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14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.
SAYING AND DOING
The world is drunk with religion. Not altogether drunk with crime of the grosser sorts; but dead drunk with religion. And nationally considered, none have escaped-no, none of the so-called civilised nations of the earth. They have all long ago been made drunk with the wine of fornication. They have prostituted the word of the most high God. They reel to and fro; they are heavy with sleep; they can only hear enough of the voice of truth to madden them against the speaker. But whether they will hear or whether they will forbear, "he that hath the truth must speak, and must not keep silent." He must "lift up his voice like a trumpet, and shew the people their transgressions."
... Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied (preached, &c.) in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? (this has been largely professed both in ancient and modern times) and in thy name done many wonderful works?-sent out missionaries, carried on revivals, sprinkled babies, sent souls to hell-fire for evermore, killed bodies by the thousand in "holy wars," burnt heretics, told the people they had better not study the scriptures, appointed bishops and pastors who could not read their mother tongue, administered the consolations of religion to murderers, sent kings direct to heaven from the guillotine, blessed the army and navy, extolled national robbers, consecrated ground for the interment of rogues and vagabonds, styled every scamp "this our dear brother," in putting him out of sight, and written themselves down "miserable sinners; " all this, and much more than we can now call to mind, or care to try. These "works" are truly "wonderful." They are unmistakably the works of the flesh, and of the devil, "Lying wonders" of the pious sort.
...The Acts of the Apostles contain several remarkable instances of pious ignorance, and from the treatment of the persons, no doubt can remain upon the mind of any sensible man as to the value which heaven puts upon mere sincerity. There is Cornelius, "a devout man, and one that feared God, gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway."-(Acts x. 2.) Were Cornelius now alive, he would no doubt be esteemed as a real christian. No clergyman would require more of any man than is said of Cornelius; and be it observed, said of him in the days of his ignorance. For notwithstanding these good qualities, the centurion was not a Christian.
He had not heard the word of the truth. He had not therefore been made clean, or sanctified, by it; he was not holy, and consequently, could not "see the Lord." However, he was teachable, which cannot be said of many who claim sincerity. By divine command, he sent for Peter, "to hear words of" him. The words Peter uttered pertained to the kingdom: they concerned the Lord Jesus: they made known the remission of past sins, and union with his name, and hope of eternal life when he should sit on the throne of his father David. Cornelius heard and obeyed. Peter told him what he "ought to do, " and he complied. Only thus can a man be saved.
Look at "the religious experience" of Lydia, whom Paul met at Philippi, the chief city of Macedonia. This woman was doubtless a model of piety. Like Cornelius, she was devout, prayerful. Paul found her in a place "where prayer was wont to be made." "She worshipped God." But how? According to the dictates of her own conscience, and in all sincerity, doubtless. Well, was that enough? No, it was not. Her heart was fast closed. She had not "obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine" which Paul preached for salvation.
She was not, however, obstinate, but attentive; and by Paul's preaching, the Lord "opened her heart." He enlightened her understanding, and she believed the things concerning the kingdom of God, preached everywhere by Paul, and was immersed upon the name of the Lord Jesus into remission of sins. And "how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto the apostles by them that heard him?"-(Heb. ii. 3.)
Ambassador of the Coming Age, June 1868
30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
What must a man do to be saved?
This question is the most important of any among men.
There are very few, however, among the living who can answer it aright, the reason of which is not difficult to conceive. The thinking of the flesh (to phronema tees sarkos) educational bias, veneration for mere human authority, love of popularity, lack of independence, fear of persecution and pecuniary loss, a spurious charity, or ignorance, have all more or less to do with the inability of the people's prophets to give the scriptural answer, which is the only true response extant, and the only one admissible by the inquirer to this vital and all-absorbing question.
Mystery of the Covenant of the Holy Land explained - Herald 10/1855