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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Acts 17

 

 

Verses 2-5

DISCOURSE: 1788

PROOFS THAT JESUS IS THE MESSIAH

Acts 17:2-5. And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar.

THE dispersion of the Jews through every part of the Roman empire greatly facilitated the diffusion of the Gospel in the apostolic age: for in all the capital cities of the empire there were synagogues, to which the Apostles had access, and where on the sabbath-days they were sure of meeting a large assembly of their countrymen. Of these advantages St. Paul invariably availed himself: for though he was “a minister of the uncircumcision,” and was sent principally to the Gentiles, yet he in every place addressed himself in the first place to the Jews, and only turned to the Gentiles when the Jews had rejected the gracious tidings which he delivered to them. In discoursing with the Jews, he constantly appealed to the Holy Scriptures, which they themselves acknowledged to be of Divine authority; but, if in many instances he succeeded in convincing them, in many instances he failed.

In the passage which we have now read, we see,

I. The means he used for the conversion of the Jews—

Two things he laboured to establish;

1. That the Scriptures represented the Messiah as one who should die and rise again—

[To establish this, he adduced a multitude of passages which he knew to have been generally received, as descriptive of the Messiah. On other occasions we are informed what particular passages were cited: and from them we may guess what passages the Apostle insisted on at this time. He no doubt shewed the Jews, that the death and resurrection of the Messiah were declared in the plainest prophecies, and shadowed forth in the most significant types.

In speaking of the prophecies, he might well appeal to that very first promise that was given to man [Note: Genesis 3:15.]: what could that mean, but that Satan was first to “bruise his heel,” by bringing him down to the grave; and that Christ should afterwards, by his resurrection, “bruise his head,” and destroy his empire in the world? In the Psalms these truths are yet more plain and express. It was said that the potentates of the earth should combine to destroy him; but that he should be seated on God’s holy hill of Zion; and, being exalted to the right hand of power, he should dash in pieces his enemies as a potter’s vessel [Note: Psalms 2:1-9.]. Again, “His soul was not to be left in hell, nor was this Holy One to see corruption [Note: Psalms 16:9-10.].” Does not that clearly shew that his soul was first to go into hell, i.e. the place of departed spirits; that his body was to be consigned to the grave; and that he was afterwards to rise from the dead, and go into the presence of his Father, where there is a fulness of joy for evermore [Note: Psalms 16:11.]? Again; his sufferings are, in the 22d Psalm, minutely described, as preparatory to that exaltation which he was to receive, when “the kingdom should be his, and he should be the Governor among the nations [Note: Psalms 22:1-18; Psalms 22:22; Psalms 22:27-28.].” The Prophet Isaiah speaks of these things in as plain language as the New Testament itself. The Messiah, according to him, was to have his visage marred more than any man, previous to his sprinkling of many nations, and converting to himself the kings of the earth [Note: Isaiah 52:14-15. See also 53:9–12.] — — — Daniel also speaks to the same effect, saying, that the very Messiah, who was to possess an everlasting kingdom, must nevertheless be first “cut off,” though not for himself, but for his people’s sins, to make reconciliation for their iniquities, and to bring in everlasting righteousness [Note: Daniel 7:13-14. with 9:24, 26.].

Now the Apostle would ask. Are not these passages contained in your Scriptures? and have not the most pious and learned men of our own nation considered them as predictions relative to their Messiah? And do they not in that view proved indisputably, that Christ must die and rise again?

We may conceive him, then, as proceeding to the types, by which these things were shadowed forth. What, he would say, meant the restoration of Isaac from the dead, but the restoration of God’s only dear Son from the dead, after he had been offered a sacrifice for sin [Note: Hebrews 11:17-19.]? What meant all the Mosaic sacrifices, and the carrying of their blood within the vail, but the shedding of Christ’s blood, and his going afterwards, as our great High Priest, with his own blood, into the holy place not made with hands; himself being shadowed forth, both by the victim that was offered, and the priest that offered it [Note: Hebrews 9:7; Hebrews 9:11-12.]? What meant that peculiar offering, the two birds; of which one was killed, and the other, dipped in its blood, was let loose into the air [Note: Leviticus 14:49-53.]? or that of the two goats, whereof one was slain, and the other, with all the sins of Israel put upon its head, led into the wilderness, that it might never more be seen of men? Were these of doubtful signification? Do they not prove clearly what the Messiah was to do and suffer; even that, for the accomplishment of our redemption, he must die, and rise again from the dead? Did not Jonah too, that noted type of Christ, descend to the depths of the sea, before he was brought forth again on dry land?

Methinks he would dwell with delight on these unanswerable topics, and strive with all his might to fix conviction on their minds.]

2. That Jesus, whom he preached unto them, was the Christ—

[That Jesus answered to all these predictions in his sufferings, they could not doubt. It was a matter of public notoriety, that he had been put to death, even the accursed death of the cross. His resurrection indeed the Jews did attempt to deny: but the Apostles, who had seen and conversed with him after his death, and were endued by him with a power of working miracles in confirmation of their word, attested, with one voice, that he was risen, and had ascended up to heaven in their sight. This testimony they were ready to seal with their blood: and therefore they called upon all to believe in Jesus, as the person in whom the Scriptures had received their full accomplishment — — —]

One might have hoped that all should have been convinced by such testimonies; but, alas! there was a great diversity in,

II. The effects produced by them.

Some, we are told, believed—

[The word came to some of them “not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.” These united themselves to the Apostles, and boldly professed their faith in Christ. Among these there was “a great multitude of Grecian proselytes, (who were more open to conviction than the native Jews;) and “of the chief women also not a few.” Who does not congratulate these happy converts on the change that then took place within them? Even in this world, their happiness was greatly augmented; but what has been their state since they entered into the eternal world? Who can reflect on that, and not rejoice on their account? or who must not wish that all who now heard the Gospel, might experience the same blessed effects upon their souls? — — —]

Others opposed the truth with all their might—

[Here we see how “Christ came, not to give peace on earth, but rather division.” As amongst his own hearers there were divisions, “some saying that he was a just man, and others, that he deceived the people;” so it was wherever his Gospel was preached by the Apostles; and so it is wherever it is preached at this day.

But who were his opponents? Who? they were “certain lewd fellows of the baser sort.” It is true that many of a different description were amongst the fiercest opposers of their doctrine; but the people here described were ever ready to lend themselves as instruments of persecution, and to carry into effect whatever the malice of their superiors should suggest. And such is the description of people who at this day are foremost in opposing the Gospel of Christ. The most abandoned characters, people who neither fear God nor regard man, will unite together to disturb the worship of Christ, or to procure the intervention of the civil power to suppress it. Not that they will oppose the Gospel as good: no: they will decry it as evil: they will represent the preachers of it as “turning the world upside down,” and as enemies to civil government. This has been the device of wicked men in all ages [Note: Compare ver. 7. with Esther 3:8.]: and it is still the ground of accusation which they bring against the godly, wherever the Gospel is attended with success. They are envious at the influence obtained by those who preach the Gospel, and at the happiness of those who embrace it; and therefore they labour to silence the one, and to turn aside the other. To effect their purposes, they raise “an uproar,” and then represent the godly as the causes of that uproar: and endeavour to incense against them every one who may be able to obstruct their progress. Let not such conduct then surprise us; for it was foretold, as soon as the Saviour came into the world, that he should be a butt of contradiction, “a sign that should be spoken against,” and that he should be “set, no less for the fall, than for the rising again, of many in Israel:” and therefore we must expect to find, wherever he is exhibited in his true character, that he is a stumbling-block to those who will not flee to him as their sanctuary [Note: Isaiah 8:14. with Luke 2:34.].]

From this subject we may learn,

1. That the Scriptures are the only just standard of truth—

[It is curious to observe, how continually, and how confidently, the Apostles refer to the Scriptures of the Old Testament. “What saith the Scripture?” is the question to which they recur for the settlement of every difficulty and every dispute [Note: Romans 4:3; Romans 11:2. Galatians 4:30. So also Romans 9:17; Romans 10:11 and 1 Timothy 5:18.]. Happy it is for us that we have a standard so plain, so accessible, so universally received. Let us bring every sentiment to that test, and try it by that touchstone — — — “If men speak not according to the written word, there is no light in them [Note: Romans 8:20.].”]

2. That the knowledge of Christ, as dying and rising again for us, is the one appointed mean of salvation—

[It was with Jews that the Apostle argued: yet the Jews did worship the only true God, and professed to reverence his holy law. But when the Gospel was fully preached, the Jew could no longer be saved by the observance of his own law: he must embrace the Gospel, and look to Christ as the Messiah, the Saviour of the world. Thus also must all act who bear the Christian name: they must not be contented with an outward conformity to the Gospel, but must embrace it as “all their salvation and all their desire.” As for the opposition that is made to the life and power of the Gospel, it is rather an argument in its favour than otherwise: for thus the Gospel ever has been treated; and thus it will be, as long as there shall be an ungodly man upon earth. But, if the whole world should rise up against it, let it be our endeavour to receive it in our hearts, to confess it with our lips, and to adorn it with our lives.]


Verse 11-12

DISCOURSE: 1789

THE GOOD EFFECTS OF A CANDID ATTENTION TO THE GOSPEL

Acts 17:11-12. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed.

THE clamour often raised against the Gospel is no argument against the Gospel itself. God’s messengers have in all ages been opposed by the ungodly. Even our Lord himself, who spake as never man spake, was credited by very few; but there will always be found some who will give the truth a favourable reception. Different hearers are differently affected with the word they hear in these days. This however only shews that human nature is the same now that it was in St. Paul’s time.

I. Wherein the Ber ζans excelled the Thessalonians—

The Jews in Ber ζa had been educated in the same prejudices as those in Thessalonica: yet their conduct was in perfect contrast with that of the Thessalonians.

They excelled,

1. In candour—

[The Thessalonians would not so much as consider what they heard from the Apostle: but the Ber ζans “inquired whether these things were so.” They did not conclude every thing to be false which did not accord with their preconceived opinions. This was a noble spirit, because it shewed that they were not in subjection to their prejudices.]

2. In equity—

[The Thessalonians, not satisfied with rejecting the word, were filled with wrath against those who delivered it unto them [Note: They misrepresented the principles of the Apostle, stirred up a tumult against him, assaulted his friends under colour of justice, obliged him to flee for his life, followed him with unrelenting animosity to Ber ζa, and, notwithstanding the acceptance he met with there, drove him from thence also.]. Nothing could be more contrary to equity than thus to calumniate the innocent, and persecute the messengers of heaven. The Ber ζans, on the contrary, made a diligent use of the means afforded them for solving their doubts: they “searched the Scriptures,” which they considered as the only standard of truth, and to which the Apostle himself had appealed; they “searched them daily,” that they might form their judgment upon the surest grounds: they would neither receive nor reject any thing which they had not maturely weighed.]

3. In a regard for truth—

[Truth was neither sought for, nor desired by, the Thessalonian Jews. Loving darkness rather than light, they strove to extinguish the light which shone around them. But the Ber ζans “received the word with all readiness of mind:” they were glad to get instruction in matters of such moment: their hearts were prepared for it, as melted wax for the seal [Note: See Romans 6:17. which, in the Greek conveys the idea of being cast into a mould.]. Thus they acted as beings endowed with reason, while the Thessalonians resembled irrational and ferocious beasts.]

Suited to their noble disposition [Note: Even a heathen saw that such a virtuous disposition constituted the only true nobility. “Nobilitas sola est, atque unica, virtus.” Juv. Sat. 8.] was,

II. The benefit which accrued to them by means of it—

Many at Ber ζa became obedient to the faith—

[While the Thessalonians rejected the overtures of mercy, the Ber ζans thankfully embraced them. By believing in Christ they became partakers of his salvation; and now are they rejoicing before the throne of God, while the contemners of the Gospel are gnashing their teeth in hell. Who can duly appreciate the greatness of this benefit?]

This benefit resulted from the noble disposition which they exercised—

[Faith is certainly the gift of God [Note: Ephesians 2:8. Philippians 1:29.]: nor can any disposition that is in us merit that gift. But there is a preparation of mind requisite for a due reception of the Gospel; and where that state of mind is, there truth will make its way. This arises from the very structure of the human mind, which, like the eye, beholds things imperfectly when diseased, but clearly when free from blemish [Note: Matthew 6:22-23. with Proverbs 2:10-11.]; and it is both illustrated and confirmed by various examples in Holy Writ [Note: Nicodemus; John 3:2. Cornelius; Acts 10:33. And Lydia; Acts 16:14.]. Where the “honest and good heart” is, there the seed will spring up, and bring forth fruit [Note: Luke 8:15.].]

Address—

1. Those who never have believed—

[Guard against the illiberal conduct of the Thessalonians. Avoid a captious, envious, persecuting spirit: cultivate the more noble spirit of the Ber ζans: take the Scriptures as the test of truth [Note: Isaiah 8:20.]: search them with care and diligence [Note: John 5:39.]: compare what you hear with them [Note: 1 Thessalonians 5:21.]: pray for wisdom, that you may discern aright [Note: James 1:5.]: rest assured that you shall not use these means in vain [Note: Proverbs 2:1-6.].]

2. Those who have believed—

[Love instruction, and improve all opportunities of gaining it [Note: Proverbs 4:5-9.]. Seek to be more established in the faith [Note: Colossians 2:6-8.], but weigh every sentiment in the balance of the sanctuary [Note: 1 John 4:1.], and let the Scripture be your study and delight [Note: 1 Psalms 1:2-3.].]


Verse 30

DISCOURSE: 1790

REPENTANCE ENJOINED

Acts 17:30. The times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.

THIS is one of the most celebrated discourses in all the inspired volume. Being delivered to heathen philosophers, he did not make any appeal to the Jewish Scriptures, as he did whenever he addressed the Jews; but argued with them on their own principles. The drift of his argument was, to shew that there was but one God, and not many, as they supposed: that all things owed their existence to him, and not to chance: that all things were ordered by him, and not by fate: that all men were bound to live to him, and not unto themselves: and that all should give account of themselves to him at the judgment-seat of Christ; of which event God had given them an assurance, by raising Christ from the dead. As for all the speculations of human wisdom, in which these learned philosophers were so deeply engaged, they were all vain. But “God, who had hitherto winked at the times of this ignorance, now commanded all men everywhere to repent.”

The points for our more immediate consideration are three:

I. The forbearance once exercised—

[We are not to imagine that God has ever connived at sin: for “he is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity” without the utmost abhorrence [Note: Habakkuk 1:13.]. But he exercised all possible forbearance towards those who committed it, knowing how blind and ignorant they were; and that, consequently, their iniquity, though heinous, was comparatively light. He had not sent prophets to them, as he had to his own people; except indeed to Nineveh, in the ministration of Jonah: so that they had sinned against less light and knowledge than his own people; whom, on account of their more aggravated guilt, he had visited with most signal judgments. Had he not borne with the heathen in their wickedness, he must again and again have destroyed the earth; either by water, as at the deluge, or by fire, as he had done to Sodom and Gomorrha. But he had “endured them with much long-suffering,” even to that very day.

In fact, this same forbearance is yet exercised towards the heathen world, and on the very same account. Probably not so much as one-sixth part of the world has ever heard of the name of Jesus Christ: so that the times of ignorance yet continue to a most fearful extent: and, if it were not that God’s mercy is infinite, his judgments must, of necessity, have long since been poured forth, to overwhelm the whole world.

Perhaps it is somewhat of the same consideration which still operates on the mind of God to withhold his judgments, which at this moment hang, as it were, by a single thread, over the heads of millions amongst ourselves. He sees how ignorant they are; and he yet bears with them, in the hope that they may yet “turn from their idols, to serve Him, the only true God.”]

The Apostle, however, proceeds to state to his audience,

II. The injunction now given—

[“God now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” He no longer leaves men to indulge their own vain reasonings and empty speculations. He has now revealed his will; which he makes known, not as a deduction from uncertain premises, or as a recommendation of doubtful expediency, bat with an authority that supersedes all reasoning, and a plainness that dispels all doubt. Nor does he address this revelation to the followers of any one particular sect, as the philosophers did their injunctions: no; “he commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent.” This was the very scope of his Gospel, as introduced by John the Baptist and our blessed Lord; “Repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand:” and it is also the substance of the Gospel, as committed afterwards to his Apostles, who were ordered to “preach repentance and remission of sins, in his name, unto all nations [Note: Luke 24:47.].” Accordingly, on the day of Pentecost, the address of Peter to his audience was, “Repent, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out [Note: Acts 3:19.].” In fact, “repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ,” comprehend all that we have to deliver at this day; and, as ambassadors from God, we do inculcate them, as authoritatively enjoined by God himself, and as indispensably necessary for every child of man [Note: The nature of true Evangelical repentance may be here opened.] — — —]

Having stated God’s command, the Apostle proceeds to shew,

III. The urgent necessity which lies upon us all to comply with it—

[“God has appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in righteousness.” It is not left to men’s option, whether they will embrace the sentiments proposed to them in the Gospel, or obey its injunctions: they must obey them, at the peril of their souls. The philosophers could only advise. They knew nothing of a future state of retribution. If occasionally they hinted at such a state, it was with extreme uncertainty, and without the least idea of the rule by which they should be judged, or the person by whom their sentence should be awarded to them. But the Apostle declared to them God’s determination respecting these things: and I also declare, that every soul amongst us shall, ere long, “stand at the judgment-seat of Christ, to receive according to what we have done in the body, whether it be good or evil.” Then will our compliance with this injunction be inquired into, and that declaration of our blessed Lord be fulfilled, “Except ye repent, ye shall all perish [Note: Luke 13:3.]” — — —]

Address—

1. The careless—

[Whether ye be amongst the number of learned philosophers, or of the illiterate poor, I must equally call upon you to repent. The injunction is universal. There is no exception, in behalf of any place, or any person, under heaven. The old, the young, the rich, the poor, the learned, the unlearned, must all repent, or be condemned at the tribunal of their Lord, and “take their portion for ever in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone.” Dream not, brethren, that, because God has borne with you hitherto, he will not visit your sins at last: for he has declared, that “his Spirit shall not always continue to strive with you;” but that, if you do not speedily return to him in penitence and faith, he will give you up to final impenitence, and leave you to “treasure up wrath against the day of wrath.” O “let his long-suffering be accounted by you as salvation [Note: 2 Peter 3:15.],” and “let his goodness lead you to repentance [Note: Romans 2:4.].”]

2. The repenting sinner—

[Sweet beyond description are the expressions in my text, as bearing on your state. Does God so authoritatively command repentance? then will he assuredly have respect to it, wheresoever he finds it: nor is there a creature in the universe so vile, but he shall obtain acceptance with his God, through the instrumentality of penitence and faith — — — Humble yourselves, then, before God, in dust and ashes, and plunge into “the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness [Note: Zechariah 13:1.]:” so shall all “your sins be blotted out, as a morning cloud,” and you shall stand before God “without spot or blemish.” So shall your “repentance be unto life,” even “a repentance to salvation not to be repented of.” The very Saviour in whom you trust, shall be your Judge; and he will award to you the glory he has purchased for you — — —]


Verse 31

DISCOURSE: 1791

A DAY APPOINTED FOE CHRIST TO JUDGE THE WORLD

Acts 17:31. 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.

IN order to form a just estimate of the benefits which we have received from revelation, we must not look to the sentiments of philosophers in this day, but to those which were entertained by the wisest of the heathen world. Modern philosophers, even while they pretend to despise the sacred oracles, have derived from them, either immediately or remotely, all that light which has elevated them above the heathen. We must therefore go back to the Sages of Greece and Rome, who had no other guide than unassisted reason. Among them we shall find the most astonishing ignorance respecting truths which, amongst us, are universally received, and familiar to the meanest capacities. Athens had been the most distinguished seat of learning in the world; and even at the time when this history was written, was still in very high repute: yet there did the most stupid idolatry prevail, insomuch that the number of idols there was greater than in any other city in the world. Their wise men, not content with deifying almost every thing that could come into their minds, raised an altar To the unknown God: from which circumstance St. Paul took occasion to “make known to them Him, whom they thus ignorantly worshipped.”

His address to them on the occasion forms a lively contrast with the abstruse speculations and vain reasonings which universally prevailed among them. He told them that there was one God, who was the Creator and Governor of all things, who claimed from them a spiritual worship, and whom exclusively they were bound to serve; who also had appointed a day in the which he would judge the world by that Man whom he had ordained, even Jesus, whom he had raised from the dead.

We do not see in this address any just ground for those extravagant encomiums that have been passed upon it, as though it was the summit of human eloquence: but we account it a sober, judicious, luminous exposition of the first principles of true religion; well adapted to inform the minds of his audience, and to dispel the vain imaginations with which they had hitherto been blinded.

The point to which we shall direct our attention at this time, is the assurance here given us of a future judgment. The assertions contained in our text are two:

I. That there is a day fixed in which the world shall be judged—

The day of judgment is certainly fixed—

[“Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world:” much more therefore must so important a work as that of judging the world be fixed in the Divine counsels. It is true, the period is not known to any human being, nor to any angel in heaven; no, nor even to the Son of Man himself; at least it was not made known to him as man, for the purpose of revealing it to the world [Note: Mark 13:32.]. But it is every moment approaching; and will come as unexpectedly upon the world as the deluge did, or as it would do if it were to arrive at this moment [Note: Matthew 24:37-42.].]

On its arrival, the whole race of mankind shall be called to judgment—

[All the successive generations of men, from Adam to that very hour, shall be called forth from their graves [Note: John 5:28-29. Revelation 20:12-13.]. Their respective bodies, however long ago, and in whatever various manner they may have been consumed, shall be restored to life, and be united to their souls; the personal identity of every individual being preserved, and every one answering for the things which he himself did in the body.

As to the difficulties which may be supposed to prevent the execution of this design, it is sufficient to say, that God has pledged himself to accomplish it: and he who formed the whole creation out of nothing at first, will find no difficulty in re-uniting the scattered atoms of his creatures at the last day.]

The judgment shall then be passed on them in perfect righteousness—

[The actions of all will then be weighed in a perfect balance. Every thing that tended to enhance the value of them, or aggravate their malignity, shall be taken into consideration; and the quality of them be ascertained with the utmost precision. Every word, every thought, yea, every imagination or counsel of the heart, shall then be brought to light, and have weight in augmenting our happiness or misery to all eternity [Note: Romans 2:16. 1 Corinthians 4:5.]. The rewards indeed will be rewards of grace; but still our good works shall be the measure according to which they shall be bestowed upon us: our punishments, on the other hand, will be proportioned exactly to our guilt and demerit: nor shall there be a creature in the universe who shall not acknowledge the equity of the Judge in these proceedings [Note: Revelation 15:3.].]

The foregoing truths were revealed, though with comparative obscurity, to the Jews: but in the New Testament, in addition to the fuller revelation there given of it, we are informed,

II. That Christ is the person by whom that judgment will be dispensed—

The Father, we are told, “hath committed all judgment to the Son,” and “given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man [Note: John 5:22; John 5:27.]:” and this appointment is in many respects desirable—

[It is desirable for the vindication of his honour. Though he was the Son of God, “the brightness of his Father’s glory, and the express image of his person,” yet was he accounted “a worm and no man, a reproach of men, and despised of the people.” But in that day will his reproach be rolled away; and he will appear in his true character, “King of kings, and Lord of lords” — — —

It is desirable also for the humiliation of his enemies. How will they, who so triumphed in his destruction, stand appalled, when they shall see “the stone which they rejected, become the head-stone of the corner!” when they shall behold him seated on his throne, and hear him say, “Bring hither those that were mine enemies, who would not that I should reign over them, and slay them before me!”

It is desirable also for the comfort of his people. Unspeakable is the comfort of reflecting, that He who was our Saviour will be our Judge. If we believe in him, and confide in his promises, will he deceive us? If we plead the merit of his blood, will he not admit that plea? Yea, will he not rather be a witness for us in that day, that, whilst we were in this world, we “lived by faith in the Son of God, as having loved us, and given himself for us?” — — —]

Nor is it less certain, than it is desirable—

[“God has given us assurance of it, in that he has raised up Christ from the dead.” Had Jesus not been raised, we might well have doubted all that he had spoken respecting his future advent: but this was such a confirmation of his word as did not admit a doubt: it was a proof that could not be counterfeited, and that must carry conviction to every mind. However strange, therefore, our Lord’s predictions respecting his second coming must have appeared to those who saw him only as a poor despised man [Note: Luke 13:3. Revelation 14:10-11.], and however confident his judges were in pronouncing such assertions to be blasphemy [Note: ver. 32.], we may be fully assured, that all judgment is committed to him, and that we shall all stand at his judgment-seat, to receive from him our final doom.]

Since then this awful day is fixed in the Divine counsels, and is so rapidly approaching, let us indulge the following reflections:

I. How earnestly should we engage in the great work of repentance!

[This is a work necessary for every child of man: and “God hath commanded all men every where to repent.” He will no longer “wink at” our blind security: he has now given us the last and fullest revelation of his will; and, if we improve it not to the salvation of our souls, he will visit us with his heaviest displeasure [Note: 2 Corinthians 5:10-11.]. Let us not, like the Apostle’s auditors, “mock” at these tidings, or defer the attention they deserve [Note: Galatians 6:7-8.]:” but let us “seek the Lord whilst he may be found, and call upon him whilst he is near.” We “know the terrors of the Lord; and therefore we would persuade you,” by every consideration that can influence the mind of man.]

2. How carefully should we guard against self-deception!

[We easily deceive ourselves; but we cannot deceive our God. Hence St. Paul gives us this solemn caution; “Be not deceived: God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap: he that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; and he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. Surely, if we will investigate the point with any degree of candour, it will be no difficult matter to ascertain whether we are sowing to the flesh, or to the Spirit — — — Let us deal faithfully then with our own souls; and “judge ourselves, that we may not be judged of the Lord.”]

3. How diligently should we maintain communion with our risen Saviour!

[To walk with him now by faith, is the sure way to be prepared for his future advent. He will now communicate to us of the abundance of his grace: he will shed abroad his love in our hearts: he will manifest himself to us as he does not unto the world. If we belong to him, we may regard him as “our Forerunner, gone before to prepare a place for us,” and coming again shortly to receive us to himself, that where he is, we may be also. The true light in which to view him is, that which is shadowed forth to us by the high-priest going into the holy place to offer incense; whilst the people waited for him without, till he should come forth to bless them [Note: Luke 1:9-10; Luke 1:21.]. Let us then wait and look for him, and he will soon come the second time to our complete, our everlasting salvation [Note: Hebrews 9:28.].]

 


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Acts 17:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/acts-17.html. 1832.

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