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Cilicia, confirming the churches. Coming to Lystra and Derbè, in Lycaonia, cities he had preached in two or three years before, he met with a young man, named Timothy, whose father was a Grecian, but his mother Eunice was a Jewess, by whom he bad, from a child, been instructed in the holy scriptures; in which he had attained such extraordinary knowledge, and was so highly esteemed by the brethren, that Paul took him to be his companion in his travels, and had such an affection for him, that he called him his beloved son, in the epistles which he afterwards wrote to him. Happy are those children, who have such a mother as Eunice, who employs ber care and attention in cultivating their understanding, leading them to the Bible, the fountain of all knowledge, which unfolds the wisdom of God in redemption, and the unsearchable riches there are in Christ Jesus; that by faith in him they may be made partakers of these inestimable blessings, and heirs of everlasting bliss.
Maria. But how old must they be, before they can understand these things?
Aunt. As soon as a child knows right from wrong, which is very early indeed, it may be instructed in divine things. I have had the pleasure of seeing more than one instance of it; some who are now living have astonished me by their depth of thought, and the questions which they have put, from the age of three to six. If you should live to have children under your care, take the advantage of this early period, in which, if encouraged, they will thirst after knowledge,—will tell you all they think,-have no reserves,-will ask you where God
lives,—why he does not speak to them,--whether he sees them; and a thousand little questions which give opportunity to instruct them, and correct wrong ideas; whereas a child, whose mind is uncultivated, will have as gross ideas of God, at seven, eight, or ten years of age, as one of three or four years; and you will not have the same advantage of instructing him.
Lucy. I cannot comprehend that, aunt; for the older children are, the better they can understand what is said to them.
Aunt. But a little simple question, put by a child of three years old, would give you pleasure, when the same question, put by one of ten, would disgust you: the child would perceive that, and consequently keep every thing to itself, for fear of betray. ing its ignorance: therefore knowledge could not then be so easily instilled; while the younger receives it imperceptibly.
Lucy. I heard a lady say, that, talking to children about religion was only making hypocrites of thein; for you could not give them grace.
Aunt. I grant that we cannot give them grace; that is the gift of God alone; but, by following the command of God, in training them up in the way they should go, they are ready, when God imparts his grace, for any work which he shall please to employ them in, as young Timothy was. But we will return to our history.
When Paul, Silas, and Timothy, had gone through Phrygia, and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Ghost to go either into Bithynia, or the lesser Asia.
Maria. Did they return to Jerusalem?
Aunt. No; they went down to Troas, a port in the Ægean sea, where Paul had a vision in the night; in which there appeared a man of Macedonia, inviting him to come and help them. From this vision he understood that the Lord had called him to preach the gospel in those parts. Accordingly, he and his companions sailed north-westward from Troas, and touching at Samothracia, an island not far from Thrace, the next day they landed at Neapolis, a port in Macedonia, and thence they went a few miles to Philippi, the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a Roman colony. Thus the gospel was introduced into Europe.
George. I think they staid in this place some time?
Aunt. They did ; and Paul began his ministry in an oratory, or house of prayer, by the river's side, where the Jews used to worship. Some women being assembled, Paul spake to them; and it pleased the Lord to open the heart of one of them, named Lydia, to attend to the things spoken by Paul. She was a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira: and she and all her household were baptised. She besought Paul and his companions to abide at her house, and by her importunity constrained them. It appears, as long as they continued in this city, they worshipped God in the same oratory. As they went to this place, a damsel met them in the way possessed with a spirit of divination, by which she brought much gain to her masters. She openly cried out, These men are the servants of the most high God, who shew unto us the way of salvation. , And this she did many days. Paul, being grieved to see her, turned, and said to the evil spirit, I command thee, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. When her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they, in a rage, caught Paul and Silas, and dragged them into the market-place, to the magistrates.
Lucy. What accusation could they bring against them?
Aunt. That they were Jews, and taught customis which it was not lawful for them, as Romans, either to receive or observe. Upon this, the multitude rose up against them: and the magistrates commanded them to be beaten. After many stripes had been laid on them, they committed them to prison, with a charge to the jailor to keep them safely ; upon which he unmercifully thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.
Maria. What an unhappy situation to be in!
Aunt. If the Lord be with us, we cannot be unhappy, whatever our external situation may be. The history before us affords an instance of rejoicing in tribulation. Paul and Silas were at this time suffering in their bodies, from the cruel scourging which had been inflicted upon them; yet their souls were so full of joy, that at midnight they burst out into songs of praise to God: and the prisoners heard them; when suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundation of the prison was shaken; immediately all the doors opened, and every one's bands were loosed.
George. Then they might all have escaped.
Aunt. But none offered to stir. The jailor, awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, concluded the prisoners had made their escape, and drew his sword, with an intention to kill himself; which, Paul perceiving, cried out, Do thyself no harm; for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out of the dungeon, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved ? They did not cast any reflection on him for his cruel behaviour to them, but replied, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. And they preached Christ to him, and to all that were in his house. The jailor, now solicitous for their ease and comfort, washed their stripes, and set meat before them. He and his were straightway baptised: and he rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. The next day the magistrates sent the sergeants to inform the jailor he might let the prisoners go.
George. This must be joyful tidings !
Aunt. Paul acted with a dignity becoming his character, and his knowledge of the Roman laws. He said, They have beaten us uncondemned, being Romans, and cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily; nay, verily, let them come themselves, and fetch us out.
Lucy. I should have thought the magistrates would have been highly offended at this answer.
Aunt. They seem rather to have been intimidated, knowing the privilege of Roman citizens. Perceiving they had acted illegally, and were liable to prosecution for their conduct, they sent to the prison, and, with all submission, brought out Paul