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idols to the knowledge of the true and living God: to change his condition from the death of sin to the life of righteousness to bestow on him "the unsearchable riches of Christ :" to make him heir of the inheritance above. From all this Elymas would have excluded him; seeking to turn him aside from the faith, and to pervert the right ways of
The hand of the Lord was exerted to show on which side was truth, and on which side was falsehood. And the blindness brought on Elymas, was a light to Sergius, to "guide his feet into the way of peace."
But further, the same sentence might prove an act of mercy to Elymas himself. We hear no more of him. But if it led him to repentance, it was the greatest mercy he could have received. Thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. It was not therefore a hopeless calamity; it was but for a season: he might yet feel that he had sinned against the Lord, while speaking against the words of life; and the Lord might put away his sin. The Lord of hosts had said concerning his rebellious people, while bringing upon them desolation and captivity, Behold, I will melt them, and try them." And the "fiery indignation" which was heaped upon the head of Elymas may have been the means of melting his hard heart, and giving it a better mould.
It is the business of faith to look on earthly things, whether prosperous or adverse, as they bear
6 Jer. ix. 7.
on everlasting interests. Calamity, disease, privation, may be blessings, if they awaken from lethargy, reclaim from sin, and detach the heart from worldly vanities. He who loved us, and proved his love to us as love was never proved before, has left us an assurance: "It is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” And so "the destruction of the flesh" is profitable, "that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord." 8
The same apostle, however, who called down upon Elymas this judgment, has instructed us, that such judgments are the "strange work," and can only be regarded as belonging to peculiar times and cases. The common and universal rule is, that "the servant of the Lord must not strive; (2 Tim. ii. 24 :) but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”
7 Matt. v. 30.
9 Is. xxviii. 21.
8 1 Cor. v. 5.
PAUL REASONS WITH THE JEWS AT ANTIOCH IN PISIDIA.-A. D. 45.
ACTS xiii. 13-25.
13. Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia departing from them returned to Jerusalem.
Why John, or Mark, departed from Paul and his company, is not related here. But in a succeeding chapter the subject occurs again. And there it appears that there had been in Mark a want of zeal, with which Paul was dissatisfied. He did not approve the receiving one again as an assistant, "who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work." 1
Slowly, if at all, is the mind weaned from earthly affections, and enabled to give itself wholly and unreservedly to God's service. There were then, as there are now, some stations more unfavourable than others, some employments more exposed to danger. And then, as now, there was reason to complain, that too many "seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's." 2 Some desired Others shunned apparent danger. Others
1 Ch. xv. 37.
See Phil. ii. 21.
preferred the neighbourhood of their near connexions. This probably was the case with Mark. He was from Jerusalem, and desired to return to Jerusalem again. Those may justly be accounted blessed, whose minds are so regulated that the path of duty is the path of choice; whose will is bound up in the providence of God concerning them.
14. But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath-day, and sat down.
15. And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.
The law and the prophets, we see, were "read in the synagogues every sabbath day." The word of exhortation followed: and the apostles were invited to furnish it. So it happened on a similar occasion, (as we learn in Luke iv. 16,) that our Lord himself first declared the fulfilment in his own person of the promises of God." He came to Nazareth" he read to the congregation in the synagogue some of the most remarkable predictions of the Messiah. And then he said unto them, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears."
What Jesus had done in Nazareth, Paul was now to do in Pisidia: having present before him both men of Israel his brethren, and others, not
3 An important town in Asia Minor, very distant from the other Antioch, and on the road towards the more civilized and commercial parts of Asia, towards which they were now travelling.
4 Ch. xv. 20.
Jews by birth, but proselytes: those who, like Cornelius, had been brought to fear God through the scriptures, and the example of the Jews who lived amongst them.
16. Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand, said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.
17. The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it.
18. And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness.
19. And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot.
20. And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.
21. And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years.
22. And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. 23. Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus;
24. When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.
25. And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.5
Paul had an event to explain, and he traces it to
5 Whose servant I am not worthy to be.