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they were engaged; they came not up to the help of the Lord against the mighty. Many there are of this description at this day, but should not such people consider, that the cause of God in every place hath few friends, and many enemies; and for this reason, if they believe it to be the cause of God, should they not give it all the support in their power! If they do not, supposing it should be asked at the last day: Did you (like my servant David) esteem my Saints as the excellent ones of the earth, did you join heart and hand with them, did you thankfully use all the spiritual privileges, which a kind and gracious providence put in your way? What good reason could such people give for their neglect? The awful words of our Saviour are well worthy of our serious consideration. "He that is ashamed of me or of my words before this crooked and perverse generation, of him will I be ashamed before my Father and his angels.' Does it not follow, that he who is ashamed of the ministers of Christ, is also ashamed of their Master? And those who are ashamed to own and support the gospel, are ashamed of: its author? And surely such men will not find themselves so well as they could wish at that day. There are many who would be glad to sit down in the kingdom of God, with those whom the world despise, who through fear or shame, lest they should be reproached for the sake of Christ, will have no fellowship with them in this world. What would such people do, were they in danger of being spoiled of: their goods, and of going to prison or to death, for righteousness sake, when they cannot bear a little reproach, cannot endure to be lightly thought of, for the sake of Christ! Will they not be numbered among the fearful and unbelieving, mentioned in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, who will be cast into the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; Rev. xxi. 8.
What a wonderful difference do we see between those who cordially close in with the gracious designs of God, and those neutrals before described? The one is heartily praising God that their lot is cast in a gospel-day, that he hath accounted them worthy to have a name and a place among his people, and that they are favoured with all the privileges of his house. While the other willingly deny themselves of all these advantages; only they attend upon the ministry of those whom God hath sent, when they think. it convenient so to do, and wish them good success in their pious labours, and assist a little in supporting them. Should not, all who profess to love the gospel of God our Saviour,
unite heart and hand against the common enemy, and do like the Israelites when engaged in building the Temple. Did not every one, both rich and poor assist according to their ability The rich contributed largely, they brought their silver, gold and precious stones, and the poor brought things of less value, but all set their shoulder to the work. So let those who are wise and learned, who are men of extensive knowledge and of deep understanding, use those precious gifts of God to the honour of his sacred name. Let them, as they have freely received, freely give, let them instruct, and strengthen the bands of their weaker brethren And let the poor who are rich in faith, pray down an abundant blessing from the Lord, so that his work may prosper, and his saving truth may spread far and wide. ;
What infinite reason have the children of God to rejoice, and to give glory to his holy Name, who hath made them to differ, from these men. Oye highly-favoured followers of a once despised Saviour, how ought you to value, and how diligently should you improve, your many and great privileges! Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, brethren, as the manner of too many is; but exhort one another daily, while it is called to-day, and take care that none of you are hardened, by the deceitfulness of sin. Set a very high value upon your fellowship meetings, and be not ashamed to acknowledge that you are despised Methodists, that you belong to a class, and that you meet in a band: But take care at the same time, that you turn all these blessed privileges into a sanctified channel, and that you constantly draw the water of life from these wells of salvation. You are favoured with all the ordinances of God, with all the spiritual helps which you can possibly have; therefore you will be inexcusable, if you do not prosper, and bring forth fruit to the honour of God, who deals so bountifully with you.
And have you the happiness to be numbered with those who fear the Lord, so that you have good ground to hope you shall stand in your lot, and be found among his jewels in the great day! Then, brethren, be careful to shew that you are jewels indeed. Jewels, you know, are accounted precious things, by those who have them in possession; take care, then, you unreservedly devote yourselves to God, and so walk with him, that your souls may be precious in his sight, and that he may own you as his chosen people, at the last. Jewels, you know, are exceedingly valuable,
and shine with resplendent brightness and many of them are transparent, you may see through them, and there is no spot or blemish in them. Let this teach you the necessity of constantly burning in the love of God, and shining in his light, and above all, of obtaining the pure and perfect love of God, yea, that purity of heart that entire sanctifi cation of body, soul, and spirit, which you are called to experience. Each of you, brethren, should labour inces santly to be, not only a bright and shining, but a transparent jewel; a jewel without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; being made fully meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, so shall you be for ever with the Lord.
ON PREACHING CHRIST JESUS THE LORD.
2. Cor. iv. 5.
We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants,
for Jesus' sake.
Paul had as clear views of the
No doubt the apostle nature and design of the Gospel-ministry, as any mere man ever had: and we need not wonder at this, when we consider that he received the gospel not from man, nor was he taught it by man, but by immediate revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the preceding chapter he compares the Gospel dispensation and that of the Law, with each other, and shews how far the one exceeds the other, as it respects the salvation of mankind. He observes that the law, though glorious in itself, yet when compared with the gospel, had no glory in it, being so very far exceeded in glory by the Gospel. That the law was only the ministry of the letter which killeth, but the gospel is the ministry of the Spirit, which giveth life. The law was the ministration of death: but the gospel is the ministration of life and peace: The law was the ministration of condemnation; but the gospel is the ministration of righteousness, or of justification. There
fore, saith he, "Seeing we have this excellent ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;" Well knowing the worth of immortal souls, and the greatness and inestimable value of the salvation which by our ministry they may enjoy: We have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, or of shame, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth, commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. Walking as in the immediate presence of him, who searcheth the heart, and who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, fully declaring, and publishing: the truth in his name; For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord. The words naturally divide themselves into three particulars.
First. When may a Minister be said to preach hime self!
Secondly. What are we to understand by preaching Christ Jesus the Lord!
Thirdly. And ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake, What does the Apostle intend thereby?
And, First. When may a Minister be said to preach himself?
I am very sensible how extremely difficult it is to say any thing upon a subject so exceedingly delicate, without giving offence to some, even religious people. But when I consider of what infinite importance, a pure and spiritual ministry must be, to the souls of men, a sense of duty obliges me to speak, whether men will hear or whether they will forbear. Surely their hands should be clean who bear the vessels of the Lord, and the lips of the ministers of Christ should keep knowledge, that the people may receive the Law from their mouth. But let it be carefully observed, that I am chiefly, I had almost said only, concerned for that body of people with whom I am connected. I leave all others to stand or fall to their own master, well knowing that I am too insignificant a person to be regarded by them. Hear this then, O ye Methodists! I speak to you now as a dying man! I am upon the very brink of the eternal world, and am deeply concerned for your spiritual welfare. Remember, that every particular body of religious people in this nation, were remarkably lively, and zealous, when the Lord first raised them up; but afterwards they generally declined. That it may not be thus with you, pray ye that the Lord of the harvest, may continue to send forth faithful labourers, men full of faith and the love of God. Do all in your
power to secure a lively heart-searching ministry. Let both the preachers and people see to this; for the prosperity of the work of God greatly depends upon it; secure this, and the good pleasure of the Lord shall still prosper among you, but if you neglect this, you are undone. You will, I trust, think of this when I am no more an inhabitant of this world. If ever the power of godliness declines among you, it will begin with the preachers; for while they continue alive to God, zealous for his glory, and faithfully, and powerfully preach the gospel; he will confirm the word of his servants, and pure and undefiled religion will still flourish among you, but if once the preachers decline, you will surely be the suf ferers. Remember, one of the first instruments which the Lord employed in the present revival of his work, said long since,
How ready is the man to go,
Whom God hath never sent?
In consideration of this, I would observe, that none are so likely to preach themselves and not Christ Jesus the Lord, as those who run before they are sent, who never experinced a deep work of grace upon their own minds; nor have been so taught of God, and enriched with spiritual gifts, as to be properly qualified for this great work. There have been too many in all ages of the church, who evidently shewed, that they never were sent of God; but the Prophets and Apostles, as well as our Lord himself, have borne their testimony against them, therefore follow their example, and suffer none of this description to labour among you. Remember, brethren, the affecting words of St. Paul: "I know this, that after my departing, grievous wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock, also of your own selves will men arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them." If there was such danger as this, in the apostolic age itself, what may we not justly fear in these degenerate days? Therefore carefully guard both the fold and the flock of Christ, that no such wolves may ever be found amongst you.
A minister may be said to preach himself, when he bath only his own interest in view, when he neither seeks the glory of God, nor labours after the salvation of precious souls, but wishes to display his own abilities, that he may