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long has the trumpet of salvation sounded over thy hills, and echoed through thy dales! Shouldest thou be lost ! What then? Thy hell will be deeper and darker than that of heathen lands. Nations, above which thou art now 80 exalted, will press thee with their ponderous weight, and cover thee with their midnight gloom.
The text leads us to consider :
II. THE GOD-WARD ASPECT OF THE TRUE GOSPEL MINISTRY. In both cases, whether men are blessed or cursed by our preaching, if we are true to it, “we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ.” The idea is, that the true ministry is pleasing to God, whatever may be its results on humanity. As the odour, emitted by the flowers that were strewn on the road of the ancient heroes returning from their triumphant victories, was delightful to the conquerors as it floated on the balmy breeze, so are the true services of the gospel ministry to God, whatever be its aspects on humanity. If this be so, two inferences seem irresistible :-First: If the gospel ministry is in itself grateful to God, it must be in itself an institution for good, and for good exclusively. Never can I entertain the thought that an institution in itself calculated to deaden and destroy the souls of men could be grateful to the heart of infinite love. No! The gospel ministry while but the occasion of evil, is the cause of good. For the sake of clearness of conception and rightness of feeling on this subject, I must hold forth three facts :-(1) That while the true Gospel ministry saves by design, it destroys ir spite of its design. That it is designed to save, who can doubt? “God so loved the world,” &c. Men can, men do, pervert divine things. Did God give steel to be wrought into weapons for the destruction of human life? Did he give corn to be transmuted into a substance to drown the reason and to brutalize the man? No! But man, by his perverting power, turns God's blessings to an improper and pernicious use. So it is with the Gospel. He wrests it to his own destruction. (2) That the true gospel ministry saves by its inherent tendency ; et injures in spite of that tendency. Is there anything in the doctrines, precepts, provisions, promises, and warnings, of the gospel adapted to destroy souls? Was the ocean made to injure man, because it has terrified many a mariner and engulfed many a barque? Was the Sun created to injure man, because by leading to the discovery of the robber and the assassin, it has proved their ruin ? Was food created to injure health, because by intemperance and gluttony, it has brought on disease and death? (3) That the gospel ministry saves by divine agency ; it destroys in spite of that agency. “Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost."
The gospel ministry then must be regarded as an institution for good, and for good exclusively. Like the waters of the sea, the light of the firmament, the breeze of the atmosphere, it is the divine cause of good; but man, through the perversity of his nature, may make it the occasion of his ruin. In the salvation of man through the gospel I see the grace and power of God; in his ruin through the gospel I see the power and wickedness of man. The man who preaches the utter powerlessness of human nature commits a cardinal error. Why his history proves that he has power to make the gospel, designed by God, fitted by God, and worked by God, for salvation; the means of his destruction. In salvation we see God's power not man’s, ; in destruction we see man's power, not God's. Let not the infinite be blamed for any man's ruin.
“ THE light that led astray,
Was light from Heaven ;'
“It could not be; no light from Heaven
Has ever led astray ;
And never to betray.
May lure the foot afar,
Would say it was a star.
When passion drives to wild excess,
And folly wakes to shame,
To cast on heaven the blame.
And break from virtue's rule,
And doubly play the fool.
And led them on to sin,
From passion's fire within.
And reason raised her voice ;
But freely mad'st the choice.”—BURNS.
Secondly : If the gospel ministry is in itself grateful to God, it must be an institution from which a much larger amount of good than of evil will result. If greater evil resulted from it than good, I cannot believe that it would be grateful to INFINITE LOVE. Remember the following things. Remember that the rejection of the gospel does not make the hell of the rejector; it only modifies and aggravates it. As a sinner he would have found a hell, had the sound of the gospel never greeted his ears. Remember the restorative influence which the gospel ministry has already exerted upon the race. It has swept from the world innumerable evils ; it has planted institutions amongst us to mitigate human woe, abolish human oppression, heal human diseases, remove human ignorance, and correct human errors; and it has conducted millions to heaven. Remember that what it has done is but a very small instalment of the good it is destined to achieve. It is to bless a nation in a day. There are millennial ages awaiting it. I believe that in the long lapse of the coming centuries, it will be found that the evil which the gospel ministry has occasioned is no more to be compared with the good which it will cause, than the pain which the light of the sun gives to the few tender eyes, with the streams of blessedness it pours into every part of nature.
That the gospel ministry is the cause of immense good, the occasion of immense evil, and in both cases, grateful to the Infinite, are facts which our text has suggested, and which I trust our remarks have rendered impressively obvious. How overwhelmingly responsible then the office of a gospel minister ! The apostle felt it so, and immediately after the thoughts of the text had passed through his great mind, exclaims, “Who is sufficient for these things ?” What thoughtful minister of Christ does not share Paul's impression? When I think of the disproportion between the magnitude of the commission and the feebleness of the agent, the preciousness of the Heavenly treasure, and the fragility of the earthly vessel, I ask, “Who?" When I think of the transcendent grandeur of the Christian system, and feel, notwithstanding the professions of some to understand it as the "simple gospel,” it has depths I cannot fathom, and heights I cannot scale ; and that in all my endeavors to understand it, I seem to stand upon the shores of a boundless ocean, whose majestic billows overwhelm me with a sense of my mental feebleness, I ask “ Who?” When I think of the influence I must exert upon the destinies of deathless spirits every time I attempt to preach, that my words and - looks are all immortalized, written indelibly on the memories of my audience, and that my name as a minister must mingle with the groans, or blend with the songs, of eternity; I ask, Who :-“Who is sufficient for these things ?”
SUBJECT :--The Greatness of Little Things.
“Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth.”—James iii 3.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Fifty-ninth.
There is a strong tendency in the human mind to look with suspicion and even contempt upon that which is outwardly insignificant. Hence the ancient question, “Who hath despised the day of small things ?” Past history and present
experience, however, continue to prove the utter folly of such
Looking only at the secular aspect of the subject the whole record of great scientific discoveries and inventions suffices to show that the apparently trivial may in fact be of vast importance. The falling of an apple led to the discovery of the law of gravitation; the steam issuing from a kettle was the starting point of the invention of the steam engine; the rising of water in a common bath suggested to Archimedes the method of ascertaining the specific gravity of bodies. Let us, however, glance at the moral bearings of the theme. The greatness of little things may be seen from the following considerations :
GREAT SPIRITUAL CHANGES.
I. LITTLE THINGS ARE OFTEN THE MEANS
Think of the repentance of Peter when he had denied his master thrice :-“the Lord turned and looked on him." That seemed a "little thing," but little as it was a mere look-it produced a grand transformation. “Peter went out and wept bitterly.” When that distinguished traveller Mungo Park was journeying over an eastern desert he lost his way. Dismayed at his perilous position, his eye fell upon a tuft of moss. Little as it was it reminded him of the over-ruling providence of God, and encouraged by it, he pursued his way, and soon came within sight of human habitations. Shortly after the French Revolution, a young nobleman was imprisoned for a political offence. Observing in the yard of his gloomy abode a little flower, growing day by day, it led to thought, enquiry, and prayer, and he was transformed from a materialistic sceptic to a devout believer. And thus it is frequently now. A few words "spoken in season," a change of residence, a bodily affliction, a sudden bereavement, are often the instrument of men's conversion.
REVEAL HUMAN CHARACTER.
II. LITTLE THINGS
God tests man by what is outwardly insignificant. Examples of this crowd upon the recollection of the Biblical student.