« AnteriorContinuar »
3. These persons helped Paul by their conversation and example.
From a particular instance, mentioned in the xviiith chapter of the Acts, we learn, how assiduous they were, by their private conversation, to promote the interest of the gospel. When Paul went from Corinth to Jerusalem, they accompanied him as far as Ephesus. Here they met with Apollos, who was an eloquent and zealous man, and mighty in the scriptures of the old testament, and had been instructed in the way of the Lord; but being a Jew, and having lived in Alexandria, he had not yet gained a complete knowledge of the gospel. Aquila and his wife heard Apollos speak in the Jewish synagogue, and teach the things of the Lord. But finding, that he needed farther information, they took him and expounded to him the way of the Lord more perfectly. After this, Apollos helped those much, who through grace had believed. Their attention, in this case, shews their pious concern to be useful by private instruction.
My Christian friends, you may greatly help your minister, by inculcating on your families the truths which you hear from him—by adding your own to his reproofs and exhortations-by seasonable admonitions to the young members of other families— and often, too, by your advice to him, as well as by applying for his advice in your spiritual concerns. Apollos, after he began to teach the things of the Lord, was more perfectly instructed in those things, by conversation with private Christians. You
may be especially helpful by your holy example. This, as far as it is seen, will be a standing exhortation to virtue, and reproof to vice. Let your light so shine, that all around you may see your good works, and glorify God.
4. They were doubtless helpful by their pray.
Paul greatly valued the prayers of Christians ; and, from a persuasion of his continual remembrance in them, was mightily encouraged in his work. He says to the Corinthians, “God has de. livered us from death, and we trust he will yet deliver us, you also helping together by prayer for us." —He entreats the brethren, for the Lord Jesus's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that they would “strive together with him in their prayers to God for him, that he might be delivered from them, who believe not; that his own service might be accepted of the saints ; that utterance might be given him; and that he might speak the word, as he ought to speak.' If the fervent
nt prayers of the righteous avail much, they may, by their prayers, exceedingly help their minister in his work; and while they help him, they may help their own souls, too, and the souls of many around them.
5. The Apostle particularly remarks, that these persons, for his life, had laid down their own necks, for which service, not only he, but all the churches of the Gentiles, gavethem thanks.
He here refers to some case, in which they had rescued his life with the hazard of their own. What the particular case was, we are not informed; but it was then in the churches a matter of publick notoriety, and general gratitude and praise.
Their motive, in this case, was not a partial affection for Paul, but a regard to the general interest of religion. This Apostle, in preaching the gospel, shewed the same benevolence. He says to the Philippians-If I be offered on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all. And to the elders of Ephesus—In every city bond's and afflictions abide me; but none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus,
“ Love thy
to testify the gospel of the grace of God. The A. postle John says—We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. His meaning cannot be, that one man is simply bound to die for another. This would be carrying the rule of benevolence beyond the limits which Christ has stated. neighbour, as thyself.” The precept, understood in so absolute a sense, would come to nothing. For if I am bound to take on myself my brother's danger, then he is bound immediately to take it back. But his intention must be, that in some extraordinary cases, especially in cases where the life and happiness of numbers are depending, we ought to interpose for the preservation of our brethren, though it be with great danger to ourselves. On a principle of general benevolence, the Apostle sought not his own profit, but the profit of many, that they might be saved. He supposes it possible, that for a good man, a man of extensive beneficence and usefulness, in distinction from a man who is merely righteous, some would dare to die ; because with his life the happiness of numbers is connected. What the Apostle so highly commends in Aquila and has wife, was their general benevolence; their concern for the interest of the churches, and their zeal for the extensive spread of the gospel among the Gentiles. The spirit which appeared in them, ought to operate in all Christians, and such a spirit operating in Christian professors, would greatly facilitate and increase the success of ministers.
III. There is one thing more to be observed in the character of these persons. They had a church in their house. Their family resembled a church.
The honourable appellation, which the Apostle bestows on their household, suggests what a kind of family theirs was, and what every family ought
Tojustify the application of such a name, a family must be under wholesome discipline and prudent government. There must be in it order and regü. larity. Each member must know his own station, and observe his proper place. The heads must preside with wisdom and dignity; and the subordinate members must obey with cheerfulness, and submit with reverence. Stated worship must be maintained, the scriptures read, instructions communicated, reproofs administered, love diffused through all the branches, and peace unite them in one body. Such is the proper state of a church, and such the state of a fainily which resemblesá church. Such then was the household of Aquila, which the Apostle salutės by this honourable name.
A house, in which there is no peace or order ; no social worship or réligious instruction; but every one walks in his own way, and pursues his own in. clination; the heads contend with each other, and the children despise both; the former treat religion with neglect, and the latter grow up in ignorance and vice ; such a house is not a church, but a Babel.
We, then, who have the care of families, ought to make them churches. For this end we must dedicate our children to God, and bring them up in his fear, instruct them in the doctrines of the gospel, govern them with wisdom, lead them in prayer, en courage their attendance on the ordinances of the sanctuary, and inculcate on them the necessity of a heart devoted to God.
The Apostle's commendation of the example under consideration, is a severe reproof on those, who call not on God's name, nor train up their chil. dren in the way in which they should walk.
Thegrowth and prosperity of the church of Christ, depend much on family religion. As this is attended or neglected, that will increase or decline. Vol. I.
Greater societies are formed from smaller; churches grow out of families ; and the spirit and complex. ion of the latter will be transfused through the form
When family religion sinks into disuse and discredit, publick worship will be more and more neglected, ordinances will be despised, the sabbath profaned, or but carelessly observed, and the number, or, at least, the proportion of open professors, will diminish more and more.
But when families become little churches, real societies of religion ; when prayer is maintained, instruction communicated, government exercised, and order preserved, according to the commands of Christ, then will the young, under these benign influences, spring up as among the grass, and as willows 'by the water courses, and will yield the pleasant fruits of righteousness, as plants which God has nourished. They will come and join themselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant. They will encourage one another, and say, Come, let us turn to the Lord, let us go up to his house, and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths. The church here below, thus growing out of godly families, will bear a beautiful re. semblance to the church above. And the saints, translated to the superiour
world, will find
themselves in the midst of that society, for which they were preparing on earth. The church will then be properly the
gate of heaven, and easy will be the passage through this gate into the city of God.