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deception, of proclaiming the gospel of the Son of God, while they themselves were hypocrites in heart; and let us, from the representation here given, draw for our instruction the important doctrine which it teaches. The inference to which I would lead your minds, is that of the superior honor which God puts upon his own preached word, by making it successful to the conversion of sinners, notwithstanding the sins and unworthiness of its messengers. How was it with these primitive ambassadors of the Lord Jesus? They were slaves of rancorous animosity against the most distinguished of apostles and yet, because they held up Christ, in all his fulness, to a dying and condemned world, they were the means of increasing the numbers of the Redeemer's flock in the very centre of heathen idolatry. And so it has ever been found, from that early period to the present. Men have intruded themselves into the sacred office, who have been destitute even of outward morality of life: and yet Christ's gospel, delivered from their mouths in its native simplicity and excellence, has been made, through God's Spirit, to uncounted thousands, "the power of God unto salvation."* But let us pass from these wolves in the clothing of sheep, to persons of a far better and more elevated character. There are, as you are well aware, those among the preachers of the truth of Jesus, who, together with this truth, deliver much that is dictated by party feeling, and by an intolerant spirit against all from whom they differ. One, for example, owing either to a temper naturally strong, or to the contracting and hardening influences of his early education, deals forth with violence the peculiarities of the system of Calvin; and, in his anxiety to
* Rom. i. 16.
prove others to be in the wrong, sometimes entirely loses recollection of that charity which is the bond of peace, and of all virtues. Another is seen insisting, with equal asperity, upon the correctness of the scheme of Arminius; and cannot be content without levelling, whenever he ascends the pulpit, some shaft of invective against his opposers. And this same contentious and selfish disposition may be seen displaying itself, here and there, through all the various churches of Christendom: manifested, in one place, by a bigoted zeal for some favorite doctrine; in another, by angry defence of a particular ecclesiastical constitution; in a third, by disputatious eagerness in support of some little point of discipline. Now, my brethren, provided that these heralds of the Lord Jesus, in the midst of all their hostility and warmth of feeling, still continue to exhibit Christ to their hearers, as the only refuge of lost sinners, what is the result of their efforts? Is there not a concomitant blessing? Are not the careless arrested, the profane convinced of their danger, and new subjects gained to that kingdom of God, which is "righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost?"* Herein, then, discern the brightest of testimonies to the power of that gospel, which, notwithstanding all the sin, and all the corrupt admixtures of men, is thus signally distinguished and glorified. Let us see in the circumstance an incontestible evidence of its divinity; and admire with adoration and rapture, that doctrine of Christ Crucified, which "is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."+
* Rom. xiv. 17.
+ Heb. iv. 12.
But in the concluding verse of the present portion, we have the warrant of the Apostle, not only for acknowledging, in the success of the gospel by whomsoever preached, a testimony to its living efficacy, but for delighting in this glorious result. Listen to his exclamation. "What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice;" that is: What is the difference in the result? God can overrule the infirmities, and even the foulest hypocrisy of his ministers, to the conversion of sinful men; and in the knowledge of this consolatory truth, I can overlook the imperfections of the instrument, and thrill with transport at the victories which he obtains. -Permit me, therefore, in drawing the present Lecture to a close, to deduce, from these last words of St. Paul, two characteristic qualities of the real believer. See, on the one hand, the pleasure with which he witnesses the triumphs of the gospel, and the extension of the benign and holy kingdom of the Prince of peace. The Apostle exults simply in this, that the knowledge of Christ was becoming daily more diffused, among the regions of spiritual wickedness; and it is this subject, that fills the breasts of all the servants of God with their highest and purest joy. "Thy kingdom come!" is the Christian's supplication; and, when he sees the petition answered, and souls converted, and saints advancing in holiness, he is enkindled into a feeling similar to that to which angels in glory are awakened, at the spectacle of "one sinner that repenteth." But further; the language of the Apostle before us displays the manner in which the believer, truly such, sacrifices to this anxiety for the salvation of men, all private feelings and considerations. Who were they, by whom the religion of Jesus
was thus widely promoted in the Roman capital? They were the determined and personal enemies of this imprisoned servant of Christ; and yet, under the very stings. of their obloquy, and with the full conviction of their insincerity of soul, he is gladdened at the fruits of their labors. Adopt this spirit, my brethren, in reference to those who, in our day, preach to a ruined world the glad tidings of peace. Among the heralds of mercy, there may perchance be some, whose manner, whose style, whose attainments, are not precisely after the standard of excellence which you have adopted. Yet what of this? The only inquiry is, Does God honor and bless their ministrations? Are they made instruments of good? Through them, is the reign of the Lord Jesus promoted in our world? If so, away with prejudices, and with criticism, and with all earthly views; and with the heavenlyminded Apostle exclaim, "Every way, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice."
CHAPTER I. 19-24.
For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also, Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labor : yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ: which is far better: Nevertheless, to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.
THE Apostle is here found proceeding in that same enviable spirit, in which we left him at the conclusion of the last Lecture that of converting the very afflictions of life into themes of gratitude; and, instead of repining at these visitations of Providence, endeavoring rather to dwell upon the manner in which he renders them all subservient to his purposes of grace and mercy. We have seen him filled with gladness at the dissemination of the gospel, even through the instrumentality of those, who, while they preached Christ, were persecuting