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His eyesight had begun to fail,-a common symptom of exhaustion. The honey revived him; the change was perceptible in his features. The people inform him of the adjuration ; in reply, he shows the folly of Saul's vow, ver. 29, 30. In our next Lesson we shall read further of the consequences of Jonathan's tasting the honey. Evening had come; the vow was no longer binding; the people were ravenous with their strenuous efforts and long fasting. In their eagerness for food, they flew upon the spoil ; killed the oxen, sheep, and calves, and ate either raw or only half-cooked. Their haste did not permit the blood to be drained from the slaughtered animals. Thus the Israelites ate the blood, (see Portfolio,) which was distinctly forbidden, Lev. üi. 17; vii. 26, 27; xvii. 10; xix. 26.
the stronger, join in what promises to be a certain victory. The Hebrews (the writer of the Book of Samuel did not deem them worthy to be called Israelites) who had deserted to the Philistines, or allowed themselves to be impressed to that service, turned upon their former masters, now they were defeated. So the Lord saved Israel that day,
-as Jonathan had hoped and trusted, ver. 6. The battle passed over unto Bethaven ; see ver. 31, from Michmash to Aijalon,—the first place lay east, the second west of Michmash. Probably the Philistines were scattered in both directions. [What remarkable event happened at Ajalon? Josh. x. 12.]
SAUL'S RASH OATH. - V. 24 — 32. The king was laudably anxious to inflict upon the Philistines as crushing a defeat as possible. Moreover, his conscience smote him for his hasty dismissal of the priest. To stimulate the Israelites, and to appease his conscience, he bound himself and his subjects not to taste food that day, but to pursue the Philistines without rest or refreshment. It was a foolish
Had Saul stopped to think, he would have seen that the people would soon grow weary with their exertions, and faint from want of meat. Thus they must fight the worse, and not the better, for the king's oath. So it happened ; the people were distressed, ver. 24, 28. God would not accept Saul's voluntary promise in lieu of reverent, humble waiting for the revelation of His will. Note the selfishness and presumption of the speech : that I may be avenged on MINE enemies,-he forgot that God was avenging Himself on His. The king's rash oath resulted in two unhappy consequences. In the pursuit the people passed through a wood. Wild honey lay upon
“ Bees in the East are not, as in England, kept in hives; they are in a wild state. The forests literally flow with honey ; large combs may be seen hanging in the trees as you pass along, full of honey. Hence this article is cheap and plentiful.” Jonathan had not heard his father's vow. As he hurried hotly after the Philistines, he dipped his spear-handle into the honey, and ate. He was too eager in pursuit to stay to gather it with his hands.
REFLECTIONS.—1. We have a further manifestation of the character of Saul,his self-will, impatience, presumption.
2. Respect for the outward forms of religion may co-exist with little real reverence for it.-Saul had the ark and a priest with him; inquired of God; but did not wait for God's answer.
3. God will not accept will-worship.By “will-worship,” we mean offering to God something that He has not required, instead of something that He does demand; giving Him what we choose, instead of what He asks. To do more than our duty at one time does not atone for doing less than our duty at another. We cannot make up for sin one day, by being “extra good the next. Some persons think they excuse themselves for indulgence in some wickedness, by rigorously avoiding other wickedness, or by deeds and gifts of charity or self-denial. We may not reckon our good qualities as a set-off against our bad ones; e.g., a boy comforts himself when his conscience accuses him of angry passion, by the thought that he is not guilty of lying, like some other boy he knows.
4. Let us learn to keep a strict watch over our appetites.-Our bodies
be occasions of sin.
5. The narrative affords a warning against hasty words; but we leave that till our next Lesson.
BY THE REV. W. O. SIMPSON.
For repetition, verses 10, 11. INTRODUCTION.—Herod puts James to seizes a second Apostle. Who? He death, and imprisons Peter. The Church shall be made a public spectacle. But prays for him, and God delivers him.
the feast of Pentecost has commenced ; We have a palace, a prison, and a prayer- the Rabbis say that feast should not meeting. Who is connected with the
be stained by death: so to please the first?-the second ?—the third ? With attention thus quickened, the Lesson
Jews again he keeps Peter in prison for may be considered in detais.
seven days, until the feast is over.
Every precaution taken ; a quarterA BAD MAN AND A BAD DEED.–V. nion consisted of four soldiers and 1—3. These circumstances occurred a petty officer.
The prisoner was before the arrival of Paul and Barnabas fastened by chains to two of these ; a at Jerusalem ; for the famine did not third kept guard near the chamberbreak out in Judæa until after the door; the fourth outside the main death of Herod Agrippa. There are entrance of the prison, ver. 10. What three Herods mentioned in the New of the Church ? ver. 5. They pray to Testament, all bad: Herod the Great, King Jesus against King Herod. Matt. ii. 16; Herod Antipas, Matt. PETER DELIVERED.-V.6-11. The xiv. 3, Luke xxiii. 8—11; and Herod last day of the feast has gone. ToAgrippa, the Herod of this Lesson, morrow, trial, condemnation, death ; grandson to the first, and nephew yet Peter sleeps! Now his own words to the second. Jerusalem proceeds are fulfilled, Luke xxii. 33. A strange in the work of disenfranchising light shines in the prison; then around herself as the centre of the new king- the awakened eyes of Peter. What dom of Messiah. Her priests began caused it? Peter must have leisure the work in the crucifixion of Jesus, enough to put on robe and sandal; he Matt. xxvii. 1; her people continued it departs, leaving not a shred behind ! in the martyrdom of Stephen, Acts vi. ver. 8. What did Peter think of it all ? 12, etc.; her king finishes it by the mar- To himself, he was still asleep; dreamtyrdom of James. Hitherto, the circle ing, O, such a beautiful dream! and of the twelve had been secure, probably as in dreams, gates unbolt, and doors through a sacred awe attaching to open without hands, lo! the iron gate their persons, Acts v. 17-19. Now it which connects the prison with the is violated. Of James, little is known, city, opens.
What a beautiful dream save that he was one of the three whom for a chained Apostle! But the light our Lord selected for special honour, ceases; the angel disappears. Peter Matt. xvii. 1; Luke viii. 51; Mark pauses and thinks; the old stars, the xiv. 33. The prayer of an ambitious bright moon, familiar houses; the mother, (Matt. xx. 22, 23,) and the dream is a fact; Peter is free! ready words of her ardent sons, were PETER DISTURBS A PRAYER-MEETING. approaching a fulfilment. Without -V. 12-19. What question would accusation, without trial, James is arise in Peter's mind ? It is now near hurried off to prison, and beheaded the break of day, for the narrative with the sword,-a mode of death suggests that the deliverance took reckoned disgraceful by the Jews. place during the last watch, three to The narrative implies that he drank six o'clock, A.M. The believers pray perhis Master's cup in his Master's spirit. haps for Peter's courageto be sustained;
PETER IN PRISON.–V. 4, 5. No perhaps that circumstances may be angel-visit for James; no rescue, as in overruled for his acquittal. But they ch. v. 19; no glorious spectacle of do not expect an answer to their prayer dying, as with Stephen, ch. vii. 59, 60. just then. God does for them more The Apostles are but men with whose than they “ ask or think,” Eph. iii. 20. lives à despotic king may trifle at What makes Rhoda rise and run ? pleasure; so it appears to Herod. He The excited girl, in the reaction from
anxiety to gladness, runs back with them, for yourself, that in you piety strange news, gesticulates it, repeats may bar the descent of ungodliness. it, weeps it, smiles it. “No, no; it is 2. Note the example of a quiet life.his angel ;
the deed has been done in James, companion of Jesus, unobtrudarkness; the Apostle's guardian angel sive, “faithful unto death :” few lives (for the Jewish belief ran that every can be great; every life can be good; good man had an angel for his guard) every such life is crowned with “imhas come to announce Peter's martyr- mortality,” Rom. ii. 7. dom and glory; or, perhaps, the dis- 3. Beware of pleasing men by wrongembodied Peter himself was calling at doing.—Why did Herod, the uncle, Mary's house on his way heavenward. put John the Baptist to death ? Matt. But question, affirmation, supposition, xiv. 9. Why did Herod, the nephew, are interrupted by repeated knocking. put Peter in prison ? Acts xii. 3. ComWho knocks ? Peter is amongst them
pare Gal. i. 10. at last; no time to be lost; a move- 4. The comfort and power of prayer, ment of the hand indicates haste and ver. 5.— Believers found solace and silence; a few words tell a story and hope on their knees; but they had a message.
What the story? the power, because their prayers were message? To whom was the mes- pressing, fervent, and persevering.
As the sun rose, Peter 5. See the night of Jesus,-His power entered the distant home of some little- easily conquers the power of man, the known believer; also, great confusion resistance of matter, and the difficulty and a cruel deed at the prison. Why? of circumstances. what? ver. 18, 19.
QUESTIONS.—Who was the Herod spoken of in this Lesson? What relation was he to the
other Herods of the New Testament? What REFLECTIONS.-1. What an awful
was his first act of cruelty? How did he prothing is the descent of wickedness,-the pose to follow it up? How far did his design three Herods. Be grateful for pious
Where How was it frustrated ?
were the disciples assembled ? Who opened parents; obey and imitate them. If
the door to Peter? What did Peter do? How parents are ungodly, seek grace for did Herod satisfy his cruelty ?
sage sent ?
MAY 10. -DEATH AND BLINDNESS.-Acts xii. 20—25; xiii. 1-12. INTRODUCTION.—The present section is aversion. These are indications of a divided into two portions; the death of worldly spirit. Pride and revenge : Herod, and the commencement of St. Herod felt his pride hurt by the escape Paul's first missionary journey. The of Peter, and took his revenge on the first exemplifies a worldly spirit and its punishment; the second is a lesson on
poor soldiers, ver. 19.
God's people missions; and now that missions have
are happy in suffering; often marso large a share in the sympathy and
vellously delivered; i.e., three Hebrew activity of the young, cannot but be
children; Daniel : good, honest, diliinteresting.
gent, they prosper, 1 Tim. iv. 8. Young
people hear a great deal said against HEROD THE WORLDLING.–Ch. xii. religion; see what Satan said, Job i. 9. 20—23. Congregations, schools, and Worldliness feels its pride offended by families are divided into friends of the independence of the good, and Jesus and friends of the world. In takes its revenge in evil speaking. our last Lesson we read about the Self-interest : Herod goes to Cæsarea; friends of Jesus; James, Peter, Mary, the Jew-pleasing king amongst the Mark, Rhoda, the company of praying Jew-hating heathen : away goes conpeople, ver. 12. Are we like them? sistency. There was a quarrel between Now we are reading of a man of the Herod and certain parties, ver. 20. world. Whilst we study his character, These Tyrians were either right or each must ask himself, Am I like him? wrong; ought to have been indepenFirst feature, hatred of good people : dent or submitted ; but their trade recall what Herod had done to James depended upon the ports of Herod's and Peter. See what Jesus said, John territory; so they made Blastus their
Hatred has little brothers friend by bribery. Blastus took the amongst little people; dislike, distrust, bribe, and martyr-slaying Herod was
deceived by both! Now for the final i. 41,) and Jesus was the Guest of scene, ver. 21—23. Display, flattery, Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, Chrisimpiety, are further characteristics tianity has sanctioned the claims of of the worldly spirit; whilst the kinship. In 1769, Mr. Wesley asked in fearful end of Herod teaches us how the Conference at Leeds, “ We have a severely in the long run God will pressing call from our brethren at New punish the sin.
York, to come over and help them. THE ORIGIN OF MISSIONS.—Ch. xii. Who is willing to go?” Two were 24, 25; xiii. 1—3. This paragraph is sent. Thence American Methodism. connected with the Christianity of Salamis was on the eastern side of the England to-day. Every one knows island. To whom did the missionaries something about missionaries, mission- first preach ? No success amongst the ary meetings, missionary societies, and Jews; so often disappointment amongst missionary collecting. May is the ungodly Englishmen settled in foreign missionary month. Where did all this lands. Two other persons mentioned. begin? More than eighteen hundred Who? where ? This was on the years ago, with good men and God. western side of the island. These two These good men were men of foreign were representatives of two classes of sympathies; Barnabas, see ch. iv. 36; persons with whom missionaries still Simeon, called Niger, the dark man, meet, inquirers and opponents. Ser. a Jew, perhaps of complexion dark- gius Paulus, like most educated heathens ened by residence in a tropical climate; of his time, disgusted with popular Lucius, or Luke, from Cyrene, Tripoli, idolatry, yet longing for the knowledge in Africa; Manaen, who had been of a religion in which there was really foster-brother with that Herod who something of the Divine, passed from put John the Baptist to death, (Luke unbelief to superstition; so fell under Hi. 1,) and so brought into connection the influence of a sorcerer, who made with the manners, language, and vices a show of supernatural wisdom. Still of Romanised Jews; Saul, last, and for restless, the Deputy, hearing of the the present least, having the inward new comers, sends for them, and in call of the Spirit, (Acts ix, 15, 16,) their words finds rest. Elymas was humbly waiting for the outward the type of the self-interested priests call of the Church. England and of heathenism everywhere ; they also America, countries which have the withstand the missionaries, and seek largest foreign connections, are the to turn away inquirers from the Lord. missionary centres of the world. These How was Élymas punished ? What men were devout, — how does this
words suggest that his punishment appear? God gave them guidance, was only temporary ? Paul would Separate Me Now. So still: when remember his own blindness, ch. ix. 8, the Church prays, God finds the men. 9, 17, 18. There is nothing to forbid
A MISSION-FIELD.-V. 4-12. Se- the hope that with Elymas, as with leucia was the port of Antioch : it Saul, the physical and spiritual blind. could be reached by the river Orontes ness passed away together. We may in a course of about forty-one miles, or hope that the blindness of heathen by land sixteen miles. Westward Ho! priests will give way after a season. went the river; westward, the language in which God's power to save shall to the isles and mainland of Greece. have been made manifest. From this Westward, ships and sailors to the time, the Apostle of the Gentiles many ports of Southern Europe; west- assumes another name. What? Most ward, soldiers, generals, consuls to that likely it had been his second name in heart of power, Rome; so westward his home at Tarsus, for it was common also went the missionaries. Thus since: for Jews in foreign lands to have one language, the introduction of Methodism name current amongst their countryinto America; commerce, the West men, another amongst their Gentile Indian Islands; power, India. When neighbours; so Barnabas, ch. iv. 36. the missionaries sailed out of Seleucia, The conversion of a heathen Paul in if the day were fine, a beautiful island the person of the Deputy, probably would be in view. What ? Why suggested the change to the Apostle. should they go there? From the He cuts even this link of connection days when Andrew found Peter, (John with Judaism: sent to the Gentiles, he will be known amongst them by a Gentile name.
and Barnabas? Who were with them there! What command was given to the Church? To what island did the two missionaries go? why? To whom did they first preach? Whom did they find at Paphos? What happened there? What name did Saul now assume! why?
QUESTIONS.---What led Herod to make a great public display at Cæsarea? What happened to him ? why? Where do we find Saul
MAY 17.-PAUL PREACHES AT ANTIOCH.-Acts xüi. 13-—43.
For repetition, verses 38, 39.
INTRODUCTION.-The Lesson will not spite of “perils of robbers” and “perils be found so long as it appears. of waters,” the missionaries pushed Paul's address occupies twenty-six verses, their way, in company with groups of and as it contains the very arguments migrating people, to Antioch, and employed by Peter and Stephen, need
reached it. not be considered in detail. The
THE SYNAGOGUE. V. 14, 15. A treatment suggested in these Notes will give interest to it. A map is an indis
Jewish synagogue was a building not pensable accompaniment to this Lesson.
unlike a chapel without pews; a The suggestions, briefly offered in the gallery for the women, separate; perReflections, may be amply illustrated by haps one end partitioned off for them, reference to the subject-matter of the where they sit behind a screen of latticeLesson.
work. Seats are provided all round
the room for the male worshippers. MISSIONARY JOURNEYS.–V. 13, 14. In the middle of the space, a pulpit or The two missionaries and their com- desk; by the side nearest to Jerusalem, panion have now passed through a box or “ Ark,” containing, on parch. Cyprus. Where next? God works by ment scrolls, the Law and the seeming accidents. Many years after, Prophets. Service commences; prayers Paul joined by “ accident” the vessel are read in the language of the neighin which he was shipwrecked, ch. xxvii. bourhood, probably Greek in this case. 5, 6; see also ch. xxviii. 11-13. So A servant of the synagogue hands out probably the presence of a ship at the scroll to the minister at the desk, Salamis bound for the opposite coast who reads, in Hebrew, a portion, first decided the missionaries. At what from the Law or historical portion place did they disembark? There, one of the Old Testament, then from the circumstance occurred which grieved Prophets. But many people there do St. Paul very much; one of their com- not understand Hebrew, so the reader pany forsook the work. Who? Com- gives a version or explanation in Greek. pare Acts xv. 38. “ Either he did not Then the manuscript is rolled up and like the work, or he wanted to go and returned to the ark. A pause follows, see his mother.” — M. Henry. The during which learned men address the country behind Perga to the north was people at the request of the minister. very mountainous; infested with rob- The congregation, especially in a place bers, and liable to dangerous river-floods like Pisidian Antioch, would consist of when the snow upon the mountains well known persons. On this occasion melted at the return of spring; the two strangers have entered, and devery time when the missionaries pene- voutly taken part in the worship. The trated it. Why enter it at all ? reader has been looking at them; who “ Accident” again! With the return of are they? Some one conveys the open weather, the dwellers in the plain, reader's message to them. What was with flocks, herds, and tents, betook it? Now one of them speaks. Who? themselves to the hills. Up there in A MISSIONARY SERMON TO THE JEWs. the mountains was a second Antioch, - V. 16—41. Perhaps Paul had heard Antioch in Pisidia, a large town upon Peter's sermon, Acts ii. 14-40; most a highway made by the Romans, probably, Stephen's address before from Smyrna and Ephesus to Northern the Council, Acts vii, 2453 ; and this Syria and Mesopotamia; a suitable sermon deals with the same facts and
for a missionary centre. So in in the same way. Those parchments