Essex Congregational Remembrancer
Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,…
I. HIS CHARACTER BEFORE HIS CONVERSION.
1. He was a moral man (Philippians 3:6). Yet he needed conversion. The necessity of conversion arises from the depravity of human nature, and not from a greater or less degree of immorality.
2. He was a Pharisee. He was zealous for his religion, made long prayers, and did many deeds of charity. And have you any better religion?
3. He was a hater of Christ, notwithstanding his morals and his zeal. So still men will attach such undue merit to their own actions, that salvation through Christ alone becomes offensive.
4. He was a persecutor of the people of God. As from love to Christ springs love to His people, so from hatred to Christ springs the spirit of persecution to His people. The spirit of Saul is inherent in the human mind (Galatians 4:29). Can you despise and revile the devout spirit of the true believer?
II. THE EVIDENCES OF THE TRUTH OF HIS CONVERSION.
1. Penitence. He fasted three days. What a change from the haughty Pharisee! If God the Spirit has changed our hearts, we shall have a deep sense of sin. We shall "look on Him whom we have pierced and mourn."
2. Prayer. The prayer which evidences conversion is humble, sincere, fervent, and offered only in the name of Christ.
3. Humility. From this time the man who had previously said "I thank God that I am not as other men," felt himself to be the chief of stoners, and less than the least of all saints.
4. Faith. Ananias was sent to baptize him — to initiate him into the Christian faith.
5. Love. We have seen his enmity to Christ and His people. Now they form the objects of his warmest affections. With regard to Christ, he could sincerely say, "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord," etc. With regard to the people of God, "I endure all things for the elects' sake."
6. Obedience. "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?"
III. THE WAYS OF GOD MANIFESTED IN HIS CONVERSION.
1. Sovereignty. Was there ever a more unlikely subject? God accounts for his conversion on this principle. "He is a chosen vessel unto Me" (Acts 9:15).
2. Power. What but the power of an almighty arm could have wrought so wonderful a change?
3. Mercy (1 Timothy 1:12-17). And who shall despair of mercy when Saul of Tarsus obtained it?
4. Wisdom. How were the designs of the devil and the malice of men here defeated? Not by destroying the enemy, but by converting him.
1. Let the true convert strive to gain more adoring thoughts of God's ways towards him, and aim to become more holy and live more to the glory of God.
2. Let the unconverted guard against mistaken notions of conversion, and seek the influences of the Spirit, to create within them a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within them.
3. Let the careless and the obstinate be sure that their damnation will be just, if they live and die in the neglect of a God so gracious, and a salvation so great.
4. Let the sceptic consider the unreasonableness of his objections to the gospel.
(Essex Congregational Remembrancer.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,