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TRAVELS OF PAUL AND BARNABAS.
they continued a considerable time with the disciples there, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord. At length, quitting Antioch, they proceeded through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches. Thence they returned to Derbe and Lystra, and, taking Timothy with them, they proceeded to Mysia, intending to go into Bithynia ; but, being supernaturally warned in a vision, they altered their course and came to Troas. Obedient to the divine intimation, they proceeded to Philippi, which had been colonized by the Romans, and was at this time the chief city of Macedonia. Finding a Jewish synagogue here, or house of prayer, they resorted to it on the sabbath day, and addressed themselves to some females who had come to worship. One of them, whose name was Lydia, a dealer in purple, and who had come from Thyatira, had her attention arrested by what they said to her, “and the Lord opened her heart to attend to the things that were spoken by Paul:" the consequence was, that Lydia was baptized and her domestics also. The apostles were afterwards imprisoned for expelling a. demon from a young woman, and this led to the conversion of the jailer and his household; and with these things commenced the church at Philippi, one of the most renowned of the apostolic churches. Acts xvi.
We are now arrived at that particular point in the present Lecture which appeared to me the most proper place for directing your attention to the apostolic method of propagating Christianity among the Jews; and the subject is of sufficient importance to justify me in suspending the narrative, while I offer a few observations upon it. .
Before the Saviour left the earth, he directed his apostles to “tarry at Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high”—and at the same time intimated his will, “ that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem,” Luke xxiv. 47, 49. Now it deserves your notice how scrupulously attentive the apostles were to their Lord's command in this matter. From his ascension into heaven to the day of Pentecost was an interval of fifty days, during which the apostles continued at Jerusalem, assembling for the worship of God with the 120 disciples, waiting the fulfilment of his promise. At length the day of Pentecost arrrived, and the Holy Spirit descended upon them in
all his miraculous gifts, as you have it recorded, Acts. ii. No sooner had this taken place than Peter preached the Gospel to an assembled multitude, of whom three thousand were converted to the faith, baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, and added to the church.
In the next chapter we have an account of the same apostle addressing the unbelieving Jews on the same subject, the Messiahship of Jesus, in the following terms :- “Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, 'And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.' Unto you, first, God having raised up his son Jesus sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities,” ch. iii. 25, 26. And this shows us how “repentance and remission of sins” began to be preached first at Jerusalem, the place of his crucifixion, and among his very murderers. It is of importance to you to observe that the very same order was attended to by the apostle Paul and his associates when carrying the Gospel among the Gentiles. Into whatever city the providence of God directed their steps, if there were in it a Jewish synagogue, they invariably resorted to it at the time of worship, for the purpose of testifying among them that the Messiah had actually appeared, and that Jesus of Nazareth was the identical person. In proof of this you may consult, Acts xvii. 1-4. These verses present us with an interesting view of the subject matter, and also of the manner, in which the apostles propagated the Gospel at the beginning. Obedient to their Lord's injunction we find them first having recourse to the people of their own nation, to whom they declared that they brought with them no new doctrine - they said “none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come, viz. that Christ, or the Messiah, should suffer, and that he should be the first to rise from the dead, and should show light to the people of Israel and to the Gentiles,” Acts xxvi. 22. And thus Paul reasoned with the Jews at Thessalonica out of the writings of the prophets,“ opening and alleging that the Messiah," whoever he were, “must of necessity be a suffering person—that he must die and rise again from the dead---and that Jesus of Nazareth, whom he preached, was the Messiah.”
PAUL'S PREACHING AT THESSALONICA.
:. Now to Jewish ears there could not be a more unwelcome
doctrine than that of a suffering Messiah, though it was plainly taught in their own Scriptures. Accustomed to associate in their minds the Messiah's advent with ideas of magnificence and worldly glory, the carnality of their hearts led them to secularize all the grand things that the prophets had written on this interesting subject; so that instead of looking for the “man of sorrows,” and one whose companion was grief, the nation in general were fondly dreaming of a Messiah who should head their armies and deliver them from the Roman yoke; and, not finding in Jesus of Nazareth any thing that corresponded to this prejudice or preconception, they rejected all his claims to the Messiahship, and put him to death as an impostor. It is to this state of things that the apostle refers when he says that “ Christ crucified is to the Jews a stumbling block,” and this was one grand obstacle which he had to surmount in propagating Christianity among them at the beginning. Let us now examine how he proceeded at Thessalonica in removing this obstacle : the subject is interesting and will recompense the time and attention we bestow upon it.
First, we see that he lays it down as a fact, which could be proved from their own scriptures, that the Messiah, whoever he was and whenever he should make his appearance, must of necessity be a suffering person---that his sufferings should terminate in his death---and his death be followed by his resurrection, ver. 3. In proof of this fact, he refers them to the writings of Moses and the prophets, the meaning of which he explained or opened up, reasoning with them out of those inspired documents, and alleging from them that such must necessarily be the case. Jesus himself before he left the world adopted the very same plan with the two disciples that were on their way to Emmaus, as you have it in Luke xxiv. 25---27. “O fools, and slow of heart,” said he, “to believe all that the prophets have written ! Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into his glory? And then, beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” And a little afterwards we find him thus addressing them :--" These are the words which I spake unto you while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which
were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day,” ver. 44, 46.
But the question may possibly be started, by some, is it a fact that the Messiah is held forth as a suffering person in the law of Moses, and the Prophets, and the Psalms ? The enquiry is unquestionably a very proper one; let us see what answer can be returned to it. Jesus refers his disciples in the first place to the law of Moses, and he affirms that this law bore witness to his sufferings, death, and resurrection; and how truly that was the case you have ample proof in Paul's epistle to the Hebrews. We are there taught that “the law was a shadow of good things to come, the body or substance of which was only found in Christ.” Examine its various rites and ceremonial appointments; its institutions were all typical--the temple, the altar, the priests, the sacrifices and oblations, all pointed to Christ, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. The whole was designed by infinite wisdom to adumbrate the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. Divested of its typical relation to Him, the whole Levitical economy dwindles into insignificance : but admit the apostolic interpretation of the matter, as given in the epistle to the Hebrews, and you see a magnificence and grandeur reigning throughout the whole, which render it worthy of God from whom it emanated, at the same time that it is calculated to confirm our faith in the Gospel and elevate the believer's hopes of the eternal inheritance. · And now from the law of Moses let us turn our attention to the writings of the prophets, which are also said to exhibit the promised Messiah as a suffering person. Look at the whole fifty-third chapter of Isaiah :-_“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him ; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we, like sheep,
PAUL'S PREACHING AT THESSALONICA.
have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth : he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and, as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who shall declare his generation ? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgressions of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth,” ver. 3---9. Turn next to Daniel, ix. 24 26:-“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy. Know, therefore, and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, unto the Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.”
Hear once more the prophet Zechariah :---“ Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts. Smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered; and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones,”' ch. xiii. 7. These passages furnish a sufficient specimen of the testimony given by the prophets to the character of the Messiah as a suffering person : let us now glance at the book of Psalms.
The twenty-second Psalm comprises one clear and entire prophecy of the sufferings of the Messiah. The manner and circumstances of his death, the insults and mockery of his enemies, and the very words which Jesus uttered upon the cross, are in this psalm particularly foretold. It exhibits him as offering up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears, unto him that was able to save him from death. “I am poured out like water,” says the holy sufferer, “ and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is melted like wax in the midst of my bowels ; my strength is dried up like a potsherd ; my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death,” ver. 14, 15. Much to the same effect is the sixty-ninth.