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is not to teach a mere system of morals; but to inculcate a holy, a spiritual faith. It is to preach Christ crucified. He is the messenger of Jehovah, the medium of communication for declaring the whole counsel of God. And he is to brave every danger, to hazard every reproach, to encounter every enemy that may stand in the way of this duty; even though he should call down upon his head the vengeance of Egypt. And when the minister of the Gospel arrays before his mind all the difficulties that lie in his way, all the dangers that surround him, when he "sits down to count the cost," can we wonder if, oppressed with an overwhelming sense of the magnitude and importance of the office imposed upon him, with an awful consciousness of its tremendous responsibility, he should be tempted to say, in accents of real humiliation, and almost of despair," Who is sufficient for these things?" or, in the language of Moses, "O my Lord, send I pray thee by the hand of him whom thou wilt send." But does not the Almighty
reply to him, as he did to his servant: "Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say?" or, as he did to the prophet Jeremiah, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee, thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces for I am with thee, to deliver thee, saith the Lord 1." Is not the promise of Christ the same for ever?-"Take no thought how or what ye shall speak for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." And can we not, therefore, adopt the language of the apostle, and proclaim, " When I am weak, then am I strong 3." "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth
This then is our conclusion. Humility is the first of the Christian graces, in order, though not in perfection, and a
1 Jer. i. 7, 8.
2 Cor. xii. 10.
2 Matt. x. 19, 20.
sense of weakness and infirmity will ever accompany a knowledge of ourselves. We must, however, prevent this humility from degenerating into indolence, this confession of weakness from sinking into distrust, this consciousness of infirmity from relaxing our industry, our care, our watchfulness. True humility shows not itself in distrust, but in reliance; not in pleading our insufficiency for the task allotted, but in seeking earnestly and fervently the aid which will enable us to accomplish it. It proves itself to be sincere and heartfelt by its efforts to conquer and subdue that which has given occasion to it-sin. No mercy is offered to the mere confession of sin. No promise is given to the mere acknowledgment of unworthiness. No prize is held out to those who only profess their inability to "run the race that is set before them," to " finish the work that is given them to do." And to rest in any such confession or acknowledgment, is to accuse the righteousness and justice of God himself, who has ordained us to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord :"
it is for the clay to upbraid the potter, that he has made us fragile. We are called to obey, as well as to confess to serve the Lord, as well as to bow before his supremacy. We are commanded to strive, and to labour, and to wrestle; and surely it is not to mock our inability-to deride our infirmities, that we are so commanded. God acts not-he cannot act, unworthily. He commands nothing which we have not strength to perform, either actually, or possibly—either in ourselves, or within our reach. He is no "hard master, reaping where he has not sown, and gathering where he has not strawed';" but he is the Husbandman, who sows carefully, and expects to reap plentifully; who scatters widely, and looks to gather abundantly. He is the Lord of the vineyard, who has fenced, and planted, and watered the soul, and naturally demands the fruit in due season. In humility, indeed, our work must commence; in a full and perfect consciousness of our own
1 Matt. xxv. 24.
utter insufficiency: but then we shall look to him, who in wisdom and in mercy has made us what we are; who, though he appoints us our labour, has also given us grace; and who, whilst he has exposed us to trials, as the means of our spiritual probation and improvement, has also promised, that as our trial is, so shall our strength be. We shall look to him who knows by experience the infirmities of our nature; who has himself borne their burden for a season; to him who can make the eternal reward far overbalance the difficulty of the achievement, and has assured us, that they who, in this spiritual warfare," shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved1."
' Mark xiii. 13.