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affections changed and their zeal abated, though he was still the same earnest and faithful instrument in the hand of the Lord, whom they had received at first with so much favour. And when we add to these instances of the failure of means provided by God for the admonition of his people, that at the time of our Lord's ascension the number of his disciples seems to have amounted to little more than an hundred and twenty souls, let Christian ministers learn the lesson to which their attention is thus forcibly directed, not to live on the breath of popular credit, but to seek the honour which cometh from God only.
This subject may now be terminated with two or three practical conclusions.
1. The first has reference in particular to Christian teachers. If such were the perfections exhibited in the ministry of Jesus, which stood in need of no extraneous support, and laboured under no deficiency, surely our Lord's example teaches all who have the office of instructing others, the necessity of doing every thing in the spirit of prayer.
If any one could ever have been exempt from the duty of in all things making his request known unto God,' it would have been He to whom the Spirit was committed without measure, and to whom, being himself
one with the Father,' the Father had given 'to bave life in himself?.'
Yet after the fatigue of a day actively and laboriously spent, we find 'Christ retiring to a mountain to pray $. And immediately before he was to be betrayed into the hands of wicked men, he takes three of his disciples apart in the garden of Gethsemane, as witnesses of the mode in which he strengthened his soul by prayer against the sufferings which were about to assault it. Thus must secret devotion ever attend public labours--for even the voice of the charmer,' and the most eloquent persuasion of human wisdom, will be without effect or influence, like 'a tinkling cymbal,' or as the very
7 John, v. 26.
8 Matt. xiv. 23.
lovely song of Ezekiel ',' unless accompanied by the divine blessing, which alone can incline the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just.
2. The want of success, which under all the circumstances was so remarkable a feature of our Saviour's ministry, has been already noticed. A stronger proof cannot be given of the necessity of divine grace to soften the prejudices of the human mind. Though he had done so many miracles before them, yet believed they not him '.' And then the Evangelist, with reference to the text of Isaiah which has been already quoted, attributes this extraordinary unbelief on the part of the Jews, to the blindness of their eyes, and the hardness of their hearts. . Indeed, Christ himself gives the same reason for their neglect of him, and founds on it an express charge against them. Ye will not come to me that ye may have life.'
9 Ezek. xxxiii, 32.
Jobn, xii. 37.
At the same time, if the immediate results of such a ministry were so inconsiderable, there is no reason for discouragement, if the usefulness of the inferior workers in God's vineyard do not always appear to correspond with their exertions. If times occur when their labours seem to be less acceptable, let it not be a cause for relaxation in diligence, or for despondency in spirit, or for remission in prayer. Let it rather be an argument for renewed energy, for greater zeal and earnestness. Like Abraham, let us become yet more importunate in pleading for our charge, in proportion as the number of those righteous men diminshes, whose presence might have redeemed the remainder from destruction.
3. Lastly, we are to recollect that the communication of spiritual blessings to his servants was the effect and consequence of our great teacher's own fulness. Of his fulness have all we received”. For it pleased the Father that
2 John, i. 16.
in him should all fülness dwell, that the whole body of believers should be complete in him 3.' It is, therefore, through this attribute that Christ is made unto us the inexhaustible source of every blessing which it is his province to confer-our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification, and redemption.
3 Col. i. 19. ii. 10.