« VorigeDoorgaan »
he was within view of the city, he saw a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about him. This happened in the middle of the day, which made it more remarkable; and so powerful was the dazzling splendour, that Saul and his companions were all struck down to the ground. It would seem from what is said, in 1 Cor. xv. 8, that Saul actually saw the Lord Jesus Christ.
When he had fallen, he heard a voice saying to him,“ Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" Saul asks,“ who art thou Lord ?" and the Lord said—“I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.” Saul, trembling and astonished at this awful vision, his pride subdued, and his mind filled with a sense of the presence of God, cried out “ Lord what wilt thou have me to do?” The will of God is all that he now wants to know. The Lord graciously answers him; and instead of cutting him off in anger, he bids him arise from his fallen state, and go into the city, where he would learn from one of those whom he sought to destroy, what he ought to do.-How, great an honour did the Lord here put upon his disciples! He makes one of them the instrument of doing that which he might, in a
word, have done himself. The men who were with Saul stood speechless, hearing the voice, but seeing no one from whom it came.
At the command of Jesus, Saul arose from the earth, but he was blind the power of sight was suspended. He could not see the companions of his journey, but they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus, and he was there three days without sight, and so deeply affected that he did neither eat nor drink. The bold persecutor became the humble, broken-hearted penitent, and was then prepared for a message of mercy.
There was a disciple living at Damascus, named Ananias whom the Lord used as the messenger of peace to the afflicted Saul; and in order to show this disciple that it was his duty to look out the dreaded persecutor, and administer to him the comforts of that faith which he sought to destroy, the Lord appeared to him in a vision. He called him by
- Ananias. The disciple answered, Behold I am here, Lord.—The Lord saith to him, arise and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus; for behold he prayeth; and he hath seen in a vision, a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. To this direction Ananias replies, that he had heard from many persons the terrible character of this Saul, and how much evil he had done to the holy people of God at Jerusalem, and that he had even come to that place with authority from the chief priests to bind all that called on the name of the Lord Jesus. But the
mercy of the Lord was not diverted by the relation of these things. He tells Ananias to do as he is directed, declaring that this Saul. was a chosen vessel to bear his name before the gentiles and kings, and the children of Israel. Ananias arose, and according to the particular directions he had received of the street and the house, went directly to the place ; and putting his hands upon Saul, addressed him very affectionately-brother Saul, the Lord, that Jesus who appeared to you on the you were coming, hath sent me, that you might receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Ghost. Immediately as Ananias had spoken, there fell from the eyes of Saul a substance like scales, his sight was restored, and he was baptized. His conscience being now at rest, and his peace made with God, he took food, and his exhausted frame was strengthened. He remained some days in Damascus with the disciples, and without any delay began his glori. ous work of declarring the precious truths of the Gospel. His great theme there, was Christ, -as it continued to be to the end of his life, and doubtless will be throughout eternity. He appeared boldly in the synagogues, and preached Christ, that he is the Son of God.
Such a remarkable circumstance as this, ought not to be passed over without some few observations. We admire the Divine perfections as displayed in the conversion of Saul. We cannot but perceive in it the sovereignty of God, who, without heing accountable to us, raises up what instruments he pleases, for his own service and glory. And the case before us shows how feeble is the strongest opposi. tion to God. What can the most furious persecutors do? “ He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh them to scorn; the Lord shall have them in derision.” He can suddenly confound their purposes, strike terror in their
hearts, humble them under his own mighty hand, and then make them zealous and quali. fied advocates of his truth in the world.
The wisdom of God also appears very clearly, in his selecting just such a person as Saul, who, from his former character, would seem most unlikely to be employed in the promo. tion of the kingdom of Christ. He is therefore a very desirable witness for the truth of the gospel; for such had been his previous prejudices, and afterwards such was his pa. tient submission to suffering and persecution for the sake of the gospel, that no one can, with any kind of reason, question his sincere conversion to the faith.
The conversion of Saul, illustrates the rich mercy of God, and the all-sufficiency of his grace. He represents his own case as the remarkable conversion of a great sinner, so that true penitents might not despair, however far they may have wandered away from God. He tells us, that he obtained mercy, for the very purpose that others might not give up seeking after God. The same Saviour who rescued Paul, can save the greatest sinners,