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for his dear children at Thessalonica led him to forego, for a season, the comfort of having Timothy with him; but his manner of stating this sufficiently indicates his own sense of the privation.
What benefit do I derive from Christian sympathy and intercourse?" What are the hindrances in myself which prevent me from deriving all the comfort and the power which I might do from this source?
2. The opposition of the Jews to the preaching of the truth justified the Apostle in leaving them to the consequences of their unbelief; and it is fearful to reflect that the continued resistance of many a worldling may occasion his being left to the darkness of his own prejudices, when the most powerful means of grace would have no effect upon the heart. There were not wanting however some testimonies to the power of the word which Paul preached, since the chief ruler of the synagogue with all his family was turned to the Lord; and thus it ever will be;-God's word will not return to him void; it shall prosper in the thing whereunto he sends it: and it may be hoped, that in every congregation to which the gospel is preached, even after years of deadness or of violent opposition, some few may come forth to encourage the minister by the evidence of God's power, while they will also rise up in judgement against those who have sat under the declaration of God's truth unmoved, or moved to anger alone.
Am I resisting the gospel? Am I allowing it to pass by unheeded? How do the means of grace affect me? Does it alarm me to reflect that some who possess the same advantages with myself are profiting by them more than I do?
3. In the midst of the luxurious and corrupted population of Corinth it would seem very little likely that there were many persons who should become true christians under the preaching of the gospel; and yet the Lord declared that he had much people in that city. This is very encouraging to those who go forth in the midst of an immoral population to strive to do them spiritual good.
The vision with which Paul was favoured induced him to remain a long time at Corinth; and probably it was not during the early part of his stay there, that any great number of converts was added to the church; for if much people had come forth and been converted very soon, the apostle would most likely have considered that he was at liberty to go elsewhere, as having completed the work which the Lord had assigned him there. It is a great comfort that we cannot tell who it is that will come forth under the teaching of the Holy Ghost, while we do know that where the Lord has his people there surely his word will prosper in converting them.
Am I ever discouraged from trying to advance the spiritual good of any person, by the apparent unlikelihood of his conversion? Does such discouragement lead me to give up hope and prayer on their behalf? How long have I continued my endeavours, of whatever kind, in the expectation that Christ will at last shew them to be his people.
O Almighty God, who hast given thine own son to become a Man, that he may be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, mercifully assist me to live to thy glory, and to the benefit of thy people, by blessing me with spiritual sympathy, towards those with whom I may take sweet counsel and speak often concerning thee. Stir up the affections of my heart, that they may be manifested in zeal for thy glory. Mercifully be pleased to soften my heart with the dew of thy grace, that I may never grow hardened by resisting thy word; and make me so to profit by every mercy thou affordest me, that no person may hereafter rise up to testify of my sin in receiving such mercies in vain. Grant me the power of patient endurance of opposition, and patient continuance in well doing in every effort to bring others to the knowledge of the truth. Keep me in remembrance that those who are thy people will be called by thy Spirit, which can bring them forth to light, whatever be their darkness or their guilt. Grant this for Jesus' sake, our Lord and Saviour. AMEN.
TIME. From Spring, A.D. 50,
to Autumn, A.D. 51.
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 12 to 17.
And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrec- 12 tion with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat, saying, "This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to 13 the law." And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said 14 unto the Jews, "If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you: but if it be a question 15 of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters. And he drave them from the judgment seat. 16 Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and 17 beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things.
In the course of Paul's continued residence at Corinth, a new proconsul of the name of Gallio was sent from Rome to govern the province of Achaia. The Jews seem to have considered this as a good opportunity for preventing Paul from continuing his preaching of the gospel; and they conspired together to bring an accusation against him in the proconsul's court of judgment. They charged him as a vagabond, who was inducing people to worship God in a manner contrary to law; by which they might either have meant that Paul, being a Jew, was leading the Jews from the worship the exercise of which was guaranteed to them by the Emperor's sanction; or that he was seducing the Gentiles into a kind of worship which was contrary to the Roman law, as being that of what they called atheists. After stating the case before the proconsul, Paul was about to speak in his own defence: when Gallio put an end to the proceedings, by telling the Jews that if they had
any accusation to bring against Paul, which charged him with a breach of the peace, an act of dishonesty, or any improper roguery, he was ready to judge the cause, as it would reasonably belong to his office, which was a civil one; but if the matter in hand was one of religious differences, and related to the interpretation of their law, they must decide it amongst themselves, for he would not have any thing to do with the judgment of such points; and so he bid them be gone from the court. Before however the parties left the governor's presence, the Gentiles who were looking on in the public court, rushed upon Sosthenes the chief ruler of the synagogue, who had come to bring the charge on the part of the Jews; and gave him a beating as he was leaving the court. Though this violence was an illegal proceeding, yet Gallio took no notice of it, and did not interfere to prevent it.
1. The watchfulness of the Jews, who were the enemies of Paul for the gospel's sake, made them seize upon any opportunity of effecting his destruction; and the arrival of a new governor seem to afford them the means of gratifying their malice. This is an instance of the readiness with which the enemies of the gospel are willing to make any new attempt to put down those who will maintain the honor of Christ against the evil of the world, whenever circumstances seem to favour their design. The Jews of Corinth however failed in their object, and even brought upon themselves the contempt of those from whom they could least have expected it; and such a result is frequently permitted in the providence of God when worldly opposers endeavour to revive old objections against christian persons, the injustice of which has been before plainly proved. A lurking dislike to spiritual religion will break out in this manner, long after all such feeling seems to have been put away; and it is very necessary therefore that we should frequently examine ourselves, lest an apparent respect for religion may cover a real enmity which has only been sleeping within us.
Do I find that I have a ready remembrance of such things as tend to depreciate spiritual christians? Do I bring forth
the recollection of them at times when a feeling against such persons is more likely to meet with a response from others?
2. The name of Gallio has been long associated in the minds of christians with the thought of an infidel indifference to the subject of religion. This however is a mistaken notion; Gallio was a Pagan, therefore he knew nothing of the true God; but that he should not have cared for the insults offered to the Jews, though their ruler was violently assaulted in their presence, does not in any way prove that he was more infidel than other pagans, or less disposed to protect the christians. There is some difficulty in deciding what was the character of the assault made on Sosthenes; but that which seems most likely would rather indicate, that Gallio was well pleased at the summary chastisement which was given by the populace to the Jews, for their attempt to bring their religious questions before the civil magistrate. In this respect, the judgement delivered by Gallio might rather be an example for us to follow, whenever we might be disposed to employ the power of the world in order to enforce conformity with our own opinions on religious subjects.
Do I ever feel disposed to resort to other influence besides that of argument, of evidence, and of prayer, in drawing others to my own religious opinions? Does self-opinion in me ever induce me to justify persecution?
3. In writing afterwards to the Corinthians Paul speaks of Sosthenes as a christian (1 Cor. i. 1); and though no other mention is made of him elsewhere, yet we need not doubt that he refers to the same person who is here described as the chief ruler of the Jewish synagogue at Corinth, and as being beaten by the Greeks for bringing the charge before Gallio against Paul. If we are right in this, it affords a powerful testimony to the influence of the apostle's preaching, since however hard-hearted the great majority of the Jews at Corinth became in rejecting the word of truth, yet Crispus, the chief amongst them, was converted by the blessing of the Holy Spirit; and afterwards the person who also succeeded him in that office