And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came to them to Troas in five days…
I. A SUNDAY AT TROAS. What is Sunday? Not the Jewish Sabbath; not a day of gloom and bondage, of restrictions and penalties, of meritorious observance or sanctimonious austerity. It is the weekly, as Easter is the annual, festival of our Lord's resurrection. The very place of the fourth commandment, standing in the midst of moral rules, proves conclusively that there is a moral principle involved; that man needs a periodical rest, and that God requires of him the separation and the religious observance of such a periodical rest. Man's restlessness, selfishness, and irreligion, being what they are, how should man have invented it? Little does the working man know his own interest when he secularises the Sunday! Once destroy the sacredness of the day, and the liberty of the day will follow; and, depend upon it, irreligious employers will soon find reasons for engrossing it, till God's gift perishes through the ingratitude of those to whom He gave it. It may not be true that the day of the Sabbath was ever formally changed from the seventh to the first; but this I say, that the moral law prescribes a day of religious rest, and that Sunday is, for us, the day so prescribed, and living where we live, and when, Sunday is a necessity of existence, if we are ever to win or fight our way through this world to a better. And this I say, too, that, as it is a necessity, so it is also a duty. The fourth commandment enforces itself still: so long as it is a sin to swear, to kill, or to steal — so long the consecration of a portion of time to special religious purposes will be a duty, and its desecration a sin; and he who profanes the Sunday by business, dissipation or frivolity, will be guilty of sin against God, and of cruelty towards the best and highest interests of man.
II. THE EMPLOYMENTS OF THIS DAY. Sunday is our periodical rest, but it is not designed to be a day of mere inactivity. The body rests by repose, the soul by action. Therefore that day of rest which body and mind want for relief from labour, the soul wants rather for that occupation which is at once its business, its food, and its repose; intercourse with God; expatiation in the things of God; communion with the people of God. The congregation at Troas came together —
1. For worship. They did not forget that special promise which is attached to united prayer. We need to be brought back to the simplicity of common prayer. I often wonder whether we are praying in common. Two things go to this —
(1) That each one pray, and(2) That each one pray as one among many; pray, that is, not his own selfish prayers, but his part in the prayers of the congregation.
2. To hear preaching. I know you will say, It would be easy to listen if St. Paul were the preacher; it is because the preacher has nothing interesting or new that we find his words wearisome and his sermons long. A sermon has become in these days synonymous with dullness, and every newspaper has its jest at it. Nevertheless, there are those who believe that preaching is still, as of old, an ordinance of God; that the gospel, familiar as its central truth is to us, still needs enforcement; that the earnest words of a faithful man have instruction in them and carry a blessing from on high after them. There are those who have found by experience that they are the better for preaching. The humble and earnest hearer does not go away ashamed; nor will he go away to scoff at that instrumentality by which the instructions of Christ are ministered afresh to the congregation.
3. "To break bread." In the first instance the reception of the Lord's Supper was a daily act of the congregation (chap. Acts 2.). Long did it continue the badge and the privilege of Christians to partake of that sacred bread and that Divine cup once in each week, on its first, its consecrated day. How shall we dare to touch on this subject in a modern congregation? How many suffer months and years to slip by without one participation in the ordinance. Worship is disregarded by many, and sermons by many more, but even worship, even preaching, is practically honoured far above Communion; the church may be half empty for worship, it is emptied again before Communion. These things ought not so to be.
Parallel VersesKJV: And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days.