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best, your eternal interests-to seek the salvation of your souls. We cannot indeed allow our people to tell us what we are to preach, or in what manner we are to discharge our ministry. For these matters we have another Master to whom we are answerable. He has given the rules by which we are to proceed; he has told us what doctrines we are to preach and "if any man, yea, even an angel from heaven, should dare to preach any other Gospel," he would be accursed. We must speak God's word, whether men will hear, or whether they will forbear. Here we can admit of No dictation from others-we must, as we shall answer for it at the great day, preach what we believe to be the word of God, and not alter it even to please those, whose favour and esteem we might naturally be most anxious to secure. With this one exception however, our duty is "to preach ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake."
It was the pious intention of the Founders of our Church, that there should be constantly residing in every parish one individual at least who should have no other business than to do good of every kind to every person. His property might indeed be small, his income scanty, and he might have to witness much distress, which it would not be in his power to relieve-but, by kind condolence, by friendly advice, by visiting the fatherless and the widow in their affliction, by keeping himself unspotted from the world, by
endeavouring to check ungodliness and evil, by trying to lead the young into the paths of religion and truth, by pointing the sick and dying to Him who alone is able to save; a man of scanty income and no great talents might, under the divine blessing produce much benefit to the people of his charge.
I am aware that in speaking thus I may be raising expectations respecting myself, and my conduct, when I become resident among you, which it may never be in my power to realize. But as I before said-I wish to preach to myselfI wish to pledge myself to you, not to preach myself but Christ Jesus the Lord, and myself your servant for Jesus' sake. And there is one thing more that I wish to do; I wish to direct and call forth the fervent prayers of every inhabitant of this place and neighbourhood on my behalf, that I may be enabled, by divine grace, to act up to my professions-to follow St. Paul as he followed Christ-to" make full proof of my ministry"that so I may come unto you in the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of peace," and be the happy instrument of "turning many unto righteousness," of bringing many sinners to Christ, many wanderers back to the fold of God.
ROMANS xii. 1.
I BESEECH YOU, THEREFORE, BRETHREN, BY THE MERCIES OF GOD, THAT YE PRESENT YOUR BODIES A LIVING SACRIFICE, HOLY, ACCEPTABLE UNTO GOD, WHICH IS YOUR REASONABLE SERVICE.
How strangely erroneous are the opinions which men take up of the genuine doctrines of the Gospel, and of the effects they have a tendency to produce; true indeed, there are some, who have strangely separated between the doctrine and its fruits, who have supposed that the free salvation of the Gospel could have nothing to do with the holy lives and practice of its professors; and from a dread of diminishing the glory of God as displayed in the gratuitous justification and salvation of a sinner through Christ-have treated with much disregard, that renewal unto holiness which is the never-failing attendant on justifying faith. We would hope however, that few have carried these notions into practice, and have lived in sin almost on principle; as though, because the infinite mercy of God sometimes has caused
grace more to abound where sin had previously abounded, we were to be allowed to sin on, that an opportunity might be afforded for the more surprising exhibition of divine mercy. On the other hand, many, having seen and heard something of this vile perversion of the doctrines of the Gospel, have entertained a jealousy of them; forgetting that the most useful and valuable things are always most dangerous when abused, and yet are not on that ground to be rejected; they would conceal those principles on which all our hopes of heaven must depend, because men of perverted minds have made a bad use of them. No wise. man ever refused to take medicine when he was sick, because his neighbour had, through mistake, poisoned himself by using a wrong drug; no man ever refused to admit the use of fire in his habitation, because his neighbour's house had been consumed; the injury thus sustained by others, is a fair reason for our employing caution, but not for rejecting the use either of medicine or fire.
As we see how easily in these and other instances, the use may be maintained, and the abuse avoided, so is the case in respect of the doctrines of our holy religion. We need but go to the same divine source whence we derive them, and we shall there learn what their genuine application is. None ever stated more strongly the doctrine of free and gratuitous salvation, and all the other doctrines connected with this, than St. Paul; but
none was ever more practical, more strictly practical, in enforcing every duty than he; and he enforces them, not as something detached and separate from his statements of doctrinal truths, but as the result of these truths; as the effects which naturally and certainly flow from their being really embraced from the heart.
The subject before us will illustrate this remark. In speaking upon the text, I shall simply follow the order in which it lies, and consider―
I. THE ARGUMENT USED BY ST. PAUL.
I. We will look at the ARGUMENT USED BY ST. PAUL, or the motive to which he appeals, as one which would affect the heart of every Christian. "I beseech you, brethren, BY THE MERCIES OF GOD."
There is something well calculated to keep us humble, in the perpetual reference made in the Scriptures to mercy. We read of nothing granted us on the ground of merit; of nothing that comes from the hand of God as the reward of our good deeds, or obtained by us as matter of desert; but the MERCY of God meets us at every point: the food we eat, the air we breathe, the garments we wear, the domestic comforts we enjoy, our civil advantages, and our religious privileges, are all represented as matters of mercy, undeserved mercy. This I say is humbling, yet it is just; mercy