Acts 19* Paul instructs the disciples of John at Ephesus. (1-7) Heteaches there. (8-12) The Jewish exorcists disgraced. SomeEphesians burn their evil books. (13-20) The tumult at Ephesus.(21-31) The tumult appeased. (32-41)1-7 Paul, at Ephesus, found some religious persons, who lookedto Jesus as the Messiah. They had not been led to expect themiraculous powers of the Holy Ghost, nor were they informed thatthe gospel was especially the ministration of the Spirit. Butthey spake as ready to welcome the notice of it. Paul shows themthat John never design that those he baptized should rest there,but told them that they should believe on Him who should comeafter him, that is, on Christ Jesus. They thankfully acceptedthe discovery, and were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.The Holy Ghost came upon them in a surprising, overpoweringmanner; they spake with tongues, and prophesied, as the apostlesand the first Gentile coverts did. Though we do not now expectmiraculous powers, yet all who profess to be disciples ofChrist, should be called on to examine whether they havereceived the seal of the Holy Ghost, in his sanctifyinginfluences, to the sincerity of their faith. Many seem not tohave heard that there is a Holy Ghost, and many deem all that isspoken concerning his graces and comforts, to be delusion. Ofsuch it may properly be inquired, "Unto what, then, were yebaptized?" for they evidently know not the meaning of thatoutward sign on which they place great dependence. 8-12 When arguments and persuasions only harden men in unbeliefand blasphemy, we must separate ourselves and others from suchunholy company. God was pleased to confirm the teaching of theseholy men of old, that if their hearers believed them not, theymight believe the works. 13-20 It was common, especially among the Jews, for persons toprofess or to try to cast out evil spirits. If we resist thedevil by faith in Christ, he will flee from us; but if we thinkto resist him by the using of Christ's name, or his works, as aspell or charm, Satan will prevail against us. Where there istrue sorrow for sin, there will be free confession of sin to Godin every prayer and to man whom we have offended, when the caserequires it. Surely if the word of God prevailed among us, manylewd, infidel, and wicked books would be burned by theirpossessors. Will not these Ephesian converts rise up injudgement against professors, who traffic in such works for thesake of gain, or allow themselves to possess them? If we desireto be in earnest in the great work of salvation, every pursuitand enjoyment must be given up which hinders the effect of thegospel upon the mind, or loosens its hold upon the heart. 21-31 Persons who came from afar to pay their devotions at thetemple of Ephesus, bought little silver shrines, or models ofthe temple, to carry home with them. See how craftsmen makeadvantage to themselves of people's superstition, and servetheir worldly ends by it. Men are jealous for that by which theyget their wealth; and many set themselves against the gospel ofChrist, because it calls men from all unlawful crafts, howevermuch wealth is to be gotten by them. There are persons who willstickle for what is most grossly absurd, unreasonable, andfalse; as this, that those are gods which are made with hands,if it has but worldly interest on its side. The whole city wasfull of confusion, the common and natural effect of zeal forfalse religion. Zeal for the honour of Christ, and love to thebrethren, encourage zealous believers to venture into danger.Friends will often be raised up among those who are strangers totrue religion, but have observed the honest and consistentbehaviour of Christians. 32-41 The Jews came forward in this tumult. Those who are thuscareful to distinguish themselves from the servants of Christnow, and are afraid of being taken for them, shall have theirdoom accordingly in the great day. One, having authority, atlength stilled the noise. It is a very good rule at all times,both in private and public affairs, not to be hasty and rash inour motions, but to take time to consider; and always to keepour passions under check. We ought to be quiet, and to donothing rashly; to do nothing in haste, of which we may repentat leisure. The regular methods of the law ought always to stoppopular tumults, and in well-governed nations will do so. Mostpeople stand in awe of men's judgments more than of thejudgement of God. How well it were if we would thus quiet ourdisorderly appetites and passions, by considering the account wemust shortly give to the Judge of heaven and earth! And see howthe overruling providence of God keeps the public peace, by anunaccountable power over the spirits of men. Thus the world iskept in some order, and men are held back from devouring eachother. We can scarcely look around but we see men act likeDemetrius and the workmen. It is as safe to contend with wildbeasts as with men enraged by party zeal and disappointedcovetousness, who think that all arguments are answered, whenthey have shown that they grow rich by the practices which areopposed. Whatever side in religious disputes, or whatever namethis spirit assumes, it is worldly, and should bediscountenanced by all who regard truth and piety. And let usnot be dismayed; the Lord on high is mightier than the noise ofmany waters; he can still the rage of the people.
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