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dicated it to God, and implored his blessing, as that which could alone establish or preserve it. (1 Kings viii. 55.) "Solomon stood, and blessed all the congregation of Israel with a loud voice, saying, Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised. The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers let him not leave us, nor forsake us." "And the king, and all Israel with him,
offered sacrifice unto the Lord."
"What hast thou, O man, that thou didst not receive?" And "who maketh thee to differ from another?" These are reflections which the people of God will cherish, whatever their advantages may be and with thoughts like these they keep their spirits meek, and give God the glory. David, for example, when seated on the throne of Israel. "Then went king David in, (2 Samuel vii. 18,) and sat before the Lord, and he said, Who am I, O Lord God? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto ?" What have I or my family to boast of, that I have been thus distinguished; that thou hast brought me to this honour? "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name be all the praise."
Herod was cut down in his pride. And it does not follow, but that another may be cut down in his humility and that even a spirit like that of David or Solomon may not always preserve to a man his earthly prosperity or possessions. But such
41 Cor. iv. 7.
a spirit sanctifies wealth and honour; and such a spirit will not be overwhelmed, though honours, or friends, or riches "make to themselves wings and flee away." For the Christian knows, that here is not his rest. He knows, that "if our earthly house of this tabernacle were destroyed, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." Therefore his "conversation" is there, where his best and sure possessions are laid up. And he looks not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. "6
BARNABAS AND SAUL SET OUT ON THEIR MINISTRY, UNDER A SPECIAL COMMISSION. THE SORCERER ELYMAS IS STRUCK WITH BLINDNESS.- -A. D. 45.
ACTS xiii. 1—12.
1. Now there were in the church that was at Antioch, certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.1
52 Cor. v. 1.
6 2 Cor. iv. 18.
Lucius is mentioned fifteen years afterwards, in the epistle
2. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
3. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
4. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.
Barnabas and Saul had long been dedicated to the work of the ministry, had been already acting as apostles. But it seemed good to the Spirit, in directing the affairs of the church, that their employment for a particular purpose should be attended with a fresh and solemn commission.
That purpose was to go widely through different countries, and repeat elsewhere the works which had been wrought at Antioch. The intimation was given in a way not here explained, but which could not be mistaken. And after a special meeting for fasting and prayer, the prophets and teachers of the church dismiss them with a benediction. They laid their hands upon them, and sent them away. Not with the object of bestowing any spiritual gift upon them for in such view "the less," as St. Paul says, "is blessed of the greater;
and Lucius and Simeon were inferior to Saul and Barnabas. It was a solemn and customary mode of invoking the divine favour upon their heads, that it might be with them, and rest upon them.
to the Romans, xvi. 21.
Manaen was the foster-brother of Herod Antipas. Thus is "one taken, and another left."
2 Heb. vii. 7.
5. And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.3
6. And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar-jesus :
7. Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.
8. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith.
This false prophet, or sorcerer, like Simon in Samaria, (ch. viii. 9,) was one who used the arts of divination, and pretended to superhuman knowledge. He soon perceived that his livelihood was in danger, if the faith which these apostles preached was listened to. The false prophet would be rejected, if the true prophet was received. So he endeavoured to turn aside the deputy (the Roman proconsul) from the faith which was beginning to He withstood Bartake possession of his heart.
nabas and Saul.
Sergius Paulus is justly called a prudent man. Hearing that ministers of religion were in his island, he neither opposed nor despised their doctrine, but desired to hear them. He had wisdom to see that the subject was important, and ought not to be treated with neglect. And it is a favourable sign, one which Satan sees with jealousy, when inquiry
3 Salamis and Paphos were considerable towns in the island of Cyprus.
4 See ch. xii. 12.
is made upon the subject of religion, when those who teach it are allowed to explain their views, and show on what ground they rest, instead of being rejected with indignity, as unworthy of a hearing. Elymas therefore, as Satan's instrument, endeavoured to prevent the effect which he feared from the word of truth, and he withstood Barnabas and Saul.
9. Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,)5 filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him.
10. And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
11. And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness ; and he went about, seeking some to lead him by the hand.
12. Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.
Such power was given to the apostles, and used as the Holy Spirit suggested, to support the gospel cause. Many might be disposed to say, Here was a sentence of severity. Thou shalt be blind, not
seeing the sun for a season. act of mercy.
But, in truth, it was an
It was an act of mercy to Sergius the governor, because it confirmed his wavering mind. The deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord. It was an act of mercy, to bring him from the worship of
5 More familiar, as a Roman name, to those with whom he was hereafter to be chiefly concerned.