And the brothers immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night to Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.…
Let us mark —
I. THE ATTENTION SHOWN BY THE BEREANS TO THE MINISTRY OF ST. PAUL.
1. They "received the Word with all readiness of mind," which argued a simple teachable disposition. Hence their attention was prompt, cordial, and submissive. They felt their helplessness and were willing to be led. The mind of the hearer was as soil prepared for the word of the preacher. Doubtless St. Paul adduced his favourite themes — "Jesus and the resurrection." Paul might state many things which would be new to the Bereans, opposed to their sentiments and ordinary habits and pursuits; but such was their docility that they were cheerfully contented to be hearers, not teachers.
2. Ought not this to be the disposition of modern hearers? But is not rather the ministry of the gospel usually attended with little or no readiness of mind to receive it? We preach the fall of man, but who feel themselves to be fallen? We declare the nature and the consequence of sin, but who feels its "exceeding sinfulness," and "flees from the wrath to come"? We publish "glad tidings," but "who hath believed our report?" And why is this? Because our hearers have so little readiness of mind to receive it. The hearts of the generality are either as soft as water, or as hard as rock. If you dip your finger into water an impression will easily be made; the moment you withdraw your finger the impression vanishes. You may, too, pour water upon a rock, but it all runs off; it never penetrates and fructifies the stone.
3. Now it is this disposition which we wish to correct. As the preaching of the Word is a weighty and important charge, so surely does the hearing of it involve a very solemn responsibility. People too commonly imagine the delivery of a sermon to be a matter of course. "Judge your own selves." Do as these noble-minded persons did: hear impartially, teachably; with readiness to receive; for your edification in the faith of Christ, for eternity; as those who must one day account to the Master of our Assemblies for the means of instruction so graciously vouchsafed.
II. THE CONDUCT THEY WERE INDUCED TO ADOPT.
1. They "searched the Scriptures daily," etc. The Scriptures which the Bereans possessed were merely the Old Testament. From that, however, they had learned that "the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head"; that God would raise up unto them a Prophet that should, like Moses, promulgate a new dispensation of grace and mercy; that "in His love and in His pity He would redeem them," and reign as King of Zion, etc., etc. These things the Bereans knew, and therefore they "searched the Scriptures" to see how far the statements of St. Paul accorded with the Word of God. Nor did they indolently do so: so cautious were they about receiving what they heard, and so desirous that whatever they received should be strictly analogous to the truth, that they searched the Scriptures "daily." Using, with lowliness and sincerity, the only infallible means of information, the promise was fulfilled to them — "The meek will He guide in judgment, the meek will He teach His way." So true it is, "They that will do the will of God shall know of the doctrine," etc.
2. Now here I cannot but say, "Go ye and do likewise." Here is an example of earnest and devout inquiry worthy of our closest imitation. We can boast no extraordinary inspiration, and therefore we may err. Bring, then, what you hear from us to your Bible. In addition to the Old Testament you have the New. When we insist on the necessity of repentance, look and see if He in whose name we speak requires it. When we tell you that Christ is "all in all" — a sinner's justification and salvation — take not our word for it: search the Scriptures. Do not so reluctantly, as though it were a labour, but diligently, and that "daily," and as if your everlasting all depended on your right apprehension and belief of the truth. If you received a letter from a dear friend, would it lie long unopened by you? Say not, "We have no time." Have you no time to read other books? Remember, that alone is truth which will endure a Scriptural test. It is Scripture, too, that will try our principles and conduct in the judgment of the great day. "The words which I have spoken, the same shall judge you."
(W. Mudge, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.