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templated making a public profession of your faith in Christ, perhaps you saw difficulties in your way; and have you experienced the trials attending this duty which you feared ? Rather has not experience convinced you, that far greater embarrassments would have been endured, had you neglected that duty ? Some of you may have had trials in prospect in relation to the duty of prayer, but how was it when you came to the place of meeting these trials? When you determined to discharge faithfully the duty of prayer, and went forward in the strength of the Lord, did you find a stone at the door of the sepulchre ? When you have in humility and love reproved a brother in Christ, or exhorted a sinner to repent of his transgressions and turn to God, have you found all the obstacles in your way which you had expected to find? In relation to the claims of benevolence, when you cheerfully discharged your duty in this particular, did you suffer the inconvenience which you may have feared ?
In short, does not the history of every church, and the experience of every child of God testify, that prospective difficulties in the path of duty, persons often find removed when they come to the place of meeting them?
This may be inferred,
II. From the promises of God. The promises of God should not inspire us with a false confidence, blind us to the consequences of our conduct, or render us remiss in endeavors to know the will of God. We may be presumptuous in our reliance on the government and promises of God. The fact, that the Lord reigns, should be a terror to all who are not found in the path of duty. He has reigned over individuals and destroyed them, and over idolatrous and infidel nations, and has dashed them in pieces like a potter's vessel. And the promises of God would not have sustained the Son of man, had he cast himself from the pinnacle of the temple. The adversary would inspire us with a false confidence. To be interested in, and personally benefitted by, the government and promises of God, we must be found in the path of duty; we must not mark out our own course—we must not stand still—we must go forward under divine direction. And doing thus, we may derive strength and courage from the promises of God.
God has, in the Scriptures, given assurance of a special providence over those who obey his commands. What Azariah said to be said to any person :
The Lord is with you while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you ; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.” When Samuel was exhorting Israel to faithfulness in the service of God, he said, “For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name's sake, because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people.” The Psalmist exclaims, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid ?" Christ, after directing his disciples what to do, said to them : “Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world."
Now with the promises of God before us, are we not to expect, that prospective difficulties in the path of duty persons will often find removed when they come to the place of meeting them? The promises of God assure us, that obstacles in the path of duty will be taken away, or grace will be granted which will enable us to surmount them, and profit by them. It is true, that Paul, notwithstanding he had sought the Lord thrice for its removal, was caused to endure the thorn in the flesh; but the grace
of God was sufficient for him, and he rejoiced more in the grace bestowed, than he would have done, had the thorn been removed.
Let the path of duty be plain, and we need not fear to pursue it. Though mountains interpose, they will be removed, or we shall have strength to ascend them, and profit by the ascent. When God commands, and promises to the obedient his support, what occasion is there for fear, for hesitancy, or for reluctance, in obeying the command. When Moses exclaimed, “O, my Lord, I am not eloquent,” he appears to have forgotten whence came the speech of man, and that since God was to be with him, defects in natural endowments would not be essential. Relying on the promises of God, the believer may go forward in duty with unwavering confidence, that whatever difficulties appear before him, he will often find them removed when he comes to the place of meeting them. For ground of confidence he has the experience of God's people of all ages, and the promises of God.
It is of great importance, that the subject under consideration be duly regarded. Professors of religion have suffered much in peace of mind, and in efficiency of Christian character, because, by apparent difficulties in prospect, they have been deterred from going forward in duty, when, had they trusted in God and gone forward, they would not have experienced the difficulties anticipated. For illustration, many instances might be noticed.
Here is a professor of religion, who had long remained silent on the subject of religion, and who had never led in social prayer because of apparent difficulties in his way; but so soon as he determined, in the strength of the Lord, to do his duty in these particulars, he found comfort where he expected pain. Here is another professor of religion, who neglects the duty of family prayer. He is restless, shifting, inconsistent, disarmed of the weapons of a holy warfare with sin and Satan, and indeed unhappy; but were he, with reliance on God, to commence the duty of family prayer, he would find no stone at the door of the sepulchre-difficulties would vanish away, and he would assume a different character, and be more useful and happy. Here is another professed follower of Christ, who has never taken an open, decided, and bold stand in the cause of his Master. He is influenced by the fear of man, and he is suffering in all his spiritual interests. Oh, if he feared God more, and were more cheerful and prompt in his obedience, he would not find insurmountable obstacles in his way. He would experience the pleasure of an approving conscience, the smiles of his heavenly Father, and of a surer title to eternal life. Many there are, who would anoint the body of Christ; but they stop and inquire, “Who will roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre ?”Had they humbly, prayerfully, and faithfully pursued the path of duty, they would have found the stone rolled away, and the body risen from the dead. We can not estimate the loss sustained by professed followers of Christ, resulting from the want of confidence in God, and of decided and fearless action in his service.
But the personal injury experienced by those who are deterred from the faithful discharge of duty, in view of prospective difficulties, is only a small part of that which we are called to regret, and lament before God. A world in sin and in ruins is deeply affected. Had all, who have been hopefully redeemed to God by the blood of Christ, and in a measure sanctified by the Holy Spirit, taken a decided and bold stand with the faithful of the Lord, and gone forward in duty, with reliance on heaven, what would now have been the state of the church on the earth ? And how much would have, through the grace of God, been accomplished for the salvation of the millions who are in sin, and in the region and shadow of death? But a want of cheerfulness, promptness, and moral courage in obeying God, has been manifested, and the painful consequences are seen and felt. Everywhere sin prevails, Satan triumphs, and condemned sinners are heedlessly pursuing their dark and crooked course, on to death and hell. Would it be thus, were the friends of God faithful in learning the will of heaven, and fearless in duty? Now, in consequence of apparent difficulties which agitate and discourage them, they suffer in their spiritual interests; their companions, families, acquaintances, and other fellow-beings suffer a loss which cannot be estimated-a loss which may be sustained for ever.
Christian Friends, where God directs, there go. What God commands, that do. Let nothing deter you. Though you are surrounded with many and serious difficulties, go forward. God will help you. He will see that the stone is rolled
from the door of the sepulchre. Though you have a mountain on each hand, an enemy in pursuit, and a sea before you, trusting in God, go forward. A path will be opened before you. Obstacles shall be removed, or you shall have grace to encounter them and profit by them. And while the fearful and disobedient shall lament their folly, you shall rejoice and triumph in the Lord.
Would that the impenitent would be persuaded, that the stone was actually rolled away from the door of the sepulchre. When the sleeping Conqueror arose, and burst the bands of death, the gates of heaven were left open, and entrance into the kingdom of God made easy. And so soon as sinners will come to the place of submission to God, they will find every difficulty in the way of their salvation removed. It is true, that they are dependent on the grace of God, and they must know it, and must feel it. Mary
Magdalene and the other Mary could not have rolled away the stone from the door of the sepulchre ; but hastening to the place, they found it remove:l. And sinners will find every obstacle which bars their way to God and heaven removed, when they present themselves to God a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable in his sight. And they who will make this offering now, shall rejoice evermore in a crucified, risen, and glorified Saviour, as their Lord and their God.
THE KIND OF MINISTRY WANTED.
The ministry should not only be endowed with the genial spirit of the age, but should be able to meet the new questions that are coming up in every generation, and to apply to them, in view of an intelligent community, the great principles of religion. In the time when Antony began to make the monastic system popular in Egypt, and Benedict in Italy, what was needed was a ministry so imbibed with sound theology that that question—the great question of the age-could be met and settled by the true principles of the gospel. In the time when an undue respect began to be shown to relics, to consecrated temples, and to burial places, and the church was degenerating into a base superstition, what was demanded was such a ministry as could have met that question, and apply to it the principles of sound philosophy and theology. So in every age, there are new questions that are to be met by the ministry; and unless they show themselves cempetent to apply to them the principles of their religion, they fall behind their generation, and show themselves incompetent to their work. Never were more such questions started than in this age, and never was there more need of studying profoundly the great principles of religion, by those who take upon themselves to be the guides of the public mind. The true questions which agitate this age are not those of the monastic system or the crusades, or the points mooted by the "angelic doctors' Aquinas and Scotus ; nor are they the questions about the "three orders” in the ministry, or the apostolic succession, or the inquiries that have been started at Oxford. There has been, indeed, and is, an attempt to foist these inquiries of bygone years upon this generation, and it is well to be prepared to meet them; but those are not the things that are moving the mind of the world in this age. How limited, after all, is the circle which these inquiries can agitate! How few of the race at large can be interested in the question about the "three orders," or the "succession !" There are deeper things moving on the public heart. Great questions of liberty, of government, of education, of freedom of thought, of temperance, of right to the Bible, of exclusiveness, of war and peace, of the social organization, of the adaptation of the Christian religion to man, are the points which this age, as such, is looking at; and a man may be an entire master of all the theology that can be made to converge around the questions that have come up at Oxford, and yet never awake to The inquiry whether he is in the eleventh or nineteenth century; and while he is re-arguing points which have been determined ages ago, society shall move on in strides which he will never dreani of overtaking, towards the point which it is destined yet to reach, and all they of Oxford, and all who moot similar questions to those agitated there, shall be left far behind.
But further. A preacher should not only be able to appreciate his
age, and to come up to it in adapting his instructions to the great questions which are started in ihe times in which he lives, but he should be in advance of his age. He should be able intelligently to take positions to which society in its progress has not yet come up, but which it will most certainly reach in its onward progress. He should be able to throw himself into the future, and, iaking his stand on great principles which are to live in all times, and which are yet to be regarded as settled principles, he should be prepared to defend thein, and to do what in him lies to bring the world to embrace them. There are not a few such in the Bible --in the comparatively unexplored views of divine truth, which are to be brought out, and which are to make the world what it is yet to be. Whether those positions have been held in the past or not; whether his own age adopts and practices on them or not, he who preaches the theology of the Bible should defend them, and should be able to show what important changes the fair application of the principles of the New Testament would make in the world. The men who have done much for the race have gone in advance of their age; they have maintained positions, often in the midst of much persecution, which society had not yet reached, but to which it was destined yet to come, and have shown their greatness, and their sagacity, and their acquaintance with the oracles of truth, by being able to take such advanced positions, and by holding and defending them in the face of the sneers and the frowns of the world. Such men were Luther and Knox; such men were the Puritans and the Pilgrims; such a man, in relation to the rights of conscience, to war and slavery, was William Penn. Thus, now, we are to take our stations on the watch-towers, and defend not only what has been defended, and maintain not only what has been inwrought into the texture of society, but we are to search out and maintain those great principles which will prevail in the world's millennium, and to which, though slowly, yet most certainly, the world is advancing. The theology to be preached is not only that which has been settled as true in past times by experience; not only that which is fitted to the great questions of these times, but that which will be fitted to the state of the world when society shall have made its highest progress, and shall have reached the point on which the eyes of prophets and apostles were fixed.-Rev. Mr. Barncs.