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AND WHAT IS HEAVEN?
AND what is heav'n, where the saints find rest?
No worm devours, no withering blights decay;
No field ungrateful mocks the tiller's toil;
And with luxuriance loads the teeming soil.
'Brought death into the world and all our woe."
O'erflowing pleasures echo thro' the vales.
The happy saint is God's, and God is his.
"Exert thy mighty influence, LORD; "And melt the stony breast; "Then shall thy justice be ador'd, "Thy mercy stand confess'd. "The scorner then shall mourn in dust, "And put his sins away; "No more resist his Maker's hands, "But lift his own to pray.".
THE PERSECUTOR CONVERTED.
lives the evil nature of sin, and the awful extent of buman depravity; he has selected others, who shew us the excellencies of true religion, with all the supports and the pleasures it yields; while in the person of Jesus, when he tabernacled on earth, we see "what manner of persons we ought to be in all holy conversation and godliness."..
Doddridge. Ir is one distinguishing excellence of the sacred volume, that it does not merely contain abstract principles; but while it treats of mysteries the most refined, and discusses subjects the most profound, they are exhibited in a manner so simple, that "he who runneth may read." While many, proud of their knowledge, and anxious to excite asto nishment and admiration of their powers and learning, will only condescend to instruct others in a manner so abstruse, that it frequently tends rather to darken than explain the subject; the object of the sacred writers was "in simplicity and godly sincerity," to make the truths of God manifest to every man's conscience. Revelation seldom dwells much on descriptions of the incomprehensible Jehovah, but it shews him acting in his works of creation, providence and redemption. It unfolds to us the most important truths relating to our Maker, and the nature of his government; and in reference to ourselves, our lost condition, and the way of salvation by a Mediator. And because our minds have been obscured by sin, and we are prone to the indulgence of error, the blessed God has embodied, as it were, the truths of his word in living characters. He has brought persons before us, who demonstrate in their
No doctrines are more opposed to the natural pride of the human heart, and consequently more frequently denied, or attempted to be so explained as to lose their force, than those of human depravity, and the sovereignty of divine grace. It is really surprising to observe, that while these doctrines are written as it were with a sunbeam in the Oracles of truth, men attempt to load them with difficulties, to represent them as opposed to reason, and to banish the belief of them, if it were possible, from the world. But no! even if we could deny them, or explain them away when placed before us in propositions, what shall we do with them when taught in facts? How will the scorning infidel account for the imperfections of even the best of men, if he denies the doctrine of human depravity? What led Job to murmur against God, and to curse the day of his birth; Abraham to prevaricate, and David to commit the awful crimes of murder and adultery? What, but the natural depravity of the heart? Why did the Supreme Being select Israel as his peculiar people? why did he pardon the sins of a bloody Manasseh, and forgive the transgressions of a dying thief, while he leaves millions far more moral
in their deportment to perish in their sins? Is it not that he may illustrate his sovereignty, and shew that in the bestowment of his spiritual favours "it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy?" Infidels have denied too the power of the Gospel to mend the heart, or to improve the conduct. They have attributed the change produced in the deportment of those who have received it to a thousand causes, rather than to the true one; but from facts, clear and undisputable facts, that speak too loudly and clearly for contradiction, we can prove the doctrines of universal moral defilement, the sovereignty of God in the conversion of sinners, and the power of the Gospel to mend the heart, and to produce a mighty revolution in the life. In all these views, the conversion of Saul of Tarsus is highly interesting and instructive. Here is a young man born of Jewish parents, instructed in the knowledge of the law of God, ardent in his zeal to obey its requirements, and yet so depraved as to reject one who preferred claims to the Messiahship, and who performed miracles in proof of the divinity of his Mission, which gave ample evidence of his being from God; despises a religion, the merits of which he has never impartially examined, and delights in the scenes of cruelty and blood. Was not this man depraved? Here is one well instructed in learning sacred and profane, inveterate in his opposition to Christianity, and resolved to destroy, if it be possible, all who love it. But this very man is humbled by its power, submits to the exercise of faith in Christ, and preaches the very religion he had with all his might attempted to destroy. What was there in this man to recommend him to the favour of Jesus? Must not the grace that pardoned his sins and changed his heart be sovereign and free? Long had he hated with the greatest inveteracy the Gospel of Christ, but when he believed it, he found it to be the power of God to the salvation of his soul; he experienced its efficacy in teaching him to rise above the world, and in supporting him amidst the various trials he had to endure in spreading it through a large portion of the globe.
There is another view in which the sovereignty of the blessed God eminently appears in the conversion of Saul, and which calls for our greatest admira
tion. Saul was educated a Jew; he belonged by profession to the strictest sect of that people; he was a rigid Pharisee, and was employed at his own request to persecute the followers of Christ. How must it mortify and disappoint the enemies of the Cross, when they saw this man subdued by its victorious power! They had formed calculations on the most reasonable grounds, that his mighty energies would accomplish important effects; they reckoned much on the assistance he would afford them in the accomplishment of their design to banish this new sect from the world. But he who sitteth in the heavens laughed at them, the Most High held them in derision." He had other purposes in view, and he resolved to shew that all the purposes of man are as nothing before him, and that he can make his greatest enemies his most useful servants; that the man whose heart rejected the light of his Gospel, overcome by his power and melted by his love, shall know most of his glory; and he who conspired with others to keep the world in ignorance of Christianity, shall be sent into various nations, carrying with him the sun of Revelation, penetrating the most secret abodes of darkness and of misery, and shewing them "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
Nor must we, when speaking of the sovereignty of Jehovah, and the power of his grace on the heart of Saul, omit to remark, that before the Saviour had ascended on high, he had commissioned his apostles to "go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." Several years had elapsed, and not one of them had ever declared the truths of Redemption to the Gentiles. Probably they thought that persons so abandoned to idolatry, so immersed in ignorance, were hopeless subjects; but God, at once to display his power, to furnish an earnest of the wonders' he designed to effect, and to shame the apostles out of their indolence and prejudices, converted the greatest persecutor they had, and endowed him with the honourable office of "Apostle to the Gentiles." Thus shewing "that the excellency of the power," displayed in the economy of grace, is "of God, and not of man.”
The design of this paper, however, was rather to expatiate on some of the circumstances attending the conversion