« ZurückWeiter »
hand of God even in such events. “ He stilleth the noise of the seas, and," what is equally untractable, “ the tumult of the people *.” His avowed enemies come forward to promote his purposes, when he is pleased to make use of them; and, accordingly, he frequently influences those, who bear no good will to Zion, to plead the cause of his fervants. dependence, then, be fixed upon Him, and not upon an arm of flesh.
With a reference, probably, to this uproar, the Apostle said, “ I have fought with beasts at Ephefust;” and again, “ We were pressed out of mea. sure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: but we had the sentence of death in ourfelves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead 1." Ah! why do we fbrink from danger, while we are engaged in the • work of such a Master ? Let us contemplate the illustrious pattern before us, and be animated, by the view of his patience, faith, and courage, to endure to the end.
It became expedient for Paul to quit his A. D. fituation at Ephesus, and therefore, having taбо.
ken an affectionate leave of the disciples there, he directed his course to Macedonia $. Ever intent upon his work, he preached and exhorted from place to place, and thus passed on to the southern parts of Greece. In the midst of various distresses, inward as well as outward, he prosecuted his journey to Corinth : and, having spent three months in that neighbourhood, when he was prevented by a design upon his life from embarking to Syria, he returned through Macedonia, and failed from Philippi to Troas. There he remained feven days, and on the first day of the week delivered with peculiar energy an address to the disciples, who were assembled for the celebra
Pfal. Ixv. 7. t 1 Cor. xv. 32. 2 Cor. i. 8, 9. § A&s xx. I, &c.
tion of the Lord's supper. It should seem, that, as
The Christians at Troas met in an upper roomy, where they had many lights: their religious assemblies, therefore, were not held in the dark, as some have maliciously insinuated. On the occasion now mentioned, a young man, inattentive probably to the Apostle's exhortations, was overpowered with sleepy, and, falling to the ground from the window in which he fat, was taken up dead. This circumstance produced confusion and distress in the congregation, till St. Paul, having embraced the body with faith and prayer, restored it to life. We lament, that there are among ourselves such
numerous instances of drowsy worshippers, persons pretending, at least, to join in the divine ordinances, but so listless and stupid, that much of the short time allotted to the fervice seems to be flumbered away. Some may plead their infirmities or the prolixity of the preacher ; but the practice is not to be justified. It betrays a want of true spiritual vigour, and a fad neglect, if not contempt, of God, which must be highly offensive to him. Who would not be afraid of falling down dead in such a state, where no revival can be expected, as in the case of Eutychus ? Who does not tremble at the thought of being thus summoned to the tribunal of Heaven?
The Apoftle resumed his discourse, and was not willing to part from his dear friends till break of day. They spent the whole night in sweet communion with God and with each other. How rare an example of zeal and love! At length he left the place, and, for one stage at least, chose to travel on foot. He affected no pomp, and probably, in prosecuting his journey by himself, wished to secure some time for retirement. At Assos he joined his companions, with whom he took thin, and, having touched at several different towns near the sea coast, came to Miletus. He hastened to Jerusalem, and therefore, that he might not be detained by the tender importunities of his Chriftian brethren at Ephesus, he passed by that city. But he fint for the elders of their church to Miletus, and addressed himself to them in a folemn and pathetic manner, giving them his last charge, and fuggesting suitable instructions for the execution of their important office.
He appealed to their knowledge and obfervation of his conduct, for a proof of his integrity, meekness, diligence, and zeal, in the cxercise of his miniftry amongit them. He reminded them of the fidelity and earnestness with which he had preached, and of the grand subjects on which he had infifted, repentance and faith. He informed them, that he was going, under a strong impulse of the Spirit, to Jerusalen, and, though ignorant of the event, had received pofitive and repeated assurances, that bonds and affistions awaited him there. Yet he declared, that, far from being staggered by the prospect, he valued not life itfuit, provided he could finish his course with joy, and fulfil his ministry in the Gospel.
He affirmed, that they were then looking upon" bim for the last time, and exhorted them to confider, that, as he had delivered to them the whole Ch an fyftem without referve, he should stand acquitted before God, whatever might become of the people
for whom he had laboured, and that they must answer for their own souls. He charged them, therefore, to maintain a constant care over themselves and every part of the flock committed to them, remembering from whom they had received their appointment, and how dear to God was that Church, “ which He had purchased with his own blood.” He warned them of false and destructive teachers, who would foon arise and excite disturbances, and preffed upon them the duty of unceasing vigilance. He then commended them all to God and to the word of his grace, expressing the most earnest defires for their advancement and final falvation, and proposed for their imitation his own example of diligence, disinterestedness, felf-denial, and benevolent attention to the poor.
The separation was truly affecting. Upon his bended knees he ffered up his fervent supplications for them, whilst they with many tears wept over him and embraced him. We wonder not at their distress, as they were assured, that they should fee his face no more, no longer be favoured with his ministration, his counsels, or prayers. They accompanied him to the ship, and then, as it were by violence, he was torn from them.
May we not ask, Is there any thing in this address like the language of an impostor? Do we not perceive the clearest marks of an upright man, and of a messenger from Heaven? O that all the ambaffadors of Christ may partake of his fpirit, be less attentive to the world, and more mindful of their office! O that, like him, they may feel a generous concern for the people of their charge, and be folicitous to feed them with wholesome doctrine! May Jesus, their exalted Lord, endue them with all necessary wisdom, strength, and zeal, and prosper their exertions for his own glory! May He teach and enable them to “ take heed unto themselves and to
al) * Afts xxi. 3.&C.
all the flock!” So will they “ not shun to declare all the counsel of God,” and, when they close their services on earth, it will inspire them with gratitude and joy, to be assured that they are pure from the blood of all men.
Paul sailed from Miletus, and, having passed by feveral places, landed at Tyre, where he found some dear followers of the Saviour, and continued with thein seven days *. In that city certain persons, under a prophetic impulse, warned him of danger, and entreated him not to proceed to Jerusalem. But, being confident that duty called him, he did not shrink from his purpose. Having taken a solemn leave of his friends, with whom he was not ashanied to kneel down for prayer upon the sea fhore, he pursued his journey. He stopped to pay his respects to the Christians at Ptolemais, and then advanced to Cesarea, where he was gueit to Philip the Deacon and Evangelift.
There he received more express information of the difficulties, which awaited him: Agabus foretold, that he should be bound, imprisoned, and delivered over to the Roman power. He was therefore most earnestly defired by his companions in travel, as well as by the brethren at Cefarea, to give up bis intentions or visiting Jerusalem. But, as no dangers could intimidate his mind, he would not yield to their entreaties. Had he, then, no regard for his friends?
and on that account he felt a severe conflict. He was not afraid to meet perils and death; but he could not bear to see those, whom he loved, overwhelmed with distress. He cried out, “ What mean ye to weep, and to break mine heart? for I am ready, not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” This thews, that he possefled the tendereft affections, and that he de