Imágenes de página
[ocr errors]

SECT. IV.]... Paul's preaching at Ephesus.

81 dom of God; but finding many of them obstinate, their minds filled with prejudices, and that they began to revile him and his doctrine, Paul separated the disciples; and from that period met daily in the school of Tyrannus, who is had probably, himself been converted by the preaching of - the apostle. And this continued during the space of two years, which gave an opportunity to many who resided in

distant parts of the province, and who had heard of Paul's - preaching and miracles, to visit Ephesus, and to hear the .. word of God from his mouth, so that by this means the

knowledge of the gospel was communicated to all Asia. ; And now the divine power manifested itself remarkably, in owning the mission and doctrine of Paul; for God wrought special miracles by his hands;"--diseases vanished, not only at his touch but at his word, and evil spirits were ejected out of many that were possessed with them. Some of the wandering Jews, who had practised the art of exorcism, supposing that Paul's miracles bore some affinity to their own tricks, undertook to imitate them, by expelling a dæmon out of one that was possessed; but when they invoked the name of Jesus whom Paul preached," the man in whom the evil spirit was, leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded,” to the consternation of all the Jews and Greeks that dwelt åt Ephesus ; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified,” The most amazing consequences succeeded this display of divine power; for many of the necromancers received the apostolic testimony, and came and confessed their diabolical practices, and the arts by which they had deceived the multitude. Many of those also who had been engaged in the devices of exorcism, conjuration, and magic, brought their books, in which were prescribed the various forms of incantation, and spontaneonsly set fire to them in the presence of all Vol. I.


the people; and they computed their value, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver, equal to seven thousand five hundred pounds sterling.- An amazing effect of the prevalence of divine truth over all the powers of darkness!

Yet notwithstanding the success of his ministry, Paul had

many adversaries at Ephesus. A number of the in'habitants enriched themselves by manufacturing représentations in miniature of the temple of Diana, and of the image that was said to have fallen down from Jupiter; by mcans of which they amassed considerable riches. Perceiving that if Paul's doctrine were suffered to spread, their trade would be ruined, they convened a meeting of all that were of the same occupation, and very, gravely deliberated what was best to be done, in order to check the growing evil : “ Sirs," said one of them, “ ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. It is evident, moreover, that not only at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath turned away much people, saying that they are no gods which are made with hands; so that not only our trade is in danger of being destroyed, but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana will be despised, and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.” Interest is a powerful stimulus to the passions of men; and on this occasion the speech of Demetrius, which was founded upon it, produced the desired effect; for “when they heard these things, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, “ Great is Diana of the Ephesians.”. The utmost confusion ensued throughout the city : the artificers ran about the streets, spreading the alarm to the multitude; and having seized two of Pauls companions, viz. Gaius and Aristarchus, they ran with one accord into the theatre, intending, probably, to cast them to the wild beasts usually kept there. The apostle would himself have also enSECT., 1v.1 Tumult at Ephesus.

83 tered, but his friends dissuaded him. Anarcħy had now reached its highest pitch,-some exclaimed one thing, and some another,--the multitude was confounded, and the greater part knew not the cause of their coming together,--they continued, however, for the spaee of two hours, crying out, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians.” The rage of the rioters became at length exhausted; the proconsul's secretary appeased the people, and addressed them to the following effect. “Ye men of Ephesus; . who is there that knows not that the city of the Ephesians Worshippeth the great goddess Diana : since this is evident, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly. For ye have brought hither these men, whom ye have not yet proved to be either spoilers of temples, or blasphemers of the goddess; if therefore Demetrius and his craftsmen have any thing to alledge against them, the courts of law are open, where the matter may be fairly tried.” He also reminded them, that they were in danger of being called to account by the Romans for the riot they had raised, there being no justifiable cause for it. On saying which, he liberated Gaius and Aristarchus, and dismissed the assembly.

During Paul's stay at Ephesus, a church had not only been gathered, but set in order with its bishops and dea

* By means of his preaching, multitudes had been converted to the Christian faith, amongst whom were “ certain of the chief of Asia,” supposed to have been priests of the temple of Diana, who had the care of the games celebrated in honour of that goddess. These, the apostle having called together, after the uproar, embraced them, and then taking his leave, departed for Macedonia. Having visited the churches in that country, and given them much exhortation, he went into Greece, and there continued about three months; after which he went down

* Acts xx. 17, 23.

+ See Whitby on Acts xix. 31.

to Troas, a place he had formerly visited,* and where he preached with great success. +

The disciples of Christ being at this period reduced to great straits in Judea, Paul had written to the Gentile churches in Macedonia and Greece to assist them by a general contribution; and during his abode among them at this time, he received the various collections which those churches had made for their relief. Having carried into effect this important service, he sailed for Syria, and landed at the port of Tyre, from whence passing by Ptolemais, and thence to Cæsarea, he arrived at Jerusalem, where he delivered the contributions, and was most cordially received of the brethren.



From Paul's arrival at Jerusalem with the contributions

from Asia, to the period of his death.

We are now arrived at a period in the life of the great apostle of the Gentiles, when a circumstance arose which has occasioned no little perplexity to commentators, and drawn from many of them either unmerited reproaches or needless apologies.

It seems that previous to the apostle's arrival in Judea, a report had got into circulation, that he was in the practice of teaching the Jews who were dispersed throughout the Gentile countries, “ to forsake the law of Moses, and neither circumcise their children, nor walk after the JewSECT. v.] Paul's conformity to the Jezish law.

* Acts xvi. 8.

† 2 Cor. ii. 12, 13.


ish customs."* This was an unfounded representation of his conduct in regard to this matter. He indeed taught the Gentiles that they should observe none of these things, but he well knew that the time which God had appointed for putting an end to the political constitution of the Jews, had not yet arrived. He, therefore, conformed to the rites of Judaism, himself, though aware that the whole of that typical dispensation had been virtually abolished by the death of Christ ; and he instructed his Jewish brethren to do the same, until, by the destruction of their temple and city, the providence of God should cooperate with his word in rendering it impossible for them any longer to adhere to Moses. It was, therefore, necessary that the Jews in Jerusalem should be undeceived in this matter; and, in order to this, it was recommended to him by James the apostle, and the elders of the church, to give a proof to all his Jewish brethren that what they had heard of him was incorrect, by joining himself to four men who were under a vow, and subjecting himself to the charges that were necessary to the performance of it, " that all might know that the things which they had heard concerning him were nothing, but that he himself walked orderly and kept the law.” Paul complied with this advice; and the following day, purifying himself with them, they all entered into the temple to signify to the priest their resolution to accomplish the seven days of their purification. But before these were ended, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up all the people against him, and apprehending him by violence, cried out, “ Men of Israel help; this is the man that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place, and hath polluted this holy temple by bringing Greeks into it.” By this means an universal ferment was excited throughout Jerusalem, for the people

* Acts xxi. 91.

« AnteriorContinuar »