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object to be relieved. Let his ministers possess this mind, and follow this example, of their divine Lord, and lose no opportunity of doing good in every department of life, and in every case of distress. In travelling to heaven, let them be as shining lights to conduct others thither also : knowing that they shall be to them a crown of joy and rejoicing in the day of the Lord. “ Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
But if it be the duty of Christ's ministers to preach the Gospel in season, and out of season, and to let no opportunity pass of edifying the souls, and of spiritualizing the views of those committed to their charge, it is no less incumbent on those, who attend their ministry, to embrace every opportunity of hearing the Gospel which is preached. In the Gospel, heaven and salvation are freely offered unto you, Christian hearers! It is the field in which “ the pearl of great price ” is hidden: it is the well of salvation, from which only you can draw the living water. How marvellous! that poor, guilty, and dying sinners should so undervalue it, and come so seldom to the place, in which the blessings therein promised are to be obtained ! One would imagine, that the sanctuary of God would be thronged and crowded, like doves to their windows; that there would be multitudes of souls, naturally dark and ignorant, lying at the posts of Wisdom's doors, and seeking for instruction in the courts of the Lord's house ; that there would be such numbers of blind, of halt, of withered, lying in the porches of Bethesda, waiting for the moving of the water, as that room would be wanting to contain the guests, and accommodate the poor lying at the porch of the temple. But, alas ! how few desire to be spiritually enlightened ! How small the proportion between those, who are sensible of the maladies of their souls, and those who think themselves whole ; and who, in consequence, come not to the divine Physician for healing, nor to the waters of the sanctuary to be cleansed of their sins, and made whole of their infirmities.
It should be the duty of Christian readers to afford the utmost encouragement to their ministers, to strengthen their hands, and to cheer their labours ; and in no way can they fulfil this duty more effectually, than by profiting under their ministrations of love, and their offices of kindness. behoves “ those that be planted in the house of the Lord, to flourish in the courts of our God," and to bear much fruit. Such as feed in the green pastures of Gospel ordinances should become sound in health, and vigorous in intellect. And now, my Christian hearers, can this wholesome state be better produced, and this blessed encouragement be better given, than by letting your ministers see ~ of the travail of their souls” in your new-birth, in your growing in grace, and in your advancing daily towards the measure of the stature of a perfect man in Christ Jesus !
There is another method in which you should give encouragement to those who labour in the word and doctrine. The work in which they are engaged, is one of no coinmon difficulty and embarrassment, of which few have any
but there is a way in which their toils may be lightened, and their course rendered easier and delightful; and that is by your earnest prayers, that Almighty God would strengthen them for their arduous work; that he would carry them through all their difficulties, and make them wise in their holy endeavours of winning souls. So great did the work of the ministry
appear to the learned apostle of the Gentiles, that in contemplating its awful Importance, he exclaimed, “Who is sufficient for these things ?" To a question so solemn, they would be but little conversant with the spirit and temper of St. Paul, who should return for answer, “ We conclude them to be sufficient for these things, who have shewn but little symptoms of sufficiency for any other study or pursuit." Though fully replenished with the graces of the Spirit, yet he earnestly entreated the prayers of his Christian converts. And if he, who had such superior revelations, who was not educated, but inspired for the ministry: if he needed the assistance of their prayers, much more do we stand in need of them; we who, in comparison with the apostle, in his gifts and accomplishments, are but as very dwarfs, and can pretend to no such revelations as those for which he was pre-eminently distinguished.
Pray, then, for your ministers, ye hearers of the word! pray that in the strength of God they may go forth to their work; pray that he may lead them to the most suitable and the most necessary subjects; that he may give them “ the tongue of the learned," and knowledge “ how to speak a word in season to him that is weary," and that they may be the blessed means of bringing many sons and daughters unto glory. Pray that God will accompany their labours with his blessing, else will all their toils be in vain, and their endeavours to catch men in the net of the Gospel be profitless and as nought. It is the kindly influence of the sun, of the dew, and of the rain, which causeth the seed sown in the earth to germinate, to grow up, and come to a plentiful harvest, and not the hand of the sower. It is of Paul to plant, but of God to give the increase. In like manner, it is not our preaching, but the influence of the Holy Spirit, which causeth grace to grow in the hearts of men, and to bring forth fruit unto everlasting life. We are the instrument, but the hand is his. Pray we that he will hold and direct it. If you think your ministers heavy, cold, and lifeless in their preaching, try to brighten and arouse them by your prayers. A praying people will always have successful ministers. And I am mightily afraid, that to the want of their people's prayers, no small degree of the want of success in their ministerial labours is to be attributed; and that the Gospel of Christ is so seldom the savour of life unto life to those who attend our ministry. Therefore, “ Brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified.” “And may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ," to whom be glory for ever and ever Amen
CHRIST ALONE TO BE PREACH ED.
REV. S. F. RAMSEY, B.A.
ST. MICHAEL'S CHAPEL, BURLEIGH STREET, STRAND, MARCH 6, 1836,
“He preached unto them Jesus.”—Acts, xvii. 18.
We are told that all scripture is profitable for instruction in righteousness and for doctrine; but the writings and sermons of Paul are, in truth, emphatically so. The great apostle of the Gentiles was indeed a pattern to Christians in general, to Ministers in particular. In him we behold the most undaunted courage combined with caution, zeal with prudence, firmness with wisdom. He was distinguished for piety and unshaken fortitude; for a burning, overpowering, Demosthenic eloquence: but with that towering eloquence and gigantic intellect, we find associated the deepest humility, and the most unfeigned self-abasement. There was an honesty of purpose in Paul that carried conviction to the breasts of the bystanders, that he was sincere in what he uttered; the unlearned stood amazed at his energy and fervour; the learned were captivated by the eloquence of his diction, the culture of his mind, and the aptness of his allusions.
O what a preacher was Paul! What dwarfs are we of the present day when put in comparison with that eminent man of God! From the hour of his spiritual birth, to the day of his ignominious and cruel death, he never deviated from the Zionward path ; never swerved from that course which pointed to the accursed tree, on which the Redeemer of mankind was suspended. But although we feel as a very atom when compared to that colossal mind, yet we trust that we forget not we have the same Master to serve, the interests of the same God to advance, that we have the promised aid of the same Spirit in preaching the words of eternal life. Yes, even Paul would never have impressed one heart, never have caused the captive sinner to burst the bonds in which he was enchained; yea, never have converted one soul to God, had he not received power from Jehovah to accomplish the mighty task. Yes, my brethren, the God with whom we have to do, is pleased to bring about the most glorious results by the most insignificant means—deeds of heavenly prowess by the weakest, the feeblest instruments; and therefore it is why we faint not. Yes, who shall dare to say, who will venture to aver, that the word this morning spoken, the message now delivered, shall pass unheeded by, shall be attended without any beneficial effects? Who can tell but this very morning, aye this very hour, he who now addresses you, may be the honoured instrument in the hand of Deity, of bringing some wandering, lost sheep into the fold of the Great Shepherd, be the means of removing the film from off
the spiritual vision of some trembling sinner, so that he shall be enabled to see Him who is invisible to human ken? God grant that such may be the case! O thou ever blessed Spirit of truth and consolation, come down from the mansions of thy abode; come tabernacle in our breast, erect thy tent within our heart; infuse thy holy influences into our whole soul; and dwell and abide with us for ever! We ask not for the eloquence of Paul, we ask not for the mere tinsel of human rhetoric; nor the trappings of earthly ornament; we ask not for these ; we only ask for Thee, the Spirit of the Lord, to have our hearts inflated, our affections expanded by thee, that we may be enabled to impart unto those around us some portion of thy divine influence, and cause the bosoms of our hearers to imbibe that sacred unction which we now supplicate to moisten, to bedew, and to thaw our own withered feelings, our own frozen affections !
“ He preached unto them Jesus.” Almost, methinks, I behold this great apostle of Jesus on his arrival at the seat of learning and of science, pacing the streets, beholding the achievements and the monuments of art; walking amid their sacred groves, and gazing on the relics of the mighty dead. Methinks I could almost enter into the mingled feelings of the man of God as he traversed through this mighty city. Like his Master he would drop the tear of commiseration and of pity, when he witnessed such a prostration of the intellectual powers, and saw that the mind and faculties of man when advanced to the highest pitch of mental acquirement and refinement of intellect, when civilization had received its last polish ; that in matters of eternal moment, when left to himself, a murky dimness of vision seemed to brood o'er his spirit, and his understanding enshrouded in the thick folds of a darkness that might be felt. When he visited their halls of science, and witnessed their aptitude in penetrating the deep mysteries of nature ; and observed with what eagerness they traced these labyrinths, and with what nicety they marked each avenue that led to the vista of knowledge, and at the same time perceived they were surrounded with gods wrought by their own hands; that with all their intelligence, and liberty, and knowledge, they bowed the knee to stocks and stones; he would be more deeply than ever convinced, that man when left to himself, is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil ; that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Burke says, “ Man is a religious animal:" he would have spoken more correctly had he said, “Man is a superstitious animal !" Surely we should blush for human nature when we cast our eye upon this mighty city; the emporium of intellect, the favorite abode of oratory, the school of philosophy, the resort of science, the receptacle of all that was great and noble, the patroness of the arts, the strong hold of freedom, whose armies empurpled the embattled plain with the gore of their numerous foes, whose ranks never received a wound but in the front, whose commanders, by their very name, caused a sudden chill to creep athwart the breast of their enemies; whose navies had only to sail forth from Piræus to strike dismay into the galleys of their opponents, and, like our own, were proclaimed the mistress of the seas. O surely we must see that man, even when advanced to the very acme of mental culture and civilization, is still as ignorant of God and the appropriate way of coming unto the mercy-seat as the brutes that perish; that he knows no more how to worship God in an acceptable manner than the babe that is unborn. My brethren, this is a humiliating truth, but it is a truth, a truth of the utmost importance, to be impressed upon each of our minds; and it should induce us to sit at the feet of Him who spake as never man spake ; and be taught that if man would be wise, he must become a fool that he may be wise! that “ the world by wisdom knows not God,” and the Athenians “professing themselves to be wise, became fools !" * But let us observe how Paul conducted himself whilst he sojourned at Athens. Did he occupy his time in admiring their statuary and architectural buildings for which they were so celebrated ? Did he arrest his steps as he passed by the almost breathing marble ? Did he tarry as he gazed upon the canvass apparently glowing with vitality? Did he consume his precious hours in examining the archives of the State ? Did he make himself acquainted with the laws of Solon? No! What did he then? “He preached unto them Jer sus and the resurrection.” He knew that there was an energy, a vitality in that word, which would prove to be “the power of God unto salvation unto everdy one that believeth, to the Jew first, and also unto the Greek.” And we are Sully convinced that the plain, simple preaching of Jesus Christ and him erueit lied, will produce a greater effect upon the minds of men, than all the disquisitions upon ethics that ever were penned. The ancient philosophers, who, in general, were possessed of too much sense to worship images of gods far inferior to themselves, and who in their schools taught the purest morality then known, what did they effect? Did they cause a moral revolution in the world? Did they make such an impression upon the minds of their hearers, especially those in the more humble walks of life, as to induce them to cast their idols of wood and stone to the moles and to the bats? And, having thus far enlightened their minds, did the philosophers of the olden time conduct these their votaries, from the dark, dense mazes of superstition and of crime, into the pure, pright atmosphere of day, and there teach them to worship the God of nature? Did they effect even this change? No! With all their learning and diligence, they left the great bulk of mankind in the same benighted state in which they found them. Did these men of genius and of undoubted great mental acquirement, did they promulgate the doctrine of the immortality of the soul? No, they did not; it was one right guess among many wrong ones.
Thus then, brethren, we perceive that man in his best estate, when polished by civilization, enlightened by knowledge, and encompassed by all the refinements of life, is in a state of alienation from God, and is a mournful exhibition, not of the dignity, but of the awful depravity of human nature: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?"
Let us observe the conduct of Paul on his arrival at this celebrated seat of learning. We are told that “whilst Paul waited for Silas and Timotheus at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met him. Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoics, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? Other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods : because he preached unto them Jesus and the resurrection." We find the spirit of Paul, on his arrival at Athens, was stirred