As a result, many of them believed, along with quite a few prominent Greek women and men.
I. THE TRUE PREPARATION FOR DIVINE BLESSINGS.
1. A state of mind. At liberty to think. Open to teaching. Desire for instruction. The two kinds of skepticism (skepsis), inquiry for truth, inquiry for reasons against faith.
2. A course of action and habit. Reading of the Scriptures daily, with a set purpose, devoutly, in connection with the preached Word, with an intention to follow their guidance.
II. THE TRUE FAITH SETTLED ON ITS BROAD FOUNDATION.
1. As distinguished from mere individual self-assertion and ignoble pride.
2. As accepting the standard of revealed truth.
3. As apostolic, seeing that "those things were so," i.e. as Paul represented them. The Pauline faith was the only faith which linked together the Old Testament and the New.
III. RESULTS FOLLOWING THE USE OF MEANS. A lesson to both preachers and hearers. - R.
Therefore many of them believed.1. They "believed" — a little word, but a great thing — the step by which they passed from condemnation to peace; from the house on the sand before it fell, to the rock. The moment before they were without Christ and hope; the moment after they were in Christ, and heirs of eternal life. How could interests so vast turn on a point so small? All decisive turnings are made on points. The poles are mathematical points, yet how huge the mass that spins round them!
2. "Many believed." A swelling of spiritual life sometimes comes over a city or country, as the tidal wave over the ocean — lifted and led in both cases by a power in the heavens. The symptoms which portended this revival were a bent of mind towards the Word, and a daily searching of it. When we see the same symptoms we may expect the same enlargement.
3. Note the classes who were won to the Lord.
I. GREEKS. There is no respect of persons with God: "neither Jew nor Greek." Yet the conversion of a Greek may give an apostle greater reason for joy, inasmuch as while of no more value intrinsically than a Jew, a Greek could open a door into a wider field. Those successes were sweetest which were promises of more.
II. MEN AND WOMEN. God made both in marvellous wisdom for each other; together they have gone from Him; it is a glad sight when they return in company. How sad when the sexes are divided by that partition which divides the Church from the world! As there is neither Jew nor Greek, so there is neither male nor female in the kingdom of Christ. Sometimes the husband or brother believes, while wife or sister smothers the spiritual life by the cares of this world. Sometimes the women of the family are devoted to Christ, while the men are too philosophic or self-indulgent. Husbands and wives, etc., be heirs together of the grace of life.
III. PEOPLE OF HIGH STANDING. Are the upper ten, then, more precious? No. But there are times and circumstances in which their conversion is more noteworthy.
1. If for nothing else, the early disciples valued it as men value certain gems, on account of its rarity. The common people heard the Master gladly, but the rulers held aloof. On that account Jesus looked fondly on the rich young man who came to Him.
2. Their influence is greater.
3. Great temptations bind them.
IV. NOT A FEW. There is a strange appetite in the Christian's heart; it continually cries, Give an appetite inherited from Christ. When many came He invited the rest as eagerly.
(W. Arnot, D. D.)
Also of honourable women.
I. WOMEN RECEIVE THE GOSPEL MORE READILY THAN DO MEN. Lydia's case is repeated in all quarters of Christendom. The sisters of Bethany, the women who ministered unto Christ, prophesy the faith of their sex.
II. Upon the basis of this fact it is not flattery to say that WOMEN ARE MORE NOBLE THAN MEN. There are qualities belonging to their sex fitting women above men to appreciate the gospel. Though first in the fall, also first in relations, qualifications, and promise to bring deliverance.
III. WOMEN HAVE SPECIAL REASONS FOR BECOMING CHRISTIANS. Their aptness to receive it is evidence of their need of it —
1. To satisfy their finer, quicker sense of right, truth, beauty.
2. To fulfil their mission in life not by power, but by influence. Their want of Christian character is a want of qualification for their life work.
IV. WOMAN'S OBLIGATION TO CHRISTIANITY. Outside of the religion of revelation they were burdened and enslaved. Their elevation they owe to Christianity.
(S. Mease, D. D.)
And of men not a few.
I. MEN'S NEED OF THE GOSPEL IS AS ABSOLUTE AS THAT OF WOMEN.
1. Depravity is as deep and real, effecting an equal estrangement from God, and producing the same evil fruits — disobedience, perversion of life, unrest, apprehension of evil, and death, both in body and soul.
2. Their manly courage, strength, and capacity leave them helpless as women; for spiritual ends God's help alone will avail.
3. They must find the same one remedy — the blood of Christ.
4. To men the gospel is as much and all that it is to women — the power of God unto salvation to them that believe.
II. THE ALLEGIANCE AND SERVICE OF MEN ARE AS UNCONDITIONALLY REQUIRED AS THOSE OF WOMEN.
1. The gospel is the one instrumentality for the world's redemption. Against it are arrayed all the forces of sin and Satan. Will men, strong and courageous, refuse to enlist, while women contend with readier will and in greater numbers?
2. The work of the gospel is great above every other, securing human happiness here and hereafter. Wherever men are, there is a call to labour. Sin, crime, poverty, and suffering are devouring multitudes by reason of gospel work undone, whilst men are idling in the market place. Will men, with stronger endowments and better advantages, look on, leaving the burden to weaker but better women?
III. THE EVIL RESULTING FROM MEN'S GREATER RELUCTANCE THAN WOMEN TO ACCEPT AND PROMOTE THE GOSPEL. Were the men as ready to believe as are women, the latter in still greater numbers would be at the feet of Jesus — our daughters, wives, and mothers. An increasing host of both sexes would flock to the standard of the Cross. Men out of the Church are hindrances to women who would enter, and often difficulties to such as have entered. The men are in the front ranks of the world's battle: why should they not be in the front as to numbers and activity in the battle for truth, salvation, and God?
(S. Mease, D. D.)
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