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THE GOSPEL NO CAUSE OF SHAME.
ROMANS I. 16.
I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it
is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.
Zeal for the glory of his Divine Master was the most prominent feature in the character of the apostle Paul. Hurried away by the blind impulses of ignorant superstition and inveterate malice, he had forinerly persecuted with unrelenting fury all who named the name of Jesus. The account which he gives of himself exhibits the most hideous picture of frantic impiety. I verily thought with myself that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
Which thing 1 also did in Jerusalem; and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death I gave my voice against them. And 1 punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme ; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. (Acts xxvi. 9, 11.)
Under these circumstances, who would have thought, according to human judgment, that the conversion of Paul was a probable, not to say a possible, event? Assuredly, had he been governed by worldly motives, we never should have heard of him as a Christian, far less would his name have shone with such splendor on the list of apostles. But what obstacles can arrest the power of Christ, or prevent him from bringing to himself in the moment of love the chosen vessels of mercy. No sooner does divine grace take possession of the soul than the heart of stone melts—the fury of persecution subsides—the murdering sword is cast away—the first breath of penitence cries, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?–Saul the persecutor becomes Paul the apostle. With an ardor proportioned to his former enmity," he now preaches the faith which once he destroyed”—he plants the standard of the Messiah in that very city which witnessed his rebellion, and was the scene of his cruelty-he glories in the cross of Christ-he sees clearly all the dangers which attend such a profession, and all the calumny and odium which are heaped upon those who make it. But unappalled by danger, unmoved by calumny, he throws to his adversaries the gauntlet of defiance. “Why," says he, “ should I blush for my Redeemer ? Let them blush who never saw his glory nor felt his love. But I, who know both, am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ ; and I have the best reason not to be ashamed of it, for, let men reproach it as they please, it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth."
In this noble testimony which Paul gives to the gospel, he speaks with the warmth and eagerness of a man who felt its importance and certainty. Enlarged views of the gracious scheme it unfolds impressed him with the deep conviction that it alone can bear the weight of an immortal soul. Enraptured with the heavenly prospects it opens, not only in this world but beyond the grave, his heart glowed with fervent gratitude to their adorable Author; and unable to repress his devout affection, he cries out, I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. This was not more the heroism of an inspired apostle than it is the temper of all believers. They have in their own bosoms the same divine principle which animated the faith and hope and magnanimity of Paul. 'Tis true, in