« AnteriorContinuar »
fice, and thus showed, that without shedding of blood is no remission; while, at the same time, the scriptures intimated that these sacrifices were not in themselves precious or sufficient, but were the types and shadows of something to be hereafter fulfilled and revealed. Nothing could be more clear, than that a great part of the worship of the law consisted in the offering of sacrifices as an atonement for sin. Nothing, on tho other hand, could be more certain in itself, or more plainly declared by the prophets, than that the blood of bulls and goats can never take away sin. This is cleared up in the words of David. Speaking the language of Christ, he saith, " Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: in burnt-offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God."2 Thus "he taketh away the first," the sacrifices required by the law, "that he may establish the second, the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
The second argument would be taken from the nature of the prophecies. If Christ had not suffered,how should Isaiah be fu filled? (Isa.liii. 3,&c.) "He was despised and rejected of men: a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him: he was despised, and we esteemed him not. He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her 3 Ps. xl. 6—8; Heb. x. 5—9.
shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment; and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living; for the transgression of my people was he stricken." "And the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."
What could these words mean, but that. Christ must needs have suffered f While other prophecies, speaking of his exaltation and glory, signify no less plainly that he must needs have risen from the dead, and resumed his throne in heaven.
It was here, as elsewhere. To the hearts of some the words of Paul were carried home, and wrought conviction.
4. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout3 Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.
Fewer here, it would seem, of the Jews than of the devout Greeks: that is, those who, like Cornelius, through the Jewish scriptures, had been brought to worship the true God, and had neither idols to cast off, nor Jewish prejudices to confound them.
There were also those, not here mentioned, who had idols to cast off, and who did cast off their idols. In his letter to the Thessalonian Christians, Paul speaks of success which is not here related. "For our gospel," (he says, 1 Thess. i. 5—10) "came not unto you in word only, but also in
3 Or worshipping Greeks. Paul makes a distinction between these two parties iu ch. xiii. 16. "Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience."
power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: so that ye were examples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad: so that we need not to speak anything. For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come."
Such were the blessed consequences of this visit to Thessalonica. They explain the vision, when the " man of Macedonia appeared to Paul in the night, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us." There was a people, then indeed without the knowledge of God, and "worshipping the creature more than the Creator;" but which might still be brought " out of darkness into marvellous light:" brought to exhibit that picture here given of the faithful Christian, who is "serving God" on earth, and ''waiting for his Son from heaven:" to whom, "to live is Christ, and to die is gain."4
* Phil. i. 21.
PAUL AND SILAS ARE FORCED TO LEAVE THESSALONICA, AND ARE RECEIVED AT BEREA— A. D. 53.
Acts xvii. 5—12.
5. But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason,1 and sought to bring them out to the people.
6. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also:
7. Whom Jason hath received; and these all do contrary to the decrees of Ccesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.
8. And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.
The Jews which believed not were always the bitterest opponents of the gospel. As commonly happens in such cases, they did not scruple about the means by which they resisted its progress. Here they collected a crowd of that sort of persons which a populous town furnishes; and they sounded
1 Writing to the Remans, xvi. 20, St. Paul says, " Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you." It is, therefore, probable that Jason was a relative of Paul, and had received the party at Thessalonica.
the usual watchword on such occasions, innovation. They set all the city in an uproar, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.
There have been many in the history of mankind of whom the same account might be truly given. They have changed the course of the world: of that part of the world to which their influence reached. But not by such means as were used by the apostles. By violence and force of arms they have overthrown the existing state of things, and effected a general change. But the apostles employed no "carnal weapons." They warred not as the men of this present world. St. Paul appeals to this very people, as to the means by which he had prevailed over them. (1 Thess. ii. 7.) "We were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: so, being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us." But the instruments they used, the gentleness and meekness, the truth and reason, these proved "mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds: casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God."2
With this allowance, to the charge here made against them they would plead guilty. We are desiring to turn the world upside down: to "turn it from darkness to light, from the power of Satan
2 2 Cor. x. 4.