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beholding any object or receiving any food. That feason he employed in serious recollection and fervent prayer, humbly waiting for further deliverance. The Lord graciously remarked the change, and said of him, “ Behold, he prayeth!” He had repeated many forms of devotion; but never before that period had his heart been raised to heaven with earneit fupplication. It pleases God, in general, to afford young converts opportunity for the exercise of penitential forrow and importunate cries for mercy, before he pours in upon : them the clear light and full comforts of the Gospel. This may be a time of heaviness, but it furnishes an, useful and neceffary preparation of mind; and, at length, joy will certainly succeed.
A disciple at Damascus was sent by express reve+ lation to restore to Saul his lost sight, and confirm him in the Chriftian faith. The coming and design of that messenger had also been intimated to Saul by a previous vifion; and this coincidence of circumftances proved more evidently, that the whole transaction was the mighty work of God, and not a delua fion or imposture. Ananias was the person com, miffioned to visit the “ chosen vessel ;" and by his. means Saul was instantly delivered from blindness, filled with the Holy Ghost, furnished with miracu. lous powers, and admitted by baptism into the Church of Christ.
What a change was this ! He, who had intended to harass and torment the disciples, joined himself to them as their friend and brother, and esteemed it the highest honour to become a follower and preacher of
Jefus the Nazarene, whose name he had treated with blasphemous contempt. Having received full information both of the facts and doctrines of the Gospel, by direct communications from heaven, he « conferred not with fleíh and blood,” consulted not the dictates of worldly prudence or carnal inclinations, but immediately began to declare and maintain, in the
fynagogues of Damascus, what he had learnt by revelation, and proved to the astonishment of those, who had known his former character, that Jesus is indeed the promised Saviour. Thus he “
Thus he“ preached the faith, which once he destroyed *,” and foon appeared to be “ a vessel unto honour, fanctified and meet for the Master's use t.” Shall we not “glorify God in him?” « Bleiled be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only coeth wondrous things: and biesied be his glorious name for evert."
The continuance and good effects of this change demonstrate, that it was no fiation, nor the production of terror or of fancy, but a real conversion, accomplished by the immediate interposition of the Lord from heaven. From the moinent that Saul was first ftruck to the ground, what an astonishing differenc: did he manifest in his whole spirit and conduct ! Where is now the fury of the persecutor ? and what is become of all his murderous designs against the believers at Damascus ? « The wolf dwells with the lamb, and the leopard lies down with the kid," no longer seeking to hurt or destroy S. Where is the tongue of the blafphemer, fo accustomed to uiter profane speeches against Chrift? The very mention of Jesus of Nazareth would have provoked his indignation : but no sooner does the Saviour reveal his grace and glory, than the fierce adversary relinquishes all further plans of opposition, is alhamed of his former enmity, and alarmed for his future safety: he cries for mercy, acknowledges the divine character, and desires to follow the directions, of Jesus. “O Lord, what I know not, teach thou me; guide me into that way, in which I have foolishly refused to walk; rescue my guilty soul from deserved wrath, and Thew me what thou requirest to be done. I give
* Gal. i. 23.
2 Tim. ii. 21.
s lla. xi. 6m.ge
| Pfal. lxxii, 18, 19.
Such is the pur
myself to thee, and desire to live in cheerful and unreserved obedience to thy precepts.' port of his devout exclamation, “ Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ?” This is the language of conversion; and this effect could no more be produced by any natural causes, than the sun could be obstructed in its course, or the rivers made to flow backward in their channels, without a miraculous interference.
At the period here referred to, as we apprehend, " the commandment came, sin revived, and he died *." While his mind was deeply impressed with a conviction of the purity and extent of the law, he felt within himself the powerful working of a corrupt nature, and saw that as a tranfgreffor, under condemnation, he was liable to perith. The haughty Pharisee, , therefore, was turned into a weeping penitent. “Through the law," he became “dead to the lawt ;**
gave up all the proud expectations, which he had entertained from his own obedience; and “ what things were gain to him, those he counted loss for Chriit 1." The ground of his former dependence failing, he relinquilhed it, and surrendered himself to Jefus, in whom he then trusted for salvation, and to whose service he devoted the whole of his future life. From that moment he continued zealously attached to the cause of Christ, though under the strongest possible temptations to desert it, and laboured more abundantly than any others. Shall we not say with devout affections, “ This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes g."
But the benefits were not confined to St. Paul alone.
We are not told, how his companions were affected, who, probabły, were furious persecutors like himself. For fome time they remained speechless, under an impression of great terror; but we know not, that any of them became true converts.
* Rom. vii. 9. t Gal. ii. 19. & Phil. üle 7. $ Pfal. cxviii. 23.
Yet there were others, for whose advantage this fingular interpofition was evidently designed. Many faw, confefied, and admired, the change: many were convinced of the truth of the Gospel, and turned to the Lord. This new preacher, in his zeal to propagate the faith, travelled from city to city, and from one kingdom to another, and thousands, believing his teftimony, were added to the Church.
No nienaces or sufferings from men could deter them from entering on the service of Christ; in whom they found a sufficient compensation, and a never failing fource of joy. They “ shone as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life," and thus proved that the Apostle “ had not run in vain, neither labouredi in vain *"
What shall we say to fuch effects as these? They could not proceed from mere imagination ; they demonstrate incontestably, that the Christian fyftem is not a delusion or a cheat. Let the declarations of St. Paul be regarded, as they ought to be, and it must be allowed that our faith is divine. He affirms, that he received it by the inspiration of the Almighty, and not by human teaching +. He preached it with zeal and success, before he had, any communication with the other Apostles: and they all perfectly coincided in their account both of facts and doctrines. Now to what shall we ascribe this exact agreement, if not to the influence of Heaven?
Shall Paul be deemed an impoftor +? What mo. tive could induce him to change his party, and con trive such a plan of deception? Did he seek for wealth, honour, power, or sensual gratification ? No: all these he cheerfully renounced; and, while he patiently endured extreme afflictions, he proved, at least, that he firmly believed the Gospel. But was he not an enthu
* Phil..ji. 15, 16. Gal... II, &c. of See this subject clearly stated in Lyttleton's Observations on the conrerfion and Apostleship of St. Paul..
haft? No: the farthest from it possible. He betrayed no mark of an enthusiast, except his zeal should be reprefented in that light. We observe, however, it was not the blind and furious zeal of a bigot or fanatic, but the generous ardour of one, who knew the truth, and felt the unfpeakable importance of his commission. Besides, no fupposition of enthufiafm can ever account for the success of his labours, which, of itself, evinces that the hand of the Lord was with him.
If it be said, that, though sincere, he might yet be deceived by others; we ark, By whom? By the disciples of Christ? They were hardly persuaded to credit his integrity, and the reality of his conversion ; nor could the change originate from them, with whom he had no previous intercourse. And it will not, furely, be alleged, that he was imposed on by his former affociates, who fought his life for deserting their cause. The only fair conclufion is, that he was constituted. an Apostle by the Lord Jesus, and that the doctrine which he preached is a revelation from heaven. Let us rejoice and give thanks for this interesting event, and pray that is the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ may
shinë unto us.' We admire the divine perfections as displayed in St. Paul's conversion. We cannot but perceive in it the sovereignty of God, who, without being accountable to us, raíses up what initruments he pleales for bis own service and glory. Let us dispute as we máy, « He will have mercy on whom he will have:
y*.” It becomes not lip to quarrel with his appointments. « Who art thou, that repliest against God.+?” The case before us snews, how feeble is the strongest opposition to Him. What can the most furious persecutors effect? “ He that fitteth in the heavens shall laugh, the Lord fhall have them in: derision [.” He can suddenly confound their pure