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Moses. Judas and Silas being prophets, exhorted the people; and, after continuing with them a short time, the former returned to Jerusalem, but the latter remained with Paul and Barnabas, who, in conjunction with many others that were prophets and teachers, continued to preach the Gospel with success. After some time, Paul proposed to make a circuit, and visit every city, in which they had formerly taught. Barnabas approved of his scheme and was desirous of taking John, whose surname was Mark, with them; but Paul thought Mark not deserving of this honour, as he had before withdrawn himself from them. This occasioned a sharp contention between the two Apostles, which ended in a separation: so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed to Cyprus, his native place; and Paul accompanied by Silas, set out on his return to Cilicia, having been, as on a former occasion, recommended by the brethren to the grace of GOD. At Derbe he met with a pious young man whose mother was a Jewess, but his father a Greek. The name of the youth was Timothy. Paul resolved to take him with him, and solemnly consecrated him to the ministerial office.
From the dispute which took place between Paul and Barnabas, we learn that the Apostles were subject to infirmities like other men, and that they were not constantly under the influence of Divine inspiration, but in common affairs were left to the guidance of their own understanding; which indeed, was so improved by the revelations made to them, that they generally knew what was most proper to be done : but in every thing relating to their ministry they had encouragement to expect Divine aid and direction, if they prayed for it. This neither Paul nor Barnabas on the present occasion did, and, therefore, the dispute ended as such matters usually do, when men suffer passion to rule them.
Let us think of the unhappy consequences of this dispute, and consider it as an admonition against anger and passion; for if they were powerful enough to divide the friendship of two of the best men who ever lived in the world, what effects may not the indulgence of them produce among inferior Christians? And it will be no excuse to us, that Paul and Barnabas had a quarrel: for it is very evident, that their conduct is not in this particular proposed as an example to us, but held out as a warning.
PAUL AND SILAS CONTINUE THEIR JOURNEY-THEY ARE CAST INTO PRISON, AND MIRACULOUSLY DELIVERED,
From Acts, Chap. xvi.
PAUL accompanied by Silas and Timothy, and, as it is supposed, joined by Luke*, pursued his travels, sometimes by sea, and sometimes by land, under the particular influence of the HOLY SPIRIT; by which he was restrained from visiting several places he intended, and directed to others, either because his presence was more necessary there, or perhaps on account of the conceited wisdom of the inhabitants of the other places. It was intimated in a vision to Paul, that the Macedonians were properly disposed to receive the Gospel; he therefore went thither, and met with some remarkable occurrences.
At Philippi, a city of Macedonia, dwelt a Gentile wo
* The reason Luke is supposed to have been of the party is, that from this time he continues the history as if a companion, using the word we instead of they.
man, named Lydia, who, like Cornelius, was a worshipper of the true GOD, and earnestly desirous of eternal life; she was, therefore, assisted with Divine grace, and by this means enabled fully to understand Paul's doctrine; in consequence of which she desired to be baptized. Her family followed her example, and they were all initiated into the Christian religion. Full of gratitude and respect, Lydia, with the most pressing importunity, insisted that Paul and his companions should take up their abode at her house, which they accordingly did. Whilst they continued her guests, Paul cast out an evil spirit which possessed a young woman, who gained her master money by the extravagant things she uttered under the influence of the evil spirit, pretending to foretel future events. We will not particularly examine this story, as we are not liable to such possession; it is sufficient to say, that the maid's master being enraged that his profits were at an end, laid hold on Paul and Silas, and brought them before the magistrates as disturbers of the peace, and introducers of a new religion. The magistrates, without any legal trial, gave orders for their being scourged, which was executed with great severity; after which Paul and Silas were cast into prison, and their feet confined in the stocks, which must have been very painful after the bruises they had received. Instead of suffering their spirits to sink under this misfortune, they sought relief in devotion; and having prayed, they sang an hymn of praise to GOD, for the honour they had in suffering in his cause. The other prisoners listened to them with surprise, when suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awakening out of his sleep, and seeing the prison
doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been filed. "But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm; for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas; and brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the LORD JESUS CHRIST, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the LORD, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes: and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in Gon with all his house.”
As soon as it was day, the magistrates sent the officers who had beaten Paul and Silas the day before, to desire the jailer to let them go; but Paul judged it proper to refuse being set at liberty privately, and sent them word, that as they were Roman citizens as well as themselves, they insisted upon being conducted by them out of the prison respectfully. When the magistrates heard they were Roman citizens, they were glad to accommodate matters, and accordingly waited on them to the house of Lydia. Paul and Silas related the circumstances of this affair to their fellow Christians, and gave them comfortable assurances from their own experience, that whatever trials any of them might be exposed to for the sake of the Gospel, they could be supported under them, and then departed.
Paul's refusal to be dismissed privately, and his insisting on the magistrates conducting him and his fellowprisoner in an honourable manner out of their place of confinement, proceeded not from pride, but true magna.
nimity and humanity. They had received, as ministers of the Gospel, a notorious insult; and it was necessary, for the honour of the cause, that reparation should be made to them in the sight of the people. It was also proper that the magistrates should be rebuked and mortified; otherwise the passive submission of the Apostles might have occasioned other innocent persons to suffer in the same manner. Paul sought no revenge, neither did he require the magistrates to buy their peace with a sum of money; for he knew how to join the tenderness of the Christian with the dignity of the Roman citizen, and contended for his own rights no farther than the honour of religion and the benefit of other Christians required.
PAUL AND SILAS PREACH AT THESSALONICA AND
From Acts, Chap. xvii.
WHEN Paul and Silas quitted Philippi, they went forward on their journey, and visited many places. They converted a great multitude of devout Greeks, and among them a number of illustrious women; but they met as usual with opposition from the Jews, and Paul was obliged, in order to avoid persecution, to move from place to place. At length he was by the brethren conducted to the celebrated city of Athens, from whence he sent an order for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible.
Athens was at that time the seat of learning, science, and politeness; but in respect to religion, entirely de