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and afforded no gratification to the pride, of Reason. They publish to the world a matter of fact, of which they were eye-witnesses; they attest the death and resurrection of Jesus, and preach remission of sins in his name. These were the points they witnessed both to small and great; saying none other things than those, which they had seen, and heared, and which the Prophets and Moses did say should come to pass. Is there any thing in such a doctrine, as this, that looks like preaching themselves? Can it be thought that such teachers had an eye to the credit of their own abilities, or that they meant to advance the reputation of their own understandings above that of other men?

2. Still less reason is there to charge this ambition on their manner of preaching, or to imagine that they sought the fame of ingenuity from the terms in which they conveyed their instructions to mankind. If the substance of their doctrine was plain facts, their language was that of plain men. They spake not with the enticing words of man's wisdom; scarcely with the ordinary propriety, certainly, not with what is called the purity and elegance, of their tongue.

* Acts xxii. 15. and xxvi. 22.

But the fact is not disputed, rather is ob jected to them by such as question their inspiration (with what reason, we shall presently see); so that I may fairly conclude, that such men could have no purpose to recommend themselves by the arts of speaking, or, that, with regard to the praise of wit and eloquence, they could not possibly mean to preach themselves.

Nor let it be said, that this unornamented style of preaching was the effect of their ignorance, and inability to reach the graces of a juster manner. For, besides that it is no new thing for men to affect what they have no talents for, it is certain that ONE at least of the Apostles, He, whose province it was to convert the Gentile world, long since enamoured of the study of eloquence, and who, of all the Apostles, wrote most, it is certain, I say, that this great man was not disqualified by a want of parts or learning, from pretending to this prize of eloquence, if his ambition had condescended to it.

III. It appears then, with a reasonable degree of evidence, that the writers of the New Testament had no regard to themselves, that is, to the reputation either of their Moral or Intellectual virtues, in composing those books.

The fact, as singular as it is, seems well established: And I draw this interesting conclusion from it, That, therefore, they preached, not from their own private suggestions, but by the direction of the Holy Spirit.

This conclusion follows undeniably from that fact. For, if such a number of persons, of different tempers, educations, and professions, could be so disinterested as to overlook their own credit in a point, which all other men have so exceedingly at heart, and which no other men, nay which no other single man has ever been able to give up; and that too, when they were teaching a divine religion, and might therefore seem to have a decent pretence for assuming all sorts of merit to themselves; if this, I say, be a certain fact, what can we conclude, but that the Spirit of God, to whose enlightening influences they ascribed their doctrine, over-ruled their natural self-love in the manner of preaching it, and that these holy men spoke, as they were moved by the Holy Ghost?

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To return then to the Text, and to conclude. We preach not ourselves said St. Paul, in his own name and that of the other Apostles We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus

the Lord. The writings of these men are still extant; and bear the fullest testimony to the truth of what they assert. This, then, among many others, is an intrinsic character, impressed on those writings, of their divine original. It may be regarded, as a standing miracle, which, as oft as we revolve and consider them, speaks aloud, as in a voice from Heaven, that the Scriptures, they have left us, are the word and work of God.

If their uninspired successors in the ministry of the word be unable to copy so bright an example of humility and self-denial, forgive them this defect, or impute it, if you will, to natural vanity and unsubdued self-love. But, when ye chance to observe this infirmity in others, forget not to say to yourselves, that this high privilege of preaching not themselves was reserved to the Evangelists and Apostles only, to dignify their character; and to excite, confirm, and support our faith; in a word, to manifest to all the world, in the very frame and texture of the sacred Oracles, that they were, indeed, dictated by the Spirit of God.

SERMON XLI.

PREACHED DECEMBER 15, 1771.

MATTH. xi. 5.

The Poor have the Gospel preached unto

them.

MANY circumstances, attending the Gospel of Jesus, are such, as we should not previously have expected: Yet, when duly considered, they fully approve themselves to our best

reason.

We have a memorable instance, in the Text. Among other marks, by which it pleased our blessed Lord to authenticate his mission, one was, That the Poor had the Gospel preached

VOL. VII.

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