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brethren, which few hired servants would have done or forborne out of regard to those who were properly their masters. But let us not fail to remember, that
They did all this for the sake of Christ and his gospel.
Ourselves your servants for Jesus sake. It is certain, that such condescensions as we have been describing, are either great or mean, according to the principle from whence they proceed. Ambition can creep, that it may soar; and soothe, that it may afterwards insult: but the apostles stooped, that they might raise others; and pleased, that they might profit. We, says St. Paul, please all men to their good for their edification. This was their great concern, that whether they eat or drank, or whatever they did, they might do all to the glory of God*. This was their Earnest expectation and their hope, that in all things Christ might be glorified in them, whether by their life or their death t. They sacrificed not only their humour and their ease, but life itself, to the great purposes of pleasing and serving the blessed Jesus ; and Paul spake the sentiments of them all, when he said, Neither bonds nor imprisonments move me ; nor do I count my life dear unto me, that I may finish my course with joy, and the ministry I have received of the Lord f. But while I insist on such expressions as these, I do in part anticipate what I am to offer under the second head. Where I proposed,
II. To consider what were the principles by which they were animated to so noble a temper and conduct.
I the rather enter into the survey of them, as we shall find they were not only suited to the age and circumstances of the apostles, but ought also to have a very great influence upon us, whom God has favoured so far as to count us faithful, putting us into something of the same ministry with them, which can never be comfortably and honourably fulfilled, but by those who govern themselves by the like maxims and principles. They were undoubtedly influenced by an affectionate love to the blessed Redeemer, a pious zeal for the glory of God in the salvation of souls, and a prudent regard to their own present and future happiness. And if these great motives have their due weight with us, we shall not preach ourselvess but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves the servants of his people for his sake.
1. The apostles were engaged to the conduct we have described, by a most grateful affection to the blessed Redeemer.
* 1 Cor. x. 31. VOL. III.
+ Phil. i. 20.
Acts xx. 24.
That dear name is precious to every believing soul, and how precious it was to these holy men, almost every page
of their writings will declare. Divine grace bad deeply humbled them under the conviction of their own guilt and weakness, and then taught them to view the Lord Jesus Christ as Made of God unto them wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption *. They knew the grace of the Son of God in descending, and living, and dying for their salvation ; and in passing through all the most dreadful scenes of suffering which imagination can suggest, with a love to them, which all those waters could not quench, nor the floods drown. And believing this, they could not but speak in his cause, they could not but desire to spend and be spent in his service. On this principle therefore doth Paul vindicate those ardours of zeal, which a profane world censured as enthusiasm and madness. If we are besides ourselves, it is to God, for the love of Christ constraineth us while we thus judge, and approve the argument in the coolest moments of reflection, that if one died for all, then were all dead; for had they not been in a state of condemnation and death, they would not have needed such a ransom. And he died, that we, who live only in consequence of his dying love, should not henceforth live to ourselves, but to him that died for us, and rose again t. And we may assure ourselves, that while their souls were thus drawn with the Cords of a man, and the bands of love I, they saw a peculiar beauty in the condescensions of so great a personage and so dear a friend, which inclined them with pleasure to trace his steps, in making themselves the servants of others for his sake, who took upon him The form of a servant s, though he were Lord of all.
And ought not these considerations, my brethren, to have a constraining force upon us? Was it for the sake of the apostles alone, that the blessed Jesus stooped so low, and bore so much ? Did he not Love us, and give himself for us ||, and was not the news of our salvation contained in those glad tidings which he brought from heaven, which he proclaimed on earth, publishing them with long continued labour, and at length sealing them with his blood ? Have not we our lot amongst his people; nay, I will add, are we not distinguished from most of the rest of them, by his favour, in that he hath committed to our trust bis glorious gospel, the important cause that lay so near his heart, the great end of his toils and his sufferings? And where is our gratitude, where is our fidelity, where is our common integrity,
* 1 Cor. i. 30. + 2 Cor. v. 13, 14. * Hos. xi. 4. § Phil. ii. 7. || Gal. ii. 20.
if we can forget such engagements, and lose our concern for that gospel, in a mean solicitude about our own applause, or interest, or dominion? I trust, my brethren, it will never so be lost. I am persuaded, through divine grace, there are those amongst us, whose bosoms glow with such undissembled love, that we can truly say, we reckon the title of servants of Christ, and of the church for his sake, a thousand times more honourable than to be called, and to be, the lords of the whole world; that we had rather approve ourselves the faithful interpreters of his laws, than see assembled nations bowing down before us, and with the profoundest submission receiving law at our mouths.
2. The apostles were animated to the conduct we have been reviewing, by a pious zeal, for the glory of God in the salvation of souls.
They well knew, that the grace of the Father was the ori. ginal source of all the blessings they received by the interposition of the Son, and their hearts were so subjected and united to God, that they could not fail of being tenderly concerned, that being Bought with such a price, and maintained by such a constant emanation of divine favour and bounty, they might glorify God with their bodies, and their spirits, which they owned to be the Lord's *, by so many important claims.
And they must farther infer from the complete all-sufficiency of the divine Being, that the only way whereby we are capable of glorifying him, is by promoting the display of his attributes; which are most nobly illustrated in the perfection and happiness of his rational creatures; especially their final and eternal happiness. It plainly appears from the whole strain of the apostles' writings, that those holy men were deeply penetrated with the views of an invisible world; and as it was their great concern for themselves, that their own souls Might be given them for a prey t; so sentiments of compassion and humanity joined with those of piety, to engage them to wish and labour for the salvation of others.
They certainly knew, however others might forget it, that every human creature hath in its breast an immortal soul, which must survive not only the dissolution of the body, but the wreck of this lower world; a soul that by its original constitution was capable of shining in the image of God, and the glories of paradise, when the sun should be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood. They were likewise sensible, that these precious souls were naturally in a very dangerous state, and by sin stood *1 Cor. vi. ult.
† Jer, xlv. 5.
exposed to everlasting darkness, despair and ruin. And this appeared to them such a lamentable sight, that they could not but Weep over those whose end would so probably be destruction *. And when they saw them going on in a gay insensibility of danger, and a proud confidence, on the very borders of hell, it cut them to the heart, and put an eagerness and pathos into the manner of their address, which nothing but such an infinite concern could have given. They were attempting to Recover those out of the snare of the devil, who were led captives by him at his pleasure t; To turn men from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that, instead of meeting all the terrors of his wrath, and sinking into eternal destruction, they might receive the forgiveness of their sins, and an inheritance amongst his sanctifed people I. And while this was the view in which they regarded them, who can wonder, that they did as it were Travail in birth for their conversion ? Who can wonder if it appeared to them even an inhuman thing, to be more solicitous about soothing men's ears, or gaining an influence over men's temporal concerns, than saving their souls ? As it would indeed be a more cruel kind of folly, than for a physician to be more careful that his bill were elegantly written, than that the life of his patient should be saved by the suitableness of the prescription.
I must farther add, in order to complete the argument, that the apostles well knew, that nothing was so likely to save the perishing souls of men, as the great doctrines of the everlasting gospel ; nothing so like to recover them, when fainting and dying, as the vital savour of a Redeemer's name; which is indeed the Power of God to the salvation of every one that believeth ll. This engaged them, in this manner, to preach Christ Jesus the Lord; and I hope, my brethren, we shall never imagine, that our wisdom can find out another more effectual way. I hope we shall never practise so dangerous a complaisance to the unbelievers of the present age, as to wave the gospel, that we may accommodate ourselves to their taste; which if we do, we may indeed preserve the name of virtue, but I fear we shall destroy the thing itself; lose it in our congregations, and probably in our hearts too. For, I confess, it seems to me much more probable, that the doctrines of natural religion alone should be blessed as the means of reforming heathens, who never heard of christianity, than that they should have much effect upon those who under the profession of it, slight its most glorious peculiari
*Phil. iin, 19. + 2 Tim. ü. 26. Acts xxvi. 18. $ Gal. iv, 19. || Rom. i. 16.
ties; as if the revelation of Jesus were a mere incumbrance, which, while we own it to be true, we might nevertheless forget, without great danger, or much inconvenience. But if we imbibe the spirit of the apostles, and make their conduct the model of ours, we may cheerfully expect that presence of God with us, in consequence of which the great ends of our ministry may be answered, to the reformation of men's lives, and the salvation of their souls.
How glorious a hope! how rich a recompence for all the fatigue, for all the condescension, for all the self-denial which our office may require! Most forcibly doth St. James express the importance of the thought, if one man be the happy instrument of gaining another to the cause of truth and holiness, Let him know, let him pause upon it and reflect, that he who converteth a sinner from the error of his ways, shall save a soul from death *, an immortal soul! And how much is comprehended in those few words? We are sometimes perhaps ready to envy the opportunity which the great men of the world have to promote the happiness of others, and it is the most generous, and indeed the only rational view in which riches and power can be desired. But let us remember, my brethren, such is the nature of an immortal soul, that to bring it into the way to eternal life, is a greater good than any merely temporal blessing, which can be conferred upon the greatest number of men for the longest duration in the present world. And it is most certain, that the moment will at length come, when the sum of happiness which hath actually been enjoyed by every particular soul, that we have led into that blessed world, will be greater than what the most uninterrupted peace, liberty, and plenty could have given to the most numerous nations, in a hundred, or a thousand, or ten thousand years. Let so sublime a thought animate our pursuit, and make us willing to Spend and be spent in such a servicet.
3. The apostles well knew, that by such a conduct as we have now been surveying, their own present and future happiness would be most effectually secured.
They seemed indeed to sacrifice their present interest, and in many important instances they did so; yet surely they found a rich equivalent in the consciousness of such a temper, and a prospect of that reward which would through grace attend it.
The pleasures of gratitude and humanity, are a thousand times superior to that which can arise from gratifying the senses,
* James y. 20.
+ 2 Cor. xii. 15.