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afterwards, “I was with you in weakness, and fear, and much trembling; and my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demon. stration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God.” In Corinth he had to face learning, refinement, and splen. dour, and he was anxious so to adapt himself to circumstances as to “save some." He was afraid, lest by any indiscretion, he “should hinder the gospel of Christ.” But fear may become extreme, and hinder instead of help, and therefore the Lord spake to him, and said, “ Fear not.” “Be not afraid." There was in reality no need for fear. God was with him. God could protect him, and he would. God could bless and render his labours effectual, and he would. Therefore he says, “Speak, and speak out, let them hear the truth, and the whole truth. Speak openly, speak boldly, speak fearlessly; and speak of Christ and of him crucified, as the wisdom of God, the power of God, and the salvation of God. “Hold not thy peace, let nothing deter thee, but go on with thy work, until I call thee thence.” And mark,
TAE ENCOURAGEMENT. “I am with thee," and if God was with him, he was a match for every foe, and would rise superior to every difficulty. If God be with us, his wisdom will mark out our way and our work; his power will enable us to do his will, and render
our labours efficient; and his care will provide for all our wants, and supply all our needs. “No man shall set on thee to hurt thee.” They may hate, gainsay, and attempt to harm us, but without God's leave, they cannot injure a hair of our heads. However wrathful, they are impotent; and the wrath of man shall praise him, and the remainder thereof he will restrain. “I have much people in this city.” What kind of a city was it? One of the most voluptuous, wealthy, and effeminate cities of the east. Here was the temple of Venus, with its degrading and disgraceful services. God's jewels are often found buried in the veriest filth. God's people are picked off the foulest dunghills. In their experience the startling truth is illustrated, “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” What kind of persons were they? “Be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God: and such were some of you : but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." This is the apostle's own reply to the question, and it was in order that they may be washed, sanctified, and justified, that he was to continue there, and boldly preach God's word. Were they
the Lord's, while in such a state? They were, for he said, “I have,” not “I will have,” but “ I have much people in this city.” Then the Lord knew them, before he called them. He had chosen them, befere he sent the gospel to them. He claims them, before he converts them. He only accomplishes by his gospel now, what he had purposed long before. He foreknew, he predestinated, he called, he justified, he glorified. Such is God's order. Such is God's plan.
Observe, the Lord's people, are often found in the most unlikely places. Who would have expected to find God's chosen, a multitude of them in a place so foul, so polluted, 80 degraded as Corinth? The Lord chooses the most unlikely persons. Who would ever have thought that the Lord would have chosen fornicators, idolators, adulterers, effeminate, Sodomites, thieves, covetous persons, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners ? But he did, as Paul testifies, 1 Cor. vi. 9. 11. Who would have thought that God would have chosen the weak, the base, the despis. ed, and those who are too contemptible to wear a name? And yet he did, as the apostle declares, 1 Cor. i. 27. 29. O the wonders of sovereign grace! O how marvellous the thoughts, purposes, and ways of God! The Lord calls because he claims. Those whom God calls by his grace, were chosen to life, redeemed by the blood of Jesus, and predestinated to the adoption of sons. God's work
cannot be frustrated. He is never at a loss for means, nor can God's means fail of accomplishing his ends. He says, “I will work :" and he asks, “Who shall hinder p” Sinners are in God's hand, and he will bound their power, nor permit them to frustrate his designs. “ No man shall set on thee to hurt thee.” We are immortal until our work is done. Therefore let us not fear, nor yield to discouragement, but speak, and speak boldly, and expect God to bless our efforts. In songs of sublime adoration and praise,
Ye pilgrims! for Sion who press, Break forth, and extol the great Ancient of days,
His rich and distinguishing grace. His love, from eternity fix'd upon you,
Broke forth and discover'd its flame, When each with the cords of his kinduess he drew,
And brought you to love his great name. O had he not pitied the state you were in,
Your bosoms his love bad ne'er felt
And sunk with the load of your gilt.
Or give the Creator delight?
Because it seem'd good in thy sight. 'Twas all of thy grace we were brought to obey!
While others were suffer'd to go
Which leads to the regions of woe.
To him all the glory belongs;
and crown him in each of your songs.
God often has to remind us of our mercics, for we are poor, forgetful, and ungrateful creatures. What Israel was, we are. How much the Lord did for them, and yet they forgot him, and ungratefully treated him with contempt. Of this he reminded them in Babylon, when the elders came to Ezekiel to inquire of the Lord, He pointed out their conduct in Egypt, his deliverance of them from the house of bondage, and to aggravate their sin added, “ Moreover also I gave them my Sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them." Ezek. XX. 12. The Sabbath was instituted at the creation, when God rested from, and rejoiced in his work ; and it was intended for man, as man. But no doubt, they had lost this privilege while they were slaves in Egypt, and there. fore it was instituted anew, and made one part of the covenant which the Lord entered into with the people at Horeb, and its observance was a sign, that all might know that they were God's sanctified people. The Sabbath was a gift, bestowed upon