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the disciples of Christ are exhorted to both of these amiable dispositions. Of whom are we bold enough to say, that he may not be one of those for whom Christ died ; that he may not become, through grace, one of the excellent ones of the earth ? If thou art a vessel of mercy, consider who it was that filled thee; and may not the same fountain fill him-fill any of the race of Adam ? Let your benevolence then extend to the whole of mankind : but let your love be special towards the household of faith. Love them for the image they bear-love them for the ties by which you are connected together. Let your love to them be fervent and active. Impart to them every assistance of friendship, especially of that friend. ship which regards the interests of their souls. Exhort one another daily, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Continue together in one accord, in prayer and supplication, forwarding one another in your way to Zion, and singing songs of comfort as you go along.
On the whole, you see how much the religion of Christ applies itself to the best affections of the human heart. To whom does it direct our worship?—To the God of love, the God who is love, and who manifested his love to us, in that he sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. What doth it require of us, but that we should love him who first loved us; that we should yield ourselves to be his, and trust in him for all good things. Are ye willing? The plerlges of the covenant are at band, and may God seal them to your souls. Amen.
Acts viii. 39.
and he went on his way rejoicing.
The person of whom this account is given was a man of Ethiopia, who possessed a place of great trust and authority under the queen of that country. It appears from the history, that he was a proselyte to the Jewish religion; for he had come as far as Jerusalem to attend on the worship of the God of Israel. The manner of his conversion to Christianity, by the ministry of Philip the Evangelist, is circumstantially related in the preceding verses; and as there are several striking incidents in this passage of history, I shall point out a few of them which are chiefly remarkable.
1st. We are told, that when this officer of the Ethi. opian queen was about to take his departure from Jerusalem, God sent his angel to Pbilip at Samaria, with a peremptory order to leave that place, and to travel southward till he should come upon the road that goeth down from Jerusalem to Gaza; which place he had no sooner reached, than lo, the illustrious stranger appears in his chariot, pursuing his journey to his own country.
2dly. It deserves our notice, that at the precise mo. ment when Philip, by a divine impulse, ran to meet him, this devout proselyte was reading aloud a part of Isaiah's prophecy, which speaks plainly and directly concerning the Messiah. The place of Scripture which
he read was this: “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth : In bis humiliation his judg. ment was taken away, and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.” Upon hearing these words, Philip accosted him with this question, « Understandest thou what thou readest?” The otber ingenuously confessed that he did not; and having, with uncommon courtesy, taken the Evangelist up into his chariot, begged to be informed who the person was wbom the prophet had in his eye. “Then,” as we read in the 35th verse, “Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same Scripture, and preached unto bim Jesus."
Thus both the preacher and his subject were very re. markably ordered in the providence of God; and, as might be expected from such favourable presages, the discourse was accompanied with the powerful influences of his grace: For upon their coming to a certain place where there was water, the new disciple, of his own accord, modestly signified his desire to be baptized; and after professing his faith in Christ, in these few but solemn words, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,"—the chariot was stopt, and Philip went down with him into the water and baptized him. A
3d Incident, no less remarkable than the former two, is recorded in the verse where my text lies. “When they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the Eunuch saw him no more." How admirable, how perfect are the works of God! Tbese two were brought together by the agency of an angel, and now they are parted asunder by a miracle, but a miracle of wisdom as well as of power, For this sudden and supernatural removal of the preacher, was a powerful confirmation of the doctrine which
be taught, and had an obvious tendency to impress on the mind of the new convert this important truth, that although a man had been employed as the instrument of his conversion, yet the work itself was truly divine, and the glory of it due to God alone.
Accordingly we learn, from the latter part of the verse, that all these wonderful events had a most happy influence on bis mind. He was transported with what he had seen, and heard, and experienced ; his judgment approved the wise choice be bad made, and he went on his way rejoicing. He went on his way, i. e. he proceeded on his journey homeward. The new persuasion be had received into his mind did not mislead bim into fan. ciful plans of action, inconsistent with, or perhaps opposite to, the duties of his station. No, he knew that the religion he had embraced, instead of releasing him from these duties, rather bound him to a more faithful and diligent performance of them. He therefore went on his way, and he rejoiced as he went. He felt his soul enriched with heavenly grace. He had now got a treasure which he could properly call his own, even that pearl of great price, with which all the treasures of Ethiopia were not worthy to be compared.
Your condition, my brethren, is in several respects similar to the condition of this man. He had solemnly avouched the Lord to be his God: You, with equal solemnity, have this day done the same. He had just received one seal of the covenant of grace: You, this day, have received the other. He had a long journey before him: Ye also are travellers through this wilderness, toward the promised land of rest. In these circumstances I think that, without apology, I may take occasion, from the words that have been read, to address you with a twofold exhortation :
I. To go on your way heavenward. And,
I Trust I need hardly inform you, that the spiritual repast to which you have been this day admitted, is purely intended to strengthen you in your journey to the heavenly country. God sends us these grapes from the Canaan above, not to detaio us in the wilderness, but to allure us out of it, and to make us hasten our steps towards that country of which they are the natural and spontaneous product. My first exhortation, therefore, is both seasonable and necessary-Arise and go forward. Many who mistake the nature of this ordinance, are very anxious and busy for a few days, in making a sort of formal preparation for it. Then their countenances are demure, and their steps are solemn, and their conversation is precise, and their attendance upon the most protracted services of devotion indefatigable; and this they call religion, and trust in its merit to absolve them from all the dishonest, worldly, uncharitable, and ungodly practices, of which they are guilty in the other periods of their time. But I trust, my brethren, that ye have not so learned Christ, and I trust that we, who are your spi. ritual guides, shall never encourage you in so fatal a delusion. I address you now, as the disciples and friends of Christ. I speak to you in his name; and that his authority may be the more unquestionable in the exhortation I am to give you, I shall deliver it in the very words which his own spirit hath employed. “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” And beware of a sinful conformity to this world, “but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of