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We were pressed out of measure, above strength-, insomuch that we despaired even of Use *. Besides the trials incidental to the christian profession, which they are exposed to in common with others, they have many which are peculiar to their calling as preachers of the gospel. Their chief pre-eminence over christians in private life, is a painful one; they have the honour of bearing a double share of the heat and burden of the day, and of standing in the foremost ranks of the battle, to provoke and receive the fiercest assaults of the enemy. Their only resource and hope, is in the faithfulness and compassion of their Lord, under whose banner and eye they fight, and who has said, Lo ! I am with you always, even to the end of the world.
4. That the Lord only can give success to their endeavours. Paul may plant and Apollos may water, but there is no increase unless he affords a blessing -j~. It is at least a presumptive proof, that he has called a man to preach, if he owns his labours, since he has not promised to own any but those whom he sends.
We must however allow, and observe, that to preach salvation to others, and even to be * 2 Cor. i. 8. t 'Cor. iii. 6.
instrumental in saving souls, will not absolutely prove, that the preacher is in a state of salvation himself: we hope it is generally so; but there are exceptions and instances, which should awaken our circumspection, and keep us constantly looking to the Lord in a spirit of humility and dependance. There was a Judas among the apostles; and we are assured that at the last day, some, yea many, will plead having done great things in the name of Christ, whom he will notwithstanding disown as workers of iniquity *. Even the apostle Paul was impressed by this thought, and he has recorded the improvement he made of it for our instruction. / keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, left that by any means, after I have preached to others, I myself Jhould be a caft away -f.
* Matt. vii. 22, 23. t * Cor. ix. 27.
THE GOSPEL MESSAGE, GLAD TIDINGS.
Rom. x. 15.
[As it is written] How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things.
f~~JT\ H E account which the apostle Paul X gives of his first reception among the Galatians *, exemplifies the truth of this passage. He found them in a state of ignorance and misery; alienated from God, and enslaved to the blind and comfortless superstitions of idolatry. His preaching, accompanied with the power of the Holy Spirit, had a great and marvellous effect. His principal subject was the death of Jesus, who * Gal. iv. 15.
G 4 had
had lately suffered as a malefactor at Jerusalem. Though the transaction was past, and the scene at a considerable distance, yet by the manner of his representation, the fact was realized to their minds; and they could have been no more affected, had they been actually upon the spot, at the time. Jesus Christ was exhibited to them, as crucified before their eyes *. By the fame divine energy they were instructed in the knowledge of his character, who he was, and why he suffered j and likewise understood their own need of such a Saviour. Thus they hearkened to him, not with the indifference of the Athenians, but with application of all that he slid to themselves. They heard, they believed, and they rejoiced. The apostle reminds them, that they had not received a cold speculative doctrine, but such a one as imparted a blessedness to them. This, indeed, many of them afterwards lost, when they were unhappily seduced by false teachers. But for a time the knowledge of a Saviour, so exactly suited to their circumstances, made them happy. And while they were so, they felt very strong emotions of gratitude and
* Gal. iii. i.