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eminent among them are mere “ earthen vessels,” and very soon broken, worn out, or laid aside. “ We have this treasure in earthen vessels," says the Apostle, “ that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." Had God employed angels, or men of first-rate abilities only, to dispense the Gospel, we should have been in danger of attributing its efficacy to the instruments: He there. fore commits the dispensation of the Gospel to men of like passions with ourselves; and often makes those who possess but a moderate share of abilities the most effectual means of converting and edifying the souls of men. Hereby God puts a divine bonour on tie Gospel, shows that its energy and influence are independent of human aid; and secures to himself the unrivalled glory of all its ada mirable effects. O happy earthen vessels! glory in that ye were only dust and asbes! Your weakness, brittleness, and nothingness, display a thousand times more the glory of the great Master who employed you, than the greatest dignity would have displayed it; more than if ye had been golden vessels, angels or cherubim, dominions or thrones.
Denton, The gospel is a sovereign plaister; but Christ's own hand must make it stick.
Manton, Though many, in their private reading the Scriptures, do feel some sweet blasts of the Holy Spirit; yet in the public ministry of the Word, the Spirit oftentimes cometh down in a more plentiful measure, and worketh more powerfully and effectually. Acts x. 44. it is expressly noted, that while Peter was preaching, the Holy Ghost fell on them which heard the word : and doubtless, for one who batb been converted by the private reading of the Scriptures, thousands have been turned from their sins unto God by the public preaching of the word : the reason whereof is, not any excellency that is in the ministers of the Gospel, for certainly there is much more worth and excellency in the Word of God than any sermon preached by men; but because the Lord bath ordained and appointed preacha ing to be the ordinary means of salvation.
Dr. Gouge. The Gospel is a box of most precious ointment; by preaching it, the box is broken and the fragrance diffused.
Ministers ought in duty more abundantly to preach Christ, “ Christ in you, the hope of glory,” saith Paul: and be immediately adds, “ whom we preach.” “ Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given." What grace ? “ That I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
Dr. Sibbs is clear, that “the special office of the ministry of the word, is to lay open Christ, to hold up the tapestry, and to enfold the hidden mysteries of Christ.” And therefore he exhorts, that we should labour to be always speaking somewhat about Christ, or tending that way. When we speak of the Law, let it drive us to Christ; when of moral duties, let them teach us to walk worthy of Christ: Christ, or something tending to Christ, should be our theme and mark to aim at. And I may feelingly say, it is the sweetest suha ject that ever was preached on. Is it not as an ointment poured forth, whose smell is so fragrant, and whose flavour is so sweet, that therefore all the virgins love bim? Is it not comprehensive of all glory, beauty, and excellency, whether of things in beaven, or of things in earth? Is it not a mystery sweet and deep? Such is this high point! this boly, sacred, glorious mystery! Worthy of the pains of all the learned ; and if they would bring all their notes together, and add all their studies together, they should fivd still but a little of this mystery known, in comparison of what remains, and is unknown!
The ministry should be beart-scarching and arousiog 2 all the strong holds of sin should be assailed with the artillery of Scrip ture truth; and if possible, all the thunders of Mount Sinai should be made to roar in the conscience of the careless sinner. He should also be led to Calvary, to see the sufferings and hear the groans of an expiring Saviour! it is not enough merely to state what is truth, but the free offer of all the blessings of salvation must be made to them who hear the Gospel, in the name of Jesus; nay, they must be invited, entreated, and commanded, to seek pardon and eternal life, through the adorable Jesus: and the full sanction of the Gospel must be stated; eternal death must be held out as inevitably connected with and resulting from unbelief. Mark xvi. 16.
Every person that sits under the sound of the Gospel should ask himself these three questions :-Do I know any thing of the excellency of the Gospel ? Do I feel the power of it? and do I live according to the rules of it?
The preceding authors have thrown a diversified light upon the nature of a preached Gospel, and the character and qualifications of the men wbom the Most High has been pleased to employ in the great and honourable work of publishing it to mankind.
From the vast importance attached to this subject, it would have been most in accordance with the views and passions of man, to expect that God would bave selected the rich, the wise, and the learned among the Jews, to promulge his Gospel in the first instance; but no: it was far otherwise : they were chiefly poor fishermen, of low parentage and education, of no learning or eloquence, of no policy or address, of no repute or authority; despised, as Jews, by the rest of mankind, and as the meanest and worst of Jews by the Jews themselves,
What unlikely persons were these to contend with the prejudices of all the world—the superstition of the people—the interest of the priests—the vanity of pbilosophers—the pride of rulers--the malice of the Jews—the learning of Greece, and the power of Rome! But it pleased God to make use of these humble individuals, and for this reason that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of man.”
The Gospel then is the trumpet, man the instrument to blow the trumpet-the sound the Spirit of God will apply as seemeth good in his sight; which we shall endeavour to illustrate under the next head.
(9th Link.) We observed at page 221, that the chain of salvation resembles a rainbow reversed, each end being above our natural sightThe decrees of God, of which we have been endeavouring to form
somne general notions, are those links which are above our sight; but now the chain is descending, and coming, as it were, into our own atmosphere, and we shall now find it visible to our senses. For the gospel is a sound. Luke i. 44. Its delightful and cheering accents drop upon the ear. And the gospel gives sight to the blind: “Go, and tell John those things which ye do hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the deaf hear," &c. Matt. xi. 5. The passions will be brought into exercise: “ Did not our hearts burn within us, wbile he talked with us by the way ?” Luke xxiv. 32. The taste also will be concerned : “ How sweet are thy words to my taste!” Ps. cxix. 103. There will be a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable and well-pleasing to God. Phil. iv. 18.
Religion, then, for such is the name it goes by, is not merely a science, to be known only in theory; but it is a real operation to be performed upon the soul, in which all the senses must be concerned, and all the powers and faculties of the soul brought into action.
The gospel, we said, is the trumpet; man the agent to blow the trumpet: but can he awake the dead? No: he might sound the trumpet a long time over a dead man, before he would bring him to life; and we are “dead.” John xi. 25. “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live." Jobo v. 25. " Likewise reckon ye yourselves also to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Rom. vi. Il. “ And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and in sins.” “ Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickered us together with Christ.” Epb. ii, 1,5.
There is a profounduess of lethargy, or deep sleep, which has closed the eyes of the inhabitants of the earth in darkness and in sensibility—the rulers and the seers, as well as the humblest and most ignorant of the land,
To illustrate this more fully, let us just compare the kind of feeling and perception, which we have about an event that may happen on this side of time, with the feeling and perception about an event, -as nearly similar as possible, that will happen on the other side of time, and try bow much it is that we are awake as to the forniter,
and asleep as to the latter. Should we assuredly know, that in a few years we are to be translated into a splendid affluence or sunk into the most abject and deplorable poverty, how keen would be our anticipation, whetber of hope or of fear! and why? because we are awake unto these things. We do assuredly know, that in a few years we pass that mysterious portal, which leads to bliss, or pain, ör ännibilation-and these are certainties which we do not keenly anticipate, and just because we are asleep unto these things. Should we behold a neighbour on the same path of enterprise with ourselves, suddenly arrested by the hand of bankruptcy, and be further told to our conviction, that the same fatality is sure to encounter all who are treading that path, we would retrace, or more aside, or do our uttermost to evade it-because all awake to the disgrace and wretchedness of bankruptcy.
We every month behold such a neighbour arrested by the hand of death—nor can we escape the conviction, that sooner or later, he will cast his unfailing weapon at ourselves—and yet no one practical movement follows the convic. tion, because we are asleep to a sense of the mighty ruin which awaits us from unsparing and universal mortality. Sbould the "house in which you live be entered with violence by the executioners of a tyrant's will, and a brother, or a child, be hurried away to a perpetual dungeon-if made to know that it was because such a doom had been laid upon the whole family, and that sooner or later its infliction was most surely in reserve for every successive member of it-would not you be looking out in constant terror, and live in constant insecurity, and prove how feelingly you were awake to a sense of the sufferings of an earthly imprisonment? But though death break in upon our dwelling, and lay a ruthless grasp on the dearest of its inmates, and leave the assurance bebind bim, that he will not cease his inroads on this devoted household, till he has swept it utterly away—all we know of the loneliness of the churchyard, and all we read of the unseen horrors of that eternity to which the impenitent and unbeliever are carried by the ministers of the Wrath of God, fail to disturb us out of the habit of living here, as if here we were to live for ever—and that, just because while awake to all the reality which lieth on this side of the grave, we are asleep