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happen when Samuel died ? His sons xix. 5, 6; Lev. xx. 26; Deut. vii. 6. were not fit to succeed him, they They knew God meant to give them a might usurp the office; then the
King in process of time; He had nation would be in the same position promised that Abraham and Jacob as they were in the time of Eli. The should be the ancestors of kings, Gen. elders took counsel together, then xvii. 6 ; xxxv. 11. See also Gen. xlix. formally waited upon Samuel to de- 10; Num. xxiv. 17. Moreover, their mand a king. He was greatly grieved, desire had been anticipated and profelt the request an insult to himself ; vided for, Deut. xvii. 15--20. They the elders did not ask him to name his erred, then, by impatience; they ought successor, but to resign in favour of a to have waited God's time. To have monarch. He did not answer till he asked Samuel to inquire of God had applied to God. God commanded whether this time had come, would him to assent to the people's desire, have been innocent; to demand a king but to warn them that their request was was presumptuous and rebellious. They not wise, that they would repent the preferred their own judgment to making it (see next Morning Lesson). God's. Moreover, God comforts Samuel, he is treated like his Master; it is Jehovah REFLECTIONS. 1. Ve have another the nation has rejected as its Ruler. warning to the children of pious parents. Their present conduct is similar to -Be careful that you imitate your that of their fathers in serving other parents' example. gods. But where were the elders 2. The servants of God must expect wrong. Were they not right in no better treatment than God receives taking thought for the future? Re- Himself:- Where is this said in the member Who was the King of New Testament? Israel-Jehovah Himself. The judges 3. Beware of the sins Israel committed were only His deputies. Their first in asking for a king.–See last parafault was in their desire to have a graph of the Lesson. visible head to the State. They could 4. It is sometimes a terrible punishnot be content with even a Divine ment to be allowed our own way.—God King, if they could not see Him. restrains us for our good; our parents They lacked faith. Then they sinned thwart us often also for our benefit. in their desire to be like all the nations. 5. God may be our King,-not as He To this day, Eastern people think a is King over all the earth, but ours monarchy the most respectable form of specially as He was Israel's. He is government.
The Israelites forgot called the “ King of saints.” How they were honoured in being different
become subjects of His from the neighbouring heathen. Exod. kingdom?
BY THE REV. W. O. SIMPSON.
.-Acts vii. 44-60. INTRODUCTION.-What is the title of tabernacle of witness,—so called because the Lesson ? 6 Martyr” signifies “a wit- in the ark were placed the two tables ness. Christ has three modes by which of stone which contained God's will His servants may witness for Him; the
for the guidance of His people. Brought lips; the life, the blood. All were com
in with Jesus,—that is, Joshua, the bined in Stephen : His life, ch. vi. 8;
Hebrew form of Jesus. his words, in this defence made before the
Unto the days Sanhedrim : now we have to learn how
of David,-so little was God's holiness he sealed his testimony by his blood.
bound up with the temple, that for
many centuries of the national history THE DEFENCE CONCLUDED.–V. 44- the humble tent-dwelling sufficed for 50. What had the accusers said as to His worship. God Who had acted so Stephen's teaching concerning the freely in fulfilling His promises to the temple? ch. vi. 13,14. So now Stephen patriarchs, exhibited the same freedom speaks about the “holy place.” The in selecting the builder of the temple.
David must not do it, in spite of the and himself escapes with a shout of fervent desires expressed in Psalm victory, so Stephen leaves his mangled cxxxii. Even when the temple was body to his foes, but himself departs a built, it was a poor dwelling for the victor. Repeat the verse, Creator of all ; witness the words of
“ Prayer is the Christian's vital breath,” etc. the prophet, Isai. lxvi. 1, 2. The Jews, in their narrow jealousy for the The martyr enters heaven on the temple, dishonoured the glory of Je- wings of prayer. How many prayers ? hovah; they thought more of the For whom? Can you remember any temple than of God. Was it not pos- other prayer like them ? Luke xxiii. sible that God, who had so freely acted
34, 46. in contrast with the expectation of
REFLECTIONS.—We have here three His people as to the patriarchs, to
lessons on living, and two on dying. Moses, and the temple, would act so in reference to the Messiah? Jesus might
THREE LESSONS ON LIVING.
1. Let us live as Christ's witnesses.be the Lord's Christ in spite of their rigid prejudices.
What is the meaning of the word THE APPEAL.-V. 51–53. Stephen
martyr”? Let us love Christ, and has never forgotten Christ; he speaks
speak for Him. Let us bear everyof Moses, but thinks of another Pro
thing for Him; scorn, derision of phet, ver. 37; speaks of an Israel companions ; difficulty of circum
stances. rejected, but thinks of the true Israel ; of the temple to be destroyed, but
2. Christ will help us.—How did thinks of the true temple of God's Jesus appear to Stephen ? He had Son. Perhaps he would have gone
helped him in working, speaking; now further if he had not been interrupted
in suffering. We may be strengthened by clamour or some expression of dis
with all "might by God's Spirit in
the inner man.' sent. He hastens the application. The attitude of the Jews to-day is their
3. Jesus will crown us.-Jesus has a attitude for centuries past.-resistance ;
crown for faithful followers as well as its source is an obstinate and impure
dying martyrs. See what Paul says,
2 Tim. iv. 8. nature; its object, then the prophets ;
What Jesus says now, the Spotless, the Just One, (com- Himself, Rev. ü. 10. pare ch. iii. 14,) Jesus, the Bringer-in Two LESSONS ON DYING. of God's righteousness for man's re- 1. Jesus opens heaven to His dying demption. How would he have finished
servants.-A dying minister was asked the speech if he had not been inter- by his daughter if he thought there rupted ? Much as Peter finished his was any danger. “Danger, my dear," addresses on the day of Pentecost and said he,“ don't use that word; there at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, can be no danger to the Christian, Acts ii. 37, 38; iii. 19.
whatever may happen : all is well, closed the lips that would have spoken because God is love ; everlastingly salvation.
well! If we would die so well, we “ FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH.”—V. 54 must live well; if we would die like -60. Stephen had twofold sight, eye- Stephen, we must live like him. sight and soul-sight; the latter such 2. Happy deaths make deep impresas Paul speaks of, 1 Cor. xv. 8; or sions.-At whose feet did the witnesses John, Rev. i. 12, 13. What did the lay their garments ? Do you know eye see ? Men gnashing their teeth anything more about him ? Long like savage dogs or fierce lions. What after, Paul spoke of this scene, Acts did the soul see? Heaven ; glory; xxii. 20. Who in this class have lost Jesus ; Jesus standing as ready to help a parent, brother, or sister ? Did they him. Compare Matt. xxvi. 64; Ephes. die happy? Do not resist such sacred i. 20. Bad men have made confession impressions. The recollection of their near the scaffold; false men have con- happiness when dying, will prepare fessed imposture when near death. you for the same. How will Stephen act? He is “faithful unto death." As a brave warrior QUESTIONS.-How did Stephen intimate that leaves his broken armour and tattered
the Jews attached too
much importance to the uniform to a crowd of angry enemies,
temple ? What prophecy did he quote in support of this charge? How do you account
for the sudden change in the style of Stephen's address? What was the principal thought of his application? How would he have concluded if he had been allowed ? What pre
vented him? What vision appeared to him?
-THE BURIAL OF STEPHEN, AND SUCCESS IN SAMARIA.—
Acts viii. 1-25.
For repetition, verse 12. INTRODUCTION.—The Church in the between it and Galilee. The Apostles, Holy City had hitherto retained its unity. because of the exalted position and Now, however, persecution breaks its veneration in which they were held by form to pieces, and the sweetness of the the people, for a time escaped danger, Gospel rises, and spreads to distant cities and had no need to flee from the city. and lands.
O! how the scattered ones would
preach the Word, with the scene of the THE BLOOD OF THE MARTYR BECOMES martyrdom behind them! In purTHE SEED OF THE CHURCH.--V. 1-4.
suing the narrative, it will be well Stephen's trial and martyrdom had
separate its contents more distinctly aroused the feelings of the people in than can be possible by mere sections very different ways. So at the death of verses. of Christ: penitence and faith were PHILIP.-Not to be confounded with awakened in the dying thief; decision the Apostle of the same name, for in Joseph of Arimathæa; confirmed the Apostles remained still in Jeruhatred in the rulers of the Jews. Three salem ; see also ver. 14. He was one parties are mentioned here, who were of the deacons, (ch. vi. 5,) and his codifferently affected: Saul with the
operation with Stephen in the work of people ; devout men, ver. 2; Chris- that office would place him in imminent tian believers. Begin with Saul, ver. danger. Preached Christ,-compare 1, 3. He is young; the spectacle of the ver. 4; Christ is the Treasure brought martyrdom should have touched his out of the Word. Stephen is dead, but heart; he is pleased, goes from it “the Lord's hand is not shortened.” saying, “ right;” becomes the leader
Philip's word is confirmed by miracles of the persecution. As a strong-armed such as Stephen wrought, ch. vi. 8. swordsman mows down a crowd of SAMARIA.—The term in this book helpless foes, so he made havoc of refers generally to the district, ver. 14; the Church, searched out its meeting- ch. ix. 31 ; xv. 3. Sychar (John iv. places and broke up its assemblies. 5) was at this time the city, eclipsing, His rage is not satisfied ; he now through Roman patronage, the city of pursues individual believers; women Samaria. The inhabitants were were not excepted. He “haled”
willing people, John iv. 30, with ver. summoned them; had them bound and 6 of the Lesson. But they were supercast into prison; then held out no hope stitious; ready to believe without suf. for them unless they “ blasphemed," ficient inquiry. Everywherea Deliverer and by bodily torture strove to “compel was expected, some great one, ver. 9; them to blaspheme,” (Acts xxvi. 10, Johniv. When a motheris expecting 11,) or deny the name of Christ. The the return of a long-absent son, the people followed eagerly a leader so slightest resemblance is apt to deceive vigorous. The “devout men
her, in form, step, or appearance.
So to be placed in contradistinction to a pretended “great one deceived the Church; probably they were Greek- thesecredulous people by tricks, sleightspeaking Jews, not yet Christians, who of-hand performances like those of had known Stephen in his work as a modern conjurers. But when they deacon, and had listened to his dis- saw the miracles which Philip did, the cussions, ch. vi. 9. No known Christian power of sorcery was gone. A great could venture on the melancholy task; work makes a wide report. Which a secret disciple begged the body of of the Apostles came down from Jesus, secret disciples beg the body Jerusalem ? On the gift of the Holy of the first martyr. Next consider Ghost spoken of ver. 15—17, see the Church, ver. I, 4, with ch. i. 8. Illustration. Compare Acts xix. 6, Samaria lay to the north of Judæa, and notice that this gift was followed
by visible results which Simon saw. Ghost, which has no forgiveness. Peter and John had been in these Peter's stern words and manner shake parts before, (Luke ix. 54;) now an Simon's heart with fear, but do not old enmity was to be conquered by a
lead him to repentance. The New new love.
Testament says no more about him. SIMOX.-The word translated be. Tradition says that he became a heretic, witched, is rendered “amazed,” “aston- and a bitter enemy of the Church of ished,” Matt. xii. 23; Mark v. 42; Christ. Luke xiv. 22. The three terms define Simon's influence.
REFLECTIONS.-1. There is no salformances “amazed” the people ; in
vation in Bible reading, except so far as capable of understanding them, they,
we get Christ out of it, ver. 5. with a confused notion of the super
2. The acceptance of Christ gives joy natural in them, scarcely knowing
and power. These people rejoiced, and what their belief meant, believed him
had power to give up their foolish to be “some great one." Why did
practices. Simon seek baptism ? He judged
3. Religion begins in the heart.Philip by himself; thought he had Enforce by referring to the baptism learned sorcery from a greater master,
of children; their observance of the perhaps was in alliance with some
Sabbath and public worship; but is powerful spirit: baptism was the
the heart right? ceremony by which this higher know
4. Forgiveness must be sought from ledge and power should be his; so he
God only, through Christ.-Preachers was baptised. How was his insincerity
and teachers may point the way as exposed ? ver. 18, 19. The Apostles
Peter did: but every one must ask more powerful than Philip;
for himself. For want of this,something more than baptism was
5. Some people who have had many needed; what must he do now? prayers offered for them are not saved, Money: he worked for money; perhaps
ver. 24. they would. See Peter's reply. Note, QUESTIONS.--What was occasioned by the 1. That Simon's heart had never been persecution in Jerusalem ? Who were the touched; it was not right; simple
“devout men?” Where else are they spoken of? and sincere. 2. Peter does not absolve
By whom was the Word preached in Samaria?
What was the result of Philip's preaching ! him from his sin, but commands him How was the superstition of the people shown? to pray to God for forgiveness. 3.
Give some account of Simon. Who came
from Jerusalem? What was their mission ! Peter hints a doubt: perhaps Simon
How did Simon show his ignorance and had committed sin against the Holy insincerity ?
Illustration. Verses 15–17. “Luke here speaks, not of the ordinary grace of the Spirit by which God regenerates us as sons to Himself, but of those special gifts with which it was the Lord's will to endow some persons in the beginning of the Gospel for the furnishing of the kingdom of Christ."--Calvin.
PHILIP AND THE EUNUCH.--Acts viii. 26-40.
For repetition, verses 34, 35. INTRODUCTION.—The didactic worth led from Sychar to the coast, and of this Lesson is so great, and the need followed the coast-line to the same for exposition comparatively so limited, point. Between this coast-road and that the former is taken as the theme,
the highway from Jerusalem lay the and the latter is placed in subordination
“ desert,” or uninhabited region, across to it.
which Philip was to strike. Sychar, A LESSON ON DIVINE PROVIDENCE. Jerusalem, the two roads, the desert, Read Ps. cxxxix. 7. Places : Sychar, all lay open to the sight of God. At where probably Philip was, lay in the home, at school, by the way,
“ Thou very heart of Samaria ; more than sixty God seest me.' Persons : Philip in miles away, as the crow flies, from a crowded little city; the chamberlain, Gaza. One road led direct from a solitary traveller; no difference to Jerusalem south-west to Gaza; another the All-knowing God. Alone, in &
crowd, the God of Providence watches not let it be quenched by a return to you. Circumstances : Philip, doing his distant home; so sends a servant a great work, cannot be spared; the of His to fan it to a flame. Have you Ethiopian is anxiously seeking for a spark? Some good thing towards the the truth; helpless; no one near to Lord your God ? Go further : ask guide. God sees both; brings them Jesus for help and full salvation. together. Time : could not be less THE WAY OF KNOWLEDGE.—Knowthan three days journey to Philip; ledge requires three things : a good he travels on foot; liable to many book; a good scholar; a good teacher. interruptions, yet he reaches the All three are here. The good scholar: chariot just as the eunuch reads the diligent; how? Thoughtful, seeking one verse of the Old Testament Scrip- to understand ; humble, willing to tures which has most of Christ in it. have help. The good Book: the Old “ The steps of a good man are ordered Testament; especially the book of by the Lord." Will: God directs the prophet Isaiah, which contains His purposes by His power over the more about Jesus than any other will of man. In this case an angel portion of the Old Testament. A was His messenger, see ch. v. 19; x. good teacher: Philip, who knew the 3; xii. 7. He now acts by His Spirit lesson of the Book :
" the grace of on the will. This is our God; pray God that bringeth salvation.” You to Him, “Lead me in the way ever
have a better book than the eunuch lasting.”
had; the life of Jesus; the explanation OUTWARD CIRCUMSTANCES ARE POOR of Christian doctrine in the Epistles. SYMBOLS OF THE STATE OF THE HEART. You have good teachers ; persons them-Picture the two men : Philip, the selves saved by the Lord Jesus. If persecuted Christian, would have little you are yourselves good scholars, money; no show of dress; dust- thoughtful, earnest, devout, you will covered; heat - smitten; but what soon come to the end of the way of wealth within! Christ and salvation ! knowledge, Christ Jesus. The eunuch held the position of chan- CHRIST CRUCIFIED.—Read ver. 32– cellor or treasurer under the sovereign 35, with Isai. liii. 7, 8. The version is of a great country. (Candace was the the Greek translation of the old official name of the queens of Ethiopia, Testament. How were these words as Pharaoh was of the kings of fulfilled in Jesus? Recall the “humili. Egypt. The country referred to lay ation” of the trial of Jesus ; three to the south of Egypt, and answered times Pilate declared “I find no fault to the modern Nubia, and the northern in Him;” but “ His judgment” was part of Abyssinia.) He rides in a “ taken away” by the tumult of the chariot drawn by horses; his equipage, rulers and the people, and Jesus was dress, ornaments, would indicate his delivered to be crucified. For whom wealth. He is poorer than the way- did He suffer? Isai. liii. 4–6; 8, latter farer who accosts him.
part. He died for sinners. He is ruler's question fills his mind, “What Jesus, the Saviour. lack I yet?” Matt. xix. 20. Philip THE DUTY OF DECISION.—V. 36–38. might have said, “poor, yet making Experience of the power of grace many rich ; having nothing, yet pos- prompts to immediate decision and sessing all things.'
profession. What was the sign of this ? TENDERNESS OF GRACE.—The man The eunuch suggested this, not Philip. had been to Jerusalem to worship : was You have been baptized in the name of probably a Gentile : had been a Jesus ; Jesus asks of you fulfilment of heathen; then admitted as a proselyte the obligations implied and laid on you to the Jewish faith; sincere, self-deny- in baptism. You must decide. ing, he had taken a long journey to THE JOY OF RELIGION.–V. 39, 40. worship at the great temple of his faith The Spirit of the Lord caught away and observe one of its feasts. In Philip.—1 Kings xviii. 12 ; 2 Kings ii. Jerusalem he had heard of Jesus, the 16. He disappears from the wilderGospel, the death of Stephen; was ness; reaches Azotus on the coast, and there salvation in the new Name ? preaches his way to Cæsarea, where he “Thou understandest my thought afar is found more than twenty years after, off," Ps. cxxxix. 2. Jesus sees the sheltering under his roof the Apostle spark within the smoking ilax; will of the Gentiles, Acts xxi. 8. Happy