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CHAP. I.

A short view of the facts contained in the history

of the Acts, with some natural reflections thence

arising I a

SHALL, first of all, give you a brief view of the facts contained in this book: they are, the visible ascension of Christ into heaven; the miraculous effusion of the Holy Ghost on the disciples, together with the wonderful powers thereby conferred; the healing the lame beggar, who was daily laid at the Beautiful gate of the temple; and the increase of Christ's followers, by the amazing conversion of many thousand Jews; the exemplary punishment of Ananias and Sapphira, with many miracles done by Peter and the other apostles; the imprisonment and miraculous release of the apostles; their being afterwards apprehended, and beaten by the magistrates; the appointment of seven deacons; the defence of St. Stephen before the sanhedrim, and his being stoned; Philip the deacon's planting the gospel in Samaria; the gifts of the Holy Ghost being conferred by the hands of the apostles; the feigned conversion of Simon Magus, and the real conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch ; Saul's bitter persecution of Christ's disciples, and his miraculous conversion; St. Peter's curing Æneas of an eight years' palsy, and raising Dorcas from the dead; his being taught by a vision from heaven that the Gentiles were to be no longer esteemed unclean; his preaching the gospel to Cornelius and his friends, and the

Holy Ghost's falling on them; the plentiful crop of Gentile converts after this, particularly at Antioch; the prophecy of Agabus concerning the dearth there should be under Claudius Cæsar; Herod's slaying the apostle James with the sword; his imprisoning of Peter, who is delivered by an angel, and his remarkable end; that Paul and Barnabas, commissioned by the Holy Ghost to publish the gospel among the Gentiles, arrive at Salamis, preach to Sergius Paulus the Roman governor, are opposed by Elymas the sorcerer, who is struck blind, and the governor is converted; that they next preached the word at Antioch in Pisidia, first to the Jews, and then to the Gentiles, and among the latter had a large number of converts; but, being persecuted by the envious Jews, they travelled to Iconium, and so spake there, that a great multitude both of Jews and Gentiles believed ; that they abode here a long time, and did many miracles; but at length, being persecuted by the envy of the Jews, they fled to Lycaonia, and St. Paul having healed a cripple, lame from his mother's womb, at Lystra, the inhabitants would fain have done him divine honours, taking him for a god; the Jews here also stirred up the people against St. Paul, and prevailed to that degree, that they stoned him, drew him out of the city, and left him for dead; but the almighty arm saved him, so that either he received no hurt from the force and weight of the stones thrown at him, or his bruises and wounds were immediately healed; for he soon arose, and, after the short stay of one night more in that city, went the next day with Barnabas to Derbe, and having taught many there, they returned to Lystra, to Iconium, to Antioch in Pisidia, and having ordained elders in every church which they had planted, they passed throughout Pisidia, came to Pamphylia, preached at Perga, went down to Attalia, and then returned to Antioch in Syria, from whence they set out: that Paul and Barnabas were sent from hence to Jerusalem to consult the apostles whether it were necessary that the converted Gentiles should be circumcised, and declared before them and the whole multitude of the disciples at Jerusalem what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them; and the apostles with the elders having determined this question in favour of the Gentile converts, Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch: that after some days Paul and Barnabas, purposing to visit the churches they had planted among the Gentiles, differed so greatly in their opinions concerning John, whose surname was Mark, that, they separating, Barnabas went to Cyprus, and Paul, passing through Syria and Cilicia, went to Derbe and Lystra; as he went through the cities, delivering the decrees of the apostles to keep, and establishing the churches in their faith : and having gone throughout Phrygia and Galatia, he came down to Troas; from whence, being warned by a vision, he went to Samothracia, the next day to Neapolis, and from thence to Philippi, which was the first city of that part of Macedonia, and a Roman colony: here he converted Lydia, cast the demon out of the Pythonissa, was scourged, cast into prison, and had his feet fastened in the stocks; but at midnight the prison-doors being flung open by a miraculous earthquake, and the irons of every prisoner falling off, the gaoler, concluding they were all fled, in the greatness of his surprise would have stabbed himself, had not Paul assured him that not one prisoner was missing: overcome by this wonderful event, he gave attention to the word preached by Paul and Silas, and was baptized, he and all his household : the magistrates of this city, repenting of their rash act in beating and imprisoning two Romans unheard, uncondemned, came the next day, and besought them to leave both the prison and their city: that St. Paul went from thence through Amphipolis and Apollonia, and came to Thessalonica, where, after having converted many to the Christian faith, an uproar being made by the unbelieving Jews, he went unto Beræa; whence, after a large harvest of converts, the Jews stirring up the people against him here also, he was conducted to Athens : having preached and made a few converts in that city, he went to Corinth; there he abode about two years, and converted very many. He was here carried before Gallio the Roman proconsul, and Sosthenes the chief ruler of the synagogue was beaten for his sake. He sailed from Cenchrea, the eastern port belonging to Corinth, for Syria, put in by the way at Ephesus, and, after a short stay in that city, sailed thence to Cæsarea; and having gone up and saluted the church at Jerusalem, he went down to Antioch in Syria. That after some time spent here, he went again over all the countries of Galatia and Phrygia, comforting the disciples; and, passing through the upper coasts, came to Ephesus. Here he conferred the Holy Ghost on twelve disciples, who before this had heard only of John's baptism. He continued in this city three months preaching in the synagogue of the Jews, and after that disputed daily in the

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