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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 19 - Verse 27

Verse 27. So that not only, etc. The grounds of the charge which Demetrius made against Paul were two:—first, that the business of the craftsmen would be destroyed—usually the first thing that strikes the mind of a sinner who is influenced by self-interest alone; and second, that the worship of Diana would cease if Paul and his fellow-labourers were suffered to continue their efforts.

This our craft. This business in which we are engaged, and on which we are dependent. Greek, This part to merov which pertains to us,

To be set at nought. To be brought into contempt. It will become so much an object of ridicule and contempt that we shall have no further employment. Greek, "Is in danger of coming into refutation" eiv apelegmon. As that which is refuted by argument is deemed useless, so the word comes also to signify that which is useless, or which is an object of contempt or ridicule. We may here remark,

(1.) that the extensive prevalence of the Christian religion would destroy many kinds of business in which men now engage. It would put an end to all that now ministers to the pride, vanity, luxury, vice, and ambition of men. Let religion prevail, and wars would cease, and all the preparations for war which now employ so many hearts and hands would be useless. Let religion prevail, and temperance would prevail also; and consequently all the capital and labour now employed in distilling and vending ardent spirits would be withdrawn, and the business be broken up. Let religion prevail, and luxury ceases, and the arts which minister to licentiousness would be useless. Let Christianity prevail, and all that goes now to minister to idolatry, and the corrupt passions of men, would be destroyed. No small part of the talent, also, that is now worse than wasted in corrupting others by ballads and songs, by fiction and licentious tales, would be withdrawn. A vast amount of capital and talent would thus be at once set at liberty, to be employed in nobler and better purposes.

(2.) The effect of religion is often to bring the employments of men into shame and contempt. A revival of religion often makes the business of distilling an object of abhorrence. It pours shame on those who are engaged in ministering to the vices and luxuries of the world. Religion reveals the evil of such a course of life, and those vices are banished by the mere prevalence of better principles. Yet,

(3.)the talent and capital thus disengaged is not rendered useless. It may be directed to other channels and other employments. Religion does not make men idle. It devotes talents to useful employments, and opens fields in which all may toil usefully to themselves and to their fellow-men. If all the capital, and genius, and learning which are now wasted, and worse than wasted, were to be at once withdrawn from their present pursuits, they might be profitably employed. There is not now a useless man who might not be useful; there is not a farthing wasted which might not be employed to advantage in the great work of making the world better and happier.

But also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised. This temple, so celebrated, was regarded as one of the seven wonders of the world. It was two hundred and twenty years in building, before it was brought to perfection. It was built at the expense of all Asia Minor. The original object of worship among the Ephesians was a small statue of Diana, of elm or ebony, made by one Canitias, though commonly believed in those days to have been sent down from heaven by Jupiter. It was merely an Egyptian hieroglyphic with many breasts, representing the goddess of Nature—under which idea Diana was probably worshipped at Ephesus, As the original figure became decayed by age, it was propped up by two rods of iron like spits, which were carefully copied in the image which was afterwards made in imitation of the first. A temple, most magnificent in structure, was built to contain the image of Diana, which appears to have been several times built and rebuilt. The first is said to have been completed in the reign of Servius Tullius, at least 570 years before Christ. Another temple is mentioned as having been designed by Ctesiphon, 540 years before the Christian era, and which was completed by Daphnis of Miletus, and a citizen of Ephesus. This temple was partially destroyed by fire on the very day on which Socrates was poisoned, 400 years B.C., and again 356 years B.C., by the philosopher Herostratus, on the day on which Alexander the Great was born. He confessed, on being put to the torture, that the only motive which he had was to immortalize his name. The four walls and a few columns only escaped the flames. The temple was repaired, and restored to more than its former magnificence, in which, says Pliny, (Lib. xxxvi, c. 14,) 220 ]rears were required to bring it to completion. It was 425 feet in length, 220 in breadth, and was supported by 127 pillars of Parian marble, each of which was sixty feet high. These pillars were furnished by as many princes, and thirty-six of them were curiously carved, and the rest were finely polished. Each pillar, it is supposed, with its base, contained 150 tons of marble. The doors and panelling were made of cypress wood, the roof of cedar, and the interior was rendered splendid by decorations of gold, and by the finest productions of ancient artists. This celebrated edifice, after suffering various partial demolitions, was finally burnt by the Goths, in their third naval invasion, A.D. 260. Travellers are now left to conjecture where its site was. Amidst the confused ruins of ancient Ephesus, it is now impossible to tell where was this celebrated temple, once one of the wonders of the world. "So passes away the glory of this world." See Edinburgh Ency., article Ephesus; also Anacharsis' Travels, vol. vi. p. 188; Ancient Universal History, vol. vii. p. 416; and Pococke's Travels. And her magnificence. Her majesty and glory; i.e., the splendour of her temple and her worship.

Whom all Asia. All Asia Minor.

And the world. Other parts of the world. The temple had been built by contributions from a great number of princes; and doubtless multitudes from all parts of the earth came to Ephesus to pay their homage to Diana.

{e} "should be despised" Zep 2:11 {a} "world worshippeth" 1 Jo 5:19; Re 13:8

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