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lose the true gain. And therefore ministers or os thers, in dealing with them, should study to undeceive them in this matter; Do thyself no harm, for we are all here.
Here some may enquire, how they saw him, when it was now night, and he did not see them? To this I answer, There might be either moonlight, or a candle in the uttermoft room, thereby they might see what was done there; but yet he could not see into the remote corners of the innermost prison where they lay in chains.
8. We are to observe the influence that this check, this seasonable advice, that carrried a reproof in its bofom, had upon the man; it convinced him, it put him into this trembling humble posture we find him in. Here I might observe many very considerable truths. Grace usually begins to work, when sinners have gone to a height, to an excess of sin. While the man is practising a bloody crime, and had murdered himself in de fign, then grace chooses to lay hold on him, When Saul was grown mad in his persecution, carrying it even to a foreign country, grace takes the opportunity. It doth not bespeak finners in their lucid intervals; but, to thew its power, it reaches them when at their worst. Again, how mighty a change can á word work, when the spirit of God concurs ? He whom the earthquake did not deter' from finning, is overcome with a word: A word makes him that put their feet in the stocks, fall down at their feet. One word opens the man's eyes to see what he never saw before, it fills his heart with concern about salvation; a thing he had not minded before; and the fears of that wrath that he little thought of, when he was just going to throw himself fearlesly in its hands by K4
felf-murder, now make him tremble, and fall down, and cry out, What must I do to be saved? It makes him pay reverence to them to whom he paid none before. He calls them Sirs, a term of honour and respect. A great change indeed! Here are a multitude of wonders. The terrors of God make a stout heart to shake. An unconcern. ed perfecutor, lays salvation to heart: and much concern in the heart discovers itself by its effects; it breaks out in the trembling of the body, and the anxious question in the text.
0. Here it is worth our while to enquire; What he was convinced of? That the man is convinced of danger is plain ; that it was not the danger of being punished for letting away the prisoners, is no less plain; he was now eafed of any fears he had of this fort. In one, word, he was convinced of his fin and misery. This is plain from the apostles direction. It were blafpheiny to think that they mistook his case: and the event puts it beyond all doubt, that they were not mistaken; for the cure is no sooner applied than it takes effect. The direction quieted the man's mind; and this makes it plain, that it was fin and misery that was now in his view; it was the curse of the law that was pursuing him.. We need not fpend time in enquiring what fins he was convinc. ed of. That the sin of self-murder was the first, seems probable from what has been already discoursed. When the candle of the Lord fills the bofom of a sinner with light, the first sin that is feen is usually forme great fin, and for most part the sin that was last commitred. This sin was just now committed; and a monstrous one it was : but though this might be the first, we have no rcafon 10. think that it was this only; nay, we
have reason to think, that the Lord gave the man
10. And last place, the posture the poor man is in when he puts the melancholy question, What must I do to be faved? deserves our notice; he is
fullen upon his face; not to worship: this the apostles would not have permitted, as they did not upon other occasions: but either it is only a civil respect he pays them after the fashion of suppli- i
cants in the eastern countries; or his trembling · legs were not able to support his body; or partly
the one, and partly the other occasioned this po. sture. i :
The next thing that falls under our consideration, is the answer which the apostles give to the jaylor's question, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved and thy house. This con. tains the substance of the gospel; and it is this part of the words we principally design to insist on. I shall refer the explication of them, till such time as I have done with what is designed from the question; because I do not incline to burden you with too tedious an explicaton of the words..
From the question itself then, according to the account just now given of its meaning, we shall lay before you, and discourse of this one doctri. . nal proposition.
“ A finner that is awakened and foundly con• vinced of fin, and of misery its necessary confe
" quent and companion, will lay falvation ferionf", ly to heart; or will with concern put the questi“ on, What must I do to be saved.?"
This we see is the first fruit of conviction in the 'jaylor, Sirs, What must I do to be saved ? This was the immediate result of conviction in the awakened converts, Acts ii. 37. And thus it will be with all who are cindeed awakened and convinced of sin, unless there be some such concomitant circumstances as hinder it neceffarily, of which anon. ..mit ' :: In discoursing this doctrine, we shall, · I. Premise a few things for clearing the doStrine.. ?
: i . II. Enquire what this falvation is, which awak. ened sinners seek after..
III. We shall endeavour to give some account of this concern about salvation, which is the result of conviction. ,, !');
*IV: We shall shew why it is that convinced fin-ners' do lay falvation to heart. Now, of each of
these in order. 91 ,"I. We begin with the first, and for clearing
our doctrine, we offer to your consideration a few * propofitions. ' i ' ?
1. Conviction is that fight of sin and misery which sinners get, when the spirit of God presents them to the foul's view, in their nature, and their necessary connection with one another, together with the finner's interest and concernment in them; and that in fo clear a light, that he cannot but take notice of them. (1.) We say the spirit of God fets fin and misery in their own nature before the finner's eyes, in a clear light. There is no man who has not some apprehensions of sin and misery; every one discourses of these things..
Education, the dispensation of the word, and converse have begot some notions of sin in every bo. perise hinnad, bangla foto me dy's mind: but for any clear discoveries of sin in its nature, few have them. The thoughts of men about fin, are, for the most part, like the thoughts of a man who never saw a toad with a full light: if any man should tell him how lothíom a crea: ture it were; and withal, in the twilighť shew him one, when he could not distinguish it from a piece of curious jet lying by it, he would not be much affected with the account, nor would his thoughts of its deformity and ugliness answer the thing it. felf: but if the Sun should dart down a beam of its light upon the lothfom creature, the man would see it, and it may be then his flesh would begin to shrink, and it would fill him with averfon. Just fo is it with unconvinced sinners: they fee sin, but it is only in the twilight of reason, education, or the external difpenfation of the word; therefore they are not affected with it, nor do they see any peculiar deformity in it, uniil the Spirit of God let in a ray of supernatural light, and then this very quickly fills the soul with a view of its exceeding finfulness, which makes the heart begin to shrink at it, and entertain it with aversion. The case is just the same with respect to that misery that is the consequent and companion of sin. Till once the Lord make bare his arm, in the finner's view, and caft in some drops of wrath into his foul, with a certification that these are but drops, he will never be duly affected with it. (2.) The Spirit of God in conviction not only presents fin and misery to the soul in their own nature, but likewise in their connection. God has linked sin and hell together. It always was fo, but finners, do not always think so. Groundless