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ledged a God, yet introduced a rigid fatality, as superior to the Deity, denying to man all freedom and liberty of choice. Accordingly, St. Paul addresses himself, first to prove a God and a Providence, to the exclusion both of Fate and Fortune: and then, secondly, from the very nature and notion of God, he infers the folly and absurdity of their Pagan superstition. Observe next, The apostle's arguments to prove the being of a God, and a Providence: 1. From the work of creation: He made the -world and all things therein; he giveth life, and breath, and all things. The whole universe is his work, and he planted the earth, and replenished it with inhahitants. The invisible God is more visible in his creatures, and the being of God demonstrated from the formation of a world of creatures. From the formation of man in particular: In him vte live, and move, Sec. Here are three great benefits enjoyed by human nature; life, motion, and being, all derived from God, and demonstrating the being of God. 1. Life: this is valuable above all blessings, because it renders us capable of enjoying all blessings. 2. Motion: a great mercy, but little considered. How uncomfortable would life be without it! Were we staked down to the earth as trees, or did we move by a constant law of nature, as the sun and moon do move, it had been a favour beyond our desert; but to move as we do at pleasure, with choice and ease, to help ourselves, and to assist others, is at once a demonstration of God's beiug, and an evidence of his bounty. 3. Being: this is essential and necessary to none but God. " To us it is an act of divine favour, and this being is a mercy ; then being what we are, is a double mercy, that we do not creep and crawl upon the earth, as worms and toads, but are built high upon the earth, with wonderful wisdom and care; and that a soul, which is an immortal and an eternal being, inhahits within us; a being which shall continue when heaven and earth shall be consumed. Observe next, The apostle having proved the being of a God, next demonstrates the certainty of a divine Providence: He hath determined the times that arc fore-appointed, and the bounds of their habitation. That is, God has, as it were, chalked out, and drawn a line, where the bounds and hahitations, whither the dominions or possessions of men should be extended, and where they shall be confined. The common blessings of God are not dispensed without a special providence ; and
the special providence of God, in ing, disposing, and governing the doth as much prove the being of a God, i the general creation of it. Every hours preservation is virtually a new creation, and both of them sufficient demonstrations of the divine being and bounty. Observe, lastly, The duty which the apostle infers on man'* part, from all this goodness and bounty demonstrated on God's part , That they shall seek the Lord,-who shall find htm, -oho is not far from every one of as. It is the duty of all men to follow after God; that God hath made man, should draw men after God; inasmuch as we are his offspring, (ver. 29.) our hearts should spring and roe up to him in love and thankfulness: as the rivers, because they come from the sea, go back thither, so we being the offspring of God, and derived from him, should be always returning to him- And if it be the duty of all men to follow after God, because they have natural life, breath, and motion from him, how much more should the new creature, who has a spiritual life breathed into him and bestowed upon hiro, follow hard after God, in the enjoyment of whom his present happiness and future felicity doth consist? To follow God in his way, and to propose God as our end, contains the sum of all duty.
29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven bj art and man's device.
Observe here, 1. How our apostle quote) one of the heathen poets in this his divine discourse. This poet was Aratus; what he attributes to Jupiter, St. Paul applies to the true God; We are his offspring. Where note, For the honour of human learning, and the lawfulness of making use of it in our sermons, the Holy Ghost is pleased three several times in the New Testament to make mention of the heathen poets; of Aratus here, Acts xvii. 28. of Menander, 1 Cor. xv. 33. of Epimcnides, Tit. i. 12. Truth is God's wherever it is found; as i mine of gold is the king's, in whose ground soever it is discovered. Observe, 2. The force of the apostle's argument: seeiug we are God's offspring: that is. seeing God is our Creator, we cannot suppose him to be the workmanship of our hands, as an image of gold, silver, or stone is ; and consequently how irrational it is for a man to adore an image made by his own hands, for and instead of God. Learn, That there is a strong propensity and inclination in the heart of man to the sin of idolatry. 2. That the sin of idolatry is not only a very great sin, but a very unreasonable and absurd sin; it is not only sacrilegious but silly, for a man to worship his own workmanship, and to fall down upon his knees to the work of his own hands.
30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth all men every where to repent.
That is, '- Though God of his infinite patience hath long borne with the world lying in darkness and ignorance; yet now, by causing his gospel to be preached to all nations, he calls and invites them to repentance, to forsake their idols, and to serve the true God." Here observe, 1. The censure of the past times: they were times of ignorance, and God winked at them, or overlooked them; not that God did allow or approve of their idolatry, but did not destroy and cut them off for the same; nor afford them such helps and means as now he did, having brought his gospel among them. Observe, 2. The duty of the present time declared: to repent. This is a commanded duty, and an universally commanded d uty: Now he commands all men evert/ where to repent. From the whole note, 1. That limes of paganism were times of ignorance. 2. That it is an unspeakable misery to be born and brought up in such times. 3. That to live impenitenlly in times of knowledge, is a sin that God will by no means wink at. 4. That the great purpose and design of the gospel wheresoever it is sent and preached, is to invite men to repentance: Now he commandeth all men every where to repent.
31 Because he hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained: whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
These words are an argument or motive to enforce the foregoing duty of repentance; God requires every man, every where, and that now immediately, to forsake their idols and sinful ways; because he hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in righteousness by his Son Christ Jesus, of which he hath already given assurance, by
raising him from the dead. Where note, 1. A judgment to come asserted: He (that is, God) will judge the world , he that hath now an observing eye, will hereafter have a rewarding hand. Note, 2. That there not only is a judgment to come, but the day or time of it is determined and fixed: He hath appointed a day. As the precise time of Christ's first coming was fixed by an unalterable, though unknown, decree, so is also the time of his second coming; that not knowing tlie hour, we may be upon our watch every hour. Note, 3. That as the day of judgment is determined, so the person of the judge is also constituted and ordained: He will judge the world by that man whom he hath ordained. This is an act of justice to our Saviour, that he, having humbled himself to take our nature, should, as the reward of his humiliation, judge that world which he died to save. And an act of kindness towards us, that he should be our judge, who took upon him our nature, and had so much love to us as to die for us. Had we leave to choose our own judge, what choice could we make better for ourselves, than that man whom God hath ordained? Observe, 4. The assurance which God hath given us of having Christ for our judge; namely, his raising him from the dead. But how doth that assure us of Christ being our judge > Answer, Our blessed Saviour, when he was in the world, often declared that he was appointed by God to judge the quick and the dead, and appealed to his resurrection as the great proof of what he said. Now when Almighty God did accordingly raise him in such a wonderful manner, (as we know he did,) what is it less than God's setting his seal to his commission, and openly proclaiming him to be the judge of all the world? Observe, 5. The manner of this judgment, or the measures which this judge will proceed by, at the great day; and that is, according to righteousness . He will judge the world in righteousness. Not in rigour and severity, talcing all the advantages that power can give him; nor yet arhitrarily and upon prerogative, but according to known laws; nor yet partially with respect of persons; but every man's doom shall depend upon the holiness or unholiness of his heart and life. Farther, our Judge will candidly interpret men's actions, and make the very best of things that the case will bear; principally looking at the sincerity of men's intentions, and making all favourable allowances for their failings and infirmities that can consist with justice ; and wilt distribute his rewards and happiness and glory lo good men in the other world, in proportion to tlie measure of their difficulties and sufferings, which they meet with here in this world. Now having this high and full assurance of a judgment to come, let us seriously believe it, daily expect it, and duly prepare tor it; let neither profit tempt us, nor pleasure allure us, nor power embolden us, nor privacy encourage us, to do that thing winch we cannot answer at the great tribunal. When St. Paul preached of judgment, Felix, though a Pagan, trembled at the sermon. Lord! what shall we say to those worse than Pagan infidels amongst ourselves, who ridicule a judgment to come, and cry before-hand, God judge me! yea, God damn roe! Alas, unhappy men, he will judge you sure enough; and damn you soon enough, if a serious repentance prevent it not.
32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. 33 So Paul departed from among them. 34 Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which teas Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damans, and others with them.
Here we have the success of Paul's sermon dt dared; it was various and different: some of his hearers derided, others doubted, and a lew believed. Those that derided and mocked, it is very probable, were Epicureans, who denied that the world was either created or governed by God; as also that there were any rewards or punishments for men after death: therefore they ridiculed St. Paul's doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. The sublimest doctrines, and most comfortable truths of the gospel are matter of derision and mockery to sensual minds. Those that doubted, probably were the Stoies, who did own the resurrection and a state of rewards and punishments in another world; and therefore for obtaining better satisfaction to their doubts, desired to hear the apostle again discoursing farther of that Matter. Those that believed are tew indeed, if no more than are here mentioned, which are Dionysius and Damaris, with some others. Dionysius was a famous person, one of the great council, mentioned
ver. 19. whose conversion probably might afterwards have a great influence upon many others; and it was no small honour and advantage to the gospel to be owned by such an honourable person as this Dionysius was: not many wise, not many noble, were called. Blessed be God that any were, that any are, that any of the great ones of the world stoop to the sceptre of Jesus Christ, and pay their homage and subjection to him.
Thus ends the apostle's divine sermon at the famous university of Athens , which yielded few, very few converts, to St.Paul: for we read of no church founded here, as we didbeforeatPhilippi,and in the next chapter at Corinth. What reason can be assigned but this, That thise grave philosophers, profound scholars, venerable senators and citizens, who had a name for wisdom throughout the world, were too wise to be saved by the foolishness of preaching! As the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God, so the wisdom of God in the gospel a accounted foolishness by the wise men of the world; according to that of the apostle, 1 Cor. i. 21. "When the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching, lo save them that believe. We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness, but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God; because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God a stronger than men."
A ITER these things, Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth:
The foregoing chapter acquainted us with the small success which St. Paul found of his ministry at Athens: upon his preaching Jesus and the resurrection there, the philosophers and wise men mocked aad derided him. If natural dispositions and ahilities had fitted men for grace, we might have expected the greatest number of converts at Athens, where many were mockers, but very few believers. Hereupon St. Paul leaves Athens, and goes to Corinth, a famous city in Achaia; where he meets with more encouragement and better success; for here he gathers a famous church, unto which he wrote two epistles, under the title of the First and Second Epistle to the Corinthians.
2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome; and came unto them. 3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.
The apostle being now come to Corinth, where he was altogether a stranger, and wanting money for his subsistence, the providence of God directed him to the house of Aquila and Priscilla; who being of the same trade with himself, tent-makers, he works with his own hands to maintain himself, that he might not be burthensome to others. Here observe, 1. The occasion of Aquila's and Priscilla's coming to Corinth, with whom St. Paul lodged. The Roman emperor Claudius had banished them from Italy and Rome, ver. 2. Claudius commanded alt the Jews to depart from Rome. Thence note, That a wicked world is soon weary of the saints of God, and longs to worm them out of their cities and societies, never considering that their own preservation from ruin is for the saints' sake; as the alleys in a garden are watered for the sake of the flowers, which otherwise would lie dry. Observe, 2. That the apostle had learned a trade, tent-making, before he was called to the ministry, and he wrought upon it occasionally after he was a minister. The most learned among the Jews did always learn some handicraft trade, it being a tradition amongst them, "That lie that doth not learn his child a trade, teaches him to be a thief." So that although their children were designed for students, yet they did learn some trade. Accordingly St. Paul having learned to make tents, (much used in those hot countries, by soldiers and others, to keep off the violence of the weather,) he works at Corinth, upon his trade for his own subsistence. Men separated to the ministry of the gospel, may upon an exigency labour for their living; not but that the apostle had power and sufficient warrant to challenge maintenance for his preaching, as he often intimates in his epistles; but there was not yet any church at Corinth to maintain him; and when there was, they were mostly of the iKwrcr and meaner sort of people, and he would give them a convincing demonstra
tion that he sought not their's, but them. He demands therefore no maintenance, lest it should hinder the success of his ministry; but being of the same trade with Aquila and Priscilla, he takes up his lodging with them at Corinth, and works at their trade.
4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. 5 And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. 6 And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook hi» raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads: I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.
Observe here, How vehemently desirous the holy apostle was to plant a christian church at Corinth, and to bring the Jews of Corinth to embrace the gospel: He was pressed in spirit, and testified, that is, reasoned with them with great vehemency and earnestness of affection, as well as with great judgment, concerning the Messias. Observe, 2. That the Jewish synagogue at Corinth was the preaching place that St. Paul made choice of, hoping to gather the beginnings of his christian church out of the converted Jews: He reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath-day. Still the apostle kept to his commission, to preach the gospel first to the Jews, and afterwards, upon their rejection, to the Gentiles. Observe, 3. The blasphemous opposition which the Jews made to the doctrine of the gospel: They opposed themselves, and blasphemed: that is, they opposed his doctrine, reviled his person, and blasphemed Christ, whom that apostle preached. Observe, 4. How the holy apostle clears himself of the blood of those Jews, whom he had now preached the gospel unto: He said. Your blood be upon your own heads: I am clean. The faithful ministers of Christ shall never have the blood of a perishing people laid to their charge; they having warned them of their damnable state, and discovered the way of life and salvation to them, deliver their own souls; whilst the people which they preached to, die in their sins, and for their sins.
7 And he departed thence and entered into a certain man's house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. 8 And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord, with all his house: and many of the Corinthians hearing, believed, and were baptized.
9 Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:
10 For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee, to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. 11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
Observe here, 1. That the opposition which St. Paul met with while he lodged in the house of Aquila and Priscilla, moved him to change his quarters, and betake himself to a new lodging: he goes into the house of Justus, by hirth a Gentile, but a Jewish proselyte, whose house joined nigh to the synagogue where St. Paul's preachingwork lay, to such as would be willing to hear him. Observe, 2. The good success which the apostle had in his preaching at Corinth : Crispus the chief ruler of the synagogue, and his household, were brought to believe, and were baptized ; after whose example, many of the people in Corinth believed also. Rulers and great men are looking-glasses, in the places where they live, by which many dress themselves. Observe, 3. That notwithstanding this good success which St. Paul had at Corinth, he seems, through human frailty, to be possessed with fear, and under an apprehension of danger from the Jews, and accordingly has thoughts of leaving the city; against which fears God antidotes him with a gracious promise of his presence with him: Be not afraid, for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee. Hence learn, 1. That the best and holiest of God's saints and servants are sometimes under sad and slavish fears, and prone to be discouraged, when they meet with difficulties in the way of their duty. 2. That the promise and assurance of God's gracious presence with them, will raise them up above their fears, and be a sufficient encouragement to them, for their ahiding in any place, and amongst any people, let the difficulty or danger be what it will: Be
not afraid, for I am with thee, and none shall hurt thee. Observe, 4. A farther encouragement given by God to the apostle, to continue his ministry still at Corinth . I have much people in this city. That is. Here are many souls whom I design etfrctually to call and bring home by thy ministry: accordingly the apostle continued his ministry among them a year and six months. Learn hence, That although the ingratitude and perverscness of a people do sadly discourage their ministers, and tempt them to remove from them, yet God encourages them to their duty; that for the malice of some, the salvation of others may not be neglected. 2. That no opposition must discourage the ministers of God in the way of their duty; God's servants must not suffer themselves to be outdone by toe devil's slaves, but bear down all opposition made against them, with patience and joyfulness. And notwithstanding all the malicious opposition made by the Jews against the apostle, yet did he continue a year and six months to preach at Corinth. Christ had a great harvest a-ripening in that city, to be reaped by the apostle's ministry . and being encouraged with the promise of his protecting presence, he committed himself to the divine care, and the Lord both preserved and succeeded him.
12 And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment-seat, 13 Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law. 14 And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong, or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you. 15 But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for 1 will be no judge of such matters. 16 And he drave them from the judgment-seat. 17 Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgmentscat. And Gallio cared for none of those things.
Observe here, 1. How St. Paul, taking heart from the foregoing promise made by