« PreviousContinue »
fake." Observe what a close connection there is between do. ing and suffering for Christ. If any of my brethren in the miniftry are present, let them hear what preferment we must expect, if we are called out to work remarkably for God: not great prebendaries or bishopricks, but great sufferings for our LORD's name fake; these are the fruits of our labour: and he that will not contentedly fuffer great things for preaching CHRIST, is not worthy of him. Suffering will be found to be the best preferment, when we are called to give an account of our ministry at the great day.
: I do not hear, that Ananias quarrelled with God concerning the doctrine of election; no, (O that all good men would, in this, learn of him!) “ He went his way, and entered into the house; and put his hands on him, and said, Brother Saul," just now, it was this man; now it is brother Saúl : it is no matter what a man has been, if he be now a' christian; the same should be our brother, our fifter and mother; God blots out every convert's transgressions as with a thick cloud, and so should we; the more vile à man has been, the more should we love him when believing in CHRIST, because Christ will be more glorified on his behalf. I doubt not, but Ananias was wonderfully deligbted to hear that so remarkable a persecutor was brought home to God: I am persuaded he felt his soul immediately united to him by love, and therefore addresses him not with, thou persecutor, thou murderer, that camest to butcher me and my friends; but, “ brother Saul.” It is remarkable that the primitive christians much used the word brother and brethren; I know it is a term now much in reproach; but those who despise it, I believe, would be glad to be of our brotherhood, when they see us fitting at the righthand of the Majesty on high.
on high. “ Brother Saul, the LORD (even Jesus that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest) hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy fight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” At this time, we may suppose, he laid his hands upon him. See the consequences.
Ver. 18. “Immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been feales, and he received fight forthwith;” not only bodily, but spiritual fight; he emerged as it were into a new world ; he saw, and felt too, things unutterable: he felt a union of foul with God; he received the spirit of adoption; he could
now, with a full arturance of faith, cry, “ Abba, Father," SINow was the filled with the Holy Ghoft; and had the love of God thed abroad in his heart; now were the days of his
mourning ended ;' now was Christ förmed in his soul; now 219 he could give men and devils the challenge, knowing that .
Christ had justified him; now be raw ihe 'excellencies of ** CHRIST, and esteemed him the fáirest among ten thousand.
You Only know how to fympathize with the apostle in his joy, who, after a long night of bondage, have been set free
Spirit, and have received joy in the Holy Ghost. May ut all that are now mourning, "as Saul was, be comforted in like manner!
The scales are now rettioved from the eyes of Saul's mind; Ananias has done that for him, under God: he mult now do 9 another office, baptize him, 'and fo receive him into the vifito 'ble church of Christ'; a good proof to me of the necessity of
baptism where it may be had : for I find here, as well as else
* Where, that baptism is administered even to those who had re**ceived the Holy Ghost; Saul was convinced of this, and there
fore arofe and was baptized; and now it is time for him to bol recruit the outward man, which, by three days abftinence and 31fpiticual confiets, had been much impaired: we are there
fore told, (ver: 19.) " when he had received meat, he was
But O, with what comfort did the apostle now eat his I am sure it was with singleness, I am persuaded also with gladness of heart; and why? he knew that he was reconciled to God; and, for my own part, "did I not know how blind and Ainty our hearts are by nature, I should wonder how a any one could eat even his common food with any, satisfaction, who has not some well-grounded hope of his being reconciled
to God. Our Lord intimates thus much to us : for in his stiglorious prayer, after he has taught us to pray for our daily 34bread, immediately adds that petition, Forgive us our tresody Palles" as though our daily bread would do us no service, li puless we were fenfable of having the forgiveness of our sins.
To proceed: Saul hath received meat, and is strengthened; -s and whither will he go how? to see the brethren; " then was
Saul certain days with the disciples that were at Damascus.” If we know and love CHRIST, we fall also love and desire to
be acquainted with the brethren of CHRIST: we may gene-
know, a man by his company. And though all are not faints that affociate with faints, (for tares will be always springing, up amongst the wheat till the time of harvet) yet
, if we never keep company, but are my and alhamed of,
of the ...despised children of Gop, it is a certain fign we have not yeç
experimentally learned Jesys, or received him into our hearts, My dear friends, be not deceived ; if we are friends to the Bridegroom, we fhall be friends to the children of the Bride groom. Saul
, as soon as he was filled with the Holy Ghost, was certain days with the disciples that were at Damascus." zona.
.. when Saul o came amongst them! I suppose haly, Ananias introduced him.
Methinks I see the once persecuting zealot, when they came to to salute him with a holy kiss, throwing himself upon each of their necks, weeping over them
with Agads, of tears, and fay-91 ingin my brother, o
my brother, O my, filter, Can you forgive me? -9790
Can you give such a wretch as I the right-hand of fellowmuthip, who intended to drag you behind me bound unto Jebisa mu alem.” Thus, I say, we may suppose Squl addrefled
himself to his fellow-disciples; and I doubt not but they were e was ready to forgiye and forget as Ananias was, and faluted him
with the endearing title of “ brother Saul.” Lovely was ! bothie meeting ; fo lovely, that it seemed Saul conţinued cer
to communicate experiences, and to learn the way of Gop more perfectly i" to pray for
fire Christ Jesus for what
a blefling buon his future ministry, and to praise
he had done for their souls. Saul, perhaps, had fat certain years at the feet of Gamaliel, but undoubtedly learned more these certain days, than he had learned before in all his life. 'It pleases me to think how this great scholar is transformed by the renewing of his mind : What a mighty change was here! That so great a man as Saül was, both as to his fation in life, and internal qualifications, and sucho ă bitter enemy to the christians'; for him, "I say, to go and be certain days with the people of this mad way, and to
and to fit quietly, and be taught of illiterate
men, as many of these disciples we may be fure were ; what a fubftantial proof was this of the reality of his version!!). Bw. Ero on niiw zysb ?1163193
days with their
to lowedISH) svol brie wonx JW
ار و کای
What a hurry and confufion may we suppose the chief priests were now in! I warrant they were ready to cry out, What ! is he also deceived ? As for the common people, who knew not the law, and are accursed, for them to be carried away, is no such wonder ; but for a man bred up at the feet of Gamaliel, for such a scholar, such an enemy to the cause as Saul; for him to be led away with a company of filly, deceived men and women, surely it is impossible: we cannot believe it. But Saul soon convinces them of the reality of his becoming a fool for CHRIST's fake: for straightway, instead of going to deliver the letters from the high priests, as they expected, in order to bring the disciples that were at Damascus bound to Jerusalem, “ he preached Christ in the fynagogues, that he is the Son of God.” This was another proof, of his being converted. He not only conversed with christians in private, but he preached CHRIST publicly in the fynagogues: especially, he insisted on the divinity of our LORD, proving, notwithstanding his state of humiliation, that he was really the Son of God.
But why did Saul preach CHRIST thus? Becaufe he had felt the power of CHRIST upon his own soul. And here is the reason why Christ is so feldom preached, and his divinity so flightly, insisted on in our fynagogues: because the generality of those that pretend to preach him, never felt a saving work of conversion upon their own souls. How can they preach, unless they are first taught of, and then sent by God? Saul did not preach CHRIST before he knew him ; no more
should any one else. An unconverted minister, though he - could speak with the tongues of men and angels, will be but
as a founding brass and tinkling cymbal to those whose senses are exercised to discern fpiritual things. Ministers that are unconverted, may talk and declaim of CHRIST, and prove from books that he is the Son of God; but they cannot preach with the demonstration of the Spirit and with power, unless they preach from experience, and have had a proof of his divinity, by a work of grace wrought upon their own souls. God forgive those, who lay hands on an unconverted man, knowing that he is such : I would not do it for a thoufand worlds. LORD JESUS, keep thy own faithful fervants pure, and let them not be partakers of other mens fins !
Such an instance as was Saul's conversion, we may be affüred, must make a great deal of noise ; and, therefore, no wonder we are told, ver. 21.." But all that heard him were amazed, and said, Is not this he that destroyed them who called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring the bound to the chief priests."
Thus it will be with all that appear publicly for JESUS CHRIST; and it is as impoffible for a true chriftian to be hid, as a city built upon a hill. Brethren, if you are faithful to, you must be reproached and have remarks made on you for CHRIST; especially if you have been remarkably wicked before your converfion. Your friends will say, is not this he, or she; who a little while ago would run to as great an excess of riot and vanity as the worst of us all! What has turned your brain ?-Or if you have been close, false, formal hypo- ''. crites, as Saul was, they will wonder that you should be fo? deceived, as to think you were not in a safe ftate before. No doubt, numbers were surprized to hear Saul, who was touch
1 ing the law blameless, affirm that he was in a damnable con dition (as in all probability he did) a few days before.
Brethren, you must expect to meet with many such difficul-? ties as these. The scourge of the tongue, is generally the first cross we are called to bear for the sake of Christ. Let not, therefore, this move you : It did not intimidate, no, it rather encouraged Saul : says the text, “ But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt at Da.'' mascus, proving that this is very CHRIST.” Opposition never? yet did, nor ever will hurt a sincere convert : Nothing like? opposition to make the man of God perfect. None but a ? hireling, who careth not for the sheep, will be affrighted at: the approach or barking of wolves. Christ's ministers are as bold as lions : it is not for such men as they to flee.
And therefore (that I may draw towards a conclufion) let the ministers and disciples of CHRIST learn from Saul, not to fear men or their revilings; but, like him, increase in strength, the more wicked men endeavour to weaken their bands. We cannot be christians without being opposed : no; disciples in general must suffer; ministers in particular muft fuffer great things. But let not this move any of us from our ftedfastness