Page images

straining sense of his love, and by giving a deep impression of the worth of souls, and by exciting in the mind a dependance upon his all-sufficiency, can and does encourage those, whom he calls and chuses, to serve him in the gospel. In themselves they are quite unequal to what is before them, but they obey his voice; they trust in his promises for guidance and protection, and are not disappointed. We are therefore directed to pray, that the Lord of the harvest would fend, or rather (according to the force of the Greek word) thrust forth labourers into his barvest *.

3. That only he who sends forth his minifters can enable them to persevere. It is a service of continual exertion and expence, and requires a continual fupply. The opposition of the world, and the power of temptation, acting upon the weakness and depravity of the heart, would quickly prevail against the best ministers, if they were left to carry on the warfare at their own charges. They are at times, yea frequently, in fituations and circumstances, which teach them feelingly the meaning of the apostle's words,

* Matt. ix. 38.

We were pressed out of measure, above strength, infomuch that we despaired even of life *. Befides the trials incidental to the christian profeftion, 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 affaults 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 inereafe unless he affords a blessing t. 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 falvation to others, and even to be * 2 Cor. i. 8. t 1 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, fome, 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. I keep under my body, and bring it into fubjetion, left that by any means, after I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast away t.

* Matt. vii. 22, 23. t Cor. ix. 27.

[blocks in formation]



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. 'T HE account which the apostle Paul

I gives of his first reception among the Galatians *, exemplifies the truth of this paffage. 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.

« PreviousContinue »