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of instrumentalities; and the world would be saved.
Can we wonder that Paul gloried in being an humble minister of such a Gospel?-or in the honor of sharing some humble part in the accomplishment of such sublime results?—or that he desired not to know any thing else?
6. Lastly. Paul, amidst his devoted labors and sufferings, kept his eye fixed steadfastly on his final reward. "I press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." He saw a crown laid up for him, whose jewels were far more precious than the most costly pearls, or sparkling diamonds. This cheered and animated him in the darkest hour of his trials and discouragements, and armed him with courage and boldness to meet persecution, and death even, should it be necessary to suffer as a martyr in the fulfilment of his ministry.
Hear a single passage from his diary: "Of the Jews, five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned. Thrice I suffered shipwreck; a night and a day have I been in the deep. In journeyings often; in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren, in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Yet none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God." I would choose rather to depart and be with Christ; for then shall I rest from life's burdens and sufferings, and share my rich reward. Then shall I wear that glittering crown amid the shining seraphs that surround the throne above. This blest assurance nerved him to every conflict, and gave him cheerfulness to do, or suffer, all the will of God.
1. From our subject, we learn what is the best kind of preaching. It is that which savors most of Christ. That preaching is always to be regarded with suspicion, which does not have Christ as its centre, where all its lines of doctrine meet and blend in harmony. Not Christ a teacher; not Christ our example; not Christ a martyr to the truth, merely. Others, mere men, were all this. But Christ on the cross, as God manifest in the flesh to become an offering and a sacrifice for the sins of the world.
Here centre all the promises. It is here we find a balm for every wound. Here must we build all our hopes. And that preaching which does not here derive all its light and life and power, is but another gospel.
2. We learn that it is no part of a minister's duty to seek to please men. If they are pleased with the truth, it is well. But how can a minister of Christ turn aside from a full and faithful exhibition of the gospel, to suit the wishes of those whom the truth will not please? That preaching is not always the most profitable which is the most pleasing, or the most applauded. Paul's preaching was not that which would have pleased his hearers best; or that which would have rendered himself most admired and popular. Had he swerved a little from his single purpose, and catered to the wishes of that idolatrous, pleasureloving people, he might have shunned the offence of the cross, and met a very different reception at Corinth. But it would have been at the sacrifice of immortal souls. In "the whole counsel of God," there is much that is offensive to the unsanctified heart. In faithfully declaring it, we must necessarily displease the wicked. For this reason, even Christ was not a very acceptable preacher. He did not catch the popular ear. His preaching was too practical, too pointed; was savored too much of heaven, and too little of this world, to please the populace. For once they cried, Hosanna! But the note was soon changed to, "Crucify him, crucify him!"
Have we not good reason to suspect, that either we have not the spirit, or the words of our blessed Master, if our preaching is such as to win the applause of the idolatrous worlding, or the votary of pleasure, or gain the acclamation of the multitude? We are safe in keeping near to our Saviour, and preaching only Christ. Paul had determined to deal faithfully with his hearers, and preach to them the plain Gospel, the whole truth, though they should stone him.
3. We see in the light of our subject, the great value and importance of the Gospel to sinners. Paul exemplified in his life, and declared in the text, his estimation of it. There is no other remedy for sin, and the calamities in which the soul of man is overwhelmed.
This Gospel, my hearers, is as important for you as it was for Paul and the Corinthians. Will you not value it above all price, and make its rich provisions of mercy yours? Or shall it be. preached to you in vain, and the gracious words of hope and promise finally prove to you a savor of death unto death? See you to this, come now to Christ; believe in him, and he shall be to you, "wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption."
Brethren in the ministry, we see the greatness and the dignity of our calling. It has its trials and its far-reaching responsibilities; and it has, too, its great reward. "They that turn many
to righteousness shall shine as the stars forever and ever." Are we not urged by every consideration to a more earnest consecration to our work? Time hastens ! Souls are perishing! The Gospel only can save. Death is among us. The Lord is calling his servants home from the vineyard. Do we not hear the Master, saying unto us, "Be ye also ready, for behold I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”
BY REV. EDMUND B. FAIRFIELD,
PRESIDENT OF HILLSDALE COLLEGE, HILLSDALE, MICH.
ACQUAINTANCE WITH GOD.
"Acquaint now thyself with Him and be at peace; thereby good shall come to thee."-JOB Xxii. 21.
WHEN an ancient philosopher was asked, "Who and what is God?" he requested a day to frame his answer; but at the expiration of that he had only become the more deeply perplexed, and prayed that he might have yet another day. And when that had passed, he asked for still another. And having thus secured in succession various extensions of time, he finally replied that the more he had pondered the question, the more perplexed he had become; and the more involved in mystery the nature and attributes of Deity appeared.
And thus with every man who would attempt with his own short ladder to scale the loftiest heights, or with his own scanty plumb-line to fathom the deepest depths of the Divine nature. "Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?" But there is a kind and degree of acquaintance with God which the soul of man may attain to, and to that the text exhorts us.
I. Acquaintance with God! The thought is inspiring, the very conception is ennobling, and the reality transcendently glorious. How may it be obtained?
1. Through his works. The sculptor reveals himself in the statue; the artist in his picture; the mechanic in his mechanism. And the whole universe, whose maker and builder is God, is but one continuous and glorious revelation of the Great Architect. "It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to
dwell in. The heavens declare his glory, and the firmament showeth his handy work; day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their voice is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world." It is he that hath painted the sunset clouds with their gorgeous hues, and that hath penciled with its delicate beauty the blushing violet. The sweeping tornado, and the whispering zephyr, the rolling tide, and the rippling brook, the towering cliff, and the mountain upon which the clouds do rest, all do speak the praises and proclaim the glory of Him that hath made them. There are "tongues in the trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in every thing." To the ear that is attuned to hear it, there is music in the spheres; "there's music in the sighing of a reed; there's music in all things, if men had ears; there's music in the gushing of a rill; the earth is but an echo of the spheres;" every star hath its voice; every waving leaf hath its utterance, and all speak to us of God. The sun by day and the moon by night discourse to us the wondrous tale:
"Forever singing as they shine,
To the eye that is open to see it, every living thing, from the leviathan of the deep, where water-spouts ascend to heaven, to the insect whose home is of too minute dimensions to be discovered by the unaided eye; every plant, "from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon, even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall," bears an inscription in the hand-writing of God. Every stone has engraven upon it His name, and happy is he that has learned to read it. "He stretcheth out the mantle over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing. He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is not rent under them. He holdeth back the face of his throne, and spreadeth the cloud upon it. He hath compassed the water with bounds, until the day and night come to an end. The pillars of heaven tremble, and are astonished at his reproof. By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens his hand hath formed the crooked serpent. Lo, these are parts of his ways; but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?"
2. We become acquainted with God through his providential government of the world. His kingdom extendeth over all. Upon the tomb-stone of every nation that has ever perished by reason of its sins, its tyrannies, its debaucheries, its sensual and degrading vices, is written the justice of God. The prosperity of those nations that have regarded justice, and acknowledged the Divine supremacy, is a standing monument of his goodness and love of virtue; while the prolonged existence of such as have trampled upon equity and humanity bears testi
mony to his forbearance. But the providential government of God is to be viewed through a long vista of years to be understood at all and even then most imperfectly, without the aid of other light.
3. We become acquainted with God through the human soul. God has made man in his own image; and though that image has been defaced, and his inscription of his law upon the human heart greatly marred, yet even deciphering the few remaining vestiges of that inscription, the character of Him whose handwriting they are, is clearly revealed. Every approbation of virtue, and every disapprobation of vice; every justification of right, and every condemnation of wrong, are unimpeachable testimony to the integrity of the Divine character. The maker of the human soul never formed it so that it could not do otherwise than condemn himself. And whensoever by turning our eyes within, we read the law written upon the heart, we see in that law the transcript of the divine character. When we find ourselves pronouncing sentence upon our own sins, or upon the sins of others, we listen only to the echo of God's voice within the soul. And when we hear the utterance of the moral nature within us sanctioning the right, though we the wrong pursue, we know that God made the soul for virtue, and that He himself is the impersonation of all that is beautiful and good and true.
4. But especially do we become acquainted with God through his written word. The works of nature are an imperfect revelation-manifesting chiefly the natural attributes of the Deity. His providential government is unsatisfactory, for we see it but in part; so brief a segment of eternity is it that we can survey at all. Wrong sometimes triumphs; judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off; truth is fallen in the street; and equity cannot enter; yea, truth faileth: and he that departeth from evil is made a prey: but it is only for a time, and times, and the dividing of a time.
"Truth crushed to earth will rise again;
In the end the character and government of God will be vindicated; the sceptre of iniquity will be broken; justice and truth reinstated upon the throne; and though clouds and darkness are round about him to-day, yet we are assured that justice and judg ment are the habitation of his throne forever. This assurance the Word does not fail to give us.
What is dark in Providence is made light in Revelation; what is crooked in time is made straight in eternity; wnat is rough to our present earthly perceptions will be made smooth to the pure r and more perfect vision of future years. It is said that in ex