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in Jerusalem, and other countries, were now to be enlightened by the gospel. The violence of Saul led the way to this important end. "As for Saul," says this historian, " he made havoc of the church;" this expression is still stronger in the original,-it literally signifies, wild beasts tearing their prey. Therefore, they that were scattered abroad, went every where preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them." Philip was not himself possessed of the gifts of the Spirit; "but when the Apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John."


It is worthy of remark, that these were the very men, who, incensed at the treatment their Lord once experienced when passing through a village of the Samaritans, entreated him to call down fire from heaven to consume the inhabitants. Blessed influence of the religion of Jesus! Now, forgetting their anger, they go down to offer them the right hand of fellowship, and rejoice with them in the spread of the gospel!

Respecting Simon Magus, I shall not say much. He was a magician, who deluded the people with tricks of legerdemain; and, when he found that he could deceive no longer, owing to the superior skill of the Apostles,

he endeavoured to bribe them to bestow on him some portion of their power; but they refused the offer, with the disdain it merited; and entreated him to "repent of his wickedness, and to pray God, if, perhaps, the thought of his heart might be forgiven him."

This affords a striking proof of the propriety of prayer, even in the most notorious sinners. Simon was a hypocrite, but he was exhorted to pray, and led to the hope of forgiveness. "And the Apostles, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans."

With joy let us contemplate this extension of the gospel. Had the Apostles and early disciples continued at Jerusalem, how confined would have been their influence! How limited their exertions! But, being scattered abroad, Christianity was promulgated in distant countries, which led the way for the planting of christian churches in the various towns and villages through which it was diffused.

In our next Lecture we shall trace the history of the great Apostle of the Gentiles; and rejoice in the offers of salvation made

through him to the Heathen world. Thus progressive are the counsels of Heaven! Thus clear is the sacred historian! Thus instructive are the lessons of Providence!





Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?
ACTS ix. 6.

It is a delicate thing to compare Scripture, or to give a decided preference to one part above another; but it is impossible to read the Psalms of David without feeling a great difference in their spirit and energy; and the great superiority of some, both in the piety they discover, and in the instructions they contain. And, in like manner, there are parts of the New Testament which seem peculiarly to claim our attention; and I scruple not to say, that the Acts of the Apostles are at least equal to any part, and, in some respects, preeminent. The history of our Saviour, of his

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actions and discourses, has doubtless a title to our first attention; but we have four Gospels, and but one Book of Acts.

The Epistles were most of them addressed to settled churches; several of these Epistles tended to the same end; namely, to reform errors which had already arisen in the church; or to warn them by the example of others; but, I repeat it, there is but one account given of the first planting of Christianity; and, as such, it is highly valuable.

We have already viewed the first followers of our Lord, after his resurrection, waiting at Jerusalem for the day of Pentecost, and seen the effects produced by the descent of the Spirit at that time, when thousands were at once converted; we have listened to the discourses of Peter and John; considered the miracles they performed, whether benevolent or awful, and heard them glory in the persecutions they experienced for the name of Jesus. We have contemplated the character of the first martyr to the christian cause; viewed the persecutions which arose after the death of Stephen, and the consequent dispersion of the disciples into distant parts; and we are now to enter upon the last link of the chain; to consider the conversion of St. Paul, together with the spread of the gospel, through his medium, to the Gentiles.


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