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Having made these previous remarks, I proceed more particularly to call your attention to the words of my text, while I endeavour to shew,
I. The state of St. Paul's judgment and affections, or the views and principles which led him to speak in this manner; and to evince, by his persevering conduct, that he spoke the genuine language of his inmost soul:
II. To explain, in this view, the words of the text, as spoken from the abundance of the apostle's heart: And,
III. To apply these considerations to the special occasion of our present assembling:—to improve the mysterious providence, of one, out of the small number who can be induced by zeal for the Saviour's glory, and love to the souls of perishing sinners, to " put their lives in their hands" by devoting themselves to the service of missionaries, being removed by death just at the time when he was entering on his benevolent and zealous labours.
I. I shall attempt to delineate the state of the apostle's judgment and affections, or the views and principles which led him to speak in the words of the text; and to shew the sincerity of his language by his uniform and persevering conduct. And here we must have recourse to other passages in his own writings, and to such observations as unavoidably present themselves while we carefully consider them.
The grand principle, or primary view, was no doubt that which he states in these words: "We, "having the same spirit of faith, according as it "is written, I believed, and therefore have I spo"ken; we also believe, and therefore speak.— "For which cause we faint not; but, though our "outward man perish, yet the inward man is re"newed day by day. For our light affliction, "which is but for a moment worketh for us a far "more exceeding and eternal weight of glory: "while we look not at the things which are seen, "but at the things which are not seen: for the "tilings which are seen are temporal; but the "things which are not seen are eternal."1
You see here, beloved brethren, that a near, a realizing, an abiding, and influential view of eternal things was, so to speak, the main spring of St. Paul's self-denying, courageous, and steady conduct as a minister of Christ, amidst all kinds of labours, sufferings, and dangers. Firmly believing " the sure testimony of God," concerning the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, heaven and its endless joys, hell and its eternal sufferings, the day of judgment, and its awful solemnities, discoveries, and consequences; all temporal concerns vanished from his mind; they disappeared as evanescent and unimportant. He even could scarcely consider them as having an existence; or, at least, as being in any degree entitled to his regard, compared with the vast and permanent objects which he contemplated and pursued. This, this, indeed, my brethren, is one grand difference between the "children of light," and " the children of this world," in every country and every age.
Again, the apostle was convinced, beyond a
1 2 Cor.iv. 13—18.
doubt, that himself and every human being, Jew or gentile, Greek or barbarian, bond or free, of every religion on earth, and of every complexion, was " shut up under sin," exposed to the wrath of God and eternal condemnation," a slave to divers "lusts and pleasures," "a vessel of wrath fitted "for destruction," "lying in the wicked one" "a "child of disobedience and of wrath:" that men were dying, by thousands and tens of thousands daily in this state, " without hope and without God, "so long as they continued without Christ" and his salvation. "Among whom", says he, "we all "had our conversation in times past," but Jesus "hath delivered us from the wrath to come."—It is impossible to read his epistles with candour and seriousness, and to doubt his opinion on this subject. "We have before proved both Jews and "gentiles, that they are all under sin." "The "scripture hath concluded all under sin." "You "who were sometime alienated, and enemies in "your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he "reconciled."
He was also, not partially but fully convinced, that there was one all-sufficient and effectual salvation for lost sinners of every nation under heaven. "God so loved the world that he gave his only"begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him "should not perish but have everlasting life." * "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all ac"ceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world "to save sinners." 2 "God was in Christ, recon"ciling the world unto himself; and hath com"mitted to us the ministry of reconciliation. Now "then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though "God did beseech you by us; we pray you, in "Christ's stead, be ye reconciled unto God."1 The Saviour's person, "Emmanuel," " God manifested "in the flesh ;" his boundless love, his righteousness, his atonement, death, resurrection, ascension, and all-prevailing mediation ; his power, truth, and grace; were the subjects of which his heart was full: and "from the abundance of his heart his "mouth spake" continually. "There is no differ"ence between the Jew and the Greek; for the "same Lord over all is rich unto all that call "upon him: for whosoever shall call on the name "of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they "call on him in whom they have not believed? "and how shall they believe in him of whom they "have not heard? and how shall they hear without "a preacher." 2 f Oh that all men knew the glorious and gracious Saviour and Friend of sinners! Oh that this salvation were proclaimed from east to west, from pole to pole! If the glad tidingswere but made known, we might hope that they would be credited; and that thus perishing sinners would be delivered from their deplorable state, "and "made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." Oh that I could do any thing to promote so desirable an event?" Here am I, send me." None of the dangers, hardships, and privations which I foresee, " move me, neither count I my life dear "to myself," in such a cause.' The apostle was deeply sensible that he had himself been in as dreadful a state of guilt and wrath, as any of those were to whom he could carry the joyful sound of salvation ; and that he was an unexceptionable witness to the exceeding grace of the divine Saviour, a living monument of the unsearchable riches of his love. His obligations to the Redeemer were incalculable and unparalleled: His language was "What shall I render to "the Lord for all his benefits?" "The love of "Christ constraineth me." 'Tell me not of ease or hardship, of liberty or bonds, of my native country or banishment, of pleasure or pain, of profit or loss, of life or death. Only present to me the opportunity of shewing my love and gratitude to the Redeemer, "who loved me, and gave himself "for me," and my ardent desire of seeing him glorified in the salvation of my fellow sinners. As to the rest, "his will be done." "According to "my earnest expectation and my hope, that with "all boldness, as always, so now also Christ may "be magnified in my body, whether it be by life "or death."'»
1 John iii. 16. '1 Tim i. 15.
'If indeed,' he might have said, 'I had any abiding doubt concerning my own salvation ; if while in other respects "willing to spend and be "spent," "to suffer and to die for the name of "Christ," I were harrassed with the fear of being at last " a cast-away;" it might, it must, unman me: but, blessed be the Lord, this is not my case. Man's grand interest, while on earth, is eternal salvation in heaven; and, by the grace of God, this my grand interest is secure. "I know in whom
1 Phil. i. 20, 21.