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death and resurrection. These were known to the Jews, and rendered them inexcuseablein neglecting so great salvation ; but they preceded sending the gospel to the gentiles, and the means used to spread it among them. The apostle had no reference to Chrift, or any thing done or suffered by him, when he spake of the foolish and weak, and base things used of God, to confound those which are wife and mighty. He spake only with reference to the instruments which were chosen to carry the gospel abroad and persuade the nations of the earth to receive it.
God hath all creatures at his command ; he hath power to press the most reluctant into his service, and to compel them to bear his messages, and execute his orders; as we see in the case of Balaam and Jonah. God can make use of men to this end, either by reconciling them to himself, and attaching them to his interest, or by overruling their corrupt and vicious designs to effect his holy purposes, without their consent or knowledge. Most of the prophets were brought into his views, and made desirous to honor him. Many Pagan princes, and others, who knew him not, were yet made instrumental in doing his pleasure and exe, cuting his designs. The divine sovereign pover wants for agents to accomplish his purposes. He fitteth on the circle of the heavens, and orders the affairs of the universe in such a manner as to do his pleasure. “ None can stay his band.” Whether the agents which he employs are willing or unwilling, mean so, or not, is of no importance relative to the event. “ His purposes ftand, and
the thoughts of his heart to all generations." The attempts of creatures to reverse his orders, and defeat his decrees, only help to their accomplishment. This was particularly the case respecting the measures adopted by the enemies of Christianity to prevent its spreading in the world.
The persons chosen of God and sent forth to propagate the religion of Christ, were such as human wisdom would have judged very unsuitable. Twelve poor, despised, illiterate men, were called to be apostles ;-most of them were fishermen. One was a publican ; a collector of the Roman tribute, which had been imposed on the Jews as a conquered people. An employment so odious, that vile persons, regardless of character, would only accept it. Such men we should judge exçeedingly unfit for ministers of religion, and not likely to succeed in making converts to it. Yet such were those who were appointed of God, to be prime ministers in the Christian church ! Such the men who were sent forth to change the form and administration of Judaism, and overthrow the systems of Paganism, rendered venerable by a general establishment, and the religious reverence
The Jews' religion was from God; who had given abundant evidence of its divine origin. This Christ came not to destroy. But its external administration was to be changed; and in the apprehension of most of those who professed it, it was no less opposed to the gospel scheme, than Paganism. No others had greater enmity to Christianity than the Jews, or entered into the op
position with warmer zeal. They commonly stood foremost, and stirred up the Gentiles against it, and often with success.
In treating of the means used to propagate the gospel, we may observe the powers imparted to those who were employed in the work.
These were not such as human wisdom would have chosen.
Their weapons were not carnal, though mighty through God.” They had none at their command, prepared to punish those who would not receive them, or the doctrines which they inculcated -none to retaliate injuries done them. To abuse they had nothing to oppose, except a patient ex, hibition of his temper, who " when he was revil. ed, reviled not again, when he suffered threatened not, committing himself to him who judgeth righteously," and praying for his murderers on the crofs.
False religions have often been propagated with the sword-particularly that of Mahomet, and the Romish corruptions of Christianity. These, especially the latter, were urged with every species of cruelty-a mode of attempting to proselytę, evincive of human folly. Arguments totally diverse are requisite to enlighten the mind and pro. duce conviction of a divine miffion. With these came the apostles of the Lamb. They were dowed with power from on high ;" and forbidden of their Lord to enter on their ministry until it was conferred upon them. This was accomplished on the day of Pentecoft.
They had been previously convinced of Christ's truth. They seemed indeed to waver when he Tuffered, but his resurrection, the opportunities which they had with him after that event, and his ascension, which they had witnessed, must have removed every doubt.
doubt. But this did not qualify them for their work. It did not furnish them with means to convince others, who had not wit. nessed those things. But when the Holy Ghost came upon them, on that memorable occasion, they were furnished. The gift of miracles was then, more abundantly than before, imparted to them. In some respects, new, and very necessary communications were then made to them-particularly that of speaking with tongues, which at once carried evidence of their divine mission, and enabled them to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." This was the order of their Lord, but devoid of this gift they could not have obeyed it.
This gift, as imparted to them, seems to have carried greater evidence of their truth, than their barely speaking all languages. Men out of every nation heard them speak on the day of Pentecost, every man in his own tongue !"
Therefore were they amazed, and convinced that the apostles were sent of God and that the gospel was of heavenly derivation.
Those heralds of gospel grace were also inspired with courage to speak boldly in the name and cause of Christ, nothing terrified by their enemies; and " when brought before kings and rulers for his fake, a month and wisdom were given them, which all their adversaries were unable to gainsay or refiit."
Such were the means used of God to propagate the gospel-such the agents whom he employed and such their qualifications.
We are next to consider the opposition which was made to its propagation.
Various circumstances combined the world against it. So far as Chriftianity prevailed, every other religion must fall. No other could stand in connexion with it. The Jewish was not to be overthrown ; but such changes were to take place in its outwård form, that those who did not know it to be typical of a better dispensation, considered it as included in the general proscription; as doomed to destruction if Christianity prevailed. Against Stephen that was a principal chargehave heard him say, that this Jesus, shall change the customs which Moses hath delivered us."
The different fyftems of Paganism were not opposed to one another, as they were to that of the gospel. They admitted a plurality of Gods some superior-rothers fubordinate. They consided them not only as holding different ranks, but as reigning over different countries and nations. If one of their systems was true another might be fo. But Christianity admitted only " one God, and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” It declared that all others who had been called Gods and worshiped as such, were not Gods--that those who sacrificed to them, facrificed