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multitudes have by this means been corrupted from the simplicity of Christ, filled with erroneous and hurtful principles, prejudiced against the truth of God, and rendered enemies to the only method of salvation which is suited to their condition. To meet these difficulties, it has frequently been thought necessary to resort to measures of counteraction of doubtful tendency, and upsanctioned by the Scriptures. Controversy bas taken the place of testimony and proclamation; doctrine has been opposed to practice, and practice opposed to doctrine ; creeds have been substituted in the place of holy lives; human authority has usurped the place of divine: till the simplicity of apostolic preaching, and consequently the power which attended it, have been almost lost.
Let us in this matter then, return unto God, and he will return unto us.” Let us place more dependence on the means provided by God himself, and less on schemes of our own devising. While we profess to believe that the word of God is the sword of the Spirit, let us shew that we seek to improve neither its temper nor its edge, by using it as we find it. Let us prove our professed belief, that the Gospel " is the power of God, and the wisdom of God unto salvation," by giving full scope and opportunity to the display of its power, and by refraining from every interference with its wisdom. Let us beware of substituting the excellency of human speech or of oratory in the place of that which is intended to destroy the wisdom of the wise, and to bring to nought the
understandiug of the prudent.
“ Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world ? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world ? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."* “ Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, till there shall not be room enough to receive it.”+
2. In order to the full enjoyment of the divine blessing, it is necessary that the agents employed in propagating this truth, should be persons approved of God as fit for the work-men full of faith and of the Holy Ghost-well instructed in the doctrine of the cross, and holding its mystery in a pure conscience-men whose characters are formed on the model of the Redeemer's, who are deeply imbued with his spirit, who are entirely devoted to his service-whose whole minds are absorbed in the great undertaking in which they engage, and whose hopes of recompense are entirely directed to the rewards of eternity. I am not now speaking of men who devote themselves to foreign service, and for whom a spirit of a peculiar kind, and an ambition of the loftiest nature are supposed to be especially necessary. I am referring to all who are engaged as agents
* 1 Cor. i. 20, 21.
+ See Note [Y].
or instruments in doing the work of God, whether at home or abroad; and I am referring to the meanest and obscurest instruments, as well as to those who occupy the high places of the field.
Without the existence and the full manifestation of christian principle in the agents who propagate Christianity, it is vain for us to expect the divine blessing. I do not mean to say that God may not sometimes use the most apparently unsuitable persons for the promotion of his own glory. But if we knowingly employ or connive at the employment of such, it is at our peril, and at the expense
of the benefit which we propose to secure. What can be looked for in such cases but counteraction and defeat? Where there is no congruity between the instrument and his work, no congeniality between the state of his mind and the truths he delivers, no manifestation of their delightful and purifying influence upon himself; how should we expect such an agent to be owned or countenanced of God?
We speak with rapture of the success of the Gospel in primitive times; and we refer it with propriety to the extraordinary out-pouring of the Holy Spirit. But look, I beseech you, also at the agents whom God then blessed. I speak not now of their supernatural endowments, or of the miraculous powers which sustained their pretensions, and attested their mission. I speak of their high moral qualities, and spiritual attainments. I refer to the devotedness by which they were dis
tinguished; to the marked predominance of christian principle, and their elevated superiority to all earth-born considerations. Look at them, giving up all for Christ's sake; parting with friends, and country, and possessions, and content to become exiles and anathemas for their work; setting at defiance, “ the world and the world's law;" laying their account with the worst it could do, and therefore prepared to endure its worst; unwearied in their exertions, patient in their tribulations, persevering and ardent in all their efforts; presenting themselves continually before the world as the men of another region, who had but one subject of conversation, one spring of action, and one object of pursuit;—pure in their lives—simple in their manners-artless in their representationsin short, living for Christ, and at all times ready to die for Christ. Is it wonderful that these men succeeded? Is it surprising that they should exclaim,-"Now thanks be to God who always causeth us to triumph, and maketh manifest by us the savour of his name in every place.”* The wonder would have been had they not succeeded. They were instruments prepared and fitted by God; they were worthy of the cause in which they were engaged; and in such hands, with the blessing of God, it was impossible that cause should not have triumphed.
In their whole conduct, they presented direct and palpable evidence to the world of the sin
# 2 Cor. ii. 14.
cerity and strength of their own belief in the heavenly system which they propagated; while in the wide difference which subsisted between that conduct and the spirit by which it was animated, and all that was current in the world, a constant subject of inquiry was suggested, and a secret conviction induced that the cause which they espoused was more than human. Hence the constant anxiety which the apostle of the Gentiles manifested, to defend himself and his brethren, against all charges of self-interest, and covetousness, and worldly ambition. Hence his desire to stand well with his brethren, as superior to all deceit and hypocrisy, and vain-glory.–And hence his appeals, how holily, unblameably, and tenderly, he behaved himself among them that believed.
So far from this being an over-wrought picture of the first agents by whom the kingdom of heaven was established, I am satisfied it comes far short of the reality. The most superficial acquaintance with the New Testament must satisfy every individual, that the characters there exhibited exceed the portrait. By such men were the humble and heavenly doctrines of Jesus taught with the greatest consistency. They embodied those doctrines in their lives. They were truly “living epistles of Christ, known and read of all men.” They practised the self-denial, which they taught, and illustrated the heavenly-mindedness, which they inculcated. They were examples of the love which they preached, and patterns of the purity which they recommended. In all things they