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Victorious Gladness

Victorious Gladness

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE

" And at midnight Paul and Silas sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them." Acts xvi. 25.

" And at midnight Paul and Silas sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them." Acts xvi. 25.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jul 10, 2012
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05/08/2014

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VICTORIOUS GLADESSBY JAMES REID, M.A." And at midnight Paul and Silas sang praises unto God: andthe prisoners heard them." Acts xvi. 25.THE power of song is proverbial. There is a magicin it which can charm the heart out of its most sullenmoods. There are songs that have won battles.There are songs that have led crusades, gathering upinto them the spirit of the movement and giving itthe power to renew the heart. A nation's characteris expressed, if not in part moulded, by the songs itsings. " Give me the making of the nation's songs,"says some one, " and I care not who makes its laws."One man with a dream at pleasureShall go forth and conquer a crown,And three with a new song's measureCan trample a kingdom down.But never more wonderful results followed from asong than from this of our text, " At midnight Pauland Silas sang praises unto God : and the prisonersheard them." And then the Scripture goes on to say," and the prison-doors were opened, and the prisoners'bands were loosed."It appears a trifling thing for the writer of thisstory to mention, that the prisoners heard them. Howcould they help hearing them when the song of Paul
 
and Silas rang through the quiet prison chamber at8 7 I272 THE VICTORY OF GODmidnight ? The difficulty, one would imagine, wouldbe not to hear them ! It seems so trifling that wefeel the writer of the story would not have put itthere at all unless there had been something remark-able in the fact. The exciting events of the nightthe earthquake, and the bursting prison doors, andthe conversion of the jailer would all have hiddenfrom the writer's mind a little fact like this if he hadnot felt it worth noting." And the prisoners heard them." When we look into it we find there is a deeper meaning. It doesnot mean a mere casual hearing, a mere sensation.The word has the sense of " listening." Whatever itwas that struck them in Paul's singing, they wereinterested ; they were listening with their minds en-listed, giving themselves up with attention. That isthe meaning of the word. And it has still a deepermeaning. In the Greek of the Bible it is only usedin one other place where Samuel charges Saul withhis want of perception of the voice of God. Canwe not draw the conclusion that these prisonerswere listening as men listen to the voice of God, withtheir hearts attune for some message of God, withtheir conscience quick for some word of truth ; in aword, with all the secret barriers down by which menare accustomed to shut out God? Is it too much to
 
suppose that conversions followed from that singingand changed lives? And is it drawing too muchupon the imagination to suggest that Luke got hisinformation about this incident from one and anotherof the prisoners themselves, when in the little meetingsof the Christians, they told how the grace of Godcame in a song at midnight and found them in a prisonand won its way into their heart ? At all events, theVICTORIOUS GLADESS 273picture Luke draws is worth thinking about. "Atmidnight Paul and Silas sang praises unto God : andthe prisoners were listening to them."To begin with, it is worth noting that they sang inthe prison at all. It is about the last place onewould have chosen to sing in, the last kind of time tosing, and the last kind of attitude for singing. Theyhad been flung into this prison to keep them frompreaching, and soundly beaten, and their feet lockedfast in the stocks. And in that condition, and atmidnight, Paul and Silas sang praises unto God. Ialways look on that as one of the most triumphantmoments of ew Testament Christianity. The samekind of thing must have often happened. Thesepeople were accustomed to sing in all kinds of situations. And that is what faith ought to do forus ; it ought to give us the power to sing in all sortsof devastating and difficult circumstances. It is easyenough to be happy in pleasant circumstances whenlife is sunny and bright and everything is going well.The man who cannot rejoice in the beauty of the

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