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1: Melita or Malta, is about twelve miles broad, twenty
long, and sixty distant from Sicily to the south. It yields
abundance of honey, (whence its name was taken,) with much
cotton, and is very fruitful, though it has only three feet depth
of earth above the solid rock. The Emperor Charles the Fifth
gave it, in 1530, to the knights of Rhodes, driven out of Rhodes
by the Turks. They are a thousand in number, of whom five
hundred always reside on the island.
2: And the barbarians - So the Romans and Greeks termed all
nations but their own. But surely the generosity shown by these
uncultivated inhabitants of Malta, was far more valuable than
all the varnish which the politest education could give, where
it taught not humanity and compassion.
4: And when the barbarians saw - they said - Seeing also his chains,
Doubtless this man is a murderer - Such rarely go unpunished even
in this life; whom vengeance hath not suffered to live - They look
upon him as a dead man already.
It is with pleasure that we trace among these barbarians the
force of conscience, and the belief of a particular providence:
which some people of more learning have stupidly thought it
philosophy to despise. But they erred in imagining, that
calamities must always be interpreted as judgments. Let us guard
against this, lest, like them, we condemn not only the innocent,
but the excellent of the earth.
5: Having shaken off the venomous animal, he suffered no harm
- The words of an eminent modern historian are, "No venomous kind
of serpent now breeds in Malta, neither hurts if it be brought
thither from another place. Children are seen there handling and
playing even with scorpions; I have seen one eating them." If
this be so, it seems to be fixed by the wisdom of God, as an
eternal memorial of what he once wrought there.
6: They changed their minds, and said he was a god - Such is the
stability of human reason! A little before he was a murderer;
and presently he is a god: (just as the people of Lystra; one
hour sacrificing, and the next stoning:) nay, but there is a
medium. He is neither a murderer nor a god, but a man of God.
But natural men never run into greater mistakes, than in judging
of the children of God.
7: The chief man of the island - In wealth if not in power also.
Three days - The first three days of our stay on the island.
11: Whose sign was - It was the custom of the ancients to have
images on the head of their ships, from which they took their
names. Castor and Pollux - Two heathen gods who were thought
favourable to mariners.
15: The brethren - That is, the Christians, came out thence to
meet us - It is remarkable that there is no certain account by
whom Christianity was planted at Rome. Probably some inhabitants
of that city were at Jerusalem on the day of pentecost,(Ac 2:10); and being then converted themselves, carried the
Gospel thither at their return. Appii - Forum was a town fifty - one
miles from Rome; the Three Taverns about thirty. He took courage
- He saw Christ was at Rome also, and now forgot all the troubles
of his journey.
16: With the soldier - To whom he was chained, as the Roman
17: And after three days - Given to rest and prayer, Paul called
the chief of the Jews together - He always sought the Jews first;
but being now bound, he could not so conveniently go round to
them. Though I have done nothing - Seeing him chained, they
might have suspected he had. Therefore he first obviates this
19: When the Jews opposed it - He speaks tenderly of them, not
mentioning their repeated attempts to murder him. Not that I
had any thing to accuse my nation of - Not that I had any design
to accuse others, but merely to defend myself.
20: The hope of Israel - What Israel hopes for, namely, the Messiah
and the resurrection.
21: We have neither received letters concerning thee - There must
have been a peculiar providence in this, nor has any of the
brethren - The Jews, related - Professedly, in a set discourse,
or spoke - Occasionally, in conversation, any evil of thee - How
must the bridle then have been in their mouth!
22: This sect we know is every where spoken against - This is
no proof at all of a bad cause, but a very probable mark of
a good one.
23: To whom he expounded, testifying the kingdom of God, and
persuading them concerning Jesus - These were his two grand topics,
On this head he had as
much need to persuade as to convince, their will making as strong
a resistance as their understanding.
- That the kingdom of the Messiah was of a spiritual, not
- That Jesus of Nazareth was the very person
foretold, as the Lord of that kingdom.
24: And some believed the things that were spoken - With the heart,
as well as understanding.
25: Well spake the Holy Ghost to your fathers - Which is equally
applicable to you.
26: Hearing ye shall hear - That is, ye shall most surely hear,
and shall not understand - The words manifestly denote a judicial
blindness, consequent upon a wilful and obstinate resistance of
the truth. First they would not, afterward they could not,
believe. (Isa 6:9,Mt 13:14,Joh 12:40).
28: The salvation of God is sent to the Gentiles - Namely, from
this time. Before this no apostle had been at Rome. St. Paul
was the first.
30: And Paul continued two whole years - After which this book
was written, long before St. Paul's death, and was undoubtedly
published with his approbation by St. Luke, who continued with
him to the last, (2Ti 4:11).
And received all that came to him - Whether they were Jews or
Gentiles. These two years completed twenty - five years after our
Saviour's passion. Such progress had the Gospel made by that
time, in the parts of the world which lay west of Jerusalem, by
the ministry of St. Paul among the Gentiles. How far eastward
the other apostles had carried it in the same time, history does
not inform us.
31: No man forbidding him - Such was the victory of the word of
God. While Paul was preaching at Rome, the Gospel shone with
its highest lustre. Here therefore the Acts of the Apostles
end; and end with great advantage. Otherwise St. Luke could
easily have continued his narrative to the apostle's death.