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neral, to his whole economy. 'How is it,' ay unbelievers sometimes, that your Jesus exposed all the circumstances of his abasement to the public eye, and concealed those of his elevation? If he were transfigured on the mount, it was only before Peter, James, and John, If he ascended to heaven, none but his disciples saw his ascent. If he rose again from the dead, and appeared, he appeared only to those who were interested in his fame. Why did he not show himself to the synagogue? Why did he not appear to Pilate? Why did he not show himself alive in the streets, and public assemblies of Jerusalem? Had he done so, infidelity would have been eradicated, and every one would have believed his own eyes: but the secrecy of all these events exposes them to very just suspicions, and gives plausible pretexts to errors, if errors they be. We omit many solid answers to this objection; perhaps we may urge them on future occasions, and at present we content ourselves with observing, that the apostles, who attested the resurrection of Jesus Christ, wrought miracles in the presence of all those, before whom, you say, Jesus Christ ought to have produced himself after his resurrection. The apostles wrought miracles; behold Jesus Christ! see his Spirit! behold his resurrection! God hath raised up Jesus Christ, and he hath shed forth what ye now see and hear.' This way of proving the resurrection of Christ was as convincing as the showing of himself to each of his enemies would have been; as the exposure of his wounds before them, or the permitting of them to thrust their hands into his side, would have been. Yea, this was a more convincing way than that would have been for which you plead. Had Jesus Christ shown himself, they might have thought him a phantom, or a counterfeit; they might have supposed that a resemblance of features had occasioned an illusion: but what could an unbeliever oppose against the healing of the sick, the raising of the dead, the expulsion of devils, the alteration and subversion of all nature?
It may be said, perhaps all these proofs, if indeed they ever existed, were conclusive to them, who, it is pretended, saw the miracles of the apostles; but they can have no weight with us, who live seventeen centuries after them. We reply, The miracles of the apostles cannot be doubted without giving in to a universal skepticism; without establishing this unwarrantable principle, that we ought to believe nothing but what we see; and without taxing three sorts of people, equally unsuspected, with extravagance on this occasion.
1. They, who call themselves the operators of these miracles, would be chargeable with extravagance. If they wrought none, they were impostors who endeavoured to deceive mankind. If they were impostors of the least degree of common sense, they would have used some precautions to conceal their imposture. But see how they relate the facts, of the truth of which we pretend to doubt. They specify times, places and circumstances. They say, such and such facts passed in such cities, such public places, such
assemblies, in sight of such and such people. Thus St. Paul writes to the Corinthians. He directs to a society of Christians in the city of Corinth. He tells them, that they had received miraculous gifts, and censures them for making a parade of them. He reproves them for striving to display, each his own gifts in their public assemblies. He gives them some rules for the regulation of their conduct in this case: If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course, and let one interpret. If there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church. Let the prophets speak, two, or three. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace,' 1 Cor. xiv. 27, 28, &c. I ask, with what face could St. Paul have written in this manner to the Corinthians, if all these facts had been false? If the Corinthians had received neither the gifts of prophecy, nor the discerning of spirits, nor divers kinds of tongues? What a front had he who wrote in this manner!
2. The enemies of Christianity must be taxed with extravagance. Since Christians gloried in the shining miracles that their preachers wrought; and since their preachers gloried in performing them before whole assemblies, it would have been very easy to discover their imposture, had they been impostors. Suppose a modern impostor preaching a new religion and pretending to the glory of confirming it by notable miracles wrought in this place: What method should we take to refute him? Should we affirm that miracles do not prove the truth of a doctrine? Should we have recourse to miracles wrought by others? Should we not exclaim against the fraud? Should we not appeal to our own eyes? Should we want any thing more than the dissembler's own professions to convict him of imposture? Why did not the avowed enemies of Christianity, who endeavoured by their publications to refute it, take these methods? How was it, that Celsus, Porphyry, Zosimus, Julian the. apostate, and Hierocles, the greatest antagonist that Christianity ever had, and whose writings are in our hands, never denied the facts; but, allowing the principle, turned all the points of their arguments against the consequences that Chris tians inferred from them? By supposing the falsehood of the miracles of the apostles, do we not tax the enemies of Christianity with absurdity?
In fine, This supposition charges the whole multitude of Christians, who embraced the gospel, with extravagance. The examination of the truth of religion, now depends on a chain of principles and consequences which require a profound attention; and therefore, the number of those who profess such or such a religion, cannot demonstrate the truth of their religion. But in the days of the apostles the whole depended on a few plain facts. Has Jesus Christ communicated his Spirit to his apostles? Do the apostles work miracles? Have they the power of imparting miraculous gifts to those who embrace their doctrine ? And yet this religion, the discussion of which was so plain and easy, spread itself far and wide. If the apostles did not work mira
clés, one of these two suppositions must be made-either these proselytes did not deign to open their eyes, but sacrificed their prejudices, passions, educations, ease, fortunes, lives and consciences, without condescending to spend one moment on the examination of this question, Do the apostles work miracles? or that, on supposition they did open their eyes, and did find the falsehood of these pretended miracles, they yet sacrificed their prejudices, and their passions, their educations, their ease, and their honour, their properties, their consciences, and their lives, to a religion, which wholly turned on this false principle, that its miracles were true.
Collect all these proofs together, my brethren, consider them in one point of view, and see how many extravagant suppositions must be advanced, if the resurrection of our Saviour be denied. It must be supposed that guards, who had been particularly cautioned by their officers, sat down to sleep, and that however they deserved credit, when they said the body of Jesus Christ was stolen; it must be supposed that men who had been imposed on in the most odious and cruel manner in the world, hazarded their dearest enjoyments for the glory of an impostor. It must be supposed that ignorant and illiterate men, who had neither reputation, fortune nor eloquence, possessed the art of fascinating the eyes of all the church. It must be supposed, either that five hundred persons were all deprived of their senses at a time; or that they were all deceived in the plainest matters of fact; or that this multitude of false witnesses had found out the secret of never contradicting themselves, or one another, and of being always uniform in their testimony. It must be supposed, that the most expert courts of judicature could not find out a shadow of contradiction in a palpable imposture. It must be supposed, that the apostles, sensible men in other cases, chose precisely those places, and those times, which were the most unfavourable to their views. It must be supposed that millions madly suffered imprisonments, tortures, and crucifixions, to spread an illusion. It must be supposed, that ten thousand miracles were wrought in favour of falsehood: or all these facts must be denied, and then it must be supposed, that the apostles were idiots, that the enemies of Christianity were idiots, and that all the primitive Christians were idiots. The arguments, that persuade us of the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, are so clear and so conclusive, that, if any difficulty remains it arises from the brightness of the evidence itself. Yes, I declare, if any thing has shaken my confidence in it, it has arisen from this consideration. I could not conceive how a truth, attested by so many irreproachable witnesses, and confirmed by so many notorious miracles, should not make more proselytes, how it could possibly be that all the Jews, and all the heathens, did not yield to this evidence. But this difficulty ought not to weaken our faith. In the folly of mankind its solution lies. Men are capable of any thing to gratify their passions, and to defend their prejudices. The unbelief of the Jews and heathens is not more wonderful than a
hundred other phenomena, which, were we not to behold them every day, would equally alarm us. It is not more surprising than the superstitious veneration in which, for many ages, the Christian world held that dark, confused, pagan genius, Aristotle; a veneration, which was carried so far, that when metaphy sical questions were disputed in the schools, questions, on which every one ought always to have liberty to speak his opinion; when they were examining whether there were a void in nature, whether nature abhorred a vacuum, whether matter were divisible, whether they were atoms, properly so called; when it could be proved, in disputes of this kind, that Aristotle was of such or such an opinion, his infallibility was allowed, and the dispute was at an end. The unbelief of the ancients is not more surprising than the cre dulity of the moderns. We see kings, and princes, and a great part of Christendom, submit to a pope, yea, to an inferior priest, often to one who is void of both sense and grace. It is not more astonishing than the implicit faith of Christians, who believe, in an enlightened age, in the days of Des Cartes, Paschal, and Malbranche: what am I saying? Des Cartes, Paschal, and Malbranche them selves believe, that a piece of bread which they reduce to a pulp with their teeth, which they taste, swallow, and digest, is the body of their Redeemer. The ancient unbelief is not more wonderful than yours, protestants! You profess to believe there is a judgment, and a hell, and to know that misers, adulterers, and drunkards, must suffer everlasting punishments there; and, although you cannot be ignorant of your being in this fatal list, yet you are as easy about futurity, as if you had read your names in the book of life, and had no reason to entertain the least doubt of your salvation.
II. We have urged the arguments, that prove the resurrection of Christ: I shall de tain you only a little longer in justifying the joyful acclamations which it produced. The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the Lord doth valiantly. The right hand of the Lord is exalted: the right hand of the Lord doth valiantly.'
The three melancholy days that passed between the death of Jesus Christ and his resurrection, were days of triumph for the enemies of the church. Jesus Christ rises again; and the church triumphs in its turn: The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous. The right hand of the Lord is exalted: the right hand of the Lord doth valiantly.'
1. In those melancholy days, heresy triumphed over truth. The greatest objection, that was made against the satisfaction of Jesus Christ, was taken from his innocence, which is the foundation of it. For if Jesus Christ were innocent, where was divine justice, when he was overwhelmed with sufferings, and put to death? Where was it, when he was exposed to the unbridled rage of the populace? This difficulty seems at first indissoluble. Yea, rather let all the guilty perish; rather let all the posterity of Adam be plunged into hell; rather let divine jus
tice destroy every creature that divine good-, ness has made, than leave so many virtues, so much benevolence, and so much fervour, humility so profound, and zeal so great, without indemnity and reward. But when we see that Jesus Christ, by suffering death, disarmed it, by lying on the tomb took away its sting, by his crucifixion ascended to a throne, the difficulty is diminished, yea it vanishes away: The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous. The right hand of the Lord is exalted: the right hand of the Lord doth valiantly.' God and man are reconciled; divine justice is satisfied; henceforth we may go boldly to the throne of grace. There is now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again,' Heb. iv. 16.
2. In those mournful days infidelity triumphed over faith. At the sight of a deceased Jesus the infidel displayed his system by insulting him, who sacrificed his passions to his duty, and by saying, See, see that pale, motionless carcass: Bless God and die! All events come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked; to the clean and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth and to him that sacrificeth not; as is the good, so is the sinner, and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath,' Eccl. ix. 2. Jesus Christ rises from the dead: 'The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous.' The system of the infidel sinks: he errs, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God,' Matt. xxii. 29.
was oppressed, and the rewards of virtue seemed to be buried in the tomb of him, who, above all others, had devoted himself to it. Jesus Christ rises again: the voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous.' The designs of the enemies of innocence are all frustrated, and their attempts to disgrace purity serve only to exalt its glory, and to perpetuate its memory. Let the tyrants of the church, then, rage against us; let 'the gates of hell,' Matt. xvi. 18, consult to destroy us; let the kings of the earth,' more furious often than hell itself, set themselves against the Lord, and against his anointed,' Ps. ii. 2; let them set up gibbets, let them equip galleys, let them kindle fires to burn us, and prepare racks to torture us; they themselves, and all their cruel inventions, shall serve the purposes of the Almighty God. The Assyrian is only the rod of his anger,' Isa. x. 5. Herod and Pilate do only what his hand and his counsel determined before to be done,' Acts iv. 28. God knows how to restrain their fury, and to say to them, as he says to the ocean, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no farther; and here shall thy proud waves be stayed,'Job. xxxviii. 2. 4. Finally, in those fatal days, death triumphed over all human hope of immortal glory. The destiny of all believers is united to that of Jesus Christ. He had said to his disciples, Because I live, ye shall live also,' John xiv. 19. In like manner, on the same principle, we may say, If he be dead, we are dead also. And how could we have hope to live, if he, who is our life, had not freed himself from the state of the dead? Jesus Christ rises from the dead: The voice of rejoicing is in the tabernacles of the righteous.' Nature is reinstated in its primeval dignity; 'death is swallowed up in victory,' 1 Cor. xv. 64; of respect being paid at parting, the word was also applied to that: They blessed Rebekah, that is, they bade her farewell, accompanying their good wishes with genuflexion. From this known meaning of the word it was applied to a bending of the knee where no blessing could be intended; he made his camels kneel down, Gen. xxiv, 11. It was put sometimes for the respect that was paid to a magistrate, Gen. xli. 43, and sometimes for the respect which idolaters paid to false gods. But to bow the knee to an idol was to deny the existence of God, to renounce his worship, or, in the Scripture style, to curse God, to blaspheme God, &c. If I beheld the sun or the moon, and my mouth has kissed my hand: I should have denied the God that is above, Job xxxi. 26-28. Only the scope of the place, therefore, can determine the precise meaning of the word. The word must be rendered curse, deny God, or renounce his worship, Job i. 5. 11. and it must It may seem strange, at first, that the same term be rendered bless, acknowledge, or worship him, in should stand for two such opposite ideas as blessing ver. 21. The Septuagint, after a long sarcastic paraand cursing but a very plain and natural reason may phrase, supposed to have been spoken by Job's wife, be assigned for it. The Hebrew word originally sig- renders the phrase είπον τι ρημα προς κύριον, και τελευταί mified to bless, benedicere: and, when applied to God, To bring our meaning into a narrow compass. If an it meant to bless, that is, to praise God by worshipping ancient Jew had seen a dumb man bend his knee in him. The Talmudists say, that the religious honours the tabernacle, or in the temple, he would have said which were paid to God, were of four sorts. Then he blessed the Lord. Had he seen him prostration of the whole body, was one: The bowing of the head, another: The bending of the upper part of the body towards the knees, a third: and genuflex in, the fourth. Megille fol. 22. 2. apud Buxtorf. Lex. In these ways was God praised, worshipped, or blessed, and the Hebrew word for blessing was naturally put for genuflezion, the expression of blessing, or praising; thus it is rendered Psalm xcv. 6, let us kneel before the Lord: 2 Chron. vi. 13. Solomon kneeled down upon his knees. The bending of the knee being a al token of respect which people paid to one another when they met, the word was transferred to this also, and is properly rendered salute, 2 Kings iv. 29. If thou meet any man, salute him not. The same token
In those dismal days, tyranny triumphed over the perseverance of martyrs. Innocence
So the French Bibles render the words, BLESS God and die! our translation has it, CURSE God and die. Job, who best knew his wife, calls this a foolish saying; that is, a saying void of humanity and religion: for so the word foolish signifies in Scripture. It was a cruel, popular sarcasm, frequently cast by skeptics on those who persisted in the belief of a God, and of the perfection and excellence of his providence, even while he suffered them to sink under the most terrible calamities, Your God is the God of universal nature! He regards the actions of men! He rewards virtue! He punishes vice! On these erroneous principles your adoration of him has been built. This was a pardonable folly in the time of your pros perity: but what an absurdity to persist in it now! If your present sufferings do not undeceive you, no future means can. Your mind is past information. Persevere! Go on in your adoration till you die.
bend his knee at court, in the presence of Solomon, he
the grave is disarmed of its sting. Let my eyesight decay; let my body bow under the weight of old age; let the organs of my body cease to perform their wonted operations; let all my senses fail; death sweep away the dear relatives of my bosom, and my friends, 'who are as mine own soul,' Deut. xiii. 6; let these eyes all, gushing with tears, attended with sobs, and sorrows, and groans, behold her expire, who was my company in solitude, my counsel in difficulty, my comfort in disgrace; let me follow to the grave the bones, the carcass, the precious remains of this dear part of myself; my converse is suspended, but is not destroyed: Lazarus, my friend, sleepeth, but if I believe, I shall see the glory of God.' Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life,' John xi. 2. 40. 25. He is risen from the dead, we, therefore, shall one day rise. Jesus Christ is not a private person, he is a public representative, he is the surety of the church, the first fruits of them that sleep. If the Spirit of him, that raised up Jesus from the dead, dwell in you; he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by his Spirit that dwelleth in you,' 1 Cor. xv. 20; Rom. viii. 2.
Was ever joy more rational? Was triumph ever more glorious? The triumphant entries of conquerors, the songs that rend the air in praise of their victories, the pyramids on which their exploits are transmitted to posterity, when they have subdued a general, routed an army, humbled the pride, and repressed the rage of a foe; ought not all these to yield to the joys that are occasioned by the event which we celebrate do-day? Ought not all these to yield to the victories of our incomparable Lord, and to his people's expressions of praise? One part of the gratitude, which is due to beneficial events, is to know their value, and to be affected with the benefits which they procure. Let us celebrate the praise of the Author of our redemption, my brethren; let us call heaven and earth to witness our gratitude. Let an increase of zeal accompany this part of our engagements. Let a double portion of fire from heaven kindle our sacrifice; and with a heart penetrated with the liveliest gratitude, and with the most ardent love, let each Christian exclaim, Blessed be the God and Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten me again to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,' 1 Pet. i. 3. Let him join his voice to that of angels, and, in concert with the celestial intelligences, let him sing, 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory,' Isa. vi. 3. Let the tabernacles of the righteous' resound with the text, the right hand of the Lord doth valiantly the right hand of the Lord doth valiantly.'
But what melancholy thoughts are these, which interrupt the pleasures of this day? Whose tabernacles are these? The tabernacles of the righteous? Ah! my brethren! wo be to you, if, under pretence that the righteous ought to rejoice to-day, you rejoice by adding sin to sin! The resurrection of the Saviour of the world perfectly as
sorts with the other parts of his economy. It is a spring flowing with motives to holiness. God has left nothing undone in the work of your salvation. The great work is finished. Jesus Christ completed it, when he rose from the tomb. The Son has paid the ransom. The Father has accepted it. The Holy Spirit has published it, and, by innumerable prodigies, has confirmed it. None but yourselves can condemn you. Nothing can deprive you of this grace, but your own contempt of it.
But the more precious this grace is, the more criminal, and the more affronting to God, will your contempt of it be. The more joy, with which the glory of a risen Jesus ought to inspire you, if you believe in him, the more terror ought you to feel, if you at tempt to disobey him. He, who declared him the Son of God with power by the ro surrection from the dead, put a sceptre of iron' into his hand, that he might break his enemies, and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel,' Rom. i. 4; Ps. ii. 9. Dost thou enter into these reflections? Dost thou approach the table of Jesus Christ with determinations to live a new life? I believe so But the grand fault of our communions, and solemn festivals, does not lie in the precise time of our communions and solemnities. The representation of Jesus Christ in the Lord's supper; certain reflections, that move conscience; an extraordinary attention to the noblest objects in religion; the solemnities that belong to our public festivals; inspire us with a kind of devotion: but how often does this devotion vanish with the ob jects that produced it? These august symbols should follow thee into thy warfare in the world. A voice should sound in thine ears amidst the tumult of the world; amidst the dissipating scenes that besiege thy mind; amidst the pleasures that fascinate thine eyes, amidst the grandeur and glory which thou causest to blaze around thee, and with which thou thyself, although, alas! always mortal, always a worm of the earth, always dust and ashes, art the first to be dazzled; a voice should sound in thine ears, Remember thy vows, Remember thine oaths, Remember thy joys.
My brethren, if you be not to-morrow, and till the next Lord's-supper-day, what you are to-day, we recall all the congratulations, all the benedictions, and all the declarations of joy, which we have addressed to you. Instead of congratulating you on your happiness in being permitted to approach God in your devotions, we will deplore your wickedness in adding perfidy and perjury to all your other crimes. Instead of benedictions and vows, we will cry, Anathema Maranatha; if any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema,' 1 Cor. xvi. 22. If any man who has kissed the Saviour betray him, let him be Anathema. If any man defile the mysteries of our holy religion, let him be Anathema. If any man tread under foot the Son of God, and count the blood of the covenant an unholy thing, let him be Anathema,' Heb. x. 29. Instead of inviting thes to celebrate the praise of the Author of our being, we forbid thee the practice, for it is
comely only for the upright,' Ps. xxxiii. 1. God, by our ministry, saith to thee, Thou wicked man! What hast thou to do to take my covenant in thy mouth?' Ps. 1. 16. Why does that mouth now bless my name, and then blaspheme it: now praise me, thy Creator, and then defame my creatures: now publish my gospel, and then profane it? If, on the contrary, you live agreeably to the engagements into which you have entered to-day; what a day, what a day, my brethren, is this day! A day, in which you have performed the great work for which God formed you, and which is all that deserves the attention of an immortal soul. A day in which many impurities, many calum-I nies, many passionate actions, many perjuries, and many oaths, have been buried in everlasting silence. It is a day in which you have been washed in the blood of the Lamb; in which you have entered into fellowship with God; in which you have heard these triumphant shouts in the church, Grace, grace unto it,' Zech. iv. 7. A day in which you have been raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus,' Eph. ii. 6. A day, the pleasing remembrance of which will follow you to your
death-bed, and will enable your pastors to open the gates of heaven to you, to commit your souls into the hands of the Redeemer, who ransomed it, and to say to you, Remember, on such a day your sins were effaced; remember, on such a day Jesus Christ disarmed death; remember, on such a day the gate of heaven was opened to you.
O day! which the Lord has made, let me for ever rejoice in thy light! O day of designs, resolutions, and promises, may I never forget thee! O day of consolation and grace, may a rich effusion of the peace of God on this auditory preserve thy memorial through a thousand generations!
Receive this peace, my dear brethren. I spread over you hands washed in the innocent blood of my Redeemer; and as our risen Lord Jesus Christ, when he appeared to his disciples, said to them, 'Peace, peace be unto you; so we, by his command, while we celebrate the memorable history of his resurrec tion, say to you, 'Peace, peace be unto you. As many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God,' John xx. 19. 21; Gal vi. 16. To him be honour and glory for ever. Amen.
THE EFFUSION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
ACTs ii. 37.
Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter, and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
'SON of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation. They will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me: yet thou shalt speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord God; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, and they shall know that there hath been a prophet among them,' Ezek. ii. 3. 5; iii. 7. 11. Thus God formerly forearmed Ezekiel against the greatest discouragement that he was to meet with in his mission, I mean the unsuccessfulness of his ministry. For, my brethren, they are not only your ministers, who are disappointed in the exercise of the ministry: the Isaiahs, the Jeremiahs, the Ezekiels, are often as unsuccessful as we. In such melancholy cases, we must endeavour to surmount the obstacles which the obduracy of sinners opposes against the dispensations of grace. We must shed tears of compassion over an ungrateful Jerusalem: and if, after we have used every possible mean, we find the corruption of our hearers invincible, we must be satisfied with the peace of a good conscience, we must learn to say with the prophet, or rather with Jesus Christ, I have laboured in vain, I
have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God,' Isa. xlix. 4. We must content ourselves with this thought, if our hearers have not been sanctified, they have been left without excuse; if God has not been glorified in their conver sion, he will be glorious in their destruction.
But how sad is this consolation! how melancholy is this encouragement! By conse crating our ministry to a particular society, we unite ourselves to the members of it by the tenderest ties, and whatever idea we have of the happiness which God reserves for us in a future state, we know not how to persuade ourselves that we can be perfectly happy, when those Christians, whom we con sider as our brethren, and our children, are plunged in a gulf of everlasting wo. If the angels of God rejoice over one sinner that repenteth,' Luke xv. 10, what pleasure must he feel, who has reason to hope that in this valley of tears he has had the honour of opening the gate of heaven to a multitude of sinners, that he has saved himself, and them that heard him,' 1. Tim. iv. 16.