« PreviousContinue »
dead, or ascended to heaven; and the apostolical college was restricted to those who were eye and ear witnesses to all these things. The ministry of John the Baptist then, we say, was an intermediate ministry, between the abrogation of the Old and the introduction of the New Dispensation. Hence, having accomplished the object for which it was designed, it ceased to exist. This is evident from the following considerations:— I. John declares that he received his commission, not from Christ, but from the FATHER. Accordingly, we find him declaring, “He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.” It was not until after this that John “saw and bear record, that he (as Christ) was the Son of God.” Before that period, John positively declared, “I knew him not ; but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come, baptizing with water.” It is evident, therefore, that his was not the Christian ministry, inasmuch as that ministry could only originate in the express command and authority of Jesus CHRIST. II. The ministry of John the Baptist required, not faith in Christ, but repentance, or reformation of life, suitable to the appearance of such an august personage: except, indeed, that the exercise of faith was obligatory, upon a conviction on their part, that the miracles performed by Christ during his ministry should sufficiently attest the divinity of his Messiahship. The
burden of his cry was, “prepare ye the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.” Even himself deferred the exercise of implicit faith in him of whose works he had merely heard while in prison, till the miracles wrought by Christ in the presence of his disciples were communicated to him. His, therefore, could not have been the Christian ministry. III. Again, John's ministry was destitute of an external sign or seal, such as that which distinguishes the Christian dispensation. True, he baptized—but he did not baptize in the name of THE SACRED TRINITY: FATHER, SoN, and Holy GHosT. His baptism and that of Christ, are represented in Scripture as separate and distinct, from the peculiar and transcendant effects of the latter. In support of this, we have his own declaration — “I indeed,” says he, “baptize you with water unto repentance; but there cometh one after me mightier than I; he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” And to place the matter beyond the reach of all reasonable doubt, St. Paul, while at Ephesus, having ascertained there were : some in that place who had been baptized, but who were ignorant of the accompanying influences of the Holy Ghost attendant upon all Christian converts, enquired, “Into what, then, were ye baptized 7” And they replied, “Into John's baptism;” and after he had explained to them the nature of John's baptism, “they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” The conclusion therefore is, that the ministry of John the Baptist, as it formed no part of the Christian
dispensation, so it could not form a part of “the covemant confirmed with many” during the last of the 70 weeks. In reference to the conversion of Cornelius, A. D. 37, it is objected, that it does not agree with the marginal chronology of that event in the New Testament. , But to this we reply, that “though it may not be in our power to fix with precision the time of the conversion of Cornelius from the narrative of the Acts, yet it is easy to show that the date given to it in the margin of our Bibles, which is wholly arbitrary and unsupported, must be too late; and that the year 37 agrees much better with the facts that are known. The stoning of Stephen took place in 34, or early in 35, and the conversion of Paul in the course of 35, to allow time for his two visits to Jerusalem mentioned in Galatians, with an interval of three years, and fourteen years between them: all occurring before the Council, in Acts xv.: the dissensions leading to which are referred to in Gal. ii. 11; and which Council could not be later than 52. Paul’s first visit to Jerusalem was therefore in 38, and Peter was at Jerusalem, Gal. i. 18; and the persecution raised about Stephen had ceased. Acts ix. 31; xi. 19. But at this visit to Jerusalem, Paul received his commission to go to the Gentiles, Acts xxii. 21; and began to dispute with the Grecians, Acts ix. 29, at the time when the disciples at Antioch did the same; Acts xi. 20: all which proves that the door had then been opened to the Gentiles by the conversion of Cornelius, as otherwise these proceedings could not have been sanctioned by the Church in sending forth Barnabas, Acts xi. 22, and their even sending Paul to Cesarea, the abode of Cornelius, Acts ix. 30, indicates the same thing; and Barnabas sought his help as the chosen vessel to the Gentiles. Acts xi. 25, ix. 30.
The conversion of Cornelius therefore must have taken place before 38. We should recollect that the transactions in the Acts are not given in the regular sequence of time, but one narrative is followed out to its close, and then another taken up, though it should require going back in order of time: as is evidently the case, chap. xi. 19, which returns to chap. viii. 1."
The conclusion therefore is, that, the 70 weeks or 490 years of Daniel, ending at the conversion of Cornelius A. D. 37, together with the 2300 years, are to be dated from the command to restore and build Jerusalem as given to Ezra in the 7th year of Artaxerxes Longimanus.
As collateral evidence, however, of the correctness of the above chronology of the commencement and termination of the 70 weeks of Daniel, we offer the following succession in the line of the High Priesthood, &c., from the time of its investment of the civil power, upon the annexing of Judea to the Prefecture of Syria, as furnished by Prideaux, reaching to the Commencement of Christ's ministry, at 30 years of age.
1. Pym. Appendix, p. 118, 119.