« AnteriorContinuar »
now reconciled to God by " the blood of the everlasting covenant;" his sins were blotted out, and he was " accepted in the Beloved." The "child of wrath" was become the child of God: the heir of the kingdom of darkness was become heir of the "kingdom prepared for the righteous." The sense of this, shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost, would cause him to " rejoice in the Lord." "The God of hope filled him with all joy and peace in believing."
At the same time, the christian life is not always "joy and peace." We do not pretend that it is. The jailer and his household, who now rejoiced, would doubtless find occasion hereafter for different feelings, while working out their salvation in the world. The very next day they might expect persecution from the magistrates, on account of the kindness shown to Paul and Silas. And not only would their outward comfort, but their inward peace be disturbed; they would find resistance within, when their evil passions, now for a while subdued, began by degrees to rise against the new "law of the mind" which restrained them; when Satan, now dispossessed of his subjects, began to stir himself, and try to recover his dominion. The christian life is a race, and " he that striveth for the mastery" has much to do, which is not always agreeable to flesh and blood. The christian life is a warfare, and " he that warreth" must endure hardships and trials, and be humbled sometimes, as well as sometimes triumph. In short, these, like others, must submit to the general rule, that "we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God."
But still there was reason for rejoicing now. If there is "joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth," there may well be joy on earth, when he who " was dead is alive again, he who was lost is found." There might hereafter be cause of sorrow for these very persons. But if we were never to rejoice on earth, because we might hereafter be called to weep, this world would be indeed a vale of tears. This man had secured to himself one who " is able to save unto the uttermost." Let, not the foundations of their prison alone, but of the universe, be shaken: he need not fear, though "the heaven and the earth should pass away with a great noise, and the elements melt with fervent heat." He, "according to the promise, would look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." And meanwhile, he had one to rely on, who can be " touched with human infirmities," and " knows how to succour them that are tempted." Cheered by these thoughts, and hopes, and promises, we cannot wonder that he rejoiced in God with all his house.
The report of what had taken place in the prison seems to have been spread abroad, and to have reached the ears of the magistrates.
35. And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go.
36. And the keeper of the prison told this saying to
Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace.
37. But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out.
38. And the serjeants told these words to the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans.
39. And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city.
40. And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.
Personally, the apostles claimed no respect or dignity. They could humble themselves, and become servants to all. But the ministry must suffer no reproach. The people had seen them hurried to prison, treated as no Roman citizen was permitted to be treated; and the same people must now be convinced that there was no just cause for this: they who had cast them publicly into prison, must now come themselves, and fetch them out. This was all they required. When their character was cleared, they were willing to depart, and go in peace. But first let them enter into the house of Lydia, and comfort the brethren there. And surely there was much to comfort them; much to bear witness to, of the support which they had received in the hour of need; of the way in which God had interposed his power, to strike terror into their enemies, and to convert their keeper's heart.
And, not only might those brethren be comforted; but all who are within the bond of the same covenant may find comfort too: may be sure that they are watched over by the same gracious care, and that according as their need is, so shall strength be supplied to them.
PAUL'S PREACHING AT THESSALONICA.—A. D. 53.
Acts xvii. 1—4.:
1. Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:
2. And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath-days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
3. Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered and risen again from the dead: and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.
Persecuted in one city, the apostles proceed to another. Opposition and ill-treatment divert their course, but do not change their object. They pass through Amphipolis and Apollonia, two towns in Macedonia, where not a sufficient number of Jews resided to have established a regular place of worship, so that no opportunity of addressing the people was open to them. But at Thessalonica Paul found a synagogue; and to that he resorted, and declared bis message, on three succeeding sabbaths. So he reminds the Thessalonian disciples afterwards. "Even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention." »
His purpose was to prove that Jesus, whom he preached unto them, was Christ: was he, "whom the Spirit of the Lord had anointed" to fulfil the prophecies and accomplish the promises: to be all that the Jews expected in the Messiah.
The objection to this, on the part of the Jews, was his lowliness and humiliation, and, above all, his cross and passion. How did this agree with the character of king, as foretold in the scriptures? How suit the description of one who was " to rule his people Israel?"—"to sit on the throne of David for ever V How was he to be a deliverer, who had not saved himself from a cruel death?
To these objections Paul was to reply. And we read that he did reply, and show them that the scriptures, properly interpreted, did in truth coincide with all that had come to pass, and could not be otherwise explained: for that Christ must needs have suffered and risen again from the dead.
We may conclude that there are two arguments on which he would principally rest. First, the nature of their law, which required continual sacri1 Thess. ii. 2.