Acts 17:2
It was a great idea, and much more than mere idea with Paul, to "redeem the time." He would not have stayed a continuous three weeks in one place doing nothing at all, much less doing what was good for nothing, or for very little. The time he gave, therefore, to a subject, and the stress he laid upon it, may fairly measure to a certain degree his persuasion of the value of it. There are subjects which depend upon their very mode of treatment, not in the merely ordinary sense for producing greater or less impression, but for apprising us of the estimate they purport to put on themselves. And this thought may certainly help to guide us, even in these days. It may help work conviction as to the reality of things long "believed among us," but perhaps never more attacked or less boldly grasped than at this present. For we here may notice that -


1. It would have been particularly like Paul to have dealt with his subject or subjects through a period of upwards of three weeks, on their own merits, and not have laden them with any unimportant connection with things that had gone before. His method shows that the connection was not deemed unimportant by him.

2. If Paul does deal with great subjects, which might have been discussed on their own merits, in very close connection with their associations with the Old Testament, it were inevitable that those associations must cling to them. They will in a sense bring with them the atmosphere, or the flagrance of it, to which they have been accustomed.

3. There can be no doubt, no contradiction, as to the connection of the promised Messiah in the Old Testament with the sacrifices, which are really its most unique feature; nor can there be any doubt of the great sacrifices themselves, that they were in the main propitiatory.

II. THE DEATH OF CHRIST IS THE OLD TESTAMENT TOPIC SELECTED OUT OF ALL OTHERS BY PAUL. For what conceivable purpose should the apostles have taken all the trouble and encountered all the dangers they did in order to reconcile the minds of the Jews, to whom they preached, to the identity of the foretold Messiah of the Scriptures with the Jesus crucified of late at Jerusalem? There could be no satisfactory reason for this but one, that the suffering of Christ unto death was the central requirement of the whole position. While the Jew from first to last objected to the subject

(1) because the crucifixion of Christ lay at his door and on his conscience;

(2) and because the Jew had never consented to believe in such a King as Christ, such a grandeur as the grandeur of the cross for him, or such a method of recovering and exalting the distinction of his own nation, as the method which went right down to the root of its decay, disorder, misery! It would surely seem that nothing could be more nugatory than to labor as apostles labored, and to suffer as they suffered, and to be filled with zeal as they were filled with zeal, if it were for mere persistence sake in the matter of an unwelcome historical identification. Whether for Jew or Gentile, the death of Christ was with the apostles the foundation theme. But with the Jew it was argued as now, with all the light and necessarily with the associations that his Scriptures must throw upon it.

III. THE INVARIABLE SEQUEL-SUBJECT OF THE DEATH OF CHRIST - THE RESURRECTION - IS PREACHED BY PAUL. AS much as all the deepest traceable significance of the death of Christ tends to humble those to whom it is preached, as "the way of salvation," so much avails the significance of his resurrection to comfort and to raise them! The glory of glories for Christ, it is, and it is ever scripturally exhibited as, the joy of joys for the believer in Christ. These, then, were the great topics upon which Paul and his companions and other apostles were constantly insisting. Let it be explained as it may, these purport to be the message of Heaven to earth; let it be objected to as it may, nothing else comes in their place. The forces that lie hidden, yet scarcely hidden, in both of these are now at least testified by an unsurpassed mass and variety of practical and irrefutable evidence. Men's hearts have been softened, humbled, and won to the exercise of profoundest trust and firmest faith by the fact of the sufferings and death of Christ. Their highest nature has answered to the quickening influence of the clearly revealed and clearly exhibited fact of the Resurrection, and so far forth its correlative, immortality. The pride of man rarely finds its gain or its object in rejecting the latter, yet is it abundantly doubtful whether any man come to it rightly, much less come to it to the purest and truest advantage, except through that approach which Paul found so often "to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness," but to "some" others even at Thessalonica (ver. 4) "the power of God and the wisdom of God." - B.

And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them.
Notice —

I. THE CHIEF OBJECT OF CHRISTIAN FAITH. "Jesus" — Saviour from sin, and fear, and hell, through the power of His sacrifice, and the prevalence of His intercession. "Christ," anointed by the Eternal Spirit, and set apart to kingly, prophetic, priestly office forever. No redeemer for man can be imagined of a nobler type, of a fuller efficiency Granted that redemption is necessary, then we have no choice of persons. "There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." When the gospel began, Jesus Christ was the one object of faith, and He is so now. By no rearrangement of the materials of revelation, can you have a system of Christianity without Him. The central attractive power gone, the forces will strive with each other, and the motions will be incalculable. There is a throne; someone must sit on it. There is a gate; someone must stand at it to keep it open into the way that leadeth unto life. There is a peril towering high above all other dangers; we need someone to break it and roll it away, and there is no one but Christ. Never was demand more reasonable than this, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ."

II. THE MEANS USED TO PRODUCE FAITH ARE NOW THE SAME. Our apostle met them on the Sabbath day — the day of rest, when they frequented the synagogue, and "he reasoned with them out of the Scriptures." We, too, open the Scriptures as our book of authority. It is the duty of those who set forth God's mind in the Scriptures, to "reason" with men. The Greek word originally means to carry on an argument by way of dialogue. That was the apostolic method of serving Christ; not at all like that of putting on and off clothes, turning the back to the people, going up and down altar stairs. Different, too, from that of the strong doctrinal dogmatist, who asserts and does not "reason." To preach Christ is to "reason out of the Scriptures," and, in a secondary degree, out of the great book of human life and experience, and also out of the great book of material nature; but in any case it is to "reason," to lay out the matter as it seems to ourselves, to press it home upon all whom it concerns; to remonstrate, expostulate, entreat, and then to leave the issue with God.

III. ALONG WHAT LINE THE REASONING USUALLY WENT towards proving that Jesus is Christ. Paul "opened" the Scriptures, that is, brought out the hidden yet real meanings concerning the promised Messiah, and then "alleged" that the real Messiah must be a sufferer, and not a splendid Monarch attended with all kinds of visible success. But also a risen Lord, having power over death and life; and from all this came the conclusion that Jesus of Nazareth is Christ. Each age has its own thoughts and doubts; and the real preachers for any age are those who deal with its thoughts fairly, and dispel its doubts by light of truth and breath of love — but all this with a view to the manifestation and exaltation of Him in whom God is "well pleased," and to whom, in His "lifting up," all men will at length be drawn.

IV. THE FAITH IS THE SAME NOW AS THEN. The faith as a feeling, the conviction that is rooted in knowledge, and yet goes deeper than knowledge, that is founded on evidence, but which is itself evidence; for "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." "I know whom I have believed." Faith is produced by different means, but the precious result is the same faith — faith in Christ, the Sufferer, the Death-destroyer, the Life-giver, the Redeemer of all trusting men. The same feeling. Is this an objection or an offence? It is a great commendation of it. This common faith of the common heart is the historic something that continues through the ages. Systems of government and thought have been forming and vanishing away; civilisations have arisen and have perished; but here is a secret something which has been running along the ages, the line of which has been human hearts, the power of which has appeared resurgent, after all calamities, and which seems destined to run on to the end of time. "May I share in this feeling?" "Yes." "Then by God's grace I will!"

V. THE OUTWARD RESULT OF THIS FAITH IS THE SAME. "They were persuaded, and consorted with Paul and Silas," and with the other Christian people who were all drawn together by their common faith. Yet now there is rather a largo escape from this. The fish are in the net and held securely there, but somehow they do not get landed. Relievers are made, but somehow a good many of them do not consort, rather take pains, some of them, to let it be known that they do not. Many who really are believers in Christ, do not enter any Christian Church. But —

1. It must always be good to "consort" with good men.

2. It must always be good to be associated as closely as possible with a good cause, and Christianity is unquestionably the greatest cause in the world.

3. It must always be good to escape from an equivocal position. To believe in One for life and death, who is not confessed, whatever excuses and explanations may be given, must be more or less equivocal.

4. It must always be good to remove a little farther from danger; and the shelter, the nourishment, the inspiration of a Church is, as far as it goes, a real safety; it helps in many ways, it ought to hinder in none.

5. It must always be good to obey Divine commandment, and as a Church is a Divine institution, connection with a Church must be the fulfilment of a Divine obligation.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

This is quite an old world, and it is a long time since men and women began to try to find out how the great things in human life should be done, and how to make the best of everything. Many struggles, many failures, have no doubt, been experienced; but there has been, after all, a wonderful survival of the fittest, the best, on the whole. The result is, that there are very few really new things left for us to discover. For the most part, it is practically old things in a new dress — ancient patterns wrought out in modern forms. What wonder, then, if the modern Church of Christ should find her best example of work, and faith in the Church, ministers, and people, in the New Testament histories! I desire to call your attention now to Paul and his hearers, as giving to us a good example in these latter days.

I. We have an example of KEEPING THE SABBATH AND USING IT FOR DIVINE WORSHIP. "Paul, as his manner [custom] was, went in upon them," and joined in their worship. This worship of God springs out of the religious wants and instincts of the human soul; develops, strengthens, and perfects the aspirations of the soul in its following hard after God, things unseen and eternal. This we all much need. For six days in the week, the rule is, that our time and energies are centred in the struggle for existence and well being, amid things material and transient. It is hard work, too, to rule over the earth, and all that is therein, and have some true dominion over it, as, indeed, we ought to have. But when we have done that for six days, and the seventh day comes, and we rest from world ruling and training, as God rested from His world making — when this Sabbath of the Lord, this Sabbath made for man, has come, what are we to do with it, how use it? Paul and Silas, and the Jews, give us an example. Go to the synagogue, the meeting house, where God meets with His people, and they meet with Him. Go to the synagogue, where God is, and is worshipped by song, by prayer, by all reverent speech and thought, and so shall we attain principles and inspirations for godly living, which will give high, noble meaning, and resolute purpose to our entire lives.

II. We have an example of THE GENERAL OBJECT, ON WHICH OUR THOUGHTS SHOULD BE ESPECIALLY FIXED IN OUR SEASONS OF WORSHIP. It is God in Christ. God as revealed in Christ. Paul opened and alleged certain things concerning Christ. To him, Jesus Christ was God — God manifest in the flesh, in the form of a servant, and the fashion of a man. In Christ God was revealed in a new and wonderful form, uniting Himself with man as man, and lifting men up to a blessed union and fellowship with Himself. As a name, "Jesus the Christ" is the best translation of what God is to man, and for man. "Jesus" means "the Saviour," and there is an immensity of meaning in that when you consider the innumerable evils to body and soul for time, and in the far-off eternity, to which sinful men are deservedly and justly exposed. "The Christ" means "the anointed." Christ was set apart as Prophet to interpret and reveal the thoughts and love, and eternal purposes of God in the forms of human speech, life, suffering, and death — the form of a man, intelligible to all men everywhere. He was anointed — set apart as Priest — to appear in the presence of God for us, the sinful; and in the form of a man, through the Eternal Spirit, offer Himself in sacrifice for us, and obtain eternal redemption for us by His own blood. He was the anointed King, to rule over the new kingdom of grace and righteousness, to rule till all enemies to Him and to us shall be put under His foot.

III. We have an example of THE BEST MEANS OF FIXING OUR THOUGHTS ON CHRIST; securing clear conceptions concerning Him, and certitude of faith in Him. Paul "reasoned with them out of the Scriptures." Reason in man is the apex of his spiritual nature — the point at which he touches the infinite in God, and the infinite in God touches and enters into finite man. Man is rational, because he is spiritual in living relation to God, who is a Spirit. He reasoned with them; he appealed to them by facts, by illustrations, by arguments, by principles, that they might know, understand, and believe the truth which he had to proclaim as a rational message from Jesus Christ to them and to all men. He "reasoned with them out of the Scriptures." When we reason, we commence from things which are admitted as true in fact, or in principle, on both sides, and then proceed to show that something else must also be true, on the ground of what has been already admitted. Paul and his hearers had things believed in common. Gods Moses, the prophets, the Scriptures as the veracious history of God's thought and purpose in the past ages. He got the premises, grounds, foundations of his arguments, his syllogisms, in the records of God's thoughts and deeds, as he reasoned with them to prove that Jesus is the Christ, and that their instant duty was to believe on Him and obey Him as their Saviour King. So it must be still, from the sacred Scriptures, from human experience, that the true preacher must reason, and by reason and reasoning convince the gainsayers, convert the careless, and lead the inquirer to faith in the Lord Jesus.

IV. We have an example of WHAT THE RESULT SHOULD BE IN THOSE WHO ARE HEARERS OF THE GOSPEL TESTIMONY. "Some of them believed and consorted with Paul and Silas." They believed, that is, they were persuaded by Paul's reasonings from Scriptures, and from facts well known and supported by reasonable evidence. In faith their minds looked out and up and saw the real Christ — the Saviour, King — and began, like Paul, to "count all things but loss for Him." Precious faith! for it sees Christ, embraces Christ, and, as such, is the root principle of the new life. But having believed, you see, they consorted with Paul and Silas. Man is social. Our very nature compels us to consort with one another. The means of this are doubtless very various. But, this sorting out and consorting of different classes for different purposes, are the strongest, most lasting, when the assortment arises from one faith, one love, one hope, one final end. But those are all found in Christian men and women whose one master faith is God in Christ; whose one controlling master love is God; whose one master inspiration in the darkest hour is the eternal hope of glory; and whose final end is "to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever."

(Prof. Wm. Taylor.)

Our outward deportment becomes a matter of habit. When a man has become accustomed to any particular course, he cannot avoid acting upon it. Paul could no more have stayed away from the synagogue than he could have given up his food. So there ought to be a principle, made our own by custom, which shall absolutely lead us in the right way with a force which cannot be resisted. And this fact should especially remind us of the duty which we owe to those whom we have in charge. Habits imbibed in youth may affect the happiness and eternal welfare of the child. Observe the importance of —





V.The habit of LOOKING TO THE FUTURE RATHER THAN THE PRESENT — that is, of weighing every circumstance, every event, every trial, every sorrow, every prosperity, in the light of eternity.


S. S. Times.
It was Paul's custom —

I. TO GO TO CHURCH. He didn't drop in now and then "to hear the new minister," or remain away because it was "too pleasant to stay at home."

II. TO DO HIS PART when he went to church. There is no record of his declining to take a class in Sunday school because it interfered with the hour of his Sunday dinner.

III. When he went to church TO TALK AND THINK ABOUT CHRIST — and he probably found something more practical to do between services than to stand around the church doors and talk about the state of the crops.

IV. TO SPEAK OUT — and he didn't wait until he could find exactly what style of preaching would best suit the Church at Thessalonica, and shape his sermons accordingly.

V. TO SPEAK EVERYWHERE OF A SUFFERING SAVIOUR. It was Paul's custom to suffer anything for that Saviour; it was Paul's custom to make his creed and his deeds correspond.

(S. S. Times.)

Reasoned with them out of the Scriptures
There hath been an opinion too hastily taken up, and too warmly maintained by some, that reason is very little to be hearkened to in matters of religion; that we are to believe nothing but what is expressly taught us in the Word of God, and that we are not to draw consequences from Scripture, and to make them the articles of our faith, but most strictly confine ourselves to the very language of Holy Writ, and admit of no doctrines but what are there in so many words and syllables delivered. Now, true it is that the Scriptures are the adequate rule of our faith; but then it is not also true, nor by us confessed, that nothing is to be looked upon as taught us in Scripture but what is there in so many words delivered. It is the doctrine of our Church that "the Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to our salvation; so that nothing is to be required of any man to be believed as an article of faith, which is not read therein, or which may not be proved thereby." This disjunction would be unnecessary if there were not some things which, though they are not read therein, may yet be proved thereby. What is rightly inferred from the Scriptures doth as much challenge our assent as what is literally delivered in the Scriptures.

I. I AM TO PROVE THIS DOCTRINE FROM THE AUTHORITY AND EXAMPLE OF CHRIST AND HIS APOSTLES. Christ and His apostles often make use of reasoning, both for the establishment of those truths which they taught, and for the confutation of those errors which they opposed. When the tempter took up our Saviour "into an exceeding high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them," etc. (Matthew 4:8, 9; Deuteronomy 6:13; Deuteronomy 5:16). Now these reasonings of our Saviour against His worshipping Satan, and throwing Himself down, are inconclusive if we may not argue from Scripture, and if we must admit of nothing as taught therein which is not there set down in express words, since neither is it said in the former of these texts, that Satan is not to be worshipped, nor in the latter that Christ might not throw Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple. When the Sadducees put captious questions to our Saviour about the resurrection of the dead, He showed the weakness of their objections against it by proving to them that the doctrine by them opposed was taught by Moses, whose authority they did not, and could not, dispute (Matthew 22:31, 32). But if those who are against all reasoning from Scripture, who will admit of nothing but what is directly therein contained, had been in the place of the Sadducees, they would not so easily have yielded to our Saviour's argument; they would have rejected this testimony from Moses as not direct, and would have required a more formal and plain proof. The apostles, in their writings, follow the steps of their Lord and Master, and prove the truths of the gospel against the Jews, who gainsayed them, not from any passages in the Old Testament in which the gospel truths are expressly and in so many words laid down, but by arguments and reasons drawn from the writings of Moses and the prophets. Thus St. Peter (Acts 3:22) proves the coming of Christ from those words of Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15), and His resurrection (Acts 2:27) from that place of the Psalms (Psalm 10:10). After the same manner St. Paul (Romans 4:7) proves that we are justified, not by the law, but by grace, from those words of the Psalmist (Psalm 32:1). He proves (Romans 9:33) the rejection of the Jews from the prophecy of Isaiah. (Isaiah 28:16), and the vocation of the Gentiles (Romans 9:25), from Hosea's having brought in God, saying (Hosea 2:23). This way of arguing he at all times, and in all parts of his writings, makes use of; from those truths which are expressly read in Scripture, by the laws of reasoning he infers other doctrines which are not there formerly read, but which do from them follow, and are therefore in them virtually contained. Now it is evident, and on all hands acknowledged, that this assertion, "Jesus is the Christ," is nowhere laid down in these very words throughout the writings of the Old Testament. Moses and the Prophets do indeed bear witness to Him, but in the testimony they give they nowhere formally declare that Jesus is the Christ. How, then, could the apostles demonstrate this proposition from their writings? Do they not refer us to such passages in the prophets from whence this doctrine, which is not in express words asserted, is by right reasoning regularly deduced? From the several parts of the Old Testament, compared one with another, they form the character of the Messiah, and then they prove that this character did truly belong to that Jesus whom they affirmed to be the Messiah. This method of proving St. Luke has expressed in very proper and apposite words, when he tells us that St. Paul "reasoned out of the Scriptures, opening and alleging." The apostle first opened to them the sense of the prophets, explained their words, and when he had thus shown what their scope was, he did then apply the prophesies thus explained to the person, doctrine, and works of Jesus; he compared the predictions with the events, the shadows with the bodies, the figures with the things prefigured; so that by this method the truth of the gospel which they preached was irrefragably demonstrated. Since, therefore, this way of arguing was made use of by Christ and His apostles, we must acknowledge that those things are rightly proved out of Scripture which do evidently follow from the doctrines taught in Scripture, though they are not in so many words anywhere to be found in the Word of God. And as we have the example of Christ and His apostles warranting us, so we have their commands enjoining us to make use of this method of reasoning. Our Saviour bids the Jews (John 5:39) to search the Scriptures, not barely to consult them, but to compare them; not only to find what they expressly, but what they implicitly taught; not only to read what was plainly said in them, but to discover what might manifestly be deduced from them. The Holy Scriptures would not be so perfect a rule of faith or manners, of what we ought to believe and do, as they are if we were left to judge of either only by what we are there in so many words expressly taught, and might not use our own reasons to infer from them some necessary truths, and some important duties which are there, though not in terms delivered. He would be thought very ridiculous who should plead his being under no obligation from the Scripture to obey the lawful commands of a sovereign princess, because, though he is there required to honour the king, he nowhere reads that he is to honour the queen, and that man is equally absurd who hath no better reason for the denial of a Trinity than that he nowhere finds She word "Trinity" in the Scriptures, though the doctrine by that word signified is therein contained.

II. BUT AGAINST WHAT HATH BEEN DELIVERED IT MAY BE URGED that if we thus give a firm assent to any truths which are not plainly and expressly taught in Scripture, but are only inferred from thence by our own reason, THEN WE MAKE OUR FAITH TO DEPEND, NOT UPON THE WORD OF GOD, BUT UPON OUR OWN REASON. But it might as well be urged that when St. Paul sayeth (Romans 10:17) that "faith cometh by hearing," we make our faith to depend, not upon the testimony of God, but upon the sense of hearing. The ear is that organ or instrument by which we perceive the Word of God preached to us; but the authority of God is that ground or reason upon which we believe the Word of God which we hear. So our reason, or our understanding, is that faculty by which we perceive and know what things are taught us in Scripture: by that we understand the sense and meaning of what is there revealed; but it is the authority of God, who inspired the penmen of Holy Writ, and who by the guidance of this Holy Spirit secured them from error, upon which we found our belief of what, by the use of our reason, we discover to be by them taught. Those who ascribe thus much and no more than this to reason demand only the liberty of opening their own eyes, and of seeing the wonderful things of God's law; they do not pretend that it is given to them to reveal any new truths to mankind, nor do they usurp an unwarrantable power of framing new articles of faith. All that they demand or ask is, that the right of making use of their own faculties, which is given to everyone by nature, and by the God of nature, may not be denied to them. There is no need that a man should be a prophet, or that he should have any extraordinary capacities of mind, or illuminations of the Spirit, to understand that the same Scriptures which teach him that all men have sinned do consequentially teach him that he is a sinner, or that the Word of God, which doth expressly deny that any "shall perish who believe in Christ," doth at the same time virtually pronounce that if he believes he shall not perish. But those who are against all reasoning from Scripture will again ask how can we be sure that the consequences which we draw from Scripture are just and regular? For may not our reason misguide us? And may we not, through mistake, infer such doctrines from Scripture which do by no means follow from it? And if we may be mistaken, why should we venture to believe anything which we think follows from Scripture, but which after all perhaps does not follow? Now, if this reasoning is good, there is an end of all certainty, not only in those inferences which are made from Scripture, and which are levelled against by this sort of arguing, but also in those things which are plainly and expressly taught in Scripture. Men have been mistaken in their judgments concerning things formally delivered in the Word of God. But will it not be said that, if there is any occasion for our drawing inferences from Scripture, then it is plain that the Scriptures are not so easy and clear as they are by the Protestants generally said to be? If we must not only believe what we read in Scripture, but what can be proved from thence, then none will be able to know what is taught in Scripture but such as have skill in drawing consequences; and at this rate we must be skilled in logic before we can pretend to "understand the Scriptures." To this I answer that those are very much mistaken who think that we, who maintain the perspicuity of the Scriptures, do assert them to be so easy, as that there should be no use of our rational faculties rightly to understand them. What St. Peter (2 Peter 3:16) saith of the Epistles of St. Paul, we believe of other parts of Holy Writ, that "there are some things in them hard to be understood," and we do not contend that everything therein delivered is suited to the apprehensions of all readers, but only that those things, which all are indispensably bound to know for their soul's health, are by all, upon the use of due diligence, intelligible. And even as to those truths which are necessarily to be known in order to our everlasting salvation, we do not affirm that wherever they are delivered in Scripture they are expressed in such terms as to leave no room for a mistake; but that somewhere or other in Holy Writ, they are so expressed that it must be our own fault if we do not rightly apprehend them. We believe, for instance, that the incarnation of Christ, His passion, and resurrection are taught by the prophets as well as by the apostles; but we do not believe that they are so explicitly and fully revealed by the prophets as by the apostles. What is obscurely hinted in the Old Testament is manifestly explained in the New. And when we affirm that the Scriptures are in some points thus intelligible by all Christians, we do not pretend that they may be understood without attention, diligence, and inquiry; but that we may be capable of knowing their sense with the use of these, and other proper methods of gaining instruction. Some truths indeed are written in so large characters that he that runs may read them; but for the discovery of other truths revealed in Scripture, the words by which they are conveyed to our understandings are to be carefully weighed, the sense of them to be nicely and accurately inquired into; all passions and prejudices that may any ways bias our judgments are to be laid aside. In the understanding of such truths as these, there being more room for mistake, there is more occasion for our caution, and the way which we are to go being more intricate, it will be proper for us to take in the assistance of a guide. What of ourselves we could not discover, we may be able to perceive when discovered to us by others, in which case we do not implicitly follow the judgment of those whom we consult, but have our own judgments informed by theirs; we do not see with other men's eyes, but those truths which before were obscure to us, are by others, of greater penetration than ourselves, placed in so clear a light that we may now plainly perceive them with our own eyes; we do not in such a ease follow our instructors, as blind men do their guides, trusting to their guidance without seeing which way they go; but we make such use of them as persons in the dark do of those who carry a light before them to show them the way and to direct their paths.

(Bp. Smalridge.)

I. PAUL USUALLY PROVED THE TRUTH OF THE DOCTRINES WHICH HE TAUGHT. He did not desire his hearers to believe without evidence. He commended the Bereans, for searching the Scriptures, to see whether his doctrines were agreeable to that standard. In order to reason clearly upon the truth of a proposition, it is often necessary to explain it, to produce arguments in support of it, to answer objections against it. By Paul's proving the doctrines which he taught, we are to understand his reasoning upon them in this manner. This will appear in respect to a variety of subjects upon which he preached. He reasoned plainly and forcibly upon —

1. The existence of God (vers. 23-29; Romans 1:20).

2. The Divine sovereignty (Romans 9).

3. Total depravity (Romans 2:3).

4. Here it was Christ's sufferings, death, and resurrection.

5. The resurrection and future state (1 Corinthians 15).When Paul preached before Felix, "he reasoned" so that "Felix trembled." Immediately after he was converted he preached Christ, and reasoned so that he confounded the Jews. After he came to Corinth he "reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks." At length he came to Ephesus, where he reasoned with the Jews, "disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God."


1. Because he meant to preach the gospel intelligibly to persons of all characters and capacities, and he knew that in order to do this it was necessary to explain its doctrines, to prove them to be true, that they might be believed; and to answer objections, that the mouths of gainsayers might be stopped.

2. Because he meant to preach profitably, as well as plainly. It is only through the medium of the understanding and the conscience that preachers can affect the hearts of the hearers.IMPROVEMENT:

1. It appears from Paul's usual mode of preaching that he was a metaphysical preacher. For, in the first place, he usually preached upon metaphysical subjects, which required the exercise of the highest reasoning powers of man — the existence, the perfections, the sovereignty of God, the free agency of man under a Divine agency, the divinity and atonement of Christ, the nature of holiness, etc., etc.; and he preached upon them metaphysically, that is, he reasoned upon them. He did not merely declaim upon them; but he explained them, proved them, and refuted the most plausible objections ever made against them. Let any minister, at this day, commonly preach upon the same subjects, and in the same manner that Paul did, and he will be called a metaphysical preacher, by those who are pleased with such a different mode of preaching. And we must allow that they are perfectly correct.

2. If Paul preached in such a manner, then none have any good reason to speak reproachfully of his manner of preaching.(1) Some may say that Christ did not preach metaphysically, but only taught plain, practical doctrines, without reasoning upon them; and therefore ministers should follow his example. Answer: There is reason to think that Paul felt his obligation to follow the example of Christ, as much as any preacher ever did. And so far as he deviated from Christ's example in preaching, he acted from pure and proper motives. And it is easy to see a good reason why Christ did not undertake to prove the doctrines He taught, for He taught as one having authority that none ought to dispute. But neither Paul nor any other human preacher is clothed with such authority.(2) Some may say that those who preach upon the same subjects in the same manner that Paul did, do not preach plainly and practically; and therefore are unprofitable preachers. But if Paul was a plain and profitable preacher, why should not those be? And who indeed, generally preach the most plainly and successfully? No man ever preached like metaphysical Paul.

3. If Paul, for good reasons, adopted the very best mode, then no other reason can be assigned for disliking it, but a dislike to the doctrines, which his mode of preaching exhibits in the clearest and strongest light.

4. If Paul preached plainly, in order to preach profitably, then other ministers ought to preach plainly, for the same purpose. Paul's plain preaching offended and disaffected many of his hearers. But this did not prevent his preaching plainly; for his design in preaching was not to please men, but to profit them, and please God (Galatians 1:6-10).

5. If ministers ought to preach plainly and profitably, as Paul did, then people ought to approve of their preaching in such a manner, though it be not pleasing to their natural hearts. People have no right to desire preachers to seek to please them simply, but they ought to desire them to seek to save them.

(N. Emmons, D. D.)

Opening and alleging
He treated it as a nut. He broke the shell, opened out the kernel, and presented it as food to the hungry. The Jews were like little children who had a fruit tree in their garden, their father's legacy. The children had gathered the nuts as they grew, and laid them up with reverence in a storehouse; but they knew not how to break open the shell, and so reach the kernel for food. Paul acts the part of elder brother to their little ones. He skilfully pierces the crust and extracts the fruit, and divides it among them. The passage, e.g., that Philip found the Ethiopian reading on the road, or the second psalm, he opened, and from it brought Christ.

(W. Arnot, D. D.)

Devout Greeks,...chief women,...Jews which believed not
The inveterate obstinacy of the Jews contrasted sadly with the ready conversion of the Gentiles, and especially of women, who in all ages have been more remarkable than men for religious earnestness, is a phenomenon which constantly recurs in the early history of Christianity. Nor is this wholly to be wondered at. The Jew was at least in possession of a religion which raised him to a height of moral superiority above his Gentile contemporaries; but the Gentile of this day had no religion at all worth speaking of. If the Jew had more and more mistaken the shell of ceremonialism for the precious truths of which that ceremonialism was but the integument, he was at least conscious that there were deep truths which lay enshrined behind the observances which he so fanatically cherished. But on what deep truths could the Greek woman rest, if her life were pure, and her thoughts elevated above the ignorant domesticism which was the only recognised virtue of her sex? What comfort was there for her in the cold grey eyes of Athene, or the stereotyped smile of the voluptuous Aphrodite? And when the Thessalonian Greek raised his eyes to the dispeopled heaven of the Olympus, which towered over the blue gulf on which his city stood — when his imagination could no longer place the throne of Zeus, and the session of his mighty deities, on that dazzling summit where Cicero had remarked with pathetic irony that he saw nothing but snow and ice — what compensation could he find for the void left in his heart by a dead religion? By adopting circumcision he might become, as it were, a Helot of Judaism; and to such a sacrifice he was not tempted. But the gospel which Paul preached had no esoteric doctrines, and no supercilious exclusions, and no repellent ceremonials; it came with a Divine Example, and a free gift to all, and that free gift involved all that was most precious to the troubled and despondent soul. No wonder, then, that the Church at Thessalonica was mainly Gentile, as is proved by 1 Thessalonians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 2:14, and by the total absence of any Old Testament allusion in both Epistles.

(Archdeacon Farrar.)

But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy.
Alas! for this spirit of envy and jealousy coming down through the ages. Cain and Abel, Esau and Jacob, Saul and David, Haman and Mordecai, Othello and Iago, Orlando and Angelica, Caligula and Torquatus, Caesar and Pompey, Columbus and the Spanish courtiers, Cambyses and the brother he slew because he was a better marksman, Dionysius and Philoxenius whom he slew because he was a better singer. Jealousy among painters. Closterman and Geoffrey Kneller, Hudson and Reynolds. Francis anxious to see a picture of Raphael, Raphael sends him a picture. Francis, seeing it, falls in a fit of jealousy, from which he dies. Jealousy among authors. How seldom contemporaries speak of each other! Xenophon and Plato living at the same time, but from their writings you would never suppose they had heard of each other. Religious jealousies. The Mohammedans praying for rain during a drought, no rain coming. Then the Christians began to pray for rain, and the rain comes. Then the Mohammedans met together to account for this, and they resolved that God was so well pleased with their prayers He kept the drought on so as to keep them praying; but that the Christians began to pray, and the Lord was so disgusted with their prayer that He sent rain right away, so He would not hear any more of their supplication! Oh! this accursed spirit of envy and jealousy. Let us stamp it out from all our hearts. A wrestler was so envious of Theagenes, the prince of wrestlers, that he could not be consoled in any way, and after Theagenes died and a statue was lifted to him in a public place, his envious antagonist went out every night and wrestled with the statue, until, one night, he threw it, and it fell on him and crushed him to death. So jealousy is not only absurd, but it is killing to the body, and it is killing to the soul.

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

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