The Smiter Smitten
Acts 8:3
As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

Read and compare the following passages, the text and Acts 14:19; Acts 9:1 and Acts 23:12; Galatians 1:13 and 2 Corinthians 11:23; Acts 26:10 and Acts 16:23; Ezekiel 18:25 and Galatians 6:7. All these experiences were undergone by the same man — the persecutor was persecuted; he who breathed out threatenings and slaughter against the saints was himself pursued by the vengeance of furious men. Note, then —

I. THAT A MAN'S LIFE COMES BACK UPON HIM (Galatians 6:7). One feels in reading such experience that the sense of justice is satisfied. Had Saul after his conversion settled down into a state of Christian enjoyment there would have been a want of moral completeness. Paul himself would have been injured. He must reap what he had sown. Such is the severe but beneficent law which keeps all things equal. If any man could mingle bitter cups for others and never be compelled to drink them himself, he would soon become a devil. God shows him that his turn is coming. All history has shown this — e.g., Adonibezek, Agag, etc. The testimony of Holy Writ is consistent and emphatic. "He shall have judgment without mercy that showeth no mercy." See how literally and terribly this was fulfilled in the case of Paul. God forgot not one of his misdemeanours, and the most terrible of persecutors received the measure of his own fury.

II. THAT A MAN'S CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE MUST BE AFFECTED BY THE UNCHRISTIAN LIFE HE HAS LIVED. One would suppose that after conversion all the former life would be done away. But physically it is not so, and why should it be so spiritually? Look at the reasonableness of the doctrine. A man has lived a self-indulgent life, been careless of the rights of others, etc. After all this he is converted; is he then to complain of the trials of the Christian way as if some strange thing had happened to him? Is there not a cause? Old neglects have to be made up; old wrongs have to be avenged. Is not the way of the Lord equal? We complain of the arduousness of the Christian way, but was the devil's way easy? What about the cost and consequences of vicious luxuries? We were selfish, tyrannical, inconsiderate, and is it likely that all this can have passed away without leaving deep effects on our life? Across our very prayers there will be blown the bitter wind of the land we have lived in so long; and through our tenderest charities there may be breathed somewhat of the old selfishness which once enclosed us in its prison. Let us, in honesty, trace many of our trials to the life we have lived in the flesh rather than to any arbitrariness of Divine grace. Conclusion: In reviewing these statements in the light of history and revelation we see —

1. That the distribution of penalties is God's work and not man's. "Vengeance is Mine," etc.

2. That under all the apparent confusion of life there is a principle of justice.

3. That the greatest sufferings may be borne with patience and hopefulness. When did Paul complain of his lot? When did he say that he had suffered more than his share? From him let us learn how good a thing it is to suffer and be strong.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

WEB: But Saul ravaged the assembly, entering into every house, and dragged both men and women off to prison.

Intense Against Christ May Become Intense for Him
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