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rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Cæsarea.'
This Ethiopian represents a large class who need to be taught by such missionaries as Philip,- men who will hear the voice of God, and go where He sends them. There are many who are reading the Scriptures who cannot understand their true import. All over the world men and women are looking wistfully to heaven. Prayers and tears and inquiries go up from souls longing for light, for grace, for the Holy Spirit. Many are on the verge of the kingdom, waiting only to be gathered in.
An angel guided Philip to the one who was seeking for light, and who was ready to receive the gospel; and to-day angels will guide the footsteps of those workers who will allow the Holy Spirit to sanctify their tongues and refine and ennoble their hearts. The angel sent to Philip could himself have done the work for the Ethiopian, but this is not God's way of working. It is His plan that men are to work for their fellow-men.
In the trust given to the first disciples, believers in every age have shared. Everyone who has received the gospel has been given sacred truth to impart to the world. God's faithful people have always been aggressive missionaries, consecrating their resources to the honor of His name, and wisely using their talents in His service.
The unselfish labor of Christians in the past should be to us an object-lesson and an inspiration. The members of God's church are to be zealous of good works, separating from worldly ambition, and
walking in the footsteps of Him who went about doing good. With hearts filled with sympathy and compassion, they are to minister to those in need of help, bringing to sinners a knowledge of the Saviour's love. Such work calls for laborious effort, but it brings a rich reward. Those who engage in it with sincerity of purpose will see souls won to the Saviour; for the influence that attends the practical carrying out of the divine commission, is irresistible.
Not upon the ordained minister only rests the responsibility of going forth to fulfil this commission. Every one who has received Christ is called to work for the salvation of his fellow-men. “The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come."
The charge to give this invitation includes the entire church. Every one who has heard the invitation is to echo the message from hill and valley, saying, “Come.”
It is a fatal mistake to suppose that the work of soul-saving depends alone upon the ministry. The humble, consecrated believer upon whom the Master of the vineyard places a burden for souls, is to be given encouragement by the men upon whom the Lord has laid larger responsibilities. Those who stand as leaders in the church of God are to realize that the Saviour's commission is given to all who believe in His name. God will send forth into His vineyard many who have not been dedicated to the ministry by the laying on of hands.
Hundreds, yea, thousands, who have heard the message of salvation, are still idlers in the marketplace, when they might be engaged in some line of
active service. To these Christ is saying, “Why stand ye here all the day idle?” and He adds, “Go ye also into the vineyard.”'' Why is it that many more do not respond to the call? Is it because they think themselves excused in that they do not stand in the pulpit? Let them understand that there is a large work to be done outside the pulpit, by thousands of consecrated lay members.
Long has God waited for the spirit of service to take possession of the whole church, so that every one shall be working for Him according to his ability. When the members of the church of God do their appointed work in the needy fields at home and abroad, in fulfilment of the gospel commission, the whole world will soon be warned, and the Lord Jesus will return to this earth with power and great glory. “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."
* Matt. 20:6, 7.
& Matt. 24:14.
From Persecutor to Disciple
PROMINENT among the Jewish leaders who became thoroughly aroused by the success attending the proclamation of the gospel, was Saul of Tarsus. A Roman citizen by birth, Saul was nevertheless a Jew by descent, and had been educated in Jerusalem by the most eminent of the rabbis. “Of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin," Saul was “a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless." regarded by the rabbis as a young man of great promise, and high hopes were cherished concerning him as an able and zealous defender of the ancient faith. His elevation to membership in the Sanhedrim council placed him in a position of power.
Saul had taken a prominent part in the trial and conviction of Stephen, and the striking evidences of God's presence with the martyr had led Saul to
1 Phil. 3:5, 6.
doubt the righteousness of the cause he had espoused against the followers of Jesus. His mind was deeply stirred. In his perplexity he appealed to those in whose wisdom and judgment he had full confidence. The arguments of the priests and rulers finally convinced him that Stephen was a blasphemer, that the Christ whom the martyred disciple had preached was an impostor, and that those ministering in holy office must be right.
Not without severe trial did Saul come to this conclusion. But in the end, his education and prejudices, his respect for his former teachers, and his pride of popularity, braced him to rebel against the voice of conscience and the grace of God. And having fully decided that the priests and scribes were right, Saul became very bitter in his opposition to the doctrines taught by the disciples of Jesus. His activity in causing holy men and women to be dragged before tribunals, where some were condemned to imprisonment and some even to death, solely because of their faith in Jesus, brought sadness and gloom to the newly organized church, and caused many to seek safety in flight.
Those who were driven from Jerusalem by this persecution “went everywhere preaching the word.” ? Among the cities to which they went was Damascus, where the new faith gained many converts.
The priests and rulers had hoped that by vigilant effort and stern persecution the heresy might be suppressed. Now they felt that they must carry forward in other places the decided measures taken in Jerusalem against the new teaching. For the special
? Acts 8: 4.