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awaken our fears, or compel us to stand upon our: guard.
Barnabas was attached to his nephew John Mark, and very desirous that he should be received again as their associate. Paul stated the impropriety of taking with them such an attendant, as had shame--. fully deserted them on a former occasion. Each of the difputants might urge various reasons, and possibly,both> were influenced by right motives. But we pretend not to justify every thing even in the Apostles. They. were men, and at times openly betrayed that des pravity, which they continually lamented in secret. In the present case, we apprehend, the two parties felt a very blanzable warmth of temper. O let us watch, and, remembering what is in our hearts, always sufpect some danger nigh! We are exposed in the company of deareit friends, as well as in that of our most decided enemies.
But we admire the over-ruling providence of God, which in various ways brings good out of evil. This very disagreement became the means of enlarging the Church, and promoting the salvation of many souls. The two preachers went different roads, , but they had the same object in view; and therefore they published the Gospel in a more speedy and extensive manner. It appears, also, that, whate. ever resentment might be felt at the time, a perfect reconciliation was loon effected. Paul himself afterwards spoke in the highest terms, not only of his beloved Barnabas, but of Mark also, whom he received as his aflistant *. Christians inay be seduced from the path of duty, but their fincerity will be evinced by their recovery.
The example before us does not afford any just encouragement to sin; it furnishes the strongest arguments for holiness. Well may we blush and hide
our faces in the dust, upon a comparison of ourselves with St. Paul. Do we not perceive in him an excellence of character, of which we are deftitute? If it was right for him to labour with such unwearied affiduity, to spend and be spent in the fervice of Chrift, shall we think ourselves at liberty to lead an unprofitable and a sensual life, to take our ease, eat, drink, and be merry? No: we must be conformed to the spirit of the Apostles and primitive believers, and learn, like them, to “deny ungodliness and wordly lufts, and live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ *.”
Titus ii. 12, 13
Paul circumcised Timothy at Lystra--came to Troas
thence to Philippi, where Lydia and the failer were. converted-proceeded to Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, and Corinth-visited Jerusalem, and then returned, confirming the churches.
THOUGH Christians are indebted to the grace of God for every particle of excellence, which they possess, the effects of this grace are not equally conspicuous in them all. Frequently they, whore former spirit and conduct had been most opposite to the Gold pel, shine with peculiar lustre after conversion. A larger experience of their own folly and perverseness renders them more humble and watchful: a stronger sense of their vast obligations to God for pardoning and subduing their iniquities, excites them to more lively and vigorous exertions in their holy profession. Such was the great Apostle, whose character we are contemplating. It is not spoken to the disparagement of other believers, when it is afferted, that we have known none more eminent in every Christian disposition and practice than St. Paul: nor was it the language of vain confidence or presumption, when he faid of himself, “ In nothing am I behind the very chiefest Apostles *." Being constrained to mention his own case, he expressed an earnest desire, that the praise of all his attainments and usefulness might be afcribed to God alone. He declared, “ By the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace, which was
* 2 Cor. xii, ila
bestowed upon me, was not in vain: but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me*" . May the confideration of his example rouse and animate our dull and inactive minds; and may the same blessed Spirit, which wrought effectually in him, enable us, also, to « adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things!”
Upon his feparation from Barnabas, having A. D. chofen Silas as his companion, he departed from
Antioch with the prayers and benedictions of the Church, and travelled through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the faith of the disciples †. When he came to Lyftra, he met with Timothy, a pious and amiable youth, who afterwards attained considerable eminence I. St. Paul, being desirous of taking him as an affociate in his further progress, and setting him apart for the work of the ministry, judged it expedient, that he should submit to the right of circumcision. The performance of this ceremony was in itself a matter of indifference, and might in the present in-ftance prevent fome objections against them and their doctrine. Notwithstanding the liberty allowed to the Gentiles, it was still generally thought that all per fons of Jewish extraction should conform to the Mofaic law. Now as the mother of Timothy was a Jewels, but his father a Greek, it seemed probable that his case would be narrowly observed, and that, if circumcision were omitted, he would be unacceptable to the Jews, and Paul's intimacy with him give them
The conduct of the Apostle on another occasion was very different, and has excited fome furprise. He firmly opposed the circumcision of Titus ; evidently because it was insisted on as necessary to salvation, though Titus was a Gentile. On this ground,
1- Cor. xv. 10,
† Afts xy. 40, 41. xviv I, &c.
Paul would not consent to it, lest the doctrine of justiofication by faith in Jesus Christ should appear to be des pied or renounced * He had the largest views of Christian liberty, and was a zealous advocate for it; yet, in order to reconmend the truth which he preached, he was willing to conform to the prejudices of others, in matters not essential. The cale of Timothy was one instance out of several, in which
unto the Jews he became as a Jew, that he might gain the Jews +." We admire his meekness, felfdenial, and disinterested regard to the credit and advancement of the Gospel.. Such compliances are truly honourable, and may greatly add to a person's usefulness in the world. But let us take heed, leit we pervert this example, by making concessions clearly sinful or of a dangerous tendency, or by yielding even in things lawful through timidity, covetousness, or ambition.
While Paul and his beloved companions travelled from place to place, and scattered the good feed, they faw the blessed fruits of their labours. Under their care the churches daily increaled in numbers, and became more and more established in the faith. These mellengers of Heaven were guided in their various removals, as well as in their preaching, by the imme. diate direction of the Holy Spirit. They opened their embafly in one district, where they were received as the Angels of God f, but were forbidden to do it in another, at least for a season. Having traversed a large part of Asia, and arrived at Troas, they collected from a vision in the night, that they were called to cross the water into Europe, and preach the Gospel in Macedonia. They obeyed without reluctance or delay, being prepared to pass over lands or seas, wherever the Lord should mark out their course.
Gal. ii. 3-5
to Cor. ix. 20—23. See also Acts xxi. 21–24. I Gal. iv, 14, 15.