Acts 21* Paul's voyage towards Jerusalem. (1-7) Paul at Cesarea. Theprophecy of Agabus, Paul at Jerusalem. (8-18) He is persuaded tojoin in ceremonial observances. (19-26) Being in danger from theJews, he is rescued by the Romans. (27-40)1-7 Providence must be acknowledged when our affairs go onwell. Wherever Paul came, he inquired what disciples were there,and found them out. Foreseeing his troubles, from love to him,and concern for the church, they wrongly thought it would bemost for the glory of God that he should continue at liberty;but their earnestness to dissuade him from it, renders his piousresolution the more illustrious. He has taught us by example, aswell as by rule, to pray always, to pray without ceasing. Theirlast farewell was sweetened with prayer. 8-18 Paul had express warning of his troubles, that when theycame, they might be no surprise or terror to him. The generalnotice given us, that through much tribulation we must enterinto the kingdom of God, should be of the same use to us. Theirweeping began to weaken and slacken his resolution Has not ourMaster told us to take up our cross? It was a trouble to him,that they should so earnestly press him to do that in which hecould not gratify them without wronging his conscience. When wesee trouble coming, it becomes us to say, not only, The will ofthe Lord must be done, and there is no remedy; but, Let the willof the Lord be done; for his will is his wisdom, and he doethall according to the counsel of it. When a trouble is come, thismust allay our griefs, that the will of the Lord is done; whenwe see it coming, this must silence our fears, that the will ofthe Lord shall be done; and we ought to say, Amen, let it bedone. It is honourable to be an old disciple of Jesus Christ, tohave been enabled by the grace of God to continue long in acourse of duty, stedfast in the faith, growing more and moreexperienced, to a good old age. And with these old disciples onewould choose to lodge; for the multitude of their years shallteach wisdom. Many brethren at Jerusalem received Paul gladly.We think, perhaps, that if we had him among us, we should gladlyreceive him; but we should not, if, having his doctrine, we donot gladly receive that. 19-26 Paul ascribed all his success to God, and to God theygave the praise. God had honoured him more than any of theapostles, yet they did not envy him; but on the contrary,glorified the Lord. They could not do more to encourage Paul togo on cheerfully in his work. James and the elders of the churchat Jerusalem, asked Paul to gratify the believing Jews, by somecompliance with the ceremonial law. They thought it was prudentin him to conform thus far. It was great weakness to be so fondof the shadows, when the substance was come. The religion Paulpreached, tended not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it. Hepreached Christ, the end of the law for righteousness, andrepentance and faith, in which we are to make great use of thelaw. The weakness and evil of the human heart strongly appear,when we consider how many, even of the disciples of Christ, hadnot due regard to the most eminent minister that even lived. Notthe excellence of his character, nor the success with which Godblessed his labours, could gain their esteem and affection,seeing that he did not render the same respect as themselves tomere ceremonial observances. How watchful should we be againstprejudices! The apostles were not free from blame in all theydid; and it would be hard to defend Paul from the charge ofgiving way too much in this matter. It is vain to attempt tocourt the favour of zealots, or bigots to a party. Thiscompliance of Paul did not answer, for the very thing by whichhe hoped to pacify the Jews, provoked them, and brought him intotrouble. But the all-wise God overruled both their advice andPaul's compliance with it, to serve a better purpose than wasintended. It was in vain to think of pleasing men who would bepleased with nothing but the rooting out of Christianity.Integrity and uprightness will be more likely to preserve usthan insincere compliances. And it should warn us not to pressmen to doing what is contrary to their own judgment to obligeus. 27-40 In the temple, where Paul should have been protected asin a place of safety, he was violently set upon. They falselycharged him with ill doctrine and ill practice against theMosaic ceremonies. It is no new thing for those who meanhonestly and act regularly, to have things laid to their chargewhich they know not and never thought of. It is common for thewise and good to have that charged against them by maliciouspeople, with which they thought to have obliged them. God oftenmakes those a protection to his people, who have no affection tothem, but only have compassion for sufferers, and regard to thepublic peace. And here see what false, mistaken notions of goodpeople and good ministers, many run away with. But Godseasonably interposes for the safety of his servants, fromwicked and unreasonable men; and gives them opportunities tospeak for themselves, to plead for the Redeemer, and to spreadabroad his glorious gospel.
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