When I discuss the mob, I am talking about those who are in the margins: who do not have that much work such people exist.
There are always those between jobs, and in this time, when the progressives have allowed the unions to become guilds and limit their members, the rate of youth unemployment has increased markedly. The mob has always been able to be stirred up: for political gain, to foment the revolution, or as in this text, for profit. Calvin notes we should thus look at how we earn our dollars, for it matters.
Therefore, being taught by such examples, let us learn to make choice of such a kind of life as is agreeable to the doctrine of Christ; lest desire of gain a provoke us to enter a wicked and ungodly combat. And as for those who, through ignorance or error, are fallen unto any ungodly occupation, or are entangled in any other impure and wicked kind of life, let them, notwithstanding, beware of such sacrilegious rashness. And as touching godly teachers, let them learn by this example, that they shall never want adversaries, until the whole world, through denial of itself, offer peace, which we know will never come to pass. Because Paul’s doctrine taketh away Demetrius and the rest of the silversmiths’ gains, they leap out furiously to put out [destroy] the same, will not they do the same whom the gospel shall contrary? But there is no man who hath not occasion to fight. For all the affections of the flesh are enemies to God. So that it must needs be, that how many lusts of the flesh there be [reign] in the world, there are as many armed enemies to resist Christ. It will, indeed, oftentimes fall out, that God will bridle the wicked, lest they raise some tumult, or break out into open rage. Yet, whosoever is not tamed and brought down to bear Christ’s yoke, he shall always hate his gospel. So that faithful and godly teachers must persuade themselves that they shall always have to deal with great store of enemies. Demetrius’ covetousness is manifest. Nevertheless, we must also know this, that he was Satan’s fan, [bellows] who, seeking by all means to overthrow Paul’s doctrine, found this fit instrument. Now, forasmuch as we know that Satan is a deadly enemy to Christ and the truth, do we think that he shall ever want ministers, who shall rage through his motion and persuasion, either with open rage, or else seek to work the overthrow of the gospel by secret practices, or spew out the poison of their hatred, or else, at least, show some token of enmity by fretting and murmuring?
If we live as we ought, we will cause pain and irritation to many who seek power or have power. We will be hated. And the mob is considered a tool by those who practice the dark arts of politics. In this case, the fear of the silversmiths is if the Pagan cult of Diana died because of the preaching of this Paul, they would be without a job.
So they whipped up a mob to yell that Diana (Artemis) was great. Did I mention that the Mob can be manipulated by prelates, priests and other religious politicians? Calvin did, in the previous paragraph, pointing out that the church in his day had been infected with careerism. Something that still exists: many people “called to the ministry” are aiming to get promoted to beyond pastoral care and into the committees of the institution. Although this is far more obvious when titles such as Bishop or higher are available, as for the Orthodox, Anglican and Roman, the same problem exists in all churches.
A Riot at Ephesus
Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.” And having sent into Macedonia two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.
About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.”
When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s companions in travel. But when Paul wished to go in among the crowd, the disciples would not let him. And even some of the Asiarchs, who were friends of his, sent to him and were urging him not to venture into the theater. Now some cried out one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. Some of the crowd prompted Alexander, whom the Jews had put forward. And Alexander, motioning with his hand, wanted to make a defense to the crowd. But when they recognized that he was a Jew, for about two hours they all cried out with one voice, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
And when the town clerk had quieted the crowd, he said, “Men of Ephesus, who is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple keeper of the great Artemis, and of the sacred stone that fell from the sky? Seeing then that these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash. For you have brought these men here who are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess. If therefore Demetrius and the craftsmen with him have a complaint against anyone, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. But if you seek anything further, it shall be settled in the regular assembly. For we really are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause that we can give to justify this commotion.” And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.
(Acts 19:21-41 ESV)
I debated if I should find an image of this Artemis, but instead I have an old industrial building, now abandoned, that is between Waihola and Milton, that is about 10 km from anywhere. It was a fertilizer works, but the business failed many years ago. Those who put their trust in that business lost heavily: be they the unionised workforces (most if not all workers were in unions until 40 years ago, and this building has been abandoned before then).
The nature of this world is that things improve, old industries die: or as industries become too costly, the company dies. There are ruined mansions in my city: We have an industrial museum, for we have regulated heavy industry to the point where it is more cost effective to make such items in Korea and ship them across the pacific than make them locally.
And the mobs were invoked, there were protests. But it was as useful as sailing a rock.
We need to consider that Calvin has one thing correct. The people are religious, at all times, and in all eras. But the publick high church and cultus changes: from the Popism Calvin polemicized against to the High Atheist Church of Richard Dawkins that is the current religion of the progressive, the social justice warriors and the powers of this world.
we should expect opposition. We should expect people to foment demonstrations. We should expect people will just make stuff up and try to make the accusation stick. Until they cast us out. And when that happens, that society will enter a death spiral, as is occurring in parts of the Middle East. For we are the salt of the world: we preserve what is good. We are the light of the world: by preaching the gospel we force people to confront that which they err in and where they are sinful.
So let us keep short accounts with God on our faults. Let us do the same with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us back each other. For if they are coming for the Orthodox in Syria or the Catholics in the uSA, the Reformed will be next on the list.