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of God, and may thus realize the past experience and present bliss of her of whom we read.
Let us ask :
I. Who was Lydia ? And then consider,
III. Her adornment of the doctrine of God her Saviour.
Almighty God, open our hearts to receive the truth by the power of the Holy Ghost. for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen!
1. Who was Lydia ?
1. It might suffice to answer, an immortal soul; for it is not our distinction of name, or rank, or riches, or learning, that stamps upon us our importance, but this, that we are immortal, that we are passing on to an eternity to come, and that whatever we are, and whoever we are, “every one of us must give account of himself to God.” (Romans xiv. 12.) And is there not something which declares this truth to us, in the particularity with which the conversion of one soul is told in Holy Scripture? The penman, who wrote as he was “moved by the Holy Ghost,” delights to trace the dealings of God with one single
sonl, writes down her name and tells of all that concerns her. Brethren, there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, (Luke xv. 7); and nothing seems more to invest the subject with solemn awe than this. It tells us of the importance of the things that belong to our peace, and the worth of the soul. The very joy of heaven over one converted, tells the miseries of hell awaiting the unchanged in heart.
2. She was “a seller of purple ;” a trade, we judge, that would in itself form a hindrance to the reception of the truth. In that trade (as in others at times it must be found), she would probably have to deal with those who “cared for none of these things,” nay, that hated and despised them. And yet is anything too hard for the Lord ? His abounding grace is sufficient—His arm is almighty to save. Say not, then, fellow-sinner, of any difficulty that may be in your way, “Nothing can overcome this.” Say not, “There is no hope.” Say not, “My temper, my spirit, my calling, shut me out.” Not so ; your unbelief will—but even this God can remove. “He is able to make all grace abound towards you.” (2 Cor. ix. 8.) And have we not here a word of encouragement in our desires for
the salvation of others ? Let us not say of them, they will never turn. What though they are still heedless, and earth yet holds their heart, self is their idol. Ah! brethren, if we are but more earnest in prayer, more simple in faith, “the seller of purple,” the opposing soul, the very one in whom was the legion, shall be found sitting at the feet of Jesus, and in their right mind.
3. She was of the city of Thyatira. Why was she not there still? what brought her to Philippi ? We read of Lot, (Gen. xix. 16,) "the Lord being merciful unto him ;" did not that same Lord now guide Lydia away from home that she might hear and receive at Philippi, what she had not heard, or at least not received, at Thyatira. Let none say, “I am cast out of the sight of thine eyes,” nor deem themselves far away from blessing. The God from whom that blessing must come, is the God over all times and all circumstances. Remember our Lord's words to Nathanael,
Before that Philip called thee, I saw thee,' (John i. 48,) and believe that the calling of God springs not out of the external circumstances which accompany it, but that rather all circumstances are adapted to bring about his everlasting purposes of love and grace.
4. But it is said, “who worshipped God.” She was not a heathen: she had heard of the true God. But though doubtless devout in her reverence of Him, she knew Him but darkly. How can any really worship God, that Holy One, that God who “is a consuming fire,” unless they know Him whom the mercy-seat typified, even Jesus Christ. True and blessed are those words, “No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” (John xiv. 6.) And yet we see in Lydia's case, that where the Lord hath begun a good work, He will surely carry it on.
Art thou beginning to feel after Him, if haply thou mayest find him ? wait on Him, and He will show thee how He may be found : fear not, though thy beginning may be small, asking light of God, thy latter end shall greatly increase.
5. It is added, “heard us." It is probable that no religion which did not acknowledge the gods of the heathen, was tolerated in Philippi. But this did not hinder a few devout ones from meeting on the Sabbath-day, outside the city, and seeking God's presence. They were chiefly, if not only, women, and it is likely they but a few. But they waited on the Lord—there they resorted; there Lydia, and we doubt not others, received a rich blessing,
It is not numbers; a few, “two or three,” met in Christ's name, are blessed. She was then an attendant on the means of grace, mark that, and take heed that it may be said of you too, not now and then, but constantly: with pains, in spite of hindrances, notwithstanding weather. Be instant, for “the time is short.”
II. We come now to consider, Her Conversion.
1. To whom the glory of the change belonged. THE LORD opened her heart. Let the glory be ascribed to Him, to whom it is due. He who hath the keys of death and hell, hath also the key to men's hearts.
“ He openeth, and no man shutteth.” (Ephesians ii. 4, 5.) My brethren, to the right apprehension of this truth we need simplicity of faith, and guidance from above. The Scripture gives all the glory of man's conversion unto God. It no less lays all the guilt of hardness of heart upon man. Both are true, let none reject as useless one or the other part of His truth. “ Ye will not come unto me,” saith Jesus, "that ye might have life,” (John v. 10.) “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me, draw him.” (John vi. 44.) “How often would I have gathered thee,” said the