Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,…
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.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,