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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae
Acts 9

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 3-6

DISCOURSE: 1762

CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL

Acts 9:3-6. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou hare me to do?

IT has pleased God to give us every evidence of the truth of our religion, that the most scrupulous mind could desire. The proofs arising from prophecies and miracles, are such as to carry irresistible conviction to every candid inquirer. But suppose a sceptical person to wish for further proof, and to say, ‘Let me see a man, who, being fully competent to judge of the question, and decidedly hostile to Christianity in his heart, is yet convinced at last of its truth: let me see him, while yet all the opportunities of detecting imposture are open to him, embracing Christianity himself, and propagating it with all his might, and braving death in its most tremendous forms in support of it: then I shall be indeed convinced that it is of Divine original:’ I say, suppose a person unreasonable enough to desire such a proof, and determining, like Thomas, not to believe, till this evidence has been afforded him; we would meet him on his own ground, and produce him precisely such an instance as he requires. In the conversion of the Apostle Paul all these things unite: and, from the frequency with which that event is related in the Scriptures, it seems to have been intended by God as a strong confirmation of the truth of our religion. In the passage before us, it is stated by the historian: but, in two other places, it is related by St. Paul himself; who adduces the circumstances that attended it as an unquestionable proof of his own Divine mission, and of the truth of that Gospel which he preached.

In considering St. Paul’s conversion, we shall notice it in different points of view;

I. As a record for our instruction—

To enumerate the particular truths illustrated and confirmed by this event, would be endless: we shall therefore wave all mention of them, and confine our attention to the two leading features contained in the history; and observe,

1. How blindly man acts in the discharge of his duty—

[If ever there was a man that possessed advantages for the knowledge of his duty, it was Saul of Tarsus. He was educated under Gamaliel, the most eminent teacher of his day, and made a proficiency in learning beyond most of his contemporaries; and he was eminently distinguished for those moral habits, which peculiarly qualify the mind for the reception of truth. Yet behold, this man conceived himself to be rendering acceptable service to his God, while persecuting his Church with the most unrelenting barbarity. Methinks, even reason itself should have taught him, that men ought not to be so treated, merely for entertaining novel sentiments, and for following the convictions of their minds. If indeed they were violating the public peace, and destroying the welfare of the state, the ringleaders of them might well be apprehended and tried: but to seize all whom he could lay his hands upon, and to drag women as well as men to prison and to death, for no other crime than that of peaceably professing a new religion, was as contrary to humanity as to common sense.

Happy would it be if this erroneous mode of serving God had been confined to that age! but there are still many, who “have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge;” many, who can see the wicked going on in their wickedness, and never once stretch forth their hand to turn them back; but the moment they see persons embracing and obeying the Gospel of Christ, are filled with alarm, and think any methods proper to be used for stopping their progress. Our Lord himself told us beforehand, that it would be so, and that men would even “think they did God service in killing his devoted followers.” Were these malignant dispositions found only among the ungodly and profane, we should not so much wonder at them: but they are found equally among the wise, the moral, and the conscientious. And this shews us, that when we see such persons opposing the Gospel, we ought to pity them, and to pray for them, and to give them credit for meaning well, even whilst they are fighting against God with all their might. And it may teach us at the same time, that we also are fallible, and that we may be deceiving our own souls, even whilst we are most confident that we are acting right. “There is a way, says Solomon, that seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof are the ways of death.”]

2. How sovereignly God acts in the exercise of his grace—

[Madly as Saul was persecuting the Church our blessed Saviour stopped him in his career, discovered to him his error, and made him a chosen vessel to propagate the faith which he had so laboured to destroy. Of those that were in company with him, not one, as far as we know, was made a partaker of the same mercy. They saw the light indeed, and heard the voice; but they understood not the things that were spoken [Note: Compare ver. 7. with 22:9.], nor did they experience the same effects from the vision. And why was Saul so distinguished from the rest? What was there in that ferocious persecutor to merit such a favour? In vain shall we look for any other cause, but that which St. Paul himself assigns; “God separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace [Note: Galatians 1:15.]:”—“By the grace of God I am what I am.”

Now this doctrine is offensive to many: they claim a right to dispose of their own things as they will, and yet deny the same right to God. But his grace is his own, and he will dispense it to whomsoever he will; “nor will he give account to us of any of his matters:” “He will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and will have compassion on whom he will have compassion.” How strongly does St. Paul state this, in the Epistle to the Romans! “A potter hath power over the clay, to make, of the same lump, vessels of honour, and vessels unto dishonour:” and such is the right which God claims. If in the pride of our hearts we reply, ‘Why then doth God find fault? for who hath resisted his will?’ the Apostle thus indignantly reproves our presumption; “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say unto him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” Let us acknowledge what in the case before us is perfectly undeniable, that God “saves us, and calls us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began:” and, if we will look for a reason, let this suffice us, “Even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in thy sight.”]

Another view in which we should contemplate the conversion of St. Paul, is peculiarly important; namely,

II. As a model for our imitation—

Conversion is as necessary for us as ever it was for him; for though we are Christians already in name, we are not living members of Christ’s mystical body, till we have been born again of the Spirit of God [Note: Compare John 3:3. with Romans 2:28-29.]. But here let it be distinctly noticed, that we must separate from St. Paul’s conversion every thing that was miraculous, or that was peculiar to him: we are not to expect visions, or voices, or miraculous interpositions of any kind: but that which constituted the essential part of his conversion we must expect, and must experience too, if ever we would be numbered with the saints of God. We must have, like Paul,

1. An enlightened mind—

[For three days and nights he continued blind; and at the expiration of that time, “there fell, as it were, scales from his eyes [Note: ver. 9, 18.].” This was doubtless intended as an emblematical representation to him of the blindness of his state by nature, and of the light into which he was now to be brought. Notwithstanding his great learning in the Scriptures, yet was he blind to the mysterious truths contained in them. Thus we in like manner are blind to the spiritual import of the Scriptures, till God the Holy Spirit is pleased to “open the eyes of our understanding.” “The natural man, whatever advantages he may enjoy, receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Not that a converted person must of necessity become acquainted with new truths; but he will know them in a perfectly different manner. He may have had the whole system of religion treasured up in his mind before; but now he contemplates the Gospel, as a shipwrecked mariner regards a vessel by which he has been rescued from a watery grave: he sees, that there is in it the exact provision which his necessities required, and a merciful pledge of his safe conveyance to the “desired haven.”]

2. A convinced conscience—

[St. Paul before his conversion thought he was certainly in a state of acceptance with God: but when he began to view his past life in the glass of God’s law, he saw himself a dead, and condemned sinner: “I was alive without the law once,” says he; “but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” As to that zeal which he had exercised in persecuting the Church, he saw that it was impious in the highest degree; and, in reference to it, he called himself “a blasphemer, and injurious, and a persecutor,” yea, even “the very chief of sinners.” Thus must we also be humbled under a sense of our lost condition. What though we have not committed precisely the same sins as he, “we all have offended in many things,” and are therefore deserving of God’s everlasting wrath and indignation: and the very first effect of Divine illumination will be, to make us “smite on our breast, and cry, God be merciful to me a sinner!”]

3. A renewed will—

[Hitherto this furious bigot had been following his own will, and the will of the chief priests who sent him: but now he cries, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” Behold, how entirely he commits himself to the guidance of that Jesus, whom now he saw to be the Saviour of the world! He professes himself ready to comply with any direction that shall be given him; and determines henceforth to have no other rule of conduct than his Saviour’s will. Here is the crown and summit of true conversion: we may have enlightened minds, and yet retain an unsanctified heart: we may have somewhat of a wounded spirit, and yet hold fast our iniquities: but if our will be changed, then it is certain that we have received the grace of God in truth. This therefore we must seek after: we must say to our blessed Lord, “Other lords beside thee have had dominion over me, but henceforth I will regard none but thee:” ‘I will search out thy will, as it is revealed unto men; I will take it in all things as a light unto my feet; and I will labour, through grace, to have even the thoughts of my heart brought into an unreserved obedience to it.’]

Whilst we regard this work of divine grace as a model for our imitation, let us behold it,

III. As an example for our encouragement—

In this view it was particularly designed of God; as St. Paul himself informs us: “For this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first, Jesus Christ might shew forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them who shall hereafter believe on him to life everlasting [Note: 1 Timothy 1:16.].” Truly in the conversion of this bitter persecutor we see,

1. How far the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ can reach—

[We can scarcely conceive a state more desperate than that of Saul, when “breathing out threatenings and slaughter” against the saints of God: yet to him was mercy vouchsafed, and that too unsought, and unsolicited. Who then has any reason to despair? Who can say, My iniquities are too great to be forgiven? Let the weary and heavy-laden sinner, who is ready to say, “There is no hope,” take courage, and lift up his soul to God in fervent prayer: for the blood of Christ is as effectual to cleanse from sin, as ever it was; and its virtue shall extend as far as ever, even to the very chief of sinners. “Where sin has abounded, grace shall much more abound;” and “sins of a scarlet or a crimson dye” shall yet be washed away, so that the offender shall be made “white as snow.”]

2. What great things the grace of Christ can effect—

[This man, who, previous to his conversion, was the bitterest enemy both of God and man, was transformed into a most distinguished friend of both. Of all the Apostles, not one excelled him in piety, or equalled him in laborious exertions for the cause of Christ. His besetting sins were all subdued, and his virtues were brought to the highest perfection. This change in him was, as it were, instantaneous; so that in him was fully and at once, verified that description of sound conversion, “Old things passed away, and all things became new.” Who then shall hereafter think himself enslaved beyond a possibility of redemption? Is not that grace which wrought effectually in Paul, sufficient for us? Can any thing be too hard for the Lord? Let not any then despond, under an idea that his corruptions are too deep and inveterate ever to be eradicated: for that same Jesus is yet possessed of all power in heaven and in earth, and is still “able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him.”]

Application—

[Let me, in conclusion, remind you all, that by nature you are “alienated from God,” and “enemies to him in your minds by wicked works;” and more especially are you adverse to the humiliating doctrines of the Gospel. But Jesus now speaks to each of you by name, as he did to the Apostle Paul, “Why despisest thou me? Why turnest thou away from me?” On you he looks with the same compassion as he did on him, and warns you, that “it is in vain to kick against the pricks.” The greater part of sinners, it is true, are unconscious that they are fighting against the Lord Jesus Christ: in many things they do, they really think themselves acting inoffensively, or perhaps agreeably to the will of God: but a neglect of the Gospel, no less than direct opposition to it, is an act of hostility to the Lord Jesus Christ, and must finally issue in our destruction. Listen then to his still small voice, and accept his gracious invitations: and if those around you are regardless of his call, let your minds at least be humbled, if peradventure you may be distinguished by him as chosen vessels of his mercy, and happy monuments of his grace.]


Verse 11

DISCOURSE: 1763

SAUL’S PRAYER

Acts 9:11. Behold, he prayeth.

WHEN we speak of the grace of God as the free and only source of good to man, we are often misunderstood, as though we affirmed that man is wholly passive in the work of salvation: whereas, the truth is, that though, in the first instance, God puts into his heart the good desire, that desire immediately exerts itself in voluntary and earnest efforts for the attainment of the thing desired. This is discoverable in the conversion of Saul: in the first instance, God stopped him in his career of sin, and discovered to him his guilt and danger; but from that moment Saul gave himself to fasting and prayer, that by those means he might obtain yet further blessings from God: and God, as though he would shew us in the most striking manner the necessity of our own personal exertions, expressly pointed out to Ananias the reason of his communicating further blessings to Saul through his instrumentality; “Go, and inquire for one called Saul of Tarsus; for, behold, he prayeth.”

We will endeavour to point out,

I. What there was in that prayer which attracted the Divine notice—

We cannot doubt but that Saul, who was “touching the righteousness of the law blameless,” had often bowed his knees before God in prayer: but he had never prayed aright till now. In this prayer of his was,

1. Humility—

[He never could have prayed with true humility before, because he was unconscious of his lost estate. He was ignorant of the spirituality of the law, and, consequently, of his multiplied transgressions against it: he even thought himself “alive,” as having never given to God any just cause to condemn him. What then must his prayers have been, but, like those of the Pharisee, “I thank thee, O God, that I am not as other men are?” But contrition is the very essence of prayer: it is “the broken and contrite heart, which God will not despise.” To “smite upon our breasts,” as guilty self-condemning sinners, and to “cry for mercy,” like the poor Publican, is more acceptable to God than all the sacrifices and burnt-offerings that ever were offered.]

2. Earnestness—

[It is a sense of need that must make us earnest: and, as Saul was insensible of his danger, he could not till now plead with that importunity that became him. But now he was like the manslayer fleeing from the avenger of blood. Now, like his Lord and Saviour, he “made prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears [Note: Hebrews 5:7.]:” and, like the patriarch Jacob, he wrestled with God, saying, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me [Note: Hosea 12:4.].” Instantly therefore did God fulfil to him that promise which Jesus has left us for the encouragement of all his people [Note: Matthew 7:7-8.]—]

3. Faith—

[The prayers which Saul had offered in former times could not have had respect to a Saviour, because he had not felt his need of a Saviour. But now he saw that there was no hope of mercy, but through that very Jesus whom he had persecuted: now he thankfully embraced the salvation that Jesus offered him: he no longer “went about to establish a righteousness of his own, but gladly submitted to the righteousness of God” revealed in the Gospel. When he said, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” he cordially received Christ as “his wisdom, his righteousness, his sanctification, and redemption:” and no sooner did he thus desire to make Christ his all, than God expressed his acceptance of his prayers, “Behold he prayeth!” God would not suffer the prayer of faith to go forth in vain.]

We propose, in the next place, to shew,

II. What we may learn from the notice which God took of it—

This fact is very instructive: it shews us,

1. That God is observant of our frame and conduct—

[“The eye of God is in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” But more especially does he look upon the humble suppliant: he himself declares, “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my word [Note: Isaiah 66:2.].” Behold, when a holy purpose was formed in the heart of Ephraim, how attentive God was to it; “Ephraim saith, What have I to do any more with idols?” Surely, saith God, “I have heard him, and observed him [Note: Hosea 14:8.].” And when the same penitent laid his transgressions more deeply to heart, God quite exulted over him, if we may so speak: “Surely I have heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus” — — — And then, with a complacent regard to him, God appealed, as it were, to the whole universe: “Is not Ephraim my dear son? is he not a pleasant child [Note: Jeremiah 31:18-20.]?” — — —]

2. That mere formal services are not accounted prayer in God’s sight—

[All the petitions which Saul had offered in former times were a mere lip-service which God did not accept. “God is a Spirit; and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth:” the heart must accompany the lips, or else the worship is hypocritical and vain [Note: Matthew 15:8-9.]. This is strongly marked by the Prophet Jeremiah, who tells us that then, and then only, shall God be found, when we seek for him with our whole heart [Note: Jeremiah 29:13-14.].]

3. That humble and believing prayer shall never go forth in vain—

[God may see fit to suspend his answer for a time: even in the case before us, he did not answer till Saul had continued in prayer three whole days and nights. But “though he tarry, he will come at last:” he has assured us, in the parable of the Importunate Widow, that the prayer of faith shall never be in vain [Note: Luke 18:7.]: and in very many instances he fulfils to men that promise which he has given us by the Prophet Isaiah, “It shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear [Note: Isaiah 65:24.].”]

Address—

1. To those who never pray at all—

[Alas! how many are there of whom the All-seeing God must say, ‘Behold he rises from his bed without prayer: he goes through the day, and retires to rest again, without prayer: this is his constant habit: the sins he commits, excite in him no compunction: and the mercies he receives, call forth no gratitude: he lives without God in the world: ungrateful wretch that he is, he never calls upon my name: never once in all his life could I truly say of him, “Behold, he prayeth.” ’ Brethren, do you know that all this neglect is recorded in the book of God’s remembrance, and that it must be accounted for at last? Do not deceive yourselves with an idea that your formal heartless services are accepted of him; for, if he that wavereth in his mind through unbelieving fears shall receive nothing of the Lord, much less shall he receive any thing who never asks with any real desire to obtain the blessings he asks for [Note: James 1:6-7.].]

2. To those who do pray—

[It is a great mercy if our minds have been so far awakened to a sense of our guilt and danger, that we have been constrained to cry to God for deliverance. But we are ever prone to relapse into coldness and formality: indeed there is nothing more difficult than to keep up a spirit of prayer, and to live nigh to God, in a state of habitual fellowship with him. Any little thing, however trifling and insignificant, is sufficient to divert our attention from prayer, or to distract our minds in the performance of it. Hence we are so often exhorted to pray without ceasing, to watch unto prayer, to continue instant in it with all perseverance. Let us then guard against fainting or weariness in this holy duty. It will be of no benefit to us to have sought after God in former times, if we decline from him now: our former prayers will be of no service, if they be discontinued. As our former sinfulness shall not be remembered, when once we turn unto God in penitence and faith; so neither shall our past righteousness be remembered, if we depart from it.

It is possible that we may be hindered in this duty, by an apprehension that we shall not be heard: but we must guard against this temptation, by recollecting, that there is no guilt so great but the prayer of faith can remove it [Note: See the peculiar stress laid on prayer in reference to Manasseh; 2 Chronicles 33:12-13; 2 Chronicles 33:18-19.], nor any state so desperate from which it shall not prevail to deliver us [Note: Jonah 2:1-4.]. “God never did, nor ever will say to any, ‘Seek ye my face’ in vain.”]


Verse 39-40

DISCOURSE: 1764

DORCAS RESTORED TO LIFE

Acts 9:39-40. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made while she was with them. But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.

HOWEVER careful the ministers of Christ may be in stating the great doctrine of salvation by faith, their adversaries will represent them as enemies to good works. The denying to good works the office of justifying men before God, is thought to destroy every inducement to perform them. But if we look at the conduct of the first Christians, we shall see in that an ample refutation of this error. Dorcas, for instance, was “a Disciple,” looking for salvation through the merits of a crucified Redeemer: but was she therefore regardless of good works? Did she not rather abound in them? and was not this the foundation of that high esteem in which she has been held by the Church of God in all ages? That we may be stirred up to follow her example, let us consider the account here given of her:

I. Her character—

What was her condition in life we do not exactly know; but we suppose that she was in a middle state, between poverty and riches: but of the use that she made of her time and property, we are fully informed: she employed herself much in administering to the necessities of the poor, and particularly in making garments for them. In a word, her character was,

1. Most lovely in itself—

[The doing of good in any way is amiable; but her mode of doing it was peculiarly so; inasmuch as it argued a habit of consideration, compassion, diligence, and self-denial. The bestowing of money is a small act of love in comparison of hers: for though money will procure necessaries for the poor, yet her mode of disposing of it made it go farther, if we may so speak, than if it had been expended by the poor themselves; and at the same time, it kept alive in her heart a constant principle of love. By this practice of hers the poor were continually, as it were, before her eyes; she thought for them, acted for them, worked for them, and sought her own happiness in contributing to theirs. As her Lord and Master “went about doing good,” so she made it her daily business and occupation to diffuse blessings all around her: she not only “did good works,” but was full of them, and made the exercises of benevolence her habitual practice [Note: This is the real force of the words ὧν ἐποίει, ver. 36. Compare 1 John 3:9. in the Greek.].]

2. Most acceptable to God—

[Doubtless, if her actions had proceeded from an ostentatious or self-righteous principle, they could not have been pleasing to God; for “without faith it is impossible to please him:” but if they were the fruits of faith in Christ, they were most truly acceptable unto God. See how strongly this is declared in different parts of Holy Writ [Note: Hebrews 13:16. Philippians 4:18.] — — — In speaking on this subject, many religious persons feel a very undue degree of jealousy: they are afraid of declaring all that God says respecting the value of such works in his sight, lest they should appear to countenance a self-righteous spirit: but, if only we carefully exclude the idea of their being meritorious, or availing any thing for our justification before God, it is scarcely possible to state too strongly the delight which God takes in them, or the certainty of their being most richly recompensed in the eternal world [Note: 1 Timothy 6:17-19.]: every one of them is a loan “lent to the Lord [Note: Proverbs 19:17.];” and he would consider himself unjust, if he should forget so much as one of them in the great day of final retribution [Note: Hebrews 6:10.]: not even a cup of cold water given for his sake, shall pass unnoticed, or lose its reward [Note: Matthew 10:42.].]

Her piety however did not exempt her from the common lot of mortality. We are next called to contemplate,

II. Her death—

Like others, “she fell sick and died.” But though disease and death were permitted to cut her off even as the wicked, and thereby to shew that “all things come alike to all,” yet there was an immense difference between her and others in the regret experienced for the loss of her—

[A tear or two is all the tribute that is paid to the greater part of mankind, except by those who are their near relatives, or immediate dependents. But at the loss of her, all the Church at Joppa mourned; and the greatest solicitude was expressed to have her restored to them from the dead. They had heard of Peter healing by a word a man who had been confined to his bed for eight years [Note: ver. 33, 34.]: they deputed therefore two persons to wait upon him, (for he was only about six miles off,) to request his interposition with God in their behalf: and, when he came, they expressed their grief in the most affecting manner; shewed him at the same time the fruits of her industry and benevolence, that so they might interest his feelings, and engage his prayers for her restoration to life.

What a blessed testimony was this! how much better than the fulsome eulogies of panegyrists, or the funeral pomp of kings! yes, the tears of the godly, and the lamentations of the poor, are the noblest monuments that departed worth can have. O that we may all so live, as to be thus regretted by the Lord’s people, and to have our memory engraven in the hearts of all who knew us! And let us take care that the survivors may have substantial proofs of our piety to exhibit. We are not all able to do good in the same way, or to the same extent: but we may all have some “works to praise us in the gates [Note: Proverbs 31:31.],” and some fruits “to evince the sincerity of our faith” and love.]

The success of their application to Peter leads us to notice,

III. Her restoration to life—

Peter having been introduced into the chamber where the corpse lay, desired all to depart, that he might not be interrupted in his supplications to the Deity: and, when he had obtained his request, he presented her alive again to her friends.

What an unspeakable benefit was this to the world!

[Whilst her own immediate friends had the comfort of her society, and the poor enjoyed the benefit of her pious labours, the whole Church of God were edified with her bright example. It is astonishing what one person may do, by the mere influence of his own example; how many he may stimulate, how many he may encourage. We may well suppose, that, where her conduct was so highly admired, she was the means of promoting many acts of benevolence in others, who without such an example would either never have exerted themselves at all, or never to so great an extent. Even to the ungodly world her restoration to life was an unspeakable blessing; since many, by means of it, were stirred up to inquire into the truth of Christianity, and to believe in that Jesus whom they had before despised [Note: ver. 42.].]

Nor was it any other than a blessing to herself—

[We cannot suppose that there was left in her mind any remembrance of her felicity in her disembodied state, at least any such remembrance as should cause regret: we take for granted that she was restored to all her former habits of mind, with the same disposition to enjoy the society of her friends, and to abound in every good work. What a comfort then must it be to her to behold those who had so bitterly bewailed her loss! With what redoubled energy would she betake herself to her former labours of love; knowing now, from experience, how short her time might be either for the benefiting of the poor or the glorifying of her God! And these renewed labours would of necessity be recorded, like all her former works, and would follow her when she should rest from them, and augment her weight of glory to all eternity. Surely all this must be considered as a blessing to her soul. As Paul, though desirous to die and be with Christ, was yet content to live that he might serve and honour God in the work of the ministry; so might she be well content to live on earth again, seeing that her opportunities of benefiting the poor, and honouring God, and advancing her own eternal welfare, would be thus prolonged.]

Address—

1. Those who are living for themselves—

[This is the state of mankind at large; “all men seek their own, and not the things of Jesus Christ [Note: Philippians 2:21.]” — — — But this is highly criminal: our time, our talents, our very bodies and souls, are the Lord’s, and must be altogether employed for his glory [Note: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.] — — — All profession of religion unaccompanied with activity in good works, is vain [Note: James 2:13-17, Matthew 7:21.]. The very intent of the Gospel is to make us diligent in the performance of them [Note: Titus 3:8-9; Titus 3:14.]; nor can we ever answer the design of our Lord’s sufferings, if we do not live, not unto ourselves, but unto Him that died for us and rose again [Note: 2 Corinthians 5:15 and Romans 14:7-9.].”]

2. Those who profess to be living unto God—

[Study, like Dorcas, how you can be most useful to the poor: consider their wants, and how you may most effectually relieve them. In “bearing the burthens of others, you fulfil the law of Christ;” and, in truth, you best consult your own happiness. Who that reads the character of Job [Note: Job 29:11-13.], must not envy his happiness, as well as admire his piety? Verily there is a delight in acts of benevolence, which cannot be procured by any other means. Let all then who profess religion, shew forth their faith by their works. The poor may do their part, as well as the rich [Note: Ephesians 4:28.]; and shall “be accepted” according to their respective abilities [Note: 2 Corinthians 8:12.].]

 


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Acts 9:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/acts-9.html. 1832.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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