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Have those feelings passed away with the circumstances ? What state of mind has succeeded them?
Thou gracious God, who searchest the thoughts and intents of the heart, mercifully incline my affections to receive the truth of thy gospel in the love of it. Let not the envious desires of my selfish nature dispose me to resist and turn from thy love, so large, so full, so richly manifested in Christ Jesus. Make Him to be my Comforter indeed, and His gospel my comfort. Leave me not under the delusion of mere idle feelings and deceitful hope; but grant me true conversion by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the name and through the atonement and mediation of Jesus Christ our Saviour. AMEN.
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. XIV. verses 20 to 28. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.
20 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught 21 many, [had made many disciples,] they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhort- 22 ing them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingilom of God. And when they had or- 23 dained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. And after they 24 had passed through Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. And when they 25 had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia : and 26 thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to
27 the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled. And when they
were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that
God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto 20 the Gentiles. And there they abode long time with the disciples.
On the day following that on which Paul had been miraculously raised to strength from the state in which he had been left, as having been stoned to death, he and Barnabas set forward from Lystra on their journey to Derbe. Here they preached the gospel of Jesus, who gave power to their words, so that a large number of
persons embraced the truth, and became disciples of Christ.
The apostles had now been about a twelvemonth in their missionary journey, and they judged it right to proceed no further than Derbe, but to retrace their steps, in order to ascertain the state of the various churches which they had planted on their way. Accordingly they left Derbe and returned to Lystra, thence to Iconium, and then to Antioch in Pisidia ; remaining for a short time in each place, and affording to the disciples the comfort of their ministerial exhortations, in order to strengthen their faith under the persecution they were called on to endure. While they sought to establish the new christians in the faith, they urged them to remain stedfast, forewarning them that the way through the kingdom of God's grace, to the glory of that kingdom hereafter, lay through a course of severe and frequent afflictions. In each place they appointed a number of proper persons as ministers of the church, whom they called presbyters or elders : and having thus made the necessary arrangements for carrying on the work which God had begun through their means, they took their leave of each body of christians in a solemn manner, making it a special occasion of prayer with fasting ; thus placing them under the care and guidance of that Lord in whom they believed.
Having traversed the whole province of Pisidia, they passed through that of Pamphylia on their returning way. At Perga they paused to proclaim the word of God: it was here they had landed after their voyage from Paphos. (Acts xiii. 13.) They did not take ship from this port
again, but went to Attalia, a city situated some way farther down on the sea-coast. Here they embarked in a vessel, which took them to the great city of Antioch in Syria ; where they had received the command of the Holy Ghost, to go forth on that work which they had now performed. (Acts xiii. 1, 2.)
Upon their arrival, they called the congregation of christians together, and publicly gave them an account of God's dealings with them in their mission; shewing more particularly, how God had been pleased to admit the Gentiles to the blessing of salvation by Christ Jesus, through the door of faith.
After this, Paul and Barnabas resided a long time with the christians at Antioch.
The object of the ministry of the gospel of Christ is, not only to convert the soul from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, but also to stablish, strengthen, and settle each soul, through the continual application of the word of life. Each body of christians too requires thus to be confirmed in the faith ; and the care of these inspired missionaries thus to carry on the spiritual life that God had imparted through their preaching, ought to lead every christian to feel the importance of constantly using the means of grace. The appointed ministry supplies these means instrumentally, and while the due employment of them depends upon ourselves, the application of their power is the work of the Holy Spirit; who, for that purpose, is present with his ministers now, as he was with these first missionaries to the Gentiles. Our need of His power too is the same; for though the tribulations, to which the churches were exposed in those days, might be different in their nature, and occasionally more violent in degree of outward suffering, yet it is true in all times that our preparation for the kingdom of glory hereafter, is through manifold afflictions, by which the hearts of christians are, in one way or in another, exercised.
QUESTION. How do I seek to be established in the faith which I profess? Am I sensible of the advantage to be derived from the constant use of appointed means of grace? Do I feel their benefit, under the troubles by which my spiritual life is exercised?
Merciful God, who hast been pleased to call me into thy church, and to the grace of thy gospel, I beseech thee to confirm my soul in that precious faith by which I am admitted to these blessings. Stablish, strengthen, and settle me in thy truth : give power to those means of grace which thy providence and mercy have appointed for me; and grant that in every trial of heart, or spiritual struggle, to which I may be called, I may be so built up in the assurance of hope, that each tribulation may help to make me meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. AMEN.
TWENTY-EIGHTH PORTION. The Gentile church exempted from Mosaic rites. PLACE.—Antioch and Jerusalem. TIME.-A.D. 48.
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. XV. verses 1 to 35. 1 And certain men which came down from Judæa taught the brethren,
and said, “ Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye can2 not be saved.” When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissen
sion and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barna
bas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the 3 apostles and elders about this question. And being brought on their
way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring
the conversion of the Gentiles : and they caused great joy unto all the 4 brethren. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received
of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all 5 things that God had done with them. But there rose up certain [or,
rose up, said they, certain] of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, “ That it was needful to circumcise them, and to commard them to keep the law of Moses."
And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this 6 matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up,
and 7 said unto them, “ Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the 8 hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their 9 hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon 10 the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ 11 we shall be saved, even as they.”
Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas 12 and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.
Aud after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, “ Men 13 and brethren, hearken unto me : Simeon hath declared how God at the 14 first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, ' After 15,16 this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the 17 Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.' Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of 18 the world. Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which 19 from among the Gentiles are turned to God: but that we write unto 20 them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath 21 in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.
Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send 22 chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas ; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren : and they wrote letters by them after this manner;
“ The 23 apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia : forasmuch as we 24 have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying,' Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law :' to whom we gave no such commandment: it seemed good 25 unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men that have hazarded their lives 26 for the panie of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas 27 and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth (word). For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no 28