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Acts 20:1-16 - Homilies By E. Johnson

Scenes by the way.

I. FUGITIVE SERVICE . "When they persecute you in one city, flee into another," had said the Lord. But not as a hireling who sees the wolf coming; rather as a brave warrior who retreats fighting. The brave retreat may reflect more honor than the hopeless prolongation of warfare. We must know when to give way. There is a "wise passiveness" and a "masterly inactivity." If we can but gain our Christian point, we should suffer no scruple of vanity to stand in our way. And how much good may be done in this furtive way! The runner drops the seed as he goes. The greatest works have been done for God and the world by sufferers and in the midst of suffering. In the world the faithful apostle has tribulation, but peace in his heart; and it distils from his lips upon his brethren as he goes. Perfect ease is not to be coveted by the true servant of Christ. The pulpit is not an easy-chair. Men are goaded to their best by pain. They are perfected for teaching in the school of suffering. Sympathy and love are deepened by common experiences. Courage is truly learned; they that kill the body are not feared, but only they that injure the soul.

II. LOVING FELLOWSHIP OF THE SAINTS . ( Acts 20:7-16 .)

1. Exhibited in the feast of love and the common hearing of the Word. The one prepares for the other; together they explain each other and enrich each other. Here is the first trace of the Sunday observance in the history of the Church. Christian associations are engrafted upon old customs.

2. As disturbed by grief, and restored. Eutychus sleeps during the preaching, and falls down. He was taken up dead, or "for dead," as some expositors would interpret. Paul falls upon him, like Elisha in the case of the Shunammite's son ( 2 Kings 4:34 ), and Elijah with the widow's son at Sarepta ( 1 Kings 17:21 ); so that by vital warmth he may restore him to life. This striking coincidence of death in the midst of life, of life in the midst of death, must have powerfully reminded the disciples of him who is the Resurrection and the Life, of his promise; and so must have strengthened faith, and drawn the bonds of love closer together. "He that brought him back is here." Not small was the consolation of the brethren as the young man was restored.

III. AN IMPRESSIVE SCENE .

1. The apostle. He is on his last mission journey. He "works while it is day;" preaching the Word with power; sealing his testimony with miracle, pursuing with constancy the end set before him.

2. The sleeper. A warning against weakness and idleness. " I say unto all, Watch!" " The spirit is willing, the flesh is weak."

3. The unsleeping Divine watchfulness and providence. "We have a God who helps, and the Lord God who saves from death."

4. The energy of the apostolic personality. He goes down in compassionate pity, falls upon Eutychus with earnest prayer, embraces him with urgent love.

5. The hush of the Divine presence. "Make no noise!" A lesson here for the chamber of the dead. God is here; his "finger touched him and he slept." Bow before his power and decree; collect the heart from distraction, in recollection of its consolations. "They are not dead, but sleep," may be said of our Christian friends. Amidst such humble and resigned silence angels pass through the house, with errands of ministry.—J.

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