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PRIDE is the great opposer of regenerating grace, and would, if unsubdued, for ever close the heart against the entrance of the Spirit. By an act of sovereign love, the proud sinner is made sensible of his guilt and helplessness. The Spirit, through his convincing light, empties him of all overweening thoughts of his own righteousness and strength; while the Law, in which he trusted, affords him no shelter from the arm of Justice. By its spirituality and extent, reaching to the inmost motions of the will, the Law pronounces his condemnation; and extorting from him the anxious cry—what must I do to be saved-becomes a school-master to bring him unto Christ, that he may be justified by faith. Thus, through grace he renounces all dependance on his own works, and is resolved to be saved in God's way, or to perish at his feet.
Such were the feelings of Paul, now that he was baptized with the Holy Ghost, and made a
servant and an Apostle of Jesus Christ.-Self was crucified.-With heart-felt sorrow he confessed his guilt, bore the most open testimony to the former enmity of his heart, and magnified that grace which brought him out of darkness into marvellous light. O happy change! the fruit of everlasting love.
Many striking instances are recorded of his self-abasing acknowledgments.
When standing on the stairs of the castle at Jerusalem, he said to the infuriated multitude, who were ready to tear him in pieces for his boldness in preaching Christ, as the King and Redeemer of Israel: “I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, as also the high-priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders, from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring them which were there, bound to Jerusalem for to be punished.”
When pleading his cause before King Agripра, he declared with his usual sincerity: “I thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth, which things I also did in Jerusalem; and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them; and I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme, and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them, even unto strange cities."
To the Galatian converts, he told the same
humiliating history: “Ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure, I persecuted the Church of God, and wasted it."
In his Epistle to the Christians at Corinth, he thus abases himself: “I am the least of the Apostles, that am not meet to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.”
Enumerating to the believers at Philippi his Pharisaical merits, of which he was once so proud, he ranks as one of their number, “his zeal in persecuting the Church.”
To the Ephesians, in a strain of sweet humility, he thus extols the grace which was so richly manifested in his conversion :
was made minister, according to the gift of the grace of God, given unto me by the effectual working of
who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles, the unsearchable riches of Christ."
How beautiful is true humility ; it is the very image of Jesus. This heavenly grace gives such a sweetness to him who possesses it, that even the world attempts to imitate so lovely an attainment. The essential difference between Christian and counterfeit humility is soon discovered, by the patient endurance of the one, and the irascible nature of the other.
The haughty Saul, when he became a Christian, was humbled by every view of himself; but his humility was blended with gratitude, as is beautifully instanced in his Epistle to Timothy : “I
thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious; but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. Howbeit, for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first, Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”
After this exhibition of free unmerited mercy, no poor sinner need despair. To the heavy laden soul crying out for help, the converted Saul gives the cheering intelligence; “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."
How blessed is the assurance, that with the Lord there is mercy, that with him there is plenteous redemption. Delightful truth! He is good and ready to forgive, full of compassion and gracious, long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth. Happy then, is the man who hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God; for the Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy. What can exceed the richness of this divine promise, made to every humble believer in Jesus: “Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him, I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
He shall call upon me,
and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honour him ; with long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation."
As Paul, like a ravenous wolf, once devoured the sheep of Christ, so he himself, when made one of the Saviour's flock, became the object of bitter persecution. How true it is, that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. Even natural affection cannot restrain the violence of this deep-seated enmity against Christ and his people; for, “the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.”
With what faithfulness did Jesus forewarn his disciples, that through much tribulation they must enter the kingdom. But, did he leave them comfortless? Oh! how gracious are his parting words: “ These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation ; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
“ After that many days were fulfilled,” the sacred historian informs
6 the Jews at Damascus took counsel to kill Saul.” They watched the gates of the city day and night, so intent were they upon accomplishing their purpose. But their laying await being known of Saul, the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket, by which means he escaped out of their hands.
How secure is the believer in Jesus. As the