« הקודםהמשך »
PREME Deity: as they refused to do this, God justly restrained his
grace. In what deplorable ignorance were the heathen involved! but it was the just punishment of their impiety and self-confidence. Instead of attending to true wisdom they gave up their minds to trifling speculations, idolatry, and superstition.
Since we are blessed with the knowledge of the true God, let us adhere to him with the utmost fidelity ; be thankful that we have his written word to guide us, and make that, and not the wisdom of men, the rule both of our faith and practice.
AFTER Paul left Athens, he visited the polite and flourishing city of Corinth. Here he maintained him. self by working at the business of a tent-maker: but while he abode there, he preached in the synagogues every sabbath-day, and persuaded many, both of Jews and Greeks, to embrace Christianity.
Conscious of many imperfections in his person and address, and considering the learning, grandeur, and politeness of the Corinthians, Paul entertained many fears, that he should not be successful in his ministry; but he was animated by a vision, in which the LORD appeared to him by night, saying, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace : for I am with thee, and no
* Acts, xvii.
min shall set on thee to hurt thee ; for I have much people in this city.
Thus encouraged, he pursued his pious labours, and continued at Corinth a year and a half, and by the di. vine blessing planted a flourishing church there. Paul met with a little disturbance in Corinth from the Jews, but it was put a stop to by the prudence of Gallio, the Roman magistrate, before whom he was accused. When this tumult was appeased, he went to Ephesus, accompanied by Aquila and his wife Priscilla, two pious people, with whom he had lived at Corinth. Paul taught in the Jewish synagogues at Ephesus; but being desirous of going to Jerusalem at the feast of Pentecost, on account of meeting a great number of his countrymen, he took an affectionate leave of them, and sailed from Ephesus, from whence he had a prosperous voyage; and having visited his friends in Jerusalem, he went to Antioch, and made another progress through places at which he had established churches.
While he was thus employed, a certain Jew, whose name was Apollos, a native of Alexandria in Egypt, an eloquent man, and well learned in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, came to Ephesus. He had embraced the doctrine of John the Baptist, in consequence of which he preached repentance and faith in the MESSIAH. Aquila and Priscilla being then at Ephesus, expounded unto him the Gospel Dispensation more perfectly; and shortly after, as he was desirous to preach in different places, the disciples at Ephesus wrote letters of recom. mendation for him, and he proved a very useful and zealous minister.
Paul pursued his Jabours with unremitting diligence and great success. He took up his residence for two years at Ephesus : so that all the inhabitants
of the neighbouring province of Asia, to whom Paul had before been forbidden to preach, both Jews and Greeks, had now an opportunity of hearing the word
of God *.
Paul, in the course of his ministry, having performed many wonderful miracles, and effected some extraordinary conversions at Ephesus, was desirous of visiting again the churches he had formerly planted, after which he purposed to go once more to Jerusalem, and then to Rome; but he did not immediately put this plan into execution : however, he sent Timothy and Erastus into Macedonia to prepare his way, and get their collection ready for the poor Christians in Judea.
About that time a great disturbance happened in Ephesus, the occasion of which was as follows:
There was at Ephesus a famous temple, dedicated to the goddess Diana. A man named Demetrius, a silversmith, employed a number of workmen, in making models of this temple, which were called shrines ; finding that his business decreased, in proportion as Paul's preaching overcame the superstition of the Ephesians, Demetrius called his workmen together, and pointed out to them how their interest was affected by Paul's preaching against idol worship; and with a variety of arguments inflamed their minds to such a degree, that they ran about the city, crying out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians ! and proceeded to commit outrages against the Christians. On this Paul would have surrendered himself into their hands, but his friends prevented him. At length the tumult was so great, that
* I purposely pass over the account of the exorcists, because the remarks on it would require more room than could be spared for them. Those who wish for satisfaction on this subject, must consult the works of the learned. R 2
one of the magistrates, a man of learning and authority interposed, and convinced the multitude, that they were very wrong in their proceedings; because if De. metrius had any complaint against the Christians, the law was open for his redress. On this the people retired to their habitations without farther violence. Af., ter this insurrection, Paul took an affectionate leave of his disciples, and departed for Macedonia. Having visited many places he arrived at Troas *, where he continued a week. On the evening before he left this place, a very remarkable event happened. Willing to give the disciples there as much instruction as the time would allow, after having administered the LORD's SUPPER, which was a constant practice every LORD's day, he preached with great fervency till midnight. A young man named Eutychus, who was one of the hearers, sitting at an open window, a great height from the ground, being overpowered with sleep, fell down, and was taken up dead. This threw the whole assembly into confusion; but through the power of Christ he was restored to life by the hands of Paul, to the great joy of his friends.
This incident contains a powerful caution to young persons in particular, to keep their attention fixed during the whole of divine service. Eutychus, it seems, strove to do so, but was overpowered with sleep, and therefore found mercy; but what would have been his unhappy condition had he slept and trifled as many do, during a much shorter service in the middle of the day! No one knows but the hand of death
may strike him in a natural way during the course of divine service, and there is no room to hope for a miracle to recover
my course with
him. Let us therefore endeavour to keep ourselves not only awake, but thoroughly attentive to every part of our devotions and the minister's instructions, that if we should be suddenly taken off, we may at least be found doing our duty.
The next day Paul sailed from Troas, and stopped in the course of his voyage at several places; at length he arrived at Miletus, and, not having time to visit his friends as he intended, he sent for the elders of the Ephesian church to come to him. When they were arrived, he made a very affectionate discourse, and informed them, that he was impelled by the Holy SpiRIT to visit Jerusalem, and knew by divine inspiration that many trials would happen to him; but, said he, none of these things move me; neither count I my
life dear unto myself, so that I may finish joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the LORD Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God. . And now behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know 'this that after my departing, shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men rise speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of R 3