Acts 16:13
On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate along the river, where it was customary to find a place of prayer. After sitting down, we spoke to the women who had gathered there.
Divine Influence Opening Human HeartsJohn Hall, D. D.Acts 16:13
Gradual ConversionT. Adams.Acts 16:13
Hearing and Keeping the Word of GodLisco.Acts 16:13
LydiaR. Alder, D. D.Acts 16:13
LydiaW. Jay.Acts 16:13
LydiaJ. Buchanan, D. D.Acts 16:13
Lydia's ConversionC. H. Spurgeon.Acts 16:13
Lydia's ConversionA. B. Gardiner.Acts 16:13
Lydia's Heart OpenedJ. Burton.Acts 16:13
Lydia's Heart OpenedW. Arnot, D. D.Acts 16:13
Lydia's Heart OpenedC. S. Robinson, D. D.Acts 16:13
Missionary SermonA. Maclaren, D. D.Acts 16:13
Paul and the Women of PhilippiDr. Andrews.Acts 16:13
Paul At PhilippiAlexander MaclarenActs 16:13
The Attention Demanded by the GospelG. Burder.Acts 16:13
The Conversion of LydiaT. C. Everett.Acts 16:13
The Conversion of LydiaJ. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.Acts 16:13
The Conversion of LydiaB. Beddome, M. A.Acts 16:13
The Duty of Christ's Servants When from HomeS. S. TimesActs 16:13
The First European ConvertThomas Kelly.Acts 16:13
The Gospel in EuropeD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 16:13
The Gospel in EuropeJ. McNeill.Acts 16:13
The Gospel in EuropeJ. Parker, D. D.Acts 16:13
The Great PreliminaryDean Vaughan.Acts 16:13
The Heart OpenedActs 16:13
The Hindrances to a Cordial Reception of Gospel TruthW. J. Kirkness, M. A.Acts 16:13
The Ideal ReformationHomilistActs 16:13
The Imperceptible Operations of GraceR. Cecil.Acts 16:13
The Place of PrayerActs 16:13
The Power of the Holy Spirit Exemplified in the Conversion of LydiaE. C. Wells, M. A.Acts 16:13
The ProseucheW. Denton, M. A.Acts 16:13
The Opened HeartR.A. Redford Acts 16:11-15
The Opened Heart; Or, the Power of Divine GentlenessW. Clarkson Acts 16:11-15

Promptly obedient to the heavenly vision, Paul and Silas went "with a straight course to Samothracia," and by Neapolis to Philippi. There, eagerly awaiting a sacred opportunity, they "abode certain days." They availed themselves of the weekly gathering "at the river-side," where women, who everywhere are the most devout, were wont to meet for prayer. The whole narrative suggests the by-truths:

1. That we should instantly carry out the will of Christ when we are distinctly assured of it.

2. That we should chemise the largest and likeliest sphere - "the chief city" (ver. 12) - for our activity.

3. That those who are least honored of man are they who find most solace in the service of God.

4. That those who go reverently to worship are in the way to secure a greater blessing than they seek. God reveals himself in unexpected ways to us, as now to Lydia: going to render the homage of a pure heart, she returned with a new faith in her mind, a new hope and love in her soul, a new song in her mouth.

5. That holy gratitude to God will show itself in a generous, constraining kindness toward man - a kindness that will not be refused (ver. 15). But the lesson of our text is the truth which we learn concerning the gentle power of God in opening the closed heart of man: "Whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul" (ver. 14). We may regard -

I. THE FACT THAT HE DOES WORK THUS UPON US. If we appeal to our own consciousness we find that it is the case. Often God's Spirit so touches and moves the human soul, that it is only just aware, at the time, that it is being wrought upon; or he so operates that we can only tell, by comparing past things with present, that we have changed our spiritual position. It is found by us to be the fact that the Lord is not in the storm, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but rather in the "still small voice."

"Silently, like morning light,
Putting mists and chills to flight;"

he lays his hand upon us and touches the deepest springs of our nature. Any faith which does not include the action of God's gentle power in awakening, enlightening, renewing, reviving, the souls of men is utterly inadequate and completely fails to cover the facts of human experience.

II. THE WAY IN WHICH HE WORKS. God opens our hearts in different ways.

1. Sometimes it is by making us gradually sensible of our own unworthiness, and therefore of our need of a Divine Savior.

2. Sometimes by drawing our thought and love upward, higher and higher, from the true and pure and gracious that are found in the human, to him who is the true and pure and gracious Friend Divine.

3. Sometimes by constraining us to feel dissatisfied with the seen and temporal, and to seek our joy and our treasure in the unseen and eternal.

III. THE MEANS BY WHICH HE WORKS. These are manifold: the sacred Scriptures; the services of the sanctuary; the friendship of the holy; the opening, enlarging experiences of life; the trial which, though not startling and terrible, is yet arresting and revealing.

IV. THE EXCELLENCY OF HIS WORK. Some may suppose that they have more to be thankful for when they can point to one quickening and arousing circumstance in their life, sent of God to awaken and change them. But there is as much of the Divine in the opening of the flower by the light of the morning as in the upheaval of the lava by the fires beneath the crust of the earth; and there is as much of Divine power in its gentler action on the soul as there is in its more palpable and more terrible manifestations. It is open to us to think that there is even greater kindness shown in the former than in the latter. It behooves us

(1) to recognize the reality of his gentle power;

(2) to bless him most gratefully for his exercise of it upon ourselves;

(3) to seek that he would put it forth on those with whom we have to do - children, etc.;

(4) to watch for its operation in them, and to co-operate with God therein. - C.

And on the Sabbath we went out of the city by a river side where prayer was wont to be made.
S. S. Times.
This may be gathered from what the apostles did not do, and what they did when they reached Philippi.

I. NEGATIVELY. They did not —

1. Give up going to prayer meeting because they were away from their home church.

2. Go to prayer meeting and wait and wait for someone else to say something.

3. Need a fifty-thousand-dollar church, and the presence of a fashionable congregation to call out their best efforts.


1. They found a few women gathered in a little chapel by the river side — then and there they saw that work for Christ was to be done.

2. They did Christ's work, and forthwith one soul at least was won for the Master.

3. When all Christ's servants do their duty as unhesitatingly, what joy there will be among the angels of God, over repentant souls turning heavenward!

(S. S. Times.)

The place of prayer is a place of power. Miracles are done in it. When the disciples were praying, the Holy Spirit descended. When the Church was praying at John Mark's house, Peter was let out of prison by an angel. When the Church prays now, there is answer in India and China and Africa, While Christians pray there is fresh anointing from on high; they become "strong in the Lord and the power of His might." The hour we spend in communing with God is the most strengthening in the week. More prayers and less words. Less with men, and more with God. We get the victory in the prayer room where no eye sees but God's, and all hearts are one before Him. The prayer circle is a place of instruction. Prayer is a great teacher. The word of truth is unfolded there; mysteries are explained; promises are fulfilled; deliverances are wrought. What God teaches in prayer is pure truth; what we learn on our knees we never unlearn. The place of prayer is a place of rest after toil, of comfort in perplexity and trouble. It is good to draw near to God. "Draw nigh unto Me and I will draw nigh unto you." The gates to the mercy seat are many, and, like those to the golden city, stand open day and night, that every soul may enter in. It is a place of fellowship, Next to the joy of heaven is the gladness of hearts gathered together in prayer. It is a place for conversion of souls. Of how many it shall be written: "They were born there." It is a place for replenishing the daily losses of the heart, and enthroning God again at the seat of the soul. A Christian is always helped in his association with other Christians. Single coals do not hold fire, but gathered together there is glow.

The names proseuche and synagogue were sometimes confounded; though at other times the distinction between them is observed. This distinction consists in the first word being used of the place of assembly, and the latter of the assembly itself. But however frequently these names were interchanged, they seem on the whole to have been used to designate different buildings, the first a temporary and tentative place of worship, the second a regular and acknowledged edifice, much as among ourselves a mission chapel is distinguished from a parish church. Wheresoever, from the paucity of their numbers, the Jews were not able to establish a synagogue, which required a certain number of men competent to bear the offices necessary to constitute a synagogue, there near a stream, as seems to have been the almost invariable practice in heathen countries, a proseuche was established — a humble dwelling partly covered, in part open to the sky, which in after times might give place to a grander edifice, and was not exclusively devoted to worship as the synagogue was. Thus at Thessalonica and Antioch and elsewhere we find synagogues mentioned; at Philippi, where there is no appearance of any Jewish colony, there is only "a place for prayer."

(W. Denton, M. A.)


1. The season — the "Sabbath." On this day the religious sentiment would be more active than on other days. Ministers should study mental moods. There are days and circumstances suited for religious impressions. There are tides in the affairs of spiritual as well as secular concerns.

2. The scene. They retired from the hum and bustle of the city into the solitudes and sublimities of nature. "By a river side." Few objects in nature are more beautiful and suggestive than a river. Emblem of life, ever changing; emblem of the universe, flowing on forever. The Jews were accustomed to have their proseuche built near water, that they might attend to the various ablutions connected with their religious rites. To Christianity all places are alike sacred. "God is a Spirit."

3. The style. They did not stand erect in the attitude of orators, they sat "down," mingled with the people. They did not deliver set discourses, but "spake," talked. What did they talk about? The beauties of nature? the immortality of the soul? the providence of the Eternal? If they referred to these, Christ and His Cross were, we may rest assured, their grand theme.

II. THE FIRST GOSPEL HEARERS IN EUROPE. Who were they? Poets, statesmen, philosophers, heroes, kings? No! "Women." Why women and not men? Perhaps because the men came at another hour, or because the women had a special service for themselves. Did wives meet there to pray for their husbands, and sisters for their brothers, etc.? All we know is, that women are always more religiously disposed than men. Note —

1. That the gospel is universally appreciable. Had the apostles felt that the truth required culture, logic, philosophic acumen, they would have gone first, not only to men, but to men of the higher type. But they felt that the gospel, being a revelation of facts, character, love, all that was required was the common intuitions and sympathies of a woman's nature.

2. That the gospel honours the female character. All religions but that of the Bible degrade women; and though, as in the more civilised parts of the world, she may be petted, she is still a slave to man. The gospel honours woman. The Saviour was born of a woman. Women were amongst His followers. He showed Himself to women after His resurrection, and the apostles now preached in Europe first to women. Woman is under special obligation to the gospel.

3. That the gospel has a regard to social influence. Woman has a greater influence on the race than man has. When she acts worthily of her nature, her influence as sister, wife, mother, is regal.

III. THE FIRST GOSPEL CONVERT IN EUROPE. "A certain woman named Lydia," etc. Observe —

1. Her secular calling. "A seller of purple." Purple was a colour got from a shellfish, and of great cost and richness. It was chiefly worn by the wealthy and great. This woman was in trade.

2. Her religious character. "Which worshipped God," i.e., she was a proselyte; a formal worshipper of the God of Abraham.

3. Her spiritual change.(1) Its subject. The "heart." This, notwithstanding her religious profession, had been closed. The spirit of truth had not entered it. Avarice, prejudice, habit, shut up the heart.(2) Its cause. "The Lord opened" it. Not by a miracle, not irrespective of means, but by certain influences. Sabbath day associations, natural scenery, the presence and speeches of the apostles, etc., disposed her to listen to what Paul had to say.(3) Its proof.(a) Teachableness. "She attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul." As a thirsty soul she drank in the new truths.(b) Profession. She avowed symbolically the necessity of a cleansing influence for herself and household.(c) Gratitude. "If ye have judged me," etc.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

1. Here the Lord of salvation is on His way to us, bending His steps westward. Just suppose that Paul and Silas had been ordered the other way. Then very likely these lands of ours would have been the Asia and the Africa that now are.

2. They had been staying in Philippi for certain days, as you might be sojourning in London. Paul was not a devout worshipper in Jerusalem, but a Philippian in Philippi. Had Paul been as loose in his observance of the Sabbath as some people, this story would not have been written. Forget not the ways of worship in which you were brought up when you are sojourning in London. Remember that perhaps you were brought here to open some door which, but for your arrival, would have remained shut.

3. "Lord," says the Psalmist, "I have loved the habitation of Thy house," etc. Can we say that? Is the love of worship so strong in us that when the day comes round our heart wakens up with strong desire to engage in the dear and familiar round? What a scene is presented to us! The city away back there, with its sin, bustle, and gaiety. They turn their backs on the city, and go out here to this quiet place by the river side. What a picture after all of all congregations! Where are we today? "Along the river of time we glide," but on the Sabbath we reach a little quiet creek, and God's own hand thrusts our boat in here; and while the river goes speeding away on to the sea, we disembark, and quietly, for a little time, while our boat rocks idly in this little bay, we rest ourselves. We land, and we sit down, and lo! God's servant comes among us, and speaks of things that belong to the kingdom of Jesus Christ; and our hearts are opened for us, so that we attend to the things that are said to us, and receive blessings thereby.

4. How unlike the Lord's "Forward." Movements are to some of which we hear. No big bills, no beating of the drum. Maybe the Lord would like us to take a leaf out of His book, and whether we do things in a quiet or public way, to make sure that we are aiming at individuals. If Europe ever is to be saved, it is to be saved man by man, woman by woman, family by family. That is God's programme. How quiet. People, perhaps, taking a stroll by the river side would cast a wondering eye upon that little group, little knowing what was there. "Who hath despised the day of small things?" No wise man; but fools do it continually — and that is a folly that we London ministers and workers are apt to be guilty of. We come to some meeting, and there are only a few women, and the very look on our face says, "The meeting is a failure. None of the men of the district! This is not the class of people we wanted to gut at." One might have said, "Paul you are off the track. You are swinging about aimlessly." Paul did not think so, but he sat down and spoke unto the women who resorted thither. I am not saying a word against big crowds. It is impossible to convert empty benches, and I never want to see dead wood. Often a bad use is made of Christ speaking to the woman at the well, for He so spoke that she went and raised the town about Him. "God has much people in this city," but He gets at the multitude through quickened individuals. God bless the women who give us meetings! for sometimes if it were not for Lydia we should have no meeting at all. Do you understand that, you men? It is not that you are engaged. It is simply that you will not come. It is not that you stay at home. You go out, but you do not come this way. Still, accepting the situation as it is, if there are only a few women, let us, like Paul, say to ourselves, "This is God's opportunity, and this is my work."

5. Notice the condition of the heart of this worshipper. She was a devout woman according to her light. She knew after some dim and distant fashion the God of Israel. It is not enough to be religious after the ordinary fashion. Even Lydia needs to have her shut heart opened. But still we have to notice that she was there, and she was using the light which she had; and by using the light which she had she came to more. Notice how the preacher is suppressed, and the sermon, and how the hearer is lifted up into prominence.

6. Attention, humanly speaking, is the avenue by which Christ comes into the human soul. It is a small thing, but I am afraid a rare thing. Even supposing that you had that great apostle, still conversions would be scanty if the audience did not attend. And it is not so easy as we are apt to imagine. It needs the power of the Holy Spirit to enable Paul to preach, and it needs the same power to enable the hearer to hear. Although your face is to me, where is your mind just now? Thinking of the state of things at home, of something that was in your business yesterday, of something that is to be in your business tomorrow? Ah, how many of us are like the wayside hearers! You are unconverted, not because of a poor preacher here, but because of a mighty poor listener down there. "Hear," says the prophet, "and your soul shall live."

7. Then see how this simple narrative brings out the mystery of conversion. Her heart was opened by the Lord. I cannot explain it. I can only point you to the fact, but what a blessed fact it is! If my heart has been opened, it was Divinely done. Oh, what a strange thing is the heart of man! Not long ago, in sport, a man handed me a purse with money in it, and I felt it, and I heard it jingle. He said, "Open it"; and in spite of my doing my utmost, I could not, it was too cunningly contrived. Such is the heart of man. It is worth the opening. Hand it up to God, and say, "O God, do for me what Thou didst for Lydia." He will. I think I see the Lord Jesus doing what I did out in the country one day. I came to a little cottage, and I went round, but the shutters were up, and I went round to the door, but the door was fastened. However, it did open; and you know the uncertain, cautious way in which you push open the door of an empty house and peer into the darkness. But I went in. So Christ today is coming to your heart, and He knows all the springs and locks in it, and He is opening it, and He is looking in. What a place! everything dark and desolate and dirty, for it has been God-forsaken ever since you were born. May He come in — at whose girdle hang the keys of all hearts.

8. "And when she was baptized, and her household," etc. First the heart, and then the home. She kept them; she fed them; she bore all charges for them at the very beginning. Remember Lydia at once became a contributor to the Sustentation Fund!

(J. McNeill.)

That simple account is the first record of the preaching of the gospel in Europe. We are standing at the well head of a great river. The little silver thread, over which a shepherd might step without asking it to stay its progress, broadens out into a great expanse, and the Christendom of a civilised world is developed from those simple words spoken that Saturday morning. Thus gently and unobtrusively stole into Europe the great words which were to shatter and remould its institutions, and to be the starling point of its liberties.

I. THE APPARENT INSIGNIFICANCE AND REAL GREATNESS OF CHRISTIAN WORK. It was the biggest thing that was done in the world that day when Paul talked to that handful of women. Well now, the same temptation, to judge of acts by their external aspect, and to underrate their value, besets us all in our Christian work. The greatness of an action depends on three things — its motive, its sphere, and its consequences. Anything that is done for God is great. You take a pebble and plunge it into a stream and all the veins become visible, which you failed to detect as it lay on the shore, and so it is with Christian work, cast it into the stream of holy motive — let it be done for God and it is sanctified and ennobled. And so it is as to the relative greatness of the sphere of our actions; what is done for material well-being and physical life is distinctly at the bottom. What is done for the understanding is higher, and if the lightest word of a great thinker is more than all material magnificence, then decisively, by the very same reasoning, we must exalt above the mere thinker's words the words and deeds which touch the heart, and that sway the will, that cleanse and invigorate, and instruct, and invest with sovereign power the life and conscience; and the preaching of Christ's name is that which does all these things. Therefore high above all other forms of Christian benevolence and munificence is this setting forth of the name that Paul spake by the riverside that morning. But deeds are classified according to their consequences. The longer they last, the wider they reach, the deeper they go — the greater the act which sets them in motion. Go and ask about the length of time the consequences of that sublime morning's discourse will endure. When all the flaring gas lamps and rush. lights are out, "they that be wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever."

II. THE LAW OF GROWTH IN CHRIST'S KINGDOM. The seed sown at first was but little, and though eighteen centuries have passed, and it has grown to a kingdom, it is obviously a long way from the term of its growth. So I may draw one or two lessons upon which I would touch for a moment or two. First: That the law of Christ's kingdom is found in minute and unobtrusive beginnings — noise and prominence are no parts of its power, and have little part in accomplishing the great things that are done for Him. The noisiest things are generally the little things, and the quiet things are the strong ones. Look how Jesus Christ stole into the world, into a corner of a remote little province, and went about silently doing good, and passed out of it again, and "the world knew Him not." And so don't let us be ashamed of little beginnings. They are in the line of God's way of working, and side by side with that there is the other thought, slow progress is unobtrusive and steadfast. The length which any organism takes to come to its maturity is the measure of its duration, and the man outlasts a million generations of moths, and the oak waves its unchanging branches alive many, many generations of reeds that spring and wither at its careless feet; and if eighteen centuries have but begun the development of the forces which were set loose in Europe for the first time that morning, how long is it going to be before decay sets in upon that which has taken so long to grow? A long, long duration must belong to that kingdom, the consolidation of which has been the work of all these centuries, and that must be an unsetting day, of which these years are but as a watch in the morning twilight. God works leisurely and invisibly. Treading most closely in the footsteps of Him who waited over a thousand years to send His own Son with that small beginning and slow advance, they commenced their work of the founding and building of the kingdom of Christ.

III. THE SIMPLICITY OF THE FORCES TO WHICH CHRIST ENTRUSTS THE PROGRESS OF HIS KINGDOM. It seemed a most unequal contest into which the apostle and his little band had gone, led by the vision which they interpreted as the Divine monition. Think of the opposition, the antagonisms that were ready against them. There was Greece over the hills with its proud philosophies. There was Rome all active, ready to change its toleration for active persecution. They had to meet storms of heathenish idolatry, round which the superstitious dread of untold centuries gathered, and which was ever menacing with consummate obstinacy. They had to confront ordered systems of able philosophic teachers with their unlettered message. Did Cartes, landing on an unknown shore, with an unsubdued and barren beach in front and his burning ships behind, embark on a more apparently desperate venture than these men? And what were the weapons that made them victorious? First and foremost the message that they preached, the plain gospel — to which the heart and conscience of men will respond, when it is put before them as Christ meant it to be — the message, "That God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing unto them their trespasses." That was Paul's gospel, as he tells us, and that was the weapon with which he fought, which was, "the power of God unto salvation." With this most beneficent intention they fronted the universe with one word, and with that word they took the world; and you and I have it, and if we will be faithful and will use it, we shall have the same issues and results as they. Their power in the next place came from the earnestness with which they preached the truth. Convictions are contagious. You may reason with a man until Doomsday, and if you hammer an iceberg to powder it will be ice still, but melt it, as you can by having your own soul aglow with love and loyalty to Jesus Christ, and you can turn it from ice to sweet water. The last element of power is the presence of the abiding and indwelling Christ. The Word, mighty as it is, is vain without the mighty power and inspiration of the Spirit. As we read that verse lower down, what do we find? "Whose heart the Lord opened, that she should attend to the things that were spoken of Paul." In the measure in which we are true to Him, and yield ourselves in glad surrender to His power and presence, we carry Jesus Christ with us, and He works through us, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, which are indeed the acts of the risen Christ in the apostles. The gospel is as much the power of God unto Salvation today as it ever was, and the earnestness of our personal conviction is as deep as ever, and the presence and power of the indwelling Spirit of Christ is as real as ever, and the closer we keep to Christ and the more exclusively and unreservedly we trust Him the more assured will be our results. God's Church has no need of wealth. Jewels on the hilt of a sword are often in the way of getting a good grip of it, and the gilded scabbard adds nothing to the keenness of its edge. The Church has no need of worldly help. David was almost throttled in Saul's armour, he was better without it. Let us then get the old proved weapons which have been tried through many generations; we have more reason to trust them than Paul had, for we have eighteen centuries of experience to fall back upon, which he had not; and if we cleave to them, as I pray God we may, we shall find that the weapons of our warfare, not being carnal, but spiritual, are mighty through God to the pulling down of the strongholds of sin and Satan. And so I venture to commend to your sympathies the claims of the Foreign Missionary enterprise. I am sure of this, that no Church is in a healthy condition that does not lend a helping hand in the great work of foreign missions. The lamp that is placed in the window gives no less light in the room because its rays are illuminating the darkness outside.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

1. In ver. 12 we read of "certain days" — days which needed not to be named — the ordinary process of time. But in ver. 13 we read of "the Sabbath" — the day that has a name; the one day into which all other days flow as streamlets and rivers flow into the sea. There is none like it. You need not bolster up the Sabbath by argument. Its Divine authority is written in the heart, and we shall see it to be so when once awakened and inspired by the Holy Ghost. The Sabbath must be its own argument.

2. "And on the Sabbath we went out of the city by the riverside." Church hunting! A journey that was allowed. To leave home thus on Sunday is to seek the greater home. You cannot stop at home on the Sabbath day. That were insult to the very home you profess to love. To leave it is to seek it; to go from it is to get at it. We must go out on the Sabbath day, if the Spirit of Christ be in us, in order to help to complete the family gathering. Let us not be led away by the foolish fantasy that a man can read the Bible at home, or have a Church at home, in some sense which dispenses with the common joy of kindred sympathy and soul. Christianity does not isolate men, but brings men together in sacred, sympathetic brotherhood. We know what it is in strange places to seek the particular Church we know and love on the Sabbath day.

3. "Where prayer was wont to be made." How singular is the cause of reputation or fame! There are famous battlefields to which men make pilgrimages. How can a man be in Belgium without feeling some constraint towards Waterloo? That is natural. There are men who would make long pilgrimages to see where John Bunyan was born. The land through which the apostles passed was full of historic interest, but they cared little for the histories which have beginnings and endings; they lived in the nobler history which continues through the everlasting duration. They sought the place where soul battles had been fought. You might have known whither the men were moving; they were praying as they were going. We must keep up the spiritual frame.

4. "The women which resorted thither." Have men forsaken religion and left the women to keep it up? Do "women keep up the Church"? It may be; but it is a fool's gibe! The woman does keep up the Church — God bless her! But she keeps up more. Oh, thou blatant, mocking fool, to taunt the very saviour of society! There be those who say that the men have given up Church. Yes, but only in the same proportion in which they have given up love, purity, patience, home!

5. "And a certain woman named Lydia." This is like the "days" and "the Sabbath." What subtle little harmonies there are in this inspired book! How part balances part! As there are days that may be mentioned in the plural number, so there are men and women who may be mentioned in their plurality; but as there is one day which is always named alone, so there are individuals who head every catalogue; names which have whole lines to themselves. Look at the case of Lydia.

I. SHE WAS A BUSINESS WOMAN — "a seller of purple." So, then, women of business may be women of prayer. We ought to have more women of business. It is one thing for a woman to be a slave, and another for a woman to work and to love her work. He, or she, who loves work, makes all the week a kind of introductory Sabbath to the great religious rest. I would that all women were Lydias in this respect of having something definite to do every day and doing it, and finding in industry a balance to piety.

II. SHE WAS A RELIGIOUS WOMAN; she "worshipped God." It is one thing to be religious and another to be Christianised. Religion is a general term; Christianity is a specific form of religion. It is not enough for you and me to be religious, we must take upon us by the mighty ministry of the Holy Ghost a particular form, and that particular form is Christianity. In this respect Christianity is a heart opening; a heart enlargement.

III. WHEN SHE BECAME THE SUBJECT OF CHRISTIAN INFLUENCE, AT ONCE SHE WOULD HAVE A CHURCH IN THE HOUSE — "If ye have judged me," etc. In that suggestion there is a whole philosophy. That was impulse Divine. When the two travellers felt their hearts burn within them, by reason of the converse of the third Man, they said, "Abide with us." Lydia would have a fellowship at once. Souls that are kindred must never leave one another. Christians must abide together. In the olden time "they that feared God met often one with another," etc.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

And spoke unto the women that resorted thither

1. It was upon the Sabbath day.

2. It was by the river side. A river may remind us of the Spirit, by whose influence we are enabled to drink of the "streams which make glad the city of God."

3. It was a place where prayer was accustomed to be made.

II. THE POSITION. "They sat down."


1. Something implied.



2. Something described.(1) Before conversion.



(c)Willingness.(2) After conversion.




(Dr. Andrews.)

And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple
I. THE CHARACTER OF LYDIA, PREVIOUS TO THE APOSTLE'S ARRIVAL. This will, in a considerable degree, account for that absence of intense feeling by which her conversion was distinguished. You are not now invited to look on the rough Roman soldier, or the dissolute vagrant. But Lydia stands before you, marked by the mildness of her sex, the native pliancy of the Asiatic character, and the respectability of her standing in society. For you find that she was a woman of Thyatira, a Lydian city, and a respectable householder in Philippi. And her employment, as a seller of purple, was calculated to produce a certain degree of morality and gentleness; for trade has a tendency to repress open profligacy, and to remove moroseness of temper. And the peculiar branch of commerce, which engaged Lydia's attention would tend, by bringing her into contact with her superiors, to foster a submissive and obliging disposition. But the most important fact of her early history is her proselytism to the Jewish faith — she "worshipped God." It cannot hence be inferred that she was really pious, for in chap. Acts 13 we find that those individuals at Antioch, characterised by the same term, and called in our Bibles "devout women," were among the violent persecutors of Paul and Barnabas. Many of these proselytes were, doubtless, like the Jews themselves, but professors of the tenets of Judaism. Yet the religious profession of Lydia will prove that she was to a certain extent instructed in the writings of the Old Testament; and the narrative shows her to have been an attendant in assemblies for Divine worship. And this knowledge, and this attention to the rites of religion, would give an aspect to her mind, very different from that of her depraved neighbours. The ruggedness of the heathen character would be thus worn away, and the law, as the forerunner of the gospel, would have "prepared the way of the Lord, and made straight in the desert a highway for our God." Lydia then, at this period, although unchanged by the Holy Spirit, may be described as moral, amiable, industrious, domestic, and instructed in the leading principles of religion.

II. THE SCENE OF HER CONVERSION. And in this there is much to harmonise with the characteristic of her conversion itself. Lydia is not roused beneath the strong arches of a prison, by an earthquake, like the savage jailer. But time, and place, and employment, all tell of tranquillity.

III. THE MANNER OF THE DIVINE OPERATION. We have not time now to enlarge on the sentiment, that an immediate Divine influence is necessary for the conversion of a soul, although this is sufficiently established by the present history. "It is God which worketh in us, both to will and to do of His good pleasure"; and then listen to the language of Jesus Christ, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." But we have here to advert particularly to the gentle manner in which the Spirit affected the mind of Lydia. This is implied in the word "opened." The hearers of Peter, on the day of Pentecost, were pricked to the heart." The hearts of others are represented as "broken." Indeed, the convinced soul sometimes reminds us of a city taken by storm: the bars of iron are cut asunder — the gates are battered down — the assailants pour in like a torrent. But the heart of Lydia was opened like the gate of Peter's prison. Now, there are two circumstances recorded in the narrative that will illustrate the mildness of the Divine agency.

1. The first is that the preaching of the gospel was the instrument of Lydia's conversion. The Spirit in His saving influences always affects the mind by bringing it into contact with truth; and, indeed, with that portion of truth which He has been pleased to communicate to man in the Scriptures. "Of His own will begat He us by the word of truth." This is the sun of the moral world. "The law of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes." But light does not always strike the eye from the same point: sometimes the sun pours on it his direct effulgence; at others, the rays reach it through all the varieties of reflection. And thus the truth is not always communicated to the mind in the same manner. It impresses one man amid the silence of meditation; another, while perusing the Bible; it smites a third in the rebuke of an enemy; it came to Paul in a voice from heaven. But the more common manner of conveying to the mind the truths of revelation is by the preaching of the gospel.

2. The other circumstance to which we allude is that the operations of the Spirit did not interfere with the calm exercise of Lydia's mental powers. The influences of the Spirit, indeed, never supersede the employment of the intellectual faculties; for then man would cease to be responsible. But in the early stages of some conversions, there is but little calmness in the employment of these. The feelings are too much agitated to allow of close attention to the various bearings of truth. Imminent peril occupies too large a space in the field of vision to permit the presence of other objects. But such was not Lydia's case. "She attended unto the things which were spoken by Paul." Her heart was engaged with his discourse. While Lydia heard that Christ was "bruised for our transgressions," she felt that she was a transgressor. True, she had been industrious, amiable, moral. But now she perceived that religion required much more than outward decency. She began to feel the meaning of the Psalmist's prayer; "Create in me, O God, a clean heart." She saw that the anxieties of business, and the cares of a family, had interfered with supreme love to God. And Lydia received the testimony of God. She saw its extent, embracing time and eternity; the character of man, and the nature of God — and she received it all.

IV. THE SUBSEQUENT CONDUCT OF LYDIA, as according with the gentleness which we have noticed as predominant in her history. She was not called, like the apostle to whose language she had listened, to raise her voice in the public assembly, or to expose her life in perilous journeys. But there was a little congregation to whom she could introduce the word of truth — her household. It is evident that Lydia discharged her duty to her family, for they too were baptized. And mild as Lydia appears in the centre of her family, regarded by its members as the instrument of their own conversion, she is not seen in a light less amiable, when performing towards the apostles the rites of Christian hospitality. Mark with what urgency she pleads with Paul, her father in Christ, to come, with his companions, beneath her roof; till, constrained by her grateful importunity, these holy men became her guests. And so closely was Christian friendship cemented by their brief intercourse, that we find Paul and Silas, as soon as they were released from prison, hastening to the house of Lydia, to share with their anxious hostess the joy of their deliverance. And her considerate regard to the temporal wants of the apostles was not limited to the transient attentions of hospitality. Read the Epistle to the Church at Philippi and you will find that, at the introduction of the gospel into Macedonia, this Christian society alone ministered to the necessities of the apostle. Twice at Thessalonica and once at Corinth did this Church aid, by its pecuniary contributions, the mission of Paul among the heathen. And from whom do you suppose this liberality originated, but from Lydia, the first fruits and centre of the Philippian Church? Such is a rapid sketch of Lydia's conversion. And surely it is not less illustrious for being distinguished by a placidity which among men would be esteemed incompatible with the production of a mighty effect. The operations of God must not be estimated by a human standard. Feebleness is restless, omnipotence is calm. Look on its noblest works. When the sun was formed, was there the accumulation of materials, or the toil of labourers, or the clang of machinery? No. "God said, Let there be light," and the glorious orb existed, blazed, and threw abroad its infant rays amid the songs of the sons of God. And how was that more marvellous work, the spirit of man, produced? God "breathed" into the beauteous clay "the breath of life, and man became a living soul"; and the eye beaming with intelligence opened upon the tranquillity of Paradise. And then, think of the incarnation of the Son of God. No earthquake shakes the mountains — no trumpet summons the nations — no chariot of fire cleaves the air; but the glory of a single angelic messenger shines around a group of shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem. In the application of this subject we might observe —

1. That the conversion of the moral and the amiable is frequently attended with comparatively small degrees of mental excitation. This consideration may console those who resemble Lydia in their character and in the manner of their conversion.

2. That a calm entrance upon the Christian life will not necessarily interfere with decision and activity in the Church of God. In the full prospect of persecution Lydia professed her faith, and identified herself with the cause of Christianity.

3. That attention to the public ordinances of religion should ever accompany dependence on the Spirit of God; nor should we absent ourselves from a service because thinly attended, or inferior to others in excitement.

4. Finally, we observe, that natural excellence of character will not render conversion unnecessary. If it would, why was it needful that the Lord should open the heart of Lydia?

(T. C. Everett.)

The ordinary blessings of life are distributed with great inequality; indeed, we often find that the worst characters enjoy the largest portion of them. The reason is this — they are not essential to man's happiness. Whatever is necessary to the happiness of all is placed within the reach of all. True religion is, however, necessary to our dignity and to our happiness; and, therefore, it is placed within the reach of every person, and, especially, within the reach of the poor. There are many striking illustrations of this. One is now before us. The sacred historian makes no mention of Philip or his warlike son — he says nothing of Augustus, or of Brutus; but he mentions with peculiar honour an humble individual from Thyatira. Let us notice —

I. THE INDUSTRY OF LYDIA — she was "a seller of purple."

1. A dog which had been eating a Conchilis or Purpura, and whose lips had been deeply tinged with a purple colour, gave occasion to the discovery of this elegant and costly dye. At one time it was more valuable than gold, and articles of dress dyed by it were worn only by sovereign princes; but in the days of Roman luxury they were used by the noble and wealthy in general; hence it is said of the rich man that "he was clothed in purple and fine linen."

2. Lydia was employed in preparing and selling this. As idleness is quite opposed to the virtue and happiness of man, it is necessary that all persons should follow some employment. Even those who are placed in independent circumstances should not be idle, but should employ their time, talents, and influence in doing good to others. What a noble example does the life of the benevolent Howard furnish to persons placed in such circumstances as these! Such, however, as have, by their own exertions, to provide for their personal and family wants should be diligent in their calling, whatever it may be.

3. And whatever else we attend to or neglect, we should attend to the soul. "For what is a man profited," etc. There are many persons who plead that they are placed in such circumstances that it is out of their power to attend to the one thing needful, but this is a vain excuse; for we shall find that there have been persons in all ages distinguished for piety, who have been placed in circumstances the most unfavourable to religion.


1. "She worshipped God"; that is, the true God, according to the practice of the Jews.

2. Such was the power of principle with Lydia, that neither the fear of man, nor the love of lucre would lead her to desecrate the day which the Lord had sanctified. How far does her conduct surpass that of those who enjoy superior advantages! How shamefully is the Sabbath desecrated. If, in reference to an individual, drunkenness be an inlet to every other crime, in reference to a community, Sabbath breaking is an inlet to every other evil.

3. Witness the advantages that resulted to Lydia from the course of conduct which she pursued. She went to the house of prayer, and there received the end of her faith, even the salvation of her soul. It is a great principle in the Divine administration, that God honours them that honour Him.


1. The Jews used the term, "heart," to describe the understanding, the will, and the affections. Now Lydia listened to the doctrinal statements of St. Paul, and she so listened as to understand them; when understood they commended themselves so that she embraced them with her will, and cherished them in her affections. Thus her heart was opened — she believed and received the Saviour with all His fulness of evangelical blessing.

2. Now it is not to St. Paul's preaching, but to the influence of the Spirit, that this great change is attributed. Paul might have preached till the present hour, and Lydia would have remained what she was unless the Spirit had accompanied the ministrations of the apostle, and rendered the word effectual.

3. It is more difficult to accomplish the redemption of a fallen human spirit than it was to create this vast universe. For when God proceeded to employ His high attributes in the work of creation there was nothing to impede the operations of His hand. But when God proceeds to accomplish the great work of spiritual regeneration in the heart of man, his pride, his passions, his prejudices, hid deep-rooted depravity, oppose that influence. How necessary, then, that we should pray for the Holy Spirit, without whom all human means are in vain!


1. "She was baptized." Man is a sentient being, and, therefore, it is necessary that he should receive instruction through the medium of his senses. Under every dispensation God has accommodated Himself to this. Although the ceremonies of the law have been abrogated, still God condescends to our weakness in the two sacraments. Now, baptism is an initiatory and dedicatory ordinance. By means of this we are introduced into the Christian Church and devoted to the service of God. It is also emblematical of regeneration; and as we can enter into the visible Church only by the sacrament of baptism, so we can enter into the real Church only by regeneration. Now, Lydia, having embraced the Christian faith, manifested not merely confidence in Christ as her Saviour — not merely respect for Him as her Prophet, but subjection to His authority as her King, by submitting to the rite of baptism.

2. "She was baptized and her household" — that is, we apprehend, all the members of her household who were under fourteen years of age; for this appears to have been the Jewish practice in reference to the admission of proselytes into the Jewish Church.

3. She also received the messengers of mercy in her dwelling. This was a proof of her gratitude. But it was also a proof of her sincerity. At that time a profession of Christianity exposed those who made it to various privations and sufferings.

(R. Alder, D. D.)

I. HER EMPLOYMENT. She was not "idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also, and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not." Trade is respectable, and nothing is so disgraceful as beggary and shabby gentility. The Jews always give their children a calling; and said that "he who brings up a son without a trade teaches him to steal." Seneca declared, "I had rather be sick than be idle." And truly has Dr. Watts said, "Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do."

II. THE PLACE OF HER EXTRACTION. Thyatira was a great way from Philippi. How few die where they were born; or even settle where they were brought up. The events leading to their removal often seem very casual; and they are so as to the individuals themselves; but they are Divinely known and arranged. The Lord fixes "the bounds of their habitation," and with regard to His own people, the disposals of His Providence are in subserviency to the designs of His grace. The man says, "I will go into such a city, and buy, and sell, and get gain"; and he goes; and he finds there, though he never looked after it, "the pearl of great price." Many, when they look back on life, will know that, had it not been for such or such an occurrence, they would have remained in places where they might have been corrupted and destroyed.

III. HER CHARACTER. She "worshipped God." She is, therefore, very distinguishable from the jailer. The grace of God is infinitely free: and accordingly, we sometimes find it operating on individuals the most unlikely; and even publicans and harlots enter into the kingdom of God before Scribes and Pharisees. So when the apostle, writing to the Corinthians, enumerates a dreadful catalogue of sinners, he adds, "and such were some of you"; some, "but not all." Some talk as if they had a kind of advantage in having been converted from a state of profligacy. But sin is a bad business, and it is a mercy to have been preserved from it: and one peculiar advantage arises from having been moral before we became spiritual, namely, the avoiding of the injuries which sin does to others, by influence and example.

IV. HER ATTENDANCE. She "heard us." What induced her to be there we know not; but she could say, "I being in the way, the Lord led me." It is well to be at the pool, "waiting for the troubling of the water." Whatever brings persons under the preaching of the Word is to be viewed with thankfulness, for "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." Sin entered by the ear, and so does grace. Listening to the devil we fell, hearkening unto God we rise. "Hear, and your soul shall live."

V. THE CHANGE SHE EXPERIENCED. "Whose heart the Lord opened."

1. Her heart therefore had been shut. Shut, as ice shuts up the water that it cannot flow — as the miser shuts up his compassion from the poor — as a door is shut to keep the house from the entrance of the owner. This is our Saviour's own image: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock," etc.

2. The Lord opened her heart. Our state is such as to require the Almighty to "work in us, both to will and to do." Every saved sinner is "His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works." An operation is required, to effect which is above the power of education, example, and moral suasion. But nothing is too hard for the Lord. The heart is under His dominion and agency; and "what He has promised, He is able also to perform."


1. Her regard to the Divine teachings. "She attended," etc.

2. Her readiness to dedicate herself entirely to the Lord in a profession of His name. "She was baptized, and her household." A profession of religion, without the reality, is nothing; but we are not only to be Christians, but to appear such. "With the heart," indeed, "man believeth unto righteousness"; but "with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Experience is necessary; but our "light is to shine before men," etc. And you will observe, she did this immediately, without reserve, and relatively as well as personally; devoting her whole family in the same rite; and thus saying, with Joshua, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

3. The pressing solicitation she gave to the apostles. Evincing —(1) A desire for spiritual improvement, and to have her house further blessed.(2) Liberality. She was willing to "minister to the necessities of the saints"; and "given to hospitality."(3) Affection for God's servants. Like begets like, and attracts like. "By this we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love this brethren."(4) Pious fortitude. To perceive this you must remember that at this time Christians were a "sect everywhere spoken against."

(W. Jay.)


1. A proselyte who maintained in the idolatrous city of her adoption a devout attachment to the worship of God. There can be no doubt of the reality of her devotion, for not only did she observe the Sabbath, but, having no other opportunity for attending the ordinances of public worship, she "went out of the city," etc. While engaged in prayer the blessing came — a striking proof of its efficacy. God does indeed sometimes surprise a prayerless sinner, as in the case of the jailer, but there is no promise except to prayer, and that promise is unlimited and sure. "Ask and ye shall receive," etc.

2. While pious according to her light, her heart was nevertheless closed against the truth as it is in Jesus.(1) Such is the natural state of every man.

(a)The understanding is shut against the light of the gospel.

(b)The conscience is seared as with a hot iron.

(c)The heart is hardened.(2) There are many obstacles to the entrance of truth. There is the bar of —

(a)Ignorance. Many hear the Word but understand it not.

(b)Unbelief, which rejects the testimony of God.

(c)Enmity, for "the carnal mind is enmity against God."

(d)Presumption or pride. "The wicked through the pride of his countenance will not seek after God."

(e)Discouragement and despair. "Thou saidst, There is no hope; for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go."

(f)Unwillingness. "Ye will not come to Me that ye might have life."

(g)Worldly-mindedness. "The cares of the world...choke the Word."


(i)Vicious passions and depraved habits.

3. But how could the heart of such a woman be closed? The answer is that Lydia's case is not a solitary one. Devout and honourable women opposed Paul, and Paul himself and Nicodemus were at first proof against the gospel.


1. There was a direct Divine operation in her heart, which consisted in opening —

(1)The understanding to discern the light of God's truth.

(2)The conscience, to feel its convincing power.

(3)The affections to receive its sanctifying influence.

2. Means were employed. "The Lord opened her heart to attend," etc. It is by the truth that the great change is wrought; and hence we are "born of the Spirit," but also "not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, even by the Word of God."


1. The care with which God provided for the instruction of sincere Jewish inquirers.

2. The efficacy of prayer as a means of spiritual advancement.

3. The necessity of a spiritual change in many sincere religious professors.

4. The relative functions of the Word and Spirit, and the duty of combining the use of means with dependence on the Divine blessing.

5. The different feelings of those whose heart the Lord opens towards His ministers, and those of the ungodly multitude.

(J. Buchanan, D. D.)

1. Philippi is famous as the spot where the world's future trembled in the balance when Octavius met Brutus and Cassius in terrible conflict. The two republican generals here ended their stormy career and universal empire crouched at the feet of Caesar. As long as time endures, Philippi will be remembered as one of the greatest names in history. But when time shall have passed away Philippi will still have a name as the place where the first herald of the Cross cried, "Europe for Jesus," and won his first victory in our quarter of the world. More fraught with blessings to the human race was that conquest of a woman's heart, than all the laurels which Octavius had reaped upon the bloody field.

2. The introduction of Christianity into Europe is a very humble affair. It was an open-air service by the riverside. Happy augury of the results of open-air preaching in after times! Let us look at Lydia's conversion —


1. It was brought about by providential circumstances.(1) She was a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, famous for its dyeing trade, which had flourished there ever since the days of Homer, and situated in that part of the country into which Paul was forbidden to preach; therefore, had Lydia been at home, she could not have heard the truth. But providence brings her to Philippi at the right time. Here is the first link of the chain.(2) But how is Paul to be brought there? He must be shut out of Bithynia, and he must be silenced in his journey through Mysia, etc. In this case God rules and overrules all things to bring that woman and that apostle to the same spot, and everything in God's providence is working together for the salvation of the elect.

2. There was not only providence, but there was also grace preparing the soul. The woman knew many truths which were excellent stepping stones to a knowledge of Jesus. She was a proselyte of the gate, and therefore well acquainted with the oracles of God. As in the case of the Ethiopian eunuch, the Scriptures she had read had prepared her mind: the ground had been ploughed ready for the good seed; it was not a hard rock as in the jailer's ease.

3. Her conversion took place in the use of the means. On the Sabbath she went to the gathering of her people. Although God calls men when they are not hearing the Word, yet usually we must expect that being in the way, God will meet with them. It is somewhat extraordinary that the first convert in Europe was converted at a very small prayer meeting. Wherever we are, let us not forget the assembling Of ourselves together as the manner of some is. Do not say "only a prayer meeting!" God loves to put honour upon prayer.

4. It was assuredly a work of grace.(1) She did not open her own heart, Her prayers did not do it; Paul did not do it. God alone can put the key into the door and open it, and get admittance for Himself. He is the heart's master as He is the heart's maker, and conversion in every case is the Lord's work alone.(2) Yet — for one truth must always march arm in arm with another — although the Lord opened the heart, Paul's words were the instrument of her conversion. The heart may be opened, and willing to receive, but then if truth enter not, what would be the use of an open door?

5. It was distinctly perceptible by the signs which followed. As soon as she had believed in Jesus she put on, together with her household, the profession of her faith in Christ Jesus.


1. In the case of the jailer, we see nothing like a previous preparation for the reception of the Word; he was coarse, rough, brutal. The earthquake comes, etc. In Lydia's case there was much which went to prepare the way for the grace of God.

2. She was in the way where the grace of God was likely to meet with her. But the jailer is not in a place where the gospel is at all likely to come. His occupation was not that which would foster any religious ideas. But in a moment, at God's voice, the current of his thoughts changes its direction, and flows where it had never gone before.

3. In Lydia's case there was no earthquake; it was a "still, small voice." The jailer sprang in, and cams trembling; but we find nothing about Lydia's being overwhelmed with the terrors of conscience; she was gently led by the finger of the eternal Father. Grace came to her as the shower which first begins as a mist, and then thickens into a heavy dew, and then becomes a gentle sprinkling, and afterwards empties the clouds upon the soil. To the jailer it was like an April storm beginning with big drops, and dashing into a torrent in a few moments: to the jailer it was as though the sun should rise in an instant, and turn the thickest night into full blaze of noon. Do not expect all to be converted in the same way. Our God is the God of variety.


1. Providence co-worked with grace. Providence brings Lydia to Philippi, and shakes the prison.

2. There was a distinct work of God.

3. The Word of God is essential for the jailer as to Lydia, "They spake the word of the Lord," etc.

4. The same signs followed. The same love to the brethren, consecration of the substance, obedience to the Divine command, "Arise, and be baptized."

IV. AS A MODEL OF MULTITUDES OF CONVERSIONS. "We have a summary of the work of the Holy Spirit here.

1. The Lord removed prejudice.

2. Her desires were awakened

3. Her understanding was enlightened.

4. Her affections were excited.

5. And then came faith; she believed the whole of the record.

6. Faith being given, all the graces followed.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)


1. The subject. "The heart" is the seat of spiritual feeling, conviction, and desire (Acts 2:27). It is the real test of character, of what a man is in God's estimation (Proverbs 23:7). It is that part of us in which are bred all the moral and immoral qualities which make us good or bad in the sight of God (Proverbs 4:33). It has the power to exercise faith (Romans 16:10).

2. The Agent — "The Lord." It was the fulfilment of the promise (Ezekiel 36:25-27). God is the chief, and to a great extent the sole, active Agent in this work. Along with this there is a converse truth (Psalm 27:8). The work of conversion is completed by God working, and man working; but neither working apart from the other effectually.

3. The instrumental means: whilst Paul spake the Word, the Lord opened Lydia's heart.


1. There was a beautiful humility which manifested itself in a desire to submit her conversion to the test of the judgment of others. "If ye have judged me to be faithful." Over-confidence in a young convert is neither pleasing nor hopeful (1 Corinthians 10:12).

2. She exhibited her gratitude to God in kindness to His servants. "Come into my house and abide there."

3. She made a public profession of her faith. "She was baptized and her household." The family of a believer should be a Christian household. Personal decision is a great matter, but the head must be alone.

(A. B. Gardiner.)

Honest, industrious people, when converted, become noble and useful Christians. This first European convert was of such a character as to be especially susceptible to gospel influences.

I. HER CHARACTER. She was industrious, reliable, conscientious, generous, devout. Observe —

1. Her name — "Lydia." As no mention is made of her husband, probably she was a widow. Learn how right relationship to Jesus Christ gives immortality to the humblest name.

2. Her native place — "Thyatira," in Asia Minors situated about midway between Pergamos and Sardia; it is still a town of some size, though now in the hands of the Turks. She was not a Jew but a Gentile proselyte, having given up the worship of idols for that of the true God. Learn what great blessings may grow out of a little prayer meeting, and the wisdom of laying down the yard stick and closing the store in order to be present.

II. HER CONVERSION. It was brought about —

1. By human instrumentality, "us" — Paul and Silas. Probably, an informal meeting, and that both preachers not only prayed but conversed publicly and personally with those present.

2. Contact with the truth — "Heard us." It is the truth that saves — "Truth shall make you free." Revelation brings life. The preacher can communicate power only through His message. Discourses and essays on ethics, science, and politics may interest and instruct, but it is only the Divine message that can save from the guilt, dominion, and consequences of sin. "Heard us." It used to be almost literally true that faith cometh only "by hearing." Books and the ability to read them were very scarce in ancient times, so that much of men's knowledge of this world, and especially of the world to come, was gathered through the ear. "Heard us." Even now faith cometh chiefly by hearing. But in the case of Lydia the message came through the ear. "Heard us."

3. By prompt action — "She attended unto the things which were spoken." She was an admirable hearer. She laid hold of the truth, and thus the truth laid hold of her. Then she at once began to practise the truth she had just heard. She did not modify it by theorising or waste its force by delay. "She attended to the things spoken."

4. Through Divine interposition. "Whose heart the Lord opened." Why did He not open her head? God wanted this woman to feel as well as understand. There are some truths which first enter the intellect and then sink into the heart, but the profound, life-giving truths of Christianity enter the heart first and then rise to the intellect. They first give life and then light. "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." Not the light was the life, but the life was the light of men. A man must be born before he can see; he must be alive before he can know. First life, then light. The opening of the heart was —(1) Gradual. Gradual in that she so honestly followed the light she had. God had so opened her heart before this that all the idols of heathenism left in it a great "aching void." "In common with the best spirits of her age she felt paganism to be a failure and a sham, and longed for something more solid and satisfying." She therefore embraced Judaism, and so we find her at prayer meeting, still going on to know the Lord.(2) Complete, in that God personally helped her to apprehend and personally appropriate the broader, grander, life-giving truths of the gospel.

(Thomas Kelly.)

I. Lydia was LISTENING. Great stress is laid in the Bible on hearing. "Faith cometh by hearing." Books and readers were rare. Faith then came to the majority by hearing only. Now faith comes by reading as well as by hearing.

II. Lydia listened ATTENTIVELY. Some people never apply what they hear, they leave that to the preacher. Others apply to other people, never to themselves. If you lay hold of the truth, the truth will lay hold of you. Wherefore the Holy Scriptures lay much emphasis on close attention. "Incline your ear," "hear and your soul shall live." When you feel deeply interested in a subject, you stretch the neck and incline the ear that you may catch every syllable. Without this eager attention you will not be able to clearly discern the Divine Voice. When Elijah was hiding in the cave there came a "great and strong wind," etc.; "but the Lord was not in the wind," etc. And after the fire "a voice," so still and small that Elijah was obliged to come out of the cave and listen with all his might. And what is the gospel? A storm? An earthquake? Fire? No. The "still small voice" of Divine Love. Love never speaks loud.

III. She listened attentively WITH HER HEART. The mind is generally divided into intellect and heart. There are truths which appeal only to the intellect, the truths of mathematics, e.g. But religious truths must be interpreted through the heart rather than through the head. We read of the "thoughts of the heart." In creation we see the thoughts of God's intellect; in the gospel the thoughts of His heart. And to properly understand the great heart of God we must bring to the work the little heart of man. There is a class of truths which first enter the intellect and then sink into the heart; but the truths of Christianity first enter the heart and gradually rise into the intellect.

IV. Lydia was listening attentively with her heart OPENED. Two things are necessary to salvation.

1. An open Bible. Paul "expounded the Kingdom of God." The prophecies were tightly closed against the spiritual perception of the disciples; but Christ "opened unto them the Scriptures," and they were astonished at the wealth of their meaning. And that is the proper function of the ministry.

2. An open heart to receive the open Bible. St. Paul was sowing good seed; but to secure a plentiful harvest it was necessary to open hearts to receive the seed. The words of the Old Testament which are oftenest quoted in the New are, "By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: for this people's heart is waxed gross," etc. They are quoted six times in the first six books of the New Testament. Why? To teach us the extreme danger of shutting our hearts against the "things spoken of Paul" and other inspired writers. Physicians often speak of "The fatty degeneration of the heart," an unhealthy accumulation of fat interfering with its vital functions, and often terminating in sudden death. And the Jews suffered from a like spiritual malady. They had lost all sensitiveness to spiritual things; and in this lamentable grossness of the heart is to be found the ultimate cause of their rejection of the Saviour. And so now "The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God." "O fools, and slow of heart to believe." It is the fashion nowadays to offer graceful apologies for the infidel; but the Bible always calls him a fool. His infidelity has its origin in a closed heart.

V. Lydia was listening attentively with her heart opened WIDE, that, it appears, is the literal translation, and it implies —

1. That there was a profound need. The young bird in the nest in early spring, when hunger sets in, opens its little beak wide. And when the soul becomes vividly conscious of its great need, it opens its beak as best it can — every faculty opens its mouth wide and eagerly cries to heaven for food. "A man of Macedonia stood before Paul and prayed him, saying, Come over and help us." There is in the cry a painful consciousness of deep want. Paul came; and lo! the first soul he met was wide open crying to heaven for satisfaction.

2. That the Lord had made ample provision to supply the need. He would have never opened Lydia's heart wide unless He had something to put into it. "Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it." I took my little children to the British Channel. They were very diligent filling their little buckets; but after filling them over and over again, the ocean still remained, ready to fill a million buckets more. And you are welcome to bring the cups of your nature and fill them to overflowing with the "Water of Life;" but after filling you over and over again, the boundless ocean of the Infinite Godhead will still remain, ready to fill millions more.

VI. Lydia listened attentively with her heart opened wide BY THE LORD. This opening was —

1. Gradual. It was not a consequence of the preaching, but something prior to and simultaneous with it. Lydia was in all probability brought up in heathenism. But in common with many of the best of the age, she yearned for something more satisfying. Whilst yet in paganism, the Lord opened her heart too wide for the idols of the Gentiles to fill. She therefore embraced Judaism. The Judaism of that age, it is true, was very formal and corrupt; but Judaism at its worst was immeasurably superior to paganism at its best. And in Judaism Lydia found a kind of rest for her weary soul. But the Lord continued to work within her. She, it seems, was a widow. Mention is made of her family, and of her business, but none of her husband. Deeply feeling her loss, she often groans under the anxiety of business, and is glad when the Sabbath comes round that she may attend the Prayer Meeting by the riverside. Nevertheless she is acutely conscious of a great void, and when Paul turned and began to speak of Jesus, His tender sympathy and never failing succour, she perceived at once that He was what she needed — a Husband of the soul. The heart, before opened, was now occupied — the great void was now filled.

2. Gentle. Further on, we read of the conversion of the jailer. His conversion was the work of a brief hour; but it was a very terrible hour. But a gentler method was adopted to convert Lydia. This morning about six o'clock a great battle was fought in this neighbourhood, more important by far than either Waterloo or Sedan — a battle between the forces of Light and the powers of Darkness. But did the clash of weapons awake any of you? No; not one. The victory was won gently and silently. That is precisely the way in which Lydia was converted, it was a victory not of lightnings but of light. The prophet compares the Word of God to a hammer breaking in pieces the rock. Such was the case with the jailer. But the same prophet compares the Divine Word to fire melting the wax. This is how Lydia was converted, by warmth, not by force. It. was only right that the swarthy jailer should be hammered a little — he had hammered many in his day; but it would be a great pity to terrify the little widow. And those two methods still continue.

3. Thorough, as is evidenced by her subsequent conduct.(1) "She was baptized." Christianity was the third religion she had professed; her neighbours might bring a charge of inconsistency. But man's supreme duty is not to be consistent with himself, but consistent with his God — not to be consistent with his past, but consistent with the light which he at the time enjoys. Lydia repeatedly changed her religion; but each change was in the direction of light.(2) "She was baptized and her household." This, I believe, is the first instance in which it is recorded that the baptism of the parent was followed by the baptism of the family. Why? Because family religion is a characteristic of European as compared with Asiatic Christianity. And there is something remarkable that Christianity, on its introduction to Europe, was first offered to, and believed in by a woman, a prophecy of the subsequent career of the gospel upon our continent. "A man" first sought it, but a woman first received it. How to help the men of Macedonia? By improving and refining the women of Macedonia.

(J. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.)

Though the Lord's people are thinly scattered, and sometimes throughout large cities, yet they have a way of finding one another out. True religion is a magnet to draw their hearts together. Considering the text as descriptive of true conversion, it is —

I. A DIVINE WORK. It is said of the skill of the husbandman in opening the clods, etc., that "his God doth instruct him." How much more in breaking up the fallow ground of the sinner's heart, and sowing the seed of the kingdom! The heart is naturally shut: sin is shut in and Christ shut out. Prejudice, perverseness, and enmity are the bars and bolts that keep it shut. Ministers may knock at the door, but it is God alone that can open it.

II. GOD'S FIRST WORK. Impressions and convictions are common, but the opening of the heart is the effect of special grace and the commencement of true religion. Previous to this the soul is dead in trespasses and sins; and now it is that the Lord passes by and says, Live! Christ in the gospel lays the foundation of a sinner's hope; but it must be Christ in you that gives existence to the hope of glory.

III. AN INSTANTANEOUS WORK. In our apprehension it may be gradual, like Christ's opening the eyes of the blind man, who first saw men as trees walking, and afterwards, upon a fresh touch from His hand, all things clearly; but in itself the change is quick.

IV. A WORK EFFECTED IN A WAY PERFECTLY CONSISTENT WITH HUMAN LIBERTY. God opens the heart by engaging and inclining it to that which is good. The power is His, but the act is our own. Men are not driven but drawn. Divine influence is not compulsive, but attractive. God does not open the heart as man would open a passage into a strongly-fortified place, by planting a battery against it; but by "putting in His hand by the hole of the door," and then "our bowels are moved for Him" (Song of Solomon 5:4, 5; Hosea 2:14; Romans 3:20).

V. AN INTERNAL WORK. It is true, the ears are opened to instruction, the mouth in prayer and praise, the hands in acts of justice and benevolence, and the eyes to sea the odious nature of sin and the transcendent glory of the Saviour; but the opening of the heart is previous to all this, and is the cause of all these openings. God's first and principal work is to win the heart: the sinner's first and principal work is to give the heart to Him.

VI. THOUGH THE WORK ITSELF IS INVISIBLE, YET ITS EFFECTS ARE NOT SO. Grace cannot be seen but by its fruits. Where the heart is changed the conduct will be changed. New duties will result from new principles. Three blessed effects of God's opening the heart of Lydia are here mentioned.

1. "She attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul."

2. She manifested her regard to the commands of our Saviour by being immediately baptized.

3. No sooner had she received Christ into her heart than she received His friends into her house; one door being opened, the other did not remain shut.

VII. AN ABIDING WORK. When the heart is once opened Christ takes possession of it, and says in effect, This is My rest: here will I dwell forever, for I have desired it (Hebrews 13:5).

VIII. A NECESSARY WORK. As we cannot be saved without the death of Christ, so neither without the work of the Spirit. More particularly —

1. Satan; that unclean spirit had usurped the dominion of our hearts, and it is necessary to deprive him of his power.

2. Our souls must be cleansed, and this is done by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.

3. The heart must be opened in order to its being beautified and adorned with every grace.

4. By all these means the Lord makes us a fit habitation for Himself.

(B. Beddome, M. A.)

We are to inquire —

I. WHAT WERE THE THINGS WHICH WERE SPOKEN OF PAUL. It will not be uninteresting, and I hope not uninstructive, to take a review of the doctrine of the gospel, which may be comprised under these three heads: the ruin of all mankind; redemption and salvation by Christ Jesus; and regeneration by the Holy Ghost.


1. Pride in the human heart is a great obstacle. This evil disposition works not only in the vilest of mankind, but in those who are in their outward conduct blameless, in the moral and decent.

2. Prejudice is another powerful obstacle. Would you not have thought that the Jews of old would have believed in the Saviour, and have been instructed by Him in the way to heaven, seeing He performed so many miracles as proofs of His mission before their eyes? But they did not receive His words. And why did they not? They expected a triumphant Messiah.

3. The love of sin is another very great obstacle in the way of cordially receiving the truths of the gospel.

4. Lastly, the love of the world is another great obstacle. We do not say that Lydia was a lover of sin and of the world; because it is said "she worshipped God"; but there can be no doubt that her heart was full of Jewish prejudices against the religion of Christ; and in that state she would have continued had not her heart been opened so that she attended to the things which were spoken of Paul.

III. This brings me to inquire, in the third place, BY WHOM AND BY WHAT MEANS THESE HINDRANCES ARE REMOVED AND THE CONSEQUENCE OF THEIR REMOVAL? Can man of himself remove them? No; for the Scriptures, from one end to another, declare that he has no power to do so. "Whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended to the things which were spoken of Paul." The means which the Lord uses are many. He opens the heart; that is, He instills into it a longing desire to be instructed in those Divine and saving truths of the gospel. There is one truth which our text sets before us that I would wish to impress upon your minds: it is this — that we ought not to forsake the assembling of ourselves in the house of God, from an idea that we can get as much good at home. If Lydia had not gone to the house of prayer on the day she was converted, she would not then, and perhaps never at all, have heard; and therefore would have lost the inestimable blessing which the Lord bestowed upon her in the use of the means of grace.

(W. J. Kirkness, M. A.)

I. From these words we may infer this truth — THAT THE HEART OF MAN IS NATURALLY CLOSED AGAINST THE GOSPEL. Not only is the understanding darkened, not only is the will opposed to the truth, but the heart is shut against it. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God," etc. The gospel is addressed to our ears year after year; truths, in the reception of which our happiness both for time and eternity is involved, are brought before us again and again; we may, perhaps, go so far as to assent to them; they inform our understanding, but they go no farther; the heart is not affected by them; and all the power or reasoning of men is utterly unable to cause them to produce the desired effect. If this were not the case, how different would be the effect produced even by a single sermon! One consideration only of the love of Christ in dying for us would have such a constraining influence on our lives, that we should henceforth most readily yield ourselves to His service. But, though the heart of man is naturally closed against the gospel, and though no human power can open it, yet we may observe —

II. THAT A DIVINE POWER IS ABLE TO OPEN IT. It was that which was exerted in opening the heart of Lydia, or St. Paul had preached in vain. The work of conversion depends not on human eloquence, but it is altogether the effect of a Divine operation on the soul. The means too, which the Holy Spirit uses in influencing the heart, are as various as the ways in which He opens it: God is never at a loss for instruments to carry forward His designs either of providence or grace. He can make the most unlikely instruments effectual for the accomplishment of His plans, and out of evil itself can bring forth good. But, though He is not limited to the use of means, yet there are certain ordinances which He has appointed as the special channels for conveying His grace to the soul. Prayer, either public or private, is one of these ordinances. But, though this power be God's alone, it is exerted in a way perfectly consistent with human liberty; men are not driven, but drawn; not forced against their will, but made willing. Divine influence is not compulsive, but attractive.

III. THE EFFECTS PRODUCED ON LYDIA WHEN THE LORD HAD OPENED HER HEART. "She attended to the things which were spoken of Paul." She not only gave attendance on his preaching, but gave attention to it. To those whose hearts have been opened by Divine grace to attend to the things which belong to their everlasting peace, I would address the word of exhortation. Consider, how great a debt of gratitude you owe to distinguishing grace!

(E. C. Wells, M. A.)

Heard us.

1. Collectedly, away from the distractions of the world; Lydia went out of the city.

2. With a heart consecrated by prayer: Lydia went to prayer.

3. With an eager expectation of what the Lord will give: the Lord opened her heart.


1. Not resting satisfied with a mere temporary impression, but walking with the Lord in true fellowship of life: Lydia was baptized.

2. Endeavouring to convey to others our newly acquired faith: with Lydia, her house is baptized.

3. Labouring to pay our debt of gratitude to the Lord by self-sacrificing love to our neighbour: Lydia constrained her benefactors to come to her house.


Whose heart the Lord opened.
I stood one evening last summer watching the pure white flowers on a vine encircling the verandah. I had been told that the buds that hung with closed petals all day, every evening near sunset unfolded and sent out a peculiar fragrance. The miracle was more than I had anticipated. A feeling of silent awe possessed me as I saw bud after bud, as if under the touch of invisible hand, slowly fold back its leaves until the vine was filled with perfect blossoms, most beautiful and sweet.And I said, "If the finger of God laid upon these, His flowers, can do this in a way beyond the power of human study to explain, cannot the same Divine touch, in ways we know not of, do as much for human hearts? It was in the quiet of the evening, when the garish light of the summer sun had softened to twilight, when the bird songs had ceased, and shadows were creeping over the fields, that this miracle of the flowers was wrought. Who can tell why they did not open earlier in the day? The shower of the morning and the sunshine of the afternoon had nourished the vine and made everything ready for the consummation, but it did not appear until evening, and who can describe the beauty and fragrance then of the revelation? Shall the flowers teach us a lesson of patient waiting and holy trust for the coming blessing? There are hearts for whom we long have prayed seemingly closed as yet to every influence of the blessed Spirit. But let us be patient. Perhaps we must wait until evening. It may be these hearts for whose unfolding we pray will open late; or they may open in the twilight of sorrow and disappointment, when the songs cease and shadows stretch over the path long before the day of life is done. True, the parallel is not perfect. The flowers never resisted the gentle influences of air and sun and rain; hearts may resist the Holy Ghost and remain, perhaps, closed against Him. And yet from these sweet blossoms we may surely learn a lesson of patient faith. The silent forces are at work; the God who cares for the flowers of the field is surely caring for these for whose perfected life in Him we pray. Let us wait and watch with Him, nor be surprised nor impatient if it requires years of discipline to bring a sinful soul, where by the Divine touch it can be transformed into a glorious, ransomed spirit.

(John Hall, D. D.)


1. The heart is the generic term in which we include the entire phenomena of the animal and spiritual man. Metaphysically it concentrates all that belongs to the physical, emotional, and intellectual nature. In its Scriptural import the heart is the normal status that conditions man's relations to God. What it is that the man is. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."

2. The heart, therefore, is the power in man that most needs to be changed.(1) Tendencies, idiosyncrasies, and even moral aberrations may be arrested and mastered by culture. The heart never outgrows its inherent depravity. The painted savage and the erudite sage are scions of the same stock. "Born in sin," we must be born again.(2) Then, further, under a momentary or selfish motive man will surrender to God his most costly possessions, while he withholds his heart. "Israel hath forgotten his Maker, and buildeth temples."(3) To change the heart, then, is not merely to amend the life; for the life, as in the case of the rich young ruler, may be superficially correct while the heart is utterly false. For the same reason it cannot be any mere intellectual change, such as a new mode of thinking about God, or His claims; nor yet in the quickened sensibility of the conscience in its outward reverence for truth; all of which are perfectly congruous with the alienation of the heart from God.

3. The new birth is the coming into life of that which previously did not exist. Redemption through Christ is, potentially, the recreation of the lost Divine order in the soul — the re-entrance of God into man, and His enthronement over the will and in the affections as the one supreme Lord.

4. All men need this change, and must experience it just because they are men. There is no difference in the sin which vitiates and condemns, and man must plead no exemption on the ground of birth or training, lest he shut himself out of the kingdom of God.


1. Its supernatural source. Regeneration is a work wrought by Divine power on the individual soul. It may be simulated, but it cannot be fabricated by any art of man.(1) There are two theories against which this doctrine is a dignified protest, viz. —(a) That man is an embryo saint to begin with. A germ of all goodness is folded up within us waiting only favouring circumstances to bloom into a godly life.(b) That religious life depends on education. There is in us all a capacity of becoming good, and the business of education is to cultivate that: the fruit-bearing tree may never produce fruit, but that is an accident; so a man may be virtually good, but never actually from defective training.(2) But these theories deal with ideal human nature and not with human nature as it is.(a) So far from having the germ of a holy nature, the Scriptures declare that we are born in sin, a declaration corroborated by consciousness. Any growth, therefore, is a growth in evil. Under the most benign parental influences this noxious weed has sprung up as if native to the soil.(b) Education is a grand power, but it cannot correlate with the forces of Omnipotence. All mere unfolding of latent faculties deals with the animal and the intellectual only; it creates neither faculty nor disposition.

2. Its various methods. The Lord "opened" the heart of Lydia. The work was done silently as the young spring bud is opened by the morning sun. In the case of the jailer the same work is done in tumult. To have dealt with his petrified sensibilities as with the sweet serenities of Lydia's womanly nature would have been to try at chiselling the marble with sunbeams. To the masculine mind the gospel will appeal successfully chiefly as it appeals to the intellect, and so works out its results through the logic. To the feminine and finer mind it will appeal successfully chiefly as it appeals to the sympathies, the moral susceptibilities, the delicate aesthetics of human nature.

3. Its immediate fruits. Lydia —(1) "Attended," etc. If listless, or only curious before, she is awake now.(2) Took upon herself and her home the profession of the Christian faith. A waste of power meets us here. Not a few estimable people decline to embody their belief in Christian fellowship. If Lydia had gone back to Thyatira resolved to keep the matter secret, trusting to the loyalty of conscience, and the integrity of her feelings, the chances are that she would have failed. We cannot stand alone in the perilous struggle of a religious career; and if we could, we cannot honour Christ if we decline to take up the Cross. And least of all can we help to sustain the burden God has laid on our fellow men as trustees for the world's salvation, if we withhold from them the sympathy and patronage of our professional support. The Church faints, not because bankrupt in her resources, but because men refuse to consecrate to her service that which is already her own.

(J. Burton.)

I. This is a reformation effected in the CENTRE OF EXISTENCE. This was not a reformation on parchment, but a reformation of the springs of activity. If the heart is changed all the emotions, purposes, and activities of life will be changed.

II. This is a reformation that ORIGINATED IN DIVINE AGENCY. "The Lord opened."

III. This is a reformation that brought the SOUL INTO THE HIGHEST DISCIPLESHIP. "She attended unto the things that were spoken of Paul." She became a pupil in the school of Christ.


Suppose it now midnight, and the sun with the antipodes: he doth not presently mount up to the height of our heaven, and make it noonday; but first it is twilight, then the day dawns, and the sun rises, and yet looks with weaker eyes before he shines out in his full glory. We do not sweat with summer today, and be shaken with the fury of the winter tomorrow; but it comes on with soft paces. Now, it is most true that Christ is able, in a moment, of sinners on earth to make men saints in heaven, as He wrought upon the dying malefactor. Some may make sudden leaps, and of furious sinners become zealous professors in a trice. Of such we may be charitably jealous; holiness shoots not up, like Jonah's gourd, in a night. God is the God of order, not of confusion; and nature is not suffered to run out of one extreme into another but by a medium. That ordinary way whereby men walk from the state of sin to the state of glory is the state of grace. So our conversion is by soft and scarcely sensible beginnings, albeit no part after part, degree by degree in every part, by gentle seekings in of goodness in every degree, by growing up to maturity and ripeness.

(T. Adams.)

The grandest operations both in nature and in grace are the most silent and imperceptible. The shallow brook babbles in its passage and is heard by everyone, but the coming on of the seasons is silent and unseen. The storm rages and alarms, but its fury is soon exhausted and its effects are partial and soon remedied; but the dew, though gentle and unheard, is immense in quantity and the very life of large portions of the earth. And these are pictures of the operations of grace in the Church and in the soul.

(R. Cecil.)

It was opened like the gates of a canal lock. It is by water coming in secretly below, and gradually swelling up within, that at length the folding doors allow themselves to be opened; as long as the water presses from above and without, the pressure tends to shut the gates more firmly, rather than to open them. The lock keeps itself empty, and resists the offer of the water to come in. But when by secret channels the interior is nearly filled, then the resistance ceases, and the gates are thrown wide. Ah, many an empty heart resists the offer of mercy from God; the offer of that mercy rather shuts the gate more firmly! But when, secretly, some grace finds its way in and more follows, and the empty space gradually fills, then the enmity disappears, and the whole soul opens out to Christ.

(W. Arnot, D. D.)

I. OPEN HEART. The Lord opened her heart in the ordinary way, no doubt, by the unseen work of the Holy Spirit. He had been opening it all along, while she had been serving Him by keeping close up to the light as fast as it was revealed to her. The Holy Ghost is always in advance of us when we are trying to find our way out into clear duty.

II. Open heart invariably brings OPEN MIND. The entrance of the Divine Word gives light. So Lydia "attended unto" what the apostle told her. The Holy Spirit continued His work. Lydia appears to have surrendered her convictions instantly without cavil.

III. Open mind brought OPEN MOUTH. Out of the abundance of her heart her mouth spoke. Lydia unhesitatingly made public acknowledgment of the faith she now accepted. She lost no time in foolish self-searching after what some call special evidences. She knew she believed in Jesus Christ, and she was ready to say so.

IV. OPEN HAND BROUGHT OPEN HOUSE. The "Daughter of Tyre" was there "with her gift." Hospitality was the form of immediate usefulness Lydia chose. It was not within her reach perhaps to do magnificent things, but she did "what she could." Conclusion:

1. These, then, were the evidences of grace which the Holy Spirit gave instantly to this Thyatiran woman. There was nothing subtle or mysterious in them; anybody could have them! anybody could know them if he had them.

2. And, with these before us, it is easy to learn what growth in grace is — it is increase in openness of heart, mind, mouth, hand, and house — growth in the same simple life which is begun. And more grace is lust glory; and more glory is heaven.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

Though labouring from his childhood under extreme shortsightedness, Ampere, the celebrated French philosopher, was unconscious of this defect till awakened to a sense of it by the following circumstance. When travelling, at the age of eighteen, in one of the most beautiful parts of France, he chanced to take up the eyeglass of a fellow traveller, and he burst into tears of wonder and delight at the first discovery thus suddenly made to him of the beauty and magnificence of nature. Before, when he heard others speak with enthusiasm of the loveliness of some particular scenery, he could not understand what they meant, and thought they must be under some strange delusion. But now he felt as if he had suddenly been endowed with a new sense, and could say, like the blind man in the gospel narrative after he had been restored to sight, "One thing I know: that whereas I was blind, now I see." This incident affords a striking illustration of the brief but emphatic description given of the conversion of Lydia, "whose heart the Lord opened."

I. LYDIA'S HEART WAS CLOSED, which means that there is a natural indisposition to the things of God.

1. An indisposition not incompatible with much that is lovely and of good report. Not implying, as a matter of course, habits of sin or a spirit of frivolity. These things may be or may not be. Inclinations vary: what is one man's pleasure would be another's pain. Under the moral man's respectability, under the amiable man's affection, under the outwardly religious man's worship, there may lurk a repugnance to God; a fixed determination not to come to close quarters with that sword of the Spirit which must pierce and wound before it can be safe to heal. Christ knocks at the door, but they will not rise for Him, nor let Him in. They do not open to Him because they are enlightened enough to know His terms, and honest enough with themselves to decide against them.

2. And without this definite reason for disliking Christ, there are other influences at work in keeping the door of the heart closed against Him.(1) In one there is a spirit of levity which makes all serious reflection irksome: he would fain enjoy himself while he can: "when I have a convenient season," in other words, when sorrow comes, or sickness, or the near prospect of death, then I will call for Thee.(2) And without any resolution of this kind, there is in the heart a strength of practical procrastination which is enough of itself to keep the heart closed against Christ: the very absence of resolution against Him assists the practical exclusion. A man is so nearly a Christian that he writes himself not far from the kingdom, able at any moment by a single step to cross into it. Thus he too has a closed heart; a heart closed by the very idea of its openness.(3) Then there is the case of those who are "ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." There are some who, with a real desire to be saved, can never grasp the simplicity of Christ's salvation. By a medley of things true and false, an inversion of important truths, a mixture of conditions with the gospel of free grace, they have been so perplexed that the work of faith has been impossible: they stand afar off, wishing and waiting, instead of taking the kingdom of God, as our Lord says, by force, and pressing into it with a resolute conviction. Oh for a voice to sound in the depths of that soul — The gospel is this: not that if you will do something God will do the rest; but that, even as you are, God loves you, and that the work of your salvation is already done for you in Christ. Take God at His word: believe Him when He says that He has laid all your sins upon Christ: try the experiment of coming to Him on that basis; and to you the promise shall be fulfilled in the very act of stretching out the hand, the strength will be given: in the reception of the glad tidings the stony heart will be taken away, and a heart of flesh shall replace it: out of the gospel, not before it, will spring repentance and reconciliation: and the heart closed against all else will yield to the inward summons of an atonement already made and a peace already purchased.

II. LYDIA'S HEART WAS OPENED. This opening is ascribed to the Lord, acting through the instrumentality of Him whom He promised to send from the Father. The methods of this opening are various as God's agencies and God's attributes. In the case before us, the first hearing sufficed. And it has been so with others. More often, perhaps, the opening is gradual. These hearts are very obstinate. If God gave but one chance who could be saved? But He who will do anything for our salvation, except that one thing which would vitiate it altogether, namely, a compulsion of conversion; that God is patient with us, and tries many means: sometimes a sudden influx of blessing has brought with it a softening of the heart and a turning of the whole man to give thanks and to glorify his Benefactor: sometimes the discipline of life in its sterner aspect has wrought reflection, and sorrow for sin, and earnest calling upon God. These things are all various. But, amidst them all, one thing varies not. There is a Divine Spirit who works the great change wherever it is wrought; who alone touches the very spring of being, and quickens the dead soul into newness of life.

(Dean Vaughan.)

That she attended to the things which were spoken of Paul.
It must be —

I. CANDID. The preacher of the gospel should not be prejudged. Let him be fairly heard, and let his doctrine be impartially weighed in the balance of the sanctuary. The people of Berea are commended on this account.

II. SERIOUS. The word presents to our minds the most serious subjects in the world. Death and judgment, heaven and hell, are serious things.

III. DEVOUT. Too many persons in hearing look no farther than to men, and to the words of men; and if they are pleased, it is with the sentiments, the voice, or the manner of the preacher; but we should hear the Word of God as the Word of God, and if we do so it will be with reverence of soul.

IV. DILIGENT. It is not a trifling matter which it represents to us; it is for our life, and therefore should be regarded with the utmost vigour and energy of our souls.

V. BELIEVING. It is the testimony of Jehovah and demands the fullest credit. The Word cannot profit our souls unless it be "mixed with faith" (Hebrews 4:2). It is proposed "for the obedience of faith" (Romans 16:26), and, when it is obeyed, it becomes the power of God to our salvation.

VI. JOYFUL. The gospel is glad tidings; it proclaims pardon; and if this be really believed, it must excite joy. It did so in all the first converts to Christianity (Acts 8:6-8; 16:84; 1 Thessalonians 1:6).

VII. PRACTICAL. And where it is truly received it cannot fail of working by love. A true believer is a doer of the Word (James 1:22).

(G. Burder.)

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