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Evangelist, he! The eunuch went on his way rejoicing. So the two men who had met under such strange circumstances separate, sharers of a common joy and in hope of a future meeting.

QUESTIONS.—To what place was Philip now sent? What was its position and distance with regard to Samaria? Whom did Philip meet on his way? Where was Ethiopia ? What passage in Isaiah was the eunuch reading? On what condition was the eunuch to be baptized? What happened after his baptism ! In what cities do we next find Philip?

MARCH 22. THE CONVERSION OF PAUL.-Acts ix. 1-18. INTRODUCTION. – Much time will be

group) eclipsed the splendours of the required for the consideration of every mid-day hour in the East, Acts xxii. point in this important narrative. The

6; xxvi. 13; 1 Tim. vi. 14-16. Paul teacher should consult the accounts given

and some of his companions fell to the in Acts xxii., xxvi., and be able to weave the whole into one narrative. The point

earth, (ch. xxvi. 14;) others stood of connection with the previous history

speechless with amazement, ver. 7. is in the adverb “yet.” The death of

THE VOICE.--The others heard only Stephen aroused instead of satisfying a voice or sound, but no distinct articuthe persecuting spirit of Saul: his rage lation, Acts xxii. 9; but the Voice spake (ch. viii. 3) grew by what it fed on; he words clear and startling to the is “yet” pursuing his fierce work. The Apostle. The language was Hebrew Reflections are given in a form as brief

or Aramaic; the same which our Lord as possible; there will not be time for

used in the days of His flesh, Acts more than one; let that be selected and

xxvi. 14. That amidst the splendour, worked with care.

Paul actually saw the person of our THE PERSECUTOR'S PLANS. Yet Lord, is evident from his own statebreathing out, like a volcano pouring ments, 1 Cor. ix. 1; xv. 8. out fire; or a wild beast panting for its THE DIALOGUE. V. 4, last part, prey.

Unto the high-priest, who 5, 6. Jesus, after His wont, speaks in claimed jurisdiction

over Jews in

a parable. Oxen, in plough, carriage, foreign countries. Letters to Damascus, or cart, are driven by a goad, a short —the chief city of Syria. From ch. staff with a prong at the end. A xi. 19, it appears that the scattered restive animal does but increase its Christians fled to Phenice; this was own torture by continued resistance to part of the Roman province of Syria, the will of its master. Paul had been on its western side; it is probable, there- ill at ease in heart during his perfore, that others would betake them. secuting career. Jesus had been selves to the city of the East where, probing his soul by Stephen's words from time immemorial, great numbers and death; by the patience of perof Jews had been settled. Saul's plan secuted believers ; by an awakened included all the important places which conscience. Further resistance would would be in his route.

only result in further unhappiness. THE JOURNEY.–V. 3, first clause. The only wisdom was to yield. This His route would lie from Jerusalem Paul does at once: in what words? to Sychar, across the Jordan to the Brighter revelations are for the present south of the Sea of Gennesaret. After withheld : a simple direction to enter leaving the Jordan, the road lay amid the city terminates this pregnant inter“stony hills and thirsty plains, through view. which the withered stems of the THE ENTRY.–V. 8, 9. His eyes were scanty vegetation hardly penetrate.” opened.-The lifted eyelids let in no We do not know who were Paul's vision of the road, the gardens, or the companions, or how he travelled; white walls of the city. The glory probably on horseback; if so, the had made him blind. The haughty whole journey of one hundred and persecutor passed under the city gatethirty-six miles would be accomplished way like some poor beggar led out to in about six days. Came near Damascus. solicit alms. Three days of such darkSee Portfolio.

In it there would be much THE ARREST.–V. 3, last part, 4, 7. thought; passages of the Old TestaThe light.—The time was noon; yet ment Scriptures would shine out in the light (bursting suddenly upon the new light; the changed soul would


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give a new key of interpretation; the immediate past would be surveyed by grief more pregnant because of the faith in Jesus so recently implanted. Two things we are told : Paul prayed, and towards the close of the struggle a vision was granted to him of the messenger whom Jesus would send.

ANANIAS.—V. 10–18. Nothing is known of him except what is said in ch. xxii. 12. He was a private member of the Church, and a devout observer of the Jewish ceremonial law. He seems to have been a resident in Damascus, as he knows Saul only by name, and has heard rumours of his visit. He expresses a very natural surprise at the errand upon which Jesus was about to send him, but obeys. He does his work kindly, “Brother Saul;" faithfully : Jesus had sent him, and he says so ; effectively : he had received Divine power to effect a cure, and does it, “and the same hour I looked up upon him,” Acts xxii. 13. Marvellous change when Paul's yearning eyes looked upon a Christian's face in love, and met tenderness and love in return !

REFLECTIONS. -1. The "wayof suffering is often the right way.-Paul persecuted “this way,” but he was wrong; it was the

narrow way,

(Matt. vii. 14,) the way of peace, salvation, truth, and holiness, (Luke i. 79; Acts xvi. 17; 2 Peter ü. 2; Isai. xxxv. 8;) the way to heaven, Jer. 1. 5.

2. How easily Jesus finds seekers and sinners !

—The road upon which the eunuch was travelling towards Gaza, was the same as that upon which Saul journeyed towards Damascus. At either end Christ saves a sinner.

3. Resistance of Christ is prolonged unhappiness.—Continuance in it provokes further chastisement.

4. There is hope for the greatest sinners. This is Paul's own inference, 1 Tim. i. 15, 16.

5. Mark the contrast between sin and salvation.Prostration, darkness, hunger, wretchedness; light, satisfaction, joy. Prayer is the power which works the change.

QUESTIONS. How is Paul's persecuting spirit described ? What further scheme had he in his mind ? How did he propose to carry it into execution ? What would be the course of his journey? At what time of the day did they approach Damascus ? What threw the company into confusion? What did some of the company hear? What did Paul hear What words were spoken ? Whom did Paul see? What directions were given to him ? What had been the physical effects of the vision? How long did the darkness continue ? Who was chosen to effect Paul's cure? How was this brought about?



For repetition, verses 20, 21.

INTRODUCTION. An old commission has been unexpectedly relinquished by Paul, ver. 2. He has received a new commission, from a greater Master. Will he prove faithful ? Yes, from the very first. In this Lesson we have to do with the first labours of him who was in “labours more abundant;" the first perils of him who was “in perils” oft.

AT DAMASCUS.–V. 19–22. “I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision,” (ch. xxvi. 19 ;) referring both to his own visions of Jesus in the way, and of the coming of Ananias, ver. 12; and the commands given to the latter in a vision, ver. 15, 16. He was prompt in his obedience, straightway. Three topics were prominent in his sermons: Christ, repentance, “ works meet for repentance,” ver. 20; ch. xxvi. 20. His testimony was given where it was most needed, and where

it would be most startling, in the synagogues. The result was surprise, then fury. The Jews knew what he had been; why he had come; they saw what he was; heard what he said. There was no accounting for the change, ex

in Paul's own way. Paul wielded familiar weapons with overwhelming force; he proved from the Old Testament that Jesus was the very Christ, the true Messiah.

IN ARABIA.-Gal. i. 17. into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.—The term Arabia is of uncertain application; here probably it refers to the country which touched Palestine on the north and Egypt on the west, and of which Petra was the capital. The record says nothing of Paul's occupation there; we may conclude that, as in the case of Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist, and Christ,

I went


this seclusion was devoted to medi. friended him ? Probably Barnabas tation, thought, and prayer.

and Saul were previously acquainted; FROM DAMASCUS.- V. 23—25, with Cyprus and Tarsus were within a few 2 Cor. xi. 32. Paul on his return to hours' sail of each other; both spoke Damascus renewed his labours in the Greek, perhaps were fellow-students synagogues. The Jews, foiled

in argu

in the schools of Tarsus. It appears ment, resort to conspiracy. The city certain that Paul had made Barnabas at the time was in the possession of his confidant, and the words of the Aretas, the king of Arabia, and was “ Son of Consolation” win for the under the control of an Ethnarch or Church the service of a noble life, ver. governor appointed by him. Political 27; ch. iv. 36, 37. Paul becomes the circumstances gave the Jews greatinflu- guest of Peter, and is received as a ence, and they persuaded the governor friend and brother by the Church, to aid them in the arrest of Paul. He Gal. i. 18, 19. places sentinels round the walls, day FROM JERUSALEM.— V. 29–31. The and night, to cut off escape. But the fifteen days' converse soon passed style of Eastern architecture favoured away. Paul, the young Apostle, must escape. Houses, with overhanging

tread in the footmarks of Stephen. windows, are built on and into the city Stephen discussed in the synagogues walls. From such a window, in the of the Greek-speaking Jews : so does night, Paul was let down in a basket, Paul, ch. vi. 9; ix. 29; the fury of probably made of ropes, similar to a that section of the Jews led to the large net.

martyrdom of Stephen, and now threatUP TO JERUSALEM.–V. 26–28. A ens the life of Paul. His brethren desire to see Peter was the motive of rescue him, conveying him safely to his return to a city full to him of sad Cæsarea on the coast, and forwarding memories, Gal. i. 18. Every stage of him thence by ship to Tarsus. Paul that return journey would start power

did not consent to this step till the ful emotion. With the inward as well anxiety of the brethren was sanctioned as outward vision restored, he would by a Divine intimation. Mistrusted, pass the spot made holy by the appear- opposed, persecuted, he goes with a ance of his Lord.

Recrossing the heavy heart to the temple to pray, and Jordan, sighting the Galilæan lake, how beholds there the vision referred to in would his heart bound in love for the ch. xxii. 17-21. “ Nazarene" Who made its waves for ever sacred! He would pass the very

REFLECTIONS.—1. Speak out boldly spot where Stephen fell, and feel him.

for Christ and godliness. self to be the answer of the martyr's

2. Danger strengthens courage.—God prayers. As to the future, his antici. prepares the young to " endure hard

as good soldiers of Jesus, by pations could not be uncertain. He could count upon the grief of Gamaliel,

placing them in circumstances of dif. the hatred of the Pharisees, the fury

ficulty. of the Grecian synagogues. Yet he

3. Solitude confirms the will and rewas not without hope that his ministry

fines the conscience, and so conduces to would be successful. Those who had

constancy.-Paul to Arabia; the young known what he had been and saw what

Christian to his secret communings

with God, Ps. xxvii. 14. he was, would surely believe in his word and in his Saviour, Acts xxii. 17

4. Surround yourselves with godly —21. He attempted to obtain a place

friends,—by joining the Church. amongst the brethren.

But suspicion

5. Work at once, and the work will met him ; for which it is not difficult

enlarge.-Paul began at Damascus ; to account. Such deeds, such deter

ere he died, he had preached the mination of cruelty as had marked

Gospel to those “at Rome also.” his career, are not easily forgotten. ? QUESTIONS.- Where did Paul commence his Rumours of his vision and his conduct

> ness

work? What was the public opinion con

cerning his ministry? What led to his retireat Damascus had probably reached the

ment to Arabia ? What was the mode of his Church at Jerusalem. But men were

escape from the city? What led to it? How slow then as now to believe in the was he received in Jerusalem ? why? Who reality of a change so great. The

befriended him there? What was his conduct believers could not believe that Paul

there? What led to his second flight? How

did Jesus give intimation of His will in the was a true disciple. Who now be- matter?



MORNING LESSONS. APRIL 5. -SOLEMN PROTESTATION.—1 Samuel viii. 10–22. THE RIGHT OF A KING.–V. 10-18. consideration. They only add to the Recall last Morning Lesson. Why had former plea that the king would Samuel complained to God ? How had fight their battles : so soon had they God answered him ? All the words of forgotten the victory which freed the Lord,-means that answer as well them from a foreign yoke! ch. vii. 10. as the warning recorded here. It must Samuel had delivered God's message not be supposed that the king would to Israel faithfully; as faithfully does be justified in all the acts foretold; he report Israel's words to God, only such was the custom of Eastern ver. 21. The Lord answers briefly, kings, an example the Israelitish mon- Hearken unto their voice,–let them have archs would be sure, sooner or later, to their own way, since they are resolved imitate. It would be necessary for upon it; let their obstinacy work out him to keep up a certain state, to levy its own punishment. Go ye every man a certain tribute. But as Eastern unto his city.Thus the people were sovereigns are despots, they often ex- told their request was not refused, and ceed the bounds of moderation. To space was afforded for repentance. But understand Samuel's

warning, we must their resolve remained unaltered. bear in mind that Oriental monarchs claim the right to exact any service

REFLECTIONS.-1. Read Prov. xxvi. from any of their subjects, paying in

16. An overweening reliance upon return no more than they choose to

one'sown judgment is no mark of either give, generally barely sufficient to wisdom or goodness. Vain, self-conprovide food and raiment; and no sub

ceited people are usually silly people. ject may decline any office, however 2. A bad heart makes a bad head.inconvenient and laborious, the king

We often say,

“A man convinced may appoint him to. Some shall run against his will, Is of the same opinion before his chariots.—See Illustration. still.” When one has resolved not to do Ear,-plough. Tenth of your seed, etc.

right, he frequently fails to see the -i.e., a tenth of the produce. The

reasonableness of right. Let us pray,tithe due to the Levite would still be

“Superior sense may I display, required. The judges discharged their

By shunning every evil way, duties for the most part gratuitously;

And walking in the good.” the nation felt neither the tyranny nor 3. See the stupidity of obstinacy.-A the expense of a king. Surely the child-an adult, too-sometimes percontrast would induce them to with. sists in what he knows to be wrong and draw their request! Could they resist foolish, because he thinks it brave and the solemn warning of the eighteenth manly not to give in. verse ?

4. To be allowed our own way against OBSTINACY TRIUMPHANT.–V. 19- God's counsel is in itself a terrible 22. The elders are not to be persuaded ; punishment.Our way is certain to end they have made up their minds ; in sorrow, Ps. lxxxi. 11–16; Prov. nothing shall move them. They repeat i. 30, 31. the old argument, (see ver. 5,) as though 5. Though God delights to hear prayer, they would reply to the prophet, We there are some earnest prayers He will see nothing in what you have said to not listen to.-Ver. 18; Prov. i. 28, 29; alter our desire, nothing that requires Isai. i. 15; Micah iü. 4.

Illustration, -"SOME SHALL RUN BEFORE HIS CHARIOTS. “Chariots are not now used; but in Persia it is, to this day, a piece of state for the king and other great personages to have several men to run on foot before and beside them as they ride on horseback. This they do even when the rider puts his horse to VOL. IX. NEW SERIBS.-April, 1874.


a gallop. The men are trained to their business from boyhood; and the feats they are able to perform would scarcely be considered credible in this country. They are called shatirs.

“ Chardin mentions a candidate for the place of shatir to the king, who accomplished about one hundred and twenty miles by fourteen hours' unintermitted running, and who was rather censured for not having done it in twelve hours. Chardin himself followed him on horseback in his seventh course, when the heat of the day had obliged him somewhat to relax his pace, and the traveller could only follow him by keeping his horse on the gallop. No instance equal to this came to our own knowledge in the same country; but what we did see and learn, rendered the statement of Chardin far from incredible. It was astonishing to observe the extreme ease with which the men appeared to attend their master's horse in all its paces, even the most rapid ; and, as a general rule, it is understood that an accomplished footman ought to remain untired as long, or longer, than the horse ridden by his master.”Kitto.


APRIL 12. -SAUL AND SAMUEL,--1 Samuel ix. 1–14. INTRODUCTION.-God had acceded to Saul proposed to return home, lest Israel's request; the elders had gone his father should be more anxious at home assured that a king would be their long absence, than troubled at appointed soon, but they knew not

the loss of the quadrupeds. The servant exactly when nor how God's choice

suggested that it would be well to would be manifested. In this Lesson

consult the prophet who was then in we meet the king Jehovah had selected; we see how he was brought into contact

the city as to the whereabouts of the with Samuel.

It was customary to make a

small present to the seer when such “The Son of Kish.”—V.1, 2.- The inquiries were put to him. They had sceptre had been promised to Judah, no food to give him, a difficulty Saul Gen. xlix. 10. If the monarchy had deems insuperable. But the servant been established at God's own instance, has the fourth part of a shekel, rather doubtless the sovereign would have more than sixpence in our money ; sprung from that tribe.

Benjamin that they agree to offer Samuel. Ver. was the smallest of the tribes; to that 9 is parenthetical; in after times the fact probably it owed the selection of lost asses would be thought too trivial the monarch from its sons. No trite a matter to trouble a prophet with. could be jealous of its honour. A The seer was one who was enabled to mighty man of power,--see Margin, see things distant or concealed as and Ruth ii. 1. The words refer to though they were present. The prophet Kish. The description of Saul's person was God's spokesman to His people. indicates that he was chosen partly on Samuel was the first of the prophets, account of his physical excellencies. the last of the seers. Maidens drawing The Israelites desired a human king; water (compare Gen. xxiv. 11) inform God gave them just such a king as them that Samuel had just arrived in men admire. Tallness, and handsome the town; that a sacrifice is to be held form and features were much more that day; that if they make haste, highly esteemed among the ancient they will meet Samuel as he leaves his nations than with us. A young man, house. As they enter the city, Samuel -in the prime of life. Saul would be is passing out of it. The sacrifice rather more than forty years of age. partook also of the nature of a feast.

THE SEARCH FOR THE ASSES.--V. 3 --14. In those times the wealthiest For us the main lesson of the men were farmers; they did not think narrative relates to the Providence of it beneath themselves or their sons to God, how it guides and shapes the be actively engaged in agricultural smallest events of our lives. Mark labour; so when Kish's asses were the minute details of the story; they lost, Saul and one of the servants went are told, that we may understand how to seek them. They travelled in a God was employing the most ordinary north-westerly direction, but could not circumstances to lead Saul a way that find the strayed asses. When they he knew not. See how many little reached the neighbourhood of a certain things worked together, how many city, (its position cannot be identified) tiny threads God was weaving into a

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