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preach, were rather attentive: but of Lydia it is particularly related, that the Lord opened her heart, so that she attended to the things spoken of Paul.” She was a stranger in that place, and had come to trade in an article of finery. She was a seller of purple. Many persons, in her case, would have said, “I must mind my business first: when I get home, and am comfortably settled, with money enough, then I may attend to religion.” But Lydia lost no time in welcoming the tidings of Salvation : and the reason of this is given, “ The Lord opened her heart."
It is grievous to think, that there are some who enjoy many religious opportunities, but throw them away altogether. They hear the Gospel with ears open,
but with hearts shut. Was it not so, when Christ preached ? Did not the Pharisees hear him? --and yet, the more they heard, so much the more their ears grew heavy, and their heart waxed fat. So likewise the rich young man, mentioned in the Gospel, was favoured by Christ with a discourse particularly addressed to himself; but the discourse was so plain, and cut so deep at his favourite sin, love of his wealth, that he went away, and would hear no more of Christ. And in this very city of Philippi, the preaching of the Apostle was bitterly
hated by many
O let me ask, Is there some favourite sin which you will not part with, and which makes the words of Christ unwelcome to you? Is there something in your heart, which hinders you from private prayer? Never will you be truly blessed, till the door of your heart is opened by the Lord. Never think yourself happy, till sin is pardoned; till the love of sin is cast out; and the Spirit of Christ enters, to dwell within you.
It is very delightful, however, to see persons attentive to the word spoken. So, Lydia gave heed to what St. Paul said: she drank it in. This is always a good sign: we cannot help hoping that something good will come of it, when hearers listen with fixed attention. They are in the right way to profit.
As soon as Lydia had received Christ into her heart, she desired to honour his name, by making a public profession of her faith. She was baptized, in the name of the Lord Jesus. She earnestly desired to have the Apostle and other pious persons visiting in her house. And when Paul and Silas had been cruelly beaten, still we read, at the end of this chapter, that she was not ashamed to receive them. If we love Christ, and his servants, we shall make no secret of it: we shall gladly bear the cross with them. When the heart is opened by the Lord, our mouth will also be opened in praising the Saviour, and entreating others to come to him.
Let me now ask of you a few plain questions. First, Do you put yourself into the way of having your heart opened? Do you go where Christ is preached? Have you listened to the word of God, and have you tried to pray?— Another question I would ask, is this: Do you find that your heart really does begin to open ?- If so, continue praying, that it may open more and more. Let not sin harden it. Especially, do not keep away from Christ, through unbelief. But rather, let the thoughts of your ignorance and sinfulness draw you nearer to Jesus, that you may receive from Him pardon, peace, and holiness.
Lord, open thou our eyes, that we may behold wondrous things out of thy Law; and effectually work in our hearts, that we may profitably learn thy holy word. Blessed be thy name, for the gift of the Holy Scriptures, for every faithful Minister and Teacher of the same, and for every opportunity of prayer that we enjoy. Show thyself present to us, whenever we draw nigh unto thee. Give to us more grace, and work in us the work of faith with power.
Dispose us, O Heavenly Father, fervently to love thy servants who labour in the Gospel. Give us grace boldly to confess Christ; and to share in the sufferings and reproach of thy people.
O let thy blessed Gospel be preached everywhere in this land, and throughout the whole earth! Wheresoever thy ministering servants may labour, constrain multitudes to welcome the glad tidings of pardon, peace, and holiness, through Jesus Christ; for whom we thank thee; and to whom, with thyself, O Father, and the Holy Spirit, be all honour, and glory, world without end.
THE JAILOR'S CONVERSION.
Acts xvi. 23–34. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely :
Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.
And at midnight, Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God : and the prisoners heard them.
And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken : and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.
And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled,
But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.
Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved ?
And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.
And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes ; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.
And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. How happy are the servants of Christ ! sorrowful, yet always rejoicing! To them there ariseth light in the darkness. Paul and Silas pray and sing as cheerfully in the prison, as if it were the House of God, and the gate of heaven. They forget the smart of their stripes, and their heavy chains, while
they call on the sweet name of Jesus, for whom they were suffering.
The ungodly are not so. The hard-hearted jailor goes to sleep, while the prisoners listen to the singing and prayers of Paul and Silas. But he sleeps miserably; and awakes frightfully, in the midst of an earthquake. He no sooner sees the prison doors all open, than he is ready to throw himself, by self-murder, into the arms of the devil.
O sinners ! think how near you are to death how near to hell! The sinner is always destroying his soul; and may be tempted to destroy his body. When he lies down at night, he sleeps at the edge of the pit of hell. O think ! have you fled from this wrath?
But the voice of mercy is heard—“Do thyself no harm.” Stop in the midst of thy sins. Turn round, to see the hand of Mercy. Let Mercy save you. Jesus is able to save to the uttermost.
And now, see what a different man the jailor became, as soon as hope sprang up! He immediately makes his way to Paul and Silas, those messengers of hope. He falls down before them, trembling. This arose partly from his fright; but much more from having his conscience wakened, by the feeling of his sins. And now he asks the most solemn question that can possibly be thought of. This is the question, for you, and for me, and for all sin
Every man born into the world should be as eager and anxious as the jailor was, in asking, “ What must I do to be saved ?"