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THE EVANGELICAL MINISTRY EXEMPLIFIED IN THE
MURRAY STREET CHURCH, DEC. 2, 1821,
ON THE OCCASION OF
RESIGNING HIS CHARGE OF HIS CONGREGATION.
And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all scasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews ; and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there : save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying, that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I may finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you the whole counsel of God.
Next to our Lord Jesus Christ, the name of which figures most gloriously in the early stages of the Christian story, is that of the Apostle Paul. The grandeur of his mind, his intellectual and moral magnanimity, his heroic devotion, his patience in suffering ; his powerful genius, his decision, his eloquence, his zeal, shine in every page of his writings, raise the admiration and awe the spirits of his readers, and make them feel that they enter into communion with a being of superior order. But it is not that peculiar greatness which was inseparable from every act of the man, and excites our veneration while it forbids our rivalship, that creates our deepest interest in his character. Our understandings may be penetrated with light which has no power of warming our hearts. The most profound respect does not necessarily call forth our love. Our affections must be won; they cannot be stormed. To this principle of our nature God has been pleased to pay particular regard, in the first heralds of the cross. However diversified their qualities and attainments; whatever be the zeal of one, the potency of argument in another, the intrepid courage of a third, that which bears the sway in all, is their loveliness. Our hearts are captivated by the same process which subdues our understandings. Nothing, for example, can be more fair and unanswerable, than when Paul closes in his argument with the subtle philosopher; nothing more terrible than when he deals out the thunders of God among the gainsayers: and nothing more exquisitely tender, than his carriage toward the timid and scrupulous disciple. If ever a man knew how to wind his way into the human soul; how to coil around him its most sacred affections; how to explore the secret place of tears, and to put in motion all its kindest sympathies, the Apostle Paul was certainly that man. You know that this has always been with me a favorite theme; that my heart has enlarged, my imagination brightened; and my steps have trodden almost upon fairy ground, when they have been roused and quickened by the name of Paul. But on no occasion does he loom so high, and