Acts 19

* Paul instructs the disciples of John at Ephesus. (1-7) He

teaches there. (8-12) The Jewish exorcists disgraced. Some

Ephesians 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 looked

to Jesus as the Messiah. They had not been led to expect the

miraculous powers of the Holy Ghost, nor were they informed that

the gospel was especially the ministration of the Spirit. But

they spake as ready to welcome the notice of it. Paul shows them

that John never design that those he baptized should rest there,

but told them that they should believe on Him who should come

after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. They thankfully accepted

the discovery, and were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

The Holy Ghost came upon them in a surprising, overpowering

manner; they spake with tongues, and prophesied, as the apostles

and the first Gentile coverts did. Though we do not now expect

miraculous powers, yet all who profess to be disciples of

Christ, should be called on to examine whether they have

received the seal of the Holy Ghost, in his sanctifying

influences, to the sincerity of their faith. Many seem not to

have heard that there is a Holy Ghost, and many deem all that is

spoken concerning his graces and comforts, to be delusion. Of

such it may properly be inquired, "Unto what, then, were ye

baptized?" for they evidently know not the meaning of that

outward sign on which they place great dependence.
8-12 When arguments and persuasions only harden men in unbelief

and blasphemy, we must separate ourselves and others from such

unholy company. God was pleased to confirm the teaching of these

holy men of old, that if their hearers believed them not, they

might believe the works.
13-20 It was common, especially among the Jews, for persons to

profess or to try to cast out evil spirits. If we resist the

devil by faith in Christ, he will flee from us; but if we think

to resist him by the using of Christ's name, or his works, as a

spell or charm, Satan will prevail against us. Where there is

true sorrow for sin, there will be free confession of sin to God

in every prayer and to man whom we have offended, when the case

requires it. Surely if the word of God prevailed among us, many

lewd, infidel, and wicked books would be burned by their

possessors. Will not these Ephesian converts rise up in

judgement against professors, who traffic in such works for the

sake of gain, or allow themselves to possess them? If we desire

to be in earnest in the great work of salvation, every pursuit

and enjoyment must be given up which hinders the effect of the

gospel upon the mind, or loosens its hold upon the heart.
21-31 Persons who came from afar to pay their devotions at the

temple of Ephesus, bought little silver shrines, or models of

the temple, to carry home with them. See how craftsmen make

advantage to themselves of people's superstition, and serve

their worldly ends by it. Men are jealous for that by which they

get their wealth; and many set themselves against the gospel of

Christ, because it calls men from all unlawful crafts, however

much wealth is to be gotten by them. There are persons who will

stickle for what is most grossly absurd, unreasonable, and

false; as this, that those are gods which are made with hands,

if it has but worldly interest on its side. The whole city was

full of confusion, the common and natural effect of zeal for

false religion. Zeal for the honour of Christ, and love to the

brethren, encourage zealous believers to venture into danger.

Friends will often be raised up among those who are strangers to

true religion, but have observed the honest and consistent

behaviour of Christians.
32-41 The Jews came forward in this tumult. Those who are thus

careful to distinguish themselves from the servants of Christ

now, and are afraid of being taken for them, shall have their

doom accordingly in the great day. One, having authority, at

length stilled the noise. It is a very good rule at all times,

both in private and public affairs, not to be hasty and rash in

our motions, but to take time to consider; and always to keep

our passions under check. We ought to be quiet, and to do

nothing rashly; to do nothing in haste, of which we may repent

at leisure. The regular methods of the law ought always to stop

popular tumults, and in well-governed nations will do so. Most

people stand in awe of men's judgments more than of the

judgement of God. How well it were if we would thus quiet our

disorderly appetites and passions, by considering the account we

must shortly give to the Judge of heaven and earth! And see how

the overruling providence of God keeps the public peace, by an

unaccountable power over the spirits of men. Thus the world is

kept in some order, and men are held back from devouring each

other. We can scarcely look around but we see men act like

Demetrius and the workmen. It is as safe to contend with wild

beasts as with men enraged by party zeal and disappointed

covetousness, who think that all arguments are answered, when

they have shown that they grow rich by the practices which are

opposed. Whatever side in religious disputes, or whatever name

this spirit assumes, it is worldly, and should be

discountenanced by all who regard truth and piety. And let us

not be dismayed; the Lord on high is mightier than the noise of

many waters; he can still the rage of the people.
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