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And she at once gives this sign of the indwelling Spirit, this proof of true conversion, that her heart overflows with love to those who had now become her brethren. We find her saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us. She would not allow the apostle and his party to remain any longer at their own charges, or to lodge among the heathen in the city; they must abide at her house. But why is it added, she constrained us? No doubt, because they were as scrupulous in receiving, as she was free and hospitable in offering. They might urge, We shall be chargeable to you: we shall interfere with your interests; for we are the objects of suspicion and enmity; and as you esteem us, because we are the apostles of Christ, others, because we preach in his name, revile and persecute us. So they might truly say. And even in christian countries it would not always, or everywhere, advance a man's worldly interests to be distinguished as the friend of those who were more zealous than others in the cause of God. Lydia, however, had made up her mind. If Christ was her's, the friends of Christ must be her's too. They had been the instruments by which she received a treasure which she valued above earthly friendship, or earthly fortune, or life itself. And she must show them the poor return which was in her power she must give them the refuge of her home. For her own sake, with the courtesy and the delicacy which is one of the surest signs of heavenly grace, and as a favour to herself, she en
treats them: If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and abide there. And she constrained us.
Here then we leave this happy company. Surely they were happy. "The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchantman, seeking goodly pearls ; who when he hath found one pearl of great price, goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that pearl." Lydia had found this pearl of great price, and had secured it for her own. And, doubtless, the Lord who opened her heart that she should attend to the things spoken of Paul, would not desert her now, but enable her to experience the "joy and peace of believing.'
And Paul too would be happy. God had given him these first-fruits of his visit to Philippi. He had that proof that God was with him of a truth ; and a fresh jewel was added to the "crown of rejoicing," which he was providing against the great day, when both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.
One reflection occurs, which may be useful to ourselves. We have heard the gospel from our youth, which Lydia on that sabbath heard for the first time. Have we attended to the word spoken? Has it possession of our hearts? And could they who know us best, and understand religion best, judge us to be faithful to the Lord?
1 1 Thess. ii. 19.
PAUL AND SILAS SCOURGED AND IMPRISONED AT PHILIPPI.—a. d. 53.
ACTS xvi. 16-24.
16. And it came to pass as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination, met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying :
17. The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.
18. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned, and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.
We have seen before on several occasions that soothsaying, or divination, was much practised as an art or trade among the heathen. Those who professed it took advantage of any individual qualities or circumstances which they met with, and turned them to their profit. This young damsel had such qualities. An evil spirit possessed her. And the sort of madness under which she laboured fitted her for the purposes of those who dealt in divination.
Paul saw it to be a proper time for employing a power which could overcome the spirit of evil. I
command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. She was restored to her right mind.
19. And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the market place, unto the rulers,
20. And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,
21. And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.
The miracle which Paul had performed had no effect upon the minds of these Philippians, except to raise their indignation. When such a case occurs; when men are blind to the proofs which God has given of his power, or deaf to the arguments which might convince them, and turn them to God, there is commonly a ground for it which we can perceive. They "love darkness rather than light," because the light would be inconvenient to them. We are told of Herod, that he was much struck with John the Baptist; that he "did many things, and heard him gladly." Why did he not do more, and become one of John's disciples? Because if he did, he knew that he must put away Herodias. Why did not the Jewish rulers confess Christ Jesus, though, as we are assured, they "believed in him;" saw that he was sent of God? Because they "sought honour one of another;" loved "the praise of men," which they could not make up their minds to resign.
Mark xi. 20.
2 John xii. 42.
It was the same case at Philippi. These heathen saw the power which Paul had used, and how at his bidding the evil spirit left the damsel, and she became another creature. Why, we might ask, why did they not believe that he who had done this thing must indeed be the servant of the most high God? why not inquire from him the way of salvation?
Because salvation was not their object; they were not seeking it. Salvation was future; their minds were on things present. Salvation was unseen; they were occupied with things seen, things temporal. Had these persons been seeking after God, "if haply they might find him ;” had they been distressed under a sense of their transgressions against him, and their unworthiness to appear before him; then they would have laid hold on these messengers of God, these ambassadors for Christ, not to injure but to court them. The case of Lydia would have been acted over again. But their hearts were entirely elsewhere: altogether set upon their gains. And therefore they felt nothing, thought of nothing, but that the hope of their gains was gone, and that they must revenge themselves upon the apostles, who had caused this loss to them. They stir up the people against these troublers of the city, these innovators in religion, who were teaching customs unknown to the laws of Rome; that is, were showing the evils of idolatry; leading men to the living and true God.
Such is the opposition, against which, in many periods of the history of Christianity, scriptural