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but to engage in the work, trusting in God, not only to succeed our labours, but, while acting on Christian principles, either to give us favour in the eyes of those with wbom we have to do, or strength to endure the contrary,
* Further : The success of the gospel in the times of the apostles is ascribed to the influence of the Holy Spirit, as its first or primary cause. That the truth of the doctrine, and even the manner in wbich it was delivered, contributed as second causes to its success, is allowed. Such appears to be the meaning of -Acts xiv. 1. They so spake that a great multitude believed. But if we look to either of these as the first cause, we shall be unable to account for the little success of our Lord's preaching when compared with that of his apostles. He spake as never man spake; yet compared with them, he laboured in vain, and spent his strength for nought and in vain. It is the Holy Spirit to which the difference is ascribed. They did greater works than he, because, as he said, I go to the Father.
In promising to be with his disciples to the end of the world, he could refer to no other than bis spiritual presence: to this, there. fore, he taught them to look for encouragement. To this cause the success of the apostles is uniformly ascribed. The AAND of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed, and turned to the Lord.—GOD ALWAYS CAUSETH us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.The LORD OPENED THE HEART OF Lydia, and she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.—The weapons of our warfare are mighty THROUGH God, to the pulling down of strong holds.
The great success which prophecy gives us to expect in the latter days is ascribed to the same cause. Upon the land of my people shall be thorns and briers—until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high. Then the wilderness would be a fruitful field, and that which had been hitherto considered as a fruitful field would be counted a forest.
If the success of the gospel were owing to the pliability of the people, or to any preparedness, natural or acquired, for receiv. ing it, we might have expected it to prevail most in those places which were the most distinguished by their morality, and most cultivated in their minds and manners. But the fact was, that in Corinth, a sink of debauchery, God had much people ; whereas in Athens, the seat of polite literature, there were only a few individuals who embraced the truth. Nor was this the greatest display of the freeness of the Spirit : Jerusalem, which had not only withstood the preaching and miracles of the Lord, but had actually put him to death—Jerusalem bows at the pouring out of his Spirit : and not merely the common people, but a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
To the above may be added, the experience of those whose ministry has been most blessed to the turning of sinners to God. Men of light and speculative minds, whose preaching produces scarcely any fruit, will go about to account for the renewal of the mind by the established laws of nature : but they who see most of this change among their bearers, see most of God in it, and have been always ready to subscribe to the truth of our Lord's words to Peter, Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven.
From this brief statement of the evidence of the doctrine, we shall only add a few remarks to enforce the prayer of faith in your endeavours to propagate the gospel both at home and abroad. This is the natural consequence of the doctrine. V all our help be in God, to him it becomes us to look for success. It was from a prayer-meeting held in an upper room, that the first Christians descended, and commenced that notable attack on Satan's kingdom in which three thousand fell before them. When Peter was im-. prisoned, prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. When liberated by the angel in the dead of night he found bis brethren engaged in this exercise. It was in prayer that the late undertakings for spreading the gospel among the heathen originated. We have seen success enough attend them to encourage us to go forward : and probably if we had been more sensible of ur dependence on the Holy Spirit, and more importunate in our prayers, we should have seen much more. The prayer of faith falls not to the ground. If we have not, it is because we ask not; or if we ask and receive not, it is because we ask amiss.' Joash smote thrice upon the ground and stayed, by which he cut
short his victories. Something analogous to this may be the cause of our having no more success than we have.
Consider, brethren, the dispensation under which we liye.We are under the kingdom of the Messiab, fitly called the minis tration of the Spirit, because the richest effusions of the Holy Spirit are reserved for his reign, and great accessions to the church from among the Gentiles ordained to grace bis triumphs. It was fit that the death of Christ should be followed by the out-pouring of the Spirit, that it might appear to be what it was, its proper effect ; and that which was seen in the days of Pentecost was but an earnest of what is yet to come. To pray under such a dispensation is coming to God in a good time. In asking for the success of the gospel, we ask that of the Father of heaven and eartb in which bis soul delighteth, and to which he has pledged his every perfection ; namely, to glorify his Son.
Finally : Compare the current language of prophecy with the state of tbings in the world, and in the church.-In whatever obscurity the minutiæ of future events may be involved, the events themselves are plainly revealed. We have seen the four monarchies, or preponderating powers, described by Daniel, as successively ruling the world ; namely, the Babylonian, the Persian, the Macedonian, and the Roman. We have seen the last subdivided into ten kingdoms, and the little papal horn growing up among them. We have seen the saints of the Most High worn out for more than a thousand years by its persecutions. We bave seen his rise, his reign, and, in a considerable degree, his downfall. The judgment is set, and they have begun to take away his dominion ; and will go on to consume and to destroy it unto the end And when this is accomplished, the kingdom, and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, will be given to the people of the saints of the Most High. It is not improbable that the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin 'to sound, have already commenced ; wbich voice, while it ushers in the vials or seven last plagues upon the antichristian powers, is to the church a signal of prosperity : for the seventh angel har: ing sounded, voices are heard in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ ;
and he shall reign for ever and ever. The glorious things spoken · of the church are not all confined to the days of the millennium : many of them will go before it, in like manner as the victorious days of David went before the rest, or pacific reign of Solomon, and prepared its way. Previous to the fall of Babylon, an angel is seen flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth ; and before that terrible conflict in which the beast and the false prophet arė taken, the Son of God is described as riding forih on a white horse, and the armies of heaven as following bim. The final ruin of the antichristian cause will be brought upon itself by its opposition to the progress of the gospel.
The sum is, that the time for the promulgation of the gospel is come ; and if attended to in a full dependence on the promise of the Spirit, it will, no doubt, be successful.-The rough places in its way are smoothing, that all flesh may see the salvation of God. The greatest events pertaining to the kingdom of heaven have occurred in such a way as to escape the observation of the unbelieving world, and it may be of some believers. It was so at the coming of our Lord, and probably will be so in much that is before us. If we look at events only with respect to instruments, second causes, and political bearings, we shall be filled with vexation and disquietude, and shall come within the sweep of that awful threatening, Because they regard not the works of the Lord, nor the
operaton of his hands, he will destroy them and not build them up. But if we keep our eye on the kingdom of God, whatever become of the kingdoms of this world, we shall reap advantage from every thing that passes before us. God in our times is shaking the heavens and the earth : but there are things which cannot be shaken. Wherefore, we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reva erence and godly fear.
THE SITUATION OF THE WIDOWS AND ORPHANS OF
CHRISTIAN MINISTERS, &c.
The subject to which we this year invite your attention is, The Situation of the Widows and Orphans of Christian Ministers and of Ministers themselves, who, by age or permanent affliction, are laid aside from their work.*
We have not been used to address you on subjects relating to our own temporal interests ; nor is this the case at present : for the far greater part of those who have been most active in forming the institution for which we plead, have no expectation of deriving any advantage from it ; but feeling for many of their brethren, are desirous of alleviating their condition.
Mercy is a distinguishing character of the religion of the Bible, especially to the fatherless and the widow. The great God claims to be their protector and avenger. A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widow, is God in his holy habitation, Ye shall not aflict any widow, or fatherless child. If thou aflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry.--And my wrath shall waz hot, and I will kill you with the sword : and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless. Mercy to the fatherless and the widow is introduced as a test of true religión. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. The affliction of the fatherless and the widow is a subject taken for granted. From the day of their bereavement, dejection takes possession of their dwelling, and imprints its image on every object around them. And when
* This Letter was the last paper the Author prepared for the press ; and before it was read at the Association, his own wife was a widow, and his children orphans.