Acts xii. 25. xiii. xiv. In our last lecture we attended Paul to Jerusalem, whither he went in company with Barnabas, to carry contributions from the believers of Antioch to the Christians suffering under the famine which prevailed in the reign of Claudius. Having executed their commission, they returned to Antioch, bringing with them John Mark, the nephew of Barnabas, and son of that Mary, at whose house the disciples had met to pray for Peter, when he was delivered by the angel. They brought him that he might assist them in their multiplied labours, and be gradually trained up for the full exercise of the ministerial functions. The time, however, had now arrived, when they were to carry to more distant regions the religion of Jesus, and cause the light and the consolations of the gospel to beam upon those who had hitherto been involved in the darkness of paganism. They were directed thus to act by an express revelation from heaven. In the church of Antioch, which may be regarded as the mother church of believingGcntiles, there were not only teachers and ordinary minister?

4t>2 SERMO LXVII. of religion, but also prophets, who, under the immediate influence of the Spirit, sometimes predicted future events, and at other times were employed in explaining the mystic sense of the oracles of the Old

Testament.* Among these were Barnabas himself, who had been a Levite, and who on his conversion had devoted his large estate to purposes of charity, and to the advancement of religion ; Simeon, or Simon, who is supposed by many to have been Simon the Cyrenean, who bore the cross of the Saviour; Lucius, also of Cyrene; Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee, but who, like Moses, cheerfully renounced all prospects of temporal advantage, and chose rather to be a companion of the despised believers, than the friend and associate of a persecuting prince ; and Saul himself. While these [A. D. 45.] were engaged in the solemn offices of religion, praying for the prosperity of the church, and seeking direction in their endeavours to extend it, the Holy Ghost ordered them, either by a distinct voice, or by immediate suggestion, to separate Paul and Barnabas, for the purpose of carrying the gospel to the Gentiles. For this office they were well suited, not only from their zeal, their piety, and the supernatural endowments they had received from the Holy Spirit; but also because they were both born on Gentile ground : the one at Tarsus, the other at Cyprus. To this office Paul had expressly been designated at the period of his conversion, the Lord Jesus then declaring that he was " a chosen vessel to bear his name

* For a view of the ew Testament prophets, see Whitby's General Preface to the Epistles, and Vitringa's Synag. Vet. lib. i. pars ii. cap. vii.

LIFE OF PAUL. 463 before the Gentiles." But he was to be prepared

for this mission by retirement, meditation, and converse with God ; he was to wait for the directions of Him to whom he had committed himself, and at whose disposal he was. The predestined hour had now come : his Lord gave the signal, and he cheerfully complied with his call. The pastors of Antioch tenderly commended them to the blessing of God, and, according to the established use of the Jews, laid their hands upon them, to give them a solemn benediction. Let us in this lecture attend them during, if I may use the expression, their first missionary tour, and mark their labours till they returned to Antioch. The gospel hitherto had been preached only to the Jews, or to proselyted Gentiles ; but these holy men are now about to bear it to those who were in the grossest superstition, unacquainted with the oracles of the Old Testament, and bowing down to imaginary deities polluted with every vice. They know the dangers they will incur ; the persecutions they may expect; but from these dangers they do not shrink ; the prospect of these persecutions, far from appalling them, does not cause them for a moment to hesitate or delay. They know that the Lord is with them, and they do not fear what man can do unto them. Happy they, who thus always wait for the guidings of Providence, and put themselves under the protection of the Almighty! Their hearts shall be unagitated with apprehension at the view of the most formidable dangers. From Antioch they went to Seleucia, a city aboui fifteen miles distant, situated on the Mediterranean, near the mouth of the Crontes. Here they did nol long remain, but embarked for the island of Cyprus.


Perhaps they were induced first to visit this island, because it was the native place of Barnabas. There doubtless he had many connexions and friends, with whom he had lived in the days of his spiritual ignorance, and whose conversion and salvation he ardently desired : for though the Christian feels for all. and is filled with joy when lie hears of the progress of religion even among strangers, yet he is especially interested for those connected to him by blood or friendship, and peculiarly desirous that those with whom he trod in the paths of carelessness and folly, during his state of unregeneracy, should unite with him in celebrating the triumphs of grace and the love of the Redeemer. Cyprus was famous for its riches, but execrable for its immoralities. Impurity was the presiding deity of the island, and had its temples, its altars, and its sacrifices. It would have seemed that the disciples had here little prospect of success : but they went forth mighty in the strength of truth, and in the promised support of the Most High. They landed at Salamis, the chief town on the eastern part of the island, and immediately went into the synagogue and preached to the Jews. To these they always made their first address, both in compliance with the command of their Lord, and that their doctrine might be submitted to all the objections and scrutiny of those to whom the oracles of the Old Testament were committed. Having remained here but a short time, they passed through the greater part of the island, offering salvation to the perishing, and pardon to the guilty, as they passed along. They arrived at last at Paphos, the chief city on the western coast, celebrated for its port, its splendid temple of Venus, and those iniquitous fes-

LIFE OF PAUL. 4G5 iivals which were there annually celebrated, and which attracted thither so many strangers. Much indeed did this place need the influences of Him who " was manifested to destroy the works of the devil." Here resided SergiusPaulus, the deputy or Roman governor of the place. Hearing of the new doctrine that was preached by Paul and Barnabas, he was desirous to examine before condemning it, and therefore sent for these disciples. A Jew, however, by the name of Bar-Jesus, or, as he was called from the Arabic, Elymas, endeavoured to prejudice him against it. This person, who pretended to supernatural powers, exerted himself with as much bitterness, though with as little effect, as did the magicians to oppose Moses. Paul, having in vain reasoned and expostulated with him, seeing his enmity against the truth still increase, knowing the deep wickedness of his soul; having his heart wounded by those blasphemies against the Redeemer which he, doubtless, like the other Jews, uttered ; and immediately inspired by the Holy Ghost, resolved to show his miraculous power, and thus prove the divinity of his mission and the truth of his doctrine. He therefore fixedly regarded Elymas ; reproached him with his guilt ; declared that he imitated the great deceiver, and endeavoured to establish the kingdom of Satan ; told him that he should feel the power of that Saviour whom he blasphemed ; that as he closed his own soul against the light of the Sun of Righteousness, and endeavoured to keep others in darkness, so he should endure a fit and emblematic punishment, and for a season should not behold the sun of the universe. The threatening was immediately accomplished ; the governor converted ; and the arts of

VOL. II. 59

466 sermon Livir. Satan discomfited. What permanent effect was produced upon Elymas, we know not. Origen and Chrysostom have asserted from tradition that he was converted. Of this, however, we have no proof. If it were so, happy indeed for him was that temporary blindness, which was the means of bringing him " from the kingdom of darkness into God's marvellous light." My brethren, opposition is still made to the gospel of the Redeemer; it has still enemies as furious and implacable as was Elymas. Let them see in him the vanity of their opposition, the impotence of their malice. It is true they need not now fear to be punished with natural blindness, but a more dreadful doom will await them if they persevere in their enmity. The " god of this world" will be permitted to blind them here below ; the eyes of their understandings shall be darkened, and they shall be reserved for " chains of darkness for ever." Doubtless it would have given delight to the governor to have contributed to the felicity of Paul, and this apostle might have remained a long time with his illustrious convert, enjoying the highest temporal pleasures. But he renounces the pleasures ©i earth for the performance of important duties ; he rushes forward immediately to new trials and new exertions, and looks only to heaven as the place of rest. With his beloved Barnabas, he passes over to Perga, a city of Pamphylia, in Asia Minor. Here too idolatry reared its altars, and a noted temple was

dedicated to Diana. How long they remained here, or what was the effect of their preaching, we are not informed. We are grieved in learning that John Mark, sighing for ease, and apprehensive of the dan-

LIFE OF PAUL. 467 gers he might yet encounter, here deserted them, and returned to Jerusalem. But, not discouraged by his conduct, they continued their course and arrived at Antioch of Pisidia, a different and remote city from Antioch of Syria, whence they had commenced their journey. Here, according to their usual practice, they went to the synagogue, where the Jews were assembled for religious worship, that they might have an opportunity of leading them to the Messiah promised to their fathers. When the regular lessons from the law and the prophets had been read, the ruler of the synagogue asked Paul and Barnabas if they would speak, either to expound these chapters, or give an exhortation on other subjects of religion. Paul instantly rose, and in an animated and solemn address, retraced to them the favours of God to their ancestors, and the preparations which he had made for the advent of the Saviour; declared that Jesus was the Messiah who had been predicted ; proved that his rejection and crucifixion were in conformity with ancient prophecy ; showed that he was raised from the dead, according to the scriptures ; solemnly assured them, that if they were ever justified and freed from guilt and condemnation, it must be, not through the pompous ceremonies and ministrationof the Mosaic law, but through him; and warned them not to bring upon themselves that tremendous prophetical curse, which God had denounced upon

all who neglect or despise this full and free salvation. This address was not in vain. Some of the Jews, it is true, still remained unaffected ; but many of them and of the proselytes were deeply affected, and accompanied Paul and Barnabas, that they might

408 SERMO LXVII. obtain fuller information; the Gentiles urged the apostle to discourse to them on this infinitely momentous subject on the ensuing Sabbath. When the day had arrived, immense crowds were collected, both of the idolatrous and proselyted Gentiles. At this the jealousy of the Jews was excited ; they were enraged, and blasphemed. Instead of showing the temper of the angels, who rejoice at the repentance of a sinner, they displayed the cruel spirit of the elder brother, and were unwilling that others should share with them the blessings of the covenant. Paul, not terrified by their blasphemies and their threats, declared to them, that though in conformity with the command of Jesus, he had made to them the first offer of eternal life, yet, since they so obstinately rejected it, he now turned to the Gentiles. Many of these, rejoicing to hear that there w as pardon offered even to them, thankfully and joyfully embraced the doctrines of the gospel, and devoted themselves to the Redeemer. or were the triumphs of grace confined to Antioch, but extended to the whole country round about. Brethren, like these Gentiles, let us desire, Sabbath after Sabbath, to hear these same truths; those same great fundamental doctrines of the gospel, connected with the incarnation, the death, the resurrection of Jesus, by which our souls must live. Unlike the Jews, let us rejoice whenever we hear that the kingdom of God is extended, and the

cause of the Redeemer advanced. Let us not be filled with envy, nor fear that our portion will be diminished by their felicity. There is enough and to spare in our Saviour for us all. Let us adore the sovereignty of divine grace in the effects of the preached gospel. ow, as in the days of Paul, it hardens and inflames some, while it melts and soft-

LIFE OP PAUL. 460 ens others : it often reclaims a profligate, like the Gentile, while often, alas ! one who, like the Jew, has been brought up in the house of God, hears it without emotion. Let us inquire whether, like these Jews, we have hitherto rejected it, and thus " judged ourselves unworthy of eternal life ;" and if we have, let us in time awake. Suppose not that Jesus will want worshippers, or heaven inhabitants; if you refuse, others shall be induced to come. The wedding festival still shall be thronged with guests, even though those who are first asked " begin to make excuse." The Jews were still more exasperated by the success of the gospel among the Gentiles; and they therefore excited a host of persecutors, and among them, some women of rank and apparent sanctity, through whose influence Paul and Barnabas were expelled from those parts. They departed, shaking ofTthe dust from their feet, according to the directions of Jesus, as a testimony against their ingratitude and unbelief. But still, the sacred writer assures us, " the disciples" of Antioch, in Pisidia, " were filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost." otwithstanding they had been separated from their teachers, they rejoiced that Christ remained ; and they cheerfully bore those persecutions that could not impair their inward tranquillity and peace.

The banishment of these holy men tended to the benefit of other places. They immediately went to Iconium, the capital of Lycaonia, a neighbouring province. Here at first they were eminently successful. The warmth and boldness of their addresses, the miracles which they wrought, and the accompanying energy of the Holy Spirit, caused numbers to receive " the truth as it is in Jesus."

170 SERMO LXVIi. But the malice of the Jews was again excited ; the}' again prejudiced many of the people against them ; and a plot was formed to put them to a violent death. As they did not fear, so they did not court persecution ; and therefore when they were informed of this design, they retired to Lystra, another city of the same province. Here they arrested the public attention by a miraculous cure. A poor cripple, who had been lame from his birth, resided in this place. Paul, moved with compassion at his sad situation, and for the confirmation of his own mission, healed him perfectly and instantaneously by a single word. The people saw in this the evidence of divine power : but ascribing to the instruments the honour due only to the Lord, they cried out in amazement and with wild tumult, " The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men !" From the age and venerable appearance of Barnabas, they supposed him to be Jupiter; while Paul, from his eloquence, was supposed to be Mercury. The priest of Jupiter, attended by a crowd of the inhabitants, prepared to pay them divine honours, and brought oxen to sacrifice to them, crowned with garlands, according to the pagan rites. Who can conceive the anguish of the apostles at this

spectacle ? It filled them with deeper sorrow than did their severest persecutions. Far from being elated, as was Herod, when the crowd with impious flattery exclaimed, " The voice of a god and not of a man !" they rent their garments, to testify their detestation of this blasphemy, and rushing among the crowd, earnestly entreated them to desist, vehemently remonstrated on the wickedness and folly of worshipping men like themselves, and declared that the end of all their preaching was to make them

LIFE OF PAUL. 471 abandon these superstitions and idolatries, and serve the living God, the Creator and Preserver of heaven and of earth. With difficulty, however, could they persuade these deluded men to refrain. How beautiful an example do these disciples here give of their superiority to all selfish views ! Seeking not their own fame, but the glory of Jesus, not personal applauses, but the conversion of souls, every thing that improperly exalts them and hides the Redeemer, deeply wounds their hearts. Alas! what is human applause! How precarious and unsubstantial ! This same people, who were about to worship Paul as a deity, were, immediately afterwards, furiously exasperated against him by the calumnies of the unbelieving Jews who came from Antioch and Iconium, and as they had put no bounds to their admiration, so they have no limits to their hatred. Endeavouring to immolate him, to whom they had lately been about to immolate victims, they rose up against him, stoned him, dragged him out of the city with contempt, and left him apparently dead. But the Lord had yet much work for him to perform ; he therefore restored him to life ; and the next day Paul departed with Barnabas to Derbe. Such is

the world ! A small thing will frequently excite its highest admiration, and cause it to elevate its favourites to heaven. As small a thin^ will rouse its indignation, and provoke its fury. One day it will cry with rapture, " Hosanna to the Son of David !" and the next will exclaim, "Crucify him, crucify him !" Such is human life ! We perpetually see persons passing from the highest exaltation to the deepest abasement, or from the deepest abasement to the highest exaltation. othing in it is fixed or permanent. Oh! then, let us seek that immutable " ho-

472 SERMO LXV1I. nour which cometh of God only," that firm and stable " kingdom which can never be moved." Wounded as he was, and not dispirited by his sufferings, he preached at Derbe with his accustomed fervour, and was blest by beholding many embracing the gospel. This city terminated the first circuit of Paul and Barnabas. Instead of proceeding further, they returned back to those places where they had laboured. Knowing the importance of confirming the young converts, they disregarded the dangers that awaited them, and the enemies with whom they would have to contend. They exhorted and strengthened the believers, forewarned them that they must expect trials, and that " through much tribulation they must enter into heaven ;" and having constituted churches and ordained officers, solemnly commended them to Christ. At last they returned to Antioch, in Syria. There they gratefully erected their Ebenezer, and cried, " Hitherto the Lord hath helped us." Assembling the church, they related to it the blessings which God had bestowed on them, the deliverances they

had received from him, the success of their labours, and especially the full confirmation of this delightful truth, that God " had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles." Such was the first mission among those who like our fathers were idolaters, " aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and without hope in the world." It is a subject that deeply interests us. Had it not been for this and similar missions, we, my brethren, should now have been bow ing; down to stocks and to stones, or besmearing the altars of devils with human blood. Oh ! when we recollect those cruel, impure.

life of Paul. 473 and abominable worships, which formerly prevailed in every country, the civilized as well as the savage, where the revelation of God did not shine, and which still are found in every nation under heaven that is not enlightened by the gospel of Jesus ; when we remember their false and horrible sentiments concerning the Divinity, their ignorance concerning the end for which they were created and their future destination, the agonies which in this state of darkness must besiege their souls upon the bed of death ; when we contrast with this the beauty of our religion, the sublimity of its doctrines, the purity of its motives, the greatness of its promises, the simplicity of its worship, the light which it sheds upon futurity, the consolations which it gives to the dying, and in which you hope one day to participate, will you not bless those apostolic men who bore this treasure to your fathers ; will you not express your gratitude to that God, who hath visited you with this salvation ?



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