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6. And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me.
7. And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
8. And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.
9. And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.
10. And I said, what shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus, and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do.
11. And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus.
12. And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there,
13. Came unto me, and stood, and said, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him.
14. And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Juit One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth.
15. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men, of what thou hast seen and heard.
Thus Ananias was instructed to complete the work which the light and the voice from heaven had begun. That had arrested Paul, and stopped his sinful career. Ananias directs him into the new path which was designed for him. The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that in a miraculous manner, and not as other men, thou shouldest see that Just One, Jesus Christ the Righteous, and hear the voice of his mouth. But not for thine own sake, or thine own salvation merely. The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou mightest be his witness, a peculiar witness, of what thou hast seen and heard: mightest know what is his will, namely, that " the gospel of the kingdom" should be everywhere proclaimed, that as many as receive it may " not perish, but have everlasting life."
16. And now, why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
Why tarriest thou? There must be no dela\'. He that is to lead others to the fountain, must first drink himself of the waters. Thou art convinced. It is time to act upon thy conviction. Arise, and be baptized. "He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved."4 To be baptized, is the act of faith: the sign on man's part of his acceptance of that offer, his entrance into that covenant of grace to which God has invited him. Neither is it a mere sign alone. It has been written, (Ezek. xxxvi. 25,) "Then will I sprinkle clear water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you." After the same figure, the water of baptism shall wash away thy sins: shall cleanse the heart from what defiles it, as water cleanses the body from defilement. Therefore arise, and be 'Mark xvi. 16.
baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling upon the name of the Lord: invoking him, whose name thou hast hitherto blasphemed, that thou mayest be cleansed from all sin by his blood, which was shed to take away sin. So shalt thou be "washed, be sanctihed, be justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."
Thus it has pleased God to make baptism the appointed means through which his mercy is conveyed to man. Under the old dispensation there had been an outward rite, marking those who were within from those who were without the covenant. And so under the new. Arise, and be baptized. The ordinance had been prescribed to Abraham, (Gen. xvii. 10,) "This is my covenant which ye shall keep. Every man child among you shall be circumcised." He who neglects this, "that soul shall be cut off from his people: he hath broken my covenant." So now: the command is not only to repent, or to believe; but, "repent and be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus."
Baptism, therefore, places man in a new state: places him in a state of covenant with God: restores to his favour those who had fallen from it when sin entered into the world. "As in Adam all died:" were brought under the wrath of God: so " in Christ," the second Adam, "shall all be made alive." And the appointed channel through which this mercy flows, is baptism.
With what earnestness should parents pray that this ordinance may permanently bless their children! That they may not "receive the grace of God in vain!" Should any suppose that the rite can convey no benefit, because the infant is incapable of seeking or desiring one: there is proof in this transaction that such scruple would rest on no good grounds. Saul might have argued: I repent; I believe; I am ready to do the will of God: what need to be baptized? What profit can the outward ordinance bestow? Can water cleanse the heart? Can "the putting away the defilement of the body" give "the answer of a good conscience toward God ?" 5
For such argument there was no place. He must arise and be baptized. "For thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness."6
Sad experience shows that the sinfulness which is washed away may be again contracted: that they who are "buried with Christ by baptism,''7 do not always arise to "newness of life." The more need have we to pray, that baptism may be indeed the grave of the old nature, and that out of that grave there may be a resurrection to the "new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness:"8 that to all who are dedicated to God through the covenant of baptism, may be given "power and strength to have victory, and to triumph against the devil, the world, and the flesh; and so remain Christ's faithful soldiers and servants to their lives' end."9
* J Pet. iii. 21. 6 Matt. iii. 15.
7 Rom. vi. 4. 8 Chap. iv. 24.
9 See Baptismal Service.
PAUL, ASSAULTED BY THE JEWS, IS CARRIED INTO THE CASTLE.-a. D. 60.
Acts xxii. 17—30.
17. And it came to pass, that when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance;
18. And saw him [the Lord] 1 saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem : for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.
19. And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee.
20. And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.
21. And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send the far hence unto the Gentiles.
22. And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth : for it is not fit that he should live.
Abraham ventured to intercede with the Almighty in behalf of Sodom, (Gen. xviii. 24,) "Peradventure there are fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?"
So Paul ventured to intercede for his country
1 See verse xiv.