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1 Cor. ix. 16.
Though I prench the Gospel, I have nothing to glory
of : for necesty is laid upon me; yea, wo is unto nie, if I preach not the Gospel.
OUR blessed Saviour emphatically described the purpose of his ministry, when, applying to himself a remarkable prophecy of Ifaiah, he declared ; The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, “ because he hath anointed me to preach the « Gospel to the poor'.” And he employed the same appropriate expression, when, having delegated to the Apostles the commission, which he had received from his Father, and having conferred upon them the gift of the Holy Ghost, he bade them, “ Go into all the world, “ and preach the Gospel to every creature b.”
Agreeable to the example and commandment of the Master was the conduct of the Apostles': both of those, who received their
. Luke iv. 18.
Mark xvi. 15.
commission at his hands, before he afcended ; and of him, to whom a fimilar dispensation was miraculously committed, after the afcenfion of Christ. To the Jew first, and afterwards to the Gentile, they were indefatigable in preaching the Gospel : in the execution of this office, they considered and represented themselves to be acting, as they really were, in obedience to the express commands of God: they executed it, therefore, as a matter, not of choice, but of necessity : not as a voluntary exercise, of the performance of which they might boast ; but as a solemn task, by the omiflion or neglect of which they would be disgraced ; not as a gratuitous undertaking, for which they might claim a recompense ; but as a bounden duty, which it were criminal to relinquish. Though I preach the
Gospel,” says St. Paul, in the energetic language of my text, “ I have nothing to glory « of: for neceffity is laid upon me; yea, wo " is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel.”
Nor did they esteem themfelves more bound to preach the Gospel in general, than to preach it in its purity ; uncorrupt, and unperrerted. If disgrace and wo were to be their lot, should they neglect to preach it; an equal punishment appears to have been apprehended by them, if they departed from its fimplicity, and blended falsehood, or error, with the truth of Christ. Such is the purport of the authoritative sentence of the fame animated Apostle. Though we," he pronounces to his Galatian converts, Though we or an angel “ from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you
than that which we have preached “ unto you, let him be accursed" And, as if he were fearful that the sentiment would not be fufficiently impressed upon his disciples, he deliberately repeats it in the following sentence with equal clearness and precifion : “ As we said before, fo say I now again, “ If any man preach any other Gospel unto
you than that which ye have received, let. “ him be accurfed.”
Distinguished from the first preachers of Christianity, inasmuch as they neither derive their commission immediately from Chrift, nor are empowered to confirm the word “
by signs “ and wonders, and mighty deeds," the fucceeding ministers of the Gospel are yet on the same footing with the Apottles in a very important respect. To them, in common with the Apostles, “ a dispensation of the Gospel is committed d.” Neither selected from their brethren by the personal interposition of Christ on earth, nor called to be bis ministers by the special appointment of a voice from heaven, they have not their office imposed upon them -by that necessity, which alsigned to the Apostles their more distinguished stations. To undertake the ministry of the Gospel is voluntary on the part of its preachers now. But when they have been once legitimately called and ordained to that ministry, and have willingly taken
• Gal. i. 8, 9.
di Cor. ix. 17.
themselves the duties which are annexed to it, it is then no longer matter of choice, whether or not they will be preachers of the Gospel. As opportunities present themselves of publishing the good tidings of salvation through Christ, and of leading men to the knowledge of the truth in him, it is the duty of us, who are engaged in the ministry, to be found active at our posts. " Our hand “ is to the plough, and it is not permitted us
“ look back.” The sword of the Spirit is intrusted 10 us ; and it is our business to wield it. Thus inlisted under the banner of Christ,
though we preach the Gospel, we have nothing to glory of: for neceflity is laid upon us; yea, wo is unto us, if we preach' not the Gospel.”
Like its first preachers also, we are bound to preach it in the same purity, wherewith it hath been delivered to us fron, the fountain of light and truth. The will of God, which was
• Luke ix. 69.
revealed to the Apostles in general by the mouth of Christ, and to St. Paul in particular by a more special dispensation, is delivered down to us in authentic documents, written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. From those documents the matter of our preaching is to be drawn; and wo unto us, if we preach any other Gospel, than that which we have so received.
Under these circumstances, no charge can be devised against the ministers of Christ, of a more disgraceful or a more capital nature, than that they are not Preachers of the Gofpel. As therefore it is of so grievous a character to those, against whom it may be directed, it proportionally becomes every man, who
may be disposed to advance it against any
ministers of Christ, to be well assured of the grounds, on which he advances it “ Whereas they call us hereticks," observed learned apologist of the English reformation, “ that is so grievous a sin, that unless it can “ be seen, unless it can be handled, unless it “ can be grasped by the hands and fingers, it “ ought not easily to be believed of a Christian " ”
. Nam quod nos appellant hæreticos, est illud crimen ita grave, ut nisi videatur, nisi palpetur, nifi manibus digi. tisque teneatur, credi facile de homine Chriftiano non debeat. Juelli Apologia. Enchiridion Theologic. vol. i. p. 200.