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BY THE REV. W. O. SIMPSON. JUNE 28- -STRIPES, IMPRISONMENT, AND DELIVERANCE.-Acts xvi, 13–34.
For repetition, verses 14, 15. THE CONVERSION OF LYDIA.-V. 13 hands, and fell upon the Apostles. -15. “Some days” passed in doubt The Roman officers of police, under and prayer; the Sabbath dawns; at order, tore off the robes of the the ninth hour,” the first hour of Apostles, and inflicted many stripes prayer, many women pass the gate of
with the rods which were always at the city. They are “devout women;
hand. As the sun went down, the no synagogue in the town, so out two confessors found themselves in a by the river-side for worship. The dark dungeon, with their feet ironed missionaries follow. A little roofless to a block of wood. erection protects the worshippers from
A DOUBLE DELIVERANCE.— V. 25public gaze, these mostly women, Gen. 34. Sounds strange in a prison are tiles by birth, but proselytes to the
heard; not cries and lamentations, but Jewish faith. These river-side services songs! Surely the other prisoners probably continued several Sabbaths ;
would say, 'How happy those prisoners much courtesy and attention; at last a are in the inner cell, just hear how conversion, that of Lydia. She appears
they are singing! What happened ? to have been a widow, who, for the ver. 26.
An earthquake might open support of her children, had betaken doors and shoot back locks, but could herself to trade, left Thyatira, and came
not undo fetters. That was miraculous. to Philippi, not to wear purple, but to What did the gaoler think? sell it. This dye was very valuable,
27. Recall what Herod did when and was said to be obtained from the Peter escaped, ch. xii. 19. So this shell of a fish. In what words is her gaoler was prepared to kill himself to conversion described ? Paul's words save himself from being killed! Who opened the ears of Lydia, the Lord are these men ? More truth than opened her heart, and Jesus passed in the gaoler thought in the words on the wings of His own mercy: An
of the poor soothsaying girl, “ these act of profession and an act of hos- men....show unto us the way of pitality followed the conversion of
salvation." What did he? ver. 29, Lydia, ver. 14, 15.
30. Brought them out; so this was PERSECUTION.-V. 16 — 24. Who
the first deliverance. But another was the cause of it ? ver. 16. An
What question evil spirit was at work in the mind did he put ? Paul's answer shows in of this poor girl. She was a slave,
what sense the question was put; the and her masters made money by her poor gaoler was anxious for the safety fortune-telling. What did she say?
of his soul. So Paul gave a brief why? To get some of the honour reply, and then explained it; he spake that was beginning to surround the the word of the Lord, not only to the Apostles; perhaps thought them as gaoler, but also to his family, hastily mercenary as herself, and hoped for a gathered in some apartment of his reward from them for her assistance. house. How does the scene close? ver. Way of salvation, was a phrase which 34. Brightness, light and joy! How she had probably picked up from the
God can alter things ! addresses of the missionaries. The REFLECTIONS.—1. Wisdom and mystery masters seize Paul and Silas, and of Providence.-Paul must not preach hurry them off to the market-place. in Mysia, but finds his first convert at There the military rulers or magistrates Philippi, in a lady from that country. held court. The accusation was soon Lydia leaves home for trade, and finds told, ver. 20, 21; would be enlarged salvation. upon.
No Roman could profess a 2. Young men should beware of the religion which had not been sanctioned dangers of their position. Neither by the State. Political, local and business, pleasure nor friendship should religious prejudices were aroused; the keep them from the place where prayer mob took the law into their own is " wont to be made."
3. Attention only will not suffice for salvation.—Jesus knocks at the ear, that we may open the heart.
4. How noble are the fruits of a true religion,-endurance and joy; illustrate by the conduct of the Apostles.
5. Jesus only, through faith, can give us this religion. See ver. 31.
QUESTIONS.—Where did the Apostles commence their work? Who was the first convert ! What led to the persecution of the Apostles ? What were the events of that persecution ! How did the Apostles endure it? How were they delivered?
What led to the gaoler's conversion ? What did his question imply! How did Paul answer it?
JULY 5. -"YE BECAME FOLLOWERS OF US, AND OF THE LORD."
Acts xvi. 35—40; xvii. 1-4; 1 Thessalonians i.
For repetition, 1 Thessalonians i. 9, 10. INTRODUCTION. Our Reflections are The Apostles, being neither obstinate occupied by an aspect of character which
nor revengeful, comply. The brethren, is always of importance to the young men
--80 the sojourn of a few weeks has of our senior classes, and the youths below them. But the sketch there found may
been wonderfully productive. The be altered for younger classes into this
Epistle to the Philippians is evidence form : how noble it is to be good and
how large and worthy a Church had brave; good and happy; good and free!
been founded. Luke remains behind
to care for the Church; and the Church ROMAN CITIZENS.-Acts xvi. 35–40.
itself, whose first member was a woman, Our last Lesson concluded with the furnishes a noble sisterhood of helpers, kindliness of the converted gaoler. Phil. iv. 3. The missionaries appear to have re- THESSALONICA.-Acts xvii. 1. The turned to the inner cell. Gaoier per- “we” of ch. xvi. 16, is changed for haps sent reports to the magistrates. “they;" that is, Paul and Silas; Luke, In the morning, the sergeants or lictors the narrator, being left behind in appear: is there to be a renewal of the
Philippi. “The Jew first,” was Paul's scenes of yesterday, terminating in the
great principle of action; and for the death of those whom he now loves so
reason that there were few Jews and much ? Let those men go.—The magis.
no synagogue in the two large towns trates, regretting their condict, alarmed
through which they must pass, they at the earthquake, conciliated, perhaps, only halt at each for a night's repose; by the gaoler's report, have sent this
at Amphipolis, thirty-three miles away, message. The gaoler takes the lictors
and at Apollonia, thirty miles further. into the cells, and the message is
A journey of thirty-seven miles on the delivered. But the prisoners let fall third day
brought them to Thessalonica. a word that startles both gaoler and
A great city, this; like Liverpool, lictors : Romans.
Bristol or Hull, for situation or “'Tis a glorious charter, deny it who can, trade;
Dublin, for dignity. Which breathes in the words, I'm an Here resided a Roman proconsul, the Englishman."
representative of the Emperor. If the Roman law conserved the dignity of Gospel can get firm hold here, its the Roman citizen. He might not be tidings may travel far and near. So beaten without formal trial; and when it did, and as two thin lips blowing a condemned to stripes, they must not be breath at the narrow mouth-piece of a inflicted in public. Paul and Silas had trumpet awaken hill and dale with both obtained the freedom or citizen- echoing sound, so says St. Paul to ship of Rome. They claim an official these Thessalonians, “from you sounded release, ver. 37, 38. Why afraid ? out the Word of the Lord.. in every Because they had rendered themselves place,” 1 Thess. i. 8. That success isstiil liable to an action for damages, and if in the future; the missionaries enter convicted of injusticeto Roman citizens, this strange city; who will receive would lose their rank, and become dis- them? Perhaps they brought letters. qualified for the office of magistrate in of introduction. At any rate they find the future. So here they are in the a host and a home, Acts xvii. 5. inner cell, supplicating the prisoners to
THE MINISTRY AT THESSALONICA depart for the sake of public peace. V. 2–4. Paul found a home; next
work; for in his youth he had learned the trade of a weaver of tent-cloth, 2 Thess. ii. 8. Then, work for the Lord : this he found on the Sabbaths and in the synagogue, but not there only; the house of Jason, when the weaving was over for the day, would be a school for Christ's scholars. What did he preach in the one place and talk about in the other? ver. 3. Three things,—Christ must suffer; must rise again; Jesus is this Messiah. How did he preach? 1 Thess.i.6. Some Jews were converted,-a multitude of proselytes, many devout women; many others also who up to that time had been worshippers of idols, 1 Thess. i. 9, 10.
REFLECTIONS.—The conduct of Paul at Philippi is an exemplification of true manliness.-Notice,-1. Endurance, -a manly suffering of wrong for right's
sake. 2. Joy,—the songs in the prison; how different from the hard, apathetic endurance which the heathen used to admire! 3. Independence,-Paul's assertion of his rights as a Roman citizen. The same spirit will assert itself in opposition to the power of seductive example or the tyranny of scoff and derision. 4. Forbearance,--Paul's cour. teous compliance with the request of the magistrates. Might most mighty when mingled with tenderness.
QUESTIONS.—What message did the officers bring? How did Paul receive it? What effect had Paul's message on the magistrates ? What had been the result of Paul's labours in Philippi? Who was left there? What sort of a place was Thessalonica, politically and commercially? What was Paul's first work on entering there? How and where did he begin his ministry? Who else besides Jews and proselytes were added to the Church? How does this appear?
JULY 12. -THESSALONICA, BEREA, ATHENS.-Acts xvii. 5—21. SUMMARY.–Our last Lesson left Paul, themselves in a Roman court of justice, Silas and Timothy at Thessalonica: our charged with an offence which Roman present Lesson opens with their flight law visited with the penalties of confrom that city and some weeks of happy toil at Berea. Then we accompany Paul
fiscation and death, viz., riot and in a midnight escape, his fellow-helpers
treason, ver. 6, 7. Magistrates who being left behind at Berea. With him
treated' such crimes lightly, exposed we enter Athens, and in our Notes con
themselves to punishment by imperial tent ourselves with doing what he did, authority, hence the fear expressed in looking round and endeavouring to
But Roman justice takes more realise the effects of the scene. Matters time at Thessalonica than at Philippi. of discussion between the Apostle and The charge is entered on a tablet, and others will most aptly fall in with the suspended on the walls of the court. exposition of the Speech which forms
Jason and his friends have to give bail the subject of our next Lesson.
to “come up, when called for. PersecutIONS AND TRIBULATIONS. A QUIET SPOT AND NOBLE PEOPLE.V. 549. Compare 1 Thess. ii. 14- V. 10-15. What became of Jason 16. Probably for some months St. and the rest? That they were “called Paul continued his work in the city; up and suffered severely is evident the Church grew to such dimensions from 1 Thess. ii. 14--16; that they that it required organisation, bore their sufferings nobly is further teachers and officers were placed over evident from 2 Thess. i. 4. Berea, it, 1 Thess. v. 12. Now let us see to which the Apostles fled, was a how this work was interrupted. The small town beyond the route of Jews were ' again agents in the ordinary travel, and out of the jurispersecution; probably had received diction of the magistrates of Thessainformation from Philippi. They took lonica. As was the place, so were the unto them-hired by money-lewd people: it secluded, they thoughtful: fellows,-roughs, abundant in large more noble than those in Thessalonica : towns, worst and most numerous in these impulsive either in their consea-ports; gathered a company, -orga- version to Christianity their Dised a riot. The Church took the opposition to it; those cautious, alarm, would not risk the lives of the investigating before committing themmissionaries : think themselves strong selves to either position.
How was enough to stand alone, so the three this shown ? Christianity fears nothing (who?) are concealed. Their courage from such a temper; gains by it, see is put to the test. Certain brethren find ver. 12. These Jews were like blood
hounds, keen of scent, pertinacious, and facing the south. Here the Great resolute for the blood of the Apostle, Council of the city held its sittings: ver. 13. So off again! but note monthly for the trial of offences, the word conducted : time, night; especially those of a religious character. road, strange; dangers, many; Paul, Beneath, the eye fell upon the crowds weak-sighted always, helpless in dark- of the market and porticoes ; around, ness : so the Apostle travels with his above, upon idols and temples. Amidst escort until he hears the sound of the so much that was strange and sad, one now to him familiar sea. His friends place at least would wear a familiar accompany him on board a “coaster' aspect, the Jewish synagogue. There bound for Athens.
Paul commenced his work. ATHENS.— V. 16-21. Luke has been left behind at Philippi ; Silas REFLECTIONS.-1. A little time does and Timothy at Berea ; Paul is left a great work when God's power is brought once more alone, and that in circum. into it.-A brief youth may be the stances calculated to induce despon- first chapter of a long and noble life. dency. Leaving for the present the 2. Do not be afraid of a little trouble consideration of Paul's emotions, let in the profession of religion.—Compare us confine our attention to the localities your position with that of these early referred to in the narrative. These Christians. See also Heb. xii. 3. are the road; the market-place; Mars' 3. Jesus expects from us thought as Hill. A road of some length led from well as feeling.-Imitate the nobility the port of Phalerum, where Paul of the Bereans. When class is over, go landed, to Athens proper. On landing, home, think, read, pray for yourselves. three temples, dedicated to Jupiter, 4. Have God for your Companion.Cæsar and Minerva, would meet his Recall Paul's loneliness. Change eye. Up the road, as he “passed by,” awaits every one: old scenes must be temples, altars and statues studded left; new ones entered: God always either side. At the end of the road with those who love Him. was the Acropolis, a lofty hill bristling 5. Thank God that English towns with the same indications of idolatry. are not like Athens.-There, temples, Such a walk, amidst such objects, Paul altars, statues, all very beautifui, inut had never known before. The market- all helping to conceal God : may be place was a large open space with likened to a thick veil beautifully porticoes all round it, some fitted up embroidered, hiding the face of :: with bazaars or shops. Others were loving mother. We may have very unoccupied, save by groups of persons ugly streets, but we have the Bible, engaged in
earnest conversation : the Gospel ;-Jesus. these were the scene of philosophical disquisition and wordy debate.
QUESTIONS.—How does the Epistle to the
Thessalonians supplement the account of the Areopagus, or the Hill of Mars, rose
Acts as to the Thessalonian persecution ? as above the market-place, and to the growth of the Thessalonian Church? reached from it by a flight of sixteen
What is said in praise of the Bereans? What
were the circumstances which marked Paul's steps. On its summit, there is still
flight to Athens ? How would idolatry first found a bench excavated in the rock,
Can you describe the market forming three sides of a quadrangle, place ? Mars' Hill
JULY 19. -PAUL ON MARS' HILL.-Acts xvii. 22-34.
For repetition, verses 30, 31.
there? Those Epicureans, ver. 18: they Then Puul stood in the midst of Mars' were philosophers who taught that God Hill,
on the level crown of the did not interest Himself in the concerns rising ground above the market-place, of man; that the soul was material; with those stone seats, now occupied had no consciousness after death. by elders and sages, to whom doubtless Paul's doctrine was very different; he the speaker chiefly addressed himself: spoke of God made man; of souls beside and behind him, a crowd of redeemed ; of eternal life secured. eager listeners.
What brought him His teaching was scarcely less opposed there? ver. 17. Who brought him to that of the Stoics, for they believed
that God ruled the world by subordinate agents; that the souls of good men became heroes in an after-life, and that the souls of the wicked became absorbed in lower forms of animal life. These sages must have more definite statement. The populace supported the sages : for when Paul preached “ Jesus and the resurrection, the common people, incapable of separating religion from polytheism, thought he was proclaiming a new god and goddess, ver. 18. The sages and populace hurried him up by the steps from the market-place to the space above for the sake of a more convenient hearing; Let us notice the truths which Paul introduced into his speech :
1. “THERE IS ONE God."-V. 22, 23. What did the Athenians mean by the inscription in ver. 23? These Greeks had heard from returned conquerors and merchants, as well as from the Jews in the midst of them, of a God Whose nature was spiritual and mysterious, Who 66 concealed Himself;" and there stood the altar, an ignorant tribute to the Jehovah of Paul's ancestors. That mysterious God was the only true God. 2. God MADE ALL
where is this taught ? 3. GOD IS NOT CONTAINED IN EARTHLY TEMPLES : beautiful houses; many busy servants ; the supply of returning wants, these belong to men; not to the Great Creator, ver. 24, 25. 4. GOD IS THE GOD OF PROVIDENCE : ver. 26, 27, 28 first part. God is the Maker of all men ; He decides how things are to go on; He has planned the countries of the world, like the
rooms of a large house, and determined by whom they shall be occupied; and in all His plans there is but one purpose, the salvation of man in the knowledge of God. 5. IDOLATRY IS A FALSEHOOD AGAINST GOD, ver. 28, 29. 6. FORBEARANCE FOR THE PAST, FORGIVENESS NOW, THROUGH CHRIST.-In what way does Paul refer to Christ? ver. 30, 31. Repentance, judgment, resurrection are the last thoughts.
THE RESULTS OF THE SPEECH.-V. 32–34. Derision was the only weapon raised against Paul, whilst thoughtful men said, We will hear thee again. Two converts are mentioned by name : one a magistrate of long standing, and a member of the supreme court whose sittings were held upon the hill where Paul had preached. The other, a lady, probably of rank.
REFLECTIONS.-1. God gives courage. -Paul needed courage on Mars' Hill; this needed by the young, Ephes. iii. 16.
2. God gives wisdom.—How can I speak of Jesus ? When? To whom?
3. Note the limitation of human intellect.-An English child with his Bible is richer than an Athenian sage.
4. Remember what Paul said about Jesus, ver.30,31.-Jesus is our Saviour; will be our Judge. We must repent and turn to Him.
QUESTIONS.--Who led Paul on to Mars Hill? why? What were the opinions of the Epicureans? of the Stoics? How did Paul begin to speak of God? What did he say? What had this to do with his hearers? How did he refer to God's Providence ? to idolatry? How did he preach Christ ? How does the speech illustrate Paul's courage ? his wisdom ? What were the results of it?
-PAUL THE TENT-MAKER.-Acts xvii, 1–17.
For repetition, verses 9, 10. ATHENS TO CORINTH. — V. 1-3. through the town. These ports bore “ Athens to Corinth,” is very like some resemblance to the position of Hull “Oxford to London.” The journey was and Liverpool. If the Gospel should from learning to wealth, art to trade; get a firm hold upon Corinth, the words a select to a busy population. Find out used of Thessalonica may be applicable its position on the map; two ports, again, 1 Thess. i. 8. Great numbers of one, Cenchrea, receiving the traffic Jews were there always; now more from the coast towns of Asia; the than usual. Why ? Two of these other, Lechæum, at the other side of fugitive Jews are mentioned: who? the Isthmus, discharging it westward Why did Paul join them? The to Italy, Rome and the regions beyond. craft had its origin in Paul's city of Greece was divided into two parts, Tarsus; it consisted in weaving cloth having no connection save through the for tents, the material for which was Isthmus of Co th, so all land-borne the hair or wool of the Syrian goat. traffic, as well as sea-borne, passed Paul shared their toil with the shuttle