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THE EFFECTS OF THE APOSTLE'S PREACHING.
PROPHETIC WARNINGS OF SPIRITUAL DECLEN
SIONS. HIS GLORYING IN THE CROSS OF CHRIST.
HIS TENDERNESS OF SPIRIT.
HIS VIEW OF THE
LAW AND THE GOSPEL.
LIGHT and darkness are not more opposed to each other, than Christianity and Paganism.
If we look at the sages of antiquity, or at the civilized heathens of modern times, and inquire what all their self-inflicted tortures are intended to effect : the answer is given in the streaming blood and dying groans of human victims, whose mangled bodies are supposed to propitiate their
Their idols are objects of terror, before whose frightful forms they tremble, and to pacify whose wrath, they blindly rush into the jaws of death.— Their idols are vices deified, which mark the source from whence they spring.
Our God is love, rich in mercy to all who call upon him. Our God is holy—the fountain of blessedness to his people.
Love, purity, and mercy are no attributes be
longing to heathen deities. As in ancient, so in modern days, the peculiar features of idolatry are are obscenity and blood.
Such is the worship which Satan has established in the earth : for so St. Paul declares :-“the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils and not to God.” In obedience to his Saviour's command, the Apostle went forth into all lands preaching to the Gentiles the Gospel of his grace, and labouring in His strength, to turn them from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God. And wonderful was the effect of his labours among these polluted idolaters to whom he made known the unsearchable riches of Christ.
When the Gospel was preached, in these first ages of the Church, it was revealed to the hearts and consciences of sinners with great power. They deferred not their repentance one day, on account of any worldly considerations. They did not stay till they had set their houses in order; neither did the fear of losing their estates, pleasures, or even life itself, separate them from Christ. Crowds of sinners who heard the Apostle preach, flocked into the Church as doves to their windows, turning speedily and without reserve to God their Saviour ; so that Zion, with holy admiration, might well exclaim : “ Who hath begotten me these?” St. Luke bears ample testimony to the truth of these remarks. After the Apostle's sermon at Antioch, when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, he tells us, “the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath, when almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy. Then said Paul, seeing ye judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo we turn to the Gentiles : for so hath the Lord commanded us, saying: I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord; and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.”
The ministration of the Gospel had this great effect upon them, because, when it was made known by the voice of men externally to the ear, it was applied inwardly to the heart, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
Thus, while the law was thundering its denunciations of wrath against sin from Mount Sinai; the Gospel was proclaiming pardon and peace through the blood of Jesus from the hill of Sion.
Then were fulfilled the sweet words of David : Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning, thou hast the dew of thy youth.” But the still more glorious day is hastening on, when Jesus shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied. His children, begotten to him
through the Gospel, shall then exceed in number, as well as brightness and beauty, the spangles of early dew which the morning discloseth to the delighted eye of the beholder.” Oh happy period ! when believers shall cover the earth as the dew drops of the morning; when they shall appear in
the beauties of holiness, adorned with humility, faith, hope, love, and all the graces of the Spirit ; when all shall know the Lord from the least to the greatest; when every heart shall be his dwellingplace.
The Gospel, being thus preached with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, was the power of God unto salvation both to the Jews and Greeks. And now, as then, it is the word of life, of reconciliation, of salvation to thousands of wretched sinners, whose hearts are opened, like that of Lydia, to attend to the voice of Mercy.
Oh! how can we withstand this Gospel of grace, in which such ample provision is made for every need. In the greatness of his love, our heavenly Father has revealed an all-sufficient Saviour, for the removal of our guilt and for our recovery to his favour; and an all-sufficient Sanctifier, for the renewal of our hearts and for our restoration to the privileges of his children.
Being taught by the Spirit, St. Paul knew full well, that he might preach and Apollos water, but that God only could give the increase.
In his Epistle to the Thessalonians, he takes particular notice of this accompanying grace of God: “Our Gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance. And ye became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost. For this cause, thank we God without ceasing, because, when
received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it, not as the word of men, but
as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh in you that believe."
The single-hearted Apostle and his fellowlabourers in the Gospel arrogated no power to themselves. They acknowledged their own weakness; declaring that they possessed this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power might be of God, and not of man.
This he confessed to the Corinthians, when stating the efficacy of his labours amongst them : “ Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God, who hath made us able ministers of the New Testament.”
How harmoniously do the graces of the Spirit blend their excellencies in the experience of St. Paul, which like the glorious Arch in the heavens, presents to our view the wonderful work of God.
Oh! that our admiration, may lead us, through grace, to a close imitation of this indefatigable servant of Christ.
The faithful minister of the Gospel has joys and sorrows peculiarly his own. Regardless of all personal inconveniences, connected with his pastoral office, his soul can rejoice when sinners, through his labours, are converted unto God.
Such delight Paul felt, in the midst of all his conflicts: of this pleasure, John partook, when he wrote: “ I have no greater joy, than to hear that my children walk in truth:” and in such pure felicity, will every faithful pastor participate, whose heart is in his work, and whose life is devoted to the cause of truth.
How beautiful are the feet of them that preach