« AnteriorContinuar »
the King under whom they might have peace, for great is the peace of his subjects; the King under whom righteousness should flourish, and " violence be no more heard;" the King who had prepared for them "an inheritance incorruptible and undefined," such as nothing on earth could afford, and nothing on earth could enjoy.
According as the heart was freed or not freed from the love of earthly things, and prepared or not prepared with humility from above, some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. Even the apostle's reasoning, however earnest, however long-continued, from morning till evening, could not convince all hearts. Something besides argument is needful. As on the one side there must be force used, that any impression may be conveyed; so on the other side there must be a subject capable of receiving the impression. And all hearts were not thus softened. Some believed. The rest " were blinded,"3 and believed not. Paul could not let them separate without reminding them of the prophet's awful words, now about to be fulfilled.
25. And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers,
26. Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye
2 Rom. xi. 7.
3 Is. vi. 9. Applied by Paul to the same purpose, (Rom. xL 8,) as it had been four times in the gospels..
shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:
27. For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
28. Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.
29. And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves.
It had been written, also, in Hosea: "I will call them my people, which were not my people, and him beloved, which was not beloved."5 All had been foreseen and foreshown. The gospel should be preached to the Jews. But they, as a nation, should prove dull of hearing, and their eyes should they close. They, "being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, would not submit themselves to the righteousness of God."6 Again, the gospel should be preached to the Gentiles. And they would hear it. So that 'c the Gentiles would attain to righteousness which is of faith :"7 the righteousness "which is unto all and upon all them that believe." "And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there shall they be called the children of the living God."8
5 Hcs. ii. 23. See Rom. ix. 25. 6 Rom. x. 3.
'Rom. ix. 30. 8 Hos. i. 10.
Beware of pride of heart. Pride of heart cast off the Jews. They "sought not righteousness by faith, but as it were by the works of the law." 9 They would not submit to that method of salvation which God had prepared and revealed. And in all ages, pride of heart is one great obstacle to receiving the gospel. In some way or other, men "go about to establish their own righteousness:" l not to become righteous, for which object they cannot be too zealous; but to prove themselves righteous, and deserving of acceptance with God.
Those are blessed, who are brought to a better mind: to whose ears the tidings of eternal life, as the gift of God through Jesus Christ, are glad tidings: and whose hearts are enabled to understand how he is " the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." In life and in death, these are blessed. "For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed." 8
9 Hos. ix. 26. 1 lb. ix. 32
a lb. x. 4. 11.
PAUL REMAINS TWO YEARS AT ROME. HIS SUPPORT, AND HIS SUCCESS THERE.—A. D. 63.
Acts xxviii. 30, 31.
30. And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him,
31. Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
Thus did Paul "bear witness" at Rome. We perceive now the purpose of all those many circumstances which had conspired to place him there. It had been wonderfully ordered that he should have the opportunity, during two whole years, of preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, in the great city of the world: and that without hindrance. The very imprisonment in which he was held favoured him. Had he been able to enter into the Jewish synagogues, or to dispute, as at Athens, in the public places with them that met with him, the magistrates would have interfered, and the law would have put him down. But being confined to his own hired house " with the soldier who kept him," he received all who came to him, no man forbidding him: and though he was bound, "the word of God was not bound." Many, we may suppose, of his visitors were his own countrymen, whose lingering prejudices he would endeavour, and often successfully, to remove. But more, probably, were Gentiles: providentially led, through acquaintance or connexion, to seek that light which God had set up, ready to enlighten every man.
During this sojourn at Rome, Paul did not forget the churches which he had planted elsewhere. His epistles to the Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, written at this time, show his anxiety concerning them. They also enable us to gather some particulars of his residence which history has not elsewhere recorded.
We learn, for instance, something of the support and comfort which he received while dwelling in the midst of this idolatrous and luxurious city.
He was not left alone. There were collected round him a faithful band ready to live or die with him. "Marcus, Demas, Lucas, his fellow-labourers, and Jesus, which is called Justus: who are of the circumcision." These were his "fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God, who were a comfort to him." 1 So was Aristarchus, the companion of his voyage, whom, with Epaphras, he styles his "fellow-prisoner;" and Tychicus, who conveyed his letter to the churches.2 Afterwards
1 Col. iv. 7, &c.
2 Col. iv. 10; Philem. 23; Col. iv. 7; Eph. vi. 21.