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Gospel to be " the power of God unto salvation,” and hence the love of Christ became predominant in his heart; and exciting a lively compassion for sinners, caused him joyfully to accept, with all its terrible accompaniments, the commission to preach Christ crucified, the hope of a fallen world. On the grandeur of this ministry the Apostle fixed his eyes, and thence gathered strength for every emergency, “Seeing that we have this ministry, as we have received mercy we faint not."
We should faint, he seems to imply, the strongest and most ardent among us, did we not appreciate the work we have in hand, and feel strength perpetually coming in from the fountain-head above. But our hearts are cheered with the thought of those unspeakable benefits to mankind of which our ministry is ordained to be the vehicle ; and we rest in the assurance that 66 as our day is, so shall our strength be." Is it possible to play the coward when our Leader and Commander is holding us by the hand, and pledges himself by our instrumentality to make his truth victorious over all opposition ?
Let us now direct our thoughts to the special force of the expression, " Seeing we have this ministry.” To understand it rightly, we ought to study the preceding chapter, in which the writer has drawn with a force and exactness, peculiar to his pen, a contrast between the Law and the Gospel. Of the former he speaks as a mere letter, a letter that killeth, a ministration of condemnation and death; possessed of some glory, indeed, but a transitory glory that is about to be absorbed in a dispensation incomparably more excellent and glorious. That dispensation is the Gospel. It is not a mere letter engraven on stone, addressing itself to the eye and understanding, while void of power to reach the heart. It is an inward law, a vital principle, a supernatural element, an economy of power. It is an image of the living God, a delineation of his own truth and holiness, not consigned to tables of stone, whence it must be transferred to become operative, but wrought by an Almighty finger "in fleshy tables of the heart."
The new Covenant in Christ is likewise a ministration of righteousness, and thus stands opposed to the Law, which is a ministration of condemnation. There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus ; for his infinite merits cover them from the sentence of the law. “ Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." He effects that for us which it baffled the law to effect, inasmuch as it was weak through the flesh, disqualified, that is to say, by the pravity of man's nature from procuring his justification. The law can justify the righteous, but where shall a righteous man be found ? The Gospel of reconciliation comes in and justifies sinners. Can you not enter, my dear friends, into St. Paul's religious joy at being deputed to set forth a Covenant which absolves transgressors doomed to death by the covenant of works, and lays at every man's door a free pardon and a heavenly crown? Was it possible for him to desist, while his tongue had the power to articulate, from proclaiming those exceeding great and precious promises which drop like dew of heaven upon the dry and thirsty ground? Could he faint and grow weary,
this holy man of God in whom the love of souls was a master passion, when he saw myriads all around him on the eve of perdition, to whom the knowledge he could furnish would be nothing less than life from the dead?
But St. Paul recruited his spirit when ready to sink under accumulated toils, not only by reflecting on the ineffable importance of the work he was engaged in, but also by the consideration that he was striving lawfully. He knew himself to be the accredited servant of the Supreme King. He could produce his warrant for touching the Ark of God. He heard a voice speaking to him and saying, “ Rise and stand upon thy feet, for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness, both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee ; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith which is in me.” Such were the terms of St. Paul's commission : and consequently, if at any time he were pressed out of measure, he would still be confident that he was in the path of duty. The sinews of his strength would not be relaxed by an oppresive apprehension that he had intruded himself into the sacred office. He would never be haunted with the fear that God was against him, breathing a blight on his ministrations, because, instead of entering the sheepfold by the door, he had climbed into it some other way. Inspecting the seal of his appointment, and satisfied that his was an authentic ministry, he would not be staggered by reverses, but would expect the divine mercy to be shed on his undertakings.
There is still another point to be noticed. The Apostle of the Gentiles, we have seen, is secured from discouragement by the force of his devotion to the sublime objects of his ministry, and by solid reasonings on the fact that he is no interloper, but sent of Christ to be a witness and teacher of the Gospel. But this is not all. In addition to these moral securities against faint-heartedness, he actually enjoys the constant help of the Holy Ghost. This, I take to be the meaning of the phrase, "As we have received mercy we faint not." No doubt the recollection of that signal mercy which had snatched him from the gripe of Jewish bigotry, and transformed him from a sanguinary persecutor into a zealous preacher of the doctrine of Jesus Christ; no doubt but this recollection would fill him with gratitude to the Saviour, and make him willing to spend and be spent in winning proselytes to his Cross. Sensible that much had been forgiven him, he would love much, and would eagerly show to what endurance and exertion love is equal. In the verse before us, however, I conceive the word “mercy' to denote that spiritual efficacy with which Divine Providence comes in aid of human infirmity. The same word occurs in the 7th chapter of the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians, where the Apostle speaks of giving his judgment on a nice question, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful,” be endued, that is to say, with grace to act honestly and wisely. I, therefore, think it probable, that he is avowing, in our text, his gratitude to the Author of all good for such help in critical junctures as forbad his spirit to flag, and qualified him to grapple with all the difficulties of his calling and destroy them.
The particular duty assigned me, this evening, is my apology for not enlarging on the many noble topics sug
gested by the sentence before us. I trust, however, that the points touched upon, the transcendant value of the Christian Ministry, and the supports against fainting under it, may fitly usher in some remarks on the nature and value of a society which I heartily commend to your pious support the CHURCH PASTORAL Aid SOCIETY.
Now, to know the aim of this society, you have only to consider what it is our Church aims at. What is her province and delight? It is to make this kingdom, in its length and breadth, to be the kingdom of God and his Christ. She plants herself by the cradle of every English child, and takes it to the Holy Font, and puts the primer and catechism into its hands, and initiates it by gradual lessons into that blessed Book which is able to make it wise unto salvation. This is the true aspect in which our Church should be exhibited. Her breasts flow with milk for babes and sucklings, while her hands dispense manna and strong meat to those of riper years. Aware, that to make human knowledge beneficial, it must be mingled drop for drop (so to speak) with evangelical doctrine; she is at pains to imbue the education of our childhood with this wholesome influence, nor does she ever abandon her charge. Through youth and manhood she follows us with affectionate tuition, because she is convinced that no principles of reason, no views, however sound, of what our temporal interests dictate, can avail, without the fear of God, to make us practically wise and good. She, therefore, endeavours to keep alive and to mature religion in our hearts, by opening houses of prayer and of spiritual teaching, in which the sacraments of grace are administered, and the way of life is taught by her ministers from the sacred oracles. In
age and sickness she draws near to us with
tenderer attentions. She, then, visits us assiduously at our houses, and enters our chambers and sits by our bedside, and pours comfort into our hearts, and helps us to trim our lamps before we enter the dark valley, and points, encouragingly, to the glorious rest which lies beyond it. My brethren, I would not, in this sacred house, amuse you with pictures of the fancy; but the sentiments I utter, if somewhat figuratively expressed, have a deep foundation in truth. St. Paul tells us, that the Church-and where does it exist so purely as in our beloved establishment ?-is the bride of Jesus Christ, the mother of us all. We delight to conceive of the Church in her moral personality, and we believe the conception to be not less theoretically just than practically useful. We love to contemplate her under this engaging representation, as our spiritual parent, the author, under God, of our new birth into his kingdom. And hence, we obtain the delightful idea of a maternal care attending us throughout our pilgrimage, and bow to receive the lessons of evangelical faith and practice with filial veneration and love. By means of this scriptural imagery, what would otherwise be a dim abstraction, is clothed with light and beauty. Religion comes before us in a palpable form, well suited to gain our affections; to imprint moral duties on the conscience ; to lead captive the rejoicing will, and bind it in honourable chains; and to make us feel that God in Christ must indeed be a gracious father, since he has provided us with so good a mother to train us up
for heaven. Need I
say that such a church entertains lofty views of the sanctity and moment of the pastoral office? În the Ordination of Priests, she exhorts them with pathetic solemnity to have in remembrance into how high a dignity and to how weighty an office and charge they are called ; that is to say, to be messengers, and watchmen, and stewards of the Lord, to teach and premonish, to feed and provide for the Lord's family, to seek for Christ's sheep that are dispersed abroad, and for his children who are in the midst of this naughty world, that they may be saved through Christ for ever. Not an individual does she appoint to the order and ministry of priesthood till in the face of the congregation he has answered to her solemn adjurations, that he will instruct the people committed to his charge out of the Holy Scriptures, will teach men diligently to keep God's commandments, will be on the watch to drive away all erroneous and strange doctrines, will use both public and private monitions and exhortations as well to the sick as to the whole, will be sedulous in prayer and in scriptural studies, laying aside the study of the world and the flesh, and will strive to frame himself and his family into patterns of the flock of Christ.
Are there any here present who by the help of our So-.