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to them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, and turn to God, and do-works meet for repentance.

These declarations made by St. Paul are unanswerably evinced to be true by the history of his life. In the very manner here recited he preached to both Jews and Gentiles the glad tidings of salvation; and persuaded men everywhere to renounce and forsake their iniquities; and thus actually opened their eyes, and turued them from darkness to light.

The beginning of the preaching of Christ, as recited in the Gospel according to St. Mark, is in these words : The time is fulfilled; the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Repent ye, and believe the Gospel.' The people therefore whom he addressed had not bitherto repented nor believed. Of course they were sinners. In the whole history contained in the Gospel and in the Acts, there is not, so far as I recollect, a single instance recorded, in which we have any satisfactory proof that even an individual sinner was regenerated without the influence of Divine truth upon his heart. On the contrary, these writings are full of examples, in which the efficacy of this truth is asserted directly, as having been indispensably concerned in producing this change in man.

The same doctrine is also amply exhibited, as it respects tue Jewish church. Of the priests, the ordinary ministers of that church, whose proper office it was to teach the Scriptures to the Israelites, God says in the Prophet Malachi, • The law of truth was in their mouth; and they turned many away from iniquity. This declaration is a complete bistory of the fact in question, so far as the present subject is concerned, throughout all the preceding ages of the Jewish Church.

What was true concerning the periods contained in the Scriptural history, has been equally true, so far as we have any information, of the periods which have since elapsed. Ministers have everywhere, and in every age of the Christian church, preached to sinners; and sinners under their preaching have been turned to God. In all these facts the duty of ministers at the present time is distinctly seen, and gloriously encouraged. He who would preach as the priests preached,

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as Christ preached, as the apostles preached, will proclaim the tidings of salvation to sinners; and will urge them unceasingly to faith, repentance, and holiness. Upon his preaching, if faithfully conducted in this manner, and accompanied by his own prayers, and those of the Christians around him, he may confidently look for the blessing of God.

SERMON CXXXVI.

THE MEANS OF GRAC E.

ORDINARY MEANS OF GRACE.

WHAT THEY ARE; AND WHAT JS THEIR INFLUENCE,

FOR THOUGH YE HAVE TEN THOUSAND INSTRUCTORS IN CHRIST, YET

HAVE YE NOT MANY FATHERS: FOR IN CHRIST JESUS I HAVE

BEGOTTEN YOU THROUGH THE

GOSPEL.

I CORINTHIANS IV. 15.

In the last Discourse, I attempted to prove, that there are means of grace and salvation: the first subject, then proposed for discussion. I shall now endeavour,

II. To show what they are.
III. To explain their influence.

The means of grace may be distributed into a greater or less number of divisions, without any material disadvantage. At the present time it will, however, be useful to mention only those which are of peculiar importance.

Of these, the Gospel, by which I here intend the Scriptures at large, is ever to be regarded as the sum: for it plainly involves them all. The Gospel is especially to be considered as being efficacious to salvation, when it is preached: this being that institution of God, to which his peculiar blessing,

life for evermore,' is especially annexed in the Gospel itself. Still, it is ever to be remembered, that in every lawful, serious

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use of its instructions, precepts, warnings, threatenings, invitations, and promises, it is possessed of the same general nature, and influence.

When we speak of the means of grace, in the plural, always intend, either different modes of applying the Gospel, or some or other of its precepts, or ordinances, to the human understanding, or affections ; or the performance of some act, or series of acts, enjoined in the Scriptures.

It will be proper further to observe, that the phrase which I have here used, is commonly employed to denote both the Means by which, in the usual course of providence, grace is originally obtained ; and the means of increasing it, when once obtained.

Under this head are included,
I. The preaching of the Gospel.
II. The reading of the Scriptures.
III. Prayer
IV. Correspondence with religious men.
V. Religious meditation ; particularly self-examination.
VI. The religious education of children.

To these may be added, as efficacious to the same end, although differing in several respects from all those already mentioned, the instructive and monitory, the merciful and afflictive, dispensations of Divine Providence, to ourselves and others. It ought to be remembered, that I consider none of these as means of Grace, in any other sense than as they display, and impress upon the mind, the truth of God.

In the Scriptures all these things appear to sustain the character which I have attributed to them.

. The law of the Lord,' says David, • is perfect; converting the soul : the testimonies of the Lord are sure, making wise the simple.'--' Search the Scriptures,' says our Saviour to the Jews,' for in them ye think ye have the words of eternal life.' • How shall they believe,' says St. Paul, 'in bim, of whom they have not heard ? and how shall they hear without a preacher ? So, then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.' God be merciful to me a sinner !' said the publican, “who went up to the temple to pray:' and our Saviour informs us, that' he went down to his house, justified rather than the pharisee.'—* He that walketh with wise men,' says Solomon, shall be wise.'—Examine yourselves,' says St. Paul, 'whether ye be in the faith ; prove your ownselves : know ye not your ownselves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobate?' This exhortation is obviously given to persons supposed by the apostle to be, individually, of different moral characters; and is plainly given to them all, whatever their character might be. •Stand in awe, said David to his enemies, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed; and be still.'— Keep thy heart, said David to Solomon, with all diligence ; for out of it are the issues of life.'—'Train up a child in the way he should go,' says Solomon, and when he is old he will not depart from it:' And again, . The reproofs of instruction are the way of life.'• Fathers,' says St. Paul, 'train up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.'

These and many other passages, of a nature generally similar, I consider as directing, either mediately or immediately, the conduct of sinners. Most of them are so obviously of this character, as apparently to admit of no dispute. A part of them may, I am aware, admit of objections to this construction. But, if these were to be given up, the rest would, I apprehend, be abundantly sufficient to answer the purpose for which they have been quoted. That they aie directed to such objects as I have termed means of grace, will not be questioned.

With the instruction furnished us concerning this subject by the word of God, we are bound to unite that also which is exbibited to us by his providence. If certain measures have been customarily crowned with success in the pursuit of salvation; and other measures, or the omission of these successful ones, have terminated without that success; then we are warranted to conclude that the course wbich has been beretofore successful, will be again. We are warranted to conclude, that what God has usually blessed, he may confidently be expected to bless; and that the conduct which has been regularly followed by impenitence and unbelief, will produce hereafter no other consequences.

But, so far as man can judge, one general course of conduct has, in fact, been usually crowned with success in this mighty concern, from the beginning. The preaching and hearing of the Gospel, and the diligent, anxious use of those which I bave styled means of Grace, have been actually followed by faith,

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