Acts 16* Paul takes Timothy to be his assistant. (1-5) Paul proceeds toMacedonia, The conversion of Lydia. (6-15) An evil spirit castout, Paul and Silas scourged and imprisoned. (16-24) Theconversion of the jailer at Philippi. (25-34) Paul and Silasreleased. (35-40)1-5 Well may the church look for much service from youthfulministers who set out in the same spirit as Timothy. But whenmen will submit in nothing, and oblige in nothing, the firstelements of the Christian temper seem to be wanting; and thereis great reason to believe that the doctrines and precepts ofthe gospel will not be successfully taught. The design of thedecree being to set aside the ceremonial law, and its carnalordinances, believers were confirmed in the Christian faith,because it set up a spiritual way of serving God, as suited tothe nature both of God and man. Thus the church increased innumbers daily. 6-15 The removals of ministers, and the dispensing the means ofgrace by them, are in particular under Divine conduct anddirection. We must follow Providence: and whatever we seek todo, if that suffer us not, we ought to submit and believe to befor the best. People greatly need help for their souls, it istheir duty to look out for it, and to invite those among themwho can help them. And God's calls must be complied withreadily. A solemn assembly the worshippers of God must have, ifpossible, upon the sabbath day. If we have not synagogues, wemust be thankful for more private places, and resort to them;not forsaking the assembling together, as our opportunities are.Among the hearers of Paul was a woman, named Lydia. She had anhonest calling, which the historian notices to her praise. Yetthough she had a calling to mind, she found time to improveadvantages for her soul. It will not excuse us from religiousduties, to say, We have a trade to mind; for have not we also aGod to serve, and souls to look after? Religion does not call usfrom our business in the world, but directs us in it. Pride,prejudice, and sin shut out the truths of God, till his gracemakes way for them into the understanding and affections; andthe Lord alone can open the heart to receive and believe hisword. We must believe in Jesus Christ; there is no coming to Godas a Father, but by the Son as Mediator. 16-24 Satan, though the father of lies, will declare the mostimportant truths, when he can thereby serve his purposes. Butmuch mischief is done to the real servants of Christ, by unholyand false preachers of the gospel, who are confounded with themby careless observers. Those who do good by drawing men fromsin, may expect to be reviled as troublers of the city. Whilethey teach men to fear God, to believe in Christ, to forsakesin, and to live godly lives, they will be accused of teachingbad customs. 25-34 The consolations of God to his suffering servants areneither few nor small. How much more happy are true Christiansthan their prosperous enemies! As in the dark, so out of thedepths, we may cry unto God. No place, no time is amiss forprayer, if the heart be lifted up to God. No trouble, howevergrievous, should hinder us from praise. Christianity provesitself to be of God, in that it obliges us to be just to our ownlives. Paul cried aloud to make the jailer hear, and to make himheed, saying, Do thyself no harm. All the cautions of the wordof God against sin, and all appearances of it, and approaches toit, have this tendency. Man, woman, do not ruin thyself; hurtnot thyself, and then none else can hurt thee; do not sin, fornothing but that can hurt thee. Even as to the body, we arecautioned against the sins which do harm to that. Convertinggrace changes people's language of and to good people and goodministers. How serious the jailer's inquiry! His salvationbecomes his great concern; that lies nearest his heart, whichbefore was furthest from his thoughts. It is his own precioussoul that he is concerned about. Those who are thoroughlyconvinced of sin, and truly concerned about their salvation,will give themselves up to Christ. Here is the sum of the wholegospel, the covenant of grace in a few words; Believe in theLord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. TheLord so blessed the word, that the jailer was at once softenedand humbled. He treated them with kindness and compassion, and,professing faith in Christ, was baptized in that name, with hisfamily. The Spirit of grace worked such a strong faith in them,as did away further doubt; and Paul and Silas knew by theSpirit, that a work of God was wrought in them. When sinners arethus converted, they will love and honour those whom they beforedespised and hated, and will seek to lessen the suffering theybefore desired to increase. When the fruits of faith begin toappear, terrors will be followed by confidence and joy in God. 35-40 Paul, though willing to suffer for the cause of Christ,and without any desire to avenge himself, did not choose todepart under the charge of having deserved wrongful punishment,and therefore required to be dismissed in an honourable manner.It was not a mere point of honour that the apostle stood upon,but justice, and not to himself so much as to his cause. Andwhen proper apology is made, Christians should never expresspersonal anger, nor insist too strictly upon personal amends.The Lord will make them more than conquerors in every conflict;instead of being cast down by their sufferings, they will becomecomforters of their brethren.
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