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grand seats of heathenish delusion, where Satan might be said to have established his throne; and yet, in this place, all the power of the enemy gives way to the Gospel. The preachers begin at Salainis, and publish the word in the synagogues of the Jews there : they begin, as it was their constant custom, with the Jews, and thence go through the isle, working and preaching as they go, though the particulars are not related; and coming at length to Paphos, that grand mart of idolatry, they find this Sergius Paulus, an heathen, desirous to hear, and disposed to receive the word of God. They come to him, and enter upon their employments : but here is a man in the way that would hinder them ; this Elymas would turn away the deputy from the faith. He was a prudent man, and able to see and to judge: why could not be leave him to himself? But this wicked men can never do; they can never let people alone; they expect that all men should be like themselves, and are as earnest for a lie, as an apostle is for the truth. The Devil is always active and zealous; he never suffers the truth to prosper, if he can help it; and his children are like him : they are full of subtlety and art to do mischief: but let them be as cunning as they will, God and his truth are above them.
When you see what this man does, you must expect that others will be doing the same to the end of the world; and you ought never to be staggered in your belief by the tempers and actions of the enemies of the truth. All men will not love truth; many are adverse to it, and to God for being the author of it; which is a most lamentable consideration. Even a miracle, which brings astonishment and conviction upon some, will have no effect upon others. They go on just as they did before : when this man is made blind, all he seeks is to be led by the hand, that he may find his way: he makes no reflexions, and re ceives no benefit. It was thus with the men of Sodom. When they had beset the house of righteous Lot, they carried on the assault after they were stiuck blind : they still “wearied themselves to find the door," and were as intent upon mischief as ever. The sufferer in the parable thought that a miracle would be the saving of his wicked brethren : but he judged falsely; for if men who have the Scriptures do not hear them, their heart is wrong, and then a miracle would have no effect.
Now in the last place, remember, that the man, who would not see, lost the use of his eyes. Beware, lest the like misfortune should befal any of you; lest, by neglecting the light while it is shining in your eyes, you should be able at last to see nothing. Never turn away from the truth, lest the truth should turn away from you, and leave you in eternal darkness. Cultivate every gift that you have, and it will be increased : use what light you have, and God will open your eyes to see more: he that can see great things, shall see greater. If you read the Scripture, and desire to understand it, some new light will come in upon you, and will enable you to understand it better. When once the inclination is discovered, it will be encouraged and assisted. Sergius Paulus called for Barnabas and Saul; and then all those great things followed, about which I . have been discoursing to you. Philip the Evangelist was sent to the Ethiopian nobleman in the wilderness; but then you are to observe, that he was sent to a man, who had already got a bible in his hand, and who wished to hear it interpreted.
God will act by the same rules now, by which he acted in former ages : these examples of the scriptures
will certainly be fulfilled in you. If you hate the light, as Elymas did, you will become blind and lose it: if you rejoice in it, and use it, it will increase more and more unto the perfect day; that is, till the light of truth shall lead to the light of life eternal; for which end God sent it from heaven, and spread it over the world.
AND WHEN AHITHOPHEL SAW THAT HIS COUNSEL
WAS NOT FOLLOWED, HE SADDLED HIS ASS, AND AROSE, AND GAT HIM HOME TO HIS HOUSE, TO HIS CITY, AND PUT HIS HOUSEHOLD IN ORDER, AND HANGED HIMSELF, AND DIED. 2 SAM. xvii.
SELF-MURDER is a subject, the consideration of which can never be impertinent or unseasonable in a Christian congregation : because in setting forth the causes of that dreadful crime, and in recommending preservatives, we inay secure people from many of those lesser evils which lead to it; evils, which every wise man will be glad to avoid. The same rules which are sufficient to save a man from death, may save him also from a burning fever; for which he will have great reason to be thankful. One of the best methods I can think of for the understanding of this crime is, to examine the nature of it, as it appears to us upon the record of historical truth. Example shews more than reasoning or precept will teach without it: I shall therefore proceed to explain the subject from the example which the bible hath set before us in the remarkable case of Ahithophel.
When we see ruin and destruction brought upon the soul of any man, much good may certainly be done by dissecting his character. Dissection is a disagreeable operation : to learn from the actual inspection of a dead human subject is a hard trial to a tender mind. But if the corpse is that of a malefactor, justly put to death, for some hateful treason, or some inhuman practice, the mind is more easily reconciled to it. The wretch, who, when alive had defaced in himself the image of God, is no longer to be considered as a man. The person now under our consideration was a malefactor of the basest kind in his life time : we may therefore very properly dissect him, and learn what we can from him.
All the circumstances prove that this man was no lunatic; that he acted with as much deliberation against his own life, as if he had been lying in wait for the life of any other man. He committed his own murder with the same foresight as he would have committed any other wickedness. He " set his house in order;" that is, he settled his affairs, he made his will as a person of sound mind and memory; as he would have done, if death had been coming upon bim in a natural way. The case is therefore unexceptionable of the kind; such as we may safely inake use of for discovering that internal state of a wickcd mind, which terminates in the fatal crime of self-murder.
We discover in the first place, that he was a man of bad principles ; by which I mean such principles as do not restrain, but give encouragement to the bad passions of pride, covetousness, and ambition ; which is the nature of those principles which are not of God, but are of man, and of the world. When a man of these principles gains the world, in its wealth, its fame, its honour, or its power, he gets all be wants; when