Sermon 2275. Belief, Baptism, Blessing
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 1892.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING. FEBRUARY 9, 1890.
"And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. Andwhen he bad brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house." Acts 16:33,34.
THE Gospel, attended by the Spirit of God, is always victorious, but it is very pleasant to make notes of its victories. TheGospel came to Lydia, a devout woman, who was one given to prayer, and who worshipped God, although she did not know the LordJesus Christ. She was a woman of tender heart and she was soon won. The Lord gently knocked at the door of her heart and itwas opened. She heard Paul's plain preaching, she received the Truth of God, was baptized, and became the cornerstone of theChurch at Philippi. "Well," says one, "that is an instance of what the Gospel does with delicate, tender, gentle natures."
Now, here is an old soldier. He has been in the wars, he has earned distinction and has been appointed to the office of jailorat Philippi, an office of some importance under the Roman Emperor. He is a man who knows the sight of blood- he is of a coarse,though apparently honest, disposition. He keeps prisoners and that is not an office that brings much gentleness with it-andhe is under very stern law. He carries out strict discipline in the prison. He is as hard as a bit of the lower millstone.What will the Gospel do with him? Brothers and Sisters, it triumphed as much in the jailor at Philippi as it did in the ladyfrom Thyatira! And while it won its way into the heart of the dealer in purple, it also worked its way into the heart of thedealer in crimson who had often shed precious blood! The victory over the rough Philippian jailor was as illustrious as thevictory over the gentle and devout Lydia.
I want especially to call your attention to this point-the Philippian jailor stands before us as one who was converted, baptizedand who brought forth useful fruit all in the compass of an hour or so. "Straightway," says my text. It also says, "The samehour of the night." This man was brought from darkness into the marvelous Light of God all of a sudden! He was so distinctlybrought that he avowed his conversion, then and there, and went on to prove its reality right then, in his own house, by entertainingthe men whom, a few hours before, he had thrust into the inner prison and whose feet he had made fast in the stocks.
In a great many cases, conversion may be said to be a slow work. I do not think that it really is so, but it appears to beso. There is the early training, there is the awakening of conscience, there is the seeking to find Christ, the struggling,the little Light of God, the dim hope, the faith like a grain of mustard seed and, by-and-by, a little confidence- afterwardsfaith more clear and then, after a long time, comes the public avowal of the joy and peace received through believing! Wehave a great many people round us who are very slow. Why it is, I do not know, for this is not a slow age. People are fastenough about the things of this world. We cannot travel fast enough. Everything must be done at express speed! But in thethings of God there are numbers of persons who are as slow as snails. I have often wondered how the snail got into the ark-hemust have started very early to get in. I am thankful that he did get in, however, as certainly as the hare or the gazelle.And many of our crawling friends, I trust, will be found in Heaven, and will be really saved, although they are a long whilein coming to Christ. It takes a long time to get some of them even a small distance on the road towards a comfortable assuranceof salvation.
I have no doubt that the work of Grace is very gradual in some people. It is like the sunrise in this country. I am sure thatyou cannot tell, on foggy mornings, when the sun rises. I have sometimes questioned whether he ever does rise in England-Ihave seen very little of him for the last few days. I believe that the sun has been seen in England-I take it as
a matter of trust that that ruddy wafer that I saw the other day really was the sun-although it is a great contrast to theking of day who rules in the sunny South! Who can tell when he begins to shine upon the earth? There is a little gray light,by-and-by a little more, and a little more, and at last you can say that the sun has fairly risen. So it is with some Christians.There is a tiny gleam of light and then a little more light, and then a further ray of light-but it is only after a considerabletime that you can say that the full light has really come into their souls.
Yet, mark you, there is a moment when the sun's disc first appears above the horizon. There is a moment when the circle ofthe sun is really first visible, just an instant, the smallest portion of time and, in conversion, there must be a time inwhich death has gone and life has come-and that must be as sharp a division as the razor's edge could make. There really cannotbe anything between life and death. The man is either dead or alive-and there must be some point at which he ceases to bedead and becomes living. A man cannot be somewhere between condemnation and justification- there is no land in between. Theman is either condemned on account of sin, or he is justified through the righteousness of Christ! He cannot be between thosetwo states so that, after all, in its essence, salvation must be an instantaneous thing. It may be, it will be, surroundedby a good deal that seems to lead up to it and makes it appear to be gradual. But, in reality, if you get to the root of thematter, there is a turning point, well-defined and sharp, and if not clear to you, it is clear to the Great Worker who hasworked in the heart that is changed from death to life, and from condemnation through sin to justification through Jesus Christ!
I. In this Philippian jailor's case, everything is sharp, clear, distinct. In considering it, I will first call your attentionto the fact that HERE IS A PERSON CONVERTED AT ONCE.
This man's conversion was worked at once. There was no previous thought. There is nothing that I can imagine in his previouslife that led up to it. He had not been plied with sermons, instructions, invitations, entreaties. Probably, up to that nighthe had never even heard the name of Jesus Christ-and what he did hear was that these two men, who had come to Philippi preachingChrist, were to be treated with severity and kept safely. Therefore, he thrust them into the inner dungeon and made theirfeet fast in the stocks. All his previous education was un-Christian, if not anti-Christian. All his former life, whatevermay have been his Roman virtues, was quite clear of anything like Christian virtue. He knew nothing about that. Nothing couldbe a greater contrast than the ethics of Rome and the teachings of Christ. This jailor was a good Roman, but he was nothingof a Christian when he thrust the Apostles into prison. And yet, before the sun again rose, there was not a better Christiananywhere than that man was! He had passed from death unto life! He was resting on the Christian foundation! He was the possessorof Christian Graces!
Hear this, you who have never thought of Christ-and let any man who came in here, tonight, a total stranger to true religion,pray that the same may be the case with him-that before the midnight bell shall toll, he, too, may find the Savior!
What do you think impressed this man? I think, in part, it may have been the behavior of Paul and Silas. They had no curseson their lips when he made their feet fast in the stocks. They used no ribald language when he thrust them into the innermostcell. They let fall words, I do not doubt, the like of which he had never heard. And their patience, their cheerfulness, theirdauntless courage, their holy joy must all have struck him. They belonged to a different order of prisoners from any he hadever seen before. The jail at Philippi had never held the like of these before and the jailor could not make them out. Hefell asleep that night with many thoughts of a new character. Who were these men? Who was this Jesus of whom they spoke?
Then, in the middle of the night, an amazing miracle was worked. The prison is shaken by an earthquake. The keeper rises.The prisoners must have gone, for the doors are open. He had not carelessly left them unbolted-he had fastened them beforehe went to bed-but they are all open and the prisoners are without chains! They will get away and he will have to suffer forit. He puts the sword to his own breast-he is about to kill himself, when, just at that moment, he hears a loud voice crying-"Doyourself no harm, for we are all here." What a surprise for him! What a revulsion of feeling those words caused! "We are allhere." He thinks to himself, "Truly there is a God. It must be the God of Paul and Silas who has worked this miracle." Hebegins to tremble. He has lived without knowing this God. He has ill-treated the messengers of this God. He brings them out.He respectfully addresses them, "Sirs," he earnestly cries to them, "What must I do to be saved?" The idea of being lost hascome over him. It is not that he is afraid to die, for he was about to put himself
to death-but he is afraid of what is to follow after death! He is a lost man and, therefore, he asks, "What must I do to be
Now it is that he is plainly told the way of salvation. It was put with great brevity, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,and you shall be saved, and your house." Probably he did not understand it when he heard it, and so, "they spoke unto himthe Word of the Lord and to all that were in his house." His wife, his children, his servants, whoever made up his household,all gathered round the two preachers-and they explained the way of salvation, salvation by faith in Christ, salvation by theatoning Sacrifice of Christ, salvation by faith in the precious blood of Christ. Paul and Silas doubtless told the companythat whoever believed in Jesus should not perish, but have everlasting life. The jailor believed it, believed every word ofit, and he was, therefore, saved, and saved at once!
If you have never heard the Gospel before and you hear it, tonight, and believe in Christ, you will be saved at once! If youhave been a total stranger to all good things, yet, if you now receive the blessed tidings of mercy through the Son of God,pardon through His shed blood, you shall go out of this house justified, saved-saved in an instant-saved by the simple actof faith! It is a happy circumstance that the Gospel is so simple. There are certain preachers who seem as if they must mystifyit, like the preacher who said, "Brothers and Sisters, I have read you a chapter, and now I will confound it." No doubt thereare many who are always making out the Gospel to be a very difficult thing to understand- philosophical, deep and so on-butit was meant for the common people, it was given not merely for the elite, the learned, the instructed, but, "the poor havethe Gospel preached to them," and the Gospel is suitable to be preached to the poor. This is the Gospel, "Believe on the LordJesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your house." Trust Christ- and if you do, you shall be saved!
II. Secondly, HERE IS A PERSON CONFESSING HIS FAITH AT ONCE. "He was baptized, he and all his, straightway."
Should a person be baptized as soon as he believes? As a rule, yes, but there may be good reasons why he cannot be. Therewas no good reason for delay in this man's case, for, in the first place, his conversion was clear as noonday. Paul had noquestion about it. The man was really converted. Silas felt sure of it, too, and they did not hesitate to baptize him andall his household, for they all believed in God. Remember how it was with Philip and the eunuch? That Ethiopian nobleman said,"Look, here is water: what does hinder me to be baptized?" Philip replied, "If you believe with all your heart, you may."That being so, they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him then and there. If thebaptizer believes that the professor of faith in Christ is sincere, then he may not hesitate. If he has any doubt about it-ifhe is afraid that the confession is made in ignorance, or made without due thought-then it may be incumbent upon him to waita while. But otherwise, he must do as Ananias did to Saul of Tarsus-he must baptize him upon profession of his faith, as soonas he applies. The jailor's conversion, then, was clear.
In his case, also, there was no other reason for delay. In the case of many young persons, there are reasons for delay. Iremember, in my own case, my parents not believing in the Baptism of Believers, and I, being between 15 and 16 years of age,thought it my duty to consult my father and mother, and ask their counsel and advice. I think I did right. I did not expectthem to agree with me, but I did expect them to give me their loving concurrence, which they did, and I waited until I hadobtained it. Sometimes it will be right on the part of other young people to do the same. There may be reasons, practicalreasons for delay, or physical, moral, spiritual-I cannot go into them all at this time. A man may be excusable who, thougha Believer, is not immediately baptized, seeing that he intends to be as soon as it would be fitting and right and decorousand, in connection with other duties, a right thing. But there was no reason for delay in the jailor's case. The man was hisown master and his children and his servants had no difficulty in gaining his consent to their Baptism, seeing that he, himself,was about to lead the way in confessing Christ in the Scriptural fashion.
In this man's case, note, also, that he was not hindered by selfish considerations. Had the jailor been like some people thatI know, he would have found plenty of reasons for delaying his Baptism. First, he would have said, "Well, it is the middleof the night. Would you have me baptized at this hour?" He would have said that he did not know that there were conveniencesfor Baptism, for it is so easy to find it inconvenient when you do not like it. He might also have said, "I do not know howthe magistrates will like it." He did not care about the magistrates! Perhaps he would lose his employment. He did not takehis employment into consideration. Then what would the soldiers in the Philippian colony say when they heard that the jailorhad been baptized into the name of Christ? Oh, the guffaws of the guard room, the jokes
that there would be all over Philippi! This brave man did not take those things into consideration. Or if he did, he dismissedthem in a moment. It was right for him, now that he believed in Christ, to confess his faith in Christ-and he would do it,and he would do it "straightway."
Ah, dear Friends, there are some of you here who have never come out as Christians! You are what I call the rats behind thewainscot, or the black beetles that come out at night, when there is nobody about, to get a bit of food and then go back again.You never say what you are-you never come out on Christ's side! I am not going to condemn you. I wish that you would condemnyourselves, however, for I think that you ought to judge that you are acting a very mean part. The promise of eternal lifeis not made to a faith which is never declared. Allow me to say that over again. The promise of salvation is not made to afaith which is never declared. "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved." "With the heart man believes unto righteousnessand with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Our Lord's own words are, "Whoever, therefore, shall confess Me beforemen, him will I confess also before My Father which is in Heaven." And He also said, in connection with this confession, "butwhoever shall deny Me" (which must mean, "whoever does not confess Me") "before men, him will I also deny before My Fatherwhich is in Heaven." If you have not faith enough in Christ to say that you believe in Him, I do not think that you have faithenough in Christ to take you to Heaven, for it is written concerning the place of doom, "the fearful," (that is, the cowardly),and unbelieving, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone."
The fact was this man was in downright earnest and, therefore, he would not delay his Baptism. He had enlisted in the armyof Christ and he would wear Christ's regimentals straightway. I wish that some who profess conversion, or who profess to desireto be converted, were as much in earnest as this jailor was. "Well," says one, "do not be too severe upon us. I hope thatI am a Christian, although I have never confessed Christ yet." Why do you not confess Christ if you belong to Him? I spokelike this to a man who had been, according to his own confession, 20 years a Christian. He had never joined the Church. Hehad never made any open profession of religion. And when I spoke to him, what do you think he said to me? He said, "He thatbelieves shall not make haste." "Well," I replied, "if you were to be baptized and to join the Church tomorrow morning, Ido not think that there would be much haste in it as you have been a Believer 20 years! But a much more suitable text foryou would be this word of the Psalmist, 'I made haste, and delayed not to keep Your Commandments.'"
"Well," says another, "I have put it off a little while, and ..."-"A little while!" Is that what you allow your boy to sayto you? You say to him, "John, go up into the city for me on an errand." In about an hour afterwards you see him still athome and you ask why he has not done your bidding, and he says, "Father, I have put it off a little while." I think it islikely that you would make him recollect that excuse and not repeat it! But if you were to see him still about the house,hour after hour, and he said to you that he was not disobedient, but he had some little things of his own that he wanted tosee to first, I fancy you would teach him what a son's duty is! A servant of that kind would probably have to find a new mastervery quickly-and do you call yourself a servant of Christ when you have been putting off confessing him by being baptized,putting it off, and putting it off, until, as far as I can see, you are as far off obedience to your Lord's command as everyou were?
This jailor, "the same hour of the night" made confession of his faith, "and was baptized, he and all his, straightway." Andsoon they were all sitting down with Paul and Silas at a love feast, enjoying happy fellowship with the people of God. DearFriend, if you are converted, do not stand back from confessing Christ! You rob your minister of his wages, for it is hisreward to hear that God has blessed your soul! You are also robbing the Church. If you have a right to stand out and not confessChrist, everybody else has the same right-and where would there be any confession of Christ, or any visible Church, or anyordinances, or any minister? If you have a right not to come to Baptism, and the Lord's Supper, every other Christian hasa right to neglect these things, also. Then why were these ordinances instituted at all? What is Christ in His own house?Is He Master, or are you the master? And do you take liberty to do or not do just what you please? Come along and let my textbe true of all of you who believe-"He was baptized, he and all his, straightway."
III. Now, thirdly, HERE IS A PERSON USEFUL AT ONCE. Useful? What could he do?
Well, he did all he could. First, he performed an act of mercy-"He took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes."Dear, good men-they were covered all over with the marks of the Roman rods. They had been beaten black and blue-and theirblood had flowed freely. I think I see how tenderly the jailor washed their stripes. It
was before he was baptized that he brought forth fruits meet for repentance. The ill-used ministers needed washing- how couldtheir wounds be healed unless they were properly washed? With all the dust and dirt of the street and the grit of the prisonin the welts and the wounds, how could they heal? "He washed their stripes." I like to read these words. I am sure Paul andSilas must have enjoyed to have their stripes washed by one who, a little while ago, had been so rough with them. I do notknow that he could have done anything better to show his sincere repentance.
He washed their stripes and when he had done that, and had been baptized, we read that he brought them into his house andset meat before them. Thus, he exercised hospitality. He used his hands and his bath in washing the disciples. Now he useshis table, his larder, and his dining room to entertain them. What more could he do? Seeing that it was the middle of thenight, I cannot think of anything more that he could do. So now, if you love the Lord. If you have only just believed in Him,begin to do something for Him at once! It is a pity that we have so many Christian people, so-called, who do nothing for Christ-literallynothing! They have paid their pew rent, perhaps, and that is all Christ is to have out of them! He dies for them, redeemsthem with His precious blood-but they have done nothing for Him in return.
"I do not know what I can do," says one. I know you could do something. This jailor, within the boundaries of his prison,can do the most necessary things for Paul and Silas. And you, within the boundaries of this house, can do something for JesusChrist. I would ask you, if you have only tonight believed in Christ, do something for Him tonight. By speaking to your wife,or children, or servants, or neighbors, do something for Christ tonight! There is probably no minister shut up in prison inany part of your house who needs to have his stripes washed. If not, there may be some poor soul somewhere near you that needsa little help. Do an act of charity for Christ's sake! Or there may be some child of God whose heart you could cheer tonight.Do an act of hospitality for some needy saint and so show your gratitude for what the Lord has done for you. You must do somethingfor Christ if you are a real Christian.
We need to have a Church in which all the members do something, in which all do all they can, in which all are always doingall they can-for this is what our Lord deserves to have from a living, loving people bought with His precious blood! If Hehas saved me, I will serve Him forever and ever. And whatever lies in my power to do for His Glory, that shall be my delightto do, and to do at once! Oh, if some of you get saved, tonight, when you get home, there will be a difference in your house!Ah, and within a day or two, even your cat will know that there is a change in you! Everybody in the house will know thatyou are different from what you were. When a man who has been a drinker gets saved, or one who has been accustomed to usebad language, or one who has given way to passion, or a Sabbath-breaker, or a godless, Christless wretch-when he gets converted,it is as if Hell were turned into Heaven and the devil transformed into an angel! God make it so with any such who are here,by the working of Sovereign Grace!
I seem, at this moment, to remember that morning when I found the Savior. It was a cold snowy morning, and I remember standingbefore the fire, leaning on the mantel, after I got home, and my mother spoke to me, and I heard her say outside the door,"There is a change come over Charles." She had not had half-a-dozen words with me, but she saw that I was not what I had been!I had been dull, melancholy, sorrowful, depressed-but when I had looked to Christ, the appearance of my face was changed-Ihad a smile, a cheerful, happy, contented look at once, and she could see it! And a few words let her know that her melancholyboy had risen out of his despondency and had become bright and cheerful. May some such change as that pass over you!
IV. Here is one thing more to finish with. Fourthly, HERE IS A PERSON PERFECTLY HAPPY AT ONCE. When the jailor had broughtPaul and Silas into his house, "he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house."
Oh, that was a happy, happy time! "He rejoiced, believing in God with all his house." He rejoiced that he was saved. His heartkept beating, "Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" As he sat at that table with his two strange guests, he had, indeed, causefor joy. His sin was forgiven! His nature was changed! He had found a Savior! He had given up his idol gods and he rejoiced,believing in God. He had been told to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. He was no Unitarian. He believed Jesus Christ to beGod and he rejoiced, believing in God with all his heart!
And then he rejoiced that all his household were saved. What a delight it was to see all his household converted! There washis wife. If she had not been converted, it would have been a very awkward thing for him to have asked Paul and Silas in tothat midnight meal. She would have said, "I do not want prisoners coming into my best parlor and eating up all the cold meat."She would not have liked it. As a prudent housewife, she would have objected to it. But there was
Mrs. Jailor waiting on them all with a holy happiness, a new kind of cheerfulness! I do not know whether they had any boysor girls. It may be, or may not be-but however many there were in his household, children or servants-they all believed, "believingin God with all his house." They were all baptized, too, the sons and daughters and the servants, also, for they were includedin the household.
I do not like it when you count up your household and leave out Mary Ann, the little servant girl, the last you have hired.You treat her as a drudge, but if she has come into your family, reckon her to be a part of your household. And pray God thatthey may all be converted-Jane and Mary, your own children-and the other people's children who have come into your housesto do necessary domestic work for you.
The jailor's rejoicing was also a seal of the Spirit upon his fidelity. Would it not be delightful for him to sit down withthe two preachers of the Word in the middle of the night? Those two men must have had good appetites. They had probably hadnothing to eat for many hours and they had been lying in their dreadful dungeon with their feet in the stocks, after havingbeen cruelly beaten. So they were prepared to eat, whether it was the middle of the night or the middle of the day. And therest of the family came and sat down at the table with them-and all rejoiced. Such a night in a prison had never been knownbefore! The jailor "rejoiced, believing in God with all his house."
I think I heard a friend over there fetch a deep sigh as I quoted those last words of my text. I know what it meant-it meantthat he has not all his house converted. Ah, dear Brother, I cannot sympathize with you by experience, for I thank God thatI have had all my house brought to Christ, but it must be a great sorrow to have that biggest boy of yours acting as he does,or to have that dear girl, of whom you had such bright hopes, turning aside to crooked ways! Let me ask you a question-Haveyou had faith about your house? Remember that Paul said to the jailor, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall besaved, and your house." May God give you faith about your house! You have had faith about yourself and you are saved-exercisefaith about your children! Cry to God to give you faith about them! Pray believ-ingly that they may be led to have faith forthemselves and so may be saved.
Oh, that all in this great assembly may meet in Heaven! You who have heard the Word these many years, may you, tonight, believein Christ and live! You who have never listened to it before, may you also come to Christ and believe in Him, as the jailordid. And like he, you shall be saved! The Lord shall have all the praise and the glory, but oh, that He would work this miracleof mercy tonight! Let us pray for it. Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON ACTS16:9-34.
Verse 9. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over intoMacedonia, and help us. Our dreams often follow the leading thoughts of the day or, if not of the day, yet the chief thoughtsthat are upon the mind. Paul dreams about mission work, for his heart is in it. I should not wonder if some before me, whoare deeply engaged in earnest Christian work, have often dreamt about their Sunday school, or their mission station. Wherethe mind goes when we are awake, it often goes when we are asleep. This vision that appeared to Paul was supernatural andwas an indication of what God wanted him to do.
10. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord hadcalled us to preach the Gospel unto them. In the vision, the man prayed, "Come over into Macedonia, and help us." The besthelp that Paul could render to the Macedonians was "to preach the Gospel unto them." The best help you can give men sociallyis to help them religiously-and the best religious help is to preach the Gospel to them.
11,12. Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; and fromthere to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certaindays. Waiting to know what they were to do. In God's work, we are not to go on in blundering haste. Sometimes, a little waitingmay be good for us. And, by waiting, we may find out the true path of success.
13. And on the Sabbath we went out of the city by a riverside, where prayer was known to be made. Some quiet corner, wheregood people were known to gather by the brook to pray.
13. And we sat down, and spoke unto the women which resorted there. This was probably the first religious meeting of Christiansthat was ever held in Europe! It is remarkable that it was a Prayer Meeting-a Prayer Meeting attended by women! A Prayer Meetingto which two ministers came and preached the Gospel to the women who resorted there. To be able to be present at a PrayerMeeting ought always to be reckoned a great privilege to all of us who are Christians. In this way the Gospel first came tous. In this way the Gospel will be best preserved to us. And in this way we may best obtain guidance from God as to how wemay carry the Gospel to others.
14. 15. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, who worshipped God, heard us: whoseheart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized. She seems tohave become a Believer in Christ and to have been baptized at once.
15. And her household, she besought us, saying, If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, andabide there. And she constrained us. Lydia was evidently a woman of some property. The purple which she sold was an expensivearticle. She seems to have been engaged in business on her own account. And when Paul met with her, she was far off from herworkshop and her home. She had a house, therefore, in the place to which she had come to sell her purple. And she "constrained"the men of God to make use of her house and to tarry there. Thus was Christianity brought into Europe, for which we praisethe name of the Lord!
16. And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which broughther masters much gain by soothsaying. She professed to tell fortunes and to speak under inspiration. She was really "possessed"by an evil spirit.
17. 18. The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show untous the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command youin the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. Here was an evil spirit bearing witness tothe Truth of God-and it grieved Paul. When you hear a bad man ridiculing religion, do not be surprised-what else can you expectfrom him? But if you heard the devil recommending Christ, then you ought to be grieved, for the Lord Jesus does not need patronageor praise from Satan! Men would begin to suspect that Christ was in league with Satan if Satan began to speak well of Christ.Dread to be spoken well of by ungodly men, for there is great danger in such praise! There may be a motive at the bottom ofthe flattery which may be full of mischief. Paul, being grieved, silenced the demon and cast him out of the damsel. Like hisLord, he would not allow the devil to testify concerning himself and his mission.
19, 20. And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into themarket place unto the rulers, and brought them to the magistrates. They dragged them into the Forum, the place where the courtsusually sat, and brought them before the magistrates, "saying"-what?-"These men have cured a demoniac, they have performeda miracle, and cast a devil out of a young woman"? Oh no! There would have been no wrong in that, so they must invent a charge.What do they say?
20,21. Saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, and teach customs which are not lawful for us to receive,neither to observe, being Romans. They did not know that Paul was a Roman citizen, or they surely would not have brought sucha charge as that against him.
22. And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them.They beat them first and tried them afterwards. That is often the rule with those who persecute God's people-"Let them behanged out of the way and then we will enquire what they teach."
23-25. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, 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. And at midnightPaul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God. Another Prayer Meeting-and a praise meeting, too! There were only two personsat it, but they "prayed and sang praises unto God."
26. And the prisoners heard them. Paul and Silas were in the lower prison. The sound of their prayer and praise rose up throughthe different tiers of cells where other prisoners were confined.
26. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all thedoors were opened, and everyone's bands were loosed. This was no common earthquake! An ordinary earthquake might have broughtthe prison down about their ears-it would not have loosed the shackles of the prisoners!
27. And the keeper of the prison, awaking out of his sleep and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and wouldhave killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. For the law was that if a jailer lost a prisoner, he wasto suffer whatever penalty the prisoner would have suffered. He therefore knew that, in all probability, his own life wouldbe taken and, strange to say, to save his life he would kill himself! Suicide is always absurd and unreasonable. The worstthat could happen to him would be to die by the sword of justice-and to escape from that, he tries to die by the sword ofa suicide!
28. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do yourself no harm: for we are all here! Every prisoner was loosed from hisshackles, but not one had escaped, nor had any even attempted to escape-which was another miracle-for men who see their bandsbroken and the prison doors open, are pretty sure to run away! These men did not, for a heavenly charm was upon them. Theystayed in their cells, so that Paul could cry out to the jailor-"Do yourself no harm: for we are all
29. Then he called for a light, and ran in, and came trembling. Conscious of the supernatural, compelled to feel the handwhich he had never perceived, before, he hastened into the inner prison where he had thrust the servants of Christ.
29. And fell down before Paul and Silas Whom he had handled so roughly.
30. And brought them out, and said, Sirs. What a word to address to those who were still in his charge as prisoners! 30-34.What must I do to be saved. And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your
house. And they spoke unto him the Word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour ofthe night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into hishouse, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.
May God give to many of us to know the happy experience of that believing, baptized and blessed household!