But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.…
I. THE SUBJECT WHICH THE TEXT PRESENTS TO OUR ATTENTION — "The gospel." If you examine the gospel as it was preached by Christ and His apostles, you will discover that merely to inculcate Christian virtues or to describe a future state, is not preaching the gospel. Every system must have some leading principles which are essential to it, and when these are renounced or overlooked, the system itself is opposed or concealed. Look at the meaning of the word "gospel" — "Glad tidings of great joy," etc. Therefore, to preach the gospel is to imitate the angelic host, to preach Christ. If there be not a full and plain declaration of "Christ and Him crucified," then there is an awful void in the preacher's message. We are as the heralds of mercy, to exhibit the atonement and righteousness of Christ, as the exclusive foundation of the Christian's hope of acceptance before God. Without the doctrine of justification by faith there can be no gospel. Let it only be alleged, or even hinted, that there is something more than the work of Christ necessary for the reconciliation of a sinner to God, and the silver trumpet falls from the lips of the preacher, and, to be a little more particular, we may remark that the Christian minister must proclaim Christ to his hearers as —
1. A suitable Saviour. We are enslaved, and need a Redeemer; diseased, and need a physician; perishing, and require a benefactor; condemned, and want pardon. Christ is our King, Benefactor, Physician, Redeemer, Saviour.
2. An Almighty Saviour. He is the maker and upholder of all things. "It pleased the Father that in Him all fulness should dwell." See whom He has saved! Many of the most guilty of the human race. And this assures us that He can "save to the uttermost all who come unto God by Him."
3. A willing Saviour. His invitations are given to all sinners, without exception.
4. An everlasting Saviour. He "is the Author of eternal salvation"; He gives "a kingdom that cannot be shaken" — "a crown of glory that fadeth not away."
II. THE MANNER IN WHICH THE GOSPEL IS TO BE PROCLAIMED, namely, by preaching. When the Saviour ascended up on high, He "received gifts for men." "And He gave some apostles," etc. But for how long was this to continue? "Until we all come to the unity of the faith," etc. The gospel trumpet is to be blown until its sound shall be succeeded by the voice of the archangel and the trump of God. The office of preaching is not only a wise institution, but one of paramount importance. This will be seen if we appeal to it.
1. The declarations of God. What was to crown, according to Jeremiah, the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity into their own land? "I will give them," says God, "pastors after Mine own heart," etc. What does Isaiah consider as a compensation for all the calamities of life? "Though the Lord give you the bread of adversity...yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more."
2. The adaptation of preaching to extensive usefulness. There is no mode of communicating information that can awaken half the attention, or excite half the interest, that the ordinance of preaching does; it is not only the understanding speaking to the understanding, but the heart speaking to the heart, and the conscience to the conscience. So that by this engine, if rightly used, every power of the mind is effected, and every feeling of the soul is touched and excited.
3. Its design. The profession of a lawyer is important, because it affects our property; and that of a physician, because it concerns our health; but these are nothing, when compared with the soul and eternity; and with these, the ministerial office is peculiarly concerned; and by these, it is infinitely dignified.
III. THE CONDITION OF THOSE PLACES IN WHICH THE GOSPEL HAS BEEN PROCLAIMED.
1. Every such place is peculiarly favoured. In other places there is no heavenly bread, no water of consolation for the support of the soul. Capernaum, a little fishing place, was "exalted to heaven," because there Christ preached the gospel. You should think of this when you change your residence, and when you make excursions for health. On such occasions ask, not only, "Is there a good air? Is there delightful scenery?" but also, "Is the gospel proclaimed there?"
2. Its inhabitants are awfully responsible. If you perish, you will have no cloak for your sin, and no alleviation of your punishment. "It will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon, at the day of judgment than for you," if you neglect the gospel.
(T. Gibson, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.