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poor, penitent, broken-hearted jailor? “ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved ;" this word was attended with the power of God: and the man found redemption in the blood of Christ. But the same Apostle, when writing to the children of God, changes his voice, and endeavours to establish their minds in the truth, to comfort them under their various trials, and to build them up in their most holy faith.
The Apostle St. Peter pursued the same line of conduct with St. Paul ; and as in this epistle, he was only concerned with those who had already embraced the truth, and who had found it to be the power of God to salvation, to their own souls, but were now in a suffering state, being greatly persecuted by those who were enemies to the gospel; and, at the same time were tempted, and variously tried, by the devil: He therefore, as a faithful minister of Christ, who tenderly sympathized with them in their sufferings, endeavoured to comfort and encourage them. With this view, he assured them the eyes of the Lord were still over them; that they were not forgotten of God, notwithstanding their present distresses; that his ears were attentive to their prayers, and that he would both support, and in due time deliver them; that the God whom they served, had set his face against their enemies, and none should do them any real harm, while they continued to follow that which is good, or while they continued to walk in the good way.
In discourșing upon these words, in may be necessary to enquire,
First, Who may be properly said to be righteous in the sight of the Lord
Secondly, How, and for what end, are the eyes of the Lord over the righteous, and his ears open to their prayers ?
Thirdly, How does it appear that no harm shall befal those who follow that which is good ?
Fourthly, We will make some observations upon these awful words, " The face of the Lord is against them that do evil.”
First, Enquire we who they are who may be said, with truth, to be righteous, according to the sacred scriptures.
It will be readily acknowledged, by every considerate man, that this is not the general character of all the inhabitants of this, or of any other nation that we are acquainted with; but there așe yery many, who are so far from being righteous
in the sight of the Lord, that if the tree may be known by its fruits, we shall be obliged to pronounce them unrighteous altogether, in the sight of men. The Psalmist took notice of this in his day, and said, “The transgression of the wicked saith, within
heart there is no fear of God before their eyes ;"> and this observation, with an equal degree of truth, may be made at this day. Many there are of whom it may be said,
The shew of their countenance doth witness against them :-* For they are not ashamed when they have committed iniquity; no, they are not at all ashamed, neither can they blush." Of these, and of all who are evidently living without God in the world, and in the open violation of his holy and righteous laws, we must say, “ They have no fear of God before their eyes ;" for if they had, they would reverence his holy word, and endeavour to walk in his way.
But if we take our account of the state of man from the word of God, we shall find this awful declaration there, “There is none righteous, no, not one ; but all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” And again, “ the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Hence we conclude, those who are unrighteous, must, at all events, be made righteous while in the present world, or they cannot inherit the everlasting kingdom of God, and as all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, so of consequence every mouth must be stopped and all the world become guilty before him, it must appear to every considerate person, that no man can make himself rightcous in the sight of the Lord, all the reformation any one can make, will signify nothing ; for supposing he could do that which is holy, and just, and good, during the whole course of his life hereafter, it would be absurd, in the extreme, to suppose, his present obedience to the divine law, should make an atonement for his past
sins: But how can this possibly be, when the man out of the evil treasure of his heart is still bringing forth evil things : and can, by no means, perform that obedience to the law of God, which is required of every one who desires to be saved thereby.
The Scripture hath concluded all under sin, and every child of man must be obliged to cry out with the Apostle,
O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” How, or by what means shall I be made righteous in the sight of the Lord ?”
Here we may stand and admire the mercy and love of God, towards his lost and ruined creatures. For as he hath proyided a remedy for their desperate disease; so he hath, in all ages of the world, made it known, that all might be left with out excuse. He revealed this to the ancient patriarchs, and in a clearer manner still, to his holy Prophets; hence we hear the prophet Zachariah declaring, “In that day will the Lord open for the house of David, and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, a fountain for sin and uncleanness ;" that they, deeply sensible of their unclean or unholy state of mind, might wash in that fountain, and be made clean, or righteous before the Lord.
But what are we to understand by the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness? Surely no other but that which was opened by the soldier's speár, in the side of our blessed Redeemer, when he bore the punishment due to our sins, in his own body on the tree. God having declared that without shedding of blood there is no remission,” and also that “ the blood of bulls and of calves," which was abundantly shed under the law,
cannot possibly make a proper atonement for sin,” it was therefore absolutely necessary the Lord Jesus Christ, who was God and man united in one person, should shed his precious blood to redeem and save us, or to make an atonement for the sins of the whole world. It pleased the infinitely wise and blessed God to bruise him, to make his soul an offering for sin; to lay upon him the iniquity of us all: Therefore we read, that when our Lord was nailed to the cross, one of the soldiers, with a spear, pierced his side, and forth with there flowed from thence blood and water: A stream of atoning blood, and of purifying water, flowed from the side of our crucified Lord and Saviour at the same time. Here was the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness, spoken of so many years before.
But how are we to be made clean or righteous by washing in this fountain? The expression is strongly figurative, and to understand it aright we should consider, that the Lord Jesus Christ having accomplished the work of our redemption, is always set forth in the scriptures as having redeemed us unta God by his own blood, and procured present and eternal redemption for us. Therefore every poor, lost, and ruined sinner, who is crying out, “ Lord, save, or I perish !" is constantly pointed to him, as the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world; or to the blood of sprinkling, which speaketh better things in his behalf than the blood of Abel. In other words, every such person is exhorted to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, that he may obtain salvation.
But the only way by which a sinner may be made righteous before God, may be made yet more clear by considering some, of those examples which we have an account of in the word of God. We read of one Saul of Tarsus, a determined enemy of the Lord Jesus Christ, and a furious persecutor of all his disciples; of whom it is said, “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church,” sparing neither men nor women; but committing all to prison that he could lay hands upon. He, with unrelenting fury, was pursuing the innocent followers of Christ to the city of Damascus ; Jerusalem, it seemis, not being large enough to hold him: As he was upon his journey to that place, behold the wonderful goodness and mercy of God! That same Jesus, whose disciples he was labouring to destroy from the face of the earth, spoke to him out of heaven, and said, “Saul, Saul! why persecutest thou me?” That which is done to his servants, our Lord esteems as done to himself: Accordingly, when Saul, in the deepest astonishment, cried out, "Who art thou, Lord?" Our Lord replied, " I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest.”. Saul being deeply awakened to a sense of his guilty, helpless and ruined condition, was three days and nights in the deepest distress, till it pleased the Lord to send Ananias, his servant, to him, who being well acquainted with the way of salvation by Jesus Christ, and seeing Saul in such distress, said unto him, in the name of the Lord, “ Arise, why tarriest thou ? wash away thy sins, calling upon the Name of the Lord;" that is, Christ hath, by his meritorious death and passion, opened a fountain for sin and uncleanness; now, therefore, arise, and wash away thy sin's in that fountain. Saul, no doubt, felt the power
of God attend the word of his servant; and was enabled to arise, and wash away his sins: he embraced the Lord Jesus Christ, by a true and living faith, and found redemption and salvation in him.
We read that this furious persecutor of the people of God soon became an extraordinary preacher of that blessed gospel, which he had so diligently laboured to destroy; and, in the course of his ministry, he soon met with the same kind of treatment from the enemies of Christ, as he had given the poor Christians before: yea, he had “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.” It would be well for every one to take care what he does, as the allwise Governor of the world often suffers us to be paid in our own coin, or by way of retaliation: The same measure we mete out to others, is measured to us again. Thus it was with this eminent servant of God.
SI In the course of his travels, he came to Philippi ; and for no other crime than preaching the gospel of peace, he and his
čompanion in travel, were cruelly beaten, and without the least regard either to justice or mercy, were cast into prison; and the jailor, having received a charge from his superiors, to keep them with all safety, being of the same spirit and temper with his masters, thrust them into the inner prison, made their feet fast in the stocks, and left them to pass a wearisome night in that painful situation. But at midnight those servants of the most high God, sang praises to his sacred name, so that the other prisoners heard them; and the Lord heard them also; He by a mighty earthquake, shook the prison from its very foundation; the doors were all thrown open, and every one's bonds loosed. Alas! what are the strongest bolts or bands, when the Lord makes bare his arm. The jailor seeing this, was astonished, and his conscience being awakened, he came fearing and trembling, and falling down at the Apostle's feet, cried out, in the bitterness of his soul, “ What must I do to be saved? Did thë Apos. tle say to him, " Jailor, you have been a cruel, hard-hearted, yea, a bloody-minded man ; ýau have joined with the rest; and have inhumanly treated the innocent sérvants of God our poor bodies still bear șhe marks of your severity : but, however, reform your life, become a new man, come and unite with the saints and servants of the Lord, and live as wè đỏ, and all shall be well with you?”. We do not read that the Apostle gave him any such advice as this, though good enough in itself, but in no, wise suited to his state of mind : But he said unto him, in the name of the Lord, “ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt bé saved." The power of God attended the Apostle's words, the jailor believed, and found salvation. And agreeable to this account, the penitent sinner is continually sent to the Lord Jesus Christ, for pardon and peace; “ for as there is no other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we can be saved, but by the name of the Lord Jesus;" so we can only be saved through him by. experiencing the cleansing virtue of his blood in our conscience, washing all our guilty stains away.
This was represented under the law, by the high-priëst tak ing the blood of the sin-offering in a bason, with a bunch of hyssop and scarlet wool in his hand, and dipping the hyssop and scarlet wool in the blood which he had in the bason, which was considered as an emblem of the blood of Christ ; he sprinkled the bodies of all the people therewith, saying, “This is the blood of the new covenant, or of the new testament, which God hath enjoined unto you.” And as the high-priest sprinkled the blood of the slain sacrifice upon the bodies of