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confirm our faith. We might rather doubt, if they did not occur.
He who has so well described the disease, justly claims our confidence in the remedy which he assures us will succeed. The work is God's, and, in the language of the apostle, we are but co-workers with him. We are engaged in no doubtful cause. Notwithstanding the opposition of its enemies, and the heartlessness of professed advocates, and the ever-recurring faults and mistakes of its real friends, it will go on, till the object which the gospel aims to accomplish is gained, and the world yields to the dominion of the Prince of peace.
IV. The importance of preaching the gospel is also apparent, in the fourth place, in its immediate influence. Wherever the gospel is faithfully and kindly preached, it will certainly be productive of good. It ever has been, and it ever will be. In the presence of the holy Jesus, the most profligate and abandoned will often stand abashed, and feel “how awful goodness is.” Vice will be restrained, though it be not destroyed, and checked in its growth, though it be not eradicated. The
The poor will be made more contented in their privations, and the laborious more patient in their toils; the heart of the mourner will be comforted; the child of gaiety and pleasure be led to walk in wisdom's ways of pleasantness; the proud, and the obdurate, and the selfish, will not always be insensible to the voice of mercy : here and there an individual, among the many who are hungering and thirsting for some unknown good, will be made to hunger and thirst for
righteousness, and be filled ; and though there be few that be saved, that joy will sometimes be raised in heaven which thrills the spirits of angels over one sinner that repenteth ; some ransomed ones
; will be sustained and cheered in their pilgrimage along the strait and narrow path ; some pious souls helped on to heaven.
V. But the final reward! The last consideration that evinces the importance of preaching the gospel is, its final reward. And next to that which flows directly and perpetually from God, what richer reward can there be of this service than that which results from the ever-growing knowledge of its happy effects! No sublime enterprise was fully comprehended in its commencement. The discoverer of our continent, in his most sanguine moments, and when his imagination was boldest, did not truly realize the benefit he was conferring upon mankind. And the Pilgrims who first stepped upon our land, though they indulged their excited fancy to the utmost, and talked of gold, and painted the land a paradise, had plainly no adequate idea of the scenes that are now spread over it. What notion of the effects which have already resulted from the preaching of the gospel could have been formed in the minds of the fishermen of Galilee ! Our conceptions of good things that are to come are always inadequte, because, though large and perhaps in many respects unreal, they are necessarily faint and indistinct. They are at most but a dim outline, and must wait for the actual occurrence
to fill them up. What adequate idea can we have of the salvation of a soul? What idea of a blessing that is to extend and increase eternally ? It is only when we come to stand with the redeemed around the throne, that we shall seem to begin to comprehend it. What emotions will there swell his bosom who has been permitted here, by the preaching of the gospel, to turn many to righteousness ! Nay, we shall not then understand its importance, we shall not then comprehend the blessing. And that new song which they sing there, will be for ever new, for the grace it commemorates will be for ever expanding ; and each new discovery will raise the song anew, more sweet, more loud, more joyful, as the blissful throng live on, for ever and for ever on, harping and singing as they go all down the pathway of eternity, Worthy is the Lamb !
But if the preaching of the gospel be important, if it be a privilege to herald forth the good news, the glad tidings of great joy, if it be a privilege to be the messenger, what must it be to receive the message? My hearers, and now, my people, these glad tidings are proclaimed to us. Let us listen with humble admiration. Let us welcome the grace. Let our hearts beat quick and warm in grateful love. Let us rise, the penitent, affectionate, confiding, devoted, heaven-aspiring disciples of
, Christ. O, if God will here bless his word, by whomsoever proclaimed, if he will bless the ministry that commences in weakness to-day, and gather us when it is closed, as pastor and people, with the
redeemed above, we shall know more, and feel more the value of the unsearchable riches. O, if he will but grant us that blessing, with eloquent hearts we will speak his praise, with gushing gratitude we will sing the new song, with humble joy we will together lay our crowns at the feet of the Lamb, and say, "Not unto us, not unto us, but to thy name be all the glory."
PHILIPPIANS 11. 17, 18.
YEA, AND IF I BE OFFERED UPON THE SACRIFICE AND SERVICE OF
YOUR FAITH, I JOY AND REJOICE WITH YOU ALL. FOR THE SAME
The epistle of Paul to the Philippians is a beautiful specimen of the spirit which the gospel inspires. He seems to have felt for them a peculiar attachment, and to have regarded them with more complacency than any of the churches he was permitted to establish. He addresses them in the most affectionate and endearing manner : “My brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and iny crown.” They were a striking contrast to the more factious and troublesome church at Corinth. In writing to them, the apostle had no occasion for severity or excessive caution, for complaint or rebuke. His feelings were perfectly undisturbed. His letter throughout breathes the spirit of calm, Christian love. He writes as a friend to friends, devoted and kind himself, and confident of a reciprocation of the sentiment he utters. " Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all. For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me."