Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis;…
Promptly obedient to the heavenly vision, Paul and Silas went "with a straight course to Samothracia," and by Neapolis to Philippi. There, eagerly awaiting a sacred opportunity, they "abode certain days." They availed themselves of the weekly gathering "at the river-side," where women, who everywhere are the most devout, were wont to meet for prayer. The whole narrative suggests the by-truths:
1. That we should instantly carry out the will of Christ when we are distinctly assured of it.
2. That we should chemise the largest and likeliest sphere - "the chief city" (ver. 12) - for our activity.
3. That those who are least honored of man are they who find most solace in the service of God.
4. That those who go reverently to worship are in the way to secure a greater blessing than they seek. God reveals himself in unexpected ways to us, as now to Lydia: going to render the homage of a pure heart, she returned with a new faith in her mind, a new hope and love in her soul, a new song in her mouth.
5. That holy gratitude to God will show itself in a generous, constraining kindness toward man - a kindness that will not be refused (ver. 15). But the lesson of our text is the truth which we learn concerning the gentle power of God in opening the closed heart of man: "Whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul" (ver. 14). We may regard -
I. THE FACT THAT HE DOES WORK THUS UPON US. If we appeal to our own consciousness we find that it is the case. Often God's Spirit so touches and moves the human soul, that it is only just aware, at the time, that it is being wrought upon; or he so operates that we can only tell, by comparing past things with present, that we have changed our spiritual position. It is found by us to be the fact that the Lord is not in the storm, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but rather in the "still small voice."
"Silently, like morning light,
Putting mists and chills to flight;"
he lays his hand upon us and touches the deepest springs of our nature. Any faith which does not include the action of God's gentle power in awakening, enlightening, renewing, reviving, the souls of men is utterly inadequate and completely fails to cover the facts of human experience.
II. THE WAY IN WHICH HE WORKS. God opens our hearts in different ways.
1. Sometimes it is by making us gradually sensible of our own unworthiness, and therefore of our need of a Divine Savior.
2. Sometimes by drawing our thought and love upward, higher and higher, from the true and pure and gracious that are found in the human, to him who is the true and pure and gracious Friend Divine.
3. Sometimes by constraining us to feel dissatisfied with the seen and temporal, and to seek our joy and our treasure in the unseen and eternal.
III. THE MEANS BY WHICH HE WORKS. These are manifold: the sacred Scriptures; the services of the sanctuary; the friendship of the holy; the opening, enlarging experiences of life; the trial which, though not startling and terrible, is yet arresting and revealing.
IV. THE EXCELLENCY OF HIS WORK. Some may suppose that they have more to be thankful for when they can point to one quickening and arousing circumstance in their life, sent of God to awaken and change them. But there is as much of the Divine in the opening of the flower by the light of the morning as in the upheaval of the lava by the fires beneath the crust of the earth; and there is as much of Divine power in its gentler action on the soul as there is in its more palpable and more terrible manifestations. It is open to us to think that there is even greater kindness shown in the former than in the latter. It behooves us
(1) to recognize the reality of his gentle power;
(2) to bless him most gratefully for his exercise of it upon ourselves;
(3) to seek that he would put it forth on those with whom we have to do - children, etc.;
(4) to watch for its operation in them, and to co-operate with God therein. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis;