Acts 28* Paul kindly received at Melita. (1-10) He arrives at Rome.(11-16) His conference with the Jews. (17-22) Paul preaches tothe Jews, and abides at Rome a prisoner. (23-31)1-10 God can make strangers to be friends; friends in distress.Those who are despised for homely manners, are often morefriendly than the more polished; and the conduct of heathens, orpersons called barbarians, condemns many in civilized nations,professing to be Christians. The people thought that Paul was amurderer, and that the viper was sent by Divine justice, to bethe avenger of blood. They knew that there is a God who governsthe world, so that things do not come to pass by chance, no, notthe smallest event, but all by Divine direction; and that evilpursues sinners; that there are good works which God willreward, and wicked works which he will punish. Also, that murderis a dreadful crime, one which shall not long go unpunished. Butthey thought all wicked people were punished in this life.Though some are made examples in this world, to prove that thereis a God and a Providence, yet many are left unpunished, toprove that there is a judgment to come. They also thought allwho were remarkably afflicted in this life were wicked people.Divine revelation sets this matter in a true light. Good menoften are greatly afflicted in this life, for the trial andincrease of their faith and patience. Observe Paul's deliverancefrom the danger. And thus in the strength of the grace ofChrist, believers shake off the temptations of Satan, with holyresolution. When we despise the censures and reproaches of men,and look upon them with holy contempt, having the testimony ofour consciences for us, then, like Paul, we shake off the viperinto the fire. It does us no harm, except we are kept by it fromour duty. God hereby made Paul remarkable among these people,and so made way for the receiving of the gospel. The Lord raisesup friends for his people in every place whither he leads them,and makes them blessings to those in affliction. 11-16 The common events of travelling are seldom worthy ofbeing told; but the comfort of communion with the saints, andkindness shown by friends, deserve particular mention. TheChristians at Rome were so far from being ashamed of Paul, orafraid of owning him, because he was a prisoner, that they werethe more careful to show him respect. He had great comfort inthis. And if our friends are kind to us, God puts it into theirhearts, and we must give him the glory. When we see those evenin strange places, who bear Christ's name, fear God, and servehim, we should lift up our hearts to heaven in thanksgiving. Howmany great men have made their entry into Rome, crowned and intriumph, who really were plagues to the world! But here a goodman makes his entry into Rome, chained as a poor captive, whowas a greater blessing to the world than any other merely a man.Is not this enough to put us for ever out of conceit withworldly favour? This may encourage God's prisoners, that he cangive them favour in the eyes of those that carry them captives.When God does not soon deliver his people out of bondage, yetmakes it easy to them, or them easy under it, they have reasonto be thankful. 17-22 It was for the honour of Paul that those who examined hiscase, acquitted him. In his appeal he sought not to accuse hisnation, but only to clear himself. True Christianity settleswhat is of common concern to all mankind, and is not built uponnarrow opinions and private interests. It aims at no worldlybenefit or advantage, but all its gains are spiritual andeternal. It is, and always has been, the lot of Christ's holyreligion, to be every where spoken against. Look through everytown and village where Christ is exalted as the only Saviour ofmankind, and where the people are called to follow him innewness of life, and we see those who give themselves up toChrist, still called a sect, a party, and reproached. And thisis the treatment they are sure to receive, so long as thereshall continue an ungodly man upon earth. 23-31 Paul persuaded the Jews concerning Jesus. Some werewrought upon by the word, and others hardened; some received thelight, and others shut their eyes against it. And the same hasalways been the effect of the gospel. Paul parted with them,observing that the Holy Ghost had well described their state.Let all that hear the gospel, and do not heed it, tremble attheir doom; for who shall heal them, if God does not? The Jewshad afterwards much reasoning among themselves. Many have greatreasoning, who do not reason aright. They find fault with oneanother's opinions, yet will not yield to truth. Nor will men'sreasoning among themselves convince them, without the grace ofGod to open their understandings. While we mourn on account ofsuch despisers, we should rejoice that the salvation of God issent to others, who will receive it; and if we are of thatnumber, we should be thankful to Him who hath made us to differ.The apostle kept to his principle, to know and preach nothingbut Christ and him crucified. Christians, when tempted fromtheir main business, should bring themselves back with thisquestion, What does this concern the Lord Jesus? What tendencyhas it to bring us to him, and to keep us walking in him? Theapostle preached not himself, but Christ, and he was not ashamedof the gospel of Christ. Though Paul was placed in a very narrowopportunity for being useful, he was not disturbed in it. Thoughit was not a wide door that was opened to him, yet no man wassuffered to shut it; and to many it was an effectual door, sothat there were saints even in Nero's household, #Php 4:22|. Welearn also from #Php 1:13|, how God overruled Paul'simprisonment for the furtherance of the gospel. And not theresidents at Rome only, but all the church of Christ, to thepresent day, and in the most remote corner of the globe, haveabundant reason to bless God, that during the most mature periodof his Christian life and experience, he was detained aprisoner. It was from his prison, probably chained hand to handto the soldier who kept him, that the apostle wrote the epistlesto the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Hebrews; epistlesshowing, perhaps more than any others, the Christian love withwhich his heart overflowed, and the Christian experience withwhich his soul was filled. The believer of the present time mayhave less of triumph, and less of heavenly joy, than theapostle, but every follower of the same Saviour, is equally sureof safety and peace at the last. Let us seek to live more andmore in the love of the Saviour; to labour to glorify Him byevery action of our lives; and we shall assuredly, by hisstrength, be among the number of those who now overcome ourenemies; and by his free grace and mercy, be hereafter among theblessed company who shall sit with Him upon his throne, even asHe also has overcome, and is sitting on his Father's throne, atGod's right hand for evermore.
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