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life ends in an impenitent and hopeless death : my lesson after this may be short. If the sinner would try to be saved, he inust try now; and he must be as quick as he can : he must fice from the wrath to come. He must be as much in haste, as he would be, if he were running with the family of Lot, and saw Sodom on fire behind him. For the same fire is now pursuing every sinner, whether he sees it or not; and unless the saving angels shall lead him by the hand to Zoar, it will certainly overtake him. There is no time for loitering: you must escape for your life with all speed, or be lost: Sodom was intended to shew you that; where one faithless soul, by loitering, was lost.
Let no man therefore deceive himself with any vain expectation, that though he is not such as he could wishi at present, he shall be so, at some future time: that if he is not prepared to meet his God now, he shall be so, before he dies. This is the delusion under which so many perish. The broad way to hell is crouded with people, who intended to grow better," but never did. When once they have this habit of loitering, as they live, so they die : nothing makes any difference in them but death; AND THAT MAKES A GREAT DIFFERENCE. '
Now to God, &c.
AND WHEN THEY HAD GONE THROUGH THE ISLE
UNTO PAPHOS, THEY FOUND A CERTAIN SORCERER, À FALSE PROPHET, A JEW, WHOSE NAME WAS BAR-JESUS. ACTS xiii. 6. I HE great apostle of the Gentiles is here in the course of that mission, on which he was sent by the Church of Antioch. It is a circumstance worthy of observation, that the same Paul, who had been ap. pointed to the ministry by Jesus Christ himself in person, and who had his call and ordination from heaven, should yet be sent out like other men according to the forms of the Church. An order came froin the Holy Ghost to them of Antioch, that they should separate (that is consecrate *) Barnabas and Saul; and accordingly they fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, and sent them away. After this, where is the man that shall pretend to a call from heaven, without a call from the Church, as sufficient to constitute a preacher of the Gospel; when it was not sufficient in the case of Paul himself? To prevent disorder, it is the will of God, that the authority and rule of his Church should in all cases be preserved: so the Church sends out even where God himself hath separated already; to the end that no man, under any circumstances whatever, may be independent of
* See Numb. xvi. 9.
the Cliristian society. The apostle might have objected to this “ laying on of hands," as unnecessary in his case, who had been consecrated already by an hivier authority: but God acts by the Church which he has appointed, for the preservation of order and the preventing of imposture; and charity, which seeketh not her oul, will never claim any private rights in opposition to it. St. Paul, therefore, who had been sent forth from heaven, was sent forth by the Church in company with Barnabas. It had been the custom or CSrist to seod out his disciples npon the work of the
mistry by two and two, and thence we hear one of then callias his companion a true yoke-fellow : in conforauitwith which custom, Paul and Barnabas yere sent tuvether; who travelled from Antioch to Seieuca, tezce took ship to the island of CyPris: wiere, at Saianus, in the synagogues which men jadi sat place, they exercised their minisOilily proceeding from thence, they went through tried Rico Purhus, which lay at the other extremity uit ceir progress, they inust have said and done mai mies which had already made them well Kuvitt puse people: and in all probability the fame wawili preaching had reached the place long before
er utire chitier: in consequence of which, we are Prva st) wonder that Sergius Pauins, the Roman prowwini? Wils desirous to hear what so many others of tinta p
a d beurd before him : he therefore called di Baruralius and Saul, and desired to hear the word et lindi sind being himself a man of sense and pruderin with a vind open to conviction, the word of Lid was likely to have its effect, and make a convert vi bitki But here an accident intervenes, which is far tiwit bring uncommon; a certain man, who has an w
rinst the truth, throws himself across the way to hinder its progress : there seems to be some such mischievous blasphemous person ready in all places; permitted by God, and provided by the Devil; provided to resist the truth ; permitted to make it shine more bright; as truth seldom fails to do, when it meets with malicious opposition. Thus when Moses presented himself to Pharaoh, the magicians withstood him : with design to confute his wisdom by their pliilosophy, and to equal his miracles by their enchantments. This man seems to have been partly of the same character : the text calls him a sorcerer; nearly the same thing with an enchanter; and so far he is an heathenized magician; with that name of Magus, which is given only to the wise men of the heathen religion. There is a portentous mixture in this man's character ; for he who, as a magician, is an heathen, is also a Jew, and is called Bar-Jesus, which is a Jewislı name. A Jew, free from prejudice, and learned in scriptures of the first covenant, was of all others best qualified to hear and receive the Gospel of Christ; but this was a Jew fit for nothing but unbelief: because a Jew turned heathen, would be much worse than a native heathen: his Judaisın, being of a spurious malignant kind, would be all against him, and carry hiin away so in'uch farther from the truth. From his being acquainted, as a companion, with the proconsul, we may also judge that he was a person of some figure, one who had probably the repute of a learned education, such as quaiified him to be in the society of the superior class of people. "Such a man as this could foresee nothing but the total ruin of his own character in the doctrines of the Gospel; therefore it was improbable that he would receive them himself; and he was determined that no one else, as far as his influence went, should receive them. So he withstood the apostles, and either by his arguments, or his sneers, or his lies, sought to prevail with Sergius not to listen to thein. In such a case as this what does the apostle do? I can tell you what he would probably have done, had he lived in this civil halfbelieving age : when it is the fashion not to stand up for the authority of God, for fear of being reputed an high-churchman; nor to be too sure of any thing, lest you should give offence to those, who find it convenient to be sure of nothing, and say, they cannot think as you do: so with the influence of our times upon him, he might have observed, “ that the learned “philosopher would be of another opinion if he would “but permit him to lay the case before him ; that he “bad many things to say, which his opponent had “ probably not well considered.” This was not the apostle's manner; he knew that nothing but the Devil could resist the Gospel ; that nothing but darkness could be opposite to light; so he makes the man no fair speeches; but tells him and his friends in plain terms what he thinks of hin, “ O full of all subtlety and all mischief; thou child of the Devil ; thou enemy of all righteousness; wilt thou not 'cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord ?” The ways of the Lord are the ways of truth, and the ways of truth are strait : this man wanted to make them appear crooked and false; and the apostle seeing that this was his design, had no mercy upon him; but gave him his real character at once. And from this example, we have a rule for our own conduct in like cases. Where persons err through ignorance, or cannot see properly for want of light, we are to make a proper difference, and treat them with all gentleness : but if they pretend to be wiser than wisdom, and wish not to see by the light, but to put it out that nobody else may see