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some of the principles which have hitherto guided the efforts of this society. Your own minds, however, will at once follow out the familiar hints which have been offered. Physical debility, if nothing else, would have prevented me from that intensity of thought which originates new ideas on trite subjects, and gives to old truths the freshness of new relations. But there have lived at different times a favored few, who exhibit in their own example the best illustration that has ever been made of our subject, and to whom we may well resort to help our conceptions. Such a man was Massilon, of whom we have read, that when he preached, princes came to listen. Such was Spencer, whose early death sent a mournful note to our shores. Such was Payson, whose expiring voice has not yet died away on our ears. And such, too, was once a youthful preacher of our land, who is now, I trust, bowing with these before the throne, mingling with them in their songs, and ascribing his salvation to that Saviour whose divinity he doubted when on earth.
I have spoken, it is true, of that eloquence which it is our duty to study and attempt, rather than our hope to attain. There are many circumstances in the life of a Christian minister peculiarly unfavorable to the highest style of dignified and simple eloquence. We shall, no doubt, suffer many embarrasments which will repress our energies, and hinder lis from success. But, though we cannot hope to realize even our present conceptions, we
must not yield in sullen despair, we will not shrink in tame neglect of our duty. The thought of a world in sin may sometimes stir up all our sympathies, and urge us to those wild and unnatural efforts which defeat their object; but we will still remember that Jesus was never rash. His eloquence was always calm,—and he who spoke as one having authority knew best how to affect the human heart. We shall often be oppressed with thronging cares, and prevented from enriching our minds and improving our taste in the study of the standard works of genius; but let us not neglect the opportunities that are given to enter those splendid temples, and, bearing away their offered riches, consecrate them to Christ and the church. There must come those dreary hours, when our enfeebled bodies will sink under the burdens of an office whose duties never cease,—and our minds, driven to extreme lassitude, will fail us, — all that we knew be gone from our recollections, and the few thoughts, that float in dim vision before our eyes, refuse to take form or name; but we will, at least, open our minds to the impressions of surrounding objects, and learn something even from the consciousness of our own imbecility. The heart, too, will sometimes faint, or become coldly indifferent, in the reaction of habitual excitement, our sensibilities grow dull,—the sublime truths of religion cease to exhilarate us, - and the affecting scenes of sinful, suffering humanity only shroud us in tearless gloom; but let us then drink more deeply at the fountain of devotion, and
with struggling efforts gather that warm and vital earnestness, which can make us eloquent. However we may be situated, wheresoever God in his providence may place us, – on the plains of Hindoo, on the hills of Palestine, in the wilds of western America, in the islands of the distant ocean, or among the churches that our fathers have left us,
we will not fail to exert our strength in the use and improvement of the talents which our Creator has given us for his service ; and when, at last, any of us may be allowed to stand before his tribunal, and present a few souls, saved through his blessing on our efforts, - our toils shall all be forgotten, our labors will be too richly compensated, -and our hearts, more eloquent than our tongues, shall say for us, “Not unto us, but to thy name, be all the glory.”
UNTO ME, WHO AM LESS THAN THE LEAST OF ALL SAINTS, IS THIS
GRACE GIVEN, THAT I SHOULD PREACH AMONG THE GENTILES
We are often made to feel that there is an unseen power that guides the affairs, and controls the destinies of men. When we look out upon their various situations and employments, and reflect upon the apparent causes of their condition, we cannot avoid the impression, that there is a mysterious agency, which, overruling their errors and faults, as well as their wiser caution and virtue, assigns to each individual his appropriate place. One man seems directed, by the very circumstances of his birth and education, to pursue, as his fathers have done before him, the quiet occupation of a husbandman, – to feed his flocks and herds, – to till the ground, and gather in the fruits of the earth,- to labor hard, and to enjoy, in peaceful obscurity, the product of his labor; while another is borne along, unconsciously, by successive events, to publicity and fame, to cares and disquietude. One finds hiinself moving fore
* For the arrangement of the Sermons, &c., see the Preface.
most in public concerns, toiling incessantly for others, and oppressed with the burden of responsibility and business which his station brings upon him ; and another, perhaps the companion of his boyhood, scarcely conceiving that it might be otherwise, has Jittle more care than to spend the hours of the passing day, and to receive with gladness the reward of his service at night. One finds it convenient and suitable for him to employ his thoughts in the necessary business of honorable merchandize; and another to exercise his skill in some of the arts which afford comfort and ornament to mankind. One is led, as by an invisible hand, to relieve the pains and quiet the distresses of the sick and dying; another is instructed to plead the cause of the injured and aggrieved; and to some, moreover, the task is assigned, and the favor is given, to preach among men the unsearchable riches of Christ. All are equally free in their choice, and yet all are alike governed by the irresistible force of circumstances. Each one is made to fill up his part in the plan, and to accomplish, in his place, the purposes of Providence.
With characteristic humility and gratitude, the apostle acknowledges the goodness of God, in making him a minister of the gospel. He speaks of it as a privilege of which he is unworthy. It is a grace given unto him.
"Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ." There is a frankness and