« הקודםהמשך »
the youthful Timothy; and it has given occasion for a reference to some statements concerning him, which occur in Paul's epistle. The point which appears most prominently is the effect which resulted from his early education. Timothy had a pious mother, and she too had a pious mother; and though their piety was not originally enlightened with the knowledge of the gospel, yet it drew out their hearts towards God, and led them to the study of his word. Timothy was taught as a child to read and consider the Old Testament:-he could not then have understood the christian application of the law and the prophets, but yet he learned the Scriptures; and when he afterwards became acquainted with the truth as it is in Jesus, through the preaching of the gospel, he was urged to “continue in the things which he had learned :" the fact of his having learned them in childhood is stated with approbation ; and the faith of those parents who thus instructed him is mentioned as concurring in the cause of the apostle's joy concerning him. This seems to decide what should be the course of christian parents, as regards the instruction of their children from the earliest age;they should make them diligently attend to the Scriptures, even though they may be unable to discover more of the real power of Christ in New Testament, than the son of Eunice the could in the Old.
QUESTION. Do I myself feel the benefit of having been taught the Scriptures in childhood? Or, am I discovering the disadvantage of not having learnt them? If any children are committed in any way to my charge, am I taking proper care that, above all things, they should be taught the Holy Scriptures which are able to make them wise unto salvation ?
2. What a powerful testimony to the benefit of early instruction was the good report which the conduct of Timothy had procured for him in the neighbourhood where he lived! And the earnest affection of the apostle for the young christian is another evidence, how plainly the seal of the Spirit had been impressed in holiness, through the Gospel, upon the character thus scripturally prepared. This is an additional cause for urging the last application . upon the hearts of parents : if they feel how excellent a mercy it is to have children who are well reported of by the brethren, they ought also to remember, that they have a duty to perform in preparing for this mercy, by early attention to their religious instruction, and earnest prayer for the sealing of the Spirit upon them.
As a parent, do I seek the present gratification of being amused and interested by my children? or do I look forward to the comfort to be derived from their future christian character? And with what amount of selfdenying diligence and prayer do I seek that object ?
3. It is undoubtedly true that the path of the people of God is directed by his providence, though the means of guidance is not openly manifested; either as in the case of the journeys of the Israelites, by the pillar and the cloud in the wilderness; or as in the conversion of Cornelius in sending for Peter, by the visible manifestation of angels; or of Philip in meeting the Ethiopian. It cannot but be comforting and confirming to the faith of a christian, to trace the directing hand of God openly revealed in his Scriptures, with reference to these missionaries; who, with the best intentions, under the exercise of their own judgment, would have attempted to do God's work in one place, and were distinctly prevented, and plainly instructed that their exertions were to be used in another. We are not justified in expecting that the Holy Ghost will speak to our hearts in any such evident manner, as that he was pleased to employ with these servants of his; nor are we to look for visions, from which we may certainly gather the purposes of God. But an humble and prayerful heart will not fail of receiving that wisdom from on high, which, in the ordinary dispensation, stands in the place of such extraordinary manifestations : and the providence of God will supply such a one with signs and tokens, as subjects for the exercise of christian wisdom, which will throw sufficient light upon the path that lies before them; and those who, in faithful dependence upon God, and humble distrust of themselves, are walking through life in watchfulness and prayer, may be assured that their course will be so guided
as to bring them where God would have them to be, for. the glory of his name, and the benefit of those amongst whom they live.
Is my belief in a particular providence a practical faith, which leads me to look for some evidence that I am following the course which God appoints for me? Do I pray for wisdom to discover this ? and exercise wisdom in giving up my own plans, when providential circumstances point out others to be those which God would have me follow?
Gracious Lord, who hast declared thy salvation in thy Holy Scriptures, I thank thee that while thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, thou hast revealed them unto babes; and I beseech thee to grant, that the Spirit of faith may be given to me, so that I may, as a little child, receive thy truth which is able to save the soul. Give me grace to instruct even children in thy word, whenever by thy providence thou shalt give me opportunity; and grant that I may have the comfort of perceiving the fruits of early exertions and self-denial, in the good report obtained by those thus instructed. Lord, thou makest all things to work together for good to thy people : I implore thee to bestow upon me a spirit of wisdom, to discover the way in which thou wouldest have me to walk; let no self-opinion interfere to cross the dispositions of thy providence; but teach me to follow there where thou directest, in order that my path may be as the shining light to manifest thy glory in the subduing of my own will, and in my obedience to thine. Grant this, for Jesus' sake. AMEN.
Events at Philippi.
May God, for the sake of Jesus Christ, give me the Holy Spirit, that I may
understand this portion of His Holy Word, and profit by it.
Acts, chap. XVI. verses 13 to 40. 13 And on the sabbath (sabbath day) we went out of the city by a river
side, where prayer was wont to be made ; and we sat down, and spake 14 unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman named
Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped
God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the 15 things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and
her houshold, she besought us, saying, “ If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there.” And she
constrained us. 16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed
with a spirit of divination [or, of Python] met us, which brought her 17 masters much gain by soothsaying: the same followed Paul and us, and
cried, saying, “ These men are the servants of the most high God, which 18 shew unto us the way of salvation.” And this did she many days. But
Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, “ I command thee in
the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out the 19 same hour. And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was
gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace 20 [or, court] unto the rulers, and brought them to the magistrates, saying, 21 “ These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, and teach
customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, Geither to observe, being 22 Romans.” And the multitude rose up together against them : and the 23 magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And
when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, 24 charging the jailor to keep them safely: who, having received such a
charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the
stocks. 25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God : 26 and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earth
quake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken : and imme
diately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. 27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the
prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a 28 loud voice, saying, “ Do thyself no harm : for we are all here.” Then 29 he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what 30 inust I do to be saved ?" And they said, “ Believe on the Lord Jesus 31 Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” And they spake unto 32 him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he 33 took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought 34 them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.
And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, “ Let 35 those men go.” And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, 36 “ The magistrates have sent to let you go : now therefore depart, and go in peace.” But Paul said unto them, “They have beaten us openly 37 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." And the serjeants told these words unto the magis- 38 trates : and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans. And 39 they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city. And they went out of the prison, and entered 40 into the house of Lydia : and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.
It does not appear that there was any
synagogue at Philippi. Where there was not a sufficient number of Jews in any place to have a properly organized synagogue, those who were living there used to meet for worship, sometimes in a room employed for that purpose,
and times in the open air at a spot with water near at hand, in order to observe the traditions which required certain washings before prayer. (Mark vii. 1-8.) This was the case at Philippi; and upon the Sabbath day, after the arrival of Paul, with Silas, Timothy, and Luke, they all went to the accustomed spot where the Jewish prayermeeting was held ; it was outside the town on the banks of a river. In the regular worship of the synagogue, men and women always sat separately, in different parts of the building: and it is not unlikely that, when there was no synagogue, the men and the women used to hold their