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Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt
These words are an answer to the most important question that a poor sinner can put: “ What must I do to be saved?” In obedience to the heavenly vision, Paul and Silas went unto Macedonia, verse 9-12. At the city of Philippi they continued certain days preaching the gospel of salvation. On the Sabbath they went to a river side where prayer was wont to be made; and there they spake. And while the hand of the Lord was with them, Satan's rage was kindled; for a certain damsel, possessed with a spirit of divination, followed them as they went to prayer, crying, These men are the servants of the most high God, who shew unto us the way of salvation: This she did many days. This testimony though true, was intended by Satan to hurt the apostles' character, and thereby to mar their success in the work of the Lord. A testimony from such a quarter could not but tend to render them suspected as in collusion with the Pythoness. Therefore as their great Master would not allow the devils to speak, disdaining their infernal testimony, Mark i. 25, 34. so Paul, iu his name, commanded the spirit to come out of the damsel, and he came out the same hour, verse 16–18. The masters of the Pythoness seeing that the hope of their gains were lost, were highly enraged at the apostles, laid hold on them, dragged them to the market place, brought them before the magistrates, and accused them as troublers of the city, and teachers of unlawful customs.
The mob and the magistrates instigated by these accusers, are hurried on with the most lawless rage against Paul and Silas. Stripped of their clothes, they are mercilessly beaten, and cast into prison, the jailor receiving a charge to keep them safely. In obedience to the odious orders, he thurst them into the inner prison, and fastened their feet in the stocks, verse 19, 24. SO shamefully were they treated at Philippi, 1 Thess. ii. 2. But so far were they from being dispirited, that they despised the shame, yea, rejoiced in it. Though their feet were fast in the stocks, and their backs furrowed with the lash, they sang praises to their God at midnight: and they sang aļoud, for the prisoners heard them. Heaven saw their fervent devotion, and testified applause. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, the foundations of the prison were shaken, its doors thrown open, and every one's bands were loosed.
The jailor awaking, and seeing the doors so lately bolted, standing open, draws his sword, intending to be his own executioner, and thereby to evade the vengeance which he knew would soon overtake him for letting the prisoners go: for he thought they had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm; for we are all here. Then calling for a light, he sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas. He dreads the holy prisoners, and is ready to kiss the feet he so late. ly put in the stocks. He feels a fearful earthquake of the soul, and terror sounds aloud in its every cor
His prisoners he brings forth, stung with anguish at the thought of his cruelty towards them; and propounds the interesting question, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? It would seem that he had already heard that they were the servants of the most High God, who shewed unto men the way of salvation, verse 17. and that they were indeed so, he had just now seen attested by the broad seal of Heaven in the earthquake. The apostles rejoicing to find that his conscience was awakened, and that his chief concern turned on the salvation of his soul, readily replied in the words of the text-Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. They are not slow to preach to him who had a few hours ago so cruelly persecuted them. Seeing him a wounded sinner, they readily present the balm of their Master's blood, telling him he had nothing to do but to apply it, in order to be saved from sin and wrath,
What must I do? says the trembling jailor.
Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, say Paul and Silas.
What must I do to be saved? is the great question.
Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, is the apostolic answer.
The great doctrine obviously deducible from the text is this,
It is the duty of sinners to believe in Christ for salvation.
In handling of which I purpose, as a gracious God may be pleased to assist,
I. To shew what it is to believe in Christ for salvation,
II. Remove some difficulties attending our doctrine.
III. Shew what that salvation is for which sinners believe in him.
IV. and Lastly, Apply the subject,