and the jailor at Philippi, and the formation of a church in that place, after Paul and Silas had been shamefully treated by the multitude and the magistrates, ch. xvi.
3. The formation of a second christian church in Europe, at Thessalonica, ch. xvii.
4. The preaching of the gospel at Athens, ch. xvii. 5. The conversion of much people at Corinth, and the formation of a church in that city, ch. xviii.
6. The conversion of the conjurors at Ephesus, and the establishment of a church in that city, ch. xix.
7. The tumult excited by the silversmith Demetrius, in favour of the worship of the pretended goddess Diana, ch. xix.
8. The bringing to life of Eutychus, who had fallen down dead, when asleep, while Paul was preaching, ch. xx.
9. Paul's affectionate counsel and farewell address to the elders of Ephesus, ch. xx.
Sec. VI. Relates Paul's journey to Jerusalem, his persecution by the Jews, his appeal to Cæsar, and his being sent prisoner to Rome, ch. xxi.-xxviii. Among the most remarkable things in this section are,
1. The restless malignity of the Jews against the
name of Christ, and their contrivances to kill Paul, ch. xxi.
2. Paul's address to the Jews from the castle stairs, ch. xxii.
3. Paul's defence of himself against the accusations of the Jews, before the Roman governor Felix, ch. xxiv. 4. Paul's defence of himself before the Roman governor Festus, ch. xxv.
5. Paul's declaration of his conversion to christianity before king Agrippa, who confesses himself almost per suaded to become a christian, ch. xxvi.
6. Paul's dangerous voyage towards Rome, his shipwreck on the island of Malta, his arrival at Rome, and his being allowed to reside two years in his own hired nouse, preaching the gospel, even while wearing the badge of imprisonment, ch. xxvii. xxviii.
Rome was the metropolis of the world at the time this epistle was written. By whom christianity was introduced into that imperial city cannot be ascertained: but some of the ancient writers suppose that the Roman church was planted by Peter and Paul. That Peter ever was at Rome there exists no satisfactory historic evidence; and it is plain that Paul had not been at Rome when he wrote this epistle; yet the faith of that church
was spoken of throughout all the world, Rom. i. 8. It seems most probable that some of those " strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes," who received the gospel at Jerusalem, Acts ii. 10. on their return laid the foundation of that flourishing christian society. Paul had for a long time purposed to visit the Roman church, but being prevented, he was inspired to write this epistle for their instruction, exhibiting to them fully the whole gospel economy. The epistle to the Romans is a writing which, for sublimity and truth of sentiment, for brevity and strength of expression, for regularity in its structure, but above all for the unspeakable importance of the discoveries which it contains, stands unrivalled by any mere human composition, and as far exceeds the most celebrated productions of the learned Greeks and Romans, as the shining of the sun exceeds the twinkling of the stars." Macknight.
Clearly to understand this epistle, it will be necessary to consider, 1. The general character of those who composed the Roman church; they consisted partly of converted heathens and partly of Jews, who, with much remaining prejudice, had embraced the gospel of Christ; and that while the Gentile converts claimed equal privileges with the Jewish, they refused to concede these rights, unless the Gentiles would submit to circumcision. 2. The erroneous notions of the Jews concerning justification. Of this they assigned three grounds:
1. The extraordinary piety and merits of their ancestors, and the covenant God had made with those holy
2. The knowledge which they had of God through the law of Moses, and their diligent study of that law.
3. The works of the Levitical law, especially sacrifice and circumcision, which were to expiate sin.
The epistle to the Romaus is divided into sixteen chapters, or four parts.
Part I. Contains the introduction to the epistle, ch. i
Part II. Is doctrinal, ch. i. 16. ii.-xi. The impor tant doctrines taught at large in the epistle to the