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The humble finner refolved what he fhould do to be faved.
Acts 16. 30, 31.
And they faid,believe on the Lord Iefus Chrift, and thou shalt be saved,and thy bonfe.
Aul and Silas ( on their journey) make a step to
By the former, Lydia is converted, ver. 14, 15. By the latter,the Devil is difpoffeffed out of a Damofell, ver. 16, 18. The Word and Prayer are the great power of God to change the heart and conquer Satan.
But if we trouble the Devil, the Devil will not ceafe to trou ble us. It hath been the lot of the best Minifters, to do moft good, and find most affliction. Look but in the 19. ver. and there you fhall fee Paul and Silas caught and drawn before the Rulers.
caft out a Devil! But this is not the matter objected, nor the immediate ground of the trouble (Her Mafter faw that the hope of their gaines was gone. How far will the love of the world thruft a man against Gods fervants,even Paul himself is brought to the Bar,when he cuts off the gaines which the Devil brought. Covetous hearts and good Minifters can never agree. They will rather fell the Truth than lofe their Gaine.
But being now before the Magiftrate,what is their accufation? What! That Paul and Silas did caft out the Devil? No. That they who were the Masters of the Damofel were impaired and difadvantaged by their Preaching? No, though this was the ground, yet fomething elfe was the Pretence. This would feeme fomewhat too bafe, and therefore they urge against them another allegation, which they knew would easily take, verf, 20. Thefe being lews exceedingly trouble our City, and ver. 21.Teach Customes which are not lawful for us to receive,nor to observe, being
As if he faid, they are a couple of factious and fchymatical fellows, men of a fingular fpirit, given to innovation, fpeak strange things of one Christ, and of Believing, and of Repenting, and wer know not what.
They need fay no more, prefently there is an uprore, and without any more ado, right or wrong, they have Juftice. The Ma giftrates rent their clothes, and command to beate them.
And this is not enough, befides the whip, they muft to the Prijon, and be kept fafe and close, verse 23. Hatred of goodneffe doth many times precipitate evil men to the acts of injustice; and he who hates a good man, will many times become a bad Judge.
But in the prifon and stocks they are, and the layler is as ftrict to execute,as they unjust to command, verfe 24. He did thrust them into the inner prifon, and made their feet faft in the Stacks.
A ftrange Providence is that of God, Paul and Silas are fent to prifon to convert a Jayler, to unloofe him, who bound them, to heale him, who fcourged them, God hath fome fpecial ends in the times and places of his fervants fufferings. Well, at Mid
night Paul and Silas prayed and sang prayles to God, verse 25. No prison can bolt out our Communion with God. Prayer will get up to heaven in difpite of all oppofition, and even a fuffering Chriftian may be very cheerful.
But now fee the confequents of this, their prayers fhooke the Heaven,and the Heaven fhooke the Earth,fo that the foundations of the Prison were shaken, and immediately all the doores were opened, and every ones hands were loofed, ver. 26. I do not marvel that Prayer can breake the bonds of Iron,when I know it is able to break afunder the bonds of death it self.
The Layler awake,fees the prifon doores open, and for ought he knew,an escape of all his prifoners, for whofe lives,probable it is, that he must pay his own, and therefore in a paffionate defperateneffe, drawes out his word to kill bimSelf.
Paul efpies him,and cryes out with a loud voice, (hold, hold) Do thy felf no harme, for we are all here, not a man of us that hath stirred.
Which when he had fearched,and found, O, what a ftrange alteration is in this Jayler, verfe 29. He came in trembling. What he who before made them to bleed,doth he now tremble! he that before caft them into the stocks,doth he come trembling to them! What were they, or what could they do, fhackled, and fcourged, and imprifoned perfons, that he trembled before them! But io he did. Scorners will become Tremblers, when God hath once touched their hearts; yet this is not all. He alfo falls down before them. He is upon his knees to ask them forgiveneffe, for his cruel ufage. And then he brings them 994 tumisi G
But what of all this. All this may arife from fparks of pitty and Object. humanity.
Nay,but there is a greater matter then all this: Sir,faid he, what shall I do to be faved? (As if he faid) I am in a miferable condition, I have lived wickedly, and done wrong to many of the people of God, and in particular to you; Good Lord what fhall become of me; you are the Minifters of Chrift, I beseech you have pity on me, and fhew unto me what I may do tofave this poore foul of mine,
What does Paul, and Silas Anfwer him? they faid, Beleeve
in the Lord lefus Chrift, and thou shalt be faved. And I be feech you marke it, how immediate their answer is to hi queftion; they do not fay, as the High Priests to afflicted Iudas,look thon to that, they do not upbraid him with his hard and cruell usage. They take not that advantage, and fay, nay, now doth thy confcience trouble thee for being fo wicked, and fcourging us fo fharply? yea, and fo let it; doeft thou come for direction and comfort to us,whom thou hast so shamefully abused?
No, they forget the injuries, and presently pour in the Oyl, They inftantly direct him into the true way of life, Believe in the Lord lefus Chrift,and thou shalt be saved. But more of this a
I have chosen this text on purpofe, that I may proceed to th next article of the Creed (I believe in lefus Christ our Lord) yo fee it is expreft in the next.
But before I handle it,give me leave to Analyfe the words,ar. to touch upon fome fingular conclufions, and then I will fet. down upon the Article it felf more fully.
The opening of the words with the feverall
He words of the text do containe two parts.
A cafe of Conscience to be propounded by a troubled and trembling finner: The cafe is not for another, but for himself, what shall I do? And not about his Riches, or wealth, or his body, but about his foul: And that not for meer fpeculati on,but for practicals, it is a cafe about his falvation,and about the meanes which he should take to attaine: Sirs, what fall I do to be fared?