Acts 9* The conversion of Saul. (1-9) Saul converted preaches Christ.(10-22) Saul is persecuted at Damascus, and goes to Jerusalem.(23-31) Cure of Eneas. (32-35) Dorcas raised to life. (36-43)1-9 So ill informed was Saul, that he thought he ought to doall he could against the name of Christ, and that he did Godservice thereby; he seemed to breathe in this as in his element.Let us not despair of renewing grace for the conversion of thegreatest sinners, nor let such despair of the pardoning mercy ofGod for the greatest sin. It is a signal token of Divine favour,if God, by the inward working of his grace, or the outwardevents of his providence, stops us from prosecuting or executingsinful purposes. Saul saw that Just One, ch. #22:14; 26:13|. Hownear to us is the unseen world! It is but for God to draw asidethe veil, and objects are presented to the view, compared withwhich, whatever is most admired on earth is mean andcontemptible. Saul submitted without reserve, desirous to knowwhat the Lord Jesus would have him to do. Christ's discoveriesof himself to poor souls are humbling; they lay them very low,in mean thoughts of themselves. For three days Saul took nofood, and it pleased God to leave him for that time withoutrelief. His sins were now set in order before him; he was in thedark concerning his own spiritual state, and wounded in spiritfor sin. When a sinner is brought to a proper sense of his ownstate and conduct, he will cast himself wholly on the mercy ofthe Saviour, asking what he would have him to do. God willdirect the humbled sinner, and though he does not often bringtransgressors to joy and peace in believing, without sorrows anddistress of conscience, under which the soul is deeply engagedas to eternal things, yet happy are those who sow in tears, forthey shall reap in joy. 10-22 A good work was begun in Saul, when he was brought toChrist's feet with those words, Lord, what wilt thou have me todo? And never did Christ leave any who were brought to that.Behold, the proud Pharisee, the unmerciful oppressor, the daringblasphemer, prayeth! And thus it is even now, and with the proudinfidel, or the abandoned sinner. What happy tidings are theseto all who understand the nature and power of prayer, of suchprayer as the humbled sinner presents for the blessings of freesalvation! Now he began to pray after another manner than he haddone; before, he said his prayers, now, he prayed them.Regenerating grace sets people on praying; you may as well finda living man without breath, as a living Christian withoutprayer. Yet even eminent disciples, like Ananias, sometimesstagger at the commands of the Lord. But it is the Lord's gloryto surpass our scanty expectations, and show that those arevessels of his mercy whom we are apt to consider as objects ofhis vengeance. The teaching of the Holy Spirit takes away thescales of ignorance and pride from the understanding; then thesinner becomes a new creature, and endeavours to recommend theanointed Saviour, the Son of God, to his former companions. 23-31 When we enter into the way of God, we must look fortrials; but the Lord knows how to deliver the godly, and will,with the temptation, also make a way to escape. Though Saul'sconversion was and is a proof of the truth of Christianity, yetit could not, of itself, convert one soul at enmity with thetruth; for nothing can produce true faith, but that power whichnew-creates the heart. Believers are apt to be too suspicious ofthose against whom they have prejudices. The world is full ofdeceit, and it is necessary to be cautious, but we must exercisecharity, #1Co 13:5|. The Lord will clear up the characters oftrue believers; and he will bring them to his people, and oftengives them opportunities of bearing testimony to his truth,before those who once witnessed their hatred to it. Christ nowappeared to Saul, and ordered him to go quickly out ofJerusalem, for he must be sent to the Gentiles: see ch. #22:21|.Christ's witnesses cannot be slain till they have finished theirtestimony. The persecutions were stayed. The professors of thegospel walked uprightly, and enjoyed much comfort from the HolyGhost, in the hope and peace of the gospel, and others were wonover to them. They lived upon the comfort of the Holy Ghost, notonly in the days of trouble and affliction, but in days of restand prosperity. Those are most likely to walk cheerfully, whowalk circumspectly. 32-35 Christians are saints, or holy people; not only theeminent ones, as Saint Peter and Saint Paul, but every sincereprofessor of the faith of Christ. Christ chose patients whosediseases were incurable in the course of nature, to show howdesperate was the case of fallen mankind. When we were whollywithout strength, as this poor man, he sent his word to heal us.Peter does not pretend to heal by any power of his own, butdirects Eneas to look up to Christ for help. Let none say, thatbecause it is Christ, who, by the power of his grace, works allour works in us, therefore we have no work, no duty to do; forthough Jesus Christ makes thee whole, yet thou must arise, anduse the power he gives thee. 36-43 Many are full of good words, who are empty and barren ingood works; but Tabitha was a great doer, no great talker.Christians who have not property to give in charity, may yet beable to do acts of charity, working with their hands, or walkingwith their feet, for the good of others. Those are certainlybest praised whose own works praise them, whether the words ofothers do so or not. But such are ungrateful indeed, who havekindness shown them, and will not acknowledge it, by showing thekindness that is done them. While we live upon the fulness ofChrist for our whole salvation, we should desire to be full ofgood works, for the honour of his name, and for the benefit ofhis saints. Such characters as Dorcas are useful where theydwell, as showing the excellency of the word of truth by theirlives. How mean then the cares of the numerous females who seekno distinction but outward decoration, and who waste their livesin the trifling pursuits of dress and vanity! Power went alongwith the word, and Dorcas came to life. Thus in the raising ofdead souls to spiritual life, the first sign of life is theopening of the eyes of the mind. Here we see that the Lord canmake up every loss; that he overrules every event for the goodof those who trust in him, and for the glory of his name.
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