« Prev Lecture XVIII. The Conversion of the Jailor of… Next »



Chap. xvi. 19-40.

I ENTERED, in the last Lecture, upon a review of the transactions of Paul and Silas in Philippi. Soon after his arrival, the Apostle repaired to a place without the city, where prayer was wont to be made, and addressed the women who were assembled there on the sabbath. We have seen him performing a miracle upon a young woman, who was possessed by a spirit of divination, which demonstrated, that Silas and he were truly “the servants of the most high God, which showed unto men the way of salvation.”

It might have been expected, that the sudden and wonderful effect of a few words spoken in the name of Jesus, would have made a strong impression upon the witnesses, and that, if they were not persuaded to embrace Christianity, they would, at least, have been afraid openly to oppose it. Whatever were the sentiments and feelings of others, the masters of the young woman thought of nothing but revenge. “They saw, that the hope of their gains was gone.” Delivered from the power of the demon, who had been permitted to use her as his instrument for deluding them people, she could no longer reveal secrets, and tell fortunes. The revenue which had flowed from the credulity of the multitude, was irrecoverably lost. Idle and profligate, as persons concerned in such affairs usually are, they foresaw, that instead of living at their ease upon the profits of imposture, they should be compelled to betake themselves to honest industry in order to procure a subsistence. With this prospect in their eye, they were not disposed to consider the miraculous nature of the event, to inquire into the power by which it was effected, and to examine the character of the religion, which it was intended to attest. About these subjects, persons of 235this description would have given themselves little trouble at any time. In the present state of their minds, they were impatient to avenge themselves upon the men who had wrested benefits from them, which they accounted far more valuable than truth.

They, therefore, “caught Paul and Silas and drew them into the market-place, unto the rulers, and brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city.” The masters of the young woman had probably little knowledge of the character of Paul and Silas. Christianity was new in Philippi, and such persons would be among the last who turned their attention to it. By calling the two preachers Jews, they seem to have supposed that they were propagating Judaism, or the peculiar tenets of some of its sects. Christianity was for some time, confounded with the Jewish religion, by the heathens, who viewed it at a distance, and with such contempt, as prevented a particular inquiry into its nature. Hence, Christ is carelessly represented by an ancient historian, as one of those seditious leaders, who frequently appeared among the Jews, and excited them to rebel against the Roman government.2525Suet. Claud. cap. 25. Paul and Silas were charged by the accusers “with troubling the city, and teaching customs, which were not lawful for them to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.” Philippi, I have already remarked, was a Roman colony. Now, there was a law of the Romans, which prohibited the worship of new Gods, or of the Gods of other nations, and commanded the people to adore those alone, who were acknowledged by the state. This law Paul and Silas had transgressed, by introducing the worship of Jehovah, the God of Israel, and exhorting the Philippians to renounce the service of their idols. In ancient, as well as in modern times, there was an established religion, to which the people were required to conform. Heathenism, indeed, exercised, on some occasions, a spirit of toleration. One country did not condemn the religion of another as false, but allowed its Gods to be true Divinities, and to be entitled to respect and homage, within the boundaries of the province or nation, over which they presided. Sometimes one nation adopted the Gods of another, and permitted the erection of temples and altars to them, and the public celebration of their rites. But it is unfair to represent this liberality as the constant character of heathenism, with an insidious design to throw a reflection 236upon Christianity, as having disturbed the peace of the world, by introducing bigotry and intolerance. Among the heathens, there were religious wars, carried on with as much rancour and fury as any one of those which have been waged, under the same pretext, among Christians. There were religious persecutions; and ancient history furnishes examples of the proscription of particular modes of superstition, and the infliction of punishment upon those who practised rites forbidden by the laws. The greatest philosopher of antiquity was a victim to religious fanaticism. The records of the Church for almost three hundred years, exhibit paganism in the shape of a ferocious and sanguinary monster, making havock of the harmless disciples of Jesus, because they refused to join in the idolatrous worship of their countrymen.

The masters of the young woman accused Paul and Silas of “troubling the city;” of introducing innovations, and exciting disputes, from which, unless they were speedily checked, no person could tell what serious consequences might ensue. We see that the charges commonly brought against those who promulgate opinions contrary to the established faith, are not of modern date. The same unmeaning outcry was raised in Philippi, which has been a thousand times repeated by the ignorant or the interested, against dissenters from the national creed. “These men are discontented and disloyal: they wish to become leaders of a faction; religious reform is merely a pretext; and so close is the alliance of Church and State, that the fall of the one, will involve the other in its ruin.” It is thus, that the majority in Heathen and Christian countries, and among all denominations of Christians, Roman Catholics and Protestants, Episcopalians and Presbyterians, usually represent the few, who venture to exercise the right of private judgment in the choice of their religion. Who are foremost and loudest in advancing these accusations? Are they persons, who, after a deliberate and impartial investigation, are fully convinced of the truth of their own system? Are they in earnest about religion, and do they “tremble for the ark of God,” lest, by controversies and novel opinions, the minds of men should be misled and unsettled? No; in their principles and motives, they, for the most part resemble the masters of the woman, from whom Paul expelled a spirit of divination, and like them are alarmed for their gain, or are influenced by some consideration not more honourable. They enjoy emoluments which might be lost, should the established system be 237changed; they suspect that, if the thoughts of men are once turned out of the beaten tract, they will begin to inquire into other subjects, and may discover abuses, which they are personally concerned to retain; or, if no immediate danger to their interests is apprehended, they must show their superiority, by a contemptuous treatment of those who differ from them, and recommend themselves to the higher powers, by a furious zeal against innovation. In ninety-nine cases in a hundred, a sincere regard for religion is as little connected with the declamations against dissenters, as it was in the case before us, when a clamour was raised about the dangerous consequences of permitting the gospel to be preached, by some men who gained their livelihood by supporting a fortune-teller.

Let us now observe what was the effect of the accusation upon the people and the magistrates. “And the multitude rose up together against them.” The passions of the people are easily roused, and a rumour, or bold assertion, is sufficient to bring them together, and impel them to action. In heathen countries, they were generally more attached to their superstitions than the higher ranks; and in any country, they are ready, under the dexterous management of those who expect to profit by their excesses, to display a furious and destructive zeal for their religion. The magistrates seem to have been as intemperate as the people. Without waiting to make inquiry into the true state of the case, dr allowing the accused to defend themselves, “they rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.” A summary sentence was pronounced, and executed on the spot. And that Paul and Silas might be reserved for such other punishment as their conduct should be found to deserve, they were committed to prison; and the jailor inflamed with the same zeal against those blasphemers of the Gods, which his superiors displayed, treated them with great severity. “They cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely; who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.” Paul and Silas might have saved themselves from punishment, by the declaration which they made next morning, that they were Roman citizens; but they did not choose to plead their privilege, when it might have been construed as a proof of unwillingness to suffer for the gospel. They submitted to stripes and imprisonment, because they were called to bear testimony to the truth, by their patience, as well as by their miracles. Their meekness and resignation might be rendered, 238through the blessing of God, the mean of drawing the attention of the spectators to a religion, which could give composure and fortitude to the mind in the most trying circumstances.

But however unjustifiable was the conduct of the magistrates in treating Paul and Silas as criminals, without any proof of their guilt, Providence over-ruled it for promoting the object of their mission to Philippi. Their prison proved a scene in which the power and grace of the Saviour were displayed. “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.” Prayer is the natural language of the soul, imploring, in its distress, divine assistance and consolation. It was therefore, an exercise suited to the present situation of these good men, to whom the grace of God was necessary, that they might bear the present trial with patience, and be prepared for the issue of it. But, why did they also sing praises to God? Is there any thing calculated to inspire cheerfulness in the condition of men, whose backs have been torn with a scourge, and whose feet are made fast in the stocks? Do songs accord with the gloom of a prison? A Christian has causes of joy and gratitude, independent upon external circumstances. Paul and Silas gave thanks to God for the high honour of being called “to suffer shame for the name of Christ;” for the peace of mind which they enjoy amidst their outward troubles; for the certain knowledge of the love and care of their Redeemer; and for the hope of immortality which raised them above the fear of death. “God their Maker gave them songs in the night,” which they sang with such devout fervour and animation, that the other prisoners heard them. At this moment, God was pleased to bear testimony, by a miracle, in favour of his suffering servants, and, by one of those extraordinary methods, which were sometimes employed in the commencement of Christianity, to save a “vessel of mercy.” “And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.”

There is every reason to suppose, from the time when this earthquake happened, and the purpose which it served, that it was preternatural. Its effects were moderated by the power of God, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken, but it was not thrown down; and although the chains of the prisoners were loosed, none of them was permitted to escape. They were detained by 239their own fears, or by the secret restraints of providence, which intended to alarm the conscience of the jailor, without exposing him to any personal injury. Awaking from sleep, and naturally concluding that the prisoners had embraced the opportunity of regaining their liberty, he was filled with apprehensions for his own safety. He who suffered a criminal to escape from justice, was doomed by the law to undergo the same punishment which would have been inflicted upon him. The horrors of his situation rushed at once into his mind, and incited him to form a hasty and desperate resolution against his life. “And the keeper of the prison awaking out of sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.”

To this rash and impious deed, the mind of a heathen was familiarized. It was approved, in certain circumstances, by the different sects of philosophers; it was practised by some of their most eminent men; and no suspicion was entertained that it was offensive to the Gods. Nature, indeed, exclaims against it; but her voice is not heard amidst the tumult and uproar of passion. When a great and unexpected loss is sustained; when the proud spirits, overwhelmed by disgrace; when the mind is agitated by the prospect of some dreadful calamity; when the bright visions of honour and felicity, which enchanted the imagination, are dispelled, and hope seems to have fled for ever, the heart sickens at existence, and sees in its lengthened line, only the prolongation of its misery. Death appears to afford the sole means of relief. “Rather than be thus tormented,” cries the impatient, desponding sufferer, “it is better to rid myself at once of all my sorrows, and either to take my chance of another state of being, or to sink into insensibility.” This is the phrensy of the mind, during which the admonitions of reason and religion are disregarded. Could men summon up as much fortitude as to bear the first onset of calamity, its violence might gradually abate. The passion, which torments them, might at length lose its influence. Time lays its healing hand upon the wounds of the heart. To him who has resolved to live, some unforeseen deliverance may arise in the perpetual vicissitude of human affairs; but our hopes are sealed up in the grave. How can he expect a welcome in the other world, who rushes into it, stained with his own blood? Will the Father and Fountain of Life, show mercy to those who indignantly throw his own gift in his face? 240The self-murderer, intent only upon escaping from his present agony, listens to none of these considerations. His furious spirit breaks from its confinement, and leaps into eternity.

The design of the jailor was prevented by Paul, who “cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm; for we are all here.” These seasonable words arrested his arm, already raised against himself. But although he was delivered from the dread of temporal punishment, his mind was not at ease. He was distracted with new terrors; he felt the anguish of an awakened conscience. The impression was sudden, and was undoubtedly produced by the power of the Spirit of God. Perhaps, the jailor had heard as much of the doctrine of Paul and Silas, from their own lips, or from the report of others, as was sufficient now, when he was led seriously to reflect upon it, to excite an anxious concern for the welfare of his soul. At any rate, although a heathen, he had such knowledge of good and evil, as would convince him, under the faithful admonitions of conscience, that he was a guilty creature, and was exposed to the wrath of his Maker. Although the Gentiles had not the written law, yet “the work of the law was written in their hearts, so that their thoughts sometimes accused, and sometimes excused them.” These notices of duty, rendered clearer and more authoritative by the divine Spirit, darted a light into his mind, which showed him his character in all its deformity, and overwhelmed him with confusion and dismay. Hence, “he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas; and brought them out, and said “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

It is not to be supposed, that the jailor had distinct ideas of the nature of the salvation which is revealed in the gospel. But he was convinced, that a creature fallen under the displeasure of God, is in most alarming circumstances; and that to be delivered from this condition, to escape the vengeance, and to be restored to the favour of the Almighty, is a blessing of greater value than any which the world can bestow. The first object of the desire of an awakened sinner, is pardon. His conscience pronounces a sentence of condemnation upon him, which the law of God confirms. While its awful threatenings sound in his ears, like the tremendous voice of the trumpet on Sinai, which made Moses fear and quake, he longs to hear the gentle and tranquillizing language of mercy. What would not this man give for peace with his offended Creator? In his present state he can find no rest. His mind is incessantly 241foreboding evil; he trembles on the brink of perdition, expecting every moment to fall into it; he suspects danger from every quarter, for there is not a creature which may not be made a minister of divine vengeance; the day is spent in anxiety, and the night in tears and groans. He turns successively to the various earthly sources of comfort, but finds them all empty. He tries, without success, every expedient to relieve himself. He is willing to perform any duty however painful, and to offer any sacrifice however costly, which shall extricate him from danger. He would listen with pleasure to any man, who could point out a refuge from the vengeance by which he is pursued. “What shall I do to be saved?” cried the jailor of Philippi, in the agony of his soul. A few hours before, he, had rudely thrust Paul and Silas into the inner prison, and made them fast in the stocks; but now he applies to them for counsel in the most momentous of all concerns, and humbly prostrates himself at their feet. The demoniac had declared them to be “the servants of the most high God, who showed unto men the way of salvation.” He remembered her words, which, when he first heard them, had probably excited his ridicule, and was willing implicitly to submit to their instructions. “Tell me what I should do?”

The answer of Paul and Silas is related in the next verse. “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” This short sentence contains the substance of the gospel; but we can consider it as only a summary of what was spoken in reply to the question. It was necessary to inform the jailor, who Jesus Christ was, for he cannot be supposed to have. known much more concerning him than his name, and what is that salvation, of which he is the author, as well as to explain the nature of faith which was recommended to him, as the mean of obtaining an interest in it. A heathen would have naturally thought of purifications and sacrifices, as expedients for rendering the Deity propitious. He had been accustomed to attach great importance and efficacy to these observances. So every man who is convinced of sin, his own heart suggests penitential tears, confession, acts of mortification, and amendment of life, as the only recommendations, to the divine favour; for the idea of obedience or good works, as the condition of the blessings which we expect from our Creator, is interwoven with the frame and principles of our nature. Man, in a. fallen state, fondly recurs to that constitution, which was adapted only to a state of innocence and perfection. But the gospel points 242out a shorter and surer way to salvation. Let the sinner believe in Jesus Christ, and he shall be saved. Conscious of guilt and moral impurity, and renouncing confidence in his imaginary virtue, let him rely upon the atonement and meritorious obedience of the Son of God, and he shall obtain the pardon of his offences, and a right to the forfeited inheritance of immortal felicity. As by the first man we were ruined, by the second man, who is the Lord from heaven, we are restored. Do you ask how this plan of justifying the ungodly, is consistent with the wisdom and justice of God? The answer is ready. As our guilt was transferred to Jesus Christ, that he might expiate it by his death upon the cross; so his merit is transferred to those who believe the record of the gospel, or cordially trust in him whom it reveals. By the sacrifice of our Redeemer, the demands of justice were satisfied; and it is, therefore, agreeable to justice, to exempt from punishment, those in whose room it was offered. “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” While this plan secures the honour of the divine perfections and government, it is most acceptable and consoling to a sinner, overwhelmed by a consciousness of crimes, and of spiritual impotence. The obedience which to him would be impracticable, has been already performed; and nothing is required from him but that he should consent to what his Saviour has done, “rejoicing in Christ Jesus, and having no confidence in the flesh.”

The jailor was encouraged to believe, by the promise of salvation not to himself alone, but also to his house. “Thou shalt be saved, and all thy house.” These words cannot signify, that through his faith, all the persons, old and young, belonging to his family, should be entitled to salvation; but that such of them as believed in Jesus Christ should be saved, as well as himself; and that his children should be admitted into the covenant of God, and to their seed after them.” The children of believers enjoy great advantages from the prayers, the instructions, and the example of their parents, which are often followed, through the blessing of God, with happy effects. The actual salvation of them all, cannot, with any appearance of truth, be affirmed, because we observe too many instances of their forsaking the God of their fathers; but certainly there is ground of hope, with respect to such of them as die in early life. That there were other adult persons in the family, besides the jailor himself, is evident from the thirty-second verse, where we read, that 243Paul and Silas “spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.” They did not speak in vain; for we are farther informed, that “he and all his were baptized straightway.” The word of God is quick and powerful. It operates with rapid and irresistible energy, illuminating in a moment the darkened mind, as in the beginning, when God said, “Let there be light, there was light;” and effecting a complete revolution in the state of the heart. The human soul is originally like a dreary wilderness, the habitation of dragons and of every foul bird, and fertile only in briers and thorns. But by the command of God, the desert is converted into a fruitful field; it becomes the garden of the Lord, in which peace resides, and all the graces flourish. How surprising the change, which, in the course of a single night, was effected in the house of the jailor! It was turned into a sacred mansion of faith and devotion, where, instead of the language of profaneness, and the invocations of idolatry, were heard the songs of salvation.

How happy was this family! The new convert rejoiced, and so did all his house. “The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous.” There is no joy like that which flows from the belief of the gospel. It purifies, while it refreshes the soul; it gives a more elevated tone to the feelings than worldly pleasures can give; it contains no poisonous mixture, which afterwards corrodes the heart; it sheds a lustre upon every object, and cheers even the dark hours of adversity; and, in a word, it is permanent, going with us, whithersoever we go, accompanying us to death, and springing up within us, as “a well of living water,” in the world to come.

Remark the great change which has taken place in the temper and manners of this man. The day before, he had treated Paul and Silas with cruelty, aggravating the unjust sentence of the magistrates, by the unfeeling harshness with which he executed it. But now he soothes and comforts them, not only from gratitude to the men, who had been the instruments of bringing salvation to his house, but from that humanity, which the grace of God never fails to inspire. “And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them.” Do you wish to see a man of feeling? Look not for him in the stories of romance, nor among those affected sentimentalists whose tears flow at tales of fictitious 244distress, while their sensibility is not awakened by the real miseries of life. You will find him in the abodes of piety, and among the select few, whose hearts are softened by the love of God. They love others, “not in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” They watch the beds of the sick and dying; visit the receptacles of poverty, to wake up joy in the bosoms of the naked and hungry; pour consolation into the hearts of the widow and the fatherless; and go in quest of the sheep which have wandered into the wilderness, the outcasts, whom the proud virtue of the world has abandoned. They weep over an enemy when he has fallen; and like the good Samaritan, pour oil and wine into the wounds of a Jew. To alleviate sorrow, and diffuse happiness, is their sweetest enjoyment.

I shall pass over the remaining verses with a few remarks. “And when it was day, the magistrates sent the sergeants, saying, Let these men go. And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul. The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace.” During the night, the passion of the rulers bad subsided, and reflecting upon what they had done, they perceived that they had been guilty of an abuse of their authority, for which they might be called to account. They had punished and imprisoned two men, upon a simple accusation, without allowing them to defend themselves. They gave orders, therefore, to set the prisoners at liberty, not doubting that they would quickly withdraw from the city. But Paul and Silas now thought it proper to assert their rights. They were Roman citizens, whose persons and privileges were guarded by the laws with jealous care. To scourge a Roman was a crime, which subjected the offender to severe punishment; and it was an aggravation of the present case, that citizens had been scourged without any evidence of their guilt. “They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison, and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves, and fetch us out.” Had those ministers of Jesus Christ been governed by the same principles which usually influence men on similar occasions, they would have prosecuted the magistrates with the utmost rigour of law. They were satisfied, however, with alarming and humbling them, not to gratify their pride and resentment, but, in the most public manner, to vindicate their own character, for the credit of the gospel. It would add to its reputation in the eyes of the people, that its 245preachers were not vagrants, without a country or a name, but men under the protection of the laws, whom no person, however high in office, could wrong with impunity.

How submissive have those insolent magistrates suddenly become! Instead of resenting the answer of Paul and Silas, as disrespectful to their dignity, they go to the prison, implore the forgiveness of the men, whom they had treated so ignominiously, and request, for they would not now venture to compel them, to depart out of the city. Had they known the character of the persons whom they had injured, they would not have been so much afraid. From their resentment they had nothing to dread. Those meek disciples of Jesus were ready to pardon their worst enemies, and would, the next moment, have performed any office of kindness to them. Their Master had taught them “to love their enemies, to bless them that cursed them, to do good to them that hated them, and to pray for them which despitefully used them, and persecuted them.” “For your hatred,” said a bishop and a martyr, addressing himself to the heathens, “we render benevolence; and in return for the torments and punishments which are inflicted upon us, we show the way of salvation. Believe and live; and may you who persecute us in time, rejoice with us through eternity.”2626Cyprian. contra Demetrianum.

We learn from the history which we have considered, what state of mind is necessary to prepare us for giving serious attention to the gospel. It was not, till the conscience of the jailor was alarmed, that he began to inquire what lie should do to be saved. We know with what indifference we listen to a discourse which does not interest us. While it excites, perhaps, the liveliest emotions in others, it procures our attention with difficulty. Such is the nature of the gospel, that without a peculiar train of sentiments and affections, it must be the most insipid of all subjects. What pleasure can a person, whose thoughts are engrossed by the pursuits of the present life, and who is careless of his immortal soul; what pleasure can he derive from hearing of the love of God in giving his only begotten Son, and of Jesus Christ in dying upon the cross for our salvation; of the riches of divine grace in the justification of the ungodly; and of the sanctifying influences of the spirit? While the awakened sinner grasps at every word of consolation which the 246gospel speaks, the secure sinner, who stands in as much need of salvation as he, yawns and sleeps, or regards it merely as a tale of other times, and other men. It is the wounded heart which feels the virtue of the balsam of divine grace. “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick.” It is, therefore, the first concern of all to acquire the knowledge of their own character, which is the foundation of spiritual wisdom. Much may be learned by attention to their conduct, which often furnishes incontestable proofs of innate depravity, by listening to the testimony of conscience, and by consulting the word of God; but above all, they should earnestly implore the assistance of the Spirit of truth, who opened the eyes of the jailor of Philippi. Then, and not till then, will the gospel be to them “as cold water to a thirsty soul, or as good news from a far country.”

The question, “What shall I do to be saved?” is the most important which can be proposed. It is a question in which all men are equally concerned. The reason that so few are earnest in the inquiry, is to be found in the insensibility of their hearts: but why are they so insensible? Why are they alive to all interests but those of their souls? Why are they eager in the pursuit of wealth, honour, and amusement, while the great salvation is neglected? If any awakened sinner is putting the question; if, under an apprehension of the wrath of God, he is desirous to know by what means he shall escape, we have no other answer to return than that of Paul and Silas, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” How thankful should we be, that we are not left to conjectures, where uncertainty is so distressing, and an error would be fatal! As conscience retains some degree of authority among the Gentiles, they must often feel a sense of sin, and be perplexed in their endeavours to find out the means of relief. “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil! Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” Disregarding the voice of revelation, men, in Christian countries, have suffered themselves to be misled by the suggestions of pride, and the dreams of superstition. We see the sinner labouring to conciliate the favour of his Maker, at one time, by vows, prayers, and penitence, and at another, by pilgrimages, austerities, and ceremonial 247observances. But the doctrine preached by Paul and Silas is the truth, which has in every age, proved “the power of God unto salvation.” Nothing else can give solid peace to the anxious, trembling soul. Let us embrace and hold it fast, if we would not be disappointed; and remember, that Jesus Christ is the only hope of the guilty. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” His blood ensures the pardon of our sins, however numerous and aggravated; his spirit is able to purify out souls; his merit will entitle us to heaven; and his power will preserve us, notwithstanding our weakness, and the temptations to which we are exposed, till our hope be crowned with the full fruition of eternal felicity.

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