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body, given for the sin of the soul; ever could, any of them, or all of them, take away one sin. Nay; so far are they from recommending to the favour of God, that they are offensive to God; and unless the sacrifices themselves, and the offerers of them, are cleansed and perfumed by this blood, spoken of by Paul, they add sin to sin. Oh! Oh! who among elders, ministers, and clergy, whether in the church, or out of the church, who properly understand these precious things, from being taught of God, but would take heed to "feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood!" This, and this only, is the laver, which cleanseth from sin; all sin, original sin, actual sin, natural sin, spiritual sin; yea all sin. Reader, think, (if it be possible) of the infinite importance of it! But for this redemption of the church, which our God hath purchased with his own blood, our condemnation would be inevitable. It is this which prevents us from being ruined, even on our very knees, and before God. Our prayer sins, our sacramental sins, our conversation sins; even in our most holy things; all would condemn. The church, John saw, had "washed their robes," (not their sins only, but their robes;) "and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (Rev. vii. 14.) Well might Paul give the solemn charge to the elders of the church: "Take heed to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood !"
One word more, on this farewell discourse of Paul. When speaking to the elders of the church, of the blessedness of that wise indifference to the things of time and sense; and of rather ministering to others of the Lord's bounty in what he hath blessed us with, than being ministered unto; he adds as the best and most conclusive of all arguments; "remembering (said he) the words of the Lord Jesus; how he said, It is more blessed to give, than to receive."
But where or when did the Lord Jesus speak these words? Neither of the evangelists have recorded them. And yet this precious saying of our most precious Lord, must have been delivered by him, during his divine ministry. It should seem therefore, as, if God the Holy Ghost was graciously pleased, that the writers of the gospel should not notice them in the life of Christ; that the Lord the Spirit might teach the church, hereby, the vast importance of the Lord's saying, in His preserving the words by themselves; and thus inspired Paul to notice them in this very sweet and blessed manner. The Holy Ghost would have those words of Christ specially, and particularly, noticed, for the comfort and instruction of the church, in all the future ages and generations, down to the end of time and therefore in his infinite wisdom, was pleased to adopt this method, as the best and most effectual, for that purpose.
And what a blessed fulness there is, in those divine words of Christ. With the Lord Jesus himself, it hath been ever thus; for he is blessed in giving; and what can be given to him to make him more blessed? I would recommend the reader, to the perpetual use of those words of our glorious Christ, whenever he presents himself before the Lord. I have found the blessedness of so doing myself; and therefore, as a matter fully proved, can safely recommend the plan to others. I take with me to the Lord, the words of the Lord; and when lodging my petition before his kingly presence, I say: Lord, these are thine own words, it is my Lord hath said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive;" and therefore, as from this divine authority I am taught that the giver is more blessed than the receiver; thou, O Lord wilt be more blessed, as the author and giver of my salvation, than I shall be, in receiving that salvation; for while all the benefit is
mine, all the glory will be thine. Surely, here is the strongest of all pleas, at the mercy seat; when through grace, we can, and do, speak to our God in our God's own words; and tell him, as his glory is infinitely more important than our happiness; that which first moved him to give still continues to be the first of all motives to continue the unmerited mercy; and "it is more blessed to give than to receive."
"And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all.
"And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck and kissed him.
"Sorrowing most of all for the they should see his face no more. unto the ship." (Acts xx. 36-38.)
words which he spake, that And they accompanied him
NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS.
WHAT a blessed close was here made of this most animated and endearing discourse of the apostle's. And what a lovely portrait might be made of such a scene! Let the reader figure to himself, the faithful servant of the Lord, encircled by the Lord's faithful people. Let him behold the whole assembly on their knees before the Lord. Having said to the church all that grace had taught, and nature could feel, combined in affection to their persons, now following up the whole with prayer to the God of all mercies, for his blessing. And surely the same Lord who taught the apostle to preach, taught him no less to pray. And although the Holy Ghost hath not recorded the prayer, as he hath the sermon, yet no doubt, there was a beautiful sameness in both; and manifesting that which comes from God will always lead to God.
And let the reader present to his imagination, when the prayer was ended, and the time come for their separation from each other, the sorrow which burst forth in the whole assembly. They on their part, falling on the apostle's neck, and testifying their affection with tears and kissing; and Paul tearing himself from their embraces, as one overpowered with their kindness. Oh! what a lovely sight must it have been where the Lord's servant and the Lord's people were so dear to each other; and rivetted in that best and most durable of all bonds; formed in the person, and made one in the blood and righteousness, of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ye ministers of my God, who come forth truly to the people in the Lord's name, and by the Lord's ordination, as Paul did; and ye who are ministered unto; let this interesting view of a true pastor, according to the Lord's heart, and the Lord's faithful people, which God the Holy Ghost hath so graciously recorded for the church's comfort and edification, be your pattern and the object of your imitation. Such indeed should be every assembly of the faithful. He that preacheth, should preach as though it were his last sermon. And they who hear, as though they should hear no more. Every separation, and the breaking up of the assembly, as of the final farewell. And when the Lord is present to bless the meeting: the faithful in departure, though separated in body, are still one with each other in Christ: and are led to look forward, and long for that glorious assembly which meet to part no more: "when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, and all his redeemed will appear with him in glory."
RELATING THE HISTORY OF HIS CONVERSION,
"Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:
"I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because, I shall answer for myself this day before thee, touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:
Especially, because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore, I beseech thee to hear me patiently." (Acts xxvi. 1—3.)
NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS.
THE apostle Paul, in that part of the history of his life, in his wonderful conversion; and in the works of his ministry, both in preaching and in writing; was evidently designed to be a perpetual teacher in the church of our most glorious Christ. Nearly twothirds of the Scripture, contained in the book of the Acts of the apostles; and nearly a third part of the New Testament, taken altogether, the church owes to the labours of this man; under the inspiration of God the Holy Ghost.
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