« PoprzedniaDalej »
believe in his name, and confess him as their
Saviour and their Lord.
The sower sowed the seed.
What would come of it? Would the birds of the air devour it, before it could sink within the heart? Would Satan be able to prevent its entering in, and taking root?
This we may ask, wherever the word of God is spoken. Shall it be heard, as if it were not heard? Thought of no more? Shall it be at first admitted, and begin to spring; and afterwards be cut off by difficulties and temptations, or so choked with cares and worldly things, as to produce no fruit? Or shall it make a firm lodgement within, take root downward, abiding root, and bear fruit upward to the glory of him who planted it?
This must depend upon the heavenly husbandman. In this case, certainly, he was present to bless the work of the sower. There was at least one "honest and good heart," which so received the word that it did take root and grow, and brought forth fruit many fold. The historian says,
14. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.
How singular are the ways of Providence! This woman was of Thyatira, a place adjoining the region of Asia, where Paul had intended to preach the gospel, but was "forbidden of the Holy Ghost." In her course of worldly business she is brought across the sea to Philippi; and there she hears, and
there she receives, the word of life. She attended to the words spoken: heard them in a different manner from others of the same assembly. This is clearly implied here; and it is no less distinctly stated, that this was the Lord's doing the effect of his influence. Her heart the Lord opened: opened what is not open naturally: opened what without his grace would have been closed.
So it is everywhere, and at all times. "Some believe the words spoken, and some believe not." And those who have been led to receive the scriptures, as they are in truth, as the word of God, will not to be slow to give God the glory: to acknowledge that if he had not moved their hearts, they would have remained for ever shut against his word.
At the same time we are not surprised that God did distinguish this woman by his blessing. It is in agreement with his usual ordinance, that they who seek shall find. For observe her conduct. She was but a sojourner in Philippi, come thither as a seller of purple cloth, for which her part of Asia was famous. But she had not, when she left her home, left also her religion behind her. She had sought out those who worshipped God, and had gone with them to the place of
Neither was she so engrossed with worldly affairs as to neglect all other things. She was not in Jerusalem, or in Judea, where the sabbath would be observed by all: but she was in a heathen city, where it would be observed by none except the Jewish residents. She might therefore have carried on her trade, and sold her purple cloth; but she
had been brought to the knowledge of that God, who, when he made the world, "blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it :" and therefore we find her, not in the market, not offering her purple to the passers by; but joining the party which had gone out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made.
Perhaps there are many whose advantages have been much greater than this woman's, who might learn a lesson from her.
Such was the person whose heart the Lord opened that she attended unto the things spoken of Paul. She attended to them. And they were "the words of eternal life." Had she been otherwise minded, and put them from her, the would have put eternal life away. So infinite, so incalculable is the concern dependent on the manner in which we hear that word, which is "the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.”
LYDIA IS BAPTIZED, WITH HER
AND RECEIVES THE APOSTLES AS HER GUESTS. —A. D. 53.
ACTS xvi. 15.
15. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.
Such is the continuation of the history of Lydia, whom we lately left, attending unto the things which are spoken of Paul. We find by what follows, how much was included in the word, attending.
The words of It was matter
We know by experience what it is to attend or not attend, to a thing spoken, an offer made. If we think it concerns us, may convey to us some good, or relieve us from some evil, we attend to it; we give our mind to it; we lay hold of it. Otherwise it passes by us like the wind. Paul did not pass by this woman. of consequence to her, that "God had so loved the world, as to send his only Son, that all that believe in him might not perish but have everlasting life." She thought within herself, This is the very comfort which I need. If I have a soul which must return unto him who gave it: if there is an account held of "the things done in the body:" then, "blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered." And blessed be God, who has laid on One, One infinite and omnipotent to bear it, that iniquity which must otherwise have overwhelmed us at the judgment day. 66 Yea, blessed be God for his unspeakable gift!"
Thus she attended to the things spoken. We may expect, perhaps, that she would lay them up in her mind, to be thought more upon hereafter, and acted on at 66 a more convenient season.' No such delay could satisfy her. If he that believeth and is baptized is saved; if he is saved who receiveth Jesus as the Christ, and the sign of re
ceiving him is the being baptized in his name; what hinders my being baptized? So she would reason. And we read that she was baptized and her household. All persons are justly fearful of delay when they find an offer suit them. There often is, indeed, delay in things relating to the soul. The Lord's supper, for example, becomes now often, practically, the seal of faith, as the sacrament of baptism was the seal of faith to Lydia: and this is delayed by many, for want of fitness, they urge; but really for want of faith, for want of will, for want of a heart entirely surrendered up to God. But when we truly feel the value of what is offered us, we do not wait till to-morrow for what we may secure to-day. And so it was with Lydia, and with her household, moved no doubt by her advice, and influence, and example. She was baptized and her household. They entered into the fold of which Jesus was the shepherd. They were grafted upon the vine of which Jesus is the stem. They were made part of that family in heaven and earth, which is named after Him whose "name is above every name." They were made ministers of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven.
There is a striking sentence in St. John, 1 Ep. iii. 14" By this we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother, abideth in death." Now Lydia, if truly converted, and "led by the Spirit" of God, had passed from death unto life.