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gitimacy of their vocation to the work which they had undertaken, and tauntingly asked them to produce the proofs which the apostles gave. Little did they consider that the men whom they reviled and resisted, without pretending to be apostles, had one of the signs of apostleship on which great stress is laid in the New Testament, both by them and him that sent them. “He is a chosen vessel” (said the Lord to Ananias, who scrupled to go in to Saul of Tarsus) “ to bear my name to the Gentiles ; for I will show him how great things he shall suffer for my name.” “ Are they ministers of Christ ?" said the same person to those who " sought a proof of Christ speaking by him,” and preferred his detractors. “ I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes beyond measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.” This is the test to which their divine Master puts their qualifications; and their enduring it is the stamp of his approbation. He “ causes them to pass through:fire and water.” This is the judgment of God, for which men, in the dark ages, mistook the symbols. In this way the self-indulgent, the effeminate, the feeble-minded, as well as the faithless and false-hearted—the lovers of ease and honour, as well as the lovers of wealth and pleasure, are detected and separated from those choice and resolute spirits who are prepared to do, and suffer, and sacrifice every thing for God and public good. If when brought to the mouth of the furnace they blanch and become pale, if they look back or look strange on the fiery trial, they are not fit for their high and heavenly calling. “ Every one shall be salted with fire.” One is required to part with worldly goods, and becomes sorrowful—" the Lord hath refused him.” Another is required to part with friends, and thinks it a hard saying_" neither hath the Lord chosen him.” Another shrinks from pain, another from shame, another from death_" the Lord hath not chosen these.” But is there one who, when brought to the trial, is “moved by none of those things ?” “ Arise, anoint him ; this is he.”* The enduring of affliction is the impress of heaven, set on the objects of its choice; the seal appended to the commission of those to
* 1 Sam. xvi. 7-12.
whom it has delegated its powers of dispensing good. It is at once the warrant to the delegate, and his answer to all challengers. “Henceforth let no man trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.”
2. One reason why there are no great men in our timethere have been no great trials. We have been born, we have been reared, we have lived, each under his vine and his fig-tree, none making us afraid. “ No temptation hath happened to us but what is common to men ;” and, therefore, we are common men and common Christians, common statesmen and common churchmen. We have men of great talents, but not of great characters ; of enlarged, or rather improved understandings, but of little souls. So far from being lifted above the more refined and spiritualized selfishness of the world, it is rarely, and with difficulty, that we rise above its grosser atmosphere. How far inferior, in point of self-denial and devotedness, of faith and patience, of firmness and resolution, of noble daring, and still nobler doing and enduring, to those patriots, confessors, and martyrs, to whom, under God, we owe our religion and liberties, and (what many among us value more highly than these) our knowledge and science. We flatter ourselves that we could teach them and correct them ; but O how we would have marred that great work which they achieved! They were men, and they had their faults, and there is no sanctity about their faults, rendering it unlawful to point them out ; but let us remember, that it is one thing to perceive them and another thing to judge of them ; for this last requires, that we be able to take the altitude and circumference of those virtues with which they are connected. What renders a pigmy hunch-backed, would be but a small wen on a giant. We should also recollect that we are in danger of falling into the error of the tyro in the use of the telescope, who fancied he had discovered a new spot in the sun when it was only a speck of dust which he had unskilfully left on the lens of his instrument.
But let us not, in attempting to do justice to those men whom Providence has honoured to be instruments of good to mankind, forget ourselves and our duty. There is no degree
of purity, or strength of piety, to which any may have attained by the aid of corrective discipline, which is not incumbent on us; for we are bound to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, and our neighbours as ourselves. But we have to do with a being of infinite wisdom and mercy, who, in carrying on his plan of recovering us from the misery of our natural state, graciously accepts us in his beloved Son according to the improvement we make of the means which we enjoy, forgives our failures, and helps our infirmities. Let your aims be high, though you should come short of the mark. Think upon those ancients who have obtained a good report, and recollect, that, great as they were in some respects, “ God hath provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” O, what obligations lie upon us as Christians, as Protestants, and as British Protestants. Consider yourselves as almoners not only of the temporal, but also of the spiritual bounties of Providence. Remember that Joseph was raised up, not only to provide a habitation for his father's house, but to save mueh people alive, in the land of Egypt, and in all the surrounding countries. Think on the magnanimous sentiment which was committed to writing in a tento maker's shop in Corinth, and sent by Phoebe, a female member of the church at Cenchrea, “ I am debtor, both to the Greeks and to the barbarians, both to the wise and to the unwise: So as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."*
In fine, my friends, has God exempted you from afflictions ? Sympathize with those who suffer, as being yourselves in the body, and remembering that you have more need of liberal communications from the Spirit of all grace to preserve you from temptation ; pray to God without ceasing, “ that ye may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that ye may walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing."
* Rom. i. 14-16.
2 Tim. i. 16-18.
THE LORD GIVE MERCY TO THE HOUSE OF ONESIPHORUS; FOR HE
OFT REFRESHED ME, AND WAS NOT ASHAMED OF MY CHAIN : BUT WHEN HE WAS IN ROME HE SOUGHT ME OUT VERY DILIGENTLY, AND FOUND ME. THE LORD GRANT UNTO HIM THAT HE MAY FIND MERCY OF THE LORD IN THAT DAY: AND IN HOW MANY THINGS HE MINISTERED UNTO ME AT EPHESUS, THOU KNOWEST VERY WELL.
Of all the circumstances which accompany adversity, none give more acute pain to a person of sensibility and generous mind than the unkindness and desertion of friends. His distress on that account does not arise so much from the loss of the assistance and advice, or even of the society and sympathy of those on whom he had been wont to rely, although he feels this sensibly, but it arises chiefly from those dark and gloomy views of human nature with which the infidelity of friends is apt to fill the soul, inducing the deceived individual to dread the most sincere professions, and sometimes shaking his reliance on Providence itself. Such feelings are peculiarly apt to be excited in his breast by the violation of those friendships which were consecrated by religion, and in which the parties had become bound to one another by pledging their common faith to a Higher Power. In this case his firmest confidences being uprooted, and his holiest affections cheated, he feels at the same time desolate and oppressed_he feels as if all things were moved from their foundations, and “ the earth, with all the inhabitants thereof, were dissolving," while he labours to “ bear up the pillars of it." Such appears to have been the state of the Psalmist's mind, and he mentions it as the acmé of his trouble when he describes these words as bursting from him in the haste and agitation of his spirit, 66 All men are liars.” It was in a paroxysm produced by this cause that Jeremiah cursed the day of his birth. And hence also another prophet was led to exclaim in strains which partook more of the bitterness of grief than of anger: 6 Wo is me! The good man is perished out of the earth, and there is none upright among men. The best of them is as a brier, the most upright is sharper than a thorn-hedge. Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide.” The minds of the best and most pious of men would be overset by this temptation, if they were left to their own resolution and reflections. But God is faithful, and will not suffer them to be tempted beyond what they are able to bear; he tempers the severity of their trial, and in his wisdom provides such external means as he knows to be best calculated to restore their peace of mind and re-establish their confidence. And who can express the delight which they feel in this deliverance! How joyfully they shake off the damps which oppressed them, while their relieved spirits rise, like a bird which has escaped from the snare, to their native element of unbounded confidence, expressed in gratulations and in prayers poured out for those who have been the honoured instruments of effecting their rescue-let the words of the apostle which we have read to you declare.
Few minds have been so formed for relishing and imparting the refined and elevated enjoyments of Christian friendship as that of Paul. This is apparent, to mention no other proofs at present, from the tender manner in which he salutes those with whom he had formed a sacred intimacy in the different places which he had visited, and the evident pleasure with which he transmits, in his letters to them, the salutations of those who surrounded him. It is observable that these are most numerous in his earlier epistles, and that they become rare in those which he wrote towards the close of his apostolical career : Not surely that this holy affection burned with abated ardour in his breast, but because the objects of it were diminished. As he approached the termination of his course, and as his sufferings increased and his danger became greater