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all indifferent Matters, especially if thereby he might gain fome) readily complied with the Proposal of St. James; and took the men; and the next day, purifying himSelf with them, entred into the temple, to
fignify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering Mould be offered for every one of them. And when the seven days were almost ended, &c. It was reckon'd a very meritorious Act in any Person of Ability to be at Charges with
any poor Nazarite, in providing the best Offerings for him, when the Days bi of his Separation were fulfill’d; and hay Thew'd that they were zealous of the Law.
This Opportunity therefore St. Paul takes, for the Preservation of Peace and Charity, among the froward infant Members of the Primitive Church; though his own private Opinion, was on the other side of the Question: And which, we find,
hecommunicated privately to them which were Gal. ii. 2. 1 of reputation; (the other Apostles, James
and Peter and John) to whom, great as
pel might continue with the Gentiles, And Galvii . afterwards, when Peter was come to An
tioch, he tells us, be withstood him to the face, upon
this In short, the whole Point in Question was; whether, that Liberty, which, by the Gospel of our LORD Jesus CHRIST, accrued to the Professors of Christianity, particularly the Gentile Proselytes, was to be asserted then, immediately, in all Places; or forborn and diffembled, for a while, to avoid the Fury and Perfecution of the enraged Yews : Stephen having been condemned to be stoned to Death, upon that
Those of the Apostles, whose Province lay in Jerusalem. and the Parts adjacent, being Men of like Passions with others, and consequently subject to human Frailties, were inclin’d to temporize in the Matter ; for Fear of hazarding not only their own Lives but the Loss of many
Thousands of Jews, who, at that Time,were Acts xxi.
Converts to Christianity, and yet zealous of the Law.
On the other side, St. Paul, whose Preaching had been altogether among the
(Gentiles, was quite bold and open in afferting that the ceremonial Law had, by CHRIST's Coming, received its full Completion and final Determination: and therei fore the Word, with him, was; Stand Gal. v.1, * fast in the liberty wherewith CHRIST has I made us free, and be not entangled again , with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul
say unto you, tbat, if ye be circumcised, i CHRIST Mall profit you nothing.
That this was really the Opinion of all the Apostles, we may see from the Resofurion of St. James, at a Great Council held at Jerusalem long before, upon this very Question; My sentence, is, that we Ads xv, trouble not them, (to keep the Ceremonial 19. Law) which from among the Gentiles are turned to God. To this, the rest of the Council affent; and a Decree is sent away to the Cities of the Gentiles accordingly; in which are these Words ; It seemed good, Acts xv, to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you 28, 29, no greater burden than these necessary things; that ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and
from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication; from which, if ye keep your selves, ye shall do well.
And, to balance the Matter fairly, it must be confess'd that St. Paul had, upon occasion, temporiz'd in this Point, as well
as the rest of the Apostles: When, at Acts xvi. Lystra, he took Timothy, whose father was
a Greek, and circumcised him, because of the Jews which were in those quarters,
This Digression cannot be thought unseasonable, since it suggests to us a very convenient Doctrine; That Ceremonies, merely indifferent, however they may be unnecessary, or even burdensom, ought to be complied with, to humour a Majority: And, at the same Time, That, where People can use their own Liberty without hurting themselves, the less they are troubled with them, the better.
The Prophets were Persons whom God was pleas’d to honour with a divine Spirit of foreseeing some extraordinary Oa currences, and foretelling them to the World, long before they came to pass, or were even thought of. And from hence,
originally they obtain'd the Name of Seers. In the Days of Samuel, it is said ; Beforetime, in Israel, when a man went to ! Sam. inquire of God, thus be spake, Come, and let us go to the Seer : for be that is now called a prophet was beforetime called a : Seer.
By their Mouths, God was so gracious, from time to time, as to warn his People of the Evils they wou'd bring upon
themselves by their sinful Disobedience: And to
encourage them to walk in the Ways of | Righteousness, by a Promise of the many
Blessings He wou'd, upon that Condition, confer upon them. And through all, a future Meßiab is frequently predicted; to augment their Happiness, when they were virtuous and good; and to prevent them from falling into Despair, when they were punilh'd and humbled for their Transgressions. Thus the Lord is introduc'd speaking to them; Since .the day that your Jer. vii. fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt, 25. unto this day, I have sent unto you
my servants the prophets.
And even before the Law took place, and probably, from the first Beginning of