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__- + -li Been the custom ... -- on the work of the _i ocence we hear one of oute yoke-fellow : in on. Paul and Barnabas : ...eli from Antioch to on to the island of Cyge synagogues which to exercised their minis...see, they went through of the other extremity
- lost have said and done so made them well ... probability the fame one place long before - once of which, we are ...s, the Roman prolot so many others of - ie therefore called o, to hear the word - is sense and prulon, the word of oake a convert --es, which is far oic, who has an = ~... across the wav to hinder its progress : there seems to he some such mischievous blasphemous person ready in all places; permitted by God, and provided by the Devil; provided to resist the truth; permitted to make it shine more bright; as truth seldom fails to do, when it meets with malicious opposition. Thus when Moses presented himself to Pharaoh, the magicians withstood him: with design to confute his wisdom by their philosophy, and to equal his miracles by their enchantments. This man seems to have been partly of the same character: the text calls him a sorcerer; nearly the same thing with an enchanter; and so far he is an heathenized magician; with that name of Magus, which is given only to the wise men of the heathen religion. There is a portentous mixture in this man's character; for he who, as a magician, is an heathen, is also a Jew, and is called Bar-Jesus, which is a Jewish name. A Jew, free from prejudice, and learned in scriptures of the first covenant, was of all others best qualified to hear and receive the Gospel of Christ; but this was a Jew fit for nothing but unbelief: because a Jew turned heathen, would be much worse than a native heathen: his Judaism, being of a spurious malignant kind, would be all against him, and carry him away so much farther from the truth. From his being acquainted, as a companion, with the proconsul, we may also judge that he was a person of some figure, one who had probably the repute of a learned education, such as quaiified him to be in the society of the superior class of people. Such a man as this could foresee nothing but the total ruin of his own character in the doctrines of the Gospel; therefore it was improbable that he would receive them himself; and he was determined that no one else, as far aa his influence we,nt, should receive them. So he withstood the apostles, and either by his arguments, or his sneers, or his lies, sought to prevail with Sergius not to listen to them. In such a case as this what does the apostle do? I can tell you what he would probably have done, had he lived in this civil halfbelieving age: when it is the fashion not to stand up for the authority of God, for fear of being reputed an high-churchman; nor to be too sure of any thing, lest .you should give offence to those, who find it convenient to be sure of nothing, and say, they cannot think as you do: so with the influence of our times upon him, he might have observed, " that the learned "philosopher would be of another opinion if he would "but permit him to lay the case before him; that he "had many things to say, which his opponent had "probably not well considered." This was not the apostle's manner: he knew that nothing but the Devil could resist the Gospel; that nothing but darkness could be opposite to light; so he makes the man no fair speeches; but tells him and his friends in plain terms what he thinks of him, "O full of all subtlety and all mischief; thou child of the Devil; thou enemy of all righteousness; wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord r" The ways of the Lord are the ways of truth, and the ways of truth are strait; this man wanted to make them appear crooked and false; and the apostle seeing that this was his design, had no mercy upon him; but gave him his real character at once. And from this example, we have a rule for our own conduct in like cases. Where persons err through ignorance, or cannot see properly for want of light, we are to make a proper difference, and treat them with all gentleness: but if they pretend to be wiser than wisdom, and wish not to see by $he light, but to put it out that nobody else may see by it: iri short, if their design is bad, then we are never to spare them; we are never to be tender to malice; for that is the same as to he cruel to all true men: therefore, there are cases,' when the difference between good and evil must be expressed without reserve. Our power upon such occasions can be. shewn only in words; but the words of the apostle were, confirmed by a miracle; and that so remarkable that there is nothing more so. Consider, that truth is light; and that this man resisted the light of truth: therefore the apostle for a season consigned him to a state of darkness, in order that he himself and all present might know what he had done. Christ is the Sun of righteousness; and he who will not own his light i3 not fit to see the light*of heaven. The punishment is exactly apposite to the crime :«. all who will not see the Gospel, deserve no other. All are not struck blind; for that is not necessary, nor would it be expedient: but one is here struck blind for a warning to the rest. This liar-Jesus, or Elymas, was probably one of those who called themselves the illuminated: perhaps he would not have refused the Gospel, had he not in opinion had a better light of his own. Woe be unto them, therefore, who think they see^. no men are in a worse state than they: you see their fate in this man: his bodily blindness is a pattern of their spiritual blindness; and there is nothing more terrible in this world. . \
What a remarkable judgment is here upon unbelief! You may argue upon it, and say, surely it must have , changed his opinion. When he perceived, that for resisting the Gospel he lost his eyesight, that must immediately have convinced him of h)3 mistake, and He must have been converted to the truth; but this was not the case: we do not find, that it wrought -any difference in him. He makes no confession of his
sin; he utters neither prayer nor cry for mercy; but
goes about seeking for some to lead him by the hand.
He can direct his feet no longer • that seems to be his
concern: he wants somebody to lead him, that he
may find his way home: as for finding the way to
truth, he is as far from it as ever; he had an hatred
towards it, and had purposely withstood and prevented
it; and therefore did this evil coma upon him. Where
wickedness is in the manners of a sinner, his mind
may be rectified, and that will mend his manners:
but when the wickedness is in the mind, there is little
hope: it is not a departure from God-and goodness
through the prevailing lusts of the flesh; but it is a
hatred of them; and then there is no remedy. St.
Paul calls him by his true name, "thou child of the
"Devil;" and for this reason the miracle has no
effect upon him; he that is a devil, will continue to be
a devil. This is a fearful consideration; and it is a
doctrine which it highly behoves us to understand.
The character of this wretch is very instructive; it shews us what sort of people there are in the world; men whose eyes the god of this world hath blinded: whose minds are actually incapable of receiving the light of truth. This man was by profession a Jew; but wjth it, was a Sorcerer, and a false prophet: and have not we as strange characters amongst us? Put together another composition of the same kind; instead of the Jew, and the false prophet, and the soi^» .cerer; say, a Christian, and a Socinian, and a philosopher: how often do these meet together? and when they do meet, they form as strange a character as that pf Elymas: a Christian, but no more of a Christian than Elymas was of a Jew; a Sorcerer, big with conceit about the mysteries of nature; a false prophet,