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CONTENTS OF THE FIRST VOLUME.
THE CONVERSION OF THE JAILER.
Acts xvi. 30, 31, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the
Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.
HE question I have read to you was asked by the
jailer at Philippi, and the answer was given by Paul and Silas. The case was this : Paul and Silas were taken up for preaching the gospel, and brought before the rulers. The rulers unjustly caused them to be severely whipped, and then “ 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.”
But these good men were not unhappy; their Master was with them, according to his gracious promise, and filled their hearts with joy; so that, even at midnight, they could not refrain from singing praises to God; and their fellow prisoners, in other dungeons, heard them with surprise.
Just then, that God might shew his regard to them, and his anger against their persecutors, there was, all on a sudden, a very great and awful earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken by it. At the same time, all the doors flew open ; and all the bands and fetters that were on them, and the rest of the prisoners, dropped off at once.
The keeper of the jail, starting up from his sleep, and finding the prisoners at liberty, was so terrified lest he should be charged with a breach of trust in letting them escape, that he drew his sword, and was going to stab himself.
But Paul, knowing his wicked design, and moved with pity for him, though he had used them so ill, cried out
aloud, “Do thyself no harm, for we are all here.” The Jailer, calling for a light, ran with all speed into the inner prison ; and being full of horror at such an appearance of God in favour of his servants, and, at the same time, struck by the Holy Spirit with a deep conviction of his own guilt and danger, he threw himself on the ground before them, and asked their direction for the relief of his soul, in the words of our text : “ Sirs, what must I do to 66 be saved ?" A more important qustion was never asked. It becomes every one to make the inquiry ; and if any one of you have never before seriously made it, God grant you may do so now ! The answer given, and the only proper answer
that could be given, was, “ Believe on “the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” May the Lord assist us while we consider these two parts of the text!
I. An important question.
I. The question. It is in few words, but they are full of meaning. Let us examine it. And I shall consider it, first,
As the language of conviction. By conviction, I mean the work of the Holy Spirit on the mind of a sinner, whereby he is convinced that he is a sinner, and is properly affected with it. Without this, people try to excuse or lessen their sins. Some lay the blame of their sin upon others, as Adam did upon Eve, and as Eve did upon the serpent. People in general think very little, and very lightly, of their sin. Some even make a mock at sin, and glory in it. This is a sad state to be in. Such persons are very far from God, and have no religion at all, whatever they may pretend to have. Such were the Pharisees, who were thought to be very religious; but they generally despised and opposed Jesus Christ; for, as he told them, “the whole need not a physician, but those who are sick.
But it is a good thing to be sensible of our sin. It is the first work of God upon the soul to make us so. For this purpose we must consider the holy law of God contained in the Ten Commandments. "By the law is the knowledge of sin ;” and, “Sin is the transgression of the law." Thus St. Paul himself came to see he was a