Human Life: Lights and Shadows
Acts 20:1-12
And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called to him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.…

In these verses we are reminded of -

I. THE SCANTY RECORD OF HUMAN LIFE. We have six verses of this valuable chronicle given to the unimportant incident of the accident which befell Eutychus (vers. 7-12), and only three to Paul's visit to Macedonia and Greece. We do not understand why Luke should thus apportion his space, but the fact that he did so reminds us how often most interesting and instructive scenes, or even precious and influential periods, of our life are left unreported. We should have liked to read a full description, in copious detail, of the apostle's visit to the Churches of Macedonia, and especially of his interview with the Church at Corinth. But we are not gratified. Doubtless some of the most heroic deeds have been wrought in secret, and no tongue has told the story; doubtless some of the most saintly sufferings have been endured unseen by mortal eye, and no pen has described the scene.

"If singing breath or echoing chord
To every hidden pang were given,
What endless melodies were poured,
As sad as earth, as sweet as heaven!" Let it be enough that one eye sees and one heart enters into our struggles and our sorrows, and that "our record is on high."

II. THE PRICELESSNESS OF CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP. "After the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them" (ver. 1). After the storm was over, it was an intense relief to pour out their agitated hearts in mutual sympathy, congratulation, devotion. We know (2 Corinthians 2:13) that Paul found no rest in his spirit because he found not Titus his brother at Tress, and accordingly went on to Macedonia to seek him, and that he was greatly comforted by finding him there (2 Corinthians 7:6, 7). We read of the friends who "accompanied him into Asia" (ver. 4), and throughout we feel how precious beyond all reckoning was the sympathy and succor which came to the wearied and buffeted apostle from true human hearts. Loyal Christian fellowship is one of those beneficent gifts from God which we should count among our chief treasures, for which we should render heartiest thanksgiving; it is also one of those ways in which we can render invaluable service to faithful men, and thus an appreciated service to Christ, the Lord.

III. THE PENALTY OF UNFLINCHING FAITHFULNESS. When Paul was about to return to Syria, he found the enmity of his countrymen ready to waylay him. "The Jews laid wait for him" (ver. 3). He could not but speak as Christ, by his Spirit, taught him; and his preaching became more clear and distinct as to the non-necessity of the Law of Moses; his doctrine became less exclusive, more liberal, i.e. increasingly repugnant to the narrow-minded Jews; and the fierceness of their hostility found vent in plots against his life. Whoso will follow Christ in "bearing witness to the truth" must be ready to "take up his cross and follow him" along the path of the persecuted. To be quite true to our convictions, to be fearlessly faithful to the Lord who reveals to us his will, is to bear the penalty of the dislike, the hatred, the intrigues of men.

IV. THE OVERRULING PROVIDENCE OF GOD. His enemies schemed, but God thwarted their schemes; he "turned aside," and their murderous designs were defeated. Christ had more work for him to do, and the uplifted hand of the enemy must be arrested.

"Though destruction walk around us,
Though the arrows past us fly,
Angel-guards from thee surround us,
We are safe, if thou art nigh."

V. THE OVERFLOW OF SACRED ZEAL. Paul desired to use his opportunity at Troas, and "on the first day of the week" he preached, "ready to depart on the morrow" (ver. 7). In the" multitude of his thoughts within him," or conscious that he was soon to leave and feeling that he might never return to them, disregarding the lateness of the hour and the condition of the chamber, he still preached on. He "continued his speech until midnight." That which would be unwise as a rule is allowable as an exception. If "anger hath a privilege," much more so has zeal. We admire the man whose fullness of soul makes him oblivious of all attendant circumstances. It is well to have a capacity for devotedness which will sometimes lift us far above the level of ordinary moods, and make us forget everything but our subject and our cause, or rather everything but the truth of God and the cause and kingdom of Jesus Christ. - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.

WEB: After the uproar had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, took leave of them, and departed to go into Macedonia.

From Ephesus to Troas
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