Acts 13:40
Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren, etc. The change in the world since Paul was at Antioch; yet the proclamation as necessary as ever. The nearer we come to apostolic simplicity, the greater our success. Nothing but the gospel can accomplish the work, and that because it changes the heart through the forgiveness of sins.

I. The FREEDOM of the proclamation. Forgiveness, not purchased or wrought out, but simply announced.

II. The invitation to FAITH. Through this Man, whose Name can be published, whose authority we testify. Religion is not a self-constructed edifice of spiritual feelings to which the Name of Christ is attached to give it a Christian sanction; it is the fruit of faith, and faith is surrender to the authority of Christ.

III. Knowledge the root of RESPONSIBILITY. "Be it known unto you;" therefore as made known, take heed that you incur not the guilt of its rejection-. A very small amount of knowledge enough to point to the "Man Christ Jesus." But if the light be darkness, by neglect, perversity, prejudice, pride, how great that darkness! - R.







Beware therefore.
We are, in this world, represented as being remarkably under the influence of self-love; but, with regard to the eternal future, the self-love of man is strangely perverted and enfeebled. One of the main objects of the sacred writings is to grapple with this fatal tendency, and one mode is to announce men's danger by reason of their sinful folly; and also the only method by which that danger can be averted. Notice —

I. THE INFLICTION TO WHICH THIS SOLEMN CAUTION RELATES. What is it that we have to beware of? You will find in the context that it is "the anger," or "the wrath of God" (ver. 41; Isaiah 29:14; Habakkuk 1:5). Observe —

1. The cause from which the threatened anger arises. God created the universe for His praise, and filled it with all the elements of happiness. And when we find Him going forth amid the threatenings of vengeance, to what is the change to be ascribed? To the introduction of sin. The first transgressors were angels who kept not their first estate, and are reserved, under chains and darkness, unto the judgment of the great day! Afterwards man became a sinner, and "by one man's disobedience, many have been made sinners." Hence it is that there comes the threatening. Now, is there anything in this but an equitable arrangement of consequence as following cause?

2. The operations in which that wrath is manifested.(1) We have tokens around us of the anger of God against sin. In the barrenness of the wilderness; in the scorching of the summer heat; in the withering of the wintry frost; and in disease, pestilence, and death.(2) And then we must not forget that there are examples of His vengeance of a temporal nature. The deluge, the destruction of the cities of the Plain, the plagues of Egypt, the punishment of the Jaws, etc.(3) And have there been no manifestations of the wrath of God against sin in modern times?(4) But is there nothing beyond? We have spoken of temporal evils, but we hear of many announcements in the sacred writings of "the wrath which is to come."

II. THE CONSIDERATIONS BY WHICH THIS SOLEMN CAUTION MAY BE ESPECIALLY ENFORCED. Beware of this wrath —

1. On account of the suddenness with which it is frequently inflicted. "Because there is wrath, beware lest He take thee away with a stroke." "He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, aid that without remedy." There are examples which God has given, in order to illustrate and confirm these general declarations. For example, Nabad and Abihu, Korah and his company, Belshazzar, Ananias, Herod. And have we had no instance of the infliction of the wrath of God in our own times and amongst ourselves? Beware! for the wrath of God, on account of sin, may come upon you unawares.

2. Because when inflicted it causes irreparable ruin. We are not speaking now of temporal evils, but of the future state (Luke 13:24-30).

III. THE CONDUCT TO WHICH THIS SOLEMN CAUTION SHOULD LEAD.

1. Men are to embrace the refuge which God has provided from the wrath to come. The Governor of the universe has, while preserving the honour of His justice, magnified the riches of His grace, and He is willing that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance. And if men, feeling their guilt and their danger, will but come unto Him in the exercise of faith, they shall be forgiven.

2. The resort to the remedy which has been provided must be without delay. Why should we delay? You bare delayed long enough. You have often been invited, and often summoned to beware.Remember —

1. The brevity and uncertainty of life.

2. The hardening influence of sin.

(J. Parsons.)

Behold ye despisers, and wonder and perish.
I. THE CHARACTER OF THESE DESPISERS.

1. There are some who despise all religion, and reject even those fundamental principles which revelation presupposes; such as the existence and providence of God, the difference between moral good and evil, and the freedom and accountableness of man.

2. There are some who pretend to believe the truths of natural religion, but despise all revelation. From the supposed sufficiency of human reason for all the purposes of religion, they conclude that no supernatural discovery ever has been or ever will be made.

3. There are some who acknowledge in general the truth of the gospel, but despise its peculiar doctrines.

4. There are those that profess to believe the gospel in all its essential doctrines, and yet in their hearts and lives oppose it.

II. IN WHAT RESPECTS, IT MAY BE SAID, THEY WILL PERISH WONDERFULLY. Here are two things asserted.

1. Destruction awaits contemptuous sinners. Whatever may be the condition of heathens, who never heard of Christ, awful must be the fate of those, who, having heard of Him, despise and refuse the only Lord who bought them. "They who believe not, shall die in their sins"; they are "condemned already, because they believe not in the name of the only begotten Son of God." If obedience to God is necessary to salvation, faith in Christ must be necessary; for this is the command of God, "That we believe on Him whom He hath sent."

2. This destruction when it comes will be wonderful.(1) Unexpectedly. A punishment which they little thought of will therefore fill sinners with wonder and astonishment. It is said of Jerusalem, "Because she remembered not her last end, therefore she came down wonderfully." The Scripture represents the destruction of sinners, in general, as coming upon them by surprise.(2) Exceeding all present conception. There is a strange punishment for the workers of iniquity. Some temporal judgments are so great, that they are called strange and marvellous works. How much more strange and marvellous will be the future punishment of despisers? "God will perform a work which they would not believe, though a man should declare it to them." "Who knows the power of God's anger?" We cannot conceive —

(a)the great anguish of a self-condemning conscience.

(b)That positive punishment which awaits sinners.

(c)The distress of total despair.(3) Wonderful, compared with that of other sinners. Despisers will be distinguished in the world of misery from others. Moses having enumerated the singular privileges of the favoured people, says, "If ye will not observe to do all the words of this law, the Lord will make your plagues wonderful." The gospel abounds in warnings of this kind. "If the word spoken by angels was steadfast," etc.

III. LET ME ENFORCE THE CAUTION IN THE TEXT. "Beware," etc. In mercy to our guilty world, God has sent His Son to make the purchase, proclaim the offers, and state the terms of eternal salvation. To us the word of this salvation is sent. The question now proposed is, Will you accept it? If you will accept the benefit you must submit to the terms of it. You must repent and yield to the government of the gospel of Christ. If you will not do this, you despise His gospel, and all the blessings which it reveals. Consider what it is that you despise. It is a gospel preached by the Son of God from heaven; confirmed by miracles, preserved in the world by a merciful providence, and transmitted to you by peculiar favour. How worthy, then, of your thankful acceptation! To despise this is to despise that pearl of great price, to purchase which you should be willing to sell all that you have. To despise this is to despise God's greatest gift, even the gift of His own Son, who came to seek and to save them who were lost. Judge, now, what must be the consequence of this contempt. Know ye, that your judgment lingers not. The Lord will soon arise, that He may do His strange work.

(J. Lathrop, D. D.)

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