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THE Committee of the Religious Tract Society intend to publish a new Edition of these excellent Sermons, after they have been carefully revised by the Sons of the venerated Author, who have kindly presented them to the Institution.
16 JAN 1954
J. Hill, Printer, Black Horse Court, Fleet Street, London.
THE following Sermons are intended, in the first place, for the use of those pious and zealous persons, who, pitying the deplorable ignorance of their poor neighbours, are accustomed to go into country villages to instruct them a practice which, though but lately adopted, bids fair to produce the most substantial and extensive advantages. A. scarcity of discourses, exactly fitted for this benevolent purpose, has been justly complained of; for though there are hundreds of admirable sermons extant, yet as most of them were originally calculated to edify intelligent and wellinformed congregations, and were published on account of some superior excellence in style or composition, they are ill suited to the instruction of a rustic and untaught people. This has induced the author to attempt a few Village Sermons, very plain and short, yet on the most interesting sub jects, and with frequent appeals to the conscience.
These discourses may be useful to families, especially to those who cannot procure more expensive volumes. Serious masters may permit them to be laid in the kitchen for the use of the servants. The Teachers of Sunday-schools, especially where the means of grace are not enjoyed, may, perhaps, think proper to read them to the children. Generous Christians also may have opportunity to distribute among their tenants, workmen, or servants, a number of religious tracts, at a very small expense.
In several different Sermons, some of the same sentiments may be observed to occur; this the author was not anxious to avoid, because he judged that the persons whose profit he had in view, needed to have "line upon line, and precept upon precept." Happy will he be if, by the perusal of them, any of his fellow men shall be turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God;" to whose blessing the following pages are committed.
II. The Broad and Narrow Way. Matt. vii. 13, 14.
VI. Redemption. Ephes. i. 7
THE CONVERSION OF THE JAILER.
ACTS xvi. 30, 31.
Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.
THE question which we have just read was proposed by the jailer at Philippi, and the answer was given by Paul and Silas. The case was this. St. Paul and his companion Silas, two eminent ministers of the gospel, were apprehended for preaching the word, and brought before the rulers of the city. The magistrates unjustly caused them to be severely scourged, and committed them to prison, with a particular charge to the jailer to keep them safely; in consequence of which they were thurst into the inner prison, and their feet made fast in the stocks.
But these good men were not unhappy. They were persecuted, but not forsaken; their Master was with them, according to his gracious promise, and so filled their hearts with joy, that they sang praises aloud to God, even at midnight; which their fellow-prisoners, confined in other dungeons, heard with no small surprise.
At that moment, while the prisoners were all attention to the midnight devotions of his afflicted servants, there was a great earthquake. The Lord, whom they served, took this method of vindicating their character, and of striking terror into the hearts of their persecutors. So powerful was the shock,
that the foundations of the prison were shaken, the doors immediately flew open, and the fetters of all the prisoners dropped off at once.
The keeper of the jail, suddenly awakened by the noise, starting up from his bed, and finding the doors of the prison open, concluded, as naturally he might, that all the prisoners had escaped; and, dreading a public execution as the punishment of a breach of trust, was just about to stab himself with his sword.
St. Paul, aware of his wicked design, and moved with compassion for his immortal soul, cried out with a loud voice-" Do thyself no harm; for we are all here."
The jailer, filled with astonishment at this wonderful appearance of God in favour of his servants, and impressed by the Holy Spirit with a deep conviction of his guilt and danger, immediately called for a light, spraug into the inner prison, and trembling from head to foot, threw himself down on the ground before them. He recollected, probably, the report of the damsel concerning them-" These men are the servants of the Most High God, which show unto us the way of salvation." To these, therefore, he wisely applies, with great respect; and, under the heavy burden of guilt and fear, exclaims, in the words of the text-" Sirs! what must I do to be saved?" A more important inquiry was never made! It becomes every one of us to make the same. If any one of you never seriously made it, God grant you may do so now! The answer which the inspired men of God gave to the question, is the only proper and satisfactory one that can be given, and that was- "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." May the Lord assist us while we consider these two parts of the text:
I. The important question proposed, "What must I do to be saved?"