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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 17 - Verse 26
Verse 26. And hath made of one blood. All the families of men are descended from one origin, or stock. However different their complexion, features, language, etc., yet they are derived from a common parent. The word blood is often used to denote race, stock, kindred. This passage completely proves that all the human family are descended from the same ancestor; and that, consequently, all the variety of complexion, etc., is to be traced to some other cause than that there were originally different races created. See Ge 1; comp. Mal 2:10. The design of the apostle in this affirmation was, probably, to convince the Greeks that he regarded them all as brethren; and that, although he was a Jew, yet he was not enslaved to any narrow notions or prejudices in reference to other men. It follows also from this, that no one nation, and no individual, can claim any pre-eminence over others in virtue of birth or blood. All are in this respect equal; and the whole human family, however they may differ in complexion, customs, and laws, are to be regarded and treated as brethren. It follows, also, that no one part of the race has a right to enslave or oppress any other part, on account of difference of complexion. Nor has man a right, because
He finds his fellow guilty of a skin
Not coloured like his own, and having power
T' enforce the wrong, for such a worthy cause to
Doom and devote him as his lawful prey.
For to dwell, etc. To cultivate and till the earth. This was the original command, Ge 1:28; and God, by his providence, has so ordered it that the descendants of one family have found their way to all lands, and have become adapted to the climate where he has placed them.
The word is usually applied to a field, which is designated by a boundary. It means here, that God hath marked out, or designated in his purpose, their future abodes.
The times before appointed. This evidently refers to the dispersion and migration of nations. And it means that God had, in his plan, fixed the times when each country should be settled; the time of the location, the rise, the prosperity, and the fall of each nation. It implies,
(1.) that these times had been before appointed; and,
(2.) that it was done in wisdom. It was his plan; and the different continents and islands had not, therefore, been settled by chance, but by a wise rule, and in accordance with his arrangement and design.
And the bounds of their habitation. Their limits and boundaries as a people. He has designated the black man to Africa; the white man to northern regions; the American savage he fixed in the wilds of the western continent, etc. By customs, laws, inclinations, and habits, he fixed the boundaries of their habitations, and disposed them to dwell there. We may learn,
(1.) that the revolutions and changes of nations are under the direction of infinite wisdom;
(2.) that men should not be restless and dissatisfied with the place where God has located them;
(3.) that God has given sufficient limits to all, so that it is not needful to invade others; and,
(4.) that wars of conquest are evil. God has given to men their places of abode, and we have no right to disturb those abodes, or to attempt to displace them in a violent manner. This strain of remark by the apostle was also opposed to all the notions of the Epicurean philosophers; and yet so obviously true and just, that they could not gainsay or resist it.
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