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of sin:"* the law will discover our disease, but the knowledge of Christ is the discovery of the remedy. The law denounces its awful sentence: the discovery of Christ points out the method of deliverance and escape. The law at most is but a pedagogue, or "schoolmaster to bring us to Christ." All saving influence and solid consolation spring from him, and from him alone. "The law kills," as the ministration of condemnation; it is "Christ who makes alive."
The revelation of Christ is found in the Scriptures; but in conversion the Spirit removes "the veil on the heart," dispels prejudice, and affords that inward and divine light by which alone Christ is discerned to saving purposes. St. Paul speaks of Christ being revealed in him, in distinction from that external record of him which is contained in the word.
As there is an external call and an internal; the former universal, but often ineffectual; the latter personal, but always efficient; so there is an outward revelation of Christ and an internal, of which the understanding and the heart are the seat. Hence it is, with the utmost propriety, said to be a revelation "IN US." The minds of men, until they are renewed, resemble an apartment, shut up and enclosed with something which is not transparent; the light shines around with much splendour, but the apartment remains dark, in consequence of its entrance being obstructed.
*Rom. iii. 20.
Unbelief, inattention, love of the world and of sin, hardness of heart, form the obstructions in question. Let these be removed, and the discoveries of the word penetrate and diffuse a light and conviction through the soul: "The light shined in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not." Thus it was with St. Paul before his conversion: his prejudices against the gospel were inveterate; his animosity violent and active; but no sooner was Christ renewed in him, than all was changed. The Spirit of God reveals the following things in Christ :
1. His greatness and dignity. Men in their unrenewed state have very low and contemptible thoughts of Christ. Whatever complimentary epithets they may bestow upon him, they have in their hearts no [elevated] conception of him, but just the contrary: he is to them "a root out of a dry ground." St. Paul had the most mean thoughts of Christ previous to his conversion; but, after that, these mistaken views were entirely corrected. The majesty and power of Christ were exhibited to him with such effect, that he fell at his feet, exclaiming, "What wilt thou have me to do?" He was, from that moment, fully convinced that Jesus Christ had "all power in heaven and in earth," that he was seated at the right hand of God, and that he was in all respects that great and glorious person which the Scriptures represent him to be. His views were extended and † Acts ix. 6.
* John i. 5.
enlarged; an interest in him appeared supremely valuable, his approbation supremely desirable. The knowledge of him appeared to be the most excellent knowledge.
2. The Spirit reveals his transcendent beauty and glory. The Scriptures speak much of the transcendent excellency of Christ, the perception of which has laid a foundation for that ardent attachment which the faithful have borne to him in every age. There is a surpassing beauty in the Saviour, which needs but to be perceived in order to eclipse every [other] object, and make it appear insipid and contemptible in the comparison. This beauty is visible in every part of the Saviour's character. In whatever light he is viewed, he is "fairer than the sons of men." "Grace is poured into his lips." "All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, wherein they have made thee glad."* "Because of the savour of thy good ointments; thy name is as ointment poured forth; therefore do the virgins love thee."
It is of him that Isaiah speaks, when he foretells the high esteem in which he should be held in a future age: "In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely to them that are escaped of Israel."+
3. The Spirit reveals the suitableness, fulness, and sufficiency of the Saviour, to supply all our + Isa. iv. 2.
*Ps. xlv. 8.
wants and relieve all our miseries. The fitness of his office to our situation, and his complete competence to discharge these offices; the richness and perfection of that provision which there is in Christ is a principal part of what the Spirit reveals in conversion. In consequence, the soul is imboldened to venture upon him, and, extinguishing all other hope and confidence, to rely upon him alone. This is that reception of Christ which, whosoever gives, is entitled to the privilege of becoming the child of God.
III. We proceed to remark the effect of St. Paul's conversion. Immediately, "I conferred not with flesh and blood." He was not "disobedient to the heavenly vision." He set himself, without hesitation or demur, to discharge the duties of his heavenly vocation.
1. His compliance with the will of Christ was instant, immediate, not like the eldest son in the parable, whom the father commanded to work in his vineyard.*
2. It was universal and impartial. He did not make choice and selection of the more easy duties and less costly sacrifices, but engaged in the service thoroughly and conscientiously. He spent his life in a series of most laborious, painful, and self-denying services, not living to himself. He spent his life in publishing the name of the Saviour who had been revealed in him.
3. His compliance was constant and persevering. *Matt. xxi. 28, 29.
ON THE CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL.
ACTS xxvi. 9-18.-I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing 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. Whereupon, as I went to Damascus, with authority and commission from the chief priests, at mid-day, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them that journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that
is in me.
THE Conversion of St. Paul is one of the most extraordinary facts recorded in the sacred Scriptures; and, whether we consider it as affording a demonstration of the truth of christianity, or as illustrating the power of divine grace, it is deserving of most deep meditation.