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but they entered into the house of Lydia first, and saw the brethren, and comforted them, and after that departed. Lydia was a brave woman.
Her new-found friends had just suffered from mob violence, and the provincial magistrates' injustice. The magistrates, late repenting, seemed to doubt their ability to prevent further outrage, and desired them to depart. Paul would not steal away from the city like a convict; he would remain awhile, like a true citizen of Rome. But who was bold enough to give him shelter ? Lydia again : she feared not the return of the yelling mob; she thought not of the safety of the purple in her presses; she took no thought for her own. As she had been hospitable when all was serene, she would do the harder thing-be hospitable at the risk of her property and life, when the storm burst upon her guests. As Lot entertained angels, and drew them into his house from the mob, who sought to abuse them without, so Lydia once more receives under her roof, Paul and Silas, wealed and smarting still from their rough usage of the day before. She was
not a tradeswoman who coldly calculated, how will my belief in Christ affect my business ? If I harbour these unpopular men, will my house be attacked to-day, shall I lose customers when they have left. No: as she was honest in listening to Paul's conversation by the river-side; as she was faithful in being baptized ; as she was a genuine lover of hospitality when the sun seenied to shine upon the Christian cause at first; so, when persecution and affliction arose because of the Word, she was not offended, but, like a heroine, as she was, risked all for Paul and Silas, for the sake of her and their common master, the Lord Jesus Christ.
One has heard of people who have attached themselves to congregations in order to improve the custom of their shops. I never knew such. But I should be unfaithful to my trust were I to say that men who would deny Christ rather than lose custom have never come within my knowledge. What means the keeping of shops open on Sundays, but a preferring of gain to Christ ? What mean the terribly long hours to which some assistants are condemned every day, but a preferring of gain to the welfare of our brother, for whom Christ died? If I have read Lydia's case aright, Lydia's, who was baptized into Christ, with her household, I see there a bond of mutual service and of brotherly love between principal and assistant, between mother and child, which, had they lived in our days, would have found some way out of our modern difficulties, and would have continued somehow, while sacrificing, it may be, some little profit, at least to make their family a family for Christ to dwell in, their household a part of the household of God.
“A merchant shall hardly keep himself from doing wrong," says the wise man; and a huckster shall not be freed from sin." But Lydia did, I think; and so, my friends, may you.
But how? By praying God, and allowing Him to open your hearts, that you attend to the things that are spoken of Paul, and of Christ.
ST. JOHN VII. 5.
FOR NEITHER DID HIS BRETHREN BELIEVE IN HIM.”
AND ACTS 1. 14.
THESE ALL CONTINUED WITH ONE ACCORD IN PRAYER
AND SUPPLICATION, WITH THE WOMEN, AND MARY THE MOTHER OF JESUS, AND WITH HIS BRETHREN.”
BELIEVE in one God,
maker of all things, visible and invisible." God is no
less the maker of invisible things, such as society and family life, than He is of the earth and sky, which we can see below and around us, than He is of the individual man. And as God made man in His own image, so it is a fair question to ask whether family love and family life is not in some sort an image of the mutual love of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in the Trinity of the Godhead ? Certainly, in a Christian family the father is the fount of authority, the centre of unity, the house-bond ; yet his love blends with his authority, and is reflected back from the hearts of his children, and, in their degree, of his dependents; the household is ruled and obeys by the law of love, and thus is one.
God, I say, is the author of society, the author of family life. The perfect family is only to be met with when our Church shall have become triumphant in heaven- . triumphant over selfishness, and rivalry, and jealousy, and sin. Here below, all family life, however beautiful and winning, partakes of the imperfections of man's fallen nature, and has its blemishes and defects; while in some cases it is very far removed, indeed, from the pattern of that love wherewith the Blessed Trinity is filled. In some cases it is only in sarcasm that we can apply the word family, or love, or home to the persons congregated under one roof, so unlike in all that makes a family are they to the household of God.. To realize family life in its full perfection, we must wait for the home in heaven.
But here family life has much about it that is delightful ; yet it has also a disciplinary side. It pleases, yet it chastens ; it soothes us, yet it educates. Let us consider one or two of the points of discipline which family life exercises over the soul and spirit of its members. In a large family, living under the same roof, there will necessarily be associated members of very different characters and of very different powers; in point of intelligence, there will be the clever and the less gifted ; in point of temper, the easy and the sharp. The fact that persons so different have to dwell in daily and hourly contact is itself a school of selfforgetfulness, a school of charity. Men before now have said, “What is my brother to me? His society is most
uncongenial; our pursuits diverse ; our tempers incompatible. I will treat him as I should anybody else, and not allow the accident of blood relationship to influence me. In a word, I will cut him.” But this is self, not God, that speaks ; it is the spirit of Cain, not of Christ.
Rightly taken, this contact of very different natures—the clever, it may be, not caring for the homely pleasures of the dull, naturally; the dull looking, naturally, with supercilious disregard at studies which they do not appreciate, yet each stretching a point to take an interest in the other's uncongenial pursuits, simply because they are the pursuits of a brother—this contact of very different natures surely has a mighty effect upon each, in helping each to gain a victory over self; and in the smaller matters of daily conduct and behaviour, giving way each to the other, being considerate and making allowance for peculiar traits of character ; nay, the very preferring one another when any dainty more than common is set upon the family board, all tend in the self-same direction--to reduce self to more convenient proportions, to encourage sympathy and love.
And outside this inner circle of the family there is a further discipline. In days like these, when God permits some men, perhaps many, to rise by their industry and talent to a social position above that in which they were born, and by losses or failures permits others to sink to a lower level, there are few families who have not on their borders a fringe of poor relations. The poor relation is apt to make a princely estimate of the fortune of the head of the family, and, in his judgment, to lay down for him very onerous duties and burdens grievous to be borne ;