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fested, not only by the gathering of a church there (Eph. i.), but also by the more violent opposition of those who rejected the gospel. Some of these became so hardened by their unbelief and resistance of the truth, that they publicly slandered and abused the christian doctrine, amongst the people of Ephesus; and in consequence of the state of things resulting from this conduct, Paul thought it no longer necessary to confine himself to teaching in the synagogue; but he judged it right to gather into one separate body those who had believed, known to be the church of Christ at Ephesus, as distinguished from the Jews, in whose synagogue the preaching of the gospel had begun.

Having thus established the christians as a distinct and peculiar people, from that time he carried on the publication of the gospel in a building which was employed as a school by a person named Tyrannus; and here he conducted

open

discussions every day. This course of evangelical instruction was carried on by Paul for two years ; and by this means the gospel became known, not only by all the Ephesians, but as Ephesus was the metropolis of the whole province called Asia Minor, and great multitudes of people continually resorted thither, the doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ became generally known throughout all the country,

It pleased God to enable Paul from this advantageous position to extend the power of the gospel, by making him also the instrument of most striking miracles. Not only did Paul himself perform these wonders, but articles of clothing that had touched his body were endued with power over diseases; so that when such things were taken from the apostle and laid upon persons who were suffering from illness, or who were under the possession of evil spirits, they were at once cured or dispossessed, without even being brought within the reach of Paul himself.

The possession by evil spirits, which was evident and notorious during the life of our Lord upon earth, still continued so plainly, that it was a common practice for people to go about the country gaining money by pretending, through the use of certain charms and incantations, to cast out devils from persons in this unhappy condition. (Luke xi. 19.) These were called exorcists. The fame of the miracles actually performed by the apostle produced such an effect amongst the people, that many of these exorcists found it profitable to recommend their incantations, by connecting them with the names of Jesus and of Paul. The chief of the priests among the Jews, whose name was Sceva, had seven sons who were exorcists, and who thus employed the name of our Lord in their charms. Upon one occasion, in attempting to cast out an evil spirit from a possessed person, they employed the form commonly used by these impostors, and said, “We adjure thee by Jesus, whom Paul preaches.” Instead of having any power over the devil, he answered by the mouth of the man, saying that he knew Jesus, and that he knew Paul, but that he did not know these exorcists; and immediately the possessed man sprang upon these sons of Sceva, and with supernatural power (such as was seen in the man amongst the tombs, Mark v. 1–5) tore their garments, wounded their bodies, and overcame their strength, so that they ran out of the house in that shameful condition.

This event very soon became known all over Ephesus, both amongst Jews and Greeks, and the people were generally impressed with a solemn awe, which led them to pay great respect to the name of the Lord Jesus. But besides this, many persons were brought under the power of true faith in Christ, and these frankly acknowledged their sins, confessing the wickedness of their course of life. What had happened to the sons of Sceva produced also a great effect upon a number of persons who were in the habit of practising the art of magic, by which they imposed on the credulity and superstition of the people ; many of these professors of sorcery gave up the manuscript books they were accustomed to use; and when a large number of these books had been accumulated, they were publicly burned. A calculation was made of the sum of money for which these books might have been sold, and it amounted to fifty thousand pieces of silver. What particular coin is intended by this expression does not clearly appear. The coin of least value that could be meant is the Greek drachm, which would make the sum of opposition is excited, and is commonly vented in speaking evil of that way from which they themselves turn. But the result of all this at Ephesus was, that the church was placed in a position in which the christians not only stood forth more prominently, and were seen to be bright lights in the world, but they had the advantage of more direct means of grace: while on the other hand, the opposers were left to the consequences of their own hardness, as rejecters of God's truth; and were no longer favoured with opportunities of hearing that truth lifted up amongst themselves. How carefully should we avoid the dangers that result from a continued resistance of the power of truth! How greatly should these dangers alarm us; and how anxiously ought we to strive so to “ make our calling and election sure,

that we may be evidently classed amongst God's “ peculiar people, zealous of good works !"

What is my position in society with respect to religion? Am I decidedly ranged amongst the disciples of Christ, separated for his service? or am I amongst the mixed multitude, and those who are in some degree resisting the truth? What danger is there of my becoming hardened ?

QUESTION.

2. The circumstances of Ephesus were very advantageous for the greater extension of the gospel; and it pleased God to manifest his power in the miracles wrought by Paul; thus concurring with his providence which arranged the circumstances so favourably for promoting the cause of Christ. The diligent exertions of Paul were called forth to profit by this combination of God's providence with his grace; and the result was, that the word of God “mightily grew and prevailed.” It is not only on a great scale of events, as at Ephesus, that the same combination is found; but wherever God's providence arranges favourable circumstances, we may be sure that he is ready to manifest the power of his grace; not indeed by such special miracles which he wrought by the hands of Paul, but by those greater evidences of his power, which he has continually wrought through the words and exertions of weaker instruments than Paul,—through the ordinary ministry of the word, in converting souls from darkness to tians, named Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus. (1 Cor. vii. 1; xvi. 17.). It was in answer to this letter that Paul wrote his first epistle to the Corinthians, in the former part of which (chaps. i. to vi.) he expresses in writing the chief object of his having already sent Timothy; and in the latter part he replies at length to their several inquiries. Acting upon the arrangement made in the conference at Jerusalem (which had taken place since the apostle had left Corinth) he desired the Corinthians to contribute towards the support of the poor christians of the original church of the circumcision (see page 249); and he states that he had given a similar order to the churches of Galatia. (1 Cor. xvi. 1-4.) After despatching this letter, it appears that Titus (of whom we heard last that he was with Paul at Jerusalem when he went to Antioch, see page 249) must have joined the apostle at Ephesus; and that Paul sent him to Corinth, with another christian brother specially commissioned to arrange the matter concerning this collection. (2 Cor. vii. 6, 16; xii. 18.) After this he expresses his intention of going himself to Corinth, when he shall have paid a visit to the churches in Macedonia. (1 Cor. xvi. 5—7.)

APPLICATION.

1. The manner in which the gospel worked during the three months that Paul preached in the synagogue at Ephesus, is a specimen of the effects it usually produces. The apostle was received more kindly by the Jews at Ephesus, than he had been any where else; and he was allowed full opportunity of setting forth the truth as it is in Jesus. Some of his hearers believed to the saving of their souls; so many indeed as enabled Paul to form them into a distinct body; but divers were hardened, and gave expression to their unbelief in abusive slanders of the doctrine of Christ. The same course may be constantly traced where the spiritual truth of the gospel is brought to the ears of a people, who at first are glad to give attention. The word will assuredly not return void; some will embrace the gospel savingly; and in proportion as its power operates to render these a peculiar people zealous of good works, others, by resisting, harden their hearts. A violent feeling of opposition is excited, and is commonly vented in speaking evil of that way from which they themselves turn. But the result of all this at Ephesus was, that the church was placed in a position in which the christians not only stood forth more prominently, and were seen to be bright lights in the world, but they had the advantage of more direct means of grace: while on the other hand, the

opposers were left to the consequences of their own hardness, as rejecters of God's truth; and were no longer favoured with opportunities of hearing that truth lifted up amongst themselves. How carefully should we avoid the dangers that result from a continued resistance of the power of

How greatly should these dangers alarm us; and how anxiously ought we to strive so to “make our calling and election sure,” that we may be evidently classed amongst God's “peculiar people, zealous of good works !"

QUESTION. What is my position in society with respect to religion ? Am I decidedly ranged amongst the disciples of Christ, separated for his service ? or am I amongst the mixed multitude, and those who are in some degree resisting the truth ? What danger is there of my becoming hardened ?

2. The circumstances of Ephesus were very advantageous for the greater extension of the gospel; and it pleased God to manifest his power in the miracles wrought by Paul; thus concurring with his providence which arranged the circumstances so favourably for promoting the cause of Christ. The diligent exertions of Paul were called forth to profit by this combination of God's providence with his grace; and the result was, that the word of God “mightily grew and prevailed.” It is not only on a great scale of events, as at Ephesus, that the same combination is found; but wherever God's providence arranges favourable circumstances, we may be sure that he is ready to manifest the power of his grace; not indeed by such special miracles which he wrought by the hands of Paul, but by those greater evidences of his power, which he has continually wrought through the words and exertions of weaker instruments than Paul,--through the ordinary ministry of the word, in converting souls from darkness to

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