Sermon The Persecutor
Acts 9:4 Saul, Saul, why persecutes! thou me
While Saul, armed with a commission from high priest, is breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of Jesus, in his way to Damascus, a light from heaven brighter than the meridian sun shines round about him, and a voice louder than thunder penetrates to his very soul - Saul, Saul, why persecuteth thou me?
We shall offer some general remarks upon the text and apply the subject to ourselves.
I. It is the general character of unconverted men to be of a persecuting spirit. "Cain," says Luther, "will kill Abel to the end the world." He might indeed with great propriety make this observation, for few men have been more cruelly harassed or more wonderfully preserved from their enemies than he.
II. Christ has his eye upon persecutors, and is acquainted with all their ways.
III. The kindness or injuries done to his people, Christ considers as done to himself.
IV. Persecution is a great sin and when brought home to the conscience of an awakened sinner, it will be found to be so.
Saul, Saul, what art thou doing ? Why persecutest thou me ?
1. Is there any reason on my part ? What injury have I done thee ? what provocation have I given thee ? Which of my offices offend thee ? what part of my character or conduct makes me obnoxious to thy resentment? Art thou cruel because I am merciful ? and because I am ready to pardon, art thou implacable ? For which of my good works dost thou persecute me ?
2. Is there any reason on the part of my people ? Have they not learned of me to be meek and lowly in heart ? Because they are my disciples, are they therefore worse parents or children, subjects or servants, friends or neighbours ? Do piety towards God, and benevolence towards men, render them unfit for society, that they should not be suffered to live ? Nay, are they not the salt of the earth, and the light of the world ? So far from deserving censure, do they not merit praise ? and instead of being thus opposed, are they not worthy of imitation ?—Saul, why persecutest thou me ?
3. Is there any reason on thy part ? By whom art thou commissioned and authorised? Who invested thee with power to torment the bodies of men, and to tyrannize over their consciences ? Do these disciples differ from thee ; and dost thou not differ as much from them ? Dost thou claim a right to judge for thyself; and have they not the same right ? What sovereignty hast thou over the understanding; what dominion over the faith of another ? Who made thee thy brother's judge? Etc.
4. Will such conduct answer the end proposed? The wrath of man neither worketh the rifgteousness of God nor salvatiob of a sinner and is mor likely to subvert the truth than to promote it.
Persecution is hateful to God but all this is left on record for our warning, comfort and encouragement.