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to the laws of their religion, and who were also of rich families, to help them in driving these servants of Christ out of the city. So they shook the dust off their feet, as Christ had told them to do, if their message was not received in any place, as a sign of displeasure against it, and they “came unto Iconium,” another place, on the borders of the country.
At Iconuim they again went into the Jews' synagogue, and “a great multitude," both of the Jews and also of the Greeks, believed their divine message.
But the Jews and Greeks were now greatly divided among themselves; some of them believed, and some of them did not believe, notwithstanding all the divine proofs of the heavenly message ; and as parties rose very high, and it was determined by some that they would even stone Paul and Barnabas, they left the place, that they might carry the gospel elsewhere, where the hearts of many more would be ready to receive it.
They now “ filed unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia," in Lesser Asia, “and there they preached the gospel.”
Here a man, who was born a cripple, was sitting to hear a discourse, when the apostle Paul, perceiving that he had faith in the truth of his message, addressed him before all the people, and “ said, with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet; and he leaped and walked.”
The heathen people were so astonished and delighted, that they said, " The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.” They thought there were many gods, and that these were two of them. They knew no better, not having the Scriptures ; and they took Barnabas for Jupiter, one of their gods, and Paul for Mercury, another of them ; and according to their custom of worshipping and honouring their deities, the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people, that is, have sacrificed the oxen to Paul and Barnabas ; but the apostles rent their clothes, as the Jews did when they heard blasphemy, and showed what horror they felt, that the people should make such a mistake. They then declared they were only men, and exhorted them to cast off their false gods, and believe in “the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein.” The people were, however, even then, with difficulty pre. vented from worshipping the apostles. Yet notwithstanding this servile adoration of them, when, soon after, some Jews arrived in the city from Antioch and Iconium, who told them how the apostles had been driven from those places, and spoke against them—these same people who had seen the
miracle performed on the lame man, and would then have adored the apostles, now were persuaded to stone Paul, so fickle were they ; and they hurt him so much that he appeared to be dead, and his body was dragged by them out of the city. He must have been dreadfully injured by this treatment; but God left the people without excuse for future punishment, in thus treating his servant, and tried the boldness of Paul in his cause; and when he was left for dead, he wonderfully restored him, so that he was immediately able to pursue his journey to another place; "and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe," a city of Lycaonia, as mentioned in the sixth verse, and there they made many disciples; and then they revisited Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, to instruct, comfort, and establish the minds of those that had believed, that they might not be frightened at their persecutions.
Here the Christians now formed themselves into churches, congregations of faithful men; and the apostles having taught them and prayed with them, set them in order, and appointed proper persons from among them to manage the worship of God, and for other Christian purposes.
Then they passed through Pisidia, the country where Antioch was, and came to Pamphylia, in Asia, and preached at Perga in that country, and thence went into Attalia, a sea-coast town on the borders of the Mediterranean Sea. Then they took shipping and sailed to the other Antioch, which was in Syria, and delighted the Christians there by telling them of their travels, and of the great success which, notwithstanding all opposition, bad attended their preaching of the gospel of Christ" And there they abode a long time with the disciples.”
ACTS XV, XVI. While Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch, in Syria, some persons from Jerusalem came to Antioch, and raised a dispute. Paul and Barnabas, therefore, went to Jerusalem, to settle the question.
The affair being quietly settled, Paul and Barnabas now resolved on revisiting all the places where they had preached the gospel ; and Barnabas wished John, whose surname was Mark, to accompany them; but he 'having been their companion on a former occasion, and left them to bear
eir labours and dangers alone, in a manner that did not quite please Paul,
who perhaps thought him timid, or not sufficiently zealous, Paul did not wish to have his help. This caused a misunderstanding between Paul and Barnabas, and so they parted company. Barnabas, taking Mark with him, sailed to Cyprus, an island in the Mediterranean Sea, and, as we learn in the latter part of the fourth chapter, the native place of Barnabas. Paul, accompanied by Silas, took another route, and went through Syria and Cilicia, which was his native country, and visited the churches or assemblies of Christians, whom he had before brought, through his preaching, to receive the religion of Christ.
Among the places visited again by the apostle Paul, were Derbe and Lystra. At the latter place he found a young disciple named Timotheus, or Timothy, the same to whom he afterwards wrote the Epistles. The mother of this young man was a Jewess, but his father was a Greek; and so it happened that he was not circumcised. Now, as Paul wished to have his aid as a fellow-labourer, seeing that he was a youth of fine talent and spirit, but as the Jews would not have allowed him to speak in the synagogues unless he had been circumcised, Paul therefore “ took and circumcised him, because of the Jews which were in those quarters;" who, knowing that his father was a Greek, and therefore had not had the rite performed upon him, would have raised objections to his preaching.
Aud now they travelled throughout Phrygia in Asia, and the region or country of Galatia, in that part called Asia Minor; then they came to Mysia, another country in Asia Minor, and “assayed,” or attempted, to go into Bithynia, another country also in Asia Minor, but were prevented, by a particular persuasion made on their minds by the Spirit of God. Perhaps had they gone, their lives would have been taken, and these God designed to spare for future labours. So they did not stop at Mysia; but “came down to Troas," then a colony of the Romans, now called Alexandria.
Being prompted by the Spirit of God in a vision, or sort of trance, which happened in the night, and in which a man of Macedonia appeared before Paul, and said, “ Come over unto Macedonia and help us,” Paul proceeded to that place, which was a very large country in Europe. He loosed, or set sail, from Troas, and reached Samothracia, an island in the Archipelago, and the next day Neapolis, a seaport, which was a part of Macedonia. From thence he went on to Philippi, the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and stopped there some days. Here, on the Sabbath day, they visited one of the spots where the Jews worshipped, and “spake to the women which resorted thither."
Among these women was one named Lydia. She was a seller of purple -most likely of purple dye, which was a valuable article at that time—and she belonged to a place called Thyatira, which is thought by some to be in Asia Minor. She was a worshipper of the one true God, but knew nothing of Jesus Christ. But now she heard him preached, the Lord opened her heart, like a door, to let him into it by faith; and she received Jesus there, and embraced all the important truths spoken about him by Paul. And she was baptized, and received the sacred messengers into her house, while they remained in that neighbourhood.
The apostles regularly went to a place used for prayer; and a girl, who knew their custom, followed them, as they went every day, and cried after them, “ These men are the servants of the Most High God, which shov unto us the way of salvation.” This girl was one of a certain class of people of those days, who pretended to be divinely inspired, and who might possibly have been permitted to perform some astonishing things, by the ail of the devil, who seems to have had full possession of her mind. By her works of magic she gained much money. It seems that she was not free, but belonged to masters who received what she gained. Paul, perceiving what kind of a person she was, was grieved at her condition, and, in the name of Jesus Christ, he commanded the evil spirit to come out of her. “ And he came out the same hour.”
Her masters were greatly enraged that they had now lost their gains, for the girl could serve the devil no longer. They therefore seized Paul and Silas, and carried them before the magistrates, accusing them of teaching doctrines and customs contrary to the laws. Then the magistrates had them stripped, by tearing off their clothes; and commanded them to bo beaten with rods, after which they were cast into prison, and the jailor had orders to take the greatest care that they should not escape. So he thrust them “into the innermost prison ”—one that, lying beyond others, and having more bolts and bars, was the more secure. And still, to add to their security, he put their feet fast into heavy wood stocks, and thus they lay, as it is supposed, in the most painful position, with their sore and naked backs stretched upon the cold and dirty ground—the prisoners not sitting, as with us, when the stocks are used.
In this situation, which would have made most men groan and weep, Paul and Silas, being comforted in their minds in an extraordinary way, sang praises to God in the middle of the night: it is thought that they sang one of David's Psalms, which is not unlikely. "And 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.” The keeper awoke with the noise, and seeing the doors open, and the prisoners free, he drew his sword, and would bave killed himself, fearing that he should be dreadfully punished for their escape. But Paul cried out to him, “Do thyself no harm; for we are all here.” Then he called for plenty of lights, and “came trembling;" and, according to the Eastern custom of showing respect, fell down before Paul and Silas, and bringing them out of the inner prison, he began to talk to them directly about his poor soul, and asked “ What must I do to be saved ?" The Apostles told him to “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ;" and they also preached to his whole family. Then the jailor washed their stripes, which had perhaps begun to fester, and showed them every kindness. They had done good to his soul, and to the souls of his family, as well as saved his body, when he was about to destroy himself; and the least he could do for them, was to show them kindness by comforting their bodies. The people's hearts were all ready to receive the gospel from their lips; and having renounced their idolatries, they declared their readiness to become Christians, and were all of them baptized. Then the jailor took his prisoners into his house, and set meat before them, to refresh their wearied bodies, and they all rejoiced together.
In the morning, the magistrates thought that Paul and Silas had had punishment enough, and so sent orders for them to be released. But Paul, being a Roman citizen, now maintained his privilege; teaching us, that Christianity is not at all opposed to our claiming and defending our civil rights, that is, those which belong to us as men and citizens. “They have beaten us openly uncondemned,” said he, “being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? Nay, verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out." The magistrates had taken upon themselves to do what they were not authorized to do; for the magistrates were not to try prisoners, but only to see that the lawless were seized and secured, and that the law was properly put into execution when the prisoners were condemned. Paul, therefore, on account of others, as weli as on his own account, would not sanction such shameful proceedings; he did not, however, demand revenge upon them, though he might have got them severely punished for what they had so unjustly done, but he required that they should acknowledge themselves wrong, and with all respect, make amends to them by fetching them out. So the magistrates, being now