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"After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; and found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; {because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought; for by their occupation they were tent-makers." — Acts 18:1—3

Aquila and Priscilla were persons of great religious excellence. They are often mentioned with commendation in the Epistles, as well as in the Acts of the Apostles, especially where Paul says to the Romans, "Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my helpers in Christ Jesus; who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles." They were born in Pontus, then they resided in Italy, and were now in business at Corinth. Hither they had been driven by an Imperial decree, and probably thought hard of the measure that banished them. But in consequence of this trial they became acquainted with Paul, and had him for their guest, their friend, and companion. And what a companion must a man of his talents and grace have been. And what an advantage must they have derived from his morning and evening devotions, and his example, and his constant conversation. Surely they would acknowledge, It is good for us that we have been afflicted.

The lives of some have been very changeable, and in their removals, contrary to a disposition to enjoy a fixed and permanent dwelling, they have been ready to murmur and complain. But nothing occurs by chance, and all the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth to those that fear him. Let such remember, that they know not what designs God has to accomplish by events of this nature, either with regard to themselves or with regard to their connexions. Let them also reflect, that this is not their rest, and view every present residence as

"Preliminary to the last retreat."

In proportion as we look after a better country, and realize it as our own, all earthly situations will be alike indifferent to us; yea, we shall find each of them none other than the house of God and the gate of Heaven.

Paul not only lodged with them, but wrought, for they were of the same occupation with himself. For though he had been educated at the feet of Gamaliel, he had been bred to the craft of tent-making. The Jews, whatever was their condition in life, were accustomed to give their sons a calling; wisely considering it a prevention of idleness, a security from temptation, and a resource in accidental indigence. Hence, of their doctors, one was surnamed Rabbi, the shoemaker; another, Rabbi, the baker; another, Rabbi, the carpenter. Ricaut says, the grand seignior, to whom he was ambassador, was taught to make wooden spoons. Is this degrading? Seneca says, he would rather be sick, and confined to his bed, than be unemployed. Adam and Eve were placed in the garden to dress and to keep it. And our Saviour declined not working at his supposed father's business. Paul, the chief of the Apostles, was not ashamed of labour. But, as a man of taste and learning, he must have been fond of reading; and he desired Timothy to bring him his books and parchments. It seems, therefore, strange that his friends should not have indulged him with leisure and entire freedom for his office also, by exempting him from manual toil. The workman is worthy of his hire, and this he always claimed as a right, contending that they who preached the Gospel should live of the Gospel; adding, also, that no man who warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life.

But a right is sometimes to be given up and there is no general rule but allows of exceptions. Priscilla and Aquila were not rich, and would lament their inability to do more for their illustrious guest. And he had an independence of mind; and seeing these worthy people themselves labouring to gain a livelihood, he would not be burdensome, but pay for his accommodations. And they are mean souls who will endure to be supported by the alms, and especially by the industry of others, when their own hands are sufficient for them. They who will not work should not eat. In a word, Paul knew the infancy of the cause, and was acquainted with all the circumstances of the case, and acted, we may be assured, with wisdom and prudence. Yet his conduct displayed the noblest self-denial and zeal.

There are two places in which he refers to his working. The first shows the degree in which he toiled, often, after teaching, sitting up late at night: "Ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail; for we laboured night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto you." The second tells us that his aim was not only to support himself, but to be able to succour others: "Ye yourselves know that these hands have ministered to my necessities, and to them that were with me. What a soul had this man! And how well could he add, "I have showed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed lo give than to receive."

Morning Exercises For Everyday In The Year
By Rev. William Jay

 
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