תמונות בעמוד

God to hearken unto man more than unto God;" and there are so many things which are “highly esteemed amongst men, that are abomination in the sight of God,” (Luke xv. 16) that at every turn we may expect to find the snare which is brought by the fear of man (Prov. xxix. 25). Unless we seek and obtain the same Spirit that supported Peter and John, we shall never be able practically to manifest that we are determined to hearken to God more than to man; but on the contrary, we shall forsake our christian profession when it is likely to bring danger and inconvenience, and shall deny our Lord in the midst of worldly society.

QUESTION. In what respects does my conduct plainly manifest a christian boldness, in maintaining a consistent course opposed to the way of the world? and how far may I believe that it is the work of the Holy Spirit within me ?

2. The Apostles evidently depended upon the promise of their Lord, to supply them with needful help in their distress; and they were not disappointed. They made this the occasion of calling their fellow christians to join them in giving praise to God, and in praying for more of that same boldness with which they had already been favoured; their prayer was heard, and their petition granted immediately. This is a blessed encouragement to the confiding christian to go on in his confident trust, and to make every occasion of mercy received the motive for such prayerful praise as asks for more grace, in order to manifest more evidently God's glory in his people. This habitual confidence in Christ's promise of support is the very material out of which christian boldness is formed; and it is continually strengthened by the exercise of praise for past mercy, and of prayer for more.

Am I watchful for occasions to praise God for the grace which he gives me? and do I make every token of grace received, a motive for praying him to give me more ?


3. But the conduct of the Sanhedrim likewise affords an important application of warning. The healing of the lame man was a good work, this was so plain that they could not deny it, it was besides a wonderful work in which they could detect no fraud; yet these unhappy men were unconvinced by the power, and uninfluenced by the benevolence of the work, because it was to the glory of Jesus whom they hated. The same result has been seen in the world ever since: good works, which are praised when done for man's glory, are called into question and spoken evil of, when they are done simply and professedly to the glory of Jesus,--done by persons who will allow of no merit in them, except that which is given to Christ, by faith in whom they are justified before the good works were done at all. The same inquiry is oftentimes made now as then, “ by what power or by what name” do men perform the duties of their station; and whatever is done, as bringing forth a testimony to the power of Christ's Spirit in us, is resisted and spoken of with threats, by the worldly. Sometimes however they can do no more than threaten, for the same cause as that which restrained the Sanhedrim from persecuting the Apostles—“ because of the people ; public opinion in favour of one who lives consistently is often rendered by God's mercy a safeguard, such as defends his people from many an injury, from individual malice and opposition.

QUESTION. Have I any repugnance to the evangelic doctrines of divine grace, which makes me look with suspicion on the good conduct of those who profess to hold that doctrine ? and do I resist the testimony which such conduct affords to the truth of the profession made ?

4. There is a remarkable strength in the statement made by Peter, at the time that he is said to have been “ filled with the Holy Ghost," that there is no salvation but “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.” In considering the expressions employed, there is no room left for any exception; and each one of us must remember, first for himself and then for all others, that Jesus is the only Saviour, and that every hope except in the application of the salvation of Christ is groundless. There is more need of an attentive consideration of this statement, than we are apt to suppose ; for a hope of salvation through various bye-ways of man's imagining is too often encouraged, with an appearance of charity in the cases of others, and of excuse in our own. The whole of the Scripture however testifies to that truth, which is condensed in the statement alluded to; and he is most uncharitable who quietly leaves others without the knowledge of Christ's salvation as essential, and most unwise who fails to apply it himself; “ for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.”

QUESTION. Do I rest satisfied with the vague hope of being saved, without striving to make my calling and election sure in Christ Jesus ? and do I excuse my want of active faithfulness in any case, by indulging a similar hope for others ?


Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is. There is none that can prevail against thee; if thou be for me, who can be against me. Grant

I beseech thee, the spirit of boldness with confidence in thy power and thy promises, that striving to obey thee rather than man, I may live as thy servant-confessing the name of Jesus as my Lord in the midst of a world that lieth in wickedness; let me never be afraid of manifesting christian principle in all I say and do, unchecked by the fear of man that bringeth a snare. I praise and bless thy holy name for every opportunity of shewing my faith in thy name; but, O Lord, how few and how weak have been my efforts to strengthen this faith. Give me more grace--more confidence in thy promises more dependence upon thy help--more boldness in bearing testimony of thy love towards me. Let my works be such as bear the character of thy goodness, proving that thou art working in me to will and to do of thy good pleasure. Teach me to recognize thy Spirit in the good works of others who magnify the power of thy name, and make me deeply and abidingly to feel, that neither I nor any other in whom I may be interested can be saved, except by the effectual application of that precious name, Jesus Christ our Saviour. AMEN.



Ananias and Sapphira.

TIME.- About A.D. 31.

May God, for the sake of Jesus Christ, give me the Holy Spirit, that I may

AMEN. understand this portion of His Holy Word, and profit by it.

THE SCRIPTURE. Acts, chap. IV. 36, 37; V. verses 1 to 11. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, 36 being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at 37 the apostles' feet.

5 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, 2 and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter 3 said, “ Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to (or to deceive] the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land ? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it 4 not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thy heart? thou hast not lied unto 'men, but unto God.” And Ananias hear- 5 ing these words, fell down and gave up the ghost : and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound 6 him up, and carried him out, and buried him. And it was about the space 7 of three hours after, wben his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, “Tell me whether ye sold the land 8 for so much.” And she said, “ Yea, for so much.” Then Peter said 9 unto her, “ How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord ? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.” Then fell she down straightway at 10 his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard 11 these things.

EXPLANATION. In describing the state of the church of Christ in its infancy, the last portion informed us of the voluntary selfdenial of the richer members, who sold their landed property and placed the purchase money at the disposal of the Apostles, for the use of the whole company of christians

who at that time were still living together in the same city, Jerusalem. The name of one of those who acted thus is recorded, Joses of the tribe of Levi, who had probably been a person of eminence in his office as a Levite; for, when he was converted and received into the church by baptism, the Apostles had given him the name of Barnabas, the meaning of which word is “the son of consolation.” Whether he had been a person of importance or not, he certainly became an eminent christian ; for he was afterwards commissioned by the apostles to enquire into the condition of the church at Antioch (Acts xi. 22), and being especially appointed to the missionary work by the Holy Ghost, he became the companion of Paul in founding the first churches in Greece. (Acts xiii. 2–4, &c.) This Levite was settled in Cyprus, (a large island in that part of the Mediterranean sea which is to the north of the country of Palestine), and had some landed property there which he sold, and placed the money he got for it in the apostles' hands, to distribute as they judged right amongst the more needy of the christians.

This was not done in consequence of any direct rule established by the apostles ; but it seems to have arisen from the evident necessities of some of the christians, which influenced the hearts of others with a feeling of brotherly compassion, and working with the spirit of self-denial largely given to the disciples, induced one rich man to . come forward and sell his land, and then another rich man to follow his example; and then others did the same, until this became a general custom amongst them.

The influence of this general feeling gave occasion for the first discovery which is recorded, of tares being sown with the wheat. (Matt. xiii. 25, 38, 39.) The conduct of Barnabas seems to have been mentioned, mainly to form a contrast with the conduct of another member of the church, who under this influence, felt himself constrained to sell his estate as Barnabas and so many others had done, while in fact his motives were not those of christian love and selfdenial; this mån's name was Ananias. Having consulted with his wife Sapphira, they felt it necessary for the sake of his character as a christian to follow the prevailing custom amongst the disciples : accordingly he sold an estate, which

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