Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

them into parties, persuading one to be for Paul and another for Apollos, as if religion consisted in being of this or that denomination, and in opposing all who do not belong to our narrow sect. As these false teachers had taught that the doctrine of the resurrection was only metaphorical, Paul asserts and proves the doctrine of a proper and literal resurrection, answers a variety of questions that had been proposed to him concerning the Lord's supper, spiritual gifts, marriage, abstinence from the feasts of idols, and similar subjects; and describes his own prospects and opposition : “ A great door and effectual is opened to me, and there are many opposers.” (1 Cor. xvi. 9.) Soon after this he also wrote his epistle to Titus, who was now at Crete, in which he gives him direction for his conduct, and the execution of the duties of his office.

In every place there are those whose habits, pursuits, and professions, interfere with the progress of religion. Demetrius, who derived large wealth from forming shrines, resembling the temple of Diana, perceiving his profits diminished from the conversion of many from idolatry, raised a furious mob against the apostle and his companions. When these last were seized, Paul would have rushed among the populace to address them, but was prevented by his friends. With difficulty the town clerk or recorder restored order, by an address full of moderation, Such fury, however, was excited, that it became proper for him to leave Ephesus: and, therefore, having taken an affectionate leave of the disciples, he departed to Macedonia. To this he probably alludes in 2 Cor. i. 8, 9.: “ For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure

above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life; but we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead."

SERMON LXXI.

LIFE OF PAUL.

No. VII.

Acts xx. xxi. xxii. xxiii.

After the tumult that had taken place at Ephesus, Paul left that city. He first called together his Christian friends, and bade them an affectionate farewell.

Who can leave a place where he has long resided, without paying the kindest testimonies of regard to those with whom he has enjoyed communion with Jesus, and “ gone to the house of God in company;' especially when the relation, as in the present case, is that of a minister who has converted them, and of those who are hereafter to be his “joy and crown?”

Paul left Timothy behind him, and, on his departure, gave him the charge of the Ephesian church. He then visited all the congregations in Macedonia which he had formerly planted, confirmed them, and received their contributions for the afflicted and poor saints at Jerusalem. He afterwards went into Achaia, or Greece, properly so called; Corinth be

64

VOL. II.

ing his chief object. - He wrote hence his epistle to the Romans: he had never preached in that city, but felt deeply interested in the welfare of that church. Christianity had been propagated there chiefly by converted Jews, who wished to impose the Mosaic ceremonies on the Gentiles. He therefore treats in it particularly of the great doctrine of justification by faith alone, and of the mystery of the calling of the Gentiles. Having spent three months at Corinth, he resolved to sail hence tosome port in Syria, whence he might directly go to Jerusalem; but hearing that the Jews had resolved to waylay and kill Paul, and probably rob him of his contributions, he resolved to return by Macedonia. He came to Philippi, and leaving it immediately after the passover, arrived after a voyage of five days at Troas, where the messengers from several churches to Jerusalem (verse 4) were waiting for him, and Luke who accompanied him. There he remained a week, and hence probably wrote his second epistle to the Corinthians. Titus had informed him of their state, and of the good effects of his first letter

upon

them. He in this more fully vindicates his apostolical character, and treats of many particular cases. About this time he wrote his epistle to Timothy,* from which it appears that the gnostics had already begun to disturb the church of Ephesus. Paul warns him against them, and gives him much excellent advice respecting himself and the care of the church.

On the Lord's day Paul preached to the Christians at Troas, and administered the sacrament of

As he was to depart the next day, and expected never to see them again, he continu

the supper.

Priestley sup poses that he wrote it before, while in Macedonia,

ed speaking till midnight. He desires, before he departs from them to correct all their errors, to heal all their divisions, to give them all the consolations of the gospel. All the tenderness of his heart is excited, and he is insensible of the lapse of time. He is an affectionate father, ready to quit his dear children, anxious to say every thing that will preserve them from the snares around them; and knowing that if his instructions are now ineffectual, they can never be repeated.

A youth who was present, Eutychus, overcome with drowsiness, fell from the window in which he sat, which was in the third story, to the ground. He was taken up dead. Paul, stretching himself upon the body, like Elijah and Elisha, was convinced that his

prayer for his restoration would be heard, and therefore confidently said to those around, “ Trouble not yourselves; his life is in him.” To the surprise and joy of the assembly, he was perfectly restored. A new motive was given for belief in the Saviour, and a striking monument presented of one of the dearest hopes of the Christian, the resurrection from the dead. No wonder that they were ready still to listen to Paul, and that, returning to the upper room, he

, prolonged his conversation till daybreak, when he took of them an affectionate farewell.

He next morning departed for Assos, a seaport town at a small distance, whither his companions had gone by sea; and passing by several places, arrived at Miletus, not touching at Ephesus, because he was anxious to reach Jerusalem by the feast of Pentecost. He sent, however, for the elders of Ephesus, and, on their arrival, appealed to themselves to testify with what fidelity and diligence he had laboured among them, so that their destruction could not be owing to him; declared that though those who were endowed with prophetical gifts foretold that bonds and imprisonment awaited him, yet this did not move him; that he was ready to suffer and die for his Lord; that they should see his face no more upon earth; that it was necessary for them diligently to attend to the flock, since heretical teachers would arise, and many, even among themselves, rend the church. After a beautiful and touching exhortation, he knelt down and prayed with them. They parted with many tears, especially because of the assurance that they should meet no more till they mingled round the throne of their beloved Saviour.

[graphic]

Though the spirit of prophecy has ceased, yet how often, in parting wit those whom we esteem and love, are we forced to entertain the same apprehensions! Let us then, like the apostle, part with such as are Christians by solemn and tender

prayer. After this sorrowful separation, Paul embarked, and passing by several places, arrived at Tyre. There he met with several Christians, who were under a prophetic impulse, and who again warned him of the trials and sufferings which he should experience if he went up to Jerusalem. Every motive made the Tyrian believers desirous of detaining Paul; their esteem, their gratitude, their own interest, and that of the church. How can they think, without being penetrated with sorrow, of the dangers, perhaps of the death, of one who lives only for the salvation of others and the glory of his Divine Master? But the apostle, without hesitancy, prepared to encounter all difficulties in the discharge of his duty; and the firm purpose of his soul was unshaken by their warnings and entreaties. Having

« PoprzedniaDalej »