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light, and from the power of Satan to Himself. A conviction of this ought to excite every christian to an earnest diligence, in order to take advantage of each favourable concurrence of circumstances to put forth the truth, which may be made the means of salvation to those amongst whom our lot is cast.
Am I living in the habit of observing carefully the current of events around me, in order to take advantage of every favourable opportunity for extending the gospel? and do I expect that providential advantages for the purpose will be accompanied by manifestations of God's power ? Am I diligent in using the means which may give occasion for the display of His grace?
3. What a contrast between the casting out of evil spirits by the power of God, through Paul's ministry, and the attempt to do the same by the incantations of the exorcists, put forth in the same name as that used by the apostle! This suggests an application of general importance in a day when the knowledge of religion is so extended, as to render it very common for the unconverted and worldly to live in the profession of a true creed. The use of religious arguments by such persons may be compared to the exorcism of the sons of Sceva; many endeavour to put forth the doctrines they have learned from some celebrated preacher, without having themselves been taught of God; and the effect of such religious display is none other than that produced by those who adjured the possessed ones " by Jesus, whom Paul preacheth,” To expect that the mere declaration of doctrines will have the effect of altering the character of the wicked or the worldly is as idle, as was the expectation of these exorcists. Satan knows and trembles at the power of Jesus; he knows too the effects which are wrought by the preaching of his true ministers; but he despises the efforts of such as imagine in their own strength, by the arguments of worldly wisdom, to deprive him of his power over willing sinners. It must be the strength of Him who is stronger than that “ strong man armed” which can alone cast him out; and every attempt to produce such an effect without that strength will be attended with disappointment.
QUESTION. What was the power by which I consider that my soul was converted to God ? What is the power upon which I lepend for producing a similar effect upon others ? Under whose influence is my spirit, if Jesus himself has not subdued the power of the devil over me?
Gracious Lord, who makest thy children a peculiar people zealous of good works, purify my heart, and give me power so to lay hold of thy salvation, that I may be evidently of the number of thy children who are not of the world. Subdue every resistance which the pride of my heart might raise against thy gospel; and let me not be hardened through neglect of thy mercy. Teach me how to mark the finger of thy providence in ordering such events around me as may afford occasion for extending thy truth. Give me faith to believe, that where thy providence has gone before, thy grace will surely follow for the fulfilment of thy great purposes of love; and make this confidence to work in me increase of diligence in thy service. Let thy strength, O Saviour, be perfected in my weakness, so that I may be enabled, in the precious name of Jesus, and by the power of His Spirit, to overcome the devices of the evil one, whether in myself, or in others; and grant, gracious God, that I may really experience the blessed power of that name. Hasten, o Father, to bruise Satan under our feet shortly, to the glory of the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. AMEN.
THIRTY-NINTH PORTION. Tumult against Paul excited by Demetrius. PLACE.—Ephesus.
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. XIX. verses 21 to 41. 21 After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he
had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, 22 “ After I have been there, I must also see Roine.” So he sent iuto
Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Eras23 tus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season. And the same time 24 there arose no small stir about that way. For a certain man named
Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought 25 no small gain unto the craftsmen ; whom he called together with the
workmen of like occupation, and said, “Sirs, ye know that by this craft 26 we have our wealth. Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephe
sus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned
away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with 27 hands : so that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought;
but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised,
and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world 28 worshippeth.” And when they heard these sayings, they were full of 29 wrath, and cried out, saying, “ Great is Diana of the Ephesians.” And
the whole city was filled with confusion : and having caught Gaius and
Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel, they rushed 30 with one accord into the theatre. And when Paul would have entered. 31 in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not. And certain of the
chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that 32 he would not adventure himself into the theatre. Some therefore cried
one thing, and some another : for the assembly was confused ; and the 33 more part knew not wherefore they were come together. And they
drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward..
And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his: 34 defence unto the people. But when they knew that he was a Jew, all
with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, “ Great is Diana 35 of the Ephesians.” And when the townclerk liad appeased the people,
he said, “ Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper (the templekeeper] of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter ? Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be 36 quiet, and to do nothing rashly. For ye have brought hither these men, 37 which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess. Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, 38 have a matter against any man, the law is open, [or, the court days are kept], and there are deputies : let thens implead one another. But if ye 39 enquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful [or, ordinary) assembly. For we are in danger to be called in 40 question for this day's uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse.” And when he had thus spoken, he 41 dismissed the assembly.
EXPLANATION. AFTER the events recorded in the last portion, Paul, under the guidance of the Spirit, planned a journey which was to lead him through the provinces of Macedonia and Achaia, and from thence to Jerusalem; and he looked forward, after effecting this purpose, to go to Rome. In preparation for this journey, he sent two of his companions into Macedonia before him; one of these was Timothy who had returned from his mission to Corinth, and the other was Erastus ; they are said to be of the number of those who “ ministered unto him.” After their departure he remained some time at Ephesus, during which considerable excitement was produced among the people upon the subject of the christian doctrine, which ended in a riotous attack upon the apostle, brought about in the following manner.
The city of Ephesus was celebrated for possessing a magnificent temple, considered to be one of the most splendid buildings in the world. It was dedicated to the worship of the heathen goddess Diana, an image of whom was set up
there which was said to have fallen from heaven. Vast numbers of persons came from every part of Asia to worship this image; and it was customary for such persons to purchase little models of the temple, or of the image. These were commonly made of silver, and the trade in such articles of idolatry was so great as to be a source of much profit to many silversmiths. One of the principal of these named Demetrius, collected together his fellow tradesmen, and the people in their employ, and addressed to them a violent harangue against Paul. He pointed out the advantages they gained by the sale of portable idols, and directed their attention to the extensive effects of Paul's preaching, by which, not only a great number of the people of Ephesus, but also of the inhabitants of all Asia Minor had been induced to turn from idolatry, being taught that the images made by men's hands were not gods. Demetrius then shewed how this doctrine was calculated to destroy all their hopes of gain; and not only this, but that it would bring into contempt the great goddess Diana herself, and put an end to all the splendour of her temple, though she was at that time the object of worship not only in Asia, but in all the world.
This speech greatly excited the persons to whom it was addressed, who responded to the orator by loud cries of “ great is Diana of the Ephesians.” A great crowd was speedily collected, and the city became tumultuously agitated against the christians, two of whom were seized upon : these were Gaius and Aristarchus, who were known to be Paul's companions. The whole crowd rushed with these into the great theatre of the city.
When Paul found what was going on, he would have gone into the theatre and addressed the people, had not the christians who were with him prevented him from taking so dangerous a step; and besides, some of the chief people of the city who were friendly to him, (although it does not appear that they were christians), sent messages to warn him against venturing to expose himself in the theatre where the utmost confusion prevailed ;-one crying one one thing, and another another, few of them knowing what it was that had occasioned the uproar.
As there was a vague connection in the mind of the people between Jews and christians,-and as Gaius and Aristarchus were probably Jews,-the rage of the crowd appears to have been turned in some degree against the Jews, who endeavoured to put forward a man named Alexander to speak on their behalf. This man motioned with his hand in order to obtain silence, that he might make a defence; but as soon as it was known that he was a Jew, the whole populace set up a shout for their favourite goddess, and they continued the cry of “great is Diana of