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and doing good,—who himself descended from the glory of the Eternal Father, that he might bring salvation to a fallen and sinful world,
and who, on his return to the glory from which he came, went to prepare rewards for all those
good and faithful servants” who should follow the steps of his divine beneficence.
In the second view, St Paul comes to us in the character of an APOSTLE, as one called by that Great Saviour himself to be the messenger of his salvation to man,—whose high office it was to preach the Gospel of peace to a guilty race, and to win “ the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just.” For these great ends, in the concluding words of the text, he still farther represents himself as “ Separated unto the Gospel of God,” -- as one whose course through the world was to be distinct from the common pursuits of men,-whose objects were to be higher, and whose motives were to be purer,--and who, feeling the greatness of the office entrusted to him, was, amid all the distractions of human life, to keep his eye steadily fixed upon it alone, " in all things approving himself as the minister of God.”
There is no Christian who may not derive instruction and animation from meditating upon this representation which the Apostle gives of himself; but it, in a more peculiar manner, applies to those who are “separated unto the Gospel of God." We are this day to witness an instance of this separation ; and I know not that I can better fulfil the duty which has been committed to me, than by examining the obligations which fall upon the minister of Christ, from that “ separation unto his Gospel ;" and the dangers of which it becomes him to be aware as he passes through the pollution of the world. Upon these subjects, and in this audience, I am, indeed, deeply sensible, that it would much better become me to receive than to offer instruction. Yet “ if any man speak,” says St Peter, “ let him speak as the oracles of God;" and I pray to the Spirit of wisdom and illumination, that such views and truths may be suggested to me, as may abound both to my own edification, and to that of my brethren who
I. That we may more distinctly perceive the nature of those duties which follow from a
separation unto the Gospel,” let me, in the
first place, shortly remind you of the character of that office which the Apostle designates by these words. In its simplest view, it is the office of one who is appointed to be a moral and religious Instructor of mankind,—who, among the wandering and disorderly propensities of human nature, is ever to point to those unvarying laws which alone are right; and while all the common occupations of life end merely in temporal good, is to direct the eye of man to that path of righteousness which will finally conduct him into some higher and nobler condition of existence. If these instructions had been derived solely from the light of nature,if the great Teacher who promulgated them among men, had been himself only a man, and had spoken merely from human authority,yet, the office of conveying these instructions through every age, and into every condition of society, would still be one of the most honourable and interesting which it is possible for man to perform: And the preachers of the Gospel of Christ would still be called by many more affecting circumstances, to be true to the cause of their Master, than the followers of any other name, however great and illustrious,
But this, you are well 'aware, is a very inperfect statement of the fact." The ministers of the Gospel of Christ are the ministers of a RËSI VEALED RELIGION;-the laws which it is theirs office to teach, are laws which were promulgated" from Heaven ;-- the Master whom they serve is no other than the Son of God ;-the light of Immortality, to which they direct the eye of faith, beamed from his Divine form, when he burst the bars of the grave, and ascended into the bosom of his Father. It is not 'solely to the doubtful glimmerings of human reason that they refer, or the wisdom and example of a mere mortal sage which they preach ; they refer at once to the unerring declarations of the Most High God, made to man by his Son; and they show, in the spotless life of that blessed Teacher, while he deigned to dwell among men, an example of every virtue that could adorn the soul of man, unmingled with the slightest trace of infirmity or imperfection.
There are still more affecting circumstances which it is their duty to unfold. It is their duty to awaken men to a sense of their sins, and to point to that remedy which the mercy of God has revealed. They are appointed to
keep men in remembrance, that it is only through the tears of penitence that human eyes can venture to look up to the eternal Throne ; and they must farther show, that even those tears could not hope to prevail, had they not been mingled in the sight of the purity of God with the purifying blood of his Son! . These are the great truths which it is the office of the ministers of Christ to press upon the hearts of men, and by their exhortations and entreaties, to awaken those correspondent principles of faith and of duty, which may carry forward the Christian in the road of salvation. To encourage their exertions, they are taught to hope that a higher Spirit than that of mortal wisdom will accompany their words; that the Spirit of God will influence the souls of those who listen to their instructions, and will go before them to
prepare the way of the Lord, and to make his paths straight.”
Nor is it only by admonition and instruction that the ministers of Christ are the instruments employed for conveying the grace of God to the human soul. There is still a more peculiar and interesting manner, in which, for this purpose, they are “ separated unto his Gospel.”