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they neither feel the want of merey, nor wish to obey the will of God.
Paul now began to pray in another respect. He prayed as a humble sinner; not as a proud Pharisee. When our Lord designed to expose the self-righteous pride of the Pharisees, he represented in a parable these two sorts of men going to the temple to pray. And what did they differ in? The one boasted of his goodness; the other, humbled, and almost broken-hearted, under a sense of his guilt, cries out, God be merciful to me, a sinner" No man prays in God's account, till he prays as a sinner, for pardoning mercy. It was during these three days' blindness of his body, that the eyes of his understanding were opened. It was then that he first began to know that the law was spiritual. He was 'without the law' before; but now the commandment came, sin revived, and he died.' Jesus saw him in his mournful state, and hastened to his relief. Go to him, Ananias, and heal this broken-hearted penitent, for under a sense of sin, behold he prayeth.'
Paul, we may suppose, was now acquainted with the gospel scheme. It was probably revealed to him during these three days. And now, he not only owns Jesus as the true Messiah, but knows the gracious purpose for which he came. 6 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.' This is a truth which Paul cordially received. Being well versed in the law about sacrifices, he clearly saw in them all, that Jesus Christ is the true Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.' He saw the reason of that humiliation of Jesus, and his death on the cross, that was before a stumbling-block to him; and now he determines to know nothing but Christ crucified, and to glory in nothing but the cross., Before this, his dependance was upon his Jewish privileges-his birth, his circumcision, his zeal, his morality; but now, all these things which were gain, are accounted loss, yea, dung and dross,' for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, and an interest in him. How differently would such a man pray from what he did before! He now comes to Jesus, and to the Father, through him, for eternal life.
We have now taken a view of converting grace, in the example of the Apostle Paul. And let it be observed, that conversion is the same for substance, at all times, and in all persons. Circumstances may differ; but the work is the same. In all cases, it is the wonderful work of God; always undeserved, and always produces like effects. We are not, indeed, to expect a vision or a voice from heaven, as in this instance; but it is generally wrought by means of the word of Christ, sent home on the heart by the power ofthe Holy Spirit. See here the mighty hand of God! Is any thing too hard for the Lord? Here is grace indeed! free grace, sovereign grace, rich grace, abundant grace; and all this ' for a pattern to them who should hereafter believe.' Let none despair, when such a sinner as Saul is saved. The same grace, sinner, that changed his heart, can change thine; the same grace that pardoned his sins, can pardon thine; and it will be so too, if, like him, thy proud heart is brought down, and thou art enabled to say, 'Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?' This was his first petition; the dawn of eternal day in his soul. O that each of us might but say this from his heart! Can you follow me in these words? Lord, I give myself up to thee. I have done wickedly; but would do so no more. O, what wouldst thou have me to do? Let me be led into a right way for knowing and doing thy will: that I may testify my repentance, honour thy name, and obtain the forgiveness of my sins.' When Paul prayed thus, the merciful Saviour directed him to go into the city; and afterwards sent his servant to instruct and comfort him. So will he say to thee. Arise, wait upon God; read and hear his word; and he shall visit thy soul with the light, power, and comfort of his great salvation.
As this text affords great encouragement to praying souls, and furnishes them with a plain and pleasing evidence of their conversion; so it marks out, as distinctly, the woeful state of a prayerless person. Dost thou live without prayer, man, woman, child?-Thou
art no Christian. Thou art an Atheist; yea, much worse than an Atheist. He believes no God, and therefore cannot pray to him. You say you believe in God, but never seek him. If you can live without prayer, it is a proof of a blind mind, and of a hard heart; it shows ingratitude to God, and insensibility of want. It proves thou art a stranger to faith, to repentance, to hope, to love, to every Christian grace; for as all these are exercised in true prayer, so the prayerless person proves he is destitute of them all. What is he then ? An enemy to God, and a destroyer of his own soul. As the Lord liveth, there is but one step between thee and death.'' Arise, O sleeper, and call upon thy God.' Turn or burn! Pray or perish! Go on, praying Christian. The Lord never said to the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain.' He who said, 'Behold, he prayeth,' had observed his first breathings for mercy. He was heard. He was pardoned. He was saved. He is praising now. Behold, he praiseth! He has been praising Christ for 1700 years, and will do so to all eternity. Who would not pray now, seeing prayer shall be turned into praise, and issue in everlasting songs of joy and triumph?
THOU, O God, art glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders! Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundations of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thy hands. Thou saidst, Let there be light, and there was light. And thou art also the Creator of all things in the new world of grace. We adore thee, O Lord, for that glorious example of thy new-creating power which has been at this time brought before our eyes. We praise thee for the riches of thy grace in forgiving the persecuting Saul, and for turning the persecutor into a holy apostle. We thank thee for all the good which thou didst effect by his preaching and living, and for all the good which thy church still derives from
his writing s,and from the pattern of thy long-suffering, which is seen in mercy shown to him.
O God we beseech thee at this time to exert the same almighty energy by which Saul of Tarsus was converted and saved. Are there not before thee some whose minds are still benighted, and whose hearts are full of ill-will against Jesus and his gospel? Are there not many who live without prayer, having the form of godliness, but denying the power thereof?
Our hearts' desire and prayer for them is, That they may be saved. O that, from this very time, if it please thee, it may be said of this and of that man, Behold he prayeth !
JOHN iii. 16.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his onlybegotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
IN these words yon have the sum of the whole gospel -Good news for sinners; glad tidings of great joy to all people. They are the words of Jesus Christ, in his admirable discourse with Nicodemus, a teacher and a ruler of the Jews. This man, being convinced by the miracles of Christ that he was 6 a teacher come from God,' wished to have some conversation with him; but not having yet courage enough to declare for him openly, came to him privately by night. Our Lord directly began with him on the subject of the new birth. Nicodemus,' said he, 'except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God:' for, observe, the knowledge of the corruption of our nature, and of the necessity of being inwardly changed by grace, is the very first thing we must learn in religion. Nicodemus, with all his learning, was yet ignorant of this: but Christ insists upon it, that a man must be born again; and from the doctrine of the new birth, he passes on to that of faith in Christ, and salvation through faith. This he explains by a remarkable type or emblem of it, well known to the Jews:-'As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.' Here Christ foretels his death upon the cross, and the benefit believers would derive from it. As the wounded Jew was healed by looking at the brazen serpent; so the perishing sinner is saved by looking at Christ crucified; and, that the sinner may not fear rejec