« הקודםהמשך »
Write thy precepts on our heart,
* The Author is indebted to the Rev. W. H. Baihurst, M. A., Rector of Barwick-in-Elmet, for several Original Hymns, extracted from his Collection of “Psalms and Hymns, for public and private use;" which are as spiritual in feeling, as they are beautiful in composition.
ON THE CONVERSION OF SAUL OF TARSUS.
OF all the records of divine grace, which are treasured up in the Holy Scriptures, none more strikingly exhibits its sovereignty and power, than the conversion of Saul of Tarsus.
To the believer in Jesus, it must be a source of edification and encouragement, to trace the experience of this chosen vessel, from his first reception of the Saviour, to the close of his eventful life.
When writing to the Christians at Corinth, he could say through the grace bestowed upon him : “ Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” May we have grace to resemble this holy man, in his spiritual-mindedness and devotedness to the Redeemer.
Here, is the faith and patience of the saints. As grace brings them out of darkness into light, so will grace conduct them to the realms of glory. Entering the celestial city with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads, they shall see the King in his beauty, and raise the head-stone of the spiritual temple with shoutings, crying: “grace,
grace unto it.”
While viewing the character of the Apostle in his unconverted state, we must be struck with that · more than Egyptian darkness which beclouded his mind.
He was of the straitest sect of the Pharisees, who in general were bigoted, cruel, and highminded. All religion and kindness were confined within the bounds of their own party; and the first principle which they taught their new converts was: That none but they were godly, and that all other
persons were worthless. They therefore endeavoured to inspire them with zeal and fierceness against all who differed from them ; so that if any one dared to speak favourably of Jesus of Nazareth, he was put out of the Synagogue, and persecuted even unto death.
For the appearance of greater sanctity, they not only fasted often, and made long prayers, but separated themselves from the herd of mankind; from whom they were distinguished by badges peculiar to their sect, as, long robes, broad phylacteries, large fringes, and borders of their garments. They were active and diligent in what cost them little; and so contrived the scheme of their religion, that what they did might be seen of men to the best advantage. They coveted, and obtained the praise of men.
Such was the character and religion of Saul the Pharisee.
Being brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, he was well acquainted with the writings of Moses and the Prophets; but he knew not the true spiritual meaning of those prophecies which relate to the character, work, sufferings, and glory of the Messiah. So true it is, that the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him : neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Is not this our condition till taught of God to know the misery of our fallen state? We never value the Saviour till we feel our need of him ; for they that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
What cause we have to bless God, if the Spirit has graciously opened our eyes to see our guilt, and made our hearts to feel a genuine sorrow for sin. Jesus will then be dear, yea infinitely precious to our souls. His name will be as ointment poured forth.
Saul was zealous for the Law, as a covenant of works, but he saw not the glory of Jesus, who is the end of the Law for righteousness to every one that believeth. Though scrupulously exact in Pharisaical observances, he could overcome his scruples, and unite with infidel Sadducees to suppress the religion of Jesus, just as Herod and Pilate overcame their mutual enmity when combining to effect his crucifixion.
In the fulness of time, the Sun of Righteousness arose to bless the earth with healing in his wings. By good old Simeon he was hailed as a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of his people Israel. But, “ the light shined in darkness and the darkness comprehended it not. The promised Deliverer came unto his own, and his own received him not. He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,
The kings of the earth took counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying: let us break their bonds asunder, and cast away their cords from us."
And in this our day, how many are fighting against Christ and his Gospel. Satan has his emissaries, who are busily employed in attacking Christianity by bold assertions and daring blasphemies: while others, under the garb of orthodoxy, are opposing the humble yet zealous preacher of the Truth, that real friend and builder up of the Church, as if he were nothing better than a troubler in Israel.
The Gospel of Peace is the innocent occasion of this fiery opposition, agreeably to our blessed Saviour's own declaration : "I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled ? Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you nay, but rather division. Think not that I am come to send earth, I came not to send peace, but a sword.”
The real cause of this warfare, lies hid in the enmity of the carnal heart, and in the influence which Satan exercises over the minds of them who believe not the Truth.
How frequently is this verified in worldly families, when any of their members have been brought to a deep concern for the salvation of the soul.
No sweetness of spirit, no humility of mind, no act of self-denial, no endeavour to oblige, can render the obnoxious individuals pleasing in the eyes of their carnal relatives. A frown, a sneer, or a laugh is frequently employed to intimidate or