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we are told did not profit some, because it was not mixed with faith in them that heard it. This will equally hold good in the case of the preacher as of the hearer. If we mix not faith with the doctrine we deliver, it will not profit us. Whatever abil. ities we may possess, and of whatever use we may be made to others, unless we can say in some sort with the apostle John, That which we have seen with our eyes, and looked upon, and our hands have handled of the word of life,--that declare we unto you, our own souls may notwithstanding everlastingly perish! This is a very serious matter ; and well deserves our attention as ministers ! Professors in the age of Barnabas might be under greater temptations than we are, to question whether Jesus was thc true Messiah
are under greater temptations than they were of resting in a mere implicit assent to the Christian religion, without realizing and living upon its important truths.
It is a temptation to which we are more than or. dinarily exposed, to study divine truth as preachers rather than as Christians ; in other words, to study it for the sake of findwg out something to say to others, without so much as thinking of prof. iting our own souls If we studied divine truths as Christians, our being constantly engaged in the service of God, would be friendly to our growth in grace. We should be like trees plinted by the rivers of waters, that bring forth fruit in their season ; and that all that we did would be likely to pros
But if we study it only as preachers, it will be the reverse.
Our being conversant with the Bible will be like surgeons and soldiers being conversant with the shedding of human blood, till they lose all sensibility concerning it. i believe it is a fact, that where a preacher is wicked, he is gene rally the most hardened against convietion of any
character whatever. Happy will it be for us, if, Like Parnabas, we are ull of faith in that Saviour whom we recommend, in that gospel which it is our employment to proclaim.
IV. We now come to the last part of the subject, which is held up by way of encouragementAnd much people was added unto the Lord.-When our ministry is blessed to the conversion of sinners, to the bringing them off from their connexion with sin and self to a vital union with Christ; when our congregations are filled not merely with professors of religion, but with sound believers when such believers come forward, and offer them. selves willingly for communion, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you-- then it may be said, that much people is added unto the Lord. The connexion between suchad. ditions, and eminency in grace and holinessin a minister, deserves our serious attention.
I think it may be laid down as a rule, which both scripture and experience will confirm, that eminent spirituality in a minister is usually attended with eminent usefulness. I do not mean to say, our use. fulness depends upon our spirituality, as an effect depends upon its cause; nor yet that it is always in proportion to it. God is a sovereign, and frequently sees it proper to convince us of it, in variously bestowing his blessing on the means of grace. But yet he is not wanting in giving encouragement to what he approves, wherever it is found. Our want of usefulness is often to be as cribed to our want of spirituality, much oftener than to our want of natural ability. God has frequently been known to succeed men of but rough parts and abilities, where they have been eminently boly, when he has blasted others of much superior talents, where that has been wanting. Han. dreds of ministers, who on account of their gifts, bave promised to be shining characters, havę
proved the reverse ; and all owing to such things as pride, unwatchfulness, carnality, and levity.
Eminency in grace, my brother, will contribute to your success in three
way First, It will fire your soul with holy love to Christ, and the souls of men, and such a spirit is usually attended with success.-) beliere you will find, that in almost all the great works which God hath wroughtin any period of time, he has honoured men of this character, by making them his in. struments. In the midst of a sore calamity apoi the murmuring Israelites, when God was inclined to shew mercy, it was by the means of his servant Aaron running with a censer of fire in his hand, and standing between the living and the dead !* The great reformation that was brought about in the days of Hezekiah, was by the instrumentality of aman who wrought that which was good, and right, and truc before the Lord his God and then it tol.. lows, And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, HE DID IT WITH ALL HIS HEART, and PROSPERED.
There was another great reformation in the Jewish church, about the time of their return troin Babylon. One of the chiet instruments in this work was Ezra, a ready scribe in the law of his God; a man who had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, anid to do it, and to teaclı in Israel statutes and judginents ;-a man who fasted and prayed at the river Ahava previous to his great undertaking ;- -a man who was alterwarils sorely astonished, and in heaviness, and would eat no meat nor drink water, but fell upon his knees, and spread out his hands unto the Lord his God, on account of the transgressions of the peo
* Nanib. xvi. 46---50.
2 Chro. xxxi. 20, 21.
ple.* Another great instrument in this work was Nehemiah, a man that devoted himself wholly to the service of God and his people, labouring night and day ; that was not to be seduced by the intrigues of God's adversaries, nor yet intimidlated by their threatenings, bat persevered in his work till it was finished, closing bis labours with this solenn prayer and appeal, Think upon me, o any God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.
Time would fail me to speak of all the great souls, both inspired and uninspired, whom the King of kings hath delighted to honour of Pau, and Peter, and their companions ; of Wickliff, and Luther ,and Calvin, and many others at the reforination ; of Elliot, and Edwards, and Brainerd, and Whitefield, and hundreds more, whose name are held in deserved esteem in the Church of God. These were men of God, men who had great grace as well as gifts, whose hearts burned in love to Christ and the souls of men. They looked upon their hearers as their Lord had done upon Jerusalem, and wept over thein - In this manner they delivered their messages, and much people was added unto the lord.
Secondly, Eminency in grace will direct your ends to the glory of God, and the welfare of men's souls; and where this is the case it is usually at tended with a blessing. These are ends which God himself pursues, and if we pursue the same, we are labourers together with God, and may hope for his blessing to attend our labours ; but if we pursue separate and selfish ends, we walk contrary to God, and may expect that God will walk contrary to us. Whatever apparent success may, attend a man's labours, whose ends are evil, all is to be suspected : either the success is not genuine, or if it be, it is not in a way of blessing upon him,
Fäzra vii, 10. viii. 10. ix 5. X. 6. & Neh. iji, iv. V. & F. wor shall it turn out at last to his account. It must be an inexpressible satisfaction, brother, to be able to say, as the primitive ministers and apostles diu, James, a servant of God. -Paul a servant of Jesus Christ.--We seek not yours, but you !
Lastly, Eminency in grace will enable you to bear prosperity in your ministry without being lifted up with it ; and so contributes towards it. It is written of Christ in prophecy, He shall build the temple of the Lord, and shall bear the glory -He does bear it indeed; but to bear glo. ry without being elated is no easy thing for us, I am often afraid lest this should be one considerable reason why most of us have no more real success in our work than we have ; perhaps it is not safe for us to be much owned of God; perhaps we have not grace enough to bear prosperity !
My dear brother, permit me to close the whole with a word or two of serious advice. First, watch over your own soul as well as the souls of your people. Do not forget that thought, that it is a temptation to which ministers are peculiarJy liable, wbile they keep the vineyard of others, to neglect their own.-Farther, Know your own weakness, and depend upon Christ's all-sufficiency. Your work is great, your trials may be many ; but let not your heart be discouraged. Remember what was said to the apostle Paul, My grace is sufficient for thee, my strength is made perfect ia weakness ;--and the reflection which he makes upon it, When I am weak, then am 1 strong. *- Finally, be often looking to the end of your course, and viewing yourself as giving and account of your stewardship.
We must all ap. pear before the judgment seat of Christ, and give account of the deeds done in the body. Perhaps there is no thought more solemn than this, inore,
* Cor. xiii. 9, 10.