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This is the distinction between other men and the faithful servant of Christ. The natural inquiry is, How shall I enlarge my store? How enrich my family ? How raise my reputation? How enjoy most ease and pleasure? The servant of Christ has another object. How shall I prove to my own conscience that "the life which I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God?” How can I best, in my particular station, lay myself out in his service ;-how most successfully promote his cause in the world ? Let others " halt between two opinions."
“ As for me, I and my house will serve the Lord.” What mean ye to scoff and break my resolution ? My purpose is, “ whether I live, to live unto the Lord; or whether I die, to die unto the Lord : that, living or dying, I may be the Lord's.”
Such was the faith which was settled in Paul's mind as the principle by which he lived. The occasion was sudden on which he uttered this resolution. Agabus came forward unexpectedly, and prophesied that bonds and afflictions awaited him. And on this sudden trial, the state of his mind appeared. What if bonds and persecutions are threatening me? I am ready, not to be bound only, but to die at Jerusalem for the sake of the Lord Jesus.
Is there such a settled principle in our hearts ? Are we able to give an answer like this when any sudden temptation comes on us? Are we able to say, I am ready to be scorned and wondered at by those around me, rather than offend or deny my Saviour ? I am ready to decline the pleasures which
others enjoy, to renounce the advantages which others seize, rather than risk offending him, who has taught me to “ seek first the kingdom of God,” and to “ lay up treasure in heaven ?”
It is often difficult thus to preserve the even tenor of a Christian's way. But it is a difficulty which must be manfully encountered. Paul found it a trial when his friends wept before him, and entreated him not to put his life in danger. But he did not give way in compliance with the tears and entreaties of his friends. He rather said, What mean ye to weep and to break my heart? Ye may grieve me, but ye cannot move me; for I am ready not to be bound only, but to die at Jerusalem for the · sake of the Lord Jesus.
Study to establish within yourselves the same inward principle, which shall be prepared to start forward and make the like reply to every unworthy suggestion of your own heart, or of Satan, or of the world. Reply to “flesh and blood,”—To deny myself, and take up my cross daily; that is to be Christ's disciple. Reply to Satan, “ It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Reply to the world, -" The world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
PAUL ARRIVES AT JERUSALEM. CONFORMS TO
ONE OF THE CEREMONIES OF THE LAW.-A. D. 60.
Acts xxi. 15-26.
15. And after those days we took up our carriages,' and went up to Jerusalem.
16. There went with us also certain of the disciples of Cesarea, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom we should lodge.
17. And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.
*18. And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.
19. And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.
The disciples of Cesarea had remonstrated with Paul, that he might not go up to Jerusalem. So the apostles would have dissuaded the Lord Jesus. They said unto him, “ Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee : and goest thou thither again?” But when“ he stedfastly set his face toward Jerusalem,” Thomas " said unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.” And in like manner the Christians at Ce.
'avaokevaca uero. Having taken up our baggage, viz., for the purpose of removal.
See John xi. 8-16.
sarea. They would have diverted Paul from the journey: but when that was resolved upon, some of them went with him, and provided for his comfortable reception at the house of Mnason. On their arrival, their first business was to visit the brethren, and especially the apostle James, who had continued at Jerusalem and presided over the church there. The great subject of interest was the progress of the gospel. What success does God vouchsafe to the ministry in Asia ? Has “ the word free course, and are many turned to the Lord? The tidings which Paul brought were cheering. He declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. Since his last visit from Antioch, eight years before, what a change had been wrought in Asia, from Alexandria to Troas, and in Greece from Philippi to Corinth? In the places where it was said, They are not my people : it is now said, They are the people of God. “ For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth : so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.”!
While affairs at a distance were so prosperous, they must also consider things at home. There were jealous feelings among the Jewish brethren, which did not exist among the Gentiles. And Paul had not escaped their suspicion. They thought him ill-affected towards the law which they themselves esteemed so important, and still scrupulously observed. They knew that
They knew that upon this point he had
withstood Peter, and written strongly to the Galatians; and James foresaw that “ the apostle of the Gentiles” would not be regarded with favour by the believing Jews. To obviate this disagreement among brethren, he proposes a plan by which the prejudice against Paul might be allayed.
20. And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe ; and they are all zealous
21. And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles lo forsake Moses, saying that they ought not lo circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.
22. What is it therefore ? the multitude must needs come together : for they will hear that thou art come.
23. Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them ; 5
5 « There were always persons at Jerusalem, especially at the great festivals, who took on them the vow of a Nazarite: i. e. they vowed to abstain from wine, or any fermented liquor, for a certain number of days. When the term was over, they were to bring the prescribed offering to the priest: till which time the hair of their head was not allowed to be cut. Numb. vi. 14. The offering was expensive; and it sometimes happened that at the end of the term a poor man could not provide it, so as to become clear from his vow. The elders happened to know of four Christians who were thus circumstanced ; had taken on themselves a vow which they were unable to discharge. So they suggested to Paul that he should take on himself the same vow, and then be at charges with them,-assist them to provide their offering, that they might shave their heads, i. e. put a period to their vow of abstinence. This would be publicly known, and show that Paul ought not to be accused, as if he rashly opposed the ceremonial law.”—Burton, lect. viii. 247. See also an useful note in Doddridge.