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PAUL BITTEN BY A VIPER, AND UNINJURED
Acts 28:3-6. And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.
IT is curious to observe how, in this chequered scene of life, judgments and mercies, trials and deliverances, crosses and comforts, are intermixed. In the space of a few hours Paul was shipwrecked, and saved; destitute, and relieved; bitten by a viper, and preserved from injury; judged as a murderer, and honoured as a god.
These events, though not of primary importance, are yet deserving of consideration.
The inhabitants of Malta, here called “Barbarians,” as not being learned and polished like the Greeks and Romans, shewed great kindness and hospitality to the shipwrecked crew: and in this they put to shame many who bear the Christian name, who would have plundered, rather than relieved, the unhappy sufferers. A fire being made to warm the people and to dry their clothes, St. Paul gladly exerted himself for the general good, and, gathering a bundle of sticks, put them on the fire. But a viper that had lain concealed in the fagot, no sooner felt the heat, than he seized the hand of Paul, and held it fast with his teeth. Paul however, betraying no fear, held up his hand for a time with great composure, and then shook off the venomous creature into the fire. This event gave rise to various conjectures, which now we proceed to notice.
Let us see,
In what light it was viewed by the people present—
At first they regarded it as a judgment on him for some heinous crime—
[There is even in the minds of heathens some idea of a superintending Providence, who, though in general inattentive to the concerns of men, interposes sometimes on great occasions, especially to detect and punish the crime of murder. The first thought therefore of the spectators was, that Paul was thus singled out as a monument of Divine vengeance, which, though it had spared him in the shipwreck, would not suffer his iniquity to pass unpunished.
Now this sentiment is to a certain degree just: but it is erroneous when carried to too great an extent. Certain it is that God does on some occasions mark, as it were, in a visible manner his indignation against sin: but in numberless instances even the most aggravated transgressions pass unpunished in this life, and are reserved for adequate retribution to the judgment of the great day. It is certain also that temporal calamities are by no means to be regarded as certain marks of God’s displeasure: for they are often sent as fruits of his paternal love [Note: Hebrews 12:6.]. The great error of Job’s friends was, that they judged him as a hypocrite, because of the heavy calamities that came upon him: and our blessed Lord has especially guarded us against forming such uncharitable conclusions, in relation to those whose blood Pilate mingled with the sacrifices, or those on whom the tower of Siloam fell [Note: Luke 13:1-5.]. The truth is, that in this world “all things come alike to all;” “nor can any man know either love or hatred by all that is before him [Note: Ecc 9:1-3].” Josiah, as well as Saul or Ahab, may be slain in battle; and Paul, as well as the rebellious Israelites, may be bitten by a serpent: and therefore to condemn any on account of the afflictions with which they are visited, is to act like those who accounted David, yea, and Christ himself, as judicially stricken and smitten of their God [Note: Psalms 41:8. Isaiah 53:4.].]
Afterwards, they considered it as an evidence that he was a god—
[As the heathen imagined that there was a superior Being who punished sin, so they believed that their gods sometimes “came down to them in the likeness of men [Note: Acts 14:11.].” Hence, when the people saw that Paul had sustained no injury, they concluded that he must be a god. But here they ran to an opposite extreme. Having no knowledge of the only true God, and of his power to protect his servants, they missed entirely the true construction, which they should have put upon the event before them. But indeed, there is this propensity in every man to judge too favourably of those who prosper, as well as too unfavourably of those who suffer. The just medium can be attained by those only, who investigate matters with a dispassionate mind, and take every thing into consideration that should regulate and decide the judgment.]
From shewing in what light they viewed the event, we proceed to consider,
In what light it should be viewed—
God had doubtless some gracious design in this dispensation. We apprehend it was intended by him,
As a means whereby to awaken their attention to his Gospel—
[Paul was sent to Rome that he might testify of Christ in Cζsar’s palace. And as he was now on his way thither, God ordained that he should have an opportunity of making known the Saviour to the barbarians at Malta. But Paul was now a prisoner, and therefore not likely to gain much attention from the people: besides that, he was not at liberty to go amongst them as he would willingly have done. But, by this miracle, the attention of all was instantly fixed on him, and a way was opened for a free communication of the Gospel of Christ. That he availed himself of the opportunity, we cannot doubt: and that he had considerable success, there is reason to conclude, from the gratitude expressed by all ranks of people amongst them at his departure.
The same object, we apprehend, God has in view, by numberless dispensations which occur from time to time. Both mercies and judgments are continually represented as designed of God for this end; “And they shall know that I am the Lord.” The miraculous powers with which the Apostles were invested were not credentials only, for the authenticating of their divine mission, but means also of recommending the Gospel to the attention and acceptance of men. And we shall do well to regard the various events that are now passing in the world, as calls from God to embrace and hold fast the Gospel of Christ.]
As a standing memorial of the care which God takes of all his faithful servants—
[Many and glorious are the promises which God gives us of security in his service. That we are not to expect visible and miraculous interpositions in our favour, is true: but we are not to suppose that he will leave us to the influence of blind chance, or give us up into the hand of our inveterate enemies. Were his gracious care withdrawn, “Satan would soon sift every one of us as wheat.” But Jehovah keeps us in his everlasting arms, so that “no weapon that is formed against us can prosper.” As our Lord could not be apprehended till his time was come, so neither can any of his faithful people be destroyed, till God himself has signed the warrant. See how amply this is set forth by David [Note: Psalms 91:9-13.], and in the book of Job [Note: Job 5:19-23.]: and shall these promises fail of their accomplishment? “Hath God said, and will he not do it; hath he spoken, and will he not make it good?” The promises made directly to the Apostles, must, as to their literal sense, be limited to them [Note: Mark 16:17-18. Luke 10:19.]: but, in the spirit of them, they must be applied to all, who put themselves under the shadow of Jehovah’s wing [Note: Psalms 91:3-7.]. “The wrath of man shall praise him:” and every occurrence, however adverse to the eye of sense, shall work for the present and eternal good of all his faithful people [Note: Romans 8:28. 2 Corinthians 4:17.].]
Let us learn then from hence,
Justice to man—
[We all are prone to judge one another: but this is to usurp the prerogative of Jehovah. The command of Christ, and of his Apostles is, “Judge not;” “Judge nothing before the time, &c. [Note: Matthew 7:1-2. 1 Corinthians 4:5.]”]
Confidence in God—
[It may be, that in the service of our God our trials may be great and numerous; yea, and we may be judged by our fellow-creatures with the severest judgment: but we may safely commit every event to him [Note: 1 Corinthians 4:3.], assured, that he will “bring forth our righteousness as the noon-day,” if not in this world, yet most certainly in the world to come.]
THE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST EVIL SPOKEN OF
Acts 28:22. We desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.
AS prejudice is easily excited in the mind, so is its operation extremely powerful, wherever it is entertained. An opprobrious term will often convey more in one moment, than could be conveyed otherwise in many sentences: and, as superseding the necessity of any specific accusations, it is generally resorted to as the means of bringing either persons or things into general contempt. The enemies of Christianity in every age have availed themselves of this advantage, to decry a religion which they did not choose to embrace. Thus, when St. Paul came to Rome, and had convened the principal Jews to his lodgings, he found, that, though no accusations had been brought against him, his religion, and all who professed it, were regarded in an odious light, through the malignant misrepresentations of their adversaries. Let us then inquire,
Whence it was that the Gospel was so universally evil spoken of in the apostolic age—
That the Gospel was universally reviled, is obvious from the decided manner in which the notoriety of the fact is mentioned in the text; “We know it:” and it was so chiefly on two grounds;
As being impious in itself—
[The Jews regarded it as subversive of the law of Moses. They could not see, that Jesus was the person to whom Moses and the prophets had borne witness: they could not see, that he had actually fulfilled the law, and was himself the substance, of which that was only the shadow: they therefore conceived his pretensions to be in direct opposition to God’s revealed will; and his religion to be a system of impiety altogether — — — The Gentiles also, finding that Christianity required an utter dereliction of all their false gods, and at the same time presented to them no visible object of worship, accounted all its professors atheists. They knew indeed that Christians worshipped Him who died for them on Mount Calvary: but that seemed only to add folly to impiety; since to regard him as a God and a Saviour, who, to all appearance, was not even able to save himself, was an act of absurdity, in their eyes, bordering on madness — — —]
As injurious to mankind—
[To individuals it was supposed to be a source of distraction to the mind, and of immorality in the life. Even the Head of this religion, the despised Nazarene, was thought to be “beside himself;” nor were his followers in any better plight; since they professed to turn their backs upon all visible good, and to follow a good that was invisible. Moreover, in the midst of these high pretensions, they were supposed to be addicted to all manner of licentious habits, even such as the Gentiles themselves scarcely ventured to indulge [Note: 1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 3:16.].
To families, this religion was considered as a source of incalculable mischief; since, wherever it came, it set the nearest relatives against each other, as even the Founder of it himself had declared it would [Note: Matthew 10:34-36.].
It was hostile also to the welfare of the state. It inculcated many things which the Roman laws forbad, and prohibited many things which they enjoined. It set up a king above Cζsar himself [Note: Acts 16:20-21; Acts 17:6-7; Acts 24:5-6.]. Was such a religion as this to be tolerated? No: every sensible governor would give the same direction, respecting it, as Haman gave in relation to the Jews; that it ought to be banished from the face of the earth [Note: Esther 3:8-9.].]
But, now that Christianity is established, does the same prejudice against it remain? Let us inquire into this matter, and see,
How far it meets with similar treatment at this day—
The name of Christianity is still odious among millions of the human race; and, even among those who call themselves Christians, the true Gospel is disapproved and detested by multitudes, who are ready to number themselves among its warmest advocates. It is hated on many accounts;
As too humiliating in its representations—
[It represents the whole human race as in a state of guilt and condemnation, and as utterly incapable of delivering themselves by any thing that they can do. It presents to their view a Saviour, in and through whom all their wants must be supplied, and to whom they must stand indebted for their whole salvation, from first to last [Note: 1 Corinthians 1:30.]. But men cannot endure to think themselves so guilty, so polluted, so enslaved, so utterly helpless and hopeless, as the Scripture represents them to be; and this will be found to be at the root of all their objections against the Gospel: examine all the writings of those who oppose the truth, and this will appear to be the leading feature of them, that they suppose some degree of goodness and sufficiency to remain in fallen man; whilst the Gospel declares, that we are “altogether become abominable [Note: Romans 3:10-19.],” and that even the will, as well as the power, to do good must be given us from the Lord [Note: Philippians 2:13.].]
As too easy in its proposals—
[It offers salvation freely to every human being, saying, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved [Note: Mark 16:16. Acts 16:30-31.].” It requires nothing on our parts to earn salvation, nothing to merit it; but only to receive it thankfully as the free gift of God to us in Christ Jesus [Note: Romans 6:23.]. But the proud heart of man does not like to be so indebted to the free grace of God: that invitation, “Come, ye that have no money, come buy wine and milk without money and without price,” is offensive to him: he would rather hear of some duties to perform that shall render him worthy of God’s favour, and of some good works to be done, in order to form a ground of glorying before God: and, if works be declared to be utterly ineffectual to these ends, he immediately supposes them to be unnecessary altogether, and that we leave men at liberty to indulge in all manner of licentiousness.]
As too strict in its requirements—
[We stop not now to notice the inconsistency between the former objection and this: suffice it to say, that they are made by the same persons, and oftentimes almost in the same breath. The Gospel requires, that we mortify all sin whatever; that we “crucify the flesh, with its affections and lusts;” and that we “live altogether not to ourselves, but unto Him that died for us, and rose again.” But this is supposed to be incompatible with all the common offices of life: and we are represented as making the way to heaven so strait, that none but a few devotees can hope to enter into it.
Thus the truth of God is in reality traduced, as in the days of old, and, though the name of Christianity is honoured, the life and power of it are despised.]
Since then the Gospel is still evil spoken of to such a degree, permit me to state,
What is our duty in relation to it—
We should endeavour to get all possible information respecting it.
[It would he strange indeed to form our judgment solely from the representations of its enemies: we ought assuredly to hear its friends also, and to learn what they have to say in its favour. If then we can have access to any who are qualified to instruct us, we should say to them, as the Jews did to Paul, “We desire to hear what thou thinkest.” Were this step taken, and with any measure of candour, I have no doubt but that the prejudices against the Gospel would soon be done away. But there is one, to whom we may all have access, and whose judgment may be fully relied on; I mean, that very person to whom the Jews at Rome applied, even the Apostle Paul himself. No man had ever juster or deeper views of the Gospel than he; and no man has written so fully respecting it as he: consult him therefore: study those Epistles of his in which the subject is most fully stated, the Epistles to the Romans, the Galatians, and the Ephesians. From those may be fully learned the doctrines which the Gospel maintains: and in his life may be seen the practice it requires. Go then, and sit at his feet, and ask of him in relation to every thing we have spoken, “What thinkest thou?”]
Our inquiries, however, should not be merely speculative, but practical—
[We should not, like Pilate, ask, “What is truth?” and then go away without any desire to be informed: but should imitate rather the man whose blindness had been healed, “Who is the Son of God, that I may believe on him [Note: John 9:36.]?” All our inquiries should be with a view to practice, and with a determination of heart to follow the light whithersoever it may lead us. Did we, like the Berζans, search the Scriptures daily with this view, it would soon be said of us, as it was of them, “Therefore many of them believed [Note: Acts 17:11-12.].”
We will now, by way of improvement,
Give a specific answer to the question ourselves—
[Is it asked by any, “What thinkest thou” of the Gospel itself, and of the people who profess it? We reply, that, in our judgment, the plain simple doctrine of salvation by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, is, “the wisdom of God, and the power of God,’ even “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth;” and that its proper title is, “the glorious Gospel of the blessed God.” As for those who profess it, we say, that, if they walk unworthy of it, they are hypocrites, and self-deceivers: but, if they adorn it by a suitable life and conversation, then are they “the excellent of the earth,” “the Church of the living God,” “the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty.” Of them will we say, with Moses, “Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved of the Lord [Note: Deuteronomy 33:29.]?” Whoever may speak against them, they may be of good courage; for God approves them, and will confess them as his before the assembled universe. They shall assuredly “be his, in the day that he shall make up his jewels [Note: Malachi 3:17.].”]
Put the question to every one here present—
[What thinkest thou? Dost thou think the doctrines of the Gospel so objectionable as the world represents them to be? Compare those doctrines with thine own wants and necessities; and then say, whether they do not contain the very remedy which thou standest in need of? — — — Would Paul have represented them as containing “the unsearchable riches of Christ;” and would the angels be represented as ever “desiring to look into them,” if they were unworthy of our regard?
Again, Dost thou think that those who embrace the Gospel deserve the ignominious appellation of “a sect?” By this name they were called in the first ages; and by this name they are yet too often called. But, because “they worship God in a way which the world calls heresy,” are they therefore heretics? No: they are “the general assembly and Church of the First-born, which are written in heaven;” they are the living stones of which his temple is composed; and they are now, and shall to all eternity continue, the habitation of God through the Spirit [Note: Heb 12:23. 1 Peter 2:5.Ephesians 2:19-22; Ephesians 2:19-22.].
Once more; Dost thou think, that, because “they are everywhere evil spoken of,” thou shouldest not join thyself to them? Sad indeed is thy state, if thou entertainest such a thought as that: for, “if thou art ashamed of Christ, of thee will Christ be ashamed,” when he shall come in his glory to judge the world. Remember the choice of Moses, and ask, Whether it be not that which thou shouldest make [Note: Hebrews 11:24-26.]? If the circumstance of the Lord’s people being universally “evil spoken of” appear an argument against them, know, that it is greatly in their favour; and that, if you belong to a party that is not universally evil spoken of by the ungodly world, you are not of the party to which Paul belonged, nor shall have your portion with him in the eternal world.
What though they be “a little flock?” they are those to whom “it is the Father’s good pleasure to give the kingdom [Note: Luke 12:32.].” What if they be walking in “a strait and narrow, unfrequented path?” it is “the path that leadeth unto life,” whilst all other paths, however frequented, “lead only to destruction [Note: Matthew 7:13-14.].” The time is shortly coming, when they who now most loudly condemn them, will yet still more loudly condemn themselves; “We fools counted their life madness, and their end to be without honour: but now they are numbered with the saints [Note: Wisd. 5:4.],” &c.
To all then I say, Beware what sentiments you imbibe respecting the Gospel of Christ; and beg of God that you may so think of it in this world, as you will assuredly think of it in the world to come.]
THE GOSPEL SENT TO THE GENTILES
Acts 28:28. Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.
WHEN we consider how often we are called together to hear the word of God, we are surprised and humbled to find so little good done by it. But the Apostles themselves had the same cause for complaint as we. We can scarcely conceive a more solemn occasion than that on which the Jews at Rome were convened to hear the Gospel. St. Paul was brought thither as a prisoner, on account of his zeal and fidelity in the cause of Christ. The Jews were anxious to know from himself what were the peculiar doctrines which he maintained: and, having appointed a day for that purpose, they came to his lodging, and attended to his discourse from morning to evening. But, alas! the greater part of them rejected his testimony, and drew from him that solemn admonition, which had, many hundred years before, been given to their fathers: he told them that they were given up to judicial blindness; and that the consolation which he in vain sought amongst them, he should find amongst the Gentiles; who were ordained of God to inherit those blessings which they despised.
There are two things which we propose to notice on the present occasion:
The salvation here spoken of—
It is of great importance to observe the terms by which the Gospel is here designated: it is called “the salvation of God.”
It is “salvation”—
[The true nature of the Gospel is by no means generally understood. The generality conceive it to be nothing more than a new system of duties. There are some, however, who appear to be acquainted with its nature to a certain extent, but materially fail when they come to explain themselves more fully. They will speak of our condemnation by the law, and our inability to save ourselves according to the terms of the first covenant: they will also represent Christ as introducing a new covenant, and as the Author of salvation to all who believe in him. Thus far they are right: but when it is inquired what are the terms of the new covenant, and how it is that Christ saves his people, they shew that “they have need to be taught afresh what be the first principles of the Oracles of God.” They say that Christ has procured for us a milder law, which requires only sincere obedience: and that, if we endeavour to obey that law, his death shall atone for our imperfections, and his righteousness shall make up for our defects. But this representation of Christ’s work very ill accords with the terms by which the Gospel is characterized in the text. The Gospel in that view would be only a new law; and salvation by it would be, in fact, salvation by works, and not by grace. However the law itself be reduced, if our obedience to it, either in whole or in part, be the ground of our acceptance with God, it is salvation by works; and the performers of those works will have to glory before God. Let our justification depend ever so little on our works, the case will be precisely the same: we shall have some ground of boasting within ourselves: if not so much as we should have had by the first covenant, still we have some: which clearly proves, that this idea of the Gospel is erroneous: for the Gospel excludes boasting altogether [Note: Romans 3:27.].
The truth is, that the Gospel is a revelation of “salvation,” of salvation wrought out for us by the Son of God; wrought out, I say, entirely by his obedience unto death. It views men as lost, entirely lost and undone in themselves. It represents Christ as assuming our nature, to obey that law which we had broken, and endure those penalties which we had incurred: and it declares, that all who will come to Christ, relying wholly on his blood and righteousness, shall be accepted through him. It is true, it requires works as evidences of our faith; but the only ground which it proposes for our justification before God, is the all-sufficient righteousness of Jesus Christ. In a word, it reveals and offers to us a salvation purchased by the blood of Christ, and freely given to all who believe in him.]
It is emphatically called “the salvation of God”—
[This salvation was altogether planned by God. No created being could have devised such a scheme for saving man in perfect consistency with all the divine perfections — — — It was executed by God, who miraculously formed the human nature of Christ in the womb of a virgin, and upheld him in every part of his most arduous undertaking, and raised him from the dead, and constituted him Head over all things to the Church, that he might finish the work he had begun, and secure to himself the souls which he has purchased with his blood — — — Finally, it was in every respect worthy of God; such a display of wisdom, of goodness, and of all his glorious perfections, as will be the one object of wonder, love, and praise, to all eternity — — —
As for the system which men have substituted in its place, it is indeed “another Gospel,” which the Apostles never knew, and which God never revealed. It deserves not to be called “the salvation of God;” for it is no salvation at all: nor would any creature be ever saved by it. Who will undertake to tell us what that quantum of imperfection is which it allows of; or to define the exact limits of that sincerity which it requires? It is the offspring of pride and ignorance; and will be the parent of everlasting misery, to all who embrace it. That only is the true Gospel, which leaves to man no ground of glorying in himself, but gives all the glory of his salvation to God alone.]
Let us next turn our attention to,
The things affirmed respecting it—
We cannot but observe the solemnity with which the Apostle’s affirmations are introduced. But there was occasion for it, because the things which he asserted appeared altogether incredible. He asserted,
That the Gospel salvation was sent to the Gentiles—
[Of this the Jews had no conception. Being habituated to consider themselves as exclusively the Lord’s people, and to regard the Gentiles as dogs, they could not even listen to the idea that the wall of partition should ever be broken down, and the Gentiles be incorporated with the Church of God [Note: Acts 22:21-22.]. And the Apostles themselves were exceeding slow to admit the thought, notwithstanding they had been commanded to “go into all the world, and to preach the Gospel to every creature.” Even six years after our Lord’s ascension, Peter himself could not be prevailed upon to go and instruct a heathen family, without repeated visions to convince him that it was agreeable to the mind of God: and, when he had done it, he was called to an account for it by the whole college of Apostles, who were pacified only by the relation which he gave of the different visions, and the testimony which God himself bore to his conduct by pouring out upon them the gift of the Holy Ghost. When convinced by his arguments, they exclaimed with surprise, “Then hath God unto the Gentiles also granted repentance unto life [Note: Acts 11:18.].” But the Apostle here declares that God had sent salvation to the Gentiles, and that it should be sent to them throughout all the world. To this he adds,]
That they would hear it—
[The Jews, notwithstanding they had enjoyed the ministry of Christ, and beheld his miracles, and had his resurrection so abundantly attested; notwithstanding an appeal also was constantly made to their own inspired writings, and the accomplishment of acknowledged prophecies was pointed out to them,—notwithstanding every advantage, I say, they would not believe. The probability therefore was, that, if they, with all their means of information, rejected the Gospel, much more would the heathen reject it. But God foresaw that they would receive it, or rather, fore-ordained that they should. Accordingly, we find that millions in every quarter of the globe have been made obedient to the faith; and we are assured that all “the fulness of the Gentiles shall in due time come in [Note: The prophet Ezekiel, in a vision of a river proceeding from the sanctuary, and becoming gradually so deep that it could not be forded, represents the progress of the Gospel. The river running into the Dead Sea, where, it is said, no fish can live, instantly healed the sea, so that living fish of every kind became innumerable. The Dead Sea fitly marked the state of the heathen world; and the effect produced upon it by the waters of the sanctuary, marked the change which the Gospel should infallibly produce. Ezekiel 47:9.]” — — — To God nothing is impossible; and he who has thus far accomplished his word, will certainly fulfil it to the end. The grain of mustard-seed shall become a great tree, and all the birds of heaven shall come and dwell under its shadow.]
In this subject will be found abundant matter,
[It is in this view principally that the words were uttered. And if St. Paul had so much reason to complain when he saw the Jews were not persuaded to embrace Christianity by one sermon, what reason have we to complain, when persons professing Christianity cannot be prevailed upon by hundreds of sermons to walk in any measure worthy of their profession! Surely thousands of the poor heathen,—Indians, Hottentots, Hindoos,—who have received the word with gladness, and experienced the blessedness of this salvation, will rise up in judgment against us, and condemn us. Yes, amongst them there are many who value this salvation more than life itself. Ah! how will they reprove our supineness and indifference! Well;—be it known unto you, that if you, who call yourselves Christians, will not value the Gospel as you ought, it shall be taken away from you, and be given to others who will bring forth the fruits thereof with gladness — — —]
[When exertions are recommended for the conversion of the heathen, it is common to say, they will not renounce their superstitions; and we cannot attain their language so as to hope for any success in our endeavours. But if God has sent the Gospel to the heathen, and declared that they will hear it, we may well look to him to overcome all the difficulties that lie in our way — — — But it may be said, the time is not come. What right have we to say this? or what reason to imagine it? If we consider the exertions that are making in the Christian world for the translating of the Scriptures into different languages, and for sending the Gospel to the remotest corners of the earth, we have reason rather to hope that the time is come. But the time as it respects us is always come; and there is no period when we ought not to exert ourselves in the cause of God, and for the benefit of our fellow-creatures. The question then is, if God has sent salvation to the heathen, who is willing to carry it? for “they cannot believe, unless they hear: nor can they hear without a preacher.” O that there were amongst us more, whose hearts the Lord had “touched with a live coal from off his altar,” that when he says, “Who will go for us?” would immediately reply, “Here am I, send me!” This was the prophet’s frame of mind even when God told him that his ministrations would have no other effect than that of hardening the minds of men [Note: Isaiah 6:6-10.]. It was sufficient for him that he was doing the Lord’s work. How much more then should we be ready to carry the Gospel to the heathen, when God pledges himself to us that they will hear it! Let us pray to God, that since the harvest is so great, he would send forth labourers; and, if we cannot do all we would, let us, each in his station, do all we can — — —]
END OF VOL. XIV.
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Acts 28". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18