And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, "If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my house." And she persuaded us.
I. THE OPPORTUNITY THAT WAS EMBRACED BY THE APOSTLE. 'We must judge that there was little or no choice open to him. We are glad even to take up the position that this, too, was of God. It may be worded, therefore, in this way, that the opportunity Paul used was that which Providence offered. With how many is it the case that opportunity is the very thing which is slighted, unheeded, altogether ignored! The opportunities that life offers, that our existing position offers, that God therein offers, are those that we despise, oh-earning of others, which for that very reason, if for no other, may well be withheld! Let us honor, then, the God who sent and the servant who faithfully used this opportunity, by looking at it somewhat minutely.
1. Landed in Europe, some" certain days" seem to have counted for little at Philippi; the only record of them this: "We were in that city abiding certain days?
2. The sabbath day comes, and there is no fine building into which to enter to preach; there is no respectable synagogue - Judaea is far away now; there is no excited and eager crowd as at Antioch to be harangued, with all the skill of the inspired logician and the Heaven-born orator and the faithful gospel preacher. Dull will the hours of this sabbath pass compared with those of many other of late years fresh in the recollection of Paul.
3. The day is nevertheless to be made use of and to be turned to account. And Paul and his companions resolve to join the humble prayer-meeting of a party of women, outside the city and by the river-side. The occasion is unique, pretty nearly as much so as could be. It must be taken from the tenor of the narrative that there were few, if any, men there. But Paul and his companions neither seem to view themselves nor to be viewed as intrusive. And they sat down and in a most informal manner "spake to the women." It were the essence of preaching sometimes rather to speak; and to speak to a few, and to speak appropriately to them and pointedly and unassumingly and kindly. This was the day, and this was the place, and these were the persons, and this was the manner of Paul and his friends, which made up the opportunity that looked so humble.
II. THE FROST SHOW OF RESULTS. There is one woman among the little group who is to become the first known Christian convert in Europe. And she came from Asia. By all appearance she was a proselyte, and knew and worshipped one God, according to her light and scanty opportunity, among a mere disunited remnant of Jewesses, if it were so indeed. And she was presumably a woman who did a good business, and had a 'house,' to the hospitality of which she could pressingly invite the new-comers, and invite them to stay there, too, days together (vers. 15, 18, 40).
1. Lydia is a woman not altogether shut off from light and knowledge.
2. She is a woman who owns to her own conscience and does "worship God."
3. She is one of no bigoted conservative prejudice, and she "listens" patiently, respectfully, to what the strangers said.
4. For all that, her heart was as yet sealed, shut. There may be some light, some knowledge, some movement and life of conscience in a Person, and yet the heart itself be shut to the pure truth of God and of the soul.
(1) Sin may keep shut the heart.
(2) The pride of nature may obstruct it.
(3) Stolid habit may fearfully close it.
(4) The simple "love of the world" may effectually exclude all better, higher things from the heart. And something of this kind was the state of Lydia. Nature had closed her heart, or nature had not availed to open it, and at this time it was in some material sense shut. And the one first result of this occasion was now seen. "The Lord," with his omnipotent power and with his facile grace, "opened the heart of Lydia " - opened it so that "she attended to the things which were spoken of Paul." It is evident that the change that took place within, under the touch of the Lord, led her to attend with ear, with mind, with heart, and with life. For "she and her household" are baptized speedily.
III. A FURTHER GLIMPSE OF RESULTS.
1. A generous heart is unlocked. More than one prophet's chamber is found, and more than a meal or a day's entertainment.
2. A very graceful way of showing generosity is exampled. Lydia does not proffer hospitality in any patronizing tone. She begs to be allowed to render it; and rests her urgency on Paul's faith in her sincerity.
3. Lydia becomes installed in that place as one who may be "counted faithful "to give an asylum for the persecuted, and a home to the released prisoners (ver. 40).
4. A strangely significant type is given of that elevation of women which Europe should ere long be destined to witness, and which has been just due to one presence - the presence of Christianity. Since the time of Lydia, what influences for good in the Church of Christ, what very Saviors and leaders of the Church, humanly speaking, have women been, whose "hearts the Lord has opened"! Thus the gospel began its course in Europe, thus for "many days" silently, thus condescendingly. And as the Master himself seldom more significantly marked the character of his own condescendingness than in condescending to do the apparently little, to heal only one out of a multitude, to "choose" only a "few," to fill for a long time but a small space in the eye of the world, so has his true Church and its humbler history rejoiced to share his lot; and when it has done so, has then most testified its own approximation in likeness to him. - B.
She was baptized and her household.I. Although from the earliest days infant baptism has been practised, THERE ARE SOME WHO DENY ITS SCRIPTURAL AUTHORITY.
1. At first sight their position seems to be a strong one, when they say, "Where is there any command for it?" In reply to this it is only necessary to say that Christians consider many things as most important for the support of which no such authority can be claimed. Where is it written, "Thus saith the Lord, Christians must observe the day of the Saviour's resurrection"? or, "Thus saith the Lord, Women must receive the Communion"? or, "Thus saith the Lord, Christian people must have family prayer, and establish Sunday Schools, and support missionary societies"?
2. It is also urged that no one ought to be baptized who does not believe, and that as infants are incapable of believing, so also they are improper subjects of baptism (Mark 16:16). The unfairness of such a conclusion may be shown in various ways.(1) Take the apostle's injunction, "If any will not work, neither shall he eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Does St. Paul mean to extend this to infants, or the sick or the aged? Plainly not. He is only speaking of those who are capable of working. And so, too, our Saviour's language in regard to the subjects of baptism should be applied to none but those who can exercise faith, and who enjoy the privilege of being taught their duty. The ease of infants is in no way connected with these passages.(2) Again, if this verse proves that infants ought not to be baptized, it proves also that they cannot be saved. I need hardly say that the plain and undoubted sense of the passage repels so monstrous a conclusion. Our Lord was announcing that the door of entrance to His kingdom was now thrown open to all who chose to come in; and He sets forth belief and baptism as two distinct conditions of salvation. Adults, who are capable of belief, are expected to bring this qualification; but it is not looked for in infants, who cannot exercise faith. Baptism is a solemn form of adoption into God's family — the Church. So much for the popular objections against the practice of infant baptism.
II. LET US SEE, NOW, WHAT CAN BE SAID FOR IT.
1. We claim that it is right and proper to baptize infants, because they are naturally included in the broad commission which our blessed Lord gave to His apostles (Matthew 28:19). Suppose the proper authorities in this country should issue a command that a census be made: who would be included in it? Would it merely embrace the adults, or would it give an account of the number of children also? And so, when our Saviour sends forth His servants to bring all nations into covenant with their Creator and Redeemer, the most natural construction of the commission makes it include both old and young. To expect that in promulgating His covenant He would make mention of infancy or adult years would be an absurdity. The physical and the personal has nothing at all to do with the spiritual covenant.
2. That our Lord regards with favour the bringing of little children into covenant with Him is seen from the fact that He showed such kindness towards them during His sojourn upon earth (Matthew 19:13; Luke 18:15; Mark 10:13-16). The phrase, "Kingdom of God," means the Church. And does not every word in the passage just quoted go to prove that our Saviour regarded little children as fit subjects for His kingdom? , who wrote during the apostolic age, remarks: "All infants are valued by the Lord, and esteemed first of all."
3. We are obliged to believe that children are entitled to the privilege of holy baptism, because they are distinctly included in the promises (Acts 2:38, 39). The Jews who heard these words of St. Peter's had always been accustomed to have their children enjoy the privileges of Church membership; and if it had been his purpose to tell them that this rule must now be changed, this was a very curious way of doing it! And slow progress Christianity would have made had it closed its doors more completely than Judaism had done!
4. The apostles baptized whole households. Not long after the baptism of Lydia's household, that of the jailor was baptized (vers. 31, 32). Here is an item from St. Paul's own journal — "I baptized the household of Stephanas" (1 Corinthians 1:16). The Syriac version of the New Testament, which was completed early in the second century, renders the verse concerning Lydia and her household as the baptism of Lydia and her children. And so, too, in the case of the jailor and his household, and the household of Stephanas.
5. Even those most opposed to infant baptism agree that when these little innocents die they are fit to be received into heaven. And if fit for the Church triumphant, why not for the Church militant?
6. Note the resemblance which infant baptism bears to circumcision. By this rite, children, when eight days old, all unconscious of what was done for them, were brought into covenant with God. When, in the course of Divine Providence, the seal of circumcision was changed to that of baptism, the Christian sacrament sanctioned all that the Jewish rite would have secured, had it continued to be observed. The conclusion follows, therefore, most naturally, that as children were made members of God's Church under the old dispensation, they are entitled to the same privilege under the new.
7. We enter our protest against those who oppose infant baptism, and we insist that it is a practice in accordance with God's will, because it is nowhere forbidden. Does the Word of God command that children shall be shut out from His kingdom? And when we remember that nineteen-twentieths of the Christian world practise infant baptism, is it likely that the one-twentieth can be right?
8. It was practised in the Church from the days of the apostles, for a period of nearly fifteen hundred years, without a dissenting voice. The only question in regard to infant baptism which ever arose in the early ages of Christianity was whether, as baptism had taken the place of circumcision, it should be put off to the eighth day.
(J. N. Norton, D. D.)Philemon 1:2); the Church in the house of Nymphas becomes the Church of Laodicea (Colossians 4:15); the Church in the house of Aquila and Priscilla loses itself in the Churches of Ephesus and Rome (1 Corinthians 16:19; Romans 16:5).
Come into my house and abide there.Hebrews 13:2; 1 Timothy 5:10). The frequent mention of the "hosts" who gave shelter to the apostles (Romans 16:23, etc.) reminds us that they led a life of hardship and poverty, and were the followers of Him for whom there was "no room in the inn." The Lord had said to His apostles that when they entered into a city, they were to seek out "those who were worthy," and with them to abide. The search at Philippi was not difficult. Lydia invited them, and admitted of no refusal, and their "peace was on that house." Thus the gospel obtained a home in Europe.
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