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Thou wonderful and gracious God, who hast been pleased to reveal thyself in Christ Jesus, I heartily thank thee that thou hast made me partaker of the knowledge of thyself; and I entreat thee to give me an humble submission of mind, by which I may adore thee as thou art, and turn from every idol imagined by the ignorance of man. Inspire me with a zealous anxiety for souls that are perishing; and endue me with courage to stand forward in their behalf, and for thy glory. Teach me how to be wise in commending thy truth, and faithful in declaring it. Give me, O Lord, a repentant heart; and deepen my sense of sin, so that I may continually grow in the grace of repentance; looking for and hasting to the coming of that day which thou hast appointed, when thou wilt judge the world in righteousness by Him whom thou hast raised from the dead, and who has risen for my justification, Jesus Christ thy Son, our Saviour. AMEN.
TIME.-Spring, A.D. 50.
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. AMEN.
ACTS, chap. XVIII. verses 1 to 11. 1 THESS. III. 6-8. 1 COR. I. 14-17. 2 COR. XI. 8-10.
After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; 2 and found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla ; (because that Claudius had com3 manded all Jews to depart from Rome :) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: 4 for by their occupation they were tentmakers. And he reasoned in the 5 synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ, [or, is the
Christ.] And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook 6 his raiment, and said unto them, "Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles." And he de- 7 parted thence, and entered into a certain man's house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. And 8 Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, "Be 9 not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this 10 city." And he continued there [sat there] a year and six months, teach- 11 ing the word of God among them.
1 THESS. III. 6-8.
But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us 6 good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you; therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and 7 distress by your faith: for now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. 8 1 COR. I. 14—17.
I thank God that baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; 14 lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I 15,16 baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach 17 the gospel.
2 COR. XI. 8-10.
I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. 8 And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no 9 man for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself. As the truth of Christ 10 is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting [this boasting shall not be stopped in me] in the regions of Achaia.
After having sent Timothy away, Paul went himself to Corinth, in the province of Achaia. This was one of the most celebrated cities in Europe; little inferior to Athens in reputation for the learning of its inhabitants, and much superior for its commerce and wealth, and for its fashionable amusements, which drew persons together from all parts of the world. It was besides, a city notorious for immorality.
At Corinth Paul met with a Jewish christian, named Aquila, a native of Pontus in Asia, but who had just arrived from Rome with his wife Priscilla. They had been forced to leave Rome, in consequence of a decree issued by the Emperor Claudius, by which the Jews were expelled from that capital. We may gather from history that they had been divided into factions amongst themselves, which occasioned tumults and disturbances in the city; and being very numerous there, it was judged right to banish them from Rome. There is reason to conclude that the disturbances to which the historian alludes, were produced by the opposition of the unbelieving Jews to the progress of christianity amongst their number. Paul joined company with Aquila and Priscilla; and as they happened in their youth to have learned the same art, which was tentmaking, they employed themselves together in this business, in order to obtain the means of subsistence, which must have been the more urgently needful from the scarcity which at that time prevailed; and which, as has been already stated, rendered the necessaries of life extremely dear (see page 223.)
While however Paul was thus occupied during the week, he did not neglect his missionary work, but went every sabbath to the Jewish synagogue; where he discussed the subject of religion, and endeavoured to induce both the Jews and the Greeks whom he found there, to receive the doctrines of truth.
When the apostle had been thus engaged for some time, his dear friend and son in the faith, Timothy, came to him having executed the commission on which he had been sent to Thessalonica; and at the same time Silas also arrived at Corinth, probably from Philippi, bringing with him a third contribution from the church in that city. Paul had received such assistance from the Philippians twice at Thessalonica (Phil. iv. 16); and as the apostle afterwards informs the christians at Corinth, that when he was in want amongst them, "the brethren which came from Macedonia" supplied his necessities, we may conclude these to be Silas and Timothy, who came to him from that province at this time. (2 Cor. xi. 8-10.)
The satisfactory report which Timothy brought of the
state of the church in Thessalonica, was the occasion that led Paul, under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, to write a letter to the christians there. This is the first of those epistles which have been preserved in the church for its edification, in all times and places, and is called the first epistle to the Thessalonians. (It is intended to give a full explanation of this epistle in a subsequent part of this work.)
Under the encouragement and comfort afforded by the return of his beloved companions, and the account they brought him of the blessing given to his previous labours,and relieved from the necessity of employing his time in tent-making, by the seasonable arrival of the money from Philippi,-Paul felt the strongest impulse to a still greater earnestness in the missionary work and, as the Jews always claimed his first attention. he lifted up Jesus as the Christ before them with increased energy. This, however, only led them to increased opposition, and to blaspheme the holy name of Jesus. Upon which, expressing his warm feelings of indignation in the manner customary amongst them, by shaking his clothes, he took them to record, that it was not his fault if they perished, but that the crime of their own perdition must be upon their own heads; warning them that, he now felt himself free to carry the gospel to the Gentiles, to whom he would preach. Then leaving their synagogue, he retired to a house close by, belonging to a person of the name of Justus, a proselyte, and probably converted. He did not however leave the Jews without receiving a decided testimony to the power of his gospel; for Crispus, who was the chief ruler of the synagogue, was converted, together with all his family. Many also of the citizens of Corinth, who heard him preach, believed the gospel and were baptized. Paul himself administered baptism to Crispus, but to none other, except a person of the name of Gaius, and the family of one called Stephanas.
After this distinct opening of the mission to the Gentiles of Corinth, it pleased the Lord Jesus Christ, to appear to Paul in a vision by night. He bid him not to fear, but to speak boldly and unceasingly with confident courage; assuring him that He was with him, and
would permit no one to attack him so as to injure him. To this, the Lord added the encouraging declaration, that there were many persons in the city of Corinth whom He claimed as his own. After this vision, Paul considered that his mission was for a time settled to be at Corinth : and he remained there for a year and a half preaching the gospel.
It was in an early part of this period that he received intelligence from Thessalonica, that some part of his letter had been misunderstood by the christians to whom it was addressed. He immediately wrote a second letter to them, to explain more particularly the portion that had been mistaken taking advantage also of the opportunity to refer to some other matters, of which he had received intelligence, and which required to be put to rights in the condition of the church at Thessalonica. This letter is that portion of the word of God, which is found in the New Testament as the second epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonians.
1. In this portion we have several points which lead us to think of the blessed effects of christian sympathy and intercourse, in the great work of the christian ministry. It must have been comforting to the Apostle to find himself associated with such christians as Aquila and Priscilla, whom he mentions affectionately in writing afterwards to the Romans. (Rom. xvi. 3, 4.) But it was the return of his two fellow missionaries with the good news from Macedonia which encouraged Paul, so that he was pressed in spirit to testify more earnestly concerning Christ to the Jews, his kindred according to the flesh. God has very mercifully ordered the affections of the heart, so that while they grow in one towards another, they are the means of producing the blessing which they desire to impart, and of strengthening the courage and giving earnestness to the zeal of those who feel true christian love. It was according to the divine wisdom of our Lord that he sent forth his seventy disciples two by two; and the expressions of the Apostle shew plainly how important this arrangement would be in every missionary enterprise. Paul's anxiety