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brought to listen to that word as it is read from the sacred desk, or made the subject of discourse from the pulpit. There is something wonderfully attractive, and there is something inconceivably affecting in the gathered congregation of the people, and in the authorized exposition of the word of God. I attempt not to account for this but on the supposition that God has seen fit to adapt his method to some principles in the natural constitution, or to train up some set of principles to the purpose he intends to accomplish by the adaptation. Be this as it may, it has pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. From the earliest ages of the world to the present day, has he seen fit to knock at the hearts of men by this most truly interesting method. Noah was a preacher of righteousness to the Antediluvian world. I need not tell you of the Prophets who were raised up by God to declare his will, and whose commission runs—“Thus saith the Lord.” Since the days of our Saviour he has used the Gospel ministry as the great moral method of his communication with the world. Now, then, says St. Paul, “are we ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you
in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.” And the Saviour himself declared to his Apostles—“He that heareth you, heareth me, and he that despiseth you, despiseth me.” It is the purpose of the Gospel ministry to enlarge upon the topics which are presented in the word of God, and from the heights of Zion to call sinners to repentance; to beseech them to hear the voice of Christ, and to lay down the arms of their rebellious warfare; to present to the view of sinners the amazing love of God in their re
demption; to denounce his judgments and to enlarge upon his promises; to tell them the methods of his mercy; to draw them by every argument which can possibly be devised; to speak of the dying agonies, and the bleeding love of the Saviour; in fine, to preach Christ Jesus the Lord, as the way, the truth, and the life. I know not where the Gospel ministry, as the medium through which Christ knocks at the heart, is more beautifully represented than in these few lines of the poet. He speaks of the Gospel minister. I hesitate not to use it, because he speaks of the office, not the man.
Here stands the messenger of truth, here stands
Think not, brethren, that I would wish unreasonably, and unnecessarily, and unceasingly, to magnify the office, though Christ does knock at your hearts through us, and though there cannot be a greater honour put upon man, than that he should be made the medium of such a communication. Yet, my brethren, instead of pride, there is nothing which attaches itself to the ministry, which is not calculated to humble us into the very dust: for he has put this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power might be of God, and not of us. “Who
then is Paul? Or who then is A pollos? but ministers by whom ye believed, even as God gave to every man ? I have planted, Apollos waters, but God alone giveth the increase; so then, neither is he that planteth any thing ; neither is he that watereth any thing; but God that giveth the increase.” “Seeing these things are so, brethren, what manner of persons ought ye to be ?" How long and how perseveringly hath Christ knocked at your hearts in this method of his mercy ? Every opportunity in which you have heard the Gospel, stands as a witness to the fact of his knocking. When the terrors of the law are spoken out from the pulpit, Christ is in that message; for “the law is the school-master to bring men to Christ, and Christ is the end of the law for righteousness for every one that believeth.” When the soothing accents of the Gospel of peace fall on your ear Christ is there. In every call to repentance, in every argument of faith, in every exhortation to obedience, Christ comes to your hearts and knocks. And whenever these calls are despised; whenever these arguments are unavailing; whenever those exhortations fall indeed on your ears, but pass away as the idle wind which you regard not; in fine, when the preacher of the Gospel is but to you as a lovely song of one who hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument; while you hear his words, and do them not, you turn the Lord Jesus Christ from your hearts with ignominy and contempt, and say to him,
, who hath purchased your pardon with his blood, and who desires admittance, go thy way.
God willing, brethren, I shall continue this subject in another discourse, when I shall enlarge on the knocking of Christ at your hearts, by his dis
pensations, and more immediately by his Spirit. I leave you now with but one practical remark, for I have carried on this whole discourse in one strain of practical elucidation.' Through the medium of his word, and by the ministry of the Gospel, Christ hath this day knocked at your hearts. Here, in this sacred house of God, and here on this hallowed day, I take you to record that he hath knocked, and if you had never heard a Gospel sermon, or if you should never again hear a Gospel minister, the exercises of this day are witnesses more lasting than marble: on the pages of the book of remembrance, the exercises of this day stand. And if
you profit not; if with usual carelessness and unconcern, you continue in sin and neglect of Christ; then, when earth is given to devouring flames, and you are waked by the trump of the archangel to stand at the judgment-seat of God, this hour, this eventful hour, will bear its testimony that Christ hath knocked by his word and by his ministers, and it will therefore testify either to your peace or to your condemnation. And may God so seal instruction on your hearts, that you may seize on the offered salvation, and inherit the rich promise of a seat near the throne of the eternal majesty of heaven.
SERMON XX VII.
LUKE WARMNESS IN RELIGION,
ILLUSTRATED IN THE
HISTORY OF THE CHURCH IN LAODICEA.
REVELATION iii. 14–22.
I have so much ground to occupy to-day, my brethren, that I have very little room for recapitulation. I have considered the language of the text as implying, that the heart is a door naturally shut against Christ, and that he knocks at this door. Among the particulars by which this second portion is illustrated, I have enlarged on the fact, that he knocks by his word and by his ministers. I come now to another department of the subject. Christ knocks at the hearts of sinners, through the medium of his dispensations.
These dispensations are two-fold. They are prosperous and adverse. Men are generally as much disposed to misjudge the meaning and character of prosperity, as they are of adversity. Yet no less by