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“The former treatise have I made, O Theophilns, of all that JESUS began both
“And as they went through the cities they delivered them the decrees for
“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of CHRIST. Now I praise you
“Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right
“ Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the Old Paths
DEDICATED TO CHRISTIANS OF ALL
CHRISTIAN READER :
It is supposed by competent judges that the whole of the eight books of these Constitutions purporting to be—really are the holy commandments of our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, given by him to his Apostles on Mount Zion, in Jerusalem, during the memorable forty days he tabernacled with them, being the period which elapsed between the glorious events of his resurrection from the dead, and his ascension into heaven (Acts i. 3). The sceptic may ask, But what evidence do you give us that these are the very commandments Christ gave to his Apostles? I answer as Christ did, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God; for it should ever be remembered that such only as did their Lord's will had the promised privilege of knowing of his doctrine, “ whether it was of God, or whether he spake of himself” (John vii. 17). And again, “ The secret of the Lord is confined to them that fear him, and to them only has he engaged to shew his covenant."
The experienced christian will readily discover, as he goes on from chapter to chapter, the broad seal of truth upon the face of these Constitutions, and need not to be told that no uninspired man could forge such a pious and well-digested code of laws. They could have been compiled by none possessing less wisdom, mercy, and goodness, than the true Messiah, Jesus Christ the “ Wisdom of God” (1 Cor. i. 24). But for his better information and confirmation, I transcribe the following passages from the New Testament, in addition to those I have placed in the title page :
(1 Thes. iv. 1, 2): “Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.”
(2 John 6): “And this is love, that we walk after his commandments.”
(2 Peter ii. 20, 21): “ For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandments delivered unto them.”
(2 Peter iii. 1-2): “ This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance; that ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandments of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour.”
(1 John ii. 3, 4): “ And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know hiin, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
(1 John iii. 24): “He that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him.”
(John xiv. 21): Christ says, “ He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself unto him.”
And again he saith (John xv. 9, 10), “ As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love."
“ In short, the genius and composition of these books is plainly supernatural and Divine, and in the very same manner as the books of scripture are distinguishable from profane writings by their spirit, and the nature, and holy, peaceful, charitable, and merciful tendency thereof, so are these constitutions, indeed they seem to me to be none other than the tree of life, the leaves whereof are for the healing of nations.”
Thus much, my christian friends, I have advanced in the way of internal and scripture evidence, as to the authenticity of these Constitutions, and a word to the wise is enough. But there is abundant evidence of an external nature to be adduced from ecclesiastic history; but as this of itself would form a larger volume than the present, I shall defer publishing that till called for. Suffice it to say, I believe them to be traly genuine, and as much inspired as the five books of Moses, and (as they purport) were written by Clement, the apostles' scribe, the first Bishop of Rome, and were the secret laws of the first christian church at Jerusalem, but were not made public till about the middle of the fourth century, being opposed by the Church of Rome, which, at that time, it will be remembered, had ceased to become pure and simple in her doctrines and discipline ; and the only legitimate way effectually to oppose her progress now in this protestant country, is to abandon all the present church systems, which are more or less corrupt, and adopt this, the only orthodox one extant.
These Constitutions are, doubtless, “the Doctrine called the Apostles,” mentioned by Eusibeus (Lib. 3, chap. 22).
In these Constitutions there is nothing doubtful or ambiguous ; they are like a clear sounding trumpet, giving a certain sound that cannot be mistaken. They are a sign post directing us to uniformity of faith, peace, and harmony, and ultimately will prepare us for heaven itself ; a road in which a wayfaring man, though a fool, may run and read, and cannot err, except wilfully. Not only are they a “ tree of life,” but they are a well of water, springing up into everlasting life, capable of quenching the thirst of all nations ; in fact, the living water, “ which, if a man drink, he shall never thirst” (John iv. 6). « It is a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and the Lamb” (Rev. xxii. 1): also Isa. xliii. 19, 20, Isai. xliv. 3, Rev. vii. 17.
The introduction of these divine laws will probably meet with many obstacles from the opposition of infidels and interested men--the antichrists of our day; but it will make its channel deeper, like Ezekiel's “ waters, which issued from under the threshold of the house,” which at first were only " to his ancles,” but afterwards they reached “to the knees” and then “ to the loins,” and at last it became “a river he could not pass ; for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over :" and may you and I, christian reader, be like “à tree planted by such a river,” and may we with this book in our hands become, as the good prophet hath foretold a man shall be, “ as rivers of water in a dry place"