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“ of His word.” And let it be our daily prayer, that “ His kingdom may come,” and that all the ends of the earth may see the “ salvation of God W."
ACTS xvii. 22, 23.
Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and
said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To the Unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you.
AMONG the memorable occurrences recorded in the earliest annals of Christianity, none appear to give greater weight and dignity to its pretensions, than those which manifest the consciousness of superiority, in its inspired teachers over the boasted attainments of the heathen sages. The first labours of the Apostles in the Gentile world were directed, not to the conversion of ignorant barbarians, incompetent to judge of their doctrine, or prone to receive with avidity whatever might be marvellous or imposing in its appearance, but to nations the most civilized, and even to their most enlightened assemblies. They assailed, not only the gross prejudices of the vulgar, but the learned sophistry of the schools: and in their discourses addressed to these, there is a tone of decisive authority, which though it partakes not of the arrogance of human wisdom, evidently flows from a consciousness that “they spake as the Spirit gave them “ utterance",” empowered by his unerring influence to enlighten and instruct mankind. Yet we cannot but observe, at the same time, with what admirable discretion these faithful messengers of their Lord fulfilled the high purpose of their mission; how they adapted their exhortations and reproofs to the peculiar characters or circumstances of the persons they sought to convert ; sometimes winning them to the truth by a considerate regard to their deep-rooted prepossessions, sometimes reasoning with them upon their own principles, rather than extorting from them a forced assent to the truths that were set before them.
The portion of Scripture from which the words of the text are taken, affords an instance illustrative of St. Paul's conduct in these respects.
a Acts üi. 4.
The Apostle, it appears, being detained for a short time at Athens, paid particular attention to the state of religion in that renowned seat of learning and refinement: and “his
spirit was stirred within him, when he saw “ the city wholly given to idolatry. There“ fore disputed he in the synagogue with the
Jews, and with the devout persons, and in “ the market daily with them that met with
Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoics, encountered “ him. And some said, What will this bab“ bler say ? other some, He seemeth to be a “ setter forth of strange gods: because he “ preached unto them Jesus, and the resur“ rection. And they took him and brought “ him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know “ what this new doctrine, whereof thou speak
est, is ? for thou bringest certain strange " things to our ears: we would know there“ fore what these things mean.”—The Apostle, thus publicly confronted with these philosophers, in the presence of a mixed multitude of Jews and Greeks, and probably before the magistracy of the place, seizes the opportunity to endeavour to reclaim them from the service of the false deities whom they adored, and to bring them to a purer and more rational worship. Standing in the