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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 earnest supplication. It pleases God, in general, to afford young converts opportunity for the exercise of potential forrow and importunate cries for mercy, before he pours in upons 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 fucceed.

A disciple at Damascus was sent by express revelation to restore to Saul his loft fight, and confirm him in the Chriftian faith. The coming and defign of that messenger had also been intimated to Saul by a previous vision; and this coincidence of circum. Atances proved more evidently, that the whole transe action was the mighty work of God, and not a delu. fion or imposture. Ananias was the person com, missioned 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 Chrift.

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 Jesus the Nazarene, whose name he had treated with blafphemous 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


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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 “ 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 " lorify God in him?” “ Bleiled be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only cneth wondrous things: and blefied be his glorious name for evert."

The continuance and good effects of this change demonstrate, that it was no fiction, nor the production of terror or of fancy, but a real conversion, accomplished by the immediate interpo:ition of the Lord from heaven. From the morent that Saul was first struck to the ground, what an astonishing difference 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 $. Where is the tongue of the blafphemer, fo accustomed to utter 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 ashamed 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.

$ lĩa. xi. 6-9•

Pfal. lxxii. 18, 19.


myself to thee, and desire to live in cheerful and unreferved obedience to thy precepts.” Such is the purport 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 obstructea iiz 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, fin 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 perish. The haughty Pharisee, therefore, was turned into

into a weeping penitent. « Through the law," he became “ dead to the lawt;' he gave up all the proud expectations, which he had entertained from his own obedience; and “ what things were gain to him, those he counted lofs for Chrilt 1.” The ground of his former dependence failing, he relinquished it, and surrendered himself to Jesus, 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 ."

But the benefits were not confined to St. Paul alone. We are not told, how his companions were affected, who, probably, were furious persecutors like himself. For fome time they remained speechJels, 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. 2 3.


Yet there were others, for whose advantage this fingular interposition 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 menaces 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 de monstrate inconteftably, that the Christian fyftem is pot 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 impostor +? What mo. tive could induce him to change his party, and contrive 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. ii. 15, 16. Gal.i. II, &c. of See this subject clearly stated in Lyttleton's Observations on the conversion and Apostleship of St. Paul..

faft? 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 unspeakable importance of his commission. Besides, no supposition of enthusiasm 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 conftituted. an Apoítle 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 the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ may

fhinë 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 account. able to us, raises up what initruments he pleales for his own service and glory. Let us dispute as we máy, “ He will have mercy on whom he will have inercy *.” It becomes not is to quarrel with his ap

lip pointments. « Who art thou, that repliest against God +?” The case before us shews, 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 shall have them in derision 1.”

He can suddenly confound their pure



* Rom. ix. 15.

t 20.

1 Psal. ii. 4.


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