Acts 19:24
The introduction should concern the temple, statue, and worship of the goddess Diana; the reputation in which this goddess was held; the numbers of persons who visited her shrine; the various opportunities afforded by this fact for making money; and the fears which were created by the act of self-sacrifice in burning the magical books. "The shrines were miniature models of the temple, containing a representation of the statue of the goddess," and they were chiefly made for the visitors to take away as memorials of their visit. "There was a sacred month at Ephesus - the month of Diana - when a great religious gathering took place to celebrate the public games in honor of the goddess. It was the pleasant month of May. Trade was brisk then at Ephesus, not only from the large temporary increase of population, by the presence of provincials, and strangers from more distant parts, but from the purchases they made in the shops and markets. Among the tradesmen of Ephesus, there were none who depended more upon the business of this month than did makers and dealers in holy trinkets." "In the sacred month of the third year of St. Paul's stay in Ephesus, the makers of the ' silver shrines' found, to their consternation, that the demand for their commodity had so materially fallen off as most seriously to affect their interests. Upon this one of the leading men of their guild convened a meeting of their craft, and, in an inflammatory speech, pointed out Paul as the person who, by his preaching that there were 'no gods made with hands,' had not only produced this crisis in the trade, but had endangered their glorious temple, and imperiled that magnificence which the world admired." Kitto well says, "Here we witness a carious, but not unparalleled, union of the 'great goddess Diana' with the great god Self, whose worship still exists, though that of Diana is extinct." This brings out the point which seems to have practical interest for us, which we have suggested in our heading. Self-interest opposes

(1) vital religion;

(2) earnestness in Christ's services; and

(3) the very progress of Christianity. We observe -

I. CHRISTIANITY IS A LATE. It is a Divine inward renewal; it is a new creation; it is an impartation of Divine life; it is not, primarily, an interference with social evils, or any endeavor to set the world's wrong right. St. Paul preached the Christian truth, and bade men seek Christ for themselves, that "they might have life;" but we have no reason whatever for supposing that he attacked the shrine-makers, or even made any peril for himself by arguing against the claims of Diana. The power of Christianity still lies in the change which it works in each individual, the regeneration of the man, his possession of a new life. Christian teachers must deal afterwards with the relations between the Christian life and the family and society; but the Christian preacher comes first and declares that "God hath given unto us eternal life, and this life is in his son: he that hath the Son hath life."

II. CHRISTIANITY IS SURE TO EXERT A SOCIAL INFLUENCE. It comes to save souls; but the action of the renewed cannot fail to tell on social life, bringing in a new set of sentiments and habits, and steadfastly resisting some of the older ones. Illustrations may be found in connection with slavery. Christianity makes no plea against it, and yet, when men become Christians, they are sure to feel the evil of slavery, and are ready to resist it, as a social custom, even at a great sacrifice. So with war. At Ephesus no word need have been spoken about the superstitious use of charms and amulets; but when the Ephesians accepted Christ as their Savior, a social sentiment against these superstitions would speedily be raised. The one all-effectual counteractive to social and moral evils is strong, vigorous, noble Christian life; and just this the world so greatly needs today.

III. CHRISTIANITY, IN EXERTING ITS SOCIAL INFLUENCE, IS SURE TO BEAR HEAVILY ON SOME. It did on the shrine-makers of Ephesus; it has done on slaveholders in England and America; it does on drink-sellers, and on all whose trade is in any form immoral: it does on those who would make personal gain out of the superstitions and fears of the people; it does on those who proclaim skeptical and infidel ideas.

IV. THE INTENSEST OPPOSITION TO CHRISTIANITY IS AROUSED WHERE SELF-INTEREST IS AFFECTED. Men may feel more deeply when they are touched in their emotions, but they make more immediate and active show of their feelings when they are affected in their self-interests. And, on the ground of such self-interest, combinations of men are easily made to resist a truth or a reform. Show how this finds application in these our own milder times. Spiritual Christianity finds itself affecting men's purely worldly interests nowadays. Many a man wages a great fight with himself ere he lets his piety master his very trade; and wins a willingness to sacrifice golden opportunities of advancement and wealth, rather than lose his soul's eternal life. And there are modern illustrations of the way in which men, whose self-interest is touched, will combine to resist revival and reformation. In so many forms the principle laid down by our Lord finds ever fresh illustration: "Ye cannot serve God and mammon." Remarking on the deceptions which lead men to combine against established order or new truth, Bode names the following: -

1. One pretends to high aims, and is influenced by the grossest selfishness.

2. One thinks himself free to act, and is the involuntary instrument of crafty seducers.

3. One values himself as enlightened, and commits the most unreasonable acts of folly.

4. One prides himself that he contends for the right, and perpetrates the most unrighteous deeds of violence.

5. One is filled with extravagant expectations, and in the end gains nothing. - R.T.

A certain man named Demetrius.
The application of these words to present day life is a task that might be assigned to a child. Demetrius never dies; his word is to be heard in every tongue; he is present in great force in every Church, as representing two special phases of life. With the subtlety of selfishness he puts the case with comical adroitness. He knows the value of a little piety. If it were a mere matter of trade, he could have lifted his noble self above all market place considerations, but "that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised" was the thought that afflicted his pious heart.

I. WHAT WAS THE REALITY OF THE CASE FROM THE FIRST POINT OF VIEW? Trade was injured. If Paul had preached abstract ideas, Demetrius would have made shrines for him if he had ordered them, but a preacher that thunders upon immediate iniquity may get himself into trouble. Modern preachers might preach a whole year upon the evils of intemperance, but if those who deal in strong drink were to find their takings going down the preacher would soon hear of the circumstance. You may circulate what books you please, but if the literature that is eating out the morality of our young people is arrested in its baleful progress, then you will be caricatured, contemned, laughed at. Rejoice when such persecution befalls you. It is a sign of true success. Demetrius will not fail to let you know how your work is going on. But press on — another stroke, another rush, and down goes Demetrius, and all his progeny fall into the pit to keep him profitless company. What bad journal have you, as a Christian Church, ever shut up? What place of iniquitous business have you ever bought and washed, and within its unholy walls set up the altar of Christ? Where do you follow and outbid Demetrius, driving him back? We are afraid to build churches too near one another; we study one another's feelings about that. Show me the thoroughfare in any great city in which Christian churches have pushed back evil institutions — back to the river's edge, and into the river, if possible. To see such a city would be to see the beginning of heaven.

II. THE NEXT PHASE OF THE CASE AS PUT BY DEMETRIUS IS INFINITELY MORE HUMILIATING. The temple of the great goddess Diana is in danger. That particular phase of the situation is best represented by the words "a religious panic." The temple was in danger. That is the language of today. If it is a temple that can be put in danger, it is a temple made with hands, and must go down. Hear the great challenge of the Master: "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." What panics we have seen! As if truth could ever be in danger! Some time ago a number of highly learned men issued a volume entitled "Essays and Reviews." It was the doom of Christianity! And yet Christianity has gone forward on her beneficent career without ever having bought a copy of the volume that some people earnestly thought was to have taken her life. We ought to have a religion that cannot be put in danger. If our religion is an affair of letters, forms, dates, autographs, then I do not wonder that our cabinet is sometimes broken into. I do not keep my religion in a museum, or lock it up in an iron safe; my conception of God no man can break through nor steal. You cannot take my Bible from me; if you could prove that the Apostle John wrote the Pentateuch, and that Moses wrote the Apocalypse, and that the Apocalypse should come in the middle of the Bible, you have not touched what I hold to be the revelation of God to the human heart. What we, as the common people, have to be sure about is, that God has sent great messages of law and love and light and life to everyone of us; that God's revelations do not depend upon changing grammars, but upon an inward, spiritual consciousness and holy sympathy. Whose insight is not intellectual but moral — the purity of heart which sees God. The Bible speaks to my own heart as no other book speaks. It proves its own inspiration by its grasp of human life, by its answers to human need. The town clerk laid down the principle that ought to guide us (ver. 36). The brevity of life, the certainty of death, the reality of sin, the present hell that burns me, the need of a Saviour — these things cannot be "spoken against"; therefore, those of us who feel them to be true "ought to be quiet."

(J. Parker, D. D.)

1. Men have talked a great deal about the toleration of Rome and of ancient civilised nations as compared with the intolerance of Christian nations and times. Wherever, in ancient or modern times, men preach truths adverse to the current truths in such a way that they are kept high above men's heads they can preach them as long as they please. Paul might have discussed the abstract questions of religion and the various questions of idols and idolaters to the end of his life, and no Demetrius would have risen up. It was not until the truth he preached found an application to men that his preaching became offensive; and indeed all great truths do reach down, finally, to men's private and business life. I will defy any man to preach any great salient moral truth thoroughly and not find himself meddling with questions which concern courts, merchants, statesmen, politicians. When, therefore, it is said, e.g., "These ministers have no right to meddle with political questions," it is saying that ministers may preach truths as long as they do not hit anywhere, but that when they have carried them out in such a way that they take hold of men's interests, and so begin to be practical, then they must stop, because they have no right to preach politics!

2. Paul had no conception of what he was doing. He was preaching Christ fearlessly, freely. He had no idea of the existence of Demetrius, and did not dream that he was hurting anybody. And yet you see what were the ramifications of moral truth, and how, as the result of Paul's preaching, there uprose this Demetrius and his craftsmen. It bore testimony against them. And so long as the world stands faithful preaching will not only do what the preacher aims to do, but a great deal more. It will reach men that he never thought of and interests that he never contemplated. Truth may be handled with unnecessary offence, without a wise regard to times and seasons. There is such a way of preaching that under favourable circumstances we can sometimes persuade men to hear the truth against their interests. But, on the whole, there is no way in which you can so preach the truth that it will destroy men's interests, and have them remain peaceable, and like it. That was what our Master meant when He said, "I came not to send peace, but sword." He knew that men who live by pampering superstitions and evil passions would not consent to be purified without a struggle. Satan, either in man or in society, is neither to. be bound or cast out, except there be a mighty power over against him.

3. You will therefore say that this Demetrius was a very bad man. But was he? Remember, first, that he knew no religion but heathenism, and that he supposed that to be the best religion there was in the world. Remember, too, that he occupied the same relation to his religion that the Tract Society does to ours. The latter makes shrines — little books representing their notions of religion. And Demetrius probably said to himself, "It is better for the people to stick to their religion; and what if making their shrines is profitable to me, I am working at a religious business. And as our religion is associated with our country, I am making men not only religious, but patriotic." Here was a Jew, that was not born in Asia, but away off in Palestine, and was setting forth a strange God; and Demetrius felt everything in him rise up in indignation. But it is very evident that his feeling of self-interest was strongest. He was not a good man, and yet he was not an extremely bad man. He was just like men that you see every day. There is nothing more common than for men to hang one motive outside where it can be seen and keep the others in the background to turn the machinery.

4. From this narrative we may derive the principle that moral truth is of transcendently more value than all the material interests, order, or peace of society. There is an impression that the gospel is such a soothing syrup that if a preacher knows his business men going to hear him will be made very peaceable and happy, and will go away feeling very good. If, on the other hand, a man disturbs the community, it is thought that these results are prima facie evidence that he is not a true preacher of the gospel; and it has passed into a byword — we see it in all the fifth-rate newspapers and hear it from the lips of pot house politicians — that ministers ought to be "followers of the meek and lowly Jesus," and that they "go beyond their sphere" when they preach so as to disturb anybody. But hear again our Saviour's words: "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth," etc. If you go home, saying, "I must follow the Lord," and everybody in the household says, "We are following Mammon, or Pleasure," it is for you to stand by your higher light; and you will give offence. Nevertheless, you must be firm. If the father and mother will worship Baal, and the child would worship Jehovah, the child must not yield; and if there be quarrelling, it is not the child's fault.

(H. W. Beecher.)

A man may work a great evil, and yet himself not be a great man. Demetrius has no history. He raised the town that day, not by any powers of mind or heart, but simply by the explosive force of those depraved and selfish passions to which he appealed. Anybody can do that; and then, when the popular violence is aroused, he can imagine himself a chieftain or a hero.

(G. S. Robinson, D. D.)

I. UNDISTURBED. Nothing in Ephesus was more thrifty and well behaved. It asked nothing of the gospel except to be left alone. Shrine making was a perfectly "legitimate business." It combined religion with art. It was patriotic, for it made Ephesus renowned. It was in a "healthy condition." The liquor traffic could not have been more quiet, nor newspapers more up to the times. The business was harmonious within. Capital and labour had no quarrel. Demetrius and Co. were no enemies of the working classes, for they brought much gain to the craftsmen.

II. ALARMED. Learn now —

1. How sensitive it is. Covetousness in the abstract preachers may assail with perfect impunity, but business is a different thing.

2. How energetic.

3. How cruel. The idolatry is condemned of God and is the death of souls; but what of that? Mere sentiment. "By this we have our wealth."

4. How hypocritical. Under the garb of zeal for religion.


1. By its own blunders. It has a majority, but no case. It makes the mistake of trying to put down truth by brawling. Another blunder was falsehood.

2. Through its dangerous drift. There is nothing truly conservative but truth and righteousness. Covetousness in trade or politics will sooner or later upheave society. Here it "filled the whole city with confusion." It will jeopardise any public interest to save its gold.

3. Through the power of simple truth and goodness. The mayor of the city sees through it all.

(A. Mitchell, D. D.)

Idolatry is renunciation of the one God and degradation to men. But there are men now who will defend and combine to protect the traffic in intoxicating liquors, in adulterating with poisons the food of the people, in stock gambling, in lotteries, in the circulation of obscene books and pictures, in many methods which are forbidden by God and are demoralising and destructive to mankind. Now, all these modes of money making are opposed by the whole spirit of Christ's precepts, and just so far as Christian principles prevail in a country, these kinds of business must be subverted. The classes of men who would rather make money than obey God will resist and clamour and combine against any efforts that may be made to popularise the spirit and purity of gospel principles. They will even become quite religious, as did these image makers of Ephesus, in pleading for liberty to selfishness and in defence of vested rights. They would rather worship Diana and her images than Jesus Christ and His beneficences if the former would permit and the latter would forbid money making by wronging and debasing their fellow men. So we have in this lesson some very important practical teachings for our own age.

(H. C. Trumbull, D. D.)

1. One pretends to high aims, and is influenced by the grossest selfishness.

2. One thinks himself free to act, and is the involuntary instrument of crafty seducers.

3. One values himself as enlightened, and commits acts the most foolish.

4. One prides himself that he contends for the right, and perpetrates the most unrighteous deeds of violence.

5. One is filled with extravagant expectations, and in the end gains nothing.

S. S. Times.
1. If Demetrius makes silver images and Paul preaches against idolatry, there is bound to be a struggle between them.

2. If he can summon a few congenial spirits — craftsmen who work very little with their hands and very much with their mouths — the struggle may grow to an uproar.

3. If he and his congenial spirits can get the attention of the city rabble, the uproar may attain to the dignity of a riot.

4. If he and his companions can disguise the denton of selfishness by calling it "the goddess Diana," or "Public Worship," or the "Cause of Justice," they will invitably do so.

5. If he, the demagogue, makes a speech, he usually manufactures his facts to order. The idea of "all Asia and the world" worshipping Diana!

(S. S. Times.)

S. S. Times.
When the mob —

1. Rushes out to wreak its vengeance on somebody, it usually catches the wrong man.

2. Can agree on a common cry, the riotous element is much strengthened.

3. Is thoroughly, wildly, unreasonably mad, it is a needless risk for Paul to go in unto them.

4. Howls the loudest, its members usually have the least possible idea what they are howling about.

5. Knows why it comes together, it is wiser than most mobs are.

6. Finds out that Alexander is a Jew, or for any other reason is unpopular, his eloquence is useless.

7. Has spent two or three hours in yelling itself hoarse, then there may possibly be a chance for the town clerk or somebody else to make himself heard.

(S. S. Times.)

S. S. Times.
1. Happy the city with so able an official as the town clerk of Ephesus.

2. Wise the advice that urges the angry multitude to do nothing rashly.

3. Shrewd the counsel that reminds the mob of the law whose place it is usurping.

4. Keen the insight that sees just when to read the Riot Act to the crowd.

5. Admirable the judgment that can tell when to work on the people's fears.

(S. S. Times.)

I. BORE BRAVE TESTIMONY TO THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL. Had the work of Paul been confined to a few, or only reached the heads and not the hearts of many in Ephesus, Demetrius would have paid no attention to it. The offence lay in the fact that it had gained power, and was pushing the old faith to the wall. So in our day. When liquordealers rally, and policy shop holders amalgamate, it is because righteousness is beginning to make itself felt.

II. WAS ROOTED IN SELFISHNESS. In this case the selfishness was pecuniary. In other cases it was political; in others yet it was ecclesiastical. So today.

III. WAS FOSTERED BY FALSE ARGUMENTS. "The temple of the great goddess Diana is to be despised." Had they stopped to investigate the matter, they would have found that the apostle would have substituted in the place of an idol the only living and true God, and in the place of filth and lust would have put purity and virtue; and that surely would have been better. But when the purse was threatened they were blind to all else, and bolstered up their cause as best they might with poor arguments. So it is yet. Rum sellers cry "fanaticism" and extol "personal liberty." Infidels decry Sunday laws, pleading "liberty of conscience" for all. But, as in Paul's time, the motive is selfishness and the argument hypocritical.

IV. PROCEEDS TO VIOLENCE. This spirit, modified, is what underlies all petty persecutions. If we are not ready to succumb to evil, it turns on us, and delights to inflict pain by look, by word, by deed.

V. IN NO WAY INJURED CHRISTIANITY. No blood was shed. But if it had Christianity would not have been injured. "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." A persecuted Church is far more alive in true heroic virtue than a rich Church. No opposition of evil men today, however they may band themselves together, can truly hinder the progress of Christ's Church.

(A. F. Schauffler.)

I. OPPOSITION TO THE GOSPEL HAS PROCEEDED FROM THE BAD PASSIONS OF MEN — from avarice, ambition, love of earthly pleasures. This uproar was excited by mercenary artificers, who worshipped no god with so much ardour as the god of riches. Such opposition reflects honour upon Christianity. Had it been a human contrivance, it would have been adapted, like other impostures, to the corrupt inclinations of mankind. The enemies of our religion, in order to justify their opposition, have brought many false accusations against it. But it cannot be justly charged with disturbing the peace of society, which it secures by impressing upon the heart the purest lessons of morality. It cannot be charged with impairing domestic happiness, since it establishes the empire of love. It cannot be charged with impeding the business and the duties of life, for it teaches us to acquit ourselves with fidelity in every relation. What, then, is the evil which it has done? It has abolished certain institutions which originated in the cruelty and licentiousness of mankind; it has overthrown establishments under which imposture flourished; it has restrained vices which were the sources of private gratification and public misery.

II. THE SACRED NAME OF RELIGION HAS BEEN PROSTITUTED TO SERVE THE MOST INFAMOUS PURPOSES. It was the pretext under which Demetrius and his accomplices concealed their design to secure the gain which they derived from the folly and delusion of their countrymen. In the name of religion conquerors have desolated the earth, persecutors have committed unnatural cruelties, Churches have corrupted the doctrines and institutions of the gospel, repealed the ordinances of Heaven, imposed their own unhallowed commands upon the consciences of their subjects, and fulminated excommunications against the pious and the sincere. The language of all such persons has been, "Come, see our zeal for the Lord."

II. THE CONCURRENCE OF A MULTITUDE IN SUPPORT OF A CAUSE IS NO PROOF OF ITS JUSTICE. Truth is not to be decided by numbers. In the old world Noah alone was found faithful, while the rest had corrupted their ways. In the wilderness all the Israelites rebelled except Caleb and Joshua. When our Saviour appeared upon the earth how few of the Jews acknowledged Him to be the Messiah! And in the dark ages did not "all the world wonder after the beast"? The maxim that the voice of the people is the voice of God is, for the most part evidently false, and in no case can be admitted without many limitations. What, in most cases, is the voice of the people but the voice of thoughtlessness, prejudice, and passion? What is it, in fact, but the voice of a few artful men who make use of the people as the blind instruments of accomplishing their private designs?

IV. GOD REIGNS AND CARRIES ON THE DESIGNS OF HIS GOVERNMENT AMIDST THE COMMOTIONS OF THE WORLD. He rules not only over the unconscious elements, but likewise over the passions of men. When these passions are most headstrong and impetuous, He controls their fury, and directs their course. In the uproar at Ephesus He preserved the life of Paul and his companions, first by the confusion of the people, and then by the seasonable interference of a person of prudence and authority. Let us not be dismayed, although the pillars of the earth should be shaken and all things should seem to be out of course (Psalm 93:1-4).

(J. Dick, A. M.)

Sermons by the Monday Club.
was a representative transaction, and from it we may learn important lessons.

I. POPULAR OPPOSITION TO THE GOSPEL IS TO BE EXPECTED. That gospel from the beginning has been forced to make its way against the sturdy resistance of those to whom it has been addressed; and the religious apathy of the masses and the pronounced enmity of leaders in society, literature, and science today are phenomena which cannot escape the most careless attention. And yet, rightly viewed, there is nothing strange or alarming in this. Final victory is promised, but battle is to precede it. It is not to be expected that men will quietly surrender to a system that endeavours to reverse the gravitation of their nature. They are fond of self-pleasing; how shall they listen willingly to teaching of self-denial, etc., etc.?

II. POPULAR OPINION IS NOT THE PROPER CRITERION OF TRUTH. If the matter could have been decided by "counts of heads and clack of tongues," then Diana would have triumphed against Christ. So long as Christianity is accepted only by a fragment of the community or the race, shallow thinkers justify their unfaith. But the most cursory reading of history rebukes the fallacy of the position. It was public opinion in Jerusalem that drove Jesus to Calvary; that here refused the gospel a hearing; that in Paris crimsoned the streets with Huguenot blood. From the beginning until now public opinion has cursed the world with false faith and outrage of every sort. And so no man can find any warrant for his personal convictions in the fact that the bulk of society is of his way of thinking. Upon him alone falls always the solemn shadow of personal responsibility. It is easier to swim with the swift current of popular thought than to ally ourselves with the minority that are breasting the stream.

III. THE CLAIMS OF THE GOSPEL WILL NOT BE ACKNOWLEDGED WHILE THERE IS AN IDOL IN THE WAY. It was not the truth which Paul preached, in itself considered, to which the Ephesians objected. Let the apostle teach a doctrine which would make the trade in silver shrines good, and Demetrius would have turned his opposition into help. It was not pure reverence for Diana that actuated them; it was their business that made them so religious in her direction. Let Paul lay down as the first condition of salvation that every man must set up a shrine to Jesus, and it would have answered quite as well. Their personal gain was the real idol.

(Sermons by the Monday Club.)

The meeting which Demetrius now addressed was a very remarkable one. It gives us an insight into —

1. The perversion of human handicraft. Here is an assembly of men whose inventive genius and skilful labour were employed in the manufacturing of things offensive to Heaven and debasing to souls. Much of the industry of the world is employed in fabricating that which is bad — beverages which brutalise the reason, arts which inflame the lusts, and horrid implements of torture and death. So men build up fortunes by selling the productions of wickedness.

2. The force of the mercantile spirit. What brought these men together, and inspired Demetrius to arrest the progress of the truth was cupidity. Preach of human liberty to slaveholders; peace to those who get their living in providing weapons for battle; spiritual independency to men who derive their revenue and influence by arrogating dominion over men's faith; and you will have the mercenary spirit rising in full tide against you.

3. The revolutionary power of the gospel Demetrius felt that the very foundations of idolatry were being sappped by the doctrines of the apostle (ver. 26). The triumphs of the gospel at Ephesus, according to Demetrius —

I. INVOLVED A RELIGIOUS REVOLUTION. Such a change is always —

1. The most radical. The god of the soul, whatever it is, is in all cases the object of the soul's supreme affection, and the very root of man's life. Change this in a man, and you change the whole current of his existence; you reverse the action of the machinery of his being. The man becomes a "new creation," a "new man."

2. The most difficult. The strongest attachments are the religious. Men have ever been ready to give their property, their wives, their children, their very lives for their gods. Add to this that the old religions had a grand history, a gorgeous aspect, and a worldwide popularity, which gave them an immense influence over their devotees.

II. WERE UNDENIABLE FACTS. He suggests three kinds of evidence —

1. Personal observation — "Ye see," etc. They had seen with their own eyes the change which the gospel had wrought. Such ocular evidence most men in Christendom are privileged to possess. Who has not known the drunkard, the blasphemer, the licentious, and the selfish, become, by the power of the gospel, temperate, reverent, chaste, and generous?

2. General testimony — "Ye hear," doubtless from their own townsmen, whom they were bound to believe. Such evidence is nearly as conclusive as the former, and is often available where the former is not. What we have seen is but a fraction compared with what we have heard. "We have heard with our ears," etc. From the testimony of Paul we are assured that in Colosse, Ephesus, Rome, and Corinth, wonderful religious revolutions had been effected by the gospel he had preached. Clement confirms, in a letter which he wrote thirty years after, this testimony.

3. Avowed enemies. Could Demetrius have denied, or ignored its effects, he would have done so. The revolutions which Christianity has effected are so manifest, that hostile historians, such as Gibbon, are bound to chronicle them as the fountains of striking epochs.


IV. WERE ACHIEVED BY THE AGENCY OF MAN AS MAN. "This Paul"; not these angels; not these magistrates backed by victorious legions. How did he do it? By wielding civil authority? No. All political power was against him. By miraculous instrumentality? He was, it is true, endowed with this power, but the great moral results of his ministry are not ascribed to this. Here is the agency he employs — He "hath persuaded." This is the noblest of works. He who wins one soul achieves a conquest that throws the victories of the Caesars, Alexanders, and Napoleons into contempt. Conclusion: There is much in connection with the agency of Paul at Ephesus which impresses us with Divine power.

1. In his daring to enter such a place.

2. In what, by his simple agency, he accomplished there.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

Which made silver shrines for Diana.
The worship of or had from a very early period been connected with the city of . The first temple owed much of its magnificence to Croesus. This was burnt down in B.C. 335, by Herostratus, who was impelled by an insane desire thus to secure an immortality of renown. Under Alexander the Great it was rebuilt with more stateliness than ever, and was looked upon as one of the seven wonders of the world. Its porticoes were adorned with paintings and sculptures by the great masters of Greek art, Phidias and Polycletus, Calliphron and Apelles. It had an establishment of priests, attendants, and boys, which reminds us of the organisation of a great cathedral or abbey in mediaeval Europe. Provision was made for the education of the children employed in the temple services, and retiring pensions given to priests and priestesses. Large gifts and bequests were made for the maintenance of its fabric and ritual, and the city conferred its highest honours upon those who thus enrolled themselves among its illustrious benefactors. Pilgrims came from all parts of the world to worship or to gaze, and carried away with them memorials in silver and bronze, generally models of the sacellum, or sanctuary, in which the image of the goddess stood, and of the image itself. That image, however, was very unlike the sculptured beauty with which Greek and Roman art loved to represent the form of Artemis, and would seem to have been the survival of an older cultus of the powers of nature, like the Phrygian worship of , modified and renamed by the Greek settlers who took the place of the original inhabitants. A four-fold many-breasted female figure, ending, below the breasts, in a square column, with mysterious symbolic ornamentation, in which bees, and ears of corn, and flowers were strangely mingled, carved in wood, black with age, this was the centre of the adoration of that never-ceasing stream of worshippers. Its ugliness was, perhaps, the secret of its power. When art clothes idolatry with beauty, man feels at liberty to criticise the artist and his work, and the feeling of reverence becomes gradually weaker. The savage bows before his fetich with a blinder homage than that which Pericles gave to the Jupiter of Phidias. The first real blow to the worship which bad lasted for so many ages was given by the two years of St. Paul's work of which we read here. As by the strange irony of history, the next stroke aimed at its maghificence came from the hand of Nero, who robbed it, as he robbed the temples of Delphi, and Pergamus, and Athens, not sparing even villages, of many of its art treasures for the adornment of his Golden House at Rome (Tacit. Ann. 15:45). Trajan sent its richly-sculptured gates as an offering to a temple at Byzantium. As the Church of Christ advanced, its worship, of course, declined. Priests and priestesses ministered in deserted shrines. When the empire became Christian, the temple of Ephesus, in common with that at , supplied materials for the church, erected by , in honour of the Divine Wisdom, which is now the Mosque of St. Sophia. When the Goths devastated Asia Minor, in the reign of Gallienus ( A.D. 263), they plundered it with a reckless hand, and the work which they began was completed centuries later by the Turks. The whole city, bearing the name of Aioslouk — has fallen into such decay that the very site of the temple was till within the last few years a matter of dispute among archaeologists.

(Dean Plumptre.)

1. Do you not see in that temple of Diana an expression of what the world needs? It wants a God who can provide food. Diana was a huntress. In pictures on many of the coins she held a stag by the horn with one hand and a bundle of arrows in the other. Oh, this is a hungry world! Diana could not give one pound of meat, or one mouthful of food to the millions of her worshippers. Let Diana have her arrows and her hounds; our God has the sunshine and the showers and the harvests, and in proportion as He is worshipped does plenty reign.

2. So also in the temple of Diana the world expressed its need of a refuge. To it from all parts of the land came debtors who could not pay their debts, and the offenders of the law that they might escape incarceration. But she sheltered them only a little while, and, while she kept them from arrest, she could not change their hearts, and the guilty remained guilty. But our God in Jesus Christ is a refuge into which we may fly from all our sins and be safe for eternity, and the nature is transformed.

3. Then, in that temple were deposited treasures from all the earth for safe keeping. says it was the treasure house of nations; they brought gold and silver and precious stones and coronets from across the sea, and put them under the care of Diana of the Ephesians. But again and again were those treasures ransacked, captured, or destroyed. Nero robbed them, the Scythians scattered them, the Goths burned them. Diana failed those who trusted her with treasures, but our God, to Him we may entrust all our treasures for this world and the next, and He will not fail anyone who put confidence in Him.

4. But notice what killed Ephesus, and what has killed most of the cities that lie buried in the cemetery of nations. Luxury! The costly baths, which had been the means of health to the city, became its ruin. Instead of the cold baths that had been the invigoration of the people, the hot baths, which are only intended for the infirm or the invalid, were substituted. In these hot baths many lay most of the time. Authors wrote books while in these baths. Business was neglected and a hot bath taken four or five times a day. When the keeper of the baths was reprimanded for not having them warm enough, one of the rulers said: "You blame him for not making the bath warm enough; I blame you because you have it warm at all." But that warm bath which enervated Ephesus was only a type of what went on in all departments of Ephesian life, and in luxurious indulgence.

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

Brought no small gain unto the craftsmen.
Self-interest often leads men to oppose the truth. A missionary once wrote: "One man was very indignant on hearing the sin and folly of idol worship exposed; the native brother who was speaking coolly replied, 'I suppose you are a maker of images?' 'Yes!' exclaimed a voice in the crowd; 'he makes and sells them for four annas apiece.' 'I thought so,' said the native brother; 'he is afraid lest any should be persuaded not to buy his images; that is the reason he is so angry with us.' This remark excited such a general laugh at the idol maker, that for shame he retired from the crowd and gave us no more trouble."

(J. L. Nye.)

Nothing more hinders men from going to or from an opinion than the interest they have by holding it. Men do not care so much for the opinions they hold, as for what they hold by their opinions. Many a man thinks what Demetrius said; hence they fly in the face of truth, so dearly sweet and sweetly dear, is their darling gain. They see they cannot have the honey unless they burn the bees, and therefore fire them forthwith; they cannot possess the vineyard, unless Naboth be put to death, and therefore he must be dispatched. When once the copyhold of gain and honour is touched, men begin to look about them, and will never call godliness gain, because gain is their godliness.

(R. Venning.)

Depend upon it, Paul was voted a good enough sort of Jew until he began to interfere with business. It is always so. You touch men's trade and you will soon find out how near their religious convictions lie to their pockets. Any one who proposes to interfere with profits will be set upon, right or wrong. It is no longer a question of principle, but of £. s. d. Suppose I am a High, or a Low, or a Broad Churchman — it matters little which — in the name of decency and common sense I declare that six public houses within thirty yards, as at Glasgow, are excessive; or 20,000 are too many for London — do you think I shall stop the renewal of one license next year? Not a bit of it! There's too much wealth and social influence enlisted against me — too many brewers in parliament — for my feeble might to have any weight. But what will happen? Why, if I am a High Churchman, the brewers will discover that I am a person of Romanizing tendencies, to be vigorously resisted in the name of our national protestantism; if I am a Low Churchman, they will call me a narrow, old-fashioned bigot; if I am a Broad Churchman, they will say that I am unorthodox, a most dishonest person, a wolf in sheep's clothing, and a very dangerous man. Yes, certainly; very dangerous — to beer. So the instant Paul's popularity touched the manufacture of silver shrines, Demetrius organised a Trades-Union mob, and nearly succeeded in wrecking Paul and his followers.

(H. R. Haweis, M. A.)

This chapter contains a description of two forces which then operated, and still operate, against the gospel of Jesus Christ. One of them is the greed of men who have pecuniary interest opposed to righteousness, and the other of them is what the historian calls the curious arts — what we may describe as a tendency to dabble with the real or imaginary intercourse between this world and the next outside of God Himself; a tendency which shows itself at every point in the development of the Church. Now, this indignation meeting of the craftsmen of Diana's shrine has furnished the model of many similar gatherings since. It does not appear that Paul had said anything disrespectful about Diana; on the contrary, the town clerk says that he had not mentioned her: he had been eminently cautious. At the same time, the accusation of Demetrius was a sufficiently reasonable one, for the gospel is a very awkward force in this world. I will not remain in the clouds, it will get its feet upon the ground; it will not be content to discuss the future, it will have its say about the present; it will not deal with you as if you were angels up yonder, it will always remember that you are men. And, therefore, it comes and grips the practical questions of life, and, unlike all other religions, it is most firm precisely where all the forces of the world and human interest are marshalled against righteousness and truth. I must say that Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen showed a very keen insight into the position. They seemed to perceive that though the preacher never mentioned Artemis and Diana, supposing what the preacher said were really listened to by the people, it would be like the daylight breaking into an old tenement and rousing and expelling the moles and the bats and the vermin. Demetrius saw distinctly what many people do not see even today, that the gospel need never lift up its voice and cry, that it can come into a society with the sweet piercing breath of the Spirit, and every abuse will be terrified and every sinner trembling in his shoes. I confess that my sympathy with Demetrius is great, and so is yours. He was perfectly right. He had invested his capital in silver for making the silver shrines for Diana, his wife and children depended upon it, and if these were to be disturbed he would see his little children starving. And I like Demetrius; there is something honest about him. He is the best man of the kind that we read of in history up to this day. He begins his speech frankly and truly: he says, "Ye know that by this business we have our wealth." He says nothing about religion until he has made it clear that it is a clear appeal to the selfish interests, and when he has secured the selfish interests, then he draws over the decent garment of religious concern for the great goddess Diana. The people of today are not so distinct in this matter; they begin with religion, and do not always mention the incidental fact "by this fact we have our wealth." I do not know anything more terrible than for a man to have chosen his life in such a way that his interests in the world can only be promoted on condition that the eternal laws of God shall be suspended. When a man has so embarked in the course of life, that he cannot easily withdraw, the dilemma is perfectly clear: either he will have to yield his interests to the gospel of Christ, and he will be ruined, as we call it, he will lose all his profit. It is a terrible position, and I do not myself wonder that when one is in that position he invokes all the powers of heaven on his side, and quotes Christianity against Christ, and will have a religious reason for the most irreligious doing. The other force which is enlisted against the gospel in this chapter concerning Ephesus is one about which it is more difficult to speak. It was called in the ancient world sorcery; it has not yet got an accepted title in the modern world. But let us observe what it is. When faith decays superstition grows. When the clear vision ceases, the dark, shadowy, and occult process begins. We need not say much about it, but I shall lift up my voice against it as long as I can, and especially to young people, and I urge you to have nothing to do with it. God has quite sufficiently revealed Himself in human life and in nature for all sound minds; and I want you to be content to remain ignorant rather than gain doubtful knowledge about occult things in doubtful ways. Now I want to close by reminding you of the great power by which the opposing forces were met and can be met today. It is described in the sixth verse of the chapter, and it is referred to in the second verse, where the apostle put this question to the twelve men who were Christians at Ephesus but had not received the Holy Ghost. And there is a distinction drawn between two kinds of baptism; one is the baptism of John, and the other is the baptism into the name of Jesus Christ, and receiving the Holy Ghost is identical with the baptism into the name of Jesus Christ. These two baptisms remain distinct up to the present day; the one is formal, ritualistic, is quite easily received and quite easily given; the other is spiritual and real, and can be received only by the most radical change of the whole life when the soul is wrought into the very name of Jesus Christ, emptied there, filled there, made new there, receiving from God the life that is God, the life manifested in the flesh. The one baptism makes us professors, the other baptism makes us possessors.

(R. F. Horton, M. A.)

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