Acts 22:17

I. DIVINE ELECTION. "The God of our fathers hath chosen thee" (ver. 14). It will always be a difficulty to know what to think of the electing grace of God. But we are on safe ground when we say:

1. That God desires the well-being of every member of his human family. We may surely argue that it must be so; we may boldly affirm that it is so. Is it not written that God is one "who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4; see Ezekiel 18:23; Ezekiel 33:11; 2 Peter 3:9).

2. That he bestows special favors and privileges on some men; to some as not to others he gives intellectual faculty, material resources, educational advantages, domestic influences, providential guidance, knowledge of Christian truth in its purity and integrity, etc. These he "elects," or "chooses;" on them he confers distinguishing goodness.

II. A VISION OF THE RIGHTEOUS SAVIOR. "That thou shouldest... see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth" (ver. 14). To Saul there was vouchsafed a very special and peculiar manifestation of the risen Lord. In such wise as we do not, he saw the Just One himself and heard his voice. But Christ does present himself now to the sons of men, and he manifests himself as the Just One, as the Lord of righteousness. By a spiritual act we recognize Jesus Christ as:

1. That Being who is in himself the Holy and Righteous One, in whom is no trace of sin.

2. That Divine One who summons us to a new life of holiness and sacred service.

3. That Just One who, by his atoning death, has made the way open to our immediate justification, who has made it possible for us to attain to "the righteousness which is of God by faith" (Philippians 3:9). In the presence of him, the Just One, we are filled with shame; but by faith in his finished work we have acceptance with God and are accounted righteous (or, just) in his sight; and we yield ourselves to him and his service that his righteousness may be reproduced in us and in our human lives. Thus we come to do -

III. THAT WORK OF MAN WHICH IS THE WILL OF GOD. Paul was to "know his will" (ver. 14), and was to do that will by the accomplishment of his life-work, viz. by "being his witness unto all men." This, too, in our way and measure is to be our lifework, even as it was our Lord's (John 18:37). We are to bear witness of Christian truth by

(1) exemplary behavior;

(2) a devout and generous spirit;

(3) the word of testimony and exhortation, - this latter is to be experimental, such as is suggested by our own actual experience. Every Christian life is a failure if it be not an epistle read and known of all who are there to read it. - C.







And it came to pass that...while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance.
Here is —

I. A COMMON THING — a man praying. Prayer is an instinct of the soul. Danger seldom fails to rouse this instinct even in the most depraved (Psalm 107:13). Volney, in a storm at sea, a striking example of this. All worthless prayer may be divided into two classes, prayer addressed —

1. To the wrong god.

2. To the right God in a wrong way.The universal tendency of man to pray implies the soul's innate belief in some of the leading facts of theology, such as the Being, Personality, Presence, and entreatability of God.

II. A common thing REACHING THE WONDERFUL. The trance is the state in which a man has passed out of the usual order of his life, beyond the usual limits of consciousness and volition. To an "ecstasy" in Paul we owe the starting point of the Church, the command which bade him "depart far hence unto the Gentiles." It is supposed by some that it is to this trance Paul refers (2 Corinthians 12:1-5) when he speaks of being caught up to the third heaven. Conclusion: Learn —

1. The sublime possibilities of the human soul. By a mysterious power of abstraction it can shut out the external universe, and transport itself into a world where there are scenes too grand for description and communications surpassing utterance. Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, John, as well as Paul, were often transported to these supernal states.

2. The incomparable worth of true prayer. Prayer is the road into the celestial (Daniel 9:21-23; Acts 10:9).

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

And saw Him saying unto me, Make haste and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem
I. THE PLACE: "The temple." This shows the catholicity of the new convert.

II. THE SEASON: "While he was praying." There seems to be a natural, invisible, indissoluble connection between the offering of a prayer to God and the reception of spiritual blessings from God. The Bible teaches this by —

1. Doctrines.

2. Practice.

III. THE FORM. We may become acquainted with the world of spirits by —

1. Consciousness.

2. Testimony.

IV. THE SUBJECT. Christ's command to Paul suggests —

1. That He claims authority over the ministry.

2. His special providence over His own agencies and ministers.

(Caleb Morris.)

This passage has an interest and a solemnity of a peculiar kind. This interview is not previously recorded, and but for the special circumstances that now arose it might never have been mentioned at all.

2. Paul introduced it because he wished to convince his former co-religionists that just as he had become a Christian preacher because he could not help himself, so when his heart was set upon labouring among his people, he was obliged to undertake what otherwise he would have utterly shrunk back from. Which of them, if they had been in his position, could have dared to say, "No"? Observe —

I. THE REJECTION OF THE GOSPEL PREPARING THE WAY FOR THE WITHDRAWAL OF IT (vers. 17, 18).

1. The narrative refers to Paul's first visit to Jerusalem after his conversion. He must have returned with very strange and mingled feelings. He left the Holy City the proud champion of Judaism; he came back to it the humble disciple of Christ. He left it with a heart full of hatred to the faith of Christ; he came back ready to lay down his life in defence of it. And yet, as by a kind of instinct, he betook himself to the old place of prayer; and it was fitted to impress his Jewish hearers in his favour that it was there that he received the charge that had given its colour and direction to all his afterlife.

2. I can fancy his Jewish hearers saying, "We can so far understand your own change of view and feeling, but what connection is there between that and your making common cause with the Gentiles?" "I did it," says Paul, "by express revelation. He said to me, Hasten and go quickly out of Jerusalem, for they will not receive thy testimony about Me."

3. Much might have been said in favour of his remaining. Were conversions not as important at Jerusalem as in Asia Minor and Europe? Should charity not "begin at home"? Was it not time enough to think of converting the heathen abroad when they had got all the people converted at home? Such considerations must have had weight then, as they have with some now.

4. But not only was there a perishing world outside, needing if not waiting for the good news, and who therefore had a right to the one remedy for its deadly ailment; there was another reason. The Jewish people had enjoyed their opportunity. If it could be said in Isaiah's time, surely much more then, "What can I do for My vineyard more that I have not done in it?" But they would not have Christ nor His gospel. And now that a new witness was raised up, the charge to him is," Don't stay here. Jerusalem has had its day." It was a terrible message. No wonder that Paul, who loved his people so intensely, was loath to obey it, and humbly argues against it.

5. And yet it is in keeping with what has been elsewhere and at other times. The light has shone brightly for a time among a people, and when they rejected or extinguished it, they were left in the darkness which themselves had chosen. Africa is witness to this, as are those lands in which Paul himself once held up the lamp of truth. It seems to be God's way to give the opportunity, and if it is not improved to withdraw it. So it was, in more recent times, in France, Hungary, Bohemia, Italy, and Spain.

6. Our own country and Germany seem now to be on their trial. The light of Reformation truth has shone in both; yet what multitudes in both lands are rejecting Christ, and abandoning themselves to carelessness and unbelief and open sin! And, as Hosea said, "Yea, woe also unto them, when I depart from them!" there may be something analogous to this in our own case. But, short of this, there are some who think that there has been such an expenditure of effort in some parts of the home field , often with very little in the way of result, that, without neglecting home, the stream of effort might now be legitimately diverted to the great harvest field abroad.

7. Are there not some who have had every advantage of a spiritual kind that could well be? And they have put off the great decision, or they have resisted, and made it next to impossible to venture on any further advances to them. It may be that they have had their "day," and that the Divine word regarding them is, "Make haste, and get thee quickly away, for they will not receive thy testimony concerning Me."

II. THE DIVINE CALL OVERRIDING OUR OWN VIEWS OF DUTY (vers. 19, 20). Paul could not silently acquiesce in this word. He thought that what had convinced him would convince others. How could they resist the force of such evidence as he had to bring? Did they not know his intense and inextinguishable hatred of the name and people of Christ? What did he need to do but just to present himself, as himself the best argument he could use? But there was one who knew human nature better than he. As He had once said to Ezekiel, so He now says to Paul, "But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee, for they will not hearken unto Me." An analogous ease is familiar to everyone. When Melanchthon had the truth opened up to him he thought he could not fail to commend it to others, but soon he had to make the confession that "old Adam was too strong for young Melanchthon!"

III. THE IMPERATIVE CLAIMS OF THE HEATHEN WORLD ON THE CHURCH OF GOD (ver. 21).

1. Paul stands at the head of the whole Christian army. Such a man would, of course, be set apart to the work which the Master regarded as most important. Just as in a great warfare our best general would be despatched to occupy what was the key to the whole position, so wherever we find Paul, there, we may conclude, the Church's great battle is to be fought, the Church's great work is to be done. Now, to human eye, such a man seemed supremely desirable at Jerusalem. Reason would say, "Above everything, make sure that the Church is strong at the centre. The best you can do for the extremities is to do the best that can be done for the heart. Do not, on any account, let Paul go. Anything will do for the outposts; anyone will do for a missionary." But the very form in which the charge is given is enough to show that the Church's greatest and most pressing work is the making known of Christ among the heathen; and so from that point Paul's life was unceasingly devoted to this end.

2. That was the great work of the Church then, and it is the great work now. Every reason might have been urged for keeping Paul in Jerusalem then that could have been pleaded for retaining him in Christendom now. Say what you will about the needs and claims of home, the fact is undeniable that there are comparatively few at home who have not the opportunity of knowing Christ, while three-fourths of the world are as ignorant of Christ as they were then; and the inevitable inference is that the Lord, who left the sheep that were safe in the fold and went out after that which was lost, is saying to His Church now, "Depart, for I will send thee far hence unto the heathen."

3. Has the Church been acting upon that conviction? What of the vast empire of China? What of India? How much have we given of thought, or heart, or trouble, or time, or means, or prayer, to the work that lies nearest to the heart of Christ? How many of us sympathise with a young Christian lady who, when a friend remarked that it was a far way to go to Japan, replied, "Yes, very far, if it was only to make money; but not too far to tell the heathen about Jesus!"

(J. H. Wilson.)

Promptness in doing is as important in God's service as patience in enduring. The sooner a duty is attended to, a danger is turned from, or an error is corrected, the better. If we are in the wrong place, we ought to "make haste" and get out of it. If we are engaged in a bad business, we ought to "make haste" and quit it. If we are pursuing an improper or an unwise course of conduct, we ought to "make haste" and do differently. If we are indulging a habit which we should not wish fastened upon us permanently, we ought to "make haste" and break away from it. If we have wronged another, we ought to "make haste" and repair the injury. If we have wounded another's feelings, we ought to "make haste" and express regret for our conduct. We cannot be too prompt in meeting every responsibility which is upon us for the time being. We need never fear that it would have been better for us to bare delayed doing right.

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

Depart, for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.
Note that —

I. WHEN GOD HAS ANY GREAT WORK TO ACCOMPLISH, HE WILL NOT WANT PROPER MEANS TO EXECUTE IT. The call of the Gentiles had been the purport of many a prophecy. The era was now arrived when it should be realised; and while the apostles, influenced by Jewish prejudice, neglected this enterprise, God raised up Paul. Men may often project gigantic enterprises, but want the means of executing them. Nay, man may not only be incompetent to provide the means, but be incapable of contriving them, or even of imagining what they should be. But God's understanding and ability are infinite. If He contemplate the end, He can also command the means. He can construct the lever which shall move the world.

II. GOD OFTEN FITS INSTRUMENTS PROSPECTIVELY FOR HIS PURPOSE. Wisdom largely consists in improving means already prepared, and few men know how to do that effectually; but God can provide the means beforehand, and adapt them, with the most consummate skill, to the end in view. He had been previously fitting Paul by his training "at the feet of Gamaliel," by his proficiency in the Greek tongue, and by his acquaintance with the learning of the heathen world. So was it in the cases of Moses, David, etc., and so it is still; and as that diamond is ripening silently in its bed, under the agency of the hidden processes of nature, which is afterwards to shine in the diadem of the prince and brighten the splendours of empire, so the servants of God are often, unconsciously to themselves, preparing for a destination which neither they nor their friends had before contemplated.

III. GOD NEVER SUFFERS THE POWERS WHICH HE HAS CONFERRED UPON ANY OF HIS SERVANTS TO REMAIN LONG UNUSED. Men, if left to themselves, may suffer their talents to rust, their energies to slumber, and may not perceive when they ought to start in the career of usefulness. But when the time is come that God hath set, then the instrument He has prepared shall be introduced. No sooner, accordingly, was Paul converted than he cries out, "What shall I do?" So when Cornelius and his household had been prepared, Peter is sent for, and is found ready; and the vision "of the man of Macedonia" caused Paul to gather that the Lord had called him to preach the gospel in that unthought of region.

IV. IT BELONGS TO GOD TO FIX THE SCENE OF THE MINISTRY OF EACH OF HIS SERVANTS. He prescribed to Paul, when "He said unto him, Depart," whither he should go in general: and in the course of his travels the great Master always guided the steps of this His missionary. And to Him this prerogative still belongs; and surely it well becomes a servant of God to consult His mind and will, and to submit with alacrity to the heavenly destination in such matters. Woe to him if he consults with secular and selfish interests! Should he, like Jonah, decline any service to which God calls him, he shall find that God can follow him.

V. THE REGION TO WHICH A MINISTER OF GOD IS DESTINED MAY BE GREATLY REMOTE. Most frequently He allows His servants to labour in their own country. Thus the eleven apostles continued to minister in Judaea, while Paul went forth to the Gentiles. Nor in vain. His servant obeyed, and was blessed. So Abram, being called of God to follow Him to a land unknown, "by faith went out, not knowing whither he went," and God prospered him greatly.

VI. WITH THE DIVINE COMMISSION IN HIS HAND, NO MINISTER OF THE LORD JESUS NEED FEAR TO GO WHEREVER HIS GREAT MASTER SHALL SEND HIM. Far be it for us to make light of the difficulties connected with a mission of this character. Still the Lord is everywhere with His servants, and he who trusts Him shall not want support, even in a strange land, and amid an unknown people.

VII. THE WORK TO WHICH GOD CALLS HIS SERVANTS EVERYWHERE, at home and abroad, is GREAT AND HONOURABLE — glorifying to Himself and beneficial to man (Acts 26:16-18). Think upon —

1. The character of the work: it is highly intellectual and spiritual, holy and heavenly.

2. The subject of it. "Should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ."

3. The object of it — to save perishing souls.

4. The issue of it. It leads to an acceptance the most honourable, to a commendation the most enrapturing, to rewards the most glorious.

VIII. THROUGH DIVINE MERCY, THE SUCCESS OF SUCH MISSIONARIES WILL BE PROPORTIONED TO THE DIFFICULTY OF THE ENTERPRISE AND THE DIGNITY OF THE WORK. When Paul began his course no instrument could appear more inadequate, no attempt more unpromising. Yet what mighty success attended the ministry of the devoted apostle! Conclusion: Learn —

1. The great and universal rule of Christian obedience. It is to comply in all things with the Divine will.

2. The glory of Divine grace as a practical principle. You see in the example of Paul what it will prompt a man to undertake and to achieve.

3. The best sphere of duty — that which God assigns, be it abroad or at home.

4. The blessed consequences of simple devotedness in a servant of God.

(J. Mitchell, D. D.)

I. THE WORK OF FOREIGN MISSIONS IS NOT A DISTINCT PART OF THE GENERAL WORK OF THE CHURCH. The commission under which the Church acts has equal reference to all parts of the field. The work of the missionary is therefore not different from the work of a minister. A man who enlists for a soldier goes wherever he is sent.

II. A CALL TO THE WORK OF MISSIONS THEREFORE CAN ONLY BE ANALOGOUS TO THE QUESTION WHETHER A MINISTER IS TO BE SETTLED IN ONE PLACE RATHER THAN ANOTHER. How is a man to decide this point? The question assumes that —

1. The Lord has a purpose in regard to the location of His ministers.(1) This is inferred from —(a) The doctrine of providence, which teaches that God's purpose extends to all things, and that He overrules all things to the accomplishment of His purpose. The place of our birth, our education, profession, and field of labour are all included in His plan.(b) The doctrine of Christ's headship and guidance of His Church by His Spirit, by which He dispenses gifts to each one according to His will, and leads His people in the way in which they should go.(2) It follows from His peculiar relation to ministers. They are stars in His hand, and He assigns to each his sphere. They are His ambassadors, and He sends each on his own mission. They are His labourers, etc. We find, therefore, that He sent Jonah to Nineveh, Paul to the heathen, Peter to the circumcision.

2. He makes that purpose known.(1) This must be inferred from the nature of the case. We are rational creatures and are governed by rational means. If God has a design for us to accomplish He must therefore make it known.(2) As a matter of experience we find that God does make known His purpose. He did so in the case of prophets and apostles, and does so in the case of ordinary ministers. It is not to be inferred, however, that this is always done in such a way as to preclude our investigation, nor so as to prevent mistake. A man may mistake and go counter to God's will, and the consequences are disastrous. We ought therefore to give the matter careful consideration.

3. How does God reveal His will to ministers as to where they shall labour?(1) By inward dealings.(a) He furnishes them with gifts requisite to some special field of labour.(b) He addresses their understandings, presenting the wants of different parts of the field; the facilities for usefulness; the demand for labourers.(c) He addresses their conscience.(d) He addresses their hearts, awakens an interest in particular portions of the field , and infuses into them a desire for the work.(2) By outward dispensations.(a) He removes obstacles out of the way, such as want of health, obligations to parents, etc.(b) He sends messages to them by friends.(c) He stirs up the Church to call them here or there.

III. THE DUTY OF CANDIDATES FOR THE MINISTRY.

1. To feel that they are bound to go wherever God calls them — that it is not for them to choose.

2. To feel perfectly submissive and say, "What shall I do, Lord?"

3. To investigate the subject, and use all the means to come to an intelligent decision.

IV. THE BLESSEDNESS OF MISSION WORK, because —

1. Its results are so glorious.

2. It is so peculiarly unearthly.

3. The promises are so abundant to those who forsake houses, lands, friends, etc., for Christ's sake.

(C. Hodge, D. D.)

I.BY WHOM HE IS SENT? Who speaks in the text?

II.WHITHER IS HE SENT? "Far hence."

III.TO WHOM IS HE SENT? "The Gentiles."

IV.FOR WHAT END IS HE SENT? His errand is not one of —

1. Science.

2. Politics.

3. Civilisation.

4. But to spread the gospel.

V. WITH WHAT ENCOURAGEMENT IS HE SENT? The Lord commands; that is sufficient.

(R. Wardlaw, D. D.)

Ah! there was no prejudice against having the Gentiles made — what? Jews: but to have the Jewish God given to the Gentiles without the instrumentality of the Jews; to have their God distributed outside of themselves by another instrumentality; to have other people enjoy the same right in Jehovah that they did, standing on the same level — this was what they could not endure. To carry the Jews' God out from Judaea, and make Him a God of the Romans, and of the Greeks, and of the Scythians, and of the Parthians, and of the Assyrians — that was what offended them. National gods, in old times, were very valuable property. It used to be supposed that the gods of a nation were very much to it what armies and navies are to a nation nowadays. It was supposed that they defended it; that they took care of it; that they hated other nations that were its adversaries. The idea that Jehovah was a national God, and that He was the God of the Jews, who did not wish their enemies to participate in His power or in His protection, runs through all Jewish history. If one should come into your house, and take all your pictures, and books, and furniture, and provisions, and distribute them along the whole street, you would doubtless raise some objection; if one should come to my table, and receive hospitality at my hands, and then take all my property, and scatter it up and down the street, I should not like it; and men felt very much so about their religion in those old times. It was a part of their national household goods. The Jews' idea was that God was their special property: and to give the world the same right in Him that they had, was just so much to defraud them. The Jews were peculiarly susceptible to these ideas of appropriation, because, for the sake of their faith, and in order to defend the name of Jehovah against idolatry, they had suffered much persecution, and undergone many hardships. Men appropriate truth to themselves; they make it personal, as if they owned it, as if it belonged to them; and so the Jews felt that, as they had defended Jehovah, doubtless He must be grateful to them; that as they had suffered for Him, they had a right to parcel Him out; that He ought to be a gift from them; and to use Jehovah as the property of all mankind was to level the Jew to the plane of other men. This would be humiliation and disgrace to them, since they felt themselves to be ineffably superior to the rest of the world; and they would not bear the degradation if they could help it. From the outbreak of religious intolerance and religious cruelty recorded in the text we may learn several lessons.

1. First, it is possible to hold religion in a malignant spirit. So long as religion is understood to be an external system of ceremonies, laws, usages, ordinances; so long as it consists of a series of beliefs; so long as it is an objective thing, embodied in usages and institutions, or in philosophical creeds; so long as it appeals to the outward senses — it is quite possible to cherish it at the same time with those feelings which belong to the bigoted partisan. Unfortunately, that which we have seen among the Jews we have never ceased to see among men who have held the great institutions of Christianity or institutions that have purported to be Christian — that they held them in rancour, pride, and selfishness, and defended them with bitterness. Christ was the loving, atoning Saviour. And what has been the history of the Church that represented His disinterested suffering, the bounty of His love, and His benignity to His enemies? The long record of Church history has been a record almost unvarying of arrogance, and pride, and violence, and persecution. Men have received the religion of Jesus Christ just as the Jews received the religion of the Old Testament, to hold it in carnal bonds with most malignant human passions. Is the same spirit existing now which broke out in this tumult among the Jews? Do men hold religion in the same malignant way that they did? Is there the same jealousy in respect to the partition of the benefits of Christ that there was in respects to the diffusion of the knowledge of Jehovah? What has been the history of the sects? and what is today the feeling of the sects? Is the Roman Catholic Church unwilling that all the world shall have all the benefits of the mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ? Oh, no. The Roman Catholic Church stands saying to all the world, "Come into our Church, and under our regulations, and you shall have the Saviour. But you cannot have the Saviour outside of our Church. Come to us and you shall have Him, but you cannot have Him and leave us out." Are the derivative Churches, are the hierarchical Churches, are the Protestant Churches, in spirit, different from the Roman Catholics? Are good men, learned men, wise men, unwilling that Christ should be preached among the Gentiles — that is, among Dissenters? Oh, no. Is the Episcopal Church unwilling that the truth of Jesus should be made known to outsiders? Oh, no. It is more than desirous that they should all have the bounty and blessing that is in Christ; but then they must have it in the true Church. They must have it in the line of apostolicity. Well, let us take the great Calvinistic Presbyterian Church. May anyone have Christ's atoning mercy and the hope of everlasting life? Yes, if he believes in the absolute sovereignty of God; in original sin, with enough of actual transgression added to it; in regeneration; in the efficacious compassion and suffering and death of Christ; in Divine penalty, and in the eternity of future punishment. "Come into our creed," says that Church, "and you shall have the mercy and blessing of God." It is the Jewish state of mind over again. It is the same spirit which they manifested who shook their raiment, and threw dust in the air, and clenched their hands, and gnashed their teeth, and cried out against Paul, and demanded that he should be torn in pieces. In this regard, human nature is pretty much the same all the way through. There is everywhere the same conceit, the same arrogance, the same exclusiveness. "What we have is right — of that there is no mistake. And for those who are outside our ecclesiastical connection, and are not of our way of believing, there is nothing but darkness." What, then, is the truth? God, as He has taught both in the Old Testament and in the New, is God over all, blessed forever; and all men, from the rising of the sun until the going down of the same, have children's rights in God as their Father. All men have a right to take part and lot in Him, and to hope in Him. God is the God of all the earth. He belongs to no sect, to no party. He has given to no class the right to appropriate Him. There is not a creature on the face of the earth that is not dear to God. There is not a man so imperfect, or so full of infirmity, that God does not care for him and sustain him; and the best men living are pensioners on Divine grace and bounty: If God takes the worthiest of His creatures, out of the fulness of His own graciousness, and not on account of their desert, can He not take the others also, out of that same graciousness? And does He not take them? The whole tide of the Divine thought through the world is a thought of goodness; the whole heartbeat of God along the earth is a heartbeat of mercy; and that thought, that heartbeat, is for all mankind. God is working for them; He is shaping His providences for their benefit, and that just as much when He chastises them as when He gives them pleasure. He is preparing them for something better than this life. "Well, then, do I understand," you will say, "that an unconverted man is as good as a converted man?" No, I do not say that at all. But if you were to ask me, "Who owns the sun?" I should say, "Nobody owns it; it belongs to the globe, and everybody has a right to it." Here are men who are surrounded by ten thousand climatic influences which may be turned to good account; but they never reap ample harvests. Why? Because they do not know how to make use of those influences in cultivating the soil. Those who do, sow their seed. and reap abundant harvests. There is a vast difference in the results of these men's farming; and yet, the sun stands offering as much to one as to another. Now, it is with God's mercy as it is with the sunlight. What does the sunlight bless? It blesses industry, integrity, knowledge. It is ready to bless everybody who will partake of its bounty. The right to it is not conferred by magistrate, legislature, or government. Sunlight is everybody's; and yet everybody does not get good out of it. It is shame to some; it is torment to others; it is rebuke to others; and it is blessing, endless and fathomless, to yet others. Whether it is beneficial to a person or not depends upon how he uses it. God's love, and mercy, and bounty are universal, and men appropriating them find them personally useful; but rejected and excluded, they find them no good. Two men are walking in a garden. One walks in the alleys, and everywhere sweet and pleasant shade falls upon him; the fragrance of the orange greets him on every side; he enjoys all the beauty of prodigal luxuriance; he is surrounded by blossoming flowers and ripening fruits; and to him it is a garden of grand delights. The other man lies drunk under the shade of a tree. There are the same fruits, the same flowers, the same fragrance for him that there is for the other man, only he is not in a condition to appropriate them. One goes out of the garden full of gladness, and laden with its treasures. The other has no more of the garden than if he had never seen it. It is the nature of the men, and not any partiality in the garden, that makes the difference. We are prepared, then, to answer some questions. May an unconverted man pray to God? This is a question which has disturbed many persons. Some think that when they are Christians they have a right to pray, but not till then. But why may not anyone pray to God? And does a man need to go through a technical experience inside a church before he has a right to pray to God? There is no man that wants to pray who has not a right to pray. Take heart, then, sinning, wicked, desponding man! If there is nobody else that cares for you, God cares for you. If every tongue is out against you; if all manner of prejudices hedge up your way; if the Church has surrounded you with obstacles, God thinks of you, and will help you. You have an interest in the heart of Jesus; and if God be for you, who can be against you? Therefore, take courage. You are not a churchman? You are not much educated in matters of religion? Ah, but you know something of sin! You desire to be released from its grasp. A sinner no right in God! Think a moment. Has he not a right to a Saviour? May he not partake of Divine goodness? Especially has he not a right to invoke God's blessing? It is because God is what He is that all men have rights in Him. It once used to be said that men had no rights which God was bound to respect. A better thought has come over the Christian community. Men have rights. God gave them, and they are at liberty to exercise them. Has not a child rights, because his parent is his superior, and has authority over him? The law says Yes; public sentiment says Yes; and the voice of Nature says Yes. And because a man is formed subordinate to God, and under His authority, has he not rights of mercy, of justice, of love, and of truth? May we hope, then, that the dissolute and the wicked shall have mercy? There is not a man who lives who has not a right to food, and, through food, to strength, and, through strength, to executive efficiency. Men also have the right to joy — manly joy. Yet, you say to me, "May a man have joy, though he be an old glutton, swollen with superabundance of blood?" Why, yes; but not as a glutton. If he will become temperate, and purge away his humours, and restrain himself to due moderation, he may. If I am cold, and wish to protect myself against the weather, I can, if I will seek the proper shelter. If I am shivering on the north side of a rock, I can get warm if I have a mind to, but not so long as I remain on the north side. There are infinite mercies of God toward men; and all are wicked, for there is not a man on earth who is righteous, perfectly so, not one. Every man is imperfect in this mortal state. Nevertheless, the bounty of God is proffered to each. And it is received and enjoyed by all who take it as it is to be taken. The condition of Divine favour, of pardon, and of salvation, is not that you shall be inside of any Church; is not that you shall be Jew or Christian in the sectarian sense; is not that you shall be in the Roman, or Episcopal, or Presbyterian, or Baptist, or Methodist, or Congregational, or Lutheran, or Unitarian, or Universalist, or any other Church. What you want is simple personal sympathy With God, who is above all Churches, and who is offered to men without any regard to Churches. It is true that a man may be more likely to come into an intelligent knowledge of God, and His requirements and promises, in the sanctuary than out of it. The help which we receive from God is a gift springing out of the infinite resources of His love. But there are external and incidental helps. Churches are helps — not masters; servants — not despots. You are free. God is the God of all the earth; He is the God of every human being; and nothing separates between you and God but — what? Your creed? No. Your ordinances? No. Your pride and selfishness? Do these turn God sour? No. Nothing separates between you and God but your own will. Here I stand, holding out a handful of gold; but can a man receive that gold unless he comes and puts out his hand and takes it? No. Still the hand is open and held out to him. So long as men clench their fists they cannot take it, but if they will open their hands and make the necessary movement they can. Much of God's bounty, and forgiveness, and help, and succour, will come upon you, at any rate, through the incidental influence of Divine providence; but the personal mercies of God, the sweetness of His grace, the effluence of His love — these may be yours, they may succour you, restore you, strengthen you, inspire you, and build you up in time for eternity, if you will; but it all lies with you.

(H. W. Beecher.)

God always has a place for His children. If they are not wanted in one sphere, they are in another. Their place may be "far hence," far from the sphere which they long to fill, far from their present circle of companionship; in quite another profession and line of service from that which they have felt sure they were intended for; but wherever it is, it is the only place for them to be in. The far-off place which God chooses is better than any place nearer which is the disciple's preference. God sometimes comes to a teacher in his class, to a superintendent at the head of his school, to a pastor in a delightful field of labour, to a father or a mother in a pleasant home, to a student in the middle of his college career, to a business man in a work for which he seems eminently fitted, and says to the surprised hearer, "I will send thee forth far hence." When God speaks that word, no child of His may hold back from a prompt and hearty acquiescence. The only proper response to such an announce. ment is, "Even so, Father, for so it seems good in Thy sight."

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

1. Even the sincere servants of God have often a "but" against the commands of the Lord: it may arise from fear as with Jonah, or from modesty as with Moses and Jeremiah, or from conscientiousness as with Peter, or from compassion as with Abraham toward Sodom, and Paul toward the Jews.

2. Yet in spite of these "buts," the Lord remains firm to His command, "Depart"; and at length obtains the glory. "He has done all things well."

(K. Gerok.)

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