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those of any other mortal; and his name will be borne down to the latest posterity, embalmed in the grateful affections of all christian people, as of one of the greatest benefactors of the human race. The manner of his own conversion which was sudden and miraculous, is related by him in the 9th chap. of the Acts of the Apostles, and no other account of the matter is at all rational or defensible. As the fact itself cannot be controverted without destroying the credit of all history, so the miraculous manner of his converssion, as stated by himself, has been always justly considered as one of the most complete proofs that have ever been given of the divine origin of Christianity. The miraculous event took place most probably A. D. 35. Luke has continued his history down to A. D. 63; from which period we have no authentic record of his life, nor of the precise manner of his death; but according to primitive tradition, he suffered martyrdom by beheading on the 19th of June, A. D. 66, at a place three miles from Rome. Here then, we have a long period of more than 30 years from the commencement to the termination of his bright career, the whole of which he spent in making known the glad tidings of salvation; and had we time it might be highly improving to follow the track, and mark the every footstep from city to city, from country to country, from island to island, of the most eminent planter of Christian churches. But it must suffice to observe, that in the course of the various circuits which he took in planting and confirming the churches, he visited once and again most of the ancient seats of magnificience, learning and religion, not without many signal testimonies of the divinity of his commission and doctrine. By his travels and labours, but especially in his immortal writings, he has left behind him a never-dying monument of his virtues, and of a sublime, unsullied character as a missionary of the cross. Devoted to Christ without reserve," he mocked at fear.”—The utmost extremity of danger never daunted his heroic spirit. When some of the brethren besought him with tears not to go up to Jerusalem,“ What mean ye,” he said, "to weep, and to break mine heart? for 1 am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” The populace might stone him, the magistrates might order their lictors to beat him, but Christ said “Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace.” This was enough for him, when driven from one city he went to another, “opening his mouth boldly to declare the mystery of the gospel.” Eph. vi. 19. In his old age he persisted in the same sublime occupa tion. Of perverseness, ingratitude, prejudice and desertion he had ample experience, but no experience of the kind weakened his resolute spirit. Anxiety, want, pain, persecution, such as might have shaken the stoutest heart, never subdued his courage, frequent imprisonment did not make him less warm in the great cause, nor the terror of death dismay him. “Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and affliction abide me.
But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts xx. 23, 24.
In the fullfilling of his mission as the apostle to the Gentiles, he proceeded to Corinth, the capital of Achaia, distinguished for the number, quality, opulence, and learning of its inhabitants, where he tarried eighteen months, between A. D. 51 and 53, preaching the gospel with great success. But the peace of the church planted in this city was disturbed soon after his departure by the intrusion of false teachers, who endeavoured to undermine his influence and credit as an apostle. He being soon informed of these rising disorders, and receiving also a letter from the church, requesting his advice in some difficult cases, wrote this first epistle, to supply suitable remedies in the existing abuses, and satisfactory answers on those points of difficulty specified. One of the disorders requring a remedy, was the scandalous spirit of faction and division respecting their ministers; one party boasts that they were the followers of Paul; another, that they were adherents of Apollos; anil a third, that they gave the preference to Peter. Such contentions operate like poison on the body--they inflame and breed corruption and death. Aware of the danger, the apostle in the text and context furnishes the proper corective remedy. “ Are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" You are acting in the spirit and manner of the unenlightened and unsanctified heathen who attach themselves to this or the other philosopher and orator as their chief and head. It should not be so among you. Let no man glory in men! To institute invidious comparisons and preferences between men, is contrary to your direct interest and duty, and grieving to us, who, so far from wishing to be the heads of the party among you, are ready to minister to you in all the humblest offices of condescension and love for your spiritual profit. We are all joint labourers belonging to God, and our ministry, together with the gospel and all its privileges belongs especially to you all; we are all yours, "whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas” your servants for Jesus' sake, and not your masters. Differ as our talents may in some respects, we yet prosecute one grand common design of edifying the body of Christ. “Who then is Paul, who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye-believed?” mere instruments of good to you. We have nothing as ministers but what is given us from above, and we have no independent schemes of our own to pursue, and no independent efficacy of our own, to command the wished for result. We are nothing of ourselves, and are not worth your stirring about. To God alone, and not at all to us, the whole glory of success is due. You are therefore much to blame in preferring one before another, and in attaching yourselves more to one than than to another. "I have planted," it is true, and “ Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then, neither is he that planteth any thing, nor he that watereth, but God who giveth the increase."
We proceed now to consider the text as laying the foundation for the following observations:
I. God employs the intervention of human instruments as means in fulfilling his great designs of mercy towards the human race. Any effects which require the mere exercise of power for their production, God could produce without the agency of means, for his power is omnipotent. By a simple act of his will, and exertion of his arm, the Creator might produce a constant succession of all the animal tribes in a state of the most perfect organization, and communicate to them at once the faculties of seeing and hearing, and the power of exercising animal functions without resorting to the established or any other system of means for generating or nourishing organized beings. Spring, summer, autumn, and winter he might regularly produce by a mere word of command, as well as by the operation of his fixed law, according to which these steadily occur when the earth is in a certain part of her orbit. In the same independent manner, he might present all nature, just as she now appears, carry on all her
operations, causing the fire to burn, the waters to run, and clothing the fields and forests with all their ample riches; and in short, all the infinite multiplicity of effects which we see every moment taking place in the universe. He might conduct his moral government, and attain all the ultimate purposes of his eternal mind, with respect to empires, cities, families and individuals, by the direct exercise of his will and power. But the fact is, that nothing is done in this way of direct omnipotent efficiency. So far from nothing coming between God and the end he has in view, he never comes to the end at all by an immediate and almighty directness, but always works by second causes, employs the intermediate agency of dependent beings, limits the working of his power to these means, and by thus letting in the exercise of his perfections, furnishes demonstrations that He is, that he acts, and that he acts wisely and intelligently. If the employ. ment of means were taken away, we could never observe those evidences of design and contrivance in which we now clearly see the hand of an intelligent Designer and Creator. A person acquainted with nature and her operations in general, or only with the physical constitution of man, might easily show, that nutrition, motion, figure, respiration--that all the senses, and all the functions of the animal are, each of them, an end attained, as the result of some circuitous process, and of a series of means, set and kept in continual operation, by him whose “ kingdom ruleth over all.” In order to the production of sight, for instance, the wonderful element of light is provided, which is regulated in its transmission and action by the most precise laws; and then, there is the eye itself, an organ which consists of an intricate and artificial apparatus, and is most delicately adapted for the operation of the element of light upon it, in different degrees, and at different distances. The ear is no less wonderfully adapted as an instrument for the reception of sound, and for becoming an inlet of knowledge and of pleasure. The amount of all these remarks is only this, that all things are invariably connected by the relation of cause and effect, of means and end. This is an established principle in philosophy, but the vulgar as well as the philosopher universally have an intuitive perception of its truth; and in the case of every change, without exception, possess an irresistible conviction of the operation of some cause.
Now the case is exactly so in religion: the doctrine extends to moral agents and their actions, as well as to physical things; there is an undoubted analogy between religion, and the constitution and course of nations; in both, God works by subordinate agents and instruments, and this by the way is no mean argument to prove that both must have originated with the same Being; for must they not have had one common cause, since their arrangements are so exactly similar, and centre in one common object~the perfection and happiness of man? Our text is a standing proof that God employs the subordinate instrumentality of fellow-beings in rendering man conformable to himself, in “ knowedge, righteousness, and true holiness.” “I have planted.” &c. The officers whose instrumentality Jesus Christ employed, you will find arranged thus, (1 Cor. xii. 28.) “And God hath set some in the these will show how such provision was made the foundation for raising the church to perfection.
Apostles. In the beginning of his ministry, Jesus chose twelve of his disciples, to attend him constantly as eye-witnesses of his sayings and doings, and to make a faithful report to the world.-You have a catalogue of their names Matt. x. The word apostle signifies one sent by another on some business, and therefore is applicable to any messenger. But as a name of office in the kingdom of Christ, it is restricted to the twelve, and to Paul, who was afterwards added without any regard to the original number. It is reasonable to believe that the apostleship of the twelve was an office distinctly marked by some peculiar characteristics of its own, which served to distinguish the persons so called from all their brother officers in the kingdom of Christ. Paul suggests as much when he says, “ Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.” 2 Cor. xii. 12. From the history of what was done to them, and in them, and by them, it may be gathered, that the apostles were distinguished by the following proofs or signs: 1. They all received an immediate personal call from Christ, during his life, and a higher unlimited commission after his resurrection to go every where, preaching the gospel as his own immediate representatives. Matthew xxviii. 18, 19, “ All power is given me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,” &c. John xvii 18. " As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” Mark xvi. 15. “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” 2. All of them with their own eyes saw him alive after his resurrection, and so could confidently attest the all-important fact. Acts i.
Wherefore, of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.” 1 Cor xv. 7, 8. “ After that he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.” 1 Cor. ix. 1. “Am Inot an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?” 3. All these had the power of working miracles peculiar to an apostle, the greatest of which was the power of conveying spiritual gifts to othersa power peculiar to the apostles, and which raised them above all the other spiritual members of the church. 2 Cor. xii. 12.“ Truly