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deeply affected was he with a fenfe of his blafphemy, perfecution, and injurious treatment of the members of Chrift; and fo earneft was he in making fupplication to Jefus for mercy. Then the Lord Jefus, hearing his cries, called Ananias, and faid unto him," Arife, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas, for one Saul of Tarfus: for bebold, he prayeth."

Ananias, knowing the character of the perfecutor, and his intention in coming from Jerufalem to Damafcus, was at first afraid to go near him. But when the Lord had affured him, that he was as chofen veffel to bear his name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Ifrael, he went and opened his eyes, filled him with the Holy Ghoft, and baptized him. Then Saul increafed the more in ftrength, and confounded the Jews, inftead of the difciples, who dwelt at Damafcus; proving, not that Jefus was an impoftor, but the very Chrift. In this caufe he lived; in this caufe he facrificed his life; and is now with his Lord in glory.

The history of Saul's converfion, thus briefly opened, affords thefe following obfervations: which, I pray God, may be profitable to the converfion of the ignorant and impenitent; and to the eftablishment of them who have believed through grace.

I. The converting grace of God comes to a finner unfought.

From the reafon given by Chrift to Ananias when he fent him to Saul; "Behold he prayeth :" and from the practice of the difciples in Damafcus, who called upon the name of Chrift in prayer, ver. 14; it appears not only that Chrift is, in his own person, the object of prayer, but that Saul called upon him. "Arife, and be baptized," faid Ananias," and wash away thy fins, calling on the name of the Lord:" who is the fame Lord on whom the dif ciples believed, Acts xxii. 16. 19. How amazing the change, from blafphemy to divine worship!'


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All, who impartially examine this hiftory, muft allow, that it was thus with Saul: And the general tenor of the divine word fhews, that the converfion of others is, as was that of Saul, unfought. His heart was enmity againft Chrift; his mouth breathed out threatenings and flaughter against his disciples; his power was great; and his purpófe fixed. Had one of his attendants in the. way told him what would be the event of the jour ney; that he would become a difciple of Jefus of Nazareth, and preach the faith which he came to deftroy; it is certain that he would have been treated as the most romantic vifionary: and, probably, fent back to Jerufalem, as unfit for the prefent expedition. But while in his blood +, having nothing in him but enmity and rebellion; the great Redeemer came to claim him as his own, and re-. duce him to obedience. There were no preparations for grace, but every thing the reverfe. This Jefus faw, when he cried out, "Saul, Saul, why perfecuteft thou me ?”


The language of fcripture is, "I was found of them that fought me not, I was made manifest unto them that afked not after me." As a fhepherd, he goes into the wilderness after the fheep that is loft, until he find it; and when he has found it (not it has found him, but he has found it) he layeth it on his fhoulders, rejoicing; and carries it home. The woman, when the piece of filver was loft, lighted the candle, and fought diligently until he found it. This humbling, animating truth, might be established from a great variety of paffages in the word of God: but one example fhall fuffice,

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* It is confeffed, that the light and voice from heaven, the blindness, and feveral other outward circumstances, were miraculous, and are not to be expected: But the grace, as converting, was what all converted finners exp:rience.

+ Ezek. xvi. 6.


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which will at once prove and illuftrate, that the converting grace of God comes to a finner unfought.

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On the day of pentecoft, when the difciples were affembled in Jerufalem, the Holy Ghoft fell on them, and enabled them to fpeak with: tongues. This miracle excited the curiofity of the people. But the Jews, inftead of acknowledging the finger of God in the amazing event, imputed it to the influence of wine. They had already crucified the Lord of glory, as an impoftor; and were now determined to admit no evidence in proof that he was the Chrift of God. Upon this, Peter proves from the Old-Teftament, thatra fuffering and rifing Meffiah was promifed-that God had raised Jefus from the dead, of which tranfaction they were witneffes- then he charges the guilt of this most dreadful crime upon those who stood before him to mock him, faying, Let all the house of Ifrael know affuredly, that God hath made that fame Jefus whom ye; yes, whom YE have crucified, both Lord and Chrift. They were not affembled before God to confefs the greatness of their guilt in murdering the Prince of peace. Had this been the cafe, their converfion might be imputed, in part at leaft, to their humiliation and reformation. But they were affembled to justify the most aggravated fin, and carry forward the ungodly caufe. When (wonderful, fovereign, boundless grace!) the Lord made the words of Peter effectual to their converfion and falvation. They were paffive in the matter; the fubjects were wrought upon; and the words of God, by: the mouth of Peter, like an hammer brake, and like a fpear pierced their inmoft fouls. Thus alarmed, they were made willing in the day of God's power; and thus pricked in their heart, their cry was, "Men and brethren, what fhall we do?" Acts ii. 37. And

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And now, my fellow-finners, what think you, what do you know of this converting grace of God? It is to be feared that many of you are ftrangers to it. The The power of inbred corruption, excited by outward temptations and opportuni ties, you have felt; and now you feel, in this gloomy prifon, what it has done for you. But, if you are unconverted, you are under chains of darknefs; condemned, for your fins against God, by that law, which is holy, and juft, and good; and the day of vengeance is hafting on apace. Yet defpair not; for as the converting grace of God comes unfought, it may come to you: efpecially when we obferve,

II. That it comes thus to the chief of finners.

Saul was the principal in the perfecution, and, by his own confeffion, the chief of finners. While others were fatisfied with perfecuting and destroying the difciples of Jefus, who dwelt near them, he made havock of them far and near; being exceedingly mad against them, he purfued them to ftrange cities. He not only blafphemed the name of Jefus himself, but compelled fome of the dif ciples to do the fame. He obtained, against them, letters from the high-prieft at Jerufalem, to the fynagogue at Damafcus. And, having perfuaded, or hired a mob to attend him, he haftens to bring them bound to Jerufalem. Yet grace, converting grace, pluckt him as a brand from the fire! Well might he fay, as afterwards he very willingly did, "I was a blafphemer, and a perfe cutor, and injurious. But I obtained mercy, that in me first Jefus Chrift might fhew forth all longfuffering for a pattern to them which fhould hereafter believe on him to life everlasting."

The converfion of Zaccheus, recorded Luke xix. 1-10, fets forth this truth in a very striking manHis profeffion, as a tax-gatherer, had ex





poled him to the temptation of rapine and cruelty. In the execution of this office he had amaffed wealth: but, like too many in our day, with the lofs of reputation, and the curfe of the poor, whom he had oppreffed. His name, as a covetous, unjuft, and unfeeling publican, was known thro the whole town of Jericho: for when Jefus was going to his houfe, they all murmured, faying, that he was gone to be a gueft with a man that is a finner. Had Zaccheus been only on a level in fin with his neighbours, there would have been no ground for the murmurings of the people. But, as he was infamous in the eyes of them who were ungodly themselves, they thought it inconfiftent with the character of Jefus, as an honeft and holy man, to have any communications with him. But the Redeemer, fuch is his grace and power! called him out of the tree, into which curiofity had led him; and, in the face of the murmuring multitude, declared that falvation was his Thus it appears that the converting grace of God our Savior comes freely to the chief of finners.



This truth will further appear, if we confider what St. Paul has recorded of the Corinthians before the gospel came among them. See 1 Cor. vi. 9-11. "Be not deceived, fays he; neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abufers of themfelves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners."-Now fuppofe, Sirs, that I were to go through this prifon, and write down a catalogue of the crimes for which the malefactors are confined. Or, fuppofe that you were to go through the world; and, having come to that place which you found moft given up to their own heart's lufts, had a mind to fend an account of its wickednefs to your friends at home: I fay, fuppofing these cafes; could words

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