« PreviousContinue »
, a servant, in deep po slavery. And whatever rd situation and circumsta to serve the Lord Jesus b ention to his peculiar duties ess, and contentment; he "adorn the doctrine of God certainly meet with a grac he were sent, like Isaiah message to the church and The performance of re
"unto the uttermost all that come to God through him;" he will soon rise superior to his desponding fears, and possess "a good hope through grace," that his "sins though many are forgiven;" or, at least, that his iniquity will at length be purged away.
But whoever may be the messenger of peace to the broken in heart, the Holy Spirit is the author and giver of this blessing. "When the Comforter "is come," saith the Lord Jesus, "he shall con"vince the world of sin ;" and "he shall glorify 66 me, for he shall receive of mine and shew it unto "you." When humiliating convictions have prepared the heart to welcome a free salvation, the divine Comforter enables the sinner to see the glory of God, and the harmony of his attributes, in the person and redemption of Christ: thus he finds
peace and joy in believing," and at length "abounds in hope by the power of the Holy "Ghost!" This consolation is the effect of regenerating grace, and accompanied by a new creation of the soul to holiness. The faith that justifies is living and active: it "works by love" of God and man; "purifies the heart," and "overcomes the "world ;" and thus renders the believer fruitful in good works, to the glory of God through Jesus Christ. The live coal from the altar may therefore be considered as an emblem of those spiritual affections, that are kindled in the believer's heart by the Holy Spirit, which prepare, animate, and even constrain him, to devote his talents to the glory of God, and to employ them according to his com
↑ John xvi. 8-15.
mandments. This is "the baptism of the Holy "Ghost, and of fire," with which Jesus baptizes his true disciples: these sacred influences penetrate and enlighten the mind, warm and elevate the affections, consume the dross of low and carnal passions, and transform the whole soul into the very nature of that divine Agent by whom they are produced.
IV. Let us then proceed to consider the effects of this encouragement on the prophet's disposition and conduct.
The vision had struck him dumb, filled him with consternation, and indisposed him for his prophetical office. But now, hearing the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" he answered without hesitation, "Here am I, send me." Neither the consciousness of his unworthiness and insufficiency, nor the prospect of difficulties, perils, or self-denial, produced the least reluctancy to the important and arduous service. His love to the Lord, and zeal for his glory, rendered him willing to go any whither, to any person, or on any message. He was ready to face a persecuting tyrant or an enraged multitude; to travel over mountains and seas, or through inhospitable deserts. He declined not hardship, poverty, or negleet: but was so desirous that the name of God should be hallowed, his kingdom promoted, and his will done on earth even as in heaven, that he exulted in the thought of being employed as an instrument in such a work. He could not indeed equal the fervent zeal and rapturous worship of the Seraphim, but he desired to emulate the promptitude and alacrity with which they per
formed the commands of their Creator. Nay, he made no objections or excuses when he was sent to pronounce the condemnation of the rebellious Jews, and to be an occasion of their judicial blindness, for a warning to all others who "hate the light because their deeds are evil.”
These effects of genuine encouragement to the broken in heart were by no means peculiar to the prophet. They will not indeed follow from an unscriptural assurance of forgiveness, but they are inseparable from comfort obtained by the exercise of living faith in Christ, under the teaching and influence of the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul, speaking of his abundant labours and sufferings, says, "Having obtained mercy, we faint not ;" and afterwards," For the love of Christ constraineth 66 us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all "then were all dead: and that he died for all, that
they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them "and rose again." It was his earnest expectation " and hope, that Christ should be magnified in his 'body, whether by life or death :"2 other "things "moved him not, neither counted he his life dear "unto himself, so that he might finish his course
with joy, and the ministry which he had received of "the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace "of God."3 Deep humiliation for sin; firm confidence in the mercy of God; gratitude to the divine Saviour," who loved him, and gave himself "for him;" zeal for his glory; and compassion for perishing sinners; combined in rendering him
'2 Cor. iv. 1. v. 14, 15. Phil. i. 20, 21. Acts xx. 24.
superior to all other hopes and fears, and prepared him for the most unwearied exertions and patient sufferings, in making full proof of his sacred ministry.
We allow that the subject applies with peculiar propriety to the case of those who are engaged in the same good work: but all Christians "are
bought with a price, that they should glorify God "with their bodies and spirits which are his." They all love the Lord Jesus Christ on the same grounds, though not in equal measure; they partake of "like precious faith" with that of the apostles; and "if any man have not the Spirit of "Christ he is none of his." When therefore the deeply humbled sinner has been delivered from gloomy fears of deserved wrath, and enabled to rejoice in Christ and his pardoning love; he will certainly inquire, "What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits?" Nor will he, when under the lively impressions of admiring love and gratitude, be disposed to think any sacrifice too costly, any labour too great, or any danger too imminent, to which he may be called, in his attempts to serve and honour his beloved Benefactor. This leads him to consider, in what way he may most effectually recommend the salvation of Christ to his fellow-sinners, or be useful to that "flock which he purchased with his own blood." These reflections will frequently employ his thoughts, whether he be a minister of religion, a magistrate, a steward of the "unrighteous mam"mon," possessed of influence, or endued with natural and acquired abilities; or whether, on the contrary, he live in a private and obscure station,