Acts 16:8
Christian life, when it has any strength and vigor, is an expansive thing. It pushes out in all directions. It asks what it can do to extend the kingdom of God, what is the sphere in which it can best exercise its missionary zeal. It must be guided by two things -

I. THE CALL OF GOD. Paul and Silas went whithersoever they were directed. They forebore to go to some places because the way was closed by the Divine hand (vers. 6, 7); they went to others because "they assuredly gathered that God had called them" (ver. 10). God does not vouchsafe to us now such plain and indubitable signs of his will as he granted in apostolic days; we have no such visions and voices as they had to guide them. Nevertheless he does direct our steps. He either calls us or "suffers us not" to go where we had designed to work, by some method, of his Divine procedure.

1. He may enlighten our minds by enlarging our faculties; so that, though we are not conscious of any special influence, we see clearly what is the right and wise course to pursue.

2. He may inspire us with such promptings that we feel assured that we are being moved by his own hand.

3. He may, by his providential ordering, shut us out from, or shut us up to, the path in which he would not, or would, have us walk. It is for us to inquire reverently what is his will, which way he does not desire us to take, when he calls us to preach the gospel, and then promptly and cheerfully to obey.

II. THE APPEAL FROM MAN. (Ver. 9.) Thin vision appeared to Paul In the night." We need not wait for the night in order to have a vision and to hear a voice, in which men will cry, "Come over and help us." If we had but the car to hear" the still, sad music of humanity," we should have borne to us on every wind the pitiful plaint of the sin-stricken children of men. We should hear:

1. The cry of conscious spiritual distress. There are those who know the hollowness of their old superstitions, or are vainly looking out for the truth; from those who are groping in the darkness, we may well hear the cry," Who will lead us into the light of life?"

2. The prayer of inarticulate distress. There are countless multitudes that hunger and thirst for they know not what. They have empty, aching, longing hearts, with boundless-capacities. These hearts are unfilled, unsatisfied, and they are inarticulately but earnestly pleading for the bread of life, of which if any man cat he shall never hunger more. There are also the vast multitudes of the suffering - of the sick, of the lonely, of the disappointed, of the bereaved. These are praying us, with silent but strong supplication, to send the knowledge of the Divine Comforter, of him who alone can bind up the broken heart and heal its wounds.

3. The appeal of pitiful degradation. The advocates of slavery used to contend - for lack of better argument - that those who were in bonds were contented with their condition. As if this were not the very heaviest indictment against the cause they pleaded! Surely the fact that slavery made men and women satisfied with degradation and dishonor was the most damaging impeachment which could be framed! And it is the fact that so many thousands of those who were created for purity, wisdom, worship, righteousness, eternal life, are satisfied with the darkness and death of sin, - it is this which constitutes the most eloquent appeal to take them that enlightening truth which will awake them from their shameful apathy, inspire them with a manlier and nobler hope, and satisfy them with a treasure which cannot fade, with a joy that abides for ever, with a life which is eternal and Divine. Unchristianized humanity stands ever before the eyes of a living Church and pleads with a powerful if not a passionate entreaty, "Come over and help us!" - C.

And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas and a vision appeared to Paul in the night.
I. ITS BENEVOLENCE. What is the gospel? Help for man. It helps man —

1. To know God.

2. To preach Christ.

3. To promote civilisation.

II. ITS INFLUENCE. It recognises —

1. The independent capacity of man as a moral agent.

2. The weakness of man.

III. ITS MINISTRATION. The appeals of humanity to Christianity are various.

1. By the information of history.

2. By the general operation of Christian principles.

3. By inward impressions.

(Caleb Morris.)

That figure represented Europe, and its cry for help Europe s need of Christ. Paul recognised in it a Divine summons; and the very next sunset which bathed the Hellespont in its golden light shone upon his figure seated on the deck of a ship whose prow was moving towards the shore of Macedonia. In this passage of Paul, from Asia to Europe, a great providential decision was taking effect, of which, as children of the West, we cannot think without the profoundest thankfulness. Christianity arose in Asia and among an Oriental people; and it might have been expected to spread first among those races to which the Jews were most akin. Instead of coming west, it might have gone eastwards, It might have penetrated into Arabia and taken possession of those regions where the faith of the False Prophet now holds sway. It might have visited the wandering tribes of Central Asia, and, piercing its way down through the passes of the Himalayas, reared its temples on the banks of the Ganges, the Indus, and the Godavery. It might have travelled farther east to deliver the swarming millions of China from the cold secularism of Confucius. Had it done so, missionaries from India and Japan might have been coming to England at the present day to tell the story of the cross. But Providence conferred on Europe a blessed priority, and the fate of our Continent was decided when Paul crossed the Hellespont.

(J. Stalker, D. D.)

There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia and help us.
Sometimes men hear better with their eyes than with their ears. Truth will get in through the imagination when it will make no impression through the intellect. Hence Bunyan was as philosophical as he was ingenious in representing Mansoul as having Feel-gate, Nose-gate, Mouth-gate, as well as the chief among them all, Ear-gate and Eye-gate. But when the grand attack of Diabolos was made it was found that Captain Resistance was established above Ear-gate; but Ear-gate was much more slightly defended. In Scripture there is constant recognition of this comparative ease of entering the human soul by the way of the eyes. Hence we are sure to find some splendid vision whenever a fresh messenger is appointed from God to men. Observe: —

I. THAT THIS VISION WAS ADDRESSED TO AN INSPIRED MAN. It found him shaken with uttermost perplexity, and was the only thing which availed to give direction in his present duty. Twice in succession their intentions were suddenly held in check by a power higher than their own. The man of those regions deepens the impressiveness of such a strange discipline. For while the apostle was urging his way east the Holy Ghost was constraining him to go to the west. "Westward the star of empire takes its way," seems to be the Divine rule for human history. Learn:

1. That the great Head of the Church retains guidance of every form of Christian enterprise. It was the "Spirit of Jesus which stopped Paul now, just as He did on the road to Damascus. That we must ask God's decision, when we set about religious effort. We are to invite Divine cooperation in selection of methods, as well as in choice of ends, and so to discern in failure a stimulant to faith, and in success a reason for our giving new glory to God.


1. Any real declaration of want is a call. Anything that has a voice can utter a call. Adaptations to usefulness are direct calls to usefulness.

2. The supreme necessity of a lost human soul. The words which the world at large is speaking are "Come over and held us." It does not appear to have occurred that the spectre could have possibly had any meaning beside a religious one. All men the world over have one point in common at which they need succour: they must have pardon for sin.

3. The "calls" to duty which one has afford a safe exposition of his heart. A politician would have imagined that a struggling people were sending for soldiers to fight for their cause. A philanthropist would find some signs of a famine. Thus each would discover his own.


1. Note the intense form of expression: "immediately," etc.

2. The finest picture in this world is that of a human will surrendered in sublime obedience to the will of God. The beauty of the Troad is famous: think of Mount Ida, the city of Priam, the tomb of Achilles. But the chief fame of that region now is found in the remembrance that there four men set out upon the sea to conquer Europe unto Christ.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

I. ST. PAUL'S NEED OF FAITH AND DIVINE GUIDANCE. The apostles differed from ourselves in that they were endowed with extraordinary gifts.

1. It might have been thought that, possessed as they were of superhuman might, there would have been but little opportunity or demand for that trust which is required from ourselves. But that the apostles were able to work miracles did not secure to them the supply even of their daily wants. It was a strange, but an instructive spectacle, that of a man who could raise the dead, obliged to labour like a common artisan in order to procure a meal. But God, in order to keep His servant dependent on himself, would not allow him to exercise, on his own behalf, the powers which were so mighty in subjugating the world.

2. The apostles had the gift of prophecy, and, privileged with immediate revelation, they knew far more than common men of the will and purposes of the Almighty. But this was no more allowed than their power of working miracles, to diminish the necessity for the exertion of faith. You might have thought that such men would never have been at any loss with regard to their own plans. Yet this was far from being the case. The Apostles appear to have had just our trials of faith; they were called upon for the same patient waiting on God, the same watching the leadings of His Providence, the same studying the minute indications of His will. If you look at the verses which immediately precede our text, you will find abundant evidence that St. Paul and his companions were required, like ourselves, to go forward in faith, uninformed as to the precise course which God would have them take, but acting on the assurance that He directs the steps of all such as commit themselves to His guidance.

3. At last, there is granted unto Paul the vision recorded in our text, from which he is enabled assuredly to gather that the Lord designed him to preach in Macedonia. We hear much of the leadings of God's providence; and it is our business to be always on the watch for the leadings; assured that, as God taught His people of old by the cloud upon the tabernacle, He will not fail now to vouchsafe guidance to those who in all their ways acknowledge Him. But we are not to expect that the leadings of Providence will be always, or even often, marked and distinct. This would be to change the character of our dispensation; for if the pillar of fire and cloud went visibly before us, it would be by sight, and no longer by faith, that Christians were required to walk. It is the easiest thing in the world to imagine the leadings of Providence, where we have already got the leadings of inclination. And we may learn from the instance of St. Paul that, even where there is prayerfulness and entire submission, it may be only by dark intimations, and after many frustrations, that God's providence will mark out our course.

II. ST. PAUL'S VISION. There is not one who does not consider that sleep is a sort of image of death. The heathen spake of death as a sleep; and Scripture, from the very first, made use of the figure. But the metaphor has not been carried to its proper extent.

1. I do indeed think that God designed sleep as the standing image of death. But I think also that God hereby meant to fix their thoughts, not only on their dying, but on their rising from the dead. Why, when every morning calls us from our beds, strung with new energy, and, as it were, freshened into a new life — why are we to speak of sleep as though it imaged our death, but not also our resurrection?

2. But our condition whilst asleep furnishes notices of our condition whilst we lie amongst the dead.(1) In sleep it is not the whole man, it is only the earthly part that falleth asleep. The bodily senses and faculties are suspended from their usual exercise; but the mind is more than commonly active. What flights will the soul take during sleep. It may be well doubted whether the soul is ever inactive: we do not always remember our dreams; but, probably, we always dream. And what ought we to gather from this? Surely, that the soul shall be active while the body lies dead.(2) Neither is this all. Such passages of Scripture as our text teach us that while the body is asleep the soul may be receiving instruction. It is every way observable that God should have made such frequent use of visions or dreams in the communicating intimations of His will. He might have given these intimations through many other modes; for nothing can be more vague or uncertain than a dream. And it may have been that in thus frequently employing dreams, and employing them more frequently whilst there was less distinct information as to man's state after death, God's purpose was to direct attention to the capacity of the soul for receiving instruction, yet not through the organs of the body, but whilst those organs might be closed and unable to discharge their ordinary offices. The separate state shall not be a state of dull inactivity or low attainment: that state is imaged by sleep; and as if to tell me what the righteous may expect in that state, God hath come to His servants in visions of the night, and taught them in sleep what they had vainly striven to discover when awake. And now I am not to give room to any fears that, whilst the flesh lies slumbering in the grave, the soul will not be admitted into acquaintance with portions of God's will which it may vainly have endeavoured to ascertain whilst on earth; enough that St. Paul, whilst awake, had meditated to preach in Asia, and assayed to go into Bithynia, seeking fruitlessly to determine what God's will might be, and yet that St. Paul, in sleep, which is the image of death, was thoroughly instructed in regard of that will — there stood by him in a vision, "a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us."

III. ST. PAUL'S INTERPRETATION OF THE VISION. There is no reason to think that any further revelation was added; the expression, "assuredly gathering," implies that the disciples were left to draw the inference that "the Lord had called them for to preach the gospel unto them." They never seem to have imagined that there might be any other way in which they could help the Macedonians, that the Macedonians could want any other sort of help. Do you not, then, see that St. Paul and his companions lived for only one object? that they acknowledged but one supply for all the wants of the world? Ah, how very different would it be amongst ourselves! Let the phantom be sent to one of our statesmen; let the form of the wild Indian, or of the African, stand by his bedside in the stillness of the midnight, and breathe, in accents compelling his attention, the simple entreaty, "Come over and help us," and how would the politician interpret the call? He would probably conclude that ruthless foes were invading the distant country; and his first, his only thought, might be to send an army to its succour. Or let the spectre go and speak to one of our merchants — he would presently think of commercial embarrassments or commercial openings, and if he "assuredly gathered" anything it would be that he must freight a vessel and send out a mercantile establishment. Or if it were even to one of our benevolent and philanthropic men that the phantom addressed itself, the likelihood is he would think of famine, or pestilence, and he would hesitate as to what help could be given, till he had made out some particular and temporal evil under which they were labouring. And yet, whatever our occupation, we are professed servants of Christ, and all bound, by the vows of our profession, to take as our chief object the advancing Christ's kingdom. It was not merely because St. Paul's business was that of a preacher that he interpreted a cry for help into a cry for the gospel; St. Paul was also a tent maker; St. Luke was a physician; but it never occurred to either the one or the other that assistance might be wanted to teach a trade or heal a disease: their ruling desire was that of glorifying Christ; they could not, therefore, be invited into a country and not seize on the invitation as an opening for Christianity. They believed that in carrying Christianity to a land, they were carrying that which would best rectify disorders, alleviate distresses, assuage sorrows, and multiply happiness. And, therefore, they never stopped to consider whether they had at their disposal the particular engine which, on a human computation, might be suited for counteracting a particular evil — enough that they had the gospel to preach; and they felt that they had an engine which could in no case be inappropriate and in none inefficient. Let us learn, from the example of St. Paul, to set a higher value on the gospel: whether it be as a nation or as individuals that we are called upon by the Macedonian for help; whether the cry, borne from heathen lauds, be a cry specifically for religious instruction, or the cry generally of suffering and degraded humanity.

IV. ST. PAUL'S OBEDIENCE TO THE VISION. Observe how ready they were to obey God's will the moment they had ascertained it. "Immediately." It had not been into Macedonia that they had been wishing or purposing to go, and unbelief might have suggested, Shall we let a phantom guide us? ought we not at least to wait for some less dubious intimation? But no; there was sufficient reason to think that God's will was now discovered, and there was nothing to be done but to hasten to the sea and seek the means of embarking. Alas! we are all ready enough to follow the leadings of God's providence when they concur with our own wish; but how reluctant are we when God points in one direction and inclination in another! This is the trial — to set out for Macedonia, to which duty calls us, in place of staying at Troas, to which our own wishes bind us. But a Christian should have no will of his own — he is the servant of a Master in heaven, and the only thing for him to ascertain is where that Master would have him work, and what He would have him do. Has the phantom been at his bedside? Then he ought not to confer with flesh and blood. He is indeed to take every just means for assuring himself that he is not deceived, that the phantom has not been woven from the imagining of his own brain, but has really been sent to him by his Master. But this having been done, there is no room for hesitation. And are we not summoned to Macedonia? and is not the voice for assistance more thrilling and more plaintive than that which fell, in night visions, on the ear of St. Paul? It is the voice, not only of the Macedonian, the foreigner, the heathen; it is the voice of our own countrymen.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

The cry —


1. A man —

(1)Not an angelic intelligence.

(2)Not a member of a class, but of a race. It was not a philosopher, artist, priest, warrior, king; but a man.

2. It is the humanity in heathendom that is in moral distress. The aid that is so deeply required is not secular, political, educational, military, but moral. Help to the conscience, soul; help to man as man in his spiritual and eternal relationships.

II. WAS SIGNIFICANT. "Come over and help us." It implies —

1. A sense of need. Man everywhere feels that there is something wanting to make matters right between him and his God. "Wherewithal shall I come before the Lord?"

2. Conscious inability to supply the need. The Macedonian felt that the Macedonians, with all their wealth and intelligence, could not supply the necessity. Heathenism has no self-redemptive power.

3. Faith is the power of Christians to help. The Macedonian took it for granted that Paul could help. Macedonia represents the western world. Once this call sounded for help from the heathen West to the Christian East; now it sounds from the heathen East to the Christian West.

III. WAS OBEYED. Paul attends at once to the call.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

Consider —

I. THE WANTS OF THE HEATHEN. Think of the millions of India ignorant of God, of Christ, and of the way of salvation; destitute of hope, victims of the most degrading superstition, Of their rites we may well say with St. Paul (Ephesians 5:12; Romans 1:29-32).


1. It offers a Divine atonement.

2. The Holy Spirit applies it and imparts the state of mind essentially necessary (Mark 16:16).


1. It is the command of Christ, "Go ye," etc. (Mark 16:15).

2. Common humanity demands it.


1. The facilities offered for the propagation of the gospel. Multitudes are prepared for it. The Bible is translated into their tongues, there is a disposition to read it, prejudice is wearing away. God is pouring out His blessing on the means already employed.

2. Our abundant means. We have wealth, piety, influence, talent, all at our command.

3. The magnitude of the work calls forth our exertions.


1. The glory of the Redeemer is involved in the extension of His Church. Has not God given Him the heathen for His inheritance, etc. Every soul saved adds one gem to the Redeemer's crown. Is not this the object of our daily prayer, "Thy kingdom come," and can we consistently use the words without employing the means?

2. Gratitude, as enlightened Gentiles. Here God was once unknown. All the blessings we enjoy we owe to the labours of those holy men who left their peaceful homes to preach among us "the unsearchable riches of Christ."

3. Compassion to their deplorable state. The temporal salvation of millions of men is not equal to that of one soul.


I. THE VISION. "They came down to Troas" — that is, to Troy, a modern city bearing the name, and marking the region, if not the site, of Priam's Troy, the City of the Iliad and the blind singer's deathless song. Such places are fountains of inspiration in themselves. Hill and grove, stream and plain, are vocal with great memories; and the soul that is worthy of such a scene hears, as heard voices in the air saying, "Let us, too, conquer something." But more depends upon the soul than on the scene; for whatever it looks upon the eye can only see what the eye brings with it, the means of seeing, for everything wears the hue of the spirit. Xerxes, Alexander of Macedon, Julius Caesar, and many more came to this famed region, and each one saw and heard according to the spirit that was in him visions of battles. But the man who had now come to Troy had brought with him another spirit and an eye capable of nobler visions. He brought with him a great soul, wide in the range of its sympathies, sensitive, impressionable, and glowing with the quenchless passion of love to God and man. Never in all its eventful history had Troy an eye so rich in the means of seeing whatever Troy could show. And what did Paul see upon the Trojan plain? Behold, then, the new Troy that God would have besieged and conquered, as the spring besieges, and as the summer conquers the land! Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up, and the message that moulded his life came to him from the very lips of God, speaking in person. That was the highest vision of which the best man in that stage of the world's spiritual development was capable. But Paul in that great moment, not only of his life, beheld, not the Lord high and lifted up, but a man of Europe, one of ourselves, and heard a human voice pleading in the darkness for such help as he could give. It was the vision rendered possible by the Incarnation of the Son of God, and necessary by the state of the world. He beheld a man! That is the vision needed today. In all our difficulties in England, political, economic, social and ecclesiastic, the devil's policy is still to raise such a dust of controversy as to hide man from man. Penetrate to the heart of any question of the day, and there you find a man, a man asking for help. At the heart of the Drink Question, at the heart of the Labour Question, there are men, not monsters, but men, flesh of our flesh, men with difficulties, crying to us, calling to us, pleading with us. And our only hope of settling these questions lies in laying the cloud of devil's dust of passion and prejudice until we can see the man and hear what he is saying. And this great matter of missions, what is it? Do some of you young people think that, after all, it is nothing but a war of religions? that it is simply a crusade of one creed against another? Nothing of the sort. It is man's ministry to man. How shall we figure heathenism to ourselves tonight? Shall we call up a vision of idols and groves and temples and mitred priests and garlanded victims? No; all that is mere detail. If you want to see heathenism in the fullest pathos and tragedy of its fate, think of it under the guise of a man with soul enough to conceive the sublime ideas of Brahminism, with conscience enough to appreciate the grand moral precepts of Buddha, with brain enough to frame the marvellous scheme of Confucius, and spirituality enough in him to see with Zoroaster that the difference between good and evil is no measurable distance, but a distance as between day and night. We have to approach them rather in the spirit of brotherliness; for a man stands before us, and yet in a spirit of compassion for this man, so noble, so subtle, so mighty of intellect, is weighed down, is cramped, he is weary with searching and cannot find, he is a baffled man, and he asks us to help him with that very thing in the possession of which alone we are superior to him, the thing which, perhaps, when we have handed it to him he will be able to make a very much better use of than we have made.

II. THE CALL. Human need is always sacred and ever oracular, for through it God speaks. The will of God is the only plain thing in this universe, the only thing that is absolutely known. Everything else has darkness and mist about it, but the will of God is absolutely plain. The will of God is gladness, sunshine, music, life. It is everywhere. Go forth into the byways and highways of London with open eye and reverent heart, and you shall see it written upon every human need, and you shall hear it speaking to you in every human cry. It is the will of God that men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth; and God's will be done! The call of God is a call to unity. "When he had seen the vision we sought to go forth." It is noticed that the word "we" comes in here for the first time. The men felt that it was a call not only to action, but to united action. There had been quarrels and partings at Antioch. Paul and Barnabas had separated; but this revelation of the need of the world came to give compression and compactness and unity to this little band. If you want to see the quarrel at Antioch in its true nature, look at it in the light of Europe's need; and if you want to see the divisions and the jealousies that divide Christian people at home, look at them against the world's need today. God is not calling us simply to action, but to united action, to cooperation, to Christian unity. Twice one man is not simply two, but two plus their unity. It does not matter how many they are. It is not the number of men that work; it is the spirit in which any number work; their unity tells.

III. THE WORK. "God had called us to preach the gospel unto them." Dr. Owen, in his sermon on this text, says: "No men want help like the men that want the gospel." But what is the gospel?

1. Preaching the gospel; what is it? It is calling the righteous to repentance. There were good folk in Philippi, and Paul found them engaged in a good work on a good day. Well, then, let well alone? No, for it is not at all well. Nowhere in all Philippi was Paul more needed than among these good folk praying on the Sabbath day by the river's brim; and there is no one in all England that needs a mission more than many a good, blameless, irreproachable, man. But are there good among the heathen? Oh! yes. I am no more concerned to deny goodness to India and China than St. Luke to Philippi. There is goodness among the heathen, conscientiousness, aspiration, prayerfulness. Why, then, send missions to good people? Why? Because the goodness of the world, almost more than its badness, demonstrates the absolute necessity of the gospel. If the badness of the world proves how far down man can fall left to himself, the goodness of the world goes to show what a very little way, left to himself, he can lift himself from where he has fallen.

2. Preaching the gospel, what is it? Deliverance of the captives. As Paul passed and repassed through the streets on his way to the place of prayer, to preach to the good, kind people, he saw another phase of European life — a poor girl, on whose supposed powers of divination greedy men were making a fat living. Well, she, too, as well as Lydia, should be helped. Paul held a gospel in trust for her. Oh! yes: but think of the difficulties and the danger of doing it! For timid friends tell Paul, who had never been in Europe before; never been face to face with downright heathenism before: "She is a property, a human chattel; she belongs to the men who live upon her powers." Salvation for her means ruin for them: good money is good in Europe, and what it might mean ultimately for Paul no one could say. Then think of the scandal, the interruptions of the good work so nicely begun — all this to be stopped and a great scandal raised, and Christianity itself, perhaps. Yes, there were strong reasons for not touching this matter, and Paul seems to have shrunk from doing so. But God forced his hand. The girl followed him day by day, advertising the mission that he had been sent upon, until, at last, able to bear it no longer, he stood there in the open street and, in the name of Christ, opened fire upon the devil in her, and the more malignant devil in her masters. Yes, there was a scandal and tumult, and much trouble came of it. But it had to be done, for in this matter peace is with the devil and the fight is with God.

3. Preaching the gospel to the heathen is preaching Christ as the Saviour of lost men. Philippi held not Lydia only, not girls like that poor lost, wild one; but men like this gaoler, coarse, hardened, sceptical. What can Paul do to help that man? What does that man want? Why, he wants everything; he wants the chief thing. And so, from obeying the vision they saw and following the call they heard, God led these people into a work that touched the European town at every point of its life, and stirred it to its lowest depths. They left it in a few days a different place from what they had found it.

(J. M. Gibbon.)

This was no doubt a special vision sent of God for the direction of the apostle. And yet the vision may be very readily accounted for by natural causes. Men usually dream of that which is most upon their minds. Who marvels that the miser dreams of gold, the mother of her infant, the soldier of battle? No wonder that Paul, whose whole soul was full of his Master's cause, should have a vision concerning a new field of labour. God sometimes tells men in their sleep the secret they could not discover when they were awake. We have heard of the preacher who dreamed his sermon and then preached it. The text suggests that —

I. THE GREATEST HELP THAT CAN BE GIVEN TO ANY PEOPLE IS THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL. Those who have not the gospel stand in the greatest need of help; but when the gospel is carried, you carry everything within it.

1. Many lands are still subject to despots. How is liberty to be established in these lands? We need something more potent than steel to carve out the liberty of mankind. If liberty, equality, and fraternity, the three great words that are the world's heirloom, are ever to be fully known, it must be by the preaching of the Word of Jesus.

2. See how the nations are lying under gloomy superstition. How many have their intellect blighted, their hopes blasted, their progress stepped, by the cursed dominancy of priests. But the preaching of the gospel which teaches that believers are all priests and kings — this, and this only, is the world's hope of its deliverance from the slavery of the body and the yet more accursed bondage of the soul.

3. There are many places where all social comforts and enjoyments are as yet totally unknown. Nothing else can make the barbarian into a civilised man but the cross.

4. There are districts where the ground is red with blood. What shall we do to put an end to war? The gospel of Jesus shall yet break the battle bow in sunder.

5. But still, the greatest help that the gospel brings is help to the soul. Does not your heart desire that the blind eye should be opened, the misguided directed, the vicious led to virtue, and the virtuous to righteousness! Ye must send the gospel far and wide. How can they believe without a preacher? How can they preach except they be sent?

II. EVERY DAY AND HOUR THE NATIONS ARE SAYING, "COME OVER AND HELP US." They do not vocally ask for help; nay, if you send it, they will many of them reject it. Missionaries have been slain; but still the nations are silently crying, "Come over and help us." If I saw a person in the street faint and dying, although he spoke not to me, I should think the weakness of his silence more potent than all the power of words. Ay, and if I saw him like a maniac, pushing me from him, for that very reason I would give him my assistance; and so must you do. It is ours to thrust our kindness upon unwilling men, because we believe that their unwillingness arises from the madness of their disease. Unborn generations shall bless the men that sent the gospel which at first their fathers did reject.

III. WHAT DO YOU MEAN TO DO IS ANSWER TO THE HEATHEN'S CRY? Have I one man who has a mind to go and preach the gospel in other lands? Because if I have, and if I have ten others who have a mind to give him ten pounds a year, I have an opening for sending him out at once. Who can tell? — he might be another Livingstone. Have we no young men here who are ready to volunteer? And what are you resolved to do who cannot preach? Says one, "I will pray." Do so; but in doing that, recollect that is what the Roman priest did for the beggar. The priest said he would not give him a sovereign, nor a half-crown, nor a penny. "Holy father," said the beggar, "will you give me your prayers?" "Yes," said the priest; "kneel down." "No," said the beggar; "for if your prayers had been worth a penny, you would not have given them to me." If you have nought else to give to Christ, ye need not be ashamed; but if you are blessed in your substance, you will be lying before Him if you ask Him to bless His cause and do not give of your means in its support.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

One sunny evening, on Mr. Mason's return from a preaching excursion among the Burmans, the first object which attracted his attention was the fine form of a Sgare chief, who, seated like a child at Mrs. Mason's feet, was earnestly imploring her to visit the karens in his village and neighbourhood. "We have heard of Christianity, and it seems to us something wonderful. We do not understand it, and yet it seems the very thing we want. Come to our jungle homes, and preach to us on our native streams. Many will believe. I have a Burman wife, and I have daughters, and sons-in-law, and brothers, and nephews, all of whom will become Christians, as well as myself, as soon as we really understand." In a few years this man became one of the most efficient labourers in Merqui and Tavoy, and under his influence many were baptized.

(J. F. B. Tinling, B. A.)

The form of the petition, which we may declare without exaggeration to be addressed to all of us in the periodical call of Christian missions, places in a very attractive light the work to which it refers. The gospel is designed by its Author, and is felt by its true disciples to be the help of man. The Bible is full of this aspect of the gospel. Man wants help, and God alone offers him help.

I. INSTRUCTION is help. We all speak of the helplessness of the blind. See a blind man groping his way: math the vacillation of his step, the uncertainty of his hand; see how a little child, a dumb animal, a lifeless staff, is welcomed as the guide and helper. Now what the light of the sun is to one who has to move among the things of this world, that knowledge is to a man who has to find his way through the mysteries, perils, and obstructions of this life into an eternal state. Well can you imagine yourself crying, in the words of the text, "Come over and help me! Help me by telling me for certain what I am and where; who is He above me, and what the life beyond; how I can so pass through things temporal that I finally lose not the things eternal."

II. COMFORT is help. See how the Psalmist cries out for help in his hours of distress. "Shew me a token for good: that they who hate me may see it and be ashamed, because Thou, Lord, hast holpen me and comforted me." Holpen and comforted. The two things are one. If I could only feel that someone has cared for my soul, it is help at once. It is neglect, indifference, alienation, which disheartens and makes me feel myself helpless. Let me know that God whom I have displeased yet loves, that God whom I have neglected waits for me with outstretched arm, and I can bear anything, I can do anything. It is so when first the gospel is apprehended as indeed a message of peace from God. And it is so again day by day. The gospel is indeed help for the helpless and life from the dead.

III. But there are hearts of which the inward thought is, "The help I need most of all is, in the simplest sense, ASSISTANCE — aid against difficulties, enemies, temptations." Yes, here we touch the vital point. What makes a true Christian love his gospel is that he finds strength in it.

(Dean Vaughan.)

Oriental in its lineage and nativity Christianity was destined to become European in its triumphs. A few centuries saw it wither in those lands which gave it birth. Whereas transplanted to Europe it has struck here abiding roots and borne ample fruit. Nourished by the stronger soil of Western life, it is now beginning to repay the East its early obligations. The moment to which the text refers was one of the supreme turning points of history. It was a moment sure to come. Sooner or later the gospel was bound to pass from the continent of its infancy to that robuster continent which was to prove the home of its manhood. Yet it needed quite a series of unusual providential indications to bring that mission band down to Treas. Again and again had the unseen Guide of that enterprise stood, like the angel of Balaam, barring progress. Read widely the Macedonians' appeal suggests —


1. What are human religions but attempts to find God? But they strive after the unattainable. The net result of them all in Paul's day was a general scepticism respecting religious truths, and despair respecting their highest good.

2. The end of government and all social systems is the regeneration of society and a reign of justice, peace, and happiness; and at this problem men had long been working. Government by one, by a few, by the many, by the best — the world has tried them all, and under all of them has gone to corruption.

3. This failure repeats itself in the individual soul. The inward history of every man, when the net result of all life's efforts comes to be inspected, does not satisfy even the man himself. It is not what it ought or was meant to be.

II. TO ALL THIS INCESSANT, PROFOUND, PATHETIC PLAINT OF HUMANITY, GOD'S ANSWER HAS BEEN THE GOSPEL OF HIS SON, or rather God's Son Himself. He is the Helper who has come over to us. He has brought light, revealing the Father whom we had ignorantly worshipped; peace cancelling guilt and atoning for transgression; power to break the bonds of evil habit, to renew the wasted moral energy, and to build up holy character. We believe in this Helper; to receive Christ is to be a Christian. Come and see if He be not the Christ of God.

III. CHRIST BEING GOD'S RESPONSE TO THE CRY FOR HELP, IT FOLLOWS THAT CHRISTIANS IN THEIR TURN MUST LISTEN TO THE CRY AND ANSWER IT. If the gospel has not forgotten its own origin it can never hear unmoved the Macedonian appeal. Christianity, is nothing if not a mission; and the Church's loyalty is tested by the degree of her sensitiveness to catch and her promptness to answer the cry of perishing men. Not that the Church must wait for any formal invitation. Paul did not wait for that. Macedonia knew and cared nothing about Christianity. The cry came not from Europe, but from God. What the vision meant was that Macedonia needed and was ready for the gospel. And no other provocation is needed for the Church's missionary effort today. Note then —

1. The need. The study of comparative religion yields two results —(1) It brings to light the seeds of spiritual truth which lie buried beneath the great old religions, and which testify to the inextinguishable cravings after God to which Christ is God's reply.(2) It shows the necessity for the Christian revelation. To know heathenism thoroughly is to know not only its fragments of partial truth, but also their insufficiency, and their witness to man's abortive spiritual struggles. There is great need for a fuller acquaintance with heathen creeds, and their outcome in heathen life. It is most difficult for men whose moral sense has been refined by Christianity to fathom the deeps of sinfulness and cruelty in which men have been plunged by unnumbered centuries of heathenism. Had Christians only an exacter knowledge of these things, compassion for the heathen would be vastly more keen and active than it is.

2. The readiness. The Church literally staggers beneath appeals for help. You can scarcely name a region that is inaccessible to the gospel. This is the privilege and perplexity of all our Churches.

(J. Oswald Dykes, D. D.)

It is only hearts burdened with Divine pity, and moved by Divine love, that see such visions or hear such voices as Paul saw and heard. The cold and indifferent sleep on; never hear and never see the great spirit world that wraps us close round. But we must not suppose that the Macedonians were actually hungering for the gospel. We know that they did not welcome Paul. His first sermon was preached to a few women only, and he was beaten and disregarded by the Philippians at large, and driven from their city; and when he went further south to Thessalonica, they assaulted him so furiously that he had to escape out of the city by night. And further south again in Athens they mocked him and said, "What will this babbler say?" Alas! the heathen, as a rule, do not see their darkness or feel their misery. The sheep in the wilderness, though utterly lost and in utmost peril, never seek the shepherd; it is the shepherd who has to seek the sheep. There was once an old man, diseased and worn and literally clothed in rags, who sat by the wayside begging, an object of pity: yet he never uttered a word, but simply sat there. One day a gentleman passing by was struck by his abject misery, but as no appeal was made he passed on. Yet, haunted by the man's woe-begotten appearance, he came back and said, "Are you in want?" And the old man replied, "Oh, sir! I am sick and cold and hungry." Then said the gentleman, "Why don't you beg?" And the old man, stretching out his worn, wasted hands, and looking at his rag-covered body, said, "Sir, I am begging with a thousand tongues." Yes, his misery was begging more eloquently than words. And it is thus that the heathen world is begging at the doors of the Church. It is its misery that begs; for the heathen are without God, and without hope in the world. But it is only a Christian's eye that can see that misery, and only a Christian's ear that can hear the cry. But what kind of help did the Macedonians want from Paul? and what kind of help had Paul to give them? It was —

1. Help out of their debasing idolatries and superstitions to the knowledge of the one true and living God.

2. Help out of their moral degradation to a higher and nobler life.

3. Help out of darkness and death to Christ and life.

(G. Owen.)

I. THE DREAM. It seems a slight sort of thing to be the beginning of any enterprise, for a dream may arise from some slight derangement of the body, some uneasy posture, some preoccupation of the mind. Sometimes, however, it may be the effluence of another life. Just as a telegraph wire will transmit an influence that will reach another wire quite detached from it miles away — how, no man knows — so there are souls, perhaps, with so much vitality and power to propagate an impression that they may waft their desire into other hearts by the subtle breathing and yearning of the soul. In such a case a dream may have a meaning. God "fulfils Himself in many ways," and sometimes, when He cannot get into our waking mind, He will enter into the mind while it sleeps, and convey His message there. From the result we see that this dream was a ministering angel. Mark some of the strange things about him.

1. It is very strange that He goes to the hearts that He does. Truly there was need of some angel to be the mouthpiece of creation that was groaning. For despair spread over the face of the people. The power of Rome was oppressive; liberty was extinct; the laws were bitter and cruel in a degree we cannot easily imagine. But surely that angel went to the wrong house. Let him go to the emperor, to the Roman Senate, to some that had power to see to the well-being of the people. But he is gone to travel-stained men with no fitness for any task like this. Angel, you have come to the wrong door. But oh! woe always knows in what direction to look for help; it has an instinct unerring as the child's for the mother's breast. And the dream angel, that is the pleader for human help, is always coming to Christian hearts. They may be few and poor; but somehow the cry of distress is always coming to the Church of Christ, as if she had some secret by which to heal the troubles of men. It may be the poor people of London; the ignorance of little children; orphans; the hospital; some nation struggling for liberty; womanhood. All the sorrowful the world over passing by all others say to us, "Come over and help us." In Tokio, in Japan, a pool woman asked to be led to the Christian people. They asked her what she wanted. She said she understood that they knew how to heal the broken heart, and her heart was broken, and she wanted to find them. You cannot get out of this position. It is an evidence of Christianity little noticed, the expectation that the world has from us. Realise it. You may learn what to do in learning what the world expects you to do. The first marvel about this dream angel is the people to whom he goes.

2. The next strange thing about this dream angel is that he gets into the heart he goes to. It was not every heart that he got into. There are thoughts and feelings that cannot be got into our minds and hearts, for they are not big enough for them. There are some who can look upon sorrow and never see a claim in it; who can have the gospel and never feel that they have anything that can heal the woes of men. If such an angel had come to such, he might have stood at the door and knocked the whole night through, and he would not have disturbed their slumber. We would have told him that the rich man lived in the next street, or that somebody that was particularly interested in this sort of work was to be found somewhere else, or of the number of calls that we had, or turned to ask the news from Macedon: what about the crops, and the business, and the state of the frontier? The dream angel has been trying to get into some of our hearts for years, and we do not heed him, and send him away. Blessed are the souls that are open to let him in. All Christ-like hearts listen to such appeals. St. Patrick heard the dream voice, and the great missionaries of the Middle Ages — Boniface, the missionary of Central Europe; Raymond Lully, who went to Northern Africa; Xavier, who went to the furthest India and the edge of China. He came to our own Carey. There are some people that have never seen this dream angel. God pity them! Blessed are they who have.

II. WHAT DID THEY DO WITH THE DREAM? What would you have done? Probably you would have told it as rather a strange, curious dream, and have forgotten it. And suppose you had been with Paul; would you have given in to him, and gone to Macedonia on the mere strength of this dream? I fancy Silas would be very much tempted to say, "Well, Paul, that is you all over; your dream cometh of your compassions. When you were at Antioch you thought of Cyprus, and when you got to Cyprus you thought of Asia Minor; when yon were at Syria you wanted to go to Rome, and when you get to Rome you will want to go to Spain — always 'the regions beyond.' Your dream by night just comes of your thought by day." I can fancy Luke was tempted to say, "Paul, you had a very serious illness in Galatia a month or two ago, ought you to go yonder?" Oh, if it had been you or I, we would have wanted a month or two to consider it, and we would have got everybody's opinion till we got addled by the multitude of opinions that we took, and chilled by the cold water we invited. What did they do? (ver. 10). How long it takes to convince us of any duty! We ask for light, and when light comes we look at it as if it had been something sent on approbation, and send it back, or wait for God to change His mind and show us something else; or we consult with flesh and blood, with books, and wonder whether we have to do it, or perhaps we say, "Is it necessary? Is there not somebody else that can do it?" Happy are those hearts that are easily convincible of God's love and of their own duty. These men were of that make. They "assuredly gathered that the Lord had called," and there was an end of it. Four big children, not stupid enough to philosophise, nor prudent enough to tarry for light, but heroes as well as children. "Immediately they endeavoured to go." Not lingering. How much they gained by their promptness! Why, if they had waited till tomorrow the ship would have been gone, and no one knows how long it would have been before another vessel would sail in that direction. Besides, when you are guided by God's eye, the eye that guides you smiles on you, and you walk in the light. And they went with its bloom upon them, and the voyage pleasant, and three days do not elapse before they are in the capital of Macedon at their work. Brethren, this world is too short for us to practise delay. You are going to give a lot of money to the missions when your fortune is made. "Immediately they endeavoured to go into Macedonia" — that was Paul's example. Tomorrow is not yours or mine; today is ours. Be like the stars, as Goethe said; not hasting, not tarrying, waiting till the light is clear; the moment it is clear, go forth.

III. THE RESULT OF THIS ACTION. What was it? Perhaps not very encouraging at first. Nobody is waiting for them. They go out to the little oratory by the riverside; there is not a man, only a few women. It is true that one of them is converted; it is true that another is converted. And then, when they have got into prison, another low-natured man that it took an earthquake to rouse is added to the other two; and thus there are three to start the Christian worship in Europe. It is a strange trio — a seeker after God, a poor demoniac woman, and a great sinner. You know that is the way the Church is gathered — seekers, sufferers, sinners. Was that all? Not quite all. For these three, with two women at the head, grew into the noblest of all the Apostolic Churches. Then after Philippi they went to Thessalonica, Beroea, Athens, Corinth; and the Church grew and grew till today European Christianity has grown out of it. Brethren, send the bail rolling, and somebody else will keep it up. Sow one seed, and a thousand years hence some fruit of it may wave. Were they repaid? What says your heart? What would you give to have their reward in heaven? Oh! what overpowering delight would it be to any one of us to have a ten thousandth part of the reward that came to them! So all are rewarded that obey these heavenly visions.

(R. Glover.)

granted by Charles I contains an expression of the hope that the settlers to whom it is granted "may win and incite the natives of the country to the knowledge and obedience of the only true God and Saviour of mankind and the Christian faith, which, in our royal intention, and the adventurer's free profession, is the principal end of this plantation." The first seal of the State represents an Indian giving utterance to the words, "Come over and help us."

(W. E. Rae.)

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