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it may not sometimes mislead, and be useful only
April 5th, 1840.
ST. PAUL'S SPEECHES.
Acts, xiii. 43.
Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews
and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas; who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.
The congregation here spoken of was one at Antioch, in Pisidia, to which Paul had been setting forth the first principles of Christian truth. It may be observed that the wisdom of God has provided for us, in the Acts of the Apostles, specimens of St. Paul's manner of addressing three very different classes of hearers ; from each of which we may derive a lesson in speaking to persons under like circumstances.
We have in his speech to the Athenians a specimen of his way of opening the Gospel to those who were wholly unacquainted with it, who knew nothing of the expectation of the Messiah, nothing of the Old Testament, and next to
nothing of the Jewish people; to men whose minds had in them nothing eastern, but had received in the fullest measure the benefits of that cultivation which they were designed first to enjoy themselves, and then to communicate to all mankind. Again, in his address to the synagogue, at Antioch in Pisidia, contained in the chapter from which the text is taken, we have a specimen of his way of opening the Gospel to those who were Jews either by blood or by religion; to those, that is, to whom the promises of the Messiah were known, and who were well acquainted with the Scriptures of the Old Testament. Thirdly, in his address to the elders of the Church of Ephesus, when they came to meet him at Miletus on his way to Jerusalem, we have a specimen of his way of speaking to those who were acquainted fully with the Gospel. As, in the other two speeches, we might suppose that more truth was yet behind, which could not be communicated all at once to those who knew nothing of Christianity; so we may be sure that in a speech addressed not only to Christians, but to elders of the Church, to the rulers and teachers of the Christian society, there could be no reserves whatever; that whatever is to them insisted upon as the substance of the Gospel, is so to us, and to all Christians; and that any man who would dream of some yet higher and more secret doctrine, taught only to those most advanced in Christian per
fection, is merely adding to God's wisdom and God's truth, not the wisdom and truth of man, for in such a case the words truth and wisdom have no place, but rather his folly, and superstition, and falsehood.
It is not, however, with the view of showing the differences between these addresses of the Apostle to different persons, that I was led to the choice of my text.
It may be enough for this view of the subject simply to notice, that as in the speech to the Athenians we find the Apostle setting forth the great outlines, so to speak, of a Christian's faith, that there is one God, the common Maker and Father of all men, higher and purer than we can conceive of,—à righteous Judge, who will render to all men according to their deeds, and who by raising up Jesus from the dead, has given the pledge that all men shall likewise rise for their happiness or for their misery; so in the speech to the Jews of Antioch, and in that to the elders of Ephesus, we find just that one point added which men wholly ignorant of God and of the Jewish covenant, could not at first have well borne, namely, that Jesus is more than a pledge of our own resurrection, more than the righteous Judge before whom we must all stand to give our account; that He is also our Saviour, who stands before us when we truly repent of our sins towards God, to claim our thankful faith ; that for His sake
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our sins are fully forgiven, and made as though they had never been ; who presents Himself to us again, when by reason of our imperfect repentance and most imperfect obedience, we see not how we can have confidence towards God, to tell us that for His sake, and through faith in His blood, we are justified from all things from which we could not be justified by the law of Moses; that we, though sinners, are accepted and forgiven, and loved as children by our Heavenly Father, because God gave His own Son to die for us.
This was given as the substance of Christianity to the members of the synagogue of Antioch ; and we find it again spoken of as such in the speech to the elders of Ephesus. One thing, however, we notice, which the elders of the Church of Ephesus had learned, which might not perhaps have been known in the first instance by Paul's hearers at Antioch. For when those who had been used to the Old Testament, and to what is there so earnestly taught concerning worshipping God only,—when they were told that Jesus was their Saviour,--when they were told to believe, not merely in His word, but in Himself, to trust to His person, as a worthy object of faith,—they would ask, “ Who is this Jesus, that we may so regard Him; and how can a man no longer upon earth be loved as our Saviour, and trusted in as our sure Help and Deliverer, and be an object of our faith,