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laity scarcely be saved; assuredly in much greater difficulty is involved the salvation of those who minister in holy things, because their work is of a much more arduous nature. Well might St. Paul ask, after labouring to form an estimate of its importance, who is sufficient for these things?'
The difficulty, which attends a conscientious discharge of the ministerial office is such, that the highest mountains which the traveller meets with in other parts of life, when compared therewith, sink into mole-hills, which the foot may surmount with the greatest ease. In the breasts of those, who labor in God's vineyard, simplicity of motive and intention is indispensably required. Self in all its delicate and unsuspicious forms must be excluded the lust of fame, and of man's applause; the love of filthy lucre, or the promotion of secular interest in any shape, are inadmissible, considered as objects of the ministerial undertaking. Zeal for the glory of God, love to Jesus Christ, and an affectionate concern for the salvation of precious souls, are the grand principles, which ought to actuate the conduct of those, who have dedicated themselves to the service of the sanctuary. A corrupt motive, if predominant in the heart, must necessarily prove an insurmountable bar to usefulness in the vineyard, and to the approbation of its Great Proprietor. O
who is thus pure in heart!
Moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found 'faithful.' We are bound by every tie to use all fidelity with the consciences of our fellow sinners, whether they be rich or poor, high or low. Though it becomes us in our civil character to give honor to whom honor is due, and demean ourselves with all lowliness of spirit; yet in our ministerial engagements, whether public or private, we must know no personal distinction; wealth and influence must not deter, learning and abilities must not discourage us from an honest and unequivocal declaration of the whole counsel of God. An appeal may be made to the consciences of all, who are sincere in their exertions for the glory of God and the good of man, without any fear of contradiction, whether the difficulties of their work are not such as no human abilities, unassisted by grace, can surmount. O that the reader's heart may be excited to a more earnest remembrance of us, when he finds in his soul the nearest access to the throne, and is indulged with a favorable audience by his Lord and our's!
The nature of the two comprehensive subjects, which we are called to develop, is another circumstance, which shews our utter insufficiency for the work, which is given us to do. To draw a picture sufficiently deformed, whereby to exhibit the true evil of sin, is no easy matter; for
even an inspired Apostle seems to have been at a loss for expression, when he described sin as exceeding sinful.' His vocabulary did not furnish another word so expressive of its hideous turpitude, as one derived from the thing itself. To trace the deceitfulness of the human heart through all its meanders, so as to force conviction on the conscience, requires a knowledge of ourselves, which can only be derived from Divine teaching. But above all, to preach Jesus Christ in the transcendent glory of His person, in the fulness of His merit, in the unsearchable riches of His grace, in the length, breadth, height, and depth of His love; to preach Him as a free, present, almighty Saviour of the sinful sons of men, so as not to injure His character, and depreciate His value; this is an arduous task indeed, and shews, if any thing can, our need of your most earnest intercession on our behalf. If we preach ourselves, instead of Christ Jesus the Lord; if we substitute a refined system of ethics for the glorious gospel of the blessed God;' we mislead those to certain and eternal ruin, whom we should have labored to conduct to the cross of Christ, and eternal happiness through Him. Nothing but personal experience can enable a man to pourtray either the evil of sin, or the riches of Christ, in a proper manner. Without this indespensable qualification for a due discharge
of our office, not only shall we be liable to mistake error for truth; but even the truth we declare, will be so devoid of energy and persuasion, that it will appear to the hearer no other than a 'cunningly devised fable;' or at best an uninteresting narrative of facts, in which he has little or no concern. The scenes, whether of the comic or tragic muse, which are exhibited on the stage, though altogether fictitious, produce on the minds of the audience, effects suitable to their nature; because the actors emphatically speak falsehood, as if it were truth; while on the other hand, the truths of the Bible, as delivered from the pulpit, whether those of the most pathetic, alarming, or reviving nature, though sanctioned by the word and oath of God who cannot falsify, will in general leave the congregation unmoved and insensible of any good effect, if the preacher himself appears by the coldness of his manner, to give no credit to them. The gospel message is then only properly delivered when the preacher addresses his hearers with the same affectionate importunity, with which a man who has been cured of the plague by some sovereign antidote, recommends it to his bosom friend, when tainted with the same malady. For he will not on this occasion be contented with a bare proposal of the remedy; but the compassionate feelings of his soul will speak in every feature of his countenance, and give an emphasis to his language,
while he enforces the necessity of its immediate application. WE PRAY you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.'* O that the Lord may be pleased to enrich our minds with a deep and abiding experience of His mercy in Jesus, as absolutely requisite to our own salvation! May we, through the influence of the word and spirit of God, have such clear discoveries made to our own souls of the glories of the Person of Immanuel, and the fullness of His redeeming merit ; that our hearts may burn with affection to His name and zeal for His glory, and be melted with tender compassion for the souls of our fellowsinners! Then shall we be able to depict in glowing colours that adorable Saviour as known to ourselves, not by report only, but by a personal acquaintance, and as the chiefest of ten thou• sand, and altogether lovely.' Then shall we perceive that the same truths will produce in the eighteenth century the same effects, which they produced when they flowed from the zealous tongue of the great St. Paul. The demonstration of the Spirit' will attend our message, and sinners will turn from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to ⚫ come.'
* 2 Cor. v. 20,