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Sergius Paulus, a man of great wisdom and prudence. Having called for Saul and Barnabas, he desired to hear the word of God; but a Jewish sorcerer, named Barjesus, or Elymas, opposed the apostles, and used all methods to divert Sergius Paulus from the belief of Christ. Saul, with a holy indignation, set his eyes upon him, and said, O full of subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness! wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord ? behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind for a
This immediately took place; and he sought for some to lead him.
Maria. What effect had this on the governor?
Aunt. It filled him with astonishment, and he believed in the Lord. From this time, Saul was always called Paul, a name probably given him by the household of Sergius Paulus. Paul removed with all his company, and, leaving Cyprus, sailed to Perga, in Pamphylia, a province or country in the lesser Asia, north-west of Cyprus.
The apostles staid not long at Perga, but travelled seventy or eighty miles northward, to a city called Antioch, the metropolis of Pisidia, another province of the lesser Asia.
George. What reception did they meet with there?
Aunt. On the sabbath-day they went into the synagogue; and when the law and the prophets had been read, the rulers said, Men and brethren, have ye any word of exhortation for the people?
George. This was a charming opening for them.
animated discourse, which I would have you read when you return home. You will find it in Acts xiii. 16 to 41. This sermon had a double effect: the gentiles, who were entirely unacquainted with revealed religion, desired farther information on the following sabbath; and the Jews, who waited for redemption in Israel, with the proselytes of the gate, believed, and followed Paul and Barnabas, who exhorted them to continue in the grace of God. The next sabbath almost all the city came together to hear the word of God, which stirred
of the unbelieving Jews, who contradicted and spake evil of those things which Paul had said.
Maria. How very wicked! and how trying it must be to Paul!
Aunt. It made both him and Barnabas the more zealous: and he told them, it was necessary the
gospel should be preached first to them; but as they had judged themselves unworthy of eternal life, they would turn to the gentiles. Thus all who reject or turn their backs upon the gospel, render themselves unworthy of eternal life.
George. But how did the gentiles receive it?
Aunt. When they found that Christ was to be a light unto the gentiles, and that his salvation should extend to the utmost bounds of the world, they magnified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. The apostles preached also in the neighbouring country with success: but the Jews stirred up the honourable women, and the chief men of the city, who raised a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their coasts.
They then went to Iconium, the metropolis of Lycaonia, another province of the lesser Asia; and though they had experienced such ill treatment from the Jews in all places, yet their desire for their salvation made them continue their former practice, of first going into the synagogues; which, in this place, was attended with success, both to Jews and Gentiles. The number of converts encouraged them to make some stay in this city, confirming the doctrines which they taught by signs and wonders: yet there remained many unbelieving Jews, who excited the Gentiles against them; and the multitude of the city was divided; part held with the Jews, and part - with the apostles. The Jews, with their rulers, resolved to have them stoned to death; but the apostles, being aware of it, fled to the next cities of the same province, Lystra and Derbè, and to the adjacent parts. At Lystra there was a lame man, who had never walked, having been a cripple from his birth. The same heard Paul speak. Perceiving that he had faith to be healed, Paul said unto him, Stand upright on thy feet; and immediately the cure was effected; and he leaped, and walked.
Lucy. It was happy for him that he attended.
Aunt. It was, my dear. But the people, when they saw the miracle that was wrought, cried out, in their own language, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. Barnabas they called Jupiter, and Paul Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker: according to the idolatrous worship of those times, they proceeded to offer sacrifices to them; and the priest of Jupiter brought oxen and garlands for that purpose.
George. What could the apostles do?
Aunt. In token of their abhorrence of this idolatrous attempt, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? we are men of like passions with yourselves, and preach unto you,
ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God. With these words they could scarcely restrain the people.
Lucy. Though they ought not to have worshipped them, yet they might have retained a lasting veneration for them.
Aunt. But their conduct, my dear, shews us the instability of human nature, and to what extremes men will run; for, shortly after, these very people, by the instigation of some Jews who had seen Paul at Antioch and Iconium, took him and stoned him, and drew him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.
Maria. What must the disciples and Barnabas feel on this occasion !
Aunt. As they were standing round about him, to their unspeakable joy, he revived, and went into the city. The next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbè, where they preached the gospel; and many were converted. Then, returning back through all the cities where they had before preached, and ordaining elders in every church, they finished the whole circuit of their ministry; and came by shipping to Antioch in Syria, where, having assembled the church, they rehearsed all that God had done by them, and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.
George. PRAY, aunt, where did we leave Paul and Barnabas ?
Aunt. At Antioch, where they abode a long time: but some dissensions arose in the church concerning the Mosaic institutions, which occasioned Paul and Barnabas to go to Jerusalem, to consult with the apostles and elders on this matter: and when they had settled the points debated upon, they wrote letters to the gentile churches, and sent them by Paul and Barnabas, with Judas, surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren; who, arriving at Antioch in Syria, gathered the church together, and delivered the epistle, which when they had read they rejoiced. Paul and Barnabas continued at Antioch, preaching the word of the Lord. After some time, Paul proposed to Barnabas, to visit the churches in every city. To this Barnabas acceded, but determined to take with him John Mark, to whom Paul objected, as he had before left them, when at Pamphylia. The contention was so sharp as to part these fellow-labourers in the gospel.
Lucy. This confirms what Paul observed on an-. other occasion, that they were men of like passions with others.
Aunt. But it ought to teach us to watch and pray; for, if the apostles, with all their advantages, were subject to infirmities, how much more are we? Barnabas took Mark with him, and sailed to Cyprus: and Paul chose Silas, and went through Syria and