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called them by his gospel." "
Had Paul been left
to the guidance of his own mind, he would not have gone into Macedonia. They assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. It was the divine will that the blessings of the gospel should at present be withheld from Bithynia, and be carried to Macedonia. For a man of Macedonia appeared to Paul in a vision, and prayed him, saying, Come over and help us. Cross the sea which separates Greece from Asia, and let another portion of the world enjoy the glad tidings of redemption.
It was a vision. The people of Macedonia did not know their real condition, and therefore could not ask for aid. Otherwise, no entreaty could have been too urgent, no prayer too earnest or too loud. Come over and help us, or we perish. We are creatures of God, yet ignorant of our Creator. We are immortal beings, yet unprepared for immortality beings capable of all that knowledge which most exalts the mind, yet scarcely possessing its first elements:-beings depraved, degraded and corrupt, yet capable of renewal and purification. Come over and help us. Ye have the words of eternal life come over and expound them. Ye have in charge a merciful commission; come over and tell us, how we may have access to God through Jesus Christ whom he hath sent. Ye have glad tidings of great joy which shall be all to all people: what Galatia has enjoyed, what Phrygia has enjoyed,
5 2 Thess. ii. 13.
what Mysia has enjoyed, let that be now bestowed on the cities of Macedonia.
This they might have said, if “ gross darkness" had not covered them. God said it for them. He realised the prophecy which lay hid in the pages of Isaiah: "I am sought of them that asked not for me, I am found of them that sought me not. I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name. And therefore he sent this vision, and made known to Paul his purpose of mercy towards the people of Macedonia.
Thus much we are informed. We are not informed why God saw fit to direct the apostles thither, and to pass over other cities. Nor need we inquire. "Who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor ?" "Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called."" If he had not called them, by the summons of his gospel, and the suggestions of his Spirit, they would have continued for ever in their sleep, they would never have arisen from the dead."
Let us remember, that the same help which was needful to the Macedonians, and was brought to them by Paul and his companions, is needful to every one. And if with the same need, there is also the due sense of need, the same aid will never be denied. If the "Lord will be found of them
⚫ Isa. lxv. i.
Rom. viii. 29, 30.
8 See Eph. v. 14.
that sought him not," most assuredly will he be found of those who do seek him. If he says, "Behold me, behold me, to a nation which had not called upon his name," most assuredly "them that come to him he will in no wise cast out."
THE PREACHING OF PAUL AT PHILIPPI.—a. D. 53.
ACTS xvi. 11-14.
11. Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis;
12. And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia,' and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.
Ten or twelve years after this period, St. Paul writes to a body of Christians at Philippi, speaking of their persons with great affection, and of their faith with great confidence. The commencement of their renewed and holy state, is related here. How precious a harvest, from how small a seed! How rapid is the growth, when God gives the increase!
Philippi was a town of some importance. Many
1 Rather a city of the first part of Macedonia, i. e. of Macedonia prima. See an important note in Horne, vol. i. p. 213.
Romans were mixed up with the native inhabitants. For it was a colony: it had been made part of the Roman empire. These, of course, were alike idolaters. Nothing relieved the darkness, the gross darkness which covered the people, except the few gleams of light which occasionally shone in from the Jews, who here, as elsewhere, had formed a settlement, and through their worship and their scriptures brought some of those around them to the knowledge of the true and living God.
Such was the state of the city and its inhabitants to which Paul was summoned by the vision, praying him, Come over and help us.
Arrived there, he must be "about his Master's business." He must deliver the message with which he was charged.
13. And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.
There was not here a magnificent place of worship; no temple like that of Jerusalem, which our Lord's disciples could not pass without remarking in admiration, "Master, what manner of stones and what buildings are here?" 3
Still, however, in a strange land, and in a heathen city, these foreigners could not omit the worship of God; and we see, by what follows, that
2 The dignity and advantages of a colony had been given it by Julius Cæsar.
3 Mark xiii. 1.
God was with them, and that their "
gone up as a memorial before him."
Here then the apostles spake unto the Jewish women, and to those who were their fellow-worshippers. We know what would be the character of their discourse. We may take it from the words of Zacharias, Luke i. 68: "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David: As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us: To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; the oath which he sware to our father Abraham, that he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life."
Thus would the apostles preach unto their Jewish hearers. That the prophecies were now all fulfilled : that the sacrifices of the law had been explained : they had been types and shadows of what was now come, of that one full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice which God had received for the sins of the whole world. Then they would appeal to the proof of this which he had given, in that he had raised up Jesus from the dead; who was now for ever at God's right hand, where he must reign, till he had put all enemies under his feet:" and till he had received into his kingdom all such as should