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I now wish to offer some obserTothe Editor of the Christian Observer.
vations CARCELY any parts of your In the first place, let us consider
volumes have been more in- her station in life. - She was a teresting to me than the histories "seller of purple ?" which have been at different times pied, that is, in the common trade introduced of the characters of of the place in which she lived Scripture. In imitation of more able the sale of cloths of a purple cowriters, I have ventured to present lour, which were dyed and prepared to you the history of a very humble there. Now, how often do we but interesting character recorded hear the bustle and occupation of in the word of God, with a few plain business of various kinds pleaded observations upon it.
as an excuse for a negligent service It is one of the features of true of God? « Our temptations in religion that it occupies itself as trade (it is said) are so many; such much with the least as with the and such customs are established, greatest persons ; with the seller to which we must conform; others of purple as with the mouarch who break the Sabbath, and therefore wears it. It is the soul, and not so must we; our time is so much the worldly circumstances, which taken up, that we have little leidetermines the value of man in the sure for religion: when, indeed, eyes of his God. Christ died for God shall be pleased to release us the soul, and therefore every soul from our present circumstances, is dear to God. We accordingly we hope to do better.” To all this, find that all false religions—the may it not be answered,-Look religions of Greece and Rome, for at the history of Lydia ? She was a instance—set little value on the "seiler of purple;”. occupied, perpoor. As if the lower orders had plexed, hurried, probably, like some been without souls, philosophers of ourselves—with all our apologies, and legislators thought little more of had she chosen to urge them, for them than of the brutes that perish. doing wrong, for neglecting God But the Gospel is the religion of the and salvation. But she did not poor: it was preached to them; plead them. Her history is not it was received by them; and of recorded to tell us the impossibility multitudes who received it, the of persons in her circumstances Apostle has said, “ God hath cho- serving God. On the contrary, sen the poor of this world, rich in it is her success which the sacred faith, and heirs of the kingdom of historian records. Her name is God." Among the other proofs inscribed in the lists of apostles of the importance given by the and martyrs. Her history is preGospel to the poor, is the simple served by the hand of God Inimself; record of their religious history and teaches us that business prosometimes found in the pages of vides no excuse for coldness or Scripture. And of these histories, negligence in religion, few are more interesting than the But we shall see this more disshort account of Lydia, on which tinctly in pursuing her history. And CHRIST. OBSERY, No. 160.
here it may be well to notice the this country the popular religion place of her residence. She dwelt, is, at least, nominally Christian. the Scriptures say, in the city of We have a truly Christian church; “ Thyatira;" that is, in a heathen and every man rather gains than city; a city where, except, per- loses, even in a worldly way, by haps, from a few scattered and de- adhering to that church. We are spised Jews, she may never have baptized into the true religion; we heard the name of the true God. are more or less educated in it; Now, let those consider this who we are called, even from infancy, are apt to plead as an excuse for to the profession of it; we have irreligion not merely their peculiar numberless examples around us of employment in life, but their pe- men who love and serve God; we culiar circumstances as to religion. have, in short, every thing which “We have not (say some) the in- she wanted. And yet she worstruction that we need; not the shipped God. She really adored very minister or doctrine that we him; she “worshipped," we may prefer; not the religious compa- believe, “in spirit and in truth,” the nions we could desire.” Surely to true God. “And now whom do all this it may be answered, the multitudes around us worship? humble Lydia was an inhabitant of Nominally God; but in reality, a beatheu city. What, then, were perhaps, that which is no God, her advantages ? What was the the work of men's bands or the example which she enjoyed? Who devices of men's hearts; perhaps, were her teachers ? In the cor- preferring themselves, their plearupt state of the Jewish synagogues, sures, their honours, their indulgenwhere tradition had usurped the ces, their interests, to God Almighty. place of Scripture, and ceremo. A thousand idols are erected, to nies had swallowed up the spirit of which the heart, if not the knee, religion, Lydia must have suffered does homage. And to bring the matan almost absolute dearth of all ter home to ourselves; is it not pos. instruction calculated, humanly sible, that in the whole course of speaking, to touch the conscience onr lives, we have never offered a and reach the heart. Let us count hearty, earnest prayer to the “ true up and magnify our difficulties and God, and Jesus Christ whom he wants as we will, it would be easy has sent?" Is it not possible that our to point out circumstances in her first real prayer, a prayer springcase still more unfavourable. ing from a humble heart, from a
Let us next inquire what, in sense of our need of pardon, from these circumstances, was the state a feeling of the goodness of God, of her mind.--It is said by the of the love of Christ, and the sacred historian, "she worshipped merit of his atonement and interGod.” That is, though bred among cession, is even yet to be offered ? . heathens, she worshipped the God Perhaps those angels who " rejoice of the Jews- the true God-Jeho- over one sinner that repenteth," vah, who was, in those days, re- are now waiting to carry to heaven vealed to them alone. She quitted the intelligence that we have at the religion of her country, and of length begun to pray in a right her friends ; she sacrificed early spirit, and with a pure mind, and prejudices and worldly interests; • lifting up holy hands." And is she exchanged, for a religion of not this a deeply affecting .conself-denial and holiness, a religion sideration? What are we, it is of shew and self-indulgence:- she asked, “ that thy mercies to us was a "worshipper of the true are so many and so God.” Now, let us not fail to may add, “'What are we, that our mark the difference between her ingratitude and deadness to God circumstances and our own. In should be so constant and so great?"
great ?" I
Did this poor heathen find her way others;" or, “I can read at home." to God, and are we still wandering She “ heard” the Apostles ; she in the dark? Did her voice of pray- followed them to the synagogues ; er ascend to heaven, ånd is ours she laid aside the affairs of this silent ? Did her harp of praise re- world, to pursue, for a time, the sound, and is ours unstrung? Are great things of eternity; she heard her supplications treasured up by them" tell the simple history of our a gracious God, and bas the smoke Lord's birth and death, of his conof our incense never ascended ? duct and conversation, of his wisdom
But let us go on to inquire in- and his love, of the wrongs be bore, to her conduct when the Gospel and of the blood he shed. And all was first preached in her native these things she was solicitous to city.--We are told by the sacred hear. She did not let the unpopularihistorian, that she went “ to hear” ty of the new faith, the combined the apostles. She went, that is, to anger of Jews and Gentiles, her listen to their instructions; to catch worldly interests and character, her the manna as it fell from heaven. reputation for sense and discretion, --I am by no means disposed stand in the way of the discharge of to esteem it praise-worthy to in- so obvious a duty. She opened her dulge a disposition to hear new ears to their preaching, as did the and extraordinary preachers; and shepherds to the song of the angels, had the Apostles entered that city, “This day is born to you a Saviour, unsent and unauthorized, and with which is Christ the Lord.”-O what out their peculiar claims to atten- a reproach is this history to us! tion, to preach down Judaism, and What a large proportion of every put a new religion in its place, we parish rarely enters a place of worshould have seen more to admire ship! Upon how many houses in in caution and forbearance, than this land does the eye of God look in any eagerness to listen to them. down, on every Sabbath, whence But any one who, like her, had no individual goes up to his holy worshipped the true God in the temple! "The ministers of Christ," Jewish synagogue, must have known it may be said, “ are not apostles the Scriptures; and therefore must now." No. But still many of them have known that the Messiah was preach the same Gospel, which to come; that his heralds or mi- those Apostles preached-they nisters were to appear; that the borrow their wordsthey serre sick should be healed, the dumb their Master-they desire, and pray, speak, the blind see, the lame and strive, I should hope, in many walk, and to the poor bis Go- instances, to catch their spirit and to spel should be preached. When, wear their mantle. They build upon therefore, all these signs were the “ foundation of the apostles fulfilled; and when those who and prophets, Jesus Christ himself performed these miracles, an- being the chief corner stone.” They nounced that they also came to are not indeed able to affirin, as tlie preach the Gospel, she naturally Apostles might, the perfection of went to hear them, and to judge their lessons. Far from it. But of the doctrines they taught. at the same time, their lessons have She “ heard” them. She was
much of truth in them, because pot content to sit at home and they have much of Scripture, wonder whether these things were And these lessons are of high im30. She was not content to take portance, because (even setting the matter upon trust. She was aside other topics)
they beseech not willing to cleave to Judaism, you, as ambassadors of God in if God thought fit to improve upon Christ's stead, be ye reconciled that religion. She did not say,
unto God." --Shall Lydia then "I will wait for the example of hear, and shall we refuse to hear?
Shall not the houses of God be must be the instructor of all. It is crowded now? Shall not the voice the common air which the body of hundreds echo along their holy breathes and lives : and it is a comwalls ? Shall not the song of the mon energy, and power, and light, multitude ascend? Shall we not con- and nourishment, by which the soul tinually and habitually come to- must live. It is the breath of God gether to speak and to hear of the which alone can give or sustain things which accompany salvation ? the spiritual life. It is the atmos
But let us now see in what man- phere of heaven alone in which ner God was pleased to acknow- the plant of devotion can flourish. ledge, and to bless the attendance God " opened her heart," and he of Lydia upon the Apostles.-The must open every heart which dishistorian says, “ the Lord opened covers the truth, embraces and her heart.” She had manifested, obeys it. But then let us consider through the blessing of God upon the encouragement which this lither soul, much conscientiousness, tle history affords for every man much disposition to follow the truth to seek this grace and instruction and to serve God. Still this dis- from God. Did the eye of God position of mind did not, of itself, discover amidst the thousands of qualify her to understand and to Thyatira, even this one, solitary, embrace the Gospel. In all stages humble, honest woman-did He of life, under the most prosperous hear the prayer which she offered, outward circumstances, and even and instantly shed around her heawith much knowledge of religion, venly light, fill her with himself, and “our sufficiency is of God.” It is clear away all the mists of prejuGod who by his Spirit must dis- dice, and all the obstacles of inpose us to hear, must enable us to ward corruption--and “ will he understand, and must constrain us not hear us?" Let us stand as the to feel; must enlighten the under- nation of Israel stood at the dedistanding, touch the conscience, and cation of the temple, calling upon open the heart. But Lydia sought God to descend upon them--and God in his temple, and she found now, as then, he will descend, and Him. She worshipped Him, and fill every chamber of the soul, exhis Spirit descended upon her: she tinguish every unhallowed fire, heard with a candid ear, and with illumine every dark spot, and an honest heart; and that God, change the abode of ignorance and who had given her both, gave her pollution into the mansion of puri. additional light, in proportion to ty and the "temple of the Lord.” the use she had ma of that al- But let us now go on to examine ready enjoyed. He tore away the the effect of God thus opening veil, which as yet concealed the the heart of Lydia. “ She attend. Saviour from her sight---revealed to ed (says St. Luke) to the things her the corruptions of her heart, which were spoken of Paul.”—The and the all-sufficiency of the merits effect of Divine teaching, of the of Christ and of the power of the movements of the Spirit of God Spirit of God. God descended, upon the soul, is not to make men not indeed by a visible Shechina listeners to the suggestions of their --the bright and awful cloud of his own fancy, to the ravings of enthu. presence -- but in the sweet and siasm, or even to the opinions of secretiofuences of his Spirit,soften- others; but to lead them to Christ ing what was hard, sanctifying what and to his Apostles, to the proper was corrupt, enlightening what was teachers of religion, to the blessed dark in the soul of Ilis conscien- volume in which their lessons are tious worslipper. -And may this recorded. She "attended to tbe be a precedent for ourselves ! The things spoken of Paul.” His voice instructor of this servant of God was to ber, not merely like the
sound of "a pleasant instrument,” appointed for the introduction of which rises, and dies, and is forgot- all into the Church of Christ. She ten. She attended--shie weighed was washed in water, to manifest her the instructions he gave her-like sense of the pardoning and cleansthe mother of Jesus, she pon- ing efficacy of the blood of Christ, dered these things in her heari”and of the sanctifying influences of she dwelt upon them-she praved the Holy Spirit. over them--she strove, by Divine In like manner, it is said that aid, to apply them to herself--to her household was baptized.--Her the construction of her creed, to religion was not of a selfish characthe government of her temper, to ter: she was not content to trim her the regulation of her life. The own lamp, and neglect the lamps words of St. Paul did not fall like of others-10 feed whilst others “ seed by the way side,” which starved--to work out her own sal* birds came and devoured.” But vaiion, and leave others to perish they found there a soil prepared by to stand a solitary pillar amidst the Divine Husbandman, and ma- surrounding ruins - to bloom a tured by the dews of Heaven; and solitary Rower in the wilderness, which, therefore, brought forth drinking in the dews of heaven, fruit an hundred fold.—Here again whilst terror and barrenness reignis an example for ourselves. We ed around her. She called upon her hear -- but do we “attend ?" We family, her relations, her children: read the letters of St. Paul - but do she warned then to flee from the we regard them? We listen to wrath to come: she spoke to them those who have succeeded St. Paul of sin, of death, of hell, of the Sain the sacred ministry-but do we viour. And God was pleased also dwell upon their instructious ? Is to convert, and sanctify their hearts, every really scriptural sermon a and they were baptized into the same matter of moment to us? Do we faith—they, let us hope, embraced consider it as a special commission the same Saviour, and found the from God ? Do we welcome and same salvation. O may we “ go and revere it as we should the approach do likewise!" May we remember, of a prophet, charged with some that we are awfully accountable for message, bearing some peculiar roll the souls of those committed to our inscribed and dedicated by God to charge-our children, our servants, ourselves? Do we not too often our friends! They are deposited by suffer the word spoken to escape? God in our hands. O may we Do we not merge and choak ii in strive to give Him his own with the business of life, or in the socie- usury! May we pray, and iabour ty of the world ? Do we nourish and to be enabled to say with our Lord, cherish it as a precious gift of God, “ Of all that thou hast given me as a flame lighted indeed in leaven, have I lost none.” but soon extinguished by neglect, Lastly, we find it is said of Lydia, and perhaps never to be lighted that she constrained the disciples again?
to come to her house, and abide But that I may not dwell too there.- In so doing, she sought long upon this history, I will con- fellowship and communion with the clude by noticing a few particu- good. She regarded the Apostles lars which are mentioned in her not merely as members of the great subsequent conduct.---And here we family of which God is the Father, find it recorded, that she was "bap- but as brethren in Christ Jesus. She tized;" that is, she dedicated her- discovered in these distinguished self to God, by the most solemn servants of her Saviour-however act and ordinance of our religion, dim, and obscure, and shaded by huShe publicly avowed her change man imperfection-many features she conformed to the ordinance of their heavenly Master: she took