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SAINT PAUL,

SECT. 4

Paul came to Ephesus--driven away by a tumult of the

people--visited Greece---returned to Troas--raised Eutychus to life-passed on ta Miletusthere sent for the elders at Ephesus, and took his leavem at Tyre and Cesarea disuaded from going to Jerusalem, but proceeded thither-complied with Jewish prejudices, asaulted by a mobtaken into custody of the Romans --addressed the people, but furiously opposed-arraigned before the Sanhedrimi

THE page of history has celebrated the characters of many, who shewed uncommon ardour in spreading devastation and misery, whilst they passed from kingdom to kingdom. Such were Alexander and Cefar; who, however illustrious their names have appeared, were no other than the oppressors and murderers of mankind. How different the Apostle of Christ! His wisdom, zeal, and courage, were superior to those of the moft admired heroes, and the motives of his conduct were noble and excellent, but their's fordid and base. We observe him continually planning fresh schemes, and burning with eager desire, to carry the Gospel from nation to nation, in defiance of all difficulties and dangers : and it is obvious, that he was actuated, not by the prospect of temporal emolument, dominion, or any carnal gratification, but by the purest affection, of which the mind is susceptible, love to God and to the whole human race.

From what we have already seen of the extreme violence of persecution, which St. Paul incurred in Q.4

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the cause of Christ, it might be thought that he would soon be discouraged, and decline all further exertions. Doubtless, this would have been the case, had he not been upheld by a divine support, and animated by a full conviction of the truth and excellence of those doctrines, which he preached. But we shall still behold him pressing on to new fervices; like an undaunted conqueror, dissatisfied with former victories, and eager to subdue many more and far distant cities and kingdoms, whatever dangers or deaths might seem to obstruct his way.

We left him, after his journey to Jerusalem, A. D.

confirming the churches of Asia. That object 57.

being accomplished, he returned to Ephesus, a place of considerable note, but extremely addicted to idolatry and sensual excesses. Here he took up his abode for some time, and by his labours a large fociety of Christians was formed, to whom he afterwards addressed a valuable Epiftle, which is still extant.

Here he found certain disciples, instructed in the doctrine and baptism of John, yet not acquainted with that abundant effufion of the Holy Spirit, which had been granted as the blessed fruit and evidence of our Lord's ascension *. But, by the imposition of the Apostle's hands, the same miraculous influences were conferred on them, which other churches had received. Thus a glorious attestation was given to the Gospel at Ephesus; and, probably, others were thereby induced to become obedient to the faith. There may be many fincere believers, in a great measure ige norant of the extent of those privileges, to which they are admitted in Christ Jesus. We enquire of them, as Paul of the Ephesians, « Unto what were ye baptized ?” and we exhort them to pray earnestly, that they may be favoured with large communications

Afts xix. 1, &c.

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of that light, and strength, and comfort, which God hath promised, and is willing to bestow upon his people.

The Apostle opened his commission in the syna. gogue of the Jews, and there endeavoured for three months together, by argument and persuasion, to. bring them into subjection to the kingdom of God. But luch was the perverseness of that people, that at length he declined all connection with them, and chofe another place, a certain school in the city, where he continued daily, for the space of two yearsg» to prosecute the great object of his ministry. During that period opportunity was given to the inhabitants of the neighbourhood, as well as to the Ephesians, to hear his testimony; so that he diffused the knowledge of salvation in an extenfive manner. It pleased God to confirm his doctrine by many surprifieg miracles: diseases were instantly removed, and. evil spirits dispoíTeiled.

Certain wandering Jews, pretending to the power of expelling demons, were desirous to imitate St. Paul, and accordingly, in their adjurations, made use of the name of Jesus, whom they knew not.

A remarkable instance of this kind occurred in the feven: fons of a Jewish priest: they conspired together for the purpose, but were bafiled in their scheme, and nearly destroyed by the man, whoin they prefumptuously attempted to cure. The Lord Christ is not to be trifled with. He will not give his fanction to the devices of hypocrites, and sooner or later will detect their peridy. It is vain, it is dangerous, for those, who are strangers to his character and live in disobedience to his authority, to profess an attachment to his perfon. Though they may seem to take his part, in opposition to Satan, and to plead his cause, by writing or preaching in defence of the Gospel, they are not likely to succeed better than " the seven fons of Sceva." Their efforts, probably, will not

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avail for the deliverance of others, and will certainly turn to their own confusion.

The defeat of these arrogant pretenders to a connection with the Saviour engaged the public notice at Ephesus, and stamped greater credit upon the Gospel and the miniftry of the Apostle. Men were struck with an awful regard for the Lord Jesus, and afraid of provoking him by diffimulation. Convinced of the finfulness of their magical arts, they burned those very books, from which they had derived their former gains, and which they might then have sold for an immense fum. This was done in the open view of the town; and it is remarked as an evidence of the glorious efficacy and triumphant success of the Gospel. It is, indeed, "mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds ** is felt, every profane practice will be renounced, and even the love of money overcome. Have we given such a proof of our submission to Chrift? Are we wilJing to forsake those occupations and habits, though most profitable, which cannot be retained with a good conscience? Ah! how many reject the word of God and perilh eternally, because they are determined to hold fast their unjust gains ! « Fifty thousand pieces of silver," and the accustomed means of subsistence, were facrificed by these Ephesians : let those, who are attached to the world, say, if that principle be not most potent, which can produce such uncommon effects.

During St. Paul's abode at Ephesus, he was not unmindful of his friends and brethren at a distance. He meditated freh services in other places, and burned with an eager desire, not only to visit the churches, which were far separated from each other, but to carry the glad tidings of salvation even to Rome, the metropolis of the world. For the present, as he pro

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longed his stay, he fent Timothy and Eraftus, two beloved companions, as his substitutes, into Macedonia. About this time, probably, he wrote his first Epistle to the Corinthians, in which he mentions his situation at Ephesus, as affording him opportunities of extensive usefulness, though attended with violent opposition: “A great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries *.'

Satan may be expected to use his strongest efforts, by stirring up his zealous agents to resist the Gospel, which threatens destruction to his kingdom. In most places there are some persons, who, from their peculiar einployments or connections in life, suppose their interest will be injured by the progress of true religion. Their chief emoluments, and even their subsistence, may seem to depend upon the folly and wickedness of others : and therefore, when the word of God comes with power, and turns men from their evil ways, these people, perceiving their “ craft is in: danger to be set at nought,” will raise a grievous," outcry.

This was the case at Ephesus. Demetrius, who derived large profits from the idolatrous worship of Diana, stirred up a furious mob against Paul and his. companions. The Apostle would have ventured into the midst, to address them on the subject; but he was prevailed on by his friends to consult his safety and his example teaches us, that a prudent regard: to our own preservation is confiftent with the warmcít zeal.

At length, the town-clerk or recorder of the city appeared the violence of the multitude, which threatened very serious confequences. He argued not on principles of religion, but as a man of discretion, and persuaded them through motives of interest to defift from their outrageous proceedings. We perceive the

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* 1. Cor. xvi. 8,96

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