Imatges de pÓgina

"Be it therefore known unto you, men and brethren, that through this Saviour is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins. It is by his merits we are justified from all things, which were impossible by the law of Moses. Be careful, therefore, lest what was foretold by the prophets come upon you. "Behold, ye despisers, and wonder and perish; for I work a work in your day, a work which you shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you."

This spirited address of the great apostle carried with it its own weight, and obtained, from the converted Jews, a request that it should again be delivered the ensuing sabbath; when almost the whole city flocked to hear the apostle; at which the Jews were filled with envy, and contradicted Paul, uttering many blasphemous expressions against the name of Jesus of Nazareth. But their opposition could not daunt the apostles, who boldly declared that our blessed Saviour had charged them to preach the gospel first to the Jews, but as they so obstinately rejected it, they were now to address themselves to the Gentiles; who hearing this, rejoiced exceedingly, magnifying the words of the Almighty, and many of them embraced the doctrines of the gospel.

however great. Therefore, according to
their usual method, they again began their
preaching in the assembly of Israelites, and
the Almighty so far assisted their endea
vours, that many, both Jews and proselytes,
believed. Their success encouraged them
to continue a considerable time in this city,
to instruct the converts, and confirm their
faith by miracles. But though they had
gained a considerable part of the city to the
faith, yet many continued in their infidelity:
the old leaven of Jewish malice began
again to ferment, and the unbelieving
Jews, having stirred up many Gentiles
against the apostles, at last prevailed on
the multitude to stone them. But the
stles, having timely notice of their design,
fled from the city and travelled to Lystra,
where they preached the gospel to the inha-
bitants, and those who dwelt in the adjacent


Among the converts at Lystra was a man who had been lame from his mother's womb,. and never had walked. But Paul, perceiving that he had faith to be saved, thought proper to add the cure of his body to that of his soul, knowing that it would not only be beneficial to him, but to all the rest of the believers, by confirming their faith. And that the miracle might be wrought in This increased the malice and fury of the the most conspicuous manner, he, in the Jews, who by false and artful insinuations, midst of the congregation, said, in an audiprevailed on some of the more bigotted and ble voice to the man, Stand upright on thy honourable women to bring over their husbands to their party; by which means Paul feet. And the words were no sooner proand Barnabas were driven out of the city.nounced, than his strength was at once reAt which the apostles departed, shaking off stored, aud he leaped up and walked. the dust from their feet, as a testimony of the sense they had of the ingratitude and infidelity of the Jews.

From Antioch they went to Iconium, the metropolis of Lycania, a province of the Lesser Asia, where they entered into the synagogue of the Jews, notwithstanding the ill-treatment they had met with from the Jews in other places; for so great was their zeal for the gospel, that they were not to be deterred from preaching it by ill-usage,

The people who beheld this miracle well. knew that it was not wrought by any human power; but having been initiated into the superstitious customs of the heathens, they. cried out, The gods are come down tous in the likeness of men. Accordingly they called Barnabas Jupiter, because of his venerable gravity, and Paul Mercury,. from his eloquence. Nor was it long before the whole city resounded with acclamations; so that almost all the inhabitants gathered themselves together, and, preceded by the


PAUL and BARNABAS at LYSTRA Acts. Chap. 14.

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priest of Jupiter, and oxen dressed in garlands, they came to the house where the apostles were intending to do sacrifice to them.

But as soon as Barnabas and Paul understood their intentions, they were greatly affected at this superstitious design; and renting their clothes to express their grief and abhorrence of the action, ran to them, crying out, "Ye men of Lystra, ye are mistaken in the object of your worship for though we have done many miracles in the name, and by the power of Christ, yet we are no more than men, and subject to the same passions with yourselves, and preach unto you the glad tidings of salvation, that ye may forsake the vanities of this world, and turn to the living God, who created the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all the creatures they contain. This Omnipotent Being suffered all nations formerly to walk in their own ways, though he never left himself without witness, deing the greatest good to the children of men, it is he that sendeth rain from heaven, and crowneth the year with fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with joy and our hearts with joy and gladness."

This argument of the apostles had the desired effect; and the people were at last, though with difficulty persuaded to lay aside their intended idolatrous sacrifice. And surely no argument could be more proper to affect the minds of his audience. Is it possible to survey the several parts of the creation, and not discover, in every place, evident traces of an infinite wisdom, power, and goodness! Who can survey universal nature, and not at once see and admire its great author, who has disposed of all created things with such order and regularity, as to display, in the clearest manner, his own power and glory? Behold the sun! How justly is that source of light and heat placed in the centre of the planetary orb, that each may enjoy its destined share of its prolific beams; so that the earth is not burnt by too near an approach, nor

chilled by the northern blasts from too great a recess but impregnated with fruits and flowers, by the happy influence of a vital heat, and crowned with luxuriant plenty, by the benign influence of the season. It is that Omnipotent Being, who "poises the balancing of the clouds, that divides a water course for the overflowing of waters, and a way for the lightning of the thunder." Who can" bind the benign influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion ?" Or, who can "bring forth Mazaroth in his season, or guide Arcturus with his son ?" Do these happen by chance, or by the secret appointment of infinite wisdom? Who can contemplate the wonderful properties of the air, the great treasury of vital breath, and not reflect on the divine wisdom that formed it? If we survey the earth, we there discover the footsteps of an Almighty Being, who "stretcheth the north over the empty space, and hangeth the earth upon nothing;" filling it with great variety of admirable and useful creatures, and maintaining them all by the bounty of his hand. It is he that clothes the grass with a delightful verdure, that "crowns the year with his loving kindness, and causes the valleys to stand thick with corn." he that maketh the grass to grow upon the mountains, and herbs for the service of man.” He adorns the lilies of the field,, that neither toil nor spin, with a glory that excels the pomp and grandeur of Solomon's court. "He shut up the sea with doors, and said, Hitherto shalt thou come and no farther, and here shall thy proud waves be stayed." It is the Almighty Being that arrests the storm, and smooths the tempestuous billows of the deep; that delivereth the mariner from all his troubles, and bringeth his ship into the desired haven of safety. How reasonable, therefore, is it that we should worship and adore this omnipotent, this kind Creator, and not transfer the honours due to him alone to frail mortals, much less to dumb idols, the work of men's hands.

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The apostles indefatigably persevered in the execution of their important commission,

declaring wherever they went, the glad tidings of salvation, through repentance unto life and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But the malice of the Jews still pursued them; for some of these bigotted Israelites coming from Antioch and Iconium, exasperated and stirred up the multitude; so that those very persons who could hardly be restrained from offering sacrifice to them, now nsed them like slaves, stoning them in so cruel a manner, that Paul was thought to be dead, and as such they dragged him out of the city; but while the christians of Lystra were attending on his body, probably in order to carry him to the grave, he arose and returned with them into the city; and the next day departed with Barnabas to Derbe, where they preached the gospel, and converted many; no danger being able to terrify them from the work of the ministry, and publishing the glad tidings of salvation in every place.

They did not, however, long continue at Derbe, but returned to Lystra, Iconium, Antioch and Pisidia, confirming the christians of those places in the faith, earnestly persuading them to persevere, and not be discouraged with those troubles and persecutions, which they must expect would at tend the profession of the gospel. And that the affairs of the church might be conducted with more regularity, they ordained elders and pastors to teach, to instruct, and to watch over them; and then left them to the protection of the Almighty, to whose care they recommended them by prayer and fasting.

After leaving Antioch they passed through Pisidia, and came to Pamphylia: and after preaching the gospel at Perga, they went down to Attalia.

Having thus finished the circuit of their ministry, they returned back to Antioch in Syria, from whence they at first departed. Here they summoned the church, and gave them an account of their ministry, the success it had met in different parts, and how great

a door had thus been opened for the conver sion of the Gentile world.

While St. Paul continued at Antioch, that famous controversy, with regard to the observation of the Jewish ceremonies in the christian dispensation, was set on foot by certain Jewish converts, to the great disturbance of the whole church: and, it was determined to send Paul and Barnabas to consult with the apostles and church at Jerusalem, that this affair might be settled on the most solid foundation. On their arrival at Jerusalem they first addressed themselves to Peter, James and John, the pillars of that church, by whom they were kindly entertained, and admitted to the right hand of fellowship and perceiving by the account given them by St. Paul, that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed to him as that of the circumcision was to Peter, they agreed that Peter should preach to the Jews, and Paul to the Gentiles. This being determined, a council was summoned, wherein Peter declared his opinion, and Paul and Barnabas acquainted them with the great things God, by their ministry, had done among the Gentiles: a plain evidence that they were accepted by the Almighty, though uncircumcised, as well as the Jews with all their legal their legal rights and privileges: accordingly it was unanimously determined, that the Gentiles were not under the obligation of the law of Moses, and therefore that some persons of their own church should be joined with Paul and Barnabas, to carry the decrees of the council to Antioch, for their farther satisfaction in this matter. Nothing tends more to impede the progress of vital religion, than a bigotted attachment to inessential forms and modes.


Transactions of this great Apostle, from the time of the Synod at Jerusalem, till his Preaching at Athens.

HE controversy concerning the observation of Jewish ceremonies in the christian church being decided in favour of St.

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