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place where they were known to congregate on the Sabbath. The result of this speaking to the women who resorted there was that Lydia, "whose heart the Lord opened to attend to the things spoken by Paul,” "heard." Then, it is stated, the Lord opened her heart. A very important question is raised here, and that is, How did the Lord open Lydia's heart? Did He
open it by the preaching of His inspired apostle or by a direct miracle—by an abstract operation without visible means? It will be observed that her heart was not opened to hear, but simply to "attend to the things which were spoken by Paul.” This brings us to consider another important question: Is the preaching of an inspired apostle sufficient to open
the heart? If it is, then it is not reasonable to expect means to be employed beyond and above this, for if the Lord employed such means He employs means not necessary. If all the means required heart were present, why expect other means?
The rule is that God does for us only such things as we can not do for ourselves. Could Lydia believe? Could she repent? Could she obey the inspired teaching of the apostle, or was an immediate, abstract operation required in her case? If so it will not be in harmony with the general scope and meaning of the Scriptures. It may be here stated as an absolute fact, that originating truth and presenting it properly attested belong to God, and that hearing, believing, repenting, and obeying belong to man. If the Lord opened the heart of Lydia abstractly, or independent of Paul's preaching, then this case forms an exception
to open her
to all the cases thus far passed in review. Again, if the Lord opened her heart abstractly or miraculously, then persons can not be condemned for rejecting preaching, and all that large portion of Scripture reproving and condemning persons for rejecting offered salvation is worse than meaningless. We find that Christ and His ambassadors universally turned from presenting the truth when it was rejected; when they closed their eyes and hardened their hearts; when they “judged themselves unworthy of eternal life.”
Again, this abstract theory would clash with many other passages of Scripture, such as, “The gospel is the power of God to salvation,” it“ pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” And, finally, it would destroy man's responsibility and accountability. The infinitely wise Being certainly would not hold man responsible for an act which He alone could perform. The fact is that man went away from God by hearing a falsehood, believing a falsehood, and acting upon a falsehood. He comes back by hearing the truth, believing the truth, and obeying the truth. What are we then to understand by the expression, “whose heart the Lord opened that she attended to the things spoken by Paul” ? Simply that she “became obedient to the faith”—the Lord opened her heart through the instrumentality of His inspired apostle. When it is stated that the Lord added to the church daily,” we do not understand that they were added without the instrumentality of the gospel. As the whole gospel is properly ascribed to the Lord, so any part, however minute, connected with pardon may be called His work. But in no part have we a right to expect Him to interfere in such a way as to mar the harmony of the whole. We need not, therefore, expect Him to open the heart of one by a miracle, and require others to believe and obey on the presentation of the truth. This case of Lydia forms no exception to those we have considered. “In attending to the things which were spoken by Paul,” she no doubt complied with the terms of pardon, believing, repenting, and, we are informed, “she was baptized and all her household.” Thus we find here, as in the preceding cases, that baptism was the consummating act in receiving Christ. After Lydia was baptized she invited Paul and his companions to abide with her at her house, which they did.
While Paul remained in the city he was annoyed by a bondmaid possessed with a spirit of divination, who, it is said, “brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same following after Paul and us, cried out, saying, These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim unto you
of salvation, and this she did for many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour." This is the first case on record in which Paul is said to have cast out a spirit. When the masters of this bondmaid saw “that the hope of their gain was gone,”a they arrested Paul and Silas.
a Acts xvi. 19.
PAUL AT PHILIPPI
The Conversion of the Jailer. He Preached the Word of the
Lord. More than Faith Required.
This brings us to the conversion of the Philippian jailer. We are now informed that “the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates rent off their clothes and commanded to beat them with rods. And when they had laid many stripes upon them they cast them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely. Who having received such a charge thrust them into the inner prison and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God, and the prisoners were listening to them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's bands were loosed. And the jailer awaking out of sleep and seeing the prison doors open drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. And he called for a light and he 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? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved and thy house. And they spake to him the word of the Lord and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes and was baptized, he and all his, immediately. And he brought them into his house and set meat before them and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house." a
The conversion of the Philippian jailer has caused much discussion in the religious world, and therefore all the facts connected with it require careful consideration. It will be borne in mind that he was a Gentile, that before Paul and Silas were imprisoned, they had been in the city a number of days preaching; that during part of this time they were followed by a demoniac who “cried, saying, These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim unto you
of salvation.”b That the jailer had learned something of the character of their mission from this circumstance or from them, or through common report, is manifest by the question he asked: "Sirs, what must I do to be saved ?" This is the most important question ever asked by man. It is here put by the anxious jailer in its plainest and most concise form. The answer was, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” This answer, though plain and direct, has caused much discussion. It is the favorite text with all those who teach faith alone or faith to the a Acts xvi. 22–34. b Acts xvi. 16, 17.
c Acts xvi. 31.