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" 'Tis THEIR own animating voice
to “ hold forth the Word of Life, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation," as well as to uphold our personal and domestic character. And can we evade the sacred claims of the Covenanted Trinity ? These are, indeed, frequently mixed up with the subordinate claims of the ministry: but, however often they may be identified, they are independent, and ought never to be confounded. No minister must obtain or expect from us, on his own account, service which we do not owe to God and the Lamb; and no minister should be deprived of any service we owe to them, because he may not altogether suit our taste, or come up to our standard. The integrity of our conscience towards God, must not depend on our opinion of any man's talents, learning, or name. We are, indeed creatures of circumstances, and thus cannot always nor altogether separate between the message and the messenger, nor even between the matter and manner of a sermon. But still, after all than can be said (and much ought to be said) about the importance of both mind and manner in preaching the Gospel, if the Gospel itself be faithfully preached, we cannot with impunity or consistency withhold our co-operation. Neither tones nor terms alter the Gospel. It is the
message of eternal Life from the Eternal throne, however delivered : the Word of the living God, however uttered: and we certainly hear it too much“ as the word of man,” if the manner of any godly minister can render us heedless or hopeless of its success at home.
We are not, however, called upon, even by this solemn fact, to overlook every thing but the truth of sermons. The spirit, as well as the letter, of the ministry of reconciliation, ought to pervade every sermon. And it would do so, in some useful form and degree, in the case of every conscientious pastor, were his church fully alive to the glory of the Gospel, as the “ministry of reconciliations." Nothing
would so readily inspire such preaching as we wish to hear at home, as the cultivation, on our part, of such an adoring sense of that glory, that we could neither speak of the Gospel, nor listen to it, without manifesting a lively interest in its success. Were we penetrated with a living conviction of the greatness of the great salvation, the visible tokens of that conviction would tell upon the pulpit, with penetrating effect. Did our “faces shine" in the sanctuary, the face of our Shepherd would never be dark nor cold. We should illuminate each other. He would keep up our interest in hearing the Word; and we should keep up his spirits in preaching the Word. Let, therefore, first principles lead us fully out of the trammels and temptations of circumstances ; out-until we hear none but God in his own Gospel ; out -until we see none but Christ in his own Gospel ; outuntil we depend on none but the Spirit in his own Gospel ; that, thus, we may yield to them what human influence can neither win nor extort from us; for, our being pleased in all things, must not be made the condition of our trying to please God.
Another way of bringing our conscience to the test, and up to the mark of relative usefulness, is, to press ourselves with the question—what should we, as a family, expeet from the church in our neighbourhood, were we like many around us, indifferent and undecided. Now, it is not a valid objection against this line of argument, that we cannot answer the question, without judging from our present views and feelings. True; we cannot divest ourselves of our present conscience, nor suppose the careless to feel as we now do. This is not, however, all the truth of the case. It is a fact, independent of all feeling, that, were we in their state, the less we cared about our souls, the greater would be the obligation of our pious neighbours to watch for our souls. How we felt would not alter their duty. Without, therefore, drawing very much upon our present convictions, we may well and wisely argue thus—“Oh! it would be inhuman, as well as unchristian, to allow us to perish for lack
of knowledge. What if we should mock counsel, and despise warning ? What if we should be so infatuated or infuriated as even to insult those who tried to save us ? All this is nothing-compared with leaving us to curse their memory through eternity for blood-guiltiness. It was their duty to have cleared themselves of that curse, at all hazards ; and to have been infinitely more afraid and ashamed of our eternal upbraidings, than of our momentary ridicule or rebuke.” Thus the truth of the argument does not depend on our personal feelings, however much the force of it may arise from them. Let us, therefore, show mercy, as well
for it, towards those who have no mercy on themselves. We cannot, indeed, reach them all ; alas! not many of them. This is, however, one of the chief reasons for doing all we can, " if by any means we may save some ;" and a strong reason for co-operating with our minister.
But, would not an avowed union for such purposes, be called a system of proselytism-a crusade for conversion ; and thus be defeated by defamation? Would there were 'no occasion for this remark, or no truth in it! There is, however, much of both in it! It contains as loud a call for prudence, as the spiritual wants of our neighbourhood for zeal. To forewarn our neighbourhood of such a design, would be to fore-arm the careless against it. Even the appearance of a design upon them, would put them upon their guard. There must, of course, be a mutual understanding in the church on the subject, and some plan of operation : but the less we depart from the ordinary channels and forms of social intercourse, the better. What we ourselves say to those in our own rank of life, should, especially, be just as natural and well-timed, as when we speak with them on business or public affairs. We should neither be more forward nor more backward to introduce a wise reference to salvation and eternity, than we are to make a kind inquiry about health, or a tender allusion to losses or bereavement. And, in all the ordinary intercourse of life, we should never attack a man's errors by name, nor parry with his known
ON PLEASING GOD BY DOING GOOD.
prejudices, if we wish to do him good. Any good we can do by our direct influence, will be best done in our simple character, as friendly and godly neighbours ; and through the courteous mediums of affability and sympathy.
But if, now, we can no longer be easy without trying to do something, as individuals, for the glory of God, why should we not endeavour to spread our own convictions on this subject, in the church we belong to? Might not the conscience of our brethren, respond equally to the appeals which have thus quickened us ? Is there no one—are there not a few—with whom we could, without much difficulty, talk over the matter, and even take measures for bringing it under the notice of the whole body of the church? The Minister is sure to welcome the attempt, and to forward the object. He will not be found wanting, if we do our duty in a right spirit. And God will not be unmindful of our labour of love. Arise, therefore, and let us work, whilst it is day! The times call for it. Eternity calls for it. The whole Creation waiteth for this “manifestation of the Sons of God.”
Any one who remembers the character of John will perceive at a glance, that what was chiefly shown to him in Patmos, when “ a door was opened in heaven," was just what John would be best pleased to see-the person, glory, and supremacy of Christ. That great sight would have satisfied him, even if he had seen nothing else. Nothing