« PreviousContinue »
many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.' (2 Cor. vi. 3, !0.)
Far from being discouraged by the trials, which befal him, the true minister is disposed in such circumstances to pray with the greater fervency; and according to the ardour and constancy of his prayers, such are the degrees of fortitude and patience to which he attains.
« We have not received,' saith St. Paul, the Spirit of bondage again to fear; but we have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself,' amidst all our distresses, “beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought : But the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.' (Rom. viii. 15, 26.) “I besought the Lord thrice, that this trial might depart from me.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: For my strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake: For when I am weak, then am I strong.' (2 Cor. xii. 8-10.) . I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.' (Phil. iv. 13.)
What an advantage, what an honour is it, to labour in the service of so gracious and powerful a master! By the power, with which he controls the world, he over. rules all things for good to them that love him.' Their most pungent sorrows are succeeded by peculiar consola. tions : The reproach of the cross prepares them for the honours of a crown; and the flames, in which they are sometimes seen to blaze, become like that chariot of fire, which conveyed Elijah triumphantly away from the fury of Jezebel.
His modest Firmness before Magistrates. SUPPORTED by a strong persuasion, that God and truth are on his side, the faithful minister is carried above all those disheartening fears, which agitate the hearts of worldly pastors. Depending upon the truth of that solemn prediction, They will deliver you ui to the council, and ye shall be brought before governor and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles;' he expects in times of persecution i appear before magistrates, and possibly before king for the cause of Christ and his gospel. Nor is h! affected at such a prospect. Relying on the promised that compassionate Redeemer, who once appeared fd him before Annas and Caiaphas, Herod and Pontiy Pilate, without anxiously premeditating what he shai answer, and resting assured, that wisdom shall be give him in every time of need, he cries out with the hol determination of the Psalmist: "I will speak of th testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed (Psalm cxix. 46.)
When he is brought as a malefactor before the Judge while his accusers, actuated by a malicious zeal, agr to say-We have found this man a pestilent fellow, mover of sedition among the people,' and one of th ringleaders of a new and dangerous sect ; he justifies hin self by answering-The witnesses, who appear again me this day, neither found me trampling under foot t1 authority of my superiors, nor sowing the seeds of sed tion among the people; neither can they prove th things whereof they now accuse me. But this I coil fess, that after the way, which they call heresy, so wo ship I the God of my fathers, believing all things whid are written in the Law and the Prophets; and hay hope toward God, which they themselves allow, th
there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.' And supposing his accusers are not only deists, but professors of the Christian faith, he will add, This also I confess, that in conformity to those principles, which pretended philosophers term superstitious, and which lukewarm Christians call enthusiastic, 66 I believe” not only “ in God the Father Almighty,” but also in Jesus Christ his only Son, whom I acknowledge to be “ King of kings and Lord of lords, and who, after having suffered for our sins, rose again for our justification." Further ; I joyfully subscribe to that confession of faith, which is frequently in your own mouths__" I believe in the Holy Ghost,” who regenerates and sanctifies every true member of " the holy catholic church :” And I participate with those members the common advantages of our most holy faith, which are an humble consciousness of “the forgiveness of sins," a lively hope of the resurrection of the body," and a sweet anticipation of " everlasting life.” 6 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men.' (Acts xxiv. 5, 16.) If his judge, already prejudiced against him, should unbecomingly join issue with his accusers, and charge him with extravagance and fanaticism; he will answer after St. Paul, with all due respect, “I am not mad: But speak forth the words of truth and soberness. And I would to God, that not only thou, but also all who hear me this day were altogether such as I am, except these bonds.' (Acts xxvi. 24, 29.)
After a pastor has had experience of these difficult trials, he is then in a situation to confirm younger mi. nisters in the manner of St. Paul I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded, that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. At my first answer, no man stood with me; but all men forsook me: Notwithstanding, the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me: That by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear the gospel : And I was delivered out me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto h heavenly kingdom : To whom be glory for ever ar ever.” (2 Tim. i. 12 ; iv. 16, 18.)
Behold the inconvenience and dangers, to which i only Christian pastors, but all, who follow the steps the apostle Paul, will be exposed in every place, whe the bigoted or incredulous occupy the first posts church or state! And whether we are called to endi torments, or only to suffer reproach in the cause of tru let us endeavour to support the sufferings, that shall f| to our lot, with that resolution and meekness, of whi St. Paul and his adorable Master have left us such n morable examples.
END OF THE FIFTH VOLUME.
JAMES Nichols, PRINTER,
2, Warwick Square, Newgate Stree!