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education, which, though necessarily slow at first, must if persisted in be sure-which, though not fitted to produce immediately a multitude of converts, is gradually undermining existing superstitions, and preparing the way for their ultimate overthrow.
Indeed all the advances in science and knowledge which have been made since the days of the Apostles, are, directly or indirectly, so many advantages in the hands of present Christians for promoting the gospel of their Redeemer. These advances, it will not be questioned, have been very great. But it is a well grounded maxim, that "knowledge is power;" and it is not more powerful probably in its influence upon any work, than upon that of promoting the gospel. Every step taken in the field of real science is so much gained to the cause of light and truth, and is fitted in some way, either more or less remotely, to subserve the interests of true religion in the world. The comparison we have here made between the several advantages of the primitive Christians, and those possessed by Christians now, in relation to the work of spreading the gospel, must I think satisfy every impartial mind, that their unparallelled success is not to be accounted for on the ground of their superior advantages: For if in some respects they had an advantage over us; in many others, and those too I venture to say of greater importance, we have a decided advantage over them.
Perhaps it will be urged, in accounting for their successes, that the Spirit in a remarkable degree attended their labors. Wherever they went, the Holy Spirit followed them, and rendered their efforts. powerful and effectual. This, doubtless, was the fact; but the question still remains, Why did the Holy Spirit follow them? Why did he bless their exertions more signally than ours? God, to be sure, is a sove
reign in the distribution of spiritual favors; yet he is not an arbitrary sovereign-and he never acts but in view of reasons. What reason then can be given, why the Holy Spirit should have accompa nied and blessed the labors of the primitive Christians, more than the labors of Christians since, except that they were more prayerful, more devoted, and more eminently holy?
I am sensible, my brethren, that this mode of accounting for it must be a humbling one to us; still, I have reason to believe it is the only mode, It is evident, I think, on the very surface of the New Testament, that the primitive saints were more devoted to their work, more dead to the world, and more fervent and abundant in prayer-yes, altogether more, than christians are now, or than they have been probably at any other period. They were, as an apostle expresses it, crucified to the world, and the world to them. Its riches, its honors, its fascinating pleasures-all were "counted as dross and dung, that they might win Christ” themselves, and might extend the blessings of his gospel to others. By unceasing labors and willing sacrifices, accompanied by fervent and persevering prayers; they secured to themselves the constant smiles of heaven, and the constant influences of the Holy Spirit. They were continually in motion"warning every man, and teaching every man ;" and wherever they went they carried a revival with them. Thus their doctrines and their religion spread, and converts were multiplied. "Their sound went forth into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world."
And here we may see, my brethren, to what the christian world must come before a renewal of the triumphs and the success of primitive times can be
reasonably expected. There must be a renewal of the spirit of those times. Christians are not yet half awake on the subject, of spreading and promoting their religion. The world will never be evangelized in this way. Indeed those parts which are evangelized will scarcely be retained. The spirit of the primitive ages must return. The mantle of the Àpostles must descend. The labors, prayers, and sacrifices of the early christians must be renewed. Doubtless the frequent persecutions which those precious christians were called to endure, served to brighten their graces, and to excite their zeal; and if the slumbering church of the present age will not awake by any other means, God is able to kindle the fires of persecution again. He is able to chastise, and chastise, and chastise his people, till they will learn and follow the path of their duty.
THE WORK OF PROMOTING THE GOSPEL A PRIVILEGE TO THE CHURCH.
Eph. iii. 8.
"Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ."
THE Apostle Paul had been designated by his heavenly Father to the arduous and then dangerous service of "preaching among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ." So far was he however from repining at his lot, that he seems to have been deeply and habitually impressed, with the greatness of the favor which had been in mercy granted him. "Unto me-who am less than the least of all saints
is this GRACE given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” But if Paul had reason for joy and gratitude, that God was pleased to employ him in promoting and extending his holy kingdom; then all Christians, and all men, have reason for gratitude, that God has something for them to do in the same important work.
In pursuing the thought thus suggested by the text, I shall endeavour to show,
I. That in extending his holy kingdom, God is pleased to employ the instrumentality of men. And,
II. That this feature of his administration should be to them matter of devout thankfulness.
In promoting his cause and kingdom on earth, God works by his own agency. Whoever may plant, and whoever may water, he "giveth the increase." Accordingly the Apostle declares to the newly established Churches among the heathen, "Ye are God's husbandry; ye are God's building."-He has seen fit however, in carrying forward this work, to admit the co-operation of his creatures. He has seen fit to employ the instrumentality of angels. These, he has informed us, are his "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation." He has also been pleased to employ the agency of men. It was through the instrumentality of men, that the true religion was sustained and promoted under the former dispensation. Patriarchs, priests, and prophets were raised up, to inculcate its truths, and impress its duties, on those around them. It was by the instrumentality of men, that religion was so powerfully revived and so widely diffused, in the early days of the Christian Church. The Apostles and their fellow laborers "went forth every where, preaching the word." It is by the instrumentality of men, that the same religion is supported and propagated now. Laborers of our own species are raised up and sent forth into the great spiritual harvest, to feed the Church of the living God, and extend the borders of their Redeemer's Kingdom. And it is by the same kind of instrumentality, that the religion of the gospel will ultimately spread throughout the earth. Spiritual laborers will continue to go forth, in greater and still greater abundance, carrying with them "the sword of the spirit which is the word of God," and enlarging the empire of the Prince of peace, till the last abode of sin and darkness shall be irradiated with the light of