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Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
Peace is the legacy which Jesus left to his Church; a precious gift, more valuable than the wealth of Indies. It is the fruit of his Spirit, the portion of his saints, whose peace, flowing like a river, widens as it approaches the ocean of eternity.
In the midst of trouble, they are kept in perfect peace, because their minds are stayed on Him; resting with unshaken faith upon his atonement, righteousness, and intercession, they rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
Are they called to endure affliction? They can praise their Saviour in the fires. The flame which loosens the earthly cord, like a fiery chariot, bears their unfettered spirits to the realms of bliss. None are exempt from trials; all must prepare to meet them; come they will, in one shape or other. There are trials, peculiar to a state of poverty, and to a state of wealth. Some have family burdens, with the blessing of health; others are free from domestic cares, but are oppressed with sickness; some enjoy the blessedness of personal piety, while their immediate relatives are far from God; others are labouring to benefit their fellow sinners, but meet with little else than ingratitude and opposition. The poor man is tempted to think hardly of God; the rich man to forget him. Even the believer finds a constant need for watchfulness and prayer, by reason of the sin which dwelleth in him.
Thus each one has to bear his own burden;
and oh! how often does our merciful God, "stay his rough wind, in the day of his East wind," that his people may be able to carry their cross with comparative ease, through the sustaining power of his Holy Spirit, till they all meet around his throne, wearing the crown of glory, and ascribing all their salvation to Him who washed them from their sins in his own blood, and made them Kings and Priests unto God.
"He that hath made his refuge God,
Shall walk all day beneath his shade,
"Just as a hen protects her brood
From birds of prey that seek their blood,
"But if the fire, or plague, or sword,
"The sword, the pestilence, or fire
And bring thy children, Lord, to thee."
A SHORT HISTORICAL ACCOUNT OF THE APOSTLE'S TRIALS.
LET us now trace the Apostle's journey of mercy, as recorded by his fellow-labourer and historian St. Luke.
While we travel with him from city to city we shall find that everywhere bonds and afflictions awaited him.
He was a flame, kept alive in the midst of raging waters. By the preserving care of his Saviour, he was immortal, till his work was done.
At JERUSALEM, the theatre of his bloody persecutions, he no sooner began to preach salvation through the cross of Christ, than the unbelieving Jews went about to kill him.
At ANTIOCH, the people flocked in such numbers to hear the Gospel, that the Jews, filled with envy, spake against those things which were spoken of Paul, contradicting and blaspheming, till they succeeded in raising a persecution against him, and in expelling him out of their coast. But he shook off the dust of his feet against them, and came unto Iconium, being filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.
At ICONIUM, the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against Paul and Barnabas, so that an assault was made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their Rulers, to use them despitefully, and stone them.
At LYSTRA, certain Jews who came from Antioch and Iconium persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, they drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead; but whilst the disciples stood round about him, he was miraculously restored.
At this place the Apostle gave a striking proof of the purity of his principles. Having performed a miracle upon a cripple who had never walked, being lame from his birth, the astonished multitude cried out: "The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men." It was with much difficulty that Paul restrained them from doing sacrifice unto him, saying: "Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God.”
How different was the spirit and end of Herod, who drank in the poison of popular adulation. Being arrayed in royal apparel, and seated upon his throne, he made an oration unto the people. They gave a shout, saying "It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory; and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost."
At PHILIPPI, when travelling with Silas, the
multitude rose up together against them. The ma gistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them; and when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely, who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.
Here, the Almighty appeared in behalf of his suffering servants, for, while they were singing praises to God during the hour of midnight, suddenly there was a great earthquake; so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.
Through the wonder-working power of grace, the jailor was made to cry for mercy, to believe in Jesus, to show kindness to the Apostle; and to rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
At THESSALONICA, Paul reasoned with the Jews three Sabbath days out of the Scriptures, opening and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that Jesus whom he preached unto them is Christ. And some believed and consorted with him and Silas. But, the Jews who believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar.
At BEREA, Paul had no rest, for when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached by him at this place, they came hither and stirred up the people. Yet his visit was not without some fruit; for the Jews at