Acts 28:15


A striking and touching instance is this of valuable human kindness. It is a positive relief to our minds to think that the faithful veteran soldier of Jesus Christ, bearing in his body such marks of lifelong conflict, worn with toil and care and suffering, having escaped from one kind of affliction and on his way to another, met with such considerate kindness as greatly comforted and cheered him. The text may remind us -

I. THAT HUMAN KINDNESS IS A DIVINELY IMPLANTED DISPOSITION. As God created us "in his own image," we were made to feel and show kindness one to another; to rejoice in one another's success; to promote one another's prosperity; to sympathize with one another in sorrow; to be willing to deny ourselves, to run risks, to make sacrifices, to help others in their time of need.

II. THAT UNDER THE CURSE OF SIN IT MAY RE ERADICATED FROM THE SOUL; e.g. pirates, wreckers, thugs, etc.

III. THAT IT SHOULD BE DEVELOPED BY CONSTANT CULTURE. Kindness, like all other graces, needs regular cultivation, or it will decline or even perish. It needs:

1. The nurture which comes from the utterance of truth; the reception of right thoughts into the mind.

2. The strengthening which proceeds from daily illustration; that which is derived from the practice of slight and simple acts of considerateness and good will.

3. The confirmation of larger acts of self-sacrificing love; such acts as cause trouble, as involve difficulty, as entail risk, as necessitate expenditure.

IV. THAT IT HAS RENDERED HIGH SERVICE IN THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST.

1. To the great King himself; for shall we not say that much of the ministry of those women who waited on him so kindly, and something of the attendance granted by the men who tendered him their aid, was the offering of human kindness rather than of Divine service? Yet it was not on that account unacceptable or unserviceable.

2. To his apostles. Here is one instance in which human kindness greatly comforted and heartened a valued servant of Christ, and helped him on his useful and fruitful course.

3. To his servants in all succeeding centuries. Who shall tell how much the cause of Christ has been furthered by the opportune kindness shown by tender hearts and gentle hands to those who have been its representatives and champions?

V. THAT IT IS AN ADMIRABLE THING IN ITSELF: one that is highly esteemed of God (Hebrews 13:16; Ephesians 3:32); one that is beautiful in the sight of man, that adorns the doctrine, that is to the character what the bloom is to the plant; one that has a general and precious reflex influence on those that exercise and exhibit it.

VI. THAT IT IS A BLESSING FOR WHICH WE SHOULD BE GRATEFUL TO GOD. Paul "thanked God" as well as "took courage." We have reason to thank God for human kindness as much as for any blessing we receive. For though this does not come as perceptibly from him as the sunshine and the rain, yet ultimately and actually it is as much his gift as they are. Only the loving God can originate love in the human heart and in the human life. "God is our Sun," from whom streams every ray of human kindness that falls on our path and cheers our soul. Let us, too, thank God for it, while we take courage from it. - C.







The brethren...came to meet us as far as Appii Forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.
Homilist.
The effect of this meeting on Paul requires explanation. He found brethren at Puteoli, but no such feelings were aroused there. What was there then in this incident to so powerfully and beneficially affect the apostle's mind? He regarded it —

I. AS EXPRESSIVE OF THE SYMPATHY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH IN ROME. Sympathy is solace and help. Like the oil and wine of the good Samaritan — it heals and strengthens. It would be thoroughly appreciated by Paul, who told the Romans to "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep." This sympathy was —

1. Timely. Think of Paul's circumstances.

2. Practical. It travelled further than mere sentiment and words — even thirty-three and fifty miles of hard road.

3. Noble. Paul was a prisoner, but they did not despise his chain; he was a Christian about to answer for his life, yet they dared to identify themselves with him.

II. AS A TOKEN OF GOD'S PROVIDENTIAL CARE. His elation on these occasions implies a previous corresponding depression. As the angel who stood by him in the night season made him of good cheer, so these brethren constrained him "to thank God and take courage." But how trivial is the event mentioned! Not in the estimation of faith. It indicated the hand of God. The cloud seen by the servant on Carmel was in itself a little thing, but it was of great moment to Elijah. By no means could Paul be more effectually cheered than by a vivid realisation of God's care for him. "If God be for us, who can be against us?"

III. AS PROPHETIC OF THE UNIVERSAL TRIUMPH OF CHRISTIANITY. Doubtless the chief cause of depression was apprehension in reference to the gospel. He was deprived of his liberty; his life was in jeopardy. Alas! for the Churches he had planted; alas! for the progress of the Word of life. But, lo! brethren arrive from Rome. The gospel has taken firm hold on Rome, and from thence it shall diffuse itself to the ends of the earth! He could not serve the gospel better than he did during those "two whole years" which he spent here. Conclusion: The subject teaches us further —

1. That the most eminent of God's servants may be discouraged.

2. That God will opportunely interfere in their behalf.

3. That such interpositions should work in them gratitude and confidence.

(Homilist.)

I. THANKFULNESS FOR THE PAST. The Bible is full of exhortations to thankfulness, which leads us to regard it —

1. As a duty —(1) To ourselves. Gloom and despondency are injurious, while a merry heart doeth good like medicine. Sunshine is good for health as medical men know, for they are careful to put all the patients they can in the sunny rooms of hospitals. Why, then, put children in a shady back room, when the best room is in the front, with the blinds down for fear of spoiling the carpet. Better pay for a new carpet than pay for doctors' bills. Value the sunshine, for no one grows strong in Doubting Castle. It is in Beulah, where the sun always shines, that men grow strong; and the more sunshine the better, for sunshine here prepares us for God's sunshine hereafter.(2) To others. No man liveth to himself. Every one must cheer or depress, help or hinder those around him.(3) To the Church. It is a blunder that the good God has given as a religion of gloom. Let the services of the Church be cheerful. Take your doubts and fears to the Mercy Seat in private, and don't air them at fellowship meetings.(4) To the world. Religion was created to make the world happy. To be gloomy is to say that religion is a failure.(5) To God. Thankfulness glorifies Him, and that is the great business of life.

2. As a reasonable service. Reasons for thankfulness abound on every side.(1) Look at the evils escaped. There is a tendency to look at those who have more than ourselves; the bright thing is to look at those who have less. It is common to look at a splendid equipage and envy the possessor; why not look instead at the poor invalid?(2) Look at the blessings received.

(a)Temporal — life, health, home, etc.

(b)Spiritual — sonship with God, hope of heaven, etc.

II. COURAGE FOR THE FUTURE. When Paul thanked God and took courage, imprisonment awaited him. Every one will have trouble, but —

1. We should be on our guard not to make troubles. Trouble making is the oldest manufacture in the world, and the largest trade going. The Jews had home-made sorrow after sorrow. Obadiah made a trouble when Elijah sent him to Ahab. Some people carry on a wholesale business, making troubles for others as well as for themselves. There are the newspapers which draw pictures of invasion and what-not which fills people with misery. There are people whose children cannot be a few minutes late from school but they imagine they are run over; whose husbands cannot be detained by business but they think of railway accidents.

2. Then there are some who go to meet troubles. They can never enjoy the present for fear of the future. They cannot go for a holiday in the sunshine without remembering that the Americans had telegraphed a storm, and so they darken the sky with troubles before they come. The storm might never come at all. Men commit suicide or die of broken hearts in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred because they bring sorrow out of the future into the present. Sufficient for the day is the strength. The builder of a railway truck marks it to carry seven tons. He knows what it can bear, and God knows what we can bear. If we bring tomorrow's trouble into today we shall have too heavy a load to carry.

3. Real trials will come, and it is well to look at the encouragements.(1) Nothing can happen without the permission of Him who loves us best.(2) All things will work together for our good. There will be no grumbling at the last day when we shall see the end from the beginning, and sing, "My Jesus has done all things well."(3) Recall the enterprise of those before us, a cloud of witnesses.(4) Remember the promises. When the sun goes down, the stars come out. The stars are never visible till the sun has gone down. Out of the night of sorrow the promises shine.(5) Our best Friend will never leave us.

(Charles Garrett.)

Family Churchman.
He who visits Rome, and drives along the Appian way between the ruined tombs and towards the Alban hills, cannot but recall this memorable scene. For, though emperors, commanders, statesmen, and scholars have passed by this road into the seven-hilled city, never did there enter by this famous approach a Roman citizen so great as the apostle Paul.

I. THE OCCASION OF THESE EMOTIONS.

1. So far as Paul's position was concerned, there seemed to be little human ground for gratitude. He was a prisoner who was accompanied to the imperial tribunal by the hatred of his countrymen; and his future appeared dark and threatening. He knew that he might have come to die.

2. But at this conjuncture he was cheered by "the brethren" of Rome, who, hearing of the apostle's approach, came thus far on the road to greet him. This was acting like brethren; it was a practical exhibition of Christian sympathy and love.

II. THE EMOTION AWAKENED BY THE RETROSPECT OF THE PAST AND THE EXPERIENCE OF THE PRESENT. Paul thanked God for His past faithfulness, for the honour put upon him, in that he had been suffered to labour and to endure hardship and persecution for Christ's sake; and especially because God had put it in the hearts of His people to show the kindness to His servant.

III. THE EMOTION AROUSED BY THE PROSPECT IN THE FUTURE. Paul took courage. Why? Because his friends were by his side; and better still, the Lord Himself was with him. In entering the metropolis of the world as a prisoner, Paul had need of some encouragement, lest his brave heart should shrink within him. And here we see that Divine grace was sufficient for him.

(Family Churchman.)

I. THE DEVOUT SPIRIT IN WHICH THE PAST SHOULD BE REVIEWED. "He thanked God." As we review the year which has just closed, we are reminded of —

1. Temporal mercies.

2. Spiritual supplies.

3. Victories achieved.

4. Work accomplished.

5. Sins forgiven. The text also indicates —

II. THE HEROIC SPIRIT IN WHICH THE FUTURE MAY BE ANTICIPATED. "And took courage." There are many things calculated to discourage us as we endeavour to prosecute the work of the Lord — such as our consciousness of the feebleness of our powers; the magnitude, importance, and solemnity of our work; the malignity and multitude of our foes; the inveterateness of evil; the seeming slowness of the progress of truth; the brief and fleeting character of our lives, etc. But there is much to encourage. There are —

1. Inspiring memories.

2. Christian sympathy. But the most inspiring thought for the future is —

3. God is with us.God's purposes are on our side; His promises are on our side, no good thing will be withheld from us. God's presence is with us, to cheer, defend, sustain, deliver. Courage gives strength, just as cowardice debilitates, and doubt paralyses. Courage gives gladness, it inspires hope, and anticipates, as well as helps to ensure victory. Courage is contagious; just as fear will strike panic into the breasts of others, so pluck will enkindle enthusiasm, and propagate ardour.

(F. Brown.)

The thought which this story emphasises is the blessedness of Christian sympathy. It is illustrated under special circumstances, but it applies to all the experiences of our Christian life. Christians are marked out for this fellow feeling.

I. This Christian sympathy of which so much is said, WHAT IS IT? Clearly it is something more than the compassion which a man of kindly heart, in the full consciousness of the blessings which Divine mercy has assured him, must feel for one who is buffeted by the sorrows and trials of life. It is more, too, than the pity with which we may look upon one who has been overcome by temptation. Nor is it even that tenderness of soul and readiness to extend a helping hand which are natural in all who have been brought into a loving communion with Christ in the presence of affliction and sorrow. Sympathy means very much more than this. It is a fellow feeling which makes the burdens of another our own, which shares his anxieties and cares, but shares also his successes and his joys. In its completeness it means the effacement of the ordinary self, for we cannot fully identify ourselves with others so long as we nurture some selfish passion in our own hearts.

II. We pass on to inquire HOW THIS SYMPATHY IS TO BE ATTAINED? In its perfection it will not be realised by us here. The ideal may float before our faith as an object of holy ambition; but it will remain an ideal in our present imperfect state. That is no reason why it should not be kept constantly before the heart to be desired, pursued, sought. Much has to be done in all of us before we are freed from the varied forms of selfishness. In some it is the hard self-complacency of the bigot; in others, the arrogance and isolation of the proud; in others, the self-indulgence and luxury of the idle; in others, the unsympathetic indifference of the self-absorbed; and, alas! in some the resentful passion which finds it impossible to forgive an injury, and forgets the solemn and terrible condemnation which the Lord Himself has pronounced on this unforgiving temper. It remains then only that we should be continually advancing. Yea! The heart grows rich by giving. Of it it is more true than of almost anything beside — there is that withholdeth more than is meet, and it tendeth only to poverty. It is said that a limb may lose some power it once possessed by disuse, and, indeed, we are familiar with the fact that exercise strengthens the muscles on which stress is laid, while a failure to employ them at all is followed by a steady degeneracy and loss of power. Give the heart free play for all its generous impulses, its lofty aims, its loving thoughts; let it be accustomed to thoughts of gentleness and deeds of self-sacrifice. The more it yields to the inspirations of faith and love the greater will become its capacities for trusting and loving. Then sympathy is a gift which none are too poor to bestow.

III. Is it then to be said THAT THIS IS THE CHRISTLIKE SPIRIT, AND THAT TO HAVE THE CHRISTLIKE SPIRIT IS TO BE A CHRISTIAN? Unquestionably.

(J. Rogers, B.)

The narrative teaches us —

I. THAT CHARACTERS THE MOST DISTINGUISHED IN THE CHURCH OF GOD MAY SOMETIMES NEED ENCOURAGEMENT. What made the apostle now droop we cannot determine. Perhaps he had heard what a tiger Nero had lately become; or felt some melancholy thoughts as to the result of his trial. But whatever was the cause, it seems that even his courage failed, who, in writing to these Romans, could say, "if God be for us, who can be against us?" People often imagine that Scripture saints were a race entirely different from modern Christians. This is a mistake. Our case is not peculiar — we neither sigh nor tremble alone.

II. THE BENEFIT THAT IS TO BE DERIVED FROM INTERCOURSE WITH CHRISTIAN FRIENDS. When Paul saw these brethren, he was inspired with new life. "Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart, so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel. Iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." In no condition is it "good for man to be alone." Religion, instead of destroying the social principle, refines and strengthens it. Our Saviour promised that, "where two or three are gathered together in His name, He will be in the midst of them." To cheer and animate each other, "He sent forth His disciples two and two." "Two are better than one." Have you ever been in distress? How soothing was the presence of a tender and a pious friend! Have you ever been in spiritual darkness and perplexity? — you sighed, "No one was ever like me!" But a Christian related his experience, and announced the same feelings, and you were set at liberty. Or have you, in a scorching day, been ready to perish for thirst? Like another angel, in the case of Hagar, "He opened your eyes and showed you a well" — and you "went on your way rejoicing." How pleasing is it, when travelling to heaven, to overtake those who will be "our companions in tribulation." What a glow of satisfaction does a man, called by Divine grace, diffuse in a Church when he enters to ask for communion and fellowship with them. "They that fear Thee will be glad when they see me, because I have hoped in Thy Word"! How desirable is the Lord's day, and the Lord's house, in which we see so many of our brethren! How charming will heaven be, where we shall see "a multitude which no man can number," etc.!

III. THAT WE MAY BE EDIFIED BY THOSE WHO ARE BELOW US IN STATION AND IN TALENTS AND IN GRACE. Thus these private Christians helped an inspired apostle. Apollos was an eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures; but he was "taught the way of the Lord more perfectly," by two of his hearers, Priscilla and Aquila. Naaman the Syrian was a mighty man; but he was indebted for his cure to a little maid. "The king is served by the labour of the field." There is no such thing as independence — that there is a connection among men which embraces all ranks and degrees — and a dependence founded upon it; so that no being is above the want of assistance, and no being is useless or unimportant. It is in the world, and it is in the Church, as it is in the human frame. "The eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee," etc.

IV. ALL THE COMFORT AND ADVANTAGE WE DERIVE FROM CREATURES SHOULD AWAKEN GRATITUDE TO GOD. It is said, "he thanked God." Doubtless the apostle was sensible of his obligations to these brethren, and thanked them. But says Paul, "Who made these Christian friends, and rendered them the means of restoring my soul?" God uses channels to convey blessings to us, but all our springs are in Him.

(W. Jay.)

We have here an illustrious example of —

I. CHRISTIAN SYMPATHY UNDER TRYING CIRCUMSTANCES. This sympathy was —

1. Practical. Some of the brethren had come thirty and some fifty miles.

2. Unselfish. Paul was a poor prisoner; he had nothing to give.

3. Reasonable. They had previously been benefited by Paul's labours. It is our duty to sympathise with troubled Christian brethren, and it should be esteemed a privilege to render them assistance. Mutual help is a Divinely appointed necessity. Sympathy, like the sun, gladdens life and awakens force in the heart. Christ was the great Sympathiser.

II. CHRISTIAN GRATITUDE UNDER TRYING CIRCUMSTANCES. This is not a conqueror going to be crowned, but a prisoner going to confinement and perhaps death. A man has reason for joy in prosperity, but Paul is grateful in adversity and bonds. He thanked God, not man. Man's life is in God's hands. God is the disposer of all events. What reasons had the apostle for thanking God? He was grateful —

1. For the sympathy the gospel had excited.

2. For the zeal the gospel had awakened.

3. For the triumphs the gospel had gained.

4. For the consolation the gospel afforded.No man's condition is so dark and distressing as to exclude all cause for gratitude. We have homes, friends, health, life, the promise of heaven. A thankless man is the most contemptible thing in God's universe.

III. CHRISTIAN HEROISM UNDER TRYING CIRCUMSTANCES. Courage —

1. Is the impulse that enables us to endure suffering, and to accomplish arduous achievements.

2. Carries a man beyond the attainments of habit or selfish impulses.

3. Has opportunities for development in every sphere in life.

4. Never seeks to report itself. We may be called upon to evince our heroism,

(1)An easy but dishonourable path may be opened.

(2)Persecution for religion may be accompanied by loss.

(3)Temptation, poverty, and bereavement may enter our homes.Let us be courageous. One Being can sustain — God. One hope can cheer us — heaven. We each need courage, counsel, and help. What the Three Taverns were to the apostle, the Sabbath, the sanctuary, the Scriptures, the Church, may be to us.

(J. Woodhouse.)

I. LET US THANK GOD FOR THE OLD YEAR.

1. For lives preserved. During the year tens of thousands have fought the last battle and been laid in the dust who entered upon it with as little expectation of it being their dying year as we did. We are spared. Throughout another year the pendulum of life has given its noiseless beats, the pulse has throbbed without a pause, the silver cord has borne the strain.

2. For health enjoyed. To multitudes this year has been a living death; yea, death itself has often been desired as a friend. Not so has it been with us. Passing pains and transient sickness may have fallen to our share, but most of them are now forgotten. They were but noticed through their contrast with our general days. How few Sabbaths have many of us lost through sickness: not half so many as we have by our soul's worldliness. Thank God, then, that not only has the life current flowed, but that it has flowed strongly.

3. For prosperity granted. Not only has there been the strength to work, but there has been the work to employ the strength. Perhaps the year was entered with many a dark foreboding thought. Difficulties seemed closing around you, and you prophesied that this year the storm must burst. Well, how is it now? God has been to you a Jehovah Jireh. Though far from wealthy, you find you can spare something for the poorer brethren, and give your little to the work of God.

4. For home mercies. Among all the gifts of heaven there is none more beautiful or worthy of praise than a home where kindness, love, and cheerfulness abide. To Adam, Paradise was home, and to the holy among his descendants home is Paradise. And how has it been in the home during the year? "Thank God," many of you can reply, "it has been well." The same faces that smiled upon you on last new year's day smiled upon you with as fresh a smile this morning. If it be so, I charge you "thank God." There are this morning homes yet wrapt in gloom, and a gloom that is deepened by the very season of the year. In other homes, a deeper shade than ever bereavement casts, hangs heavily; for if home be not the source of purest joys, it is of deepest misery. Think of home with all its mercies, and "thank God" again and again.

5. For national blessings. There is enough in the providential dealings of our God with all to give a thankful heart. True, we have all had our sorrows and our disappointments. But what have been the number of our trials compared with the multitude of our mercies? And contrasted with our deserts, how light will the heaviest become!

6. For God's mercies to the soul.(1) We have been kept from falling. With no feeling of pride, but only grateful love, you may exclaim, "Having obtained help of God, I continue unto this day." Our thankfulness may well be intensified by the sad remembrance that some have fallen during the year, and lost their power for testimony. With a nature like ours so dangerously quick to sin, and living, amid a very shower of fiery temptations, how great the grace that has preserved us thus far. "Thank God."(2) Our spiritual life has been maintained and increased. The two things do not always go together. It is possible to be free from any great and open fall, and yet have the painful consciousness that inwardly there has been a declusion. Great then is the cause for thankfulness if we can express the hope that the inward experience has corresponded with the outward appearance.(3) What times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord have we often had?(4) Some of you have been converted during the year. What a transformation scene has taken place in you since last New Year's Day. The stones of this building might well cry out in judgment, if above all other voices yours is not heard, crowning the year with, "Thank God, thank God."

7. We have Church mercies to thank God for.(1) The spirit of hearing is still maintained.(2) The work of conversion has been carried on.

II. LOOK FORWARD WITH COURAGE TO THE NEW. We now turn our eyes to the time to come. How different the view! A thick veil shrouds all in impenetrable gloom. In vain we strain our eyes to pierce the curtain dark. We enter on the year by faith and not by sight. The hand of mercy only clears the darkness as step by step we enter in it. The new year is yet a land uninhabited and unknown. With what feelings shall we enter it? Let our text give the answer. Having thanked God for the past, let us now "take courage" for the future. "Because Thou hast been our help, therefore under the shadow of Thy wing will we trust." Doubtless, there are some looking forward with dread. Although ignorant of the particular forms their troubles may assume, they reckon rightly that troubles of some sort they are sure to meet, and the very indefiniteness of them serves to magnify their greatness. Possible loss, disappointment, and grief cast their shadow on the spirit. They did on Paul. Yet he took courage. I will therefore mention a few thoughts calculated to inspire courage.

1. We shall have the same God with us. The change of year brings no change in Him who is our Rock and our Defence. "Our God, our help in ages past," may well be "our hope for years to come."

2. The same promises will be your support. Round about you, like the mountains round Jerusalem, or the chariots of fire round the prophet, are the same "precious promises" that have glittered like stars in your darkest night. "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." "My grace is sufficient for thee."

3. The same hope which has cheered the old year accompanies you into the new. The hope of either your going to Jesus, or Jesus coming to you.

(A. Brown.)

Here was an unexpected joy. St. Paul no longer felt friendless and alone! He was cheered up, and the path seemed brightened. He realised that though dark shadows of affliction and persecution were round the path, yet God was comforting His servant by giving him the sympathy and friendship of his fellow Christians. For these mercies, unexpected yet cheering, "he thanked God," and accepted them as tokens of his Heavenly Father's care, and pledges that the hand of Jesus would help and support him in the future, therefore "he took courage" to meet with calm and earnest faith what might be still in store for his coming years! Often the Christian finds himself surrounded with cares and disappointments. It is the characteristic of many worries in life to be quite disproportionate in the pain they give to their importance, the smallest wound on the hand or finger, being in constant friction, gives more pain than a far more serious injury somewhere else. When we meet with disappointments, worries, and perhaps worse trials, it is the wise and Christian course to strive and see the bright side of them. They are part of the appointed discipline of life. May not we regard the lesser troubles of daily life to be like the gravel and stones on the path, which, when pressed down by patient endurance, become a firm path? The Christian, who takes patiently the discipline of lesser evils, learns gradually to train himself to higher things. It was a remarkable saying of a heathen sage that a good man bearing adversity patiently was a sight pleasing to the gods! But ofttimes God has been pleased in a wonderful way to reward the patience and confidence of His children. One winter a lonely widow and her family were much oppressed with anxiety and dread. Not only was food and fuel scarce and dear, but the whole land was in peril from fierce foes, and bands of armed men marched from village to village. There was no strong arm to defend the widow's door, nor any plentiful stores to satisfy the rapacity of armed men. All she could do was to cast all her cares on her Heavenly Father. That night the rumour spread through the village that the foemen were near. Her cottage stood at the entrance of the village and near the high road. When she last looked out the snowflakes were falling fast, and the winter winds howling round the thatch. Next morning the December dawn seemed darker than usual, and she looked abroad, a huge snowdrift had almost blocked up the house, and did not melt for many hours, but when she was able to venture forth she found that the enemy's army had indeed marched through the village and plundered every other house, but had never noticed her humble homestead concealed behind its protecting snow shield! Even so our Father defends those who place their trust in Him. God bestows on us abundant earthly blessings, and best of all, He has given His dear Son to be our Saviour and Redeemer. Let us, then, with heart and life serve and adore Him, and taking courage, give thanks.

(J. Hardman, LL.)

I. THE SYMPATHY OF GOD IS HERE MANIFESTED THROUGH THE SYMPATHY OF MAN. Paul saw the disciples and thanked God.

II. THE SYMPATHY SO MANIFESTED INSPIRES THE SOUL WITH ENNOBLING FEELINGS.

1. Paul thanked God. Here is gratitude for the past and present.

2. He took courage. Here is help for the future.

III. THE LESSER MAY INSPIRE AND STRENGTHEN THE GREATER. Paul, the greatest of the apostles, was helped by these humble Christians. Even Christ was once strengthened from a similar source (Matthew 11:25).

(W. Harris.)

Many a man fails in a good but difficult effort because he receives criticism when he needs and ought to have encouragement. A fireman was trying to reach from the top of a ladder a poor woman who was imploring help at the window of a burning house. One among the crowd below cried, "You can't do it, come down." He was already somewhat burned, and almost choked by the smoke. He began to descend, and was leaving the woman to her fate, when a man shouted, "Give him a cheer." The vast crowd made the air ring with their encouragement, whereupon the fireman stopped, again ascended towards the window, and, aided by the cheering of the multitude, brought the woman safely to the ground. If you know a timid brother who is weak and liable to fall, help him all you can and God will bless you. "Give Him a cheer."

In enforcing the duty of the congregation to encourage their minister, Dr. Dale said: "There are times when the most buoyant sink into despondency, when a great, chilly mist creeps over the soul of those who have the largest happiness in the service of God, and they feel as if all their strength was gone. Not very long ago — if I may venture once more to speak of myself — one of these evil moods was upon me; but as I was passing along one of the streets of Birmingham a poor but decently dressed woman, laden with parcels, stopped me and said, 'God bless you, Dr. Dale!' Her face was unknown to me. I said, 'Thank you. What is your name?' 'Never mind my name,' was the answer, 'but if you only knew how you have made me feel hundreds of times, and what a happy home you have given me! God bless you!' she said. The mist broke, the sunlight came, I breathed the free air of the mountains of God."

Scientific Illustrations.
No part of the world affords a more difficult or dangerous navigation than the approaches of our northern coast in winter. Before the warmth of the Gulf Stream was known, a voyage at this season from Europe to New England, New York, and even to the capes of the Delaware and Chesapeake, was many times more trying, difficult, and dangerous than it now is. In making this part of the coast vessels are frequently met by snowstorms and gales which mock the seamen's strength and set at naught his skill. In a little while his bark becomes a mass of ice; with her crew frosted and helpless, she remains obedient only to her helm, and is kept away from the Gulf Stream. After a few hours' run she reaches its edge, and almost at the next bound passes from the midst of winter into a sea at summer heat. Now the ice disappears from her apparel; the sailor bathes his stiffened limbs in tepid waters; feeling himself invigorated and refreshed with the genial warmth about him, he realises out there at sea the fable of Antseus and his mother Earth. He rises up and attempts to make his port again, and is again as rudely met and beat back from the northwest; but each time that he is driven off from the contest he comes forth from this stream, like the ancient son of Neptune, stronger and stronger, until, after many days, his freshened strength prevails, and he at last triumphs and enters his haven in safety. His experiences bear a resemblance to those of the man who is tempest tossed upon the sea of social life. This man, struggling in what Shakespeare designates "a sea of troubles," has to brave great billows of adversity and to face the chilling blasts of misfortune. He is well-nigh hopeless and powerless, when he suddenly encounters the warm stream of human sympathy which flows even in society's most icy regions. Under its vitalising influences the horrors of his despair melt away; his heart glows with renewed hope; he is nerved with fresh strength for a successful struggle against his calamities, so that he is able at length to accomplished his destined purpose.

(Scientific Illustrations.)

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