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Paul had spoken, and which were above all grievous-that they should see his face no more.
Still there is One who even in this world cannot be separated from us; who will be with us in all circumstances, and in every country; who will not be parted from us even when that gulf is to be crossed which is our passage to eternity. To Him Paul commends those whom he loved,-saying, Now, brethren, I commend you to God. And the words of God to his people are, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."
PAUL VOYAGING TOWARDS JERUSALEM VISITS TYRE AND CESAREA.-—A. D. 60.
ACTS xxi. 1—14.
1. And it came to pass, that after we were gotten from them, and had launched, we came with a straight course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara :
2. And finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went aboard, and set forth.
3. Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre: for there the ship was to unlade her burden.
4. And finding disciples,' we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.
5. And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed.
6. And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again.
The word of God had now been so widely spread in Asia, that in all the principal towns they could meet with fellow-Christians. And when they found Christians they found friends; friends delighted to receive them and anxious for their welfare; so that if Paul had listened to their forebodings he would not have pursued his course towards Jerusalem. This, however, was determined on. Nothing remained, but mutually to commend one another to God. So they kneeled down on the shore and prayed. It is in such seasons that the privilege of prayer is sincerely felt. They had affections which they were unable to indulge; they had apprehensions which they could not conceal. But there was one God and Father of all, made theirs by "the adoption that is in Christ Jesus." He could be with the disciples at Tyre, and with Paul at Jerusalem; and in that bond they might be united, though distant from each other; and in that confidence
1 Rather, having found out the disciples; avevpovreç. (Scholefield.) Through the spirit of prophecy which these disciples possessed, they foresaw the danger which threatened Paul at Jerusalem. Had they spoken under the immediate direction of the Spirit, Paul would have listened to them. But he was fully assured of the will of God in this journey.
they might be comforted, even in the tribulation or danger.
7. And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day.
8. And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Cesarea and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.
9. And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.
10. And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judea a certain prophet, named Agabus.3
11. And when he was come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.
12. And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.
13. Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.
14. And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.
Evangelist, or preacher of the gospel, as well as deacon. So he had proved to the Ethiopian, chap. viii. After that transaction "he preached in all the cities, till he came to Cesarea :" where we now meet with him again, after twenty-six years. His four daughters, it appears, were endued with the gift of prophecy. In fulfilment of Joel ii. 28, "Thy servants and handmaidens shall prophesy."
3 Probably the same Agabus who had foretold the dearth which happened in the days of Claudius, xi. 28.
Paul was not allowed to doubt whether it was the will of the Lord that he should proceed to Jerusalem. Therefore dangers could not affect his resolution. He had long made up his mind to live and die for the sake of the Lord Jesus: that is, for the sake of that which had brought the Lord Jesus into the world: for the sake of those interests in which he is so mercifully concerned, for the sake of serving his cause, and adding fresh triumphs to his cross. He had long known that the path which he had chosen was not the path of pleasantness or safety. But the smooth and easy path was not the object for which he cared. His object was, that he might "finish his course with joy," and obtain the crown of glory." And therefore he was ready, not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the sake of the Lord Jesus.
Had he on this occasion yielded to the fears and entreaties of the disciples, he would have cast a reproach upon his own character, and marred the effect of all the testimony which he had borne. He had always taught that those must bear the cross who aspire to the crown; that they who suffer with Christ are they who shall reign with him; that "if we deny him, he will deny us." When there fore he repulsed those who would weep and break his heart, he spoke in the same spirit as the Lord himself when he rebuked his affectionate but mistaken apostle, saying, "Get thee behind me, Satan, thou art an offence unto me." Wouldest thou persuade me to desert my purpose of bearing in my
4 Matt. xvi. 23.
own body the sins of the world? And so St. Paul. Why persuade me to abandon the choice which I have made, and the hope which I am enjoying? Shall I forfeit the evidence which I bear in my own heart, and invalidate the proof which I would exhibit to the world, that "I know in whom I have believed," and that "he is able " to support me unto the end? I have testified both publicly, and also from house to house, that he whose gospel I proclaim will" raise our vile body, that it may be made like unto his glorious body." But who will attend to my words, if they see me unwilling to trust my own body to the grave in confidence of such a resurrection? But I am not unwilling: I am ready: "he is faithful that hath promised;" and rather than cease to declare the truth, wherever it may please the Lord to send me, I will go to prison and to death.
This resolution of Paul is recorded as our example, though in very different circumstances. The principle which governed him, is the principle which must govern every Christian. Every Christian must be settled in his mind to do whatever he is called to do for the sake of the Lord Jesus: must be prepared, like him, to give evidence of his faith. The evidence which Paul gave, was his readiness to suffer bonds or death. The evidence for us to give, is a living rather than a dying testimony: the devotion of ourselves, our souls and bodies, to the service of our heavenly Lord the employment of all our powers, our abilities, our influence, our endeavours, to fulfil his will and advance his glory.