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Father's house. His soul is made the habitation of God: "old things pass away, behold, all things are become new;" now the man loves holiness, whereas previously he hated it; loves and enjoys communion, whereas formerly he despised it. Indeed the man, the instant he receives the truth as it is in Jesus, by its power becomes a missionary. "Come," said the poor woman, “ and see a man who told me all things that ever I did." He feels such a virtue in the excellency of the Gospel, that like Melancthon, it appears so plain to him, that he wonders now every one does not see with him: and as Melancthon, when he went to his father, supposed his father would instantly yield to those bright, glorious displays which he was capable of making of the excellences of the knowledge of Jesus Christ his Lord. O blessed power, O excellent change, which is thus accomplished in this manner!
In concluding this subject, let me just advert to a class of persons who are doubtless within the house of prayer this morning, I mean those that have never received the Gospel. Sinners, has the Gospel been a treasure to you? Do you esteem it precious? If you do not, suffer me to tell you you must perish without it. It is such a treasure, that if a man has it not he dies miserable and poor, and destitute of all enjoyment from God. There was one man whom our Lord tells us was rich in this world, but he was not rich towards God; and the strongest expression of anger that ever issued from the Saviour's lips is perhaps against that individual; “ Thou fool, this night shalt thy soul be required of thee; then whose are those things which thou hast prepared?" This individual, whom all the world accounted wise, because he had been enabled, by attention to his concerns and to his business, to pull down his barns and to build greater, all the world approved of it; but our Lord says, "Thou fool." Though you may be in business, you may be increasing in wealth, you may be accumulating honours, and you may have the approbation of parents, and friends, and relations, and kindreds, and those who are accounted the wise men of this world; but, if you have no estimation for the Gospel, if you have never yet valued the Gospel of Christ and received it by faith, let me tell you you are still a poor, miserable, wretched being, and when you come to die, will not have a hope of another world, nor a blessing when you enter it.
May I not also say to those who have received the Gospel; see the spirit which you should entertain towards the ministers of Jesus Christ. He has greatly condescended to you in this method of mercy, dear hearers. He does not speak to you from Sinai, as he did once to Israel: there is no thunder pealing this morning; no lightning flaming about this house. You are not afraid to come near to God by reason of the burning fire or the violence of the tempest; no, but he speaks to you in a voice like your own. Nor does he speak to you by angels; you would be greatly terrified if he did. An angel came with a message to John, and he fell at his feet as one dead. Then sympathize with ministers in their sufferings and temptations. I assure you, dear brethren, that the way to profit under the ministry of the ministers of Christ, is not to quarrel about their sermons; not to complain of their false cadences; not to pick to pieces those portions of truth which they deliver to you in plainness and simplicity; but if those who hear me this day would make it a responsible duty ere they entered this and other houses of prayer to go and fall before God in private, and cry for divine influence to be put into the earther
vessels, they would oftener retire to their houses blessing God for what they had heard, and rejoicing in the glad sound of the voice of truth.
Let me also say, here is instruction to ministers as well as the people. Should there be any here this morning who are exercising the ministry, or preparing for it, let us learn, dear brethren, what we are. If we had ever a sense of this, we should preach better, we should melt over souls more, we should feel the value of the Gospel more ourselves, and be more in earnest to communicate it to others. When God was sending Jeremiah on an embassage of importance to the people, he bad him go down to the potter's house first, and at the potter's house he was to hear the word from God, and carry this message away to the people. Let us often go down to the potter's house; let us see what we are made of; let us see how God has honoured us. We are not to be earthly, though earthen vessels, but we are to be clean; purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel fit for the Master's use. Let us therefore labour, lest a clod of clay or an accident take us away. We are but the earthen vessels; we have but a very short time to work: may God grant that the spirit of a Whitfield, and the spirit of others who laboured for his cause, may so possess our breast, that finding ourselves but earthen vessels we may communicate the precious treasure as long as God shall spare us!
if a man
I rejoice, my brethren, that one great desire of the Countess of Huntingdon when she took this chapel was, that the Gospel of Christ might be preached in the world. Her earnest desire was, that from the state of the world when this chapel was built, sinners might be converted through the dissemination of this treasure, by means of the ministers of Jesus Christ. Perhaps I cannot do better to impress on your minds the real state of the world at this period, than to read an extract from the life of Howell Harriss, Esq., an eminent minister of Christ in Wales. "There being at that time a general slumber over the land; generally people spent the Lord's day contrary to the laws of God and man, it being by none rightly observed; neither had any whom I knew a true knowledge of that God whom they pretended to worship: no sooner was the worship over than the conduct of the people discovered, that the heart was entirely alienated from all that was good: the remaining part of the day was spent in indulging in the prevailing corruptions of nature, all worship being laid aside, except among some of the Dissenters, while an universal deluge of swearing, lying, revenge, drunkenness, fighting, and gaming, had overspread the country like a mighty torrent, without any notice taken of it, or a stop, as far as I have seen, having being attempted to be put to it." It was in this state of things that the Countess of Huntingdon opened her house in Park Street, the drawing-room for the nobility, and the kitchen for the poorer class of hearers; and there Romaine and others used to testify the Gospel of the grace of God to as many as the room would hold. She was earnestly desirous of training individuals for Christ's service. When she obtained this chapel, she hoped that as a peeress of the realm she was entitled to have individuals who were educated in the establishment as her chaplains, and might use these places of worship, as places connected with the establishment: that, however, was not allowed. When she found this to be the case, her heart, burning with holy desire to spread this treasure among the sons of men, she was not to be baffled, and therefore established a college at Trevecca, for the training up and fitting of young men for the great work of the ministry; and every where, and
especially in places where sickness reigned, watering places, where fashionable vices often abounded, she attempted to plant houses of prayer, and placed ministers of Christ within them, and gathered souls to Jesus Christ.
And if my young friends, who may be looking back to the history of this time, just observe the season when this chapel was first given up in 1779 to the Countess, they will find that at that time very few places of worship in which the Gospel was preached were any where to be found around this neighbourhood. A dear and valuable friend, one of my own congregation, when this place was a tea house, and had been shut up because the figure of fame on the top, which had a trumpet, did not blow loud enough to procure votaries to fill the place, and fill the proprietor's pockets, when this place was shut up he passed by, in a state he tells me of which he was afterwards ashamed to mention or have known; and seeing a board on the outside, "This place to let," it struck him he might make a favourable speculation, and he instantly went to the proprietor and took the place. He had it on his hands twelve months before he knew what to do with it; and then two clergymen of the establishment applied to him to convert it into a place of worship. From that time the Gospel has been preached here with remarkable success. Perhaps in all the churches in the neighbourhood around, if the history of the conversion of individuals could be discovered, it would be found that many a bird has been fledged here, and as soon as it was fledged has gone and settled down in other chapels round the neighbourhood. Many of the ministers of the Gospel beneath that gallery have been educated for the ministry. There Mr. Cooper of Dublin, there Mr. Douglas of Reading, and there numbers of individuals first opened their lips to preach the Gospel of Christ at the prayer meetings. And while I think of these things, my heart gladdens within me. Then people were not quite as fastidious as they are now. At six in the morning you would see places of worship like these, during Mr. Whitfield's time, crowded with hearers coming to worship the Lamb. Here, too, many of the ministers of the establishment have found an asylum when shut out of other places. Here they have come to preach the Gospel; here Mr. Wills, Mr. Glasscock, the Hon. Mr. Shirley, and many other individuals, proclaimed the Gospel of Christ when other doors were shut against them.
I consider that this place of worship has been most eminently blessed of God, by the introduction of his truth into the Metropolis with almighty power and divine favour. I therefore have this morning to ask you to contribute of your ability to the expenses of this place, incurred by the cleansing and painting. I trust that you will aid your gifts as you pass by with your prayers, that still the light of truth may shine, that still the power of the Gospel may be felt here, and that multitudes may be drawn after the word of life of such as shalt be saved. God grant this for Christ's sake.
THE UNION OF DIVINE AND HUMAN AGENCY IN THE KINGDOM OF
REV. S. BRAWN,
DEVONSHIRE SQUARE CHAPEL, JUNE 23, 1836 *.
"For we are labourers together with God."-1 CORINTHIANS, iii. 9.
Ir is necessary that we should briefly notice the painful circumstances which led the apostle to explain so minutely as he does in the connexion of the text, the nature of the work in which he and his fellow-labourers were engaged, and the relation in which they stood to each other and to God. It appears, that many in the church at Corinth were divided in the estimate which they formed of the ministers who had laboured successfully amongst them; and in contending with each other, the respective parties exclaimed, "I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ." Whether their predilections were founded on the peculiar excellences of the different preachers, or on less honourable grounds, it is evident that the partisans had imbibed an unchristian spirit, and were sacrificing the peace of the church, if not the fundamental doctrines of the Gospel, at the shrine of a worldly and carnal wisdom. "For whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?"
The apostle of the Gentiles, therefore, judged it necessary to remind them, that ministers, whatever may be the talents and gifts with which they are intrusted, are the servants of Christ, and under the most solemn obligations to labour for his glory and the profit of his church. "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believe, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one; and every man shall receive his own reward, according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building."
Although our text may be translated, "For we are labourers together of God," still the connexion shews, that the apostle considered himself and his fellowlabourers as having the presence and co-operation of God. They planted and watered; God gave the increase. They "went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following."
Let no one imagine, that when we speak of being "fellow-labourers together with God," we assume the same rank of agency with him, or any independence of him. Our talents, our means, and our usefulness, are all from On behalf of the Baptist College, at Stepney.
him. As Paul has said in another place, "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think (to reckon or calculate on) any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God." Still, it is equally evident, that while we are labouring together in the Gospel-field, God is with us, working all things after the counsel of his own will."
First, then, let us consider WHAT THE WORK INCLUDES, in which God and his people are labourers together.
It is not in every work of God that we are labourers together with him. In executing many of his works, it may be truly said, "Of the people there were none with him." Neither do we suppose that the hand of God is with us in every thing we do. Our errors and depravity give rise to many actions which it would be the height of impiety to suppose that the Holy One of Israel
But your attention will be directed to a course of operations which God has appointed for the execution of his purposes of mercy towards the children of men. This will include,
First, the spread of the Gospel through the world.
There are many passages in the Holy Scriptures, which prove that it is the design of God to extend the Gospel to every nation. I need not bring forward many to establish this, yet one may be necessary to shew the connexion between this fact and the point before us: "And the Lord said unto them, Go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." It is evident from this passage, that the Gospel is to be made known amongst all the nations, and that by the union of divine and human agency. The Lord, in extending the glad tidings of salvation through the world, could have employed angels, or he could have revealed the truth by his Spirit to as many as were ordained to eternal life; but, in the exercise of sovereignty, he has committed to his servants on earth, the work of proclaiming to their fellow-men the doctrines of the cross. "When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men-and he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors ana teachers."
The apostles have no successors in their office. The divine origin of the Gospel being fully attested by the miracles which these inspired men wrought in the name of their ascended Lord, it was not necessary that such an order of agents should be employed in its further promulgation through the world, and, for the same reason, miraculous gifts were no longer necessary. Men of ordinary talents, and endued with the ordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit, are competent to spread the Gospel amongst all nations. Hence we find, that immediately after the days of the apostles, the pastors (who are also called elders, presbyters, and bishops) were on an equality in the church. They were, however, assisted in their work by evangelists and teachers, the whole church also co-operating as circumstances required with the pastors and their assistants for the "furtherance of the Gospel." In consequence of their united and strenuous labours, the Gospel, in a short period, spread over Asia Minor, through the northern parts of Africa, and the greater portion of Europe. And let it be remembered, that these men were not the servants of Cæsar, nor