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the Jewish place of public prayer, by the river side, Lydia, a seller of purple from Thyatira, a devout woman, received the faith of Christ. After this, the apostles, in consequence of Paul having silenced a Pythoness, (that is, one considered by the heathens to possess a spirit of divination derived from their god Apollo) were taken before the rulers of the city, and by their illegal command were beaten, and cast into prison. In the night, Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God, in the hearing of their fellow prisoners. Suddenly an earthquake shook the foundations of the prison, the doors opened, and every one's bands were loosed. The keeper of the prison, awaking and fearing that the prisoners had escaped, was about to kill himself; but was prevented by Paul. Then calling for a light, he trembling with fear, humbly and earnestly inquired what he must do to be saved. The apostles directed him to believe in Jesus, and spake the word of the Lord to him and his household. The converted jailor ķindly ministered unto the wants of the apostles, and he and his family were at once baptized. When it was day the magistrates sent to release the apostles; but Paul, complaining of the insult offered to Roman citizenship, refused to go at their message, requiring the magistrates to come in person. As Roman officers, these magistrates had acted at their peril; for the Roman state severely punished those governors of provinces who outraged the privileges of its citizens. It is true that it does not appear that Paul made known that he was a Roman till the day following the outrage, yet the case was one of injustice so flagrant, that we need not wonder that the rulers could not rely on this seemingly palliative circumstance to save them. Fearing for what they had done, they came, besought the apostles, brought them out, and desired them to depart from the city. With this request, the apostles thought fit to comply, and after having taken leave of the brethren, they departed.
Having passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, 70 miles from Philippi, where the Jews had a synagogue; and Paul, according to his custom, went into their assembly, and three sabbath days he reasoned with them out of the old testament scriptures, shewing therefrom the necessity of the death and resurrection of the Messiah, and that Jesus, whom he preached, was the Messiah. What stay Paul made in this city, cannot, from the narrative in the Acts, be determined; but while there he wrought with his own hands,' and more than once received assistance from Philippi, so that we may suppose that the three sabbath days on which he went into the synagogue were not the only sabbaths he spent there. Some of the Jews believed and many of the Greeks, but the unbelieving Jews made an uproar in the city, and drew Jason, the Apostle's host, and other brethren, to the rulers; who having taken security of Jason, suffered them to depart.
The brethren sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, a distance of 35 miles. Arrived at that place they went into the Jews' synagogue. The Bereans, by their praiseworthy conduct, earned for themselves a lasting memorial of honour: the word preached they received with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, to ascertain if they agreed therewith. They had a present reward; for many of them believed. But when the mischievous Jews of Thessalonica heard that the word was preached at Berea, they came thither, and stirred up the people; which caused the brethren to send Paul away: Silas and Timothy remaining
Paul was conducted to Athens, 195 miles from Berea, and his conductors, ere they parted from him, received a charge to Silas and Timothy to come with all speed. While at Athens, Paul after disputing with various persons in the synagogue, and in the market, addressed the famed court of the Areopagites; and one at least, of that learned and honored body, believed. The history does not state whether Silas and Timothy joined Paul at Athens; but it does not appear that Paul departed in any haste from that city; so that they, or one of them, might have joined him there, and have been sent back by him into Macedonia: and there is reason to believe, either that Timothy was sent back, or that the direction given by Paul for Timothy to join him at Athens was altered. For Paul, in afterwards writing to the Thessalonians says: “When we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; and sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellow labourer in the gospel of Christ, to stablish you, and to comfort you concerning your
(1) 1 Thes. ii. 9. 2 Thes. iii. 8. (2) Phil. iv. 16.
(3) 1 Thes, iii. 1, 2.
(TO BE CONTINUED.)
CHARACTERISTICS OF OUR LORD'S PREACHING.
NO. 1. Let us notice first the spirituality of our Saviour's preaching. Of this there are various aspects. It is one of the most obvious, that he kept aloof from all secular topics. He declared, emphatically, that his kingdom was “not of this world ;” and with this announcement all his preaching corresponded. He delivered no political discourses. Political evils there certainly were around him-evils unfriendly to the progress of the gospel, and which the spirit of the gospel was suited to eradicate. But he meddled not with them directly. It was impossible to draw him into a discussion of them. Cæsar might be a tyrant—he doubtless was.
His government was little better than a system of slavery. He made sad havoc of human rights. Yet all our Lord could be induced to say of him, even when artfully and earnestly interrogated, was but to suggest certain great and efficacious principles, which he left it for his hearers to apply: “Render unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's, and unto God the things which are God's.” When requested, on a certain occasion, to assume, as it were, judicial functions, to settle a question of heirship, his ready response was: “Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you P” And he proceeded to expose the inward evil, which formed, doubtless, the chief difficulty in the case : “ Take heed, and beware of covetousness." As if he had said: “It is the main object of my ministry to promote inward purity. This attained, all secular evils will either pass away or become tolerable.” In accordance with such views he seems to have always acted. Slavery existed in the world, and that of the most revolting kind, during his whole ministry. It existed in the very empire to which Judea was attached, yet he never made it the object of a specific attack. He knew full well that the best way to extirpate it, was to establish his kingdom in human hearts. The apparatus of war was around him, and “
wars and rumours of wars” were predicted by him. Yet he never preached “ a peace sermon,” as that term would be understood by some. If the peace of God should but pervade the spirits of men, he was well assured they would have peace with each other. What a lesson have we here for the gospel minister!
may not close his eyes to the secular grievances of the times, to the disorders of the social system, to political abuses, and international evils. But he should ever remember, that his chief reformatory agency, as to all these matters, is the simple preaching of the gospel, the winning of soul after soul to Christ. And this, he may be assured, is the mightiest of all agencies.
The spirituality of our Lord's preaching was apparent, also, in his manner of exhibiting divine things. It was seen in his treatment of religious forms and ceremonies. These he did not, indeed, wholly repudiate, but he made them, comparatively, of little account. To the Jews, burdened not only with the Mosaic ritual, but with superadded traditions of the elders, he said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." In reproof of their formality, he quoted the declaration of God by the prophet, “I will have mercy and not sacrifice." God,” he taught them, “is a Spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth." He cast no contempt on rites divinely appointed, but he laid no undue stress upon them. He gave not the slightest countenance to those who contend for certain ceremonies, as if the salvation of the world were at stake, and who exclude from their fellowship all who differ from them. The circumstantials, the drapery, the mere appendages and symbols of religion, he ever represented as of very inferior consequence. In all his preaching, the weightier matters of the law, and the great essentials of the gospel, were the all-absorbing topics. In all his inculcations of religious duty, we may add, he had respect chiefly to the inward life. At an early period in his ministry, he refuted the superficial interpretations of the law current among the Jews. He taught them that God's commandment was exceeding broad, and that it had respect primarily and mainly to the inner man. He was always chiefly intent on the rectification of the spirit. “Out of the abundance of the heart," his doctrine was, the mouth speaketh ;" “out of the heart” proceedeth all manner of wickedness. He aimed at the reformation of the whole man, by setting right the foundations and elements of character, the sources and springs of action.
In all this how wise and salutary was his example! How vain are all attempts at reform, which are chiefly directed to the outward life! If ever so successful, they would still come
far short of God's standard—they would fail to fit the soul for heaven. But in the nature of things, they must be comparatively powerless. The farther you depart from the spiritualities of religion, the less you have to do with conscience. She seconds
efforts but feebly, when they have little respect to her chief sphere of jurisdiction, the world within. And if, by other means, you succeed in producing some external change, it will probably prove but temporary. You have been cleansing the stream, while the fountain is still foul and turbid. The lava has been pent up for a little season, and flowers have been scattered around, but it will soon burst forth, the more terrible and destructive for the very restraint it has suffered. Who has not observed, how utterly inefficacious that preaching has soon become, whose expositions and injunctions, reproofs and hortatives, have had to do chiefly with the outward conduct? A congregation under such training will soon remind the most superficial observer of “ the heath in the desert.” The noise, and stir, and bustle, to which clerical empiricism at first gave rise, will soon subside into the stillness and quietude of death. A sort of galvanic treatment may produce startling spasms for a time, but even these will soon cease. To drop the figure, it will come to pass, ere long, that though the preacher stand up in the holy place, and utter the most earnest entreaties, and the most awful rebukes and denunciations, he will yet seem to himself and to others, “as one that beateth the air.” How different the result of eminently spiritual preaching, such as our Lord's! It bids streams gush forth in the desert. It forms not merely the cold and lifeless statue, but animates it with fire from heaven. If the heart be right, all will be right. If the life of God be but begun in the soul of man, you shall see in all the visible character the outgoings of that life. Let the gospel minister, then, imitate most carefully the spirituality of his Lord's teaching
We may further illustrate the point in hand, by reference to the motives with which Christ was wont to enforce his teaching. His preaching in this respect was at a great remove from that mawkish sentimentalism, which may suit well enough the pages of an album, or an annual, but has little effect on man's higher susceptibilities, and is miserably out of place in the pulpit. Nor were his persuasives drawn, as is sometimes the case, from the