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simplicity, the old with gravity and respect, the ignorant with patience, the knowing with intelligence, the careless with concern.
If the minister of the gospel in these days be not subjected to the hardships and perils, the oppositions and persecutions, to which Christ himself and bis apostles were subjected, he has to struggle with the same spiritual adversaries, the same heart-seated enmity to God, the same principles of selfrighteousness, the same disaffection to the righteousness which is by faith, the same tendencies to worldliness, the same lusts and passions. If he exercise his wisdom, if he warn with less earnestness and teach with less assiduity than Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, it is not because he has less occasion, but because he has inferior capacities, gifts, love, zeal. And, brethren, let your prayers
minister be, if you
value your own safety and your own edification, that he may be enabled to reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and patience: For I proceed to remark in the last place.
IV. That the great end or intention of this ministry is to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. And this fact is fraught with many important considerations both to the teacher and the taught.
To the teacher it says, If in entering upon this work of the ministry you are seeking your own ease, your own honour, your own wealth, you are incurring the most awful risks, you are preparing for yourself the most terrible punishment. To the people it says, If you sit under the ministry of the gospel to comply with custom; to screen yourself from reproach ; to please man ; to ease the conscience under a conscious neglect of duty; to obtain through your strictness in outward observances a passport to heaven; to cavil at what is taught, and to find fault with the teacher-and not to obtain warning, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness, that you may be thoroughly furnished unto every good word and work-you are desecrating holy things, you are abusing precious gifts, you are neglecting invaluable privileges, you are heaping up for yourselves wrath against the day of wrath.
This consideration should also take the acidity out of rebuke, the sting out of cunning, the thorn out of discipline, the offence out of instruction. Self-interest should lead you to lay aside all malice, and envy, and evil speaking, with all wrath; and, as new-born babes, to desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby.
Doubtless, teachableness in the people is as necessary to this end, as faithfulness in the teacher, and all his efforts after the improvement and perfecting of his flock may be rendered abortive by their pride and sin. But such a mighty object would require their most strenuous co-operation, with the most humble dependence upon divine assistance.
We may not enter into the extravagances of the theorists who talk of man's perfectability upon earth, and yet we may have very elevated conceptions of what, under grace, the saint may become even in this world, without exceeding the measure of Scripture.
Profane history presents us with many fair examples of particular virtues which have sprung up, like flowers in a wilderness, amidst the thorns and briars of the natural mind. False systems of religion have often generated much zeal, much devotion, extraordinary self-denial. Mahommedanism, borrowing from Christianity and Judaism many of their doctrines, has also, in consequence of this theft, made current, although in an adulterated state, many of their graces. The Jewish Scribes and Pharisees were commendably attentive at least to all the external duties of religion. But Christ himself says, that except the righteousness of those who enjoy his gospel exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, they shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven; and as if it were a self-evident proposition, that they who possess privileges so superior should exhibit superior attainments, he adds, by way of reproaching those professors who rested complacently in the discharge of the duties of common morality, “ What do ye more than others ? Perfection in Christ Jesus is evidently a much higher kind of perfection, and attainable in a much greater degree, than perfection in systems of idolatry and superstition, perfection in the schools of human wisdom, or even perfection under the law of Moses.
Our revelation is more complete; and our knowledge of divine things ought to be more accurate and extensive. Our examples and patterns are more numerous and more worthy of imitation; and our copy, should be fairer, our excellences more universal. Our motives are bolier, more impressive, and tender; and our obedience should be more sincere, more steady and cheerful. What exhortations and commandments, what promises and threatenings, what expostulations and prayers urge us to duty! What grace, what shade of excellence is not placed in its most attractive light in Scripture biography? What vice, what fault, is not exhibited in its blackest deformity ? Perfection in Christ, however, is best set forth in Christ's own perfectness. He grew up in wisdom, and knowledge, and favour with God and man. He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. He was unimpeachable by heaven, earth, and hell. What purity and self-denial, what integrity and affection, what propriety and decision, what mildness and forbearance, what gentleness and pity, what activity and benevolence, what condescension and love, what humility of spirit, what elevation of sentiment, what grandeur of purpose, what sublimity of devotion !
Oh! Christ was perfect, the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely! And he is the high standard of Christian measurement. He set us an example that we should walk in his steps. The same mind that was in Christ Jesus is to be also in us. To accomplish this in you is the end of my labours, as it is the end of his mission, and life, and sufferings, and death, and reign. He gave himself for us, that he might purify us unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. I give myself to you that I may present every one of you perfect in Christ Jesus. The day of presentation will arrive when, I trust, I shall be permitted to come before
many yet, unborn, as my joy and crown of rejoicing; and after all
Sabbaths are spent and my sermons preached-after I have finished my course with joy, and the ministry I have received of the Lord Jesus—after we shall all, old and young, have been gathered to our fathers, I pray fervently, we may meet before the throne of God and of the Lamb, where without a figure we shall be like Jesus, because we shall see him as he is.
THE NATURE AND VALUE OF THE SOUL.
By tue Rev. JAMES RUSSELL, OLD KILFATRICK.
MATTHEW xvi. 26.
“ For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose
his own soul ?”
It is no difficult matter to ascertain the import of the interrogation in the text. It intimates, that a man who should gain the whole world and lose his own soul, would sustain an unspeakable disadvantage. Were we even to suppose, that these terms were used in the most literal sense of which they are susceptible, and with as little reference to futurity as a materialist himself would desire, still the assertion would hold true, that a man sustains an immense disadvantage who gains the whole world and loses his soul-who parts with his moral and intellectual nature, and is reduced to the condition of the beasts that perish. Suppose, that in the exercise of an ambition wbich was boundless as that of the Macedonian Alexander, and with a success which far surpassed the achievements of that monarch, he had succeeded in reducing the whole world to his sway; or suppose, that by means of a series of unparalleled virtues, he had succeeded in establishing himself so firmly in the affections of the earth's inhabitants, that they exalted him to the monarchy of all its kingdoms,- of what avail would be all this honour and all this