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and shine with resplendent brightness and many of them are transparent, you may see through them, and there is no spot or blemish in them. Let this teach you the necessity of constantly burning in the love of God, and shining in bis light, and above all, of obtaining the pure and perfect love of God, yea, that purity of heart that entire sanctification of body, soul, and spirit, which you are called to experience. Each of you, brethren, shonld Jabour inces: santly to be, not only a bright and shining, but a transparent jewel; a jewel without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; being made fully meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, so shall you be for 'ever with the Lord.
ON PREACHING CHRIST JESUS-THE LORD.
2. Cor. iv. 5. We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants,
for Jesus' sake.
O doubt the apostle Paul had as clear views of the nature and design of the Gospel-ministry, as any mere man ever had : and we need not wonder at this, 'when we consider that he received the gospel not from man, nor was he taught it by man, but by immediate revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the preceding chapter he compares the Gospel dispensation and that of the Law, with each other, and shews how far the one exceeds the other, as it respects the salvation of mankind. He observes that the law, though glorious in itself, yet when compared with the gospel, had no glory in it, being so very far exceeded in glory by the Gospel. That the law was only the ministry of the letter which killeth, but the gospel is the ministry of the Spirit, which giveth life. The law was the ministration of death: but the gospel is the ministration of life and peace: The law was the ministration of condemnation; but the gospel is the ministration of righteousness, or of justification. Therefore, saith he, “ Seeing we have this excellent ministry, as we have received mercy. Fe faint not ;" Well knowing the worth of immortal souls, and the greatness and inestimable value of the salvation which by our ministry they may en joy : We have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, or of shame, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth, commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. Walking as in the immediate presence of him, who searcheth the heart, and who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, fully declaring, and publishing; the truth in his name; For we preach not ourselves, but. Christ Jesus the Lord. The words naturally divide themselves into three particulars.
First. When may a Minister be said to preach himself!
Secondly. What are we to understand by preaching Christ Jesus the Lord !
Thirdly. And ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake, What does the Apostle intend thereby ..
And, First. When may a Minister be said to preach himself
I am very sensible how extremely difficult it is to say any thing upon a subject so exceedingly delicate, without giving offence to some, even religious people. But when I consider of what infinite importance, a pure and spiritual ministry must be, to the souls of men, a sense of duty obliges me to speak, whether men will bear or whether they will forbear. Surely their hands should be clean who bear the vessels of the Lord, and the lips of the ministers of Christ should keep knowledge, that the people may receive the Law from their mouth. But let it be carefully observed, that I am chiefly, I had almost said only, concerned for that body of people with whom I am connected. I leave all others to stand or fall to their own master, well knowing that I am too insignificant a person to be regarded by them. Hear this then, o ye Methodists! I speak to you now as a dying man! I am upon the very brink of the eternal world, and am deeply concerned for your spiritual welfare. Remember, that every particular body of religious people in this nation, were remarkably lively, and zealous, when the Lord first raised them up; but afterwards they generally declined. That it may not be thus with you, pray ye that the Lord of the harvest, may continue to send forth faithful labourers, men full of faith and the love of God. Do all in your power to secure a lively heart.searching ministry. Let both the preachers and people see to this; for the prosperity of the work of God greatly depends upon it; secure this, and the good pleasure of the Lord shall still prosper among you, but if you neglect this, you are undone. You will, I trust; think of this when I ain no more an inhabitant of this world. If ever the power of godliness declines among you, it will 'begin with the preachers ; for while they continue alive to God, zealous for his glory, and faithfully, and powerfully preach the gospel ; he will confirm the word of his servants, and pure
and undefiled religion will still flourish among you, but if once ihe preachers decline, you will surely be the sufferers. Remember, one of the first instruments which the Lord employed in the present revival of his work, said long since,
How ready is the man to go,
Whom God hath never sent?
His chosen instrument !
In consideration of this, I would observe, that none are so likely to preach themselves and not Christ Jesus the Lord, as those who run before they are sent, who never experinced a decp work of grace upon their own minds ; nor have been so taught of God, and enriched with spiritual gifts, as to be properly qualified for this great work. There have been too many in all ages of the church, who evidently shewed, that they never were sent of God; but the Prophets and Apostles, as well as our Lord himself, have borne their testimony against them, therefore follow their example, and soffer none of this description to labour among you. Remember, brethren, the affecting words of St. Paul: "I know this, that after my departing grievous wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the fock, also of your own selves will men arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them.“ If there was such danger as this, in the apostolic age itself, what may we not justly fear in these degenerate days? Therefore carefully guard both the fold and the flock of Christ, that no such wolves may ever be found amongst you.
A minister may be said to preach himself, when he hath only his own interest in vier, when he neither seeks the glory of God, nor labours after the salvation of precious souls, but wishes to display his own abilities, that he may
gain the praise, or the honour which cometh from "man, and by this means may be at ease in Zion: Or having only his temporal interest at heart, though his abilities are but small, get by every means he can think of, he deavours to raise himself in the world.
A man may be said to preach himself, when having acguired, as he supposes, a sufficient stock of human learning, be thinks himself fully qualified for the work of the ministry, he enters upon it in his own wisdom, and being little acquainted with the Gospel of Christ, and still less with the nature of a work of grace, he preaches his own opinions, and not the truth as it is in Jesus; or, from the strength of his memory, he repears something which looks like the Gospel, but it clearly appears, that he has not the root of the matter in his own heart: He wants the grand qualification of a Minister of Christ, even the life of God in His own soul. * When it pleased God," saith the Apostle, “who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen, immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood." Such ought every preacher of the Gospel to ibe, and then he will preach Christ and him crucified, and leave self out of sight. Having Christ revealed in him, or as the Apostle prays, having Christ dwelling in his heart by faith, he will bring out of that good treasure, those important things, which it is absolutely necessary for the people to experience.
Secondly, When may a Minister be properly said to preach Christ Jesus the Lord.
This is a matter of vast importance, and therefore deserves our serious consideration. That this may be effectually done, it is not only absolutely necessary that a man should have sound scriptural experience of the power of divine grace in his own mind ; but he should have a thorough acquaintance with the lioly scriptures, , with the whole Gospel of Christ, and should be called of God to, and qualified by him for this great and important work, and where a person is not so qualified, little good can be expected.
1. To preach Christ implies, that the whole counsel of God be unfolded, that every part of the christian doctrine be clearly explained, and properly applied to the understandings and consciences of the people: So that while they hear, they may rightly understand, and by the blessing of God, may be properly affected with divine truth. He who would preach Christ, must take care to lay the good foun
dation, and begin with those truths, which according to the order of God, should be first known and experienced, and then lead his hearers forward to every other branch of the holy gospel, clearly shewing that there is a beautiful barmony betweeu the several parts of the word of God, and that they depend upon, and are naturally connected with each other. They are as so many links in a chain, or as so many stones in an arch, you cannot take one stone away but the arch will fall down. “I have not shunned, saith St. Paul, to declare unto you the whole counsel of God," and in particular, he bad preached, " Repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” And he who would approve himself to God, as a faithful minister, must go and do likewise.
2. To preach Christ implies, that he be clearly set forth, as an all-sufficient Saviour, as evidently crucified before the eyes of the people, considered as having finished transgression, made an end of sin, and brought in everlasting righteousness, for a ruined world : And having all power in bis band, in heaven and on earth he is every way qualified to save and to bless all those who look unto him for
present and eternal salvation. This must be done in such wise, that all may see the necessity of obeying that word of God. “ Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else." Or what is the very same thing, “ Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world.” He who would preach Christ, having experienced the virtue and efficacy of his precious blood in his own soul ; will always take care to send poor ruined guilty sinners to him, for pardon and peace, for redemption and salvation : And will say to all such, “ Arise, why tarriest thon; wash away thy sins, calling upon the name of the Lord.”.
3. As the word Christ, signifies the anointed of God; He mu't be considered as a Prophet, Priest and King to bis church, and must be preached in all these sacred offices. Christ the Propbet mighty in word and deed before God and all the people, must be preached. He was prophecied of in the Old Testament under this character. And under ohe New Testament dispensation he acted in that capacity. He not only foretold future events, but like the ancient prophets, taught and instructed the people; he published the glad tidings of salvation wheresoerer he came, and fully proyed bimself to be the wonderful counsellor foretold by bis faithful servant Isaiah. No sooner did he enter upon