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ligion which he had established among them. To all the ordinances of his appointment, she attended so far as she could. Her temporal concerns did not operate as a snare to make her neglect her spiritual duties; nor did the ornamental and costly article in which she dealt, draw off her heart from God. In this she has set an example which professing believers would do well to follow. Alas, how many, on the contrary, let the business of life interfere with the service of God, during the week! And what is worse, how many make no scruple of sacrificing the duties of the Sabbath to their temporal advantage! Not satisfied with six days, they sacrilegiously rob God of his time, and, by the occupations of the week, invade the seventh day, which he has commanded to be kept holy. Instead of worshipping God in the assemblies of the saints, or in their houses, they are reading newspapers, strolling along the streets, collecting at postoffices, lounging in their houses, as if to teach their children and servants how God's commands can be put at defiance by sinful men! Oh, the breaches of the Sabbath alone are enough to draw down God's yen
1.] THE CONVERSION OF LYDIA. 389 geance on this land! Would to God that professing believers were not chargeable with them, as well as others. The Sabbath is holy time, and must be spent scrupulously in acts of religion, works of necessity, and exercises of charity. It is utterly unlawful on this day to attend to our temporal employments, or partake of those temporal pleasures which are lawful and proper in the week. On this subject Christians cannot cherish too tender a conscience, for he who suffers wordly concern to supersede his attention to the duties of the Sabbath, will soon feel the effects in his religious state. Thus also, he who during the week neglects the regular worship of God in his family, on account of his worldly occupation, will suffer. They need not interfere. Each is entitled to a place in our attention ; but each in due order, God first, then the world : the world in subordination to God. : Thus Lydia acted; she attended to her occupation, and she worshipped God. On the present occasion, she had met with the other women, for observing the Sabbath day, as commanded. To her, as to the others, the disciples spake. Paul was here, we find from the 15th v. as usual, the chief speaker. Though, like one born out of due time, he was admirably qualified by the Holy Spirit to preach Christ. He could adapt his instructions to the humblest and feeblest, as well as raise them to the level of the mightiest intellect, and the most extensive erudition. He shone in the Areopagus in Athens; made Felix tremble on his judgment seat in Cesarea, and constrained an apostate Jewish King to exclaim, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. This was the man who exerted all his powers now for the benefit of the devout women of Philippi, assembled in the oratory on the river side. And the Lord accompanied his preaching with a blessing to Lydia. She only is mentioned on this occasion. Her heart was opened by the Lord.
The manner of expression used is significant and instructive. We are taught,
First, that Lydia's heart was closed to the truth of God by nature. She was an externally devout woman, who attended to the duties of religion; but her heart was the seat of enmity against God. Such is the condition of every one previous to regeneration. Every thing evil is cherished in the heart; every thing truly good is excluded. Pride, prejudice, the love of sin, and the love of the world, all operate as keepers of the heart, to secure it against the reception of Christ. Nor must we omit unbelief, that crowning sin of our nature. Unbelief of God's threatening made our first parents transgress God's command; unbelief of God's gracious offer of pardon keeps sinners from salvation and heaven. By this sin the heart is barred against the word preached, against judgments and mercies in providence, against the remonstrances of conscience.
Secondly, To open the heart, Almighty power is necessary. The Lord opened Lydia's heart. She had not the inclination naturally to open her heart; and when she felt the inclination, found herself unable to do it.
Every convinced sinner feels this truth; a truth taught us as with a sun-beam in the Scriptures. We are described as dead in trespasses and sins; as helpless and under the curse. From this state we cannot, by our own exertions, deliver ourselves : Can a lame man walk straight, or a blind man see? Equally impossible is it for a sinner to open his heart. The Law, by its terrors, will not do it; prosperous or adverse providences will not do it; the Gospel of itself will not do it; the Lord must do it.
Thirdly, Lydia's heart, naturally closed to divine truth, was opened by the Lord. This operation of Almighty power was upon the faculties of her soul. Her whole heart was opened. Her understanding was enlightened, so that she perceived the nature and excellence of divine truth, as unfolded to her in the preaching of the apostles. To the demand of this truth, her will, without hesitation, yielded obedience, and chose the truth, which her understanding approved. Her affections being reyolutionized by this illumination of her understanding, she loved the truth which she had chosen, sincerely and supremely... i
Thus her heart was opened. The operation was completely successful, though gentle and mild. She appears to have felt no terror; to have undergone no heavy law work. Sweetly, but irresistibly, was she drawn from sin to holiness, from darkness to light. The change was real and astonish