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holiness, ye seek indeed the knowledge of the word of God; if with the humble feeling of gratitude to your heavenly Father, ye give up your hearts to his service, and pay the earnest and first-fruits of your devotion to him, in dutifulaffection to those, who are to you the representatives of his care, the commissioned ministers of his love.
THE PRACTICAL TENDENCY OF THE GOSPEL.
Titus iii. 8.
This is a faithful saying, and these things I will
that thou affirm constantly, that they who have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.
It cannot be denied, that the great end which the apostles of the Lord proposed to themselves in the promulgation of the gospel, was the moral reformation of the world ; the change of the principles, habits, and characters of mankind. It is impossible to survey the method which they adopted in the execution of their commission, without observing how completely they abstain from any thing approaching to a system of mere proselytism ; a system of gaining over followers of their opinions, or adherents to their party, without reference to higher objects. What, indeed, was there in the truths which they declared, that could possibly lead to their reception as mere matters of opinion? What was there in the power, or the prevalence of their party, that could induce those to join them, to whom the truth of their statements was a matter of indifference. If a system of doctrines contradictory to many of the acknowledged principles of theology, opposed in the main to the prevalent views of men, and the well-known feelings of the human heart, were calculated to attract the formal proselyte or the careless professor, then might Christianity have accorded with the principles of the Pharisees, and apostolic exertion might but have resembled that zeal which compassed sea and land to make one disciple. If peril, persecution, and the sword ; if obloquy and contempt; if poverty and pain; if strict sanctity and unsparing self-denial; if these be the natural objects of human approbation, and the acknowledged principles of human policy, then might the spread of Christ's religion have caused no surprise in the breasts of his enemies, when they said, in disappointment and anger, “ The world is gone after him.”
As the apostles, in thus preaching the gospel under every disadvantage, must have been influenced by higher motives than the mere desire of notoriety, or the wish for the pre-eminence of a party; so also their followers must have been actuated by feelings of a loftier character than mere outward proselytes. No one, under the preaching of the apostles, could have entered the Christian church, without a direct warning against all insincerity and hypocrisy ; without a solemn exposition of the duties and obligations which the adoption of the gospel involved. “ We seek not yours, but you." “ We warn every man, and teach every man, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”
“ Ye were some time darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord : walk as children of light.”
It might be expected, that those epistles of St. Paul, which are addressed to his fellowlabourers in the cause of Christ, would contain ample directions for their preaching, would supply sufficient instruction to enable them to edify the Christian churches, over which they were the appointed pastors. Accordingly, we are furnished with this requisite information in the epistles to Timothy and Titus. The latter epistle contains, indeed, a perfect model of the Christian preacher. For although, by the general establishment of Christianity, we are placed in far different circumstances from those under which the apostles first preached the gospel ; yet the same doctrines and the same precepts which they enforced, must still be the subjects of our preaching, if we hope to be instrumental in building up the church of God, and in making
every individual Christian a holy temple to the Lord. It is the duty, therefore, of every Christian minister diligently to study these valuable documents; and it is no less the duty of all, for whose souls we are appointed to watch, to attend to the same important records of the doctrines of the early church. While these epistles are a guide to our ministerial labours, they may confirm in you, the bearers of the word, that authority by which we speak : they are the testimony to which we are bound to appeal for the truth and accuracy of our statements.
of our statements. And if even an inspired apostle commended the Christians of Berca, for their diligent investigation of the doctrines which he delivered to them, “in that they searched the Scriptures daily to see whether those things were so," it is surely incumbent on you all to examine carefully the things which we daily declare unto you: and this examination of the Scriptures is, moreover, a privilege whichi our purely apostolical Church grants to all her members, in conformity with apostolical usage, and in direct opposition to that practice of the Church of Rome, which withholds froin her people the word of God, the bread of life, the fountain of salvation.
There appears to be a singular force and beauty in the language of the text, when taken in connexion with the preceding verses, and considered with reference to the character and office