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sin by the Spirit of God, and humbled on account of it in the Divine presence, the salvation of Christ will not be valued or even really desired by us. May we thus be taught to know ourselves, and become little in our own eyes, that Divine grace may be magnified in us and by us.

The apostle, having expressed his sense of his unworthiness to receive any blessing from God, or to be employed in His service; speaks,

Secondly, Of the office which had been entrusted to him, and the means whereby he was enabled to fulfil its duties. He says, Unto me is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles. His office was to preach the gospel to the Gentiles; and as the apostle of the Gentiles he therefore magnified his office. Of the manner in which he had fulfilled it, he told the Romans: From Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ; yea, I have strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation. But while he thus went every where preach

ing the word, he ascribed all the success which attended his ministry to Divine grace. He said, By the grace of God I am what I am; and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

5 Rom. xi. 13. 6 Rom. xv. 19, 20.

71 Cor. xv. 10.

He regarded it as a mark of the Divine favour and goodness toward him that he had been placed in the station which he occupied as a minister of the gospel of Christ; and he considered that it was a continually renewed supply of Divine grace which enabled him to labour abundantly in the promotion of the cause of God in the world. He said, I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; and he ascribed it to the abounding grace of God both that he was enabled to labour, and that his labours were effectual for the purpose for which they were undergone. Without Divine grace he felt himself to be insufficient for the work to which he was called; that he could not prosecute it, that his labour would be in vain. It was a contest with the powers of darkness in which he was engaged; and his arm of flesh was too feeble to oppose the god of this world, and those who were living in willing subjection to his authority. But Divine grace enabled him to triumph over all the power of the enemy; and to be the instrument of converting sinners from the error of their way, and persuading them to turn from idols to serve the living and true God. The apostle

also mentions in the text,

Thirdly, The subject of his ministry. This

8 James v. 20.

91 Thessalonians i. 9.

was, the unsearchable riches of Christ. By this expression he meant to convey an idea of the immense value and importance of the salvation of Christ. At another time he reminded the Christians at Corinth, Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich.10 So great is the value of the riches of Christ, that nothing in this world is to be put in competition with Him. Our Saviour asked, What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul 911 He who is not enriched with the knowledge and love of Christ is poor indeed. Whatever worldly wealth he may possess, he will carry nothing away with him when he dieth;12 at his end he shall be a fool.13 Such is the testimony of unerring truth, of the word of God. The riches of Christ, which He came upon earth to bestow upon the sinful children of men, are those alone which will enrich our souls for eternity. These are spoken of as the riches of His mercy, the riches of His grace, and the riches of His glory.

By the riches of His mercy, pardon of sin and reconciliation with God are vouchsafed to those who deserved His wrath and indignation. Pardon and peace with God are riches

102 Cor. viii. 9. 11 Mark viii. 36. 12 Ps. xlix. 17. 13 Jer. xvii. 11.

of inestimable value. If we have them not, we cannot possibly know what it is to enjoy real happiness. If we have them not, we are walking in a vain show,14 which, although it may possibly even excite the envy and admiration of the world, yet will come to a miserable end, will vanish into everlasting darkness. If we do not partake of these unsearchable riches, since they are set before us as to be obtained through Christ, it is because we do not seek for them in the way in which He has promised to bestow them, in the diligent use of the means which He has appointed; our faith and hope are not in Him. The Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him;15 but if we do not diligently seek Him we cannot expect to receive His benefits; we have not, because we ask not.16

The riches of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ were to be made known by the apostle, as well as the riches of His mercy. In making a distinction between these, it may be observed that the gift of Divine grace proceeds from the mercy of God. We may therefore consider it to refer to the gift of the Holy Spirit, and all the blessings which accompany salvation as the consequence of reconciliation with God. By partaking of the riches of His grace Divine influence descends upon the souls of the children of God,

14 Psalm xxxix. 6.

15 Romans x. 12.

16 James iv. 2.

whereby they are actuated to every good word and work; so that their conversation is such as becometh the gospel of Christ. The riches of His mercy and grace are to be obtained by those who supplicate them at His footstool, in order that they may go on their way rejoicing in His holy

name.

But the word of God speaks also of riches in glory by Christ Jesus; of which the apostle says to the Philippians, My God shall supply all your need, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Here we are led to look beyond this mortal life to the things which God hath prepared in the world to come for all His people. On this subject he wrote also to the Colossians, When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory, 18 What a rich portion will then be enjoyed by the humble believer in Christ. We are invited to partake of the spiritual and eternal riches of Christ, that we may be rich toward God,19 and blessed for ever. When we contemplate the value of these riches, they may well be called unsearchable. Their real value will be known only in eternity. Let it be our great anxiety to obtain these riches of Christ, that having Him for all our salvation and all our desire,20 we may be blessed in life, in death, and in eternity.

17

17 Phil. iv. 19. 18 Col. iii. 4. 19 Luke xii. 21. 20 2 Sam. xxiii. 5.

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