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were called,” to believers, as the 21st verse shows the sense to be, it was “Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God."
Here, my Brethren, let us fix our hold. The Gospel which we preach is not a dead letter. It is the living word of the living God, whose honour is pledged to enforce it, wherever it is faithfully preached. “Quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, it pierces to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow; and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." It is “the power of God,” not for destruction, of which we might rather have expected the dreadful thunders, but, “unto salvation." It awakens the guilty conscience ; it changes the polluted heart; it destroys the dominion of sin, and gives a sure and certain hope of everlasting life. All this the Apostle had proved himself. “I am not ashamed,” said he, “ of the Gospel of Christ ; for it is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth." Happy the Preacher who thus preaches from experience! Happy the people who hear his preaching! The Gospel which is not felt, my Brethren, which has no power in it, which brings no assurance to the soul, is not the Gospel of Christ; it is not the Gospel which was preached by the Apostles. “Our Gospel," they could say to their hearers,—“Our Gospel came to you not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance." And it was the wisdom of God, as it accomplished the great end of man's salvation, consistently with God's glory, and the harmony of all his attributes.
“ Here the whole Deity is knowa,
Nor dares a creature guess,
The justice, or the grace.” God can now be just, and the justifier of every one that believeth in Jesus Christ.
Our own history will afford us a modern exemplification of the subject.
When the admirable Wesley had himself experienced the saving power of living faith, immediately he began to proclaim what he then felt and knew," By grace are ye saved, through faith.” A present, a free, and a full salvation through the blood of Jesus, was his constant theme. Many were offended. The churches in London were shut against him. But the word of God was not bound. He was thrust out into the fields, and preached, like his Lord, to listening thousands in the open air. He went forth, like the Apostles, and preached every where ; the Lord working with him, and confirming the word with signs following. To some, it was a stumblingblock; to others, it was foolishness. But whether they heard, or whether they forebore, he still preached Christ crucified,-a present Saviour, and a suflicient Saviour, to all that believe. And see the fruits! How many thousands, now in glory, are blessing God Vol. I. Third Series. FEBRUARY, 1822.
for the joyful sound! How many happy thousands more yet live, followers of those who through faith and patience have already inherited the promises !
My Brethren, turn your eyes to our Western world. It is a little more than fifty years since you first sent Missionaries to our shores, with these good tidings of great joy. BOARDMAN and Pilmoor, the latter of whom still lives, came first, in 1769 : Wright and ASBURY followed, in 1771. Asbury!—This name alone justifies your Missions ; and it justifies much of the doctrine which has been advanced on this occasion. He was an instrument in the hands of God, and a messenger from you, of labours and of memory scarcely less blessed, to us, than Wesley himself.—Now cast your eyes over the map of the world, and trace the wide-spread work of these apostolic men, and their sons. Truly the Lord gave the word, and great is the company of the Preachers. Nine hundred in the British Connexion ; —nine hundred in the American! Eighteen hundred Itinerant Preachers now living; besides the hundreds who have died in the work, and the thousands, in both Connexions, of Local Brethren, who are zealously and affectionately engaged in the same great cause! And are we yet asked by what authority we do these things, or who gave us this authority? We turn to more than half a million of living witnesses, (not to insist, if you choose, upon the testimony of the dead,) and we say, “ These are the seals of our ministry.” If we are not apostles to others, yet doubtless we are to these, for the seals of our apostleship are they in the Lord. These are our answer to those that trouble us ;-a letter known and read of all men ; written not with pen and ink, but by the Spirit of the living God, upon the tables of the heart.
Venerable Fathers,-and you my respected and beloved Brethren,to whom this great ministry of reconciliation has been committed : it would be an infinitely higher joy to me to sit at your feet and learn. But since it has become my duty to speak in your presence, will you suffer a junior Brother, unworthy indeed, yet will you suffer him, in the name of his Lord, to ask, whether we are continuing to prosecute this heavenly work with a zeal and a perseverance becoming the high examples which have been set us? The Prophets, where are they? and our Fathers, do they live for ever? They are gone to their reward : and now we are ambassadors for Christ. Our work and recompense are both before us. The continents, and the islands of the seas, are whitening to the harvest. Ethiopia stretches out her hands unto God; and savage tribes attend His word. The Lord of the harvest opens his glory, and looks down from above; and He says to the heart of each labourer, “Fear not,-be strong ;-lo, I am with you alway: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” With the animating sound of that voice, let us rise up, and go to the work of the LORD, and we shall be crowned with the honours that come from God.
ON PRAYING TO JESUS CHRIST.
It has been supposed by some persons, that prayer ought not to be addressed to Christ ; and the reason they assign for this is, that Jeses said to his disciples, “ And in that day ye shall ask me nothing." (John xvi. 23.) But those who hold this opinion evidently mistake the sense of the text ; for the asking which seems to be prohibited in the former part of the verse is expressed by the verb έρωταω, ,
but the asking which is encouraged in the latter part is expressed by the verb 2178w. Now aitaw is commonly employed in the way of prayer, or petition ; (Matt. v. 42; vii. 7, 8, 9; xviii. 19; xxvii. 20, &c. ;) but sartzw is frequently used to denote interrogation and inquiry. (Matt. xvi. 13; Mark iv. 10; Luke ix. 45 ; xxii. 68, &c.)
I readily grant that these verbs are sometimes used to convey a different sense ; but their significations in the passages here quoted plainly prove, that sgwraw may be considered as referring to the asking of questions, and aitw as indicating prayer and supplication. The context also fully justifies this acceptation of the terms in the present case ; for, in this very chapter, we have an account of the diseiples asking questions of, and interrogating their Master, which plainly implied ignorance or doubt in the inquirer. When they were informed that, in a little while, Curist would be hidden from their view, and, in a little while, would visit them again, they understood not the saying, and were perplexed about its meaning. Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, autor spwtãr, verse 19; that is, to ask him a question concerning the meaning of his words. He therefore proceeded to inform them, that great joy would succeed their temporary sorrow; and that their grief for his sufferings and death would be followed by unspeakable comfort at his resurrection, but more especially at the coming of the Holy Ghost, by whose divine teaching they should be so perfectly instructed, that the asking of questions, for the sake of information, should be rendered perfectly unnecessary. “At that day ye shall ask me nothing" respecting the sense of my words; “ for the Holy Guost shall teach you all things” of this nature, “and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you.” All this was verified accordingly; for, before the Spirit was poured upon them from on high, the disciples were accustomed to ask many questions; (Matt. xiii. 10; Mark iv. 10; Luke viii. 9; John xiii. 36 ; xiv. 22 ; Acts i. 6, &c.;) but after the celestial flame, in the form of fiery tongues, had rested upon them at the day of Pentecost, their minds were so enlightened, that they needed not to make any more such inquiries. Hence it is plain, that when Jesus said, “ Ye shall ask me nothing," he meant, “ Ye shall ask me no more questions." 2. That there can be nothing in the above-mentioned text against
praying to Jesus Christ, is evident from the confession of Thomas, who most unreservedly avowed the divinity of his risen LORD. When our blessed Saviour invited his incredulous disciple to examine his hands and side, which were wounded on the cross, “Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord, and my God." (John xx. 88.) I know it has been said by some, that this was a vague and unmeaning exclamation, uttered through the sudden surprise which the unexpected sight of Christ then occasioned. But this is a positive contradiction of the Evangelist's express words ; for it is not said that Thomas cried out, as the disciples did in the storm, (Matt. xiv. 26,) but that “ Thomas answered and said unto JESUS, My Lord, and my God."
The title of Lord was commonly given to Jesus by his own disciples, (John xiii. 13,) and by all who professed to be his followers. (Matt. vii. 21 ; Luke vi. 46, &c.) When, therefore, he was risen from the dead, those who had conversed with him said unto Thomas, “ We have seen the LORD:" but when Thomas saw him, he called him his Lord, and his God; as if he would say, “ Thou art he whom I have been accustomed to call Lord; but I now confess thee to be my Lord, and my God.” And it is very remarkable that Christ did not in the least degree reprove Thomas for what he said, but, on the contrary, expressed his approbation of the words spoken.
When the inhabitants of Lycaonia would have paid divine honour to Barnabas and Paul, the Apostles rent their clothes, and loudly expressed their disapprobation before the people. (Acts xiv. 14.) When Joun would have worshipped the angel, that heavenly messenger immediately forbade it, and commanded him to worship God. (Rev. xxii. 9.) And can it be supposed that the meek and lowly Jesus would suffer his disciple to give him divine honour if it did not belong to him? He would not permit the temple to be profaned in his presence ; for he drove out the buyers and sellers, cast forth the merchandise, and overthrew the tables. (John ii. 15.) Is it, then, possible, that he should discover so much zeal for the sanctity of a place which was so soon to be destroyed, and yet manifest so little concern for the sacred name of the Most High God, as to suffer the glory which was due to Jehovah alone to be given to a mere creature ?
When Peter, through misguided affection towards his Master's person, addressed him in an improper manner, he forthwith corrected the mistake by a sharp reproof. (Matt. xvi. 22, 23.) But, if Jesus was not God, the mistake of Tuomas was of much greater consequence than that of Peter; because a little time would show the error of the latter, but time would never correct the misconception of the former : on the contrary, his declaration must inevitably prove a snare to believers, and lead Christians of future ages to worship a creature instead of the CREATOR,
As a Prophet, he must have known that this confession of his disciple, if it passed without correction, would naturally induce his followers to adore him as God. Yet so far was the disciple from receiving any sort of reproof, that his declaration was manifestly approved by Christ, who said, “Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed : blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." That is, Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed me to be thy Lord, and thy God: blessed are they who have not seen me, and yet have believed me to be their Lord, and their God; confessing this truth by their lives and conversations.
3. It has been asked, What proof had Thomas of Christ's divinity ? Was his resurrection from the dead a sufficient reason to believe that he was God in the proper sense of the word ? I answer, Jesus openly taught this doctrine during the course of his public ministry. When the Jews objected to his having seen ABRAHAM, because he was not fifty years old, he answered, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before ABRAHAM was, I am.” (John viii. 58.) Some pretend that Christ meant that he was before Abraham in respect of authority and excellence, not in point of time or priority of existence. But there is not the least shadow of reason for such a supposition. It is plain that the question of the Jews, in the preceding verse, which brought on the reply, had no sort of reference to authority or excellence, but related solely to priority in point of existence ; therefore the answer of CHRIST must refer to the same subject. They supposed that Jesus did not exist in Abraham's time, and consequently could never have seen him ; whereas our Lord positively assured them that he existed prior to the existence of that patriarch; for ligov A Bazaj govobzı plainly signifies before ABRAHAM existed; as is clear from the following passages :-- Mpiv a dextosz Owinoxi, before the cock erot ; (Matt. xxvi. 34 ;) Migre yevrobas, before it come to pass ; (John xiv. 29 ;) that is, before the time of the act or event made mention of. Hence the sense of the text is, “Before the time of ABRAHAM, I am."
It is also evident that the language employed by Christ would be altogether improper for any mere man to make use of. If any person, speaking of one younger than himself, should say,
“ Before he was, I was," the expression would be very just ; but should he say, “Before he was, I am," the assertion would be perfectly improper, and quite inconsistent with the rules and nature of language. This declaration could not be made by any being that ever had a beginning ; consequently, it could never proceed from an angel, because it plainly expresses independent and eternal existence. When Moses desired to know by what name he should call the God of his people, the Lord said unto him, “ Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” (Exod. iii. 14.) From which it