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QUESTION. Have I any cause of contention with a christian brother? If so, for how small a matter of fault, whether on his part, or on my own, am I sacrificing christian love? In my most successful endeavours to do good, how much of infirmity can I discover, to help me in remembering that every good and perfect gift is from above?
O God, whose name is love, and whose Spirit communicates love to thy people, perfect thy love in me, I beseech thee; and for Christ's sake pardon every thing which has broken the law of love in my conduct towards my brethren, If thou Lord, wert extreme to mark what is done amiss, and if thou didst refuse to employ as thy instruments for good those who were defiled with evil, surely I should be powerless for any good thing; but gracious Lord, I give thee thanks, and ascribe to thee and thee alone, the glory of every thing which has been done in me or by me, that should be received with favour among men, or may be acceptable to thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.
Philippi and Macedonia.
May God, for the sake of Jesus Christ, give me the Holy Spirit, that I may
understand this portion of His Holy Word, and profit by it.
THE SCRIPTURE. Acts, chap. XV. verse 41 ; chap. XVI. verses 1 to 12.
1 Tim. IV. 14. 2 Tim. I. 5, 6. 2 Tim. III, 14, 15. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches. 16
Then came he to Derbe and Lystra : and, behold, a certain disciple was there, nained Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed ; but his father was a Greek : which was well 2 reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. Him 3 would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters : for they knew all that his father was a Greek. And as they went through the cities, they 4 delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. And so were the churches 5 established in the faith, and increased in number daily. Now when they 6 had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, after they were 7 come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia : but the Spirit suffered them not.
And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision 8,9 appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, “ Come over into Macedonia, and help us.” And 10 after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a 11 straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis ; and from 12 thence to Philippi, which is the chief [or, the first] city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony : aud we were in that city abiding certain days.
1 Tim. chap. IV. verse 14. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, 14 with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
2 Tim. chap. I. verses 5, 6. When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which 5 dwelt first in thy grandınother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.
Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of 6 God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.
2 Tim. chap. III. verses 14, 15. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast 14 been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that 15 from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
The apostle Paul set forth (with Silas for his companion) on his journey by land, towards the extreme point he had reached in his former missionary progress. On that occasion they had landed in Pamphylia, and gone through Pisidia and Lycaonia northward and westward, and so on to the borders of Cilicia, which was the neighbouring province westward of Syria; in which Antioch was situated. Now therefore they had only to take their journey from Antioch through Syria and Cilicia westward, to come to the point from whence they had before returned. As they travelled through these latter provinces, they took the opportunity of visiting the several bodies of christians who had been converted in those parts, ever since the first dispersion of the disciples after the martyrdom of Stephen. (Acts xi. 19; xv. 23.)
In due course they arrived at Derbe, and afterwards at the neighbouring town of Lystra. Amongst the converts who had continued in the faith since the planting of the church there by the apostle between four and five years before, was a young man of the name of Timotheus, or Timothy, (whose name in Greek means, “honourer of God,”) who had been converted by the preaching of Paul. (1 Tim. i. 2. 2 Tim. i. 2.) He was the son of a Jewish woman, named Eunice, who had married a Gentile. Both Eunice and her mother, who was named Lois, were christian women, and had previously been persons of sincere attachment to the Jewish scriptures, in which they had taken pains to instruct Timothy from his very childhood. (1 Tim. i. 18.) He must have been still very young, probably not more than twenty years old, (1 Tim. iv. 12), when Paul and Silas came to Lystra ; but his conduct had been so exemplary, that the christians there and at Iconium also, spoke of him to Paul in high terms of praise. In consequence of this, the apostle selected him as a proper person to take with himself and Silas, upon the further extension of the missionary work which he was contemplating.
But there were many Jews in Lystra and its neighbourhood, who were extremely zealous for the Mosaic rites, and therefore the more watchful of any omission of them by those Jews who became christians. By these, the conduct of Timothy would have been especially remarked; for though a Jew by his mother's side, yet it was well known that his father was a Gentile. And besides this, the apostle probably considered what they might expect while preaching the gospel to the Jews first, as well as to
the Gentiles, in every place to which they might come (see page 177); he judged it wise therefore to act upon the spirit of the recent decree at Jerusalem, which had required from the Gentiles the observance of some things not necessary to salvation, in order that they might not cast a stumblingblock in the way of the Jews. Accordingly, as Timothy was of Jewish birth on his mother's side, he thought it best in order to prevent any difficulty that might arise in the minds of the Jewish converts, that he should receive circumcision; which, as being the child of a Gentile father, had not been performed in his infancy. Timothy was therefore circumcised; and then he was solemnly ordained to the ministry by the imposition of the apostle's hands, together with the hands of the presbyters of the church at Lystra.
Paul and Silas, with Timothy now for their companion, set forward on their journey; and in their whole progress, wherever they found bodies of christians, they communicated to them the decision which had been so recently made by the church at Jerusalem, with respect to the freedom of the Gentile christians from Jewish observances, and the points required of them in connection with this subject. ' To these decisions the missionaries commended obedience amongst the churches; who were thus established in the faith, while many converts were added day by day.
The three missionaries continued their journey northward, through the provinces of Phrygia and Galatia. No particulars are told us of the circumstances which occurred, although we know that they preached the gospel with success; since Paul refers to the fact of his having done so, in his subsequent epistle to the Galatians. (Gal. iv. 13.) After this, they received directions by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, that they were no longer to proclaim the gospel in the provinces more particularly called Asia; and accordingly they journeyed to the westward, as far as the province of Mysia, from whence they intended to turn to the north, in order to pass through the province of Bithynia, which extends to the shores of the Black Sea: but the Holy Spirit conveyed to them another intimation, which prevented them from proceeding in that direction. In what manner these intimations were given we are not told, neither is it at all necessary for us to know: it is enough that we should be informed, that the way of these servants of God was directed by inspiration from on high. They passed on through the whole province of Mysia westward, and through the country of Troas, until they arrived at the principal town of that province, which bore the same name.
At Troas it became apparent that God had a special purpose, in preventing Paul and his companions from occupying time with preaching in the provinces of Asia ; having appointed a work for them to perform in the opposite country of Greece. During the night Paul was favoured with a vision ; a person appeared to him, who from his dress and language evidently belonged to the Grecian province of Macedonia. This man addressed Paul with entreaties, begging him to cross the Egean sea (now called the Archipelago) into Macedonia, in order to give them help. From this vision, the missionary party felt a full assurance that it was the will of the Lord Jesus Christ, that they should preach the Gospel to the Macedonians, and they immediately made preparations for the voyage.
Here we find for the first time, that St. Luke, (who is the writer of the Acts of the Apostles) was a fellow traveller with Paul, Silas, and Timothy; he here speaks in the first person plural, "we endeavoured &c,” and continues afterwards to do so upon proper occasions.
Troas was a sea-port town, lying opposite to the northern part of Greece; the missionaries therefore took ship at once, and set sail in a north-westerly direction, with a straight course to the Island of Samothracia. Here they were only a day's sail from Neapolis, a sea-port in Macedonia ; from whence they went immediately to Philippi, a neighbouring city of great importance and population, being the principal city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony of Roman citizens, originally settled there by Julius Cæsar. The party of missionaries remained at Philippi some time; and several important circumstances occurred during their stay, which will be explained in the next portion.
1. We are here made acquainted for the first time with