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Isaac, born of the Spirit, or a Mary, who hath chosen the good part, the very thought will make the heart bound with pleasure ; yet you cannot slacken in your prayers and endeavours, while there is one Ishmael in the flesh. What generous love and unwearied zeal did Paul manifest for his brethren, his kinsmen according to the flesh ! Though they persecuted him with all the implacable malignity of enraged furies, and left no arts untried to compass his ruin, his heart's desire and prayer to God for them was, that they might be saved.
Do your neighbours despise the Gospel and veglect the great salvation? Do they set at nought the great foundation, the chief corner stone, which God hath chosen as the only ground of hope ? Do they nurse the prejudices of ignorance and enmity, and labour to rivet the fetters of bondage ? You will feel for them, and use every faithful, every prudent, yea, every possible method of seasonable admonition and tender entreaty, to convince them of their danger, and point them to the only safe refuge.
Do you go much into the world? Your spirit will be stirred in you with holy indignation to see the aboundings of wickedness, which, like resistless torrents, break down all restraints, and diffuse mischief and misery through the earth. It will grieve you to witness the profanation of God's holy name, the contempt cast upon his word, and the shameful abuse of his goodness and mercy. You will pity the thoughtless, inconsiderate creatures, who are boldly rushing on to ruin and endless woe. Even your worst enemies, who hate you without cause, and endeavour to injure you whenever they can, will have a share in your best wishes and earnest prayers.
How can a man who knows Christ, and the power of his resurrection, sit down in selfish indifference, while thousands are “ perishing for lack of knowledge ?" Can he“ who has tasted that the Lord is gracious, see others feeding, like the prodigal, on husks, without wishing them the enjoyment of spiritual blessings ?” Impossible. It is the very nature of the Gospel to produce, as well as to proclaim, " good will to men.” No sooner did Philip become a follower of Christ, than he said to Nathanael, “ We have found him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write.” The woman of Samaria “ left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and said to the men, Come, see a man that told me all things that ever I did ; is not this the Christ?” Ministers, indeed, are sent forth for the express pur
pose “ of showing men the way of salvation.”. It is their special employ“ to warn every man, and teach every man in all wisdom, that they may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” But ought not love to Jesus, and compassion for souls, so far to influence us, as to make every Christian a monitor to his fellow-men? Surely pity should excite prayer, and prayer be accompanied with the unabated use of those means which God has provided to bring men to the knowledge of the truth. Bad men vie with each other in activity to ruin precious souls. 56 They draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart-l'ope.” They contrive a thousand plans, exhaust all their arts to allure, and exert all their efforts to impel others along with them, in the broad road that leadeth to destruction. How much more then ought Christians to labour, that those who are strangers to God, and the commonwealth of Israel, may be brought to: enjoy the “ salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.".
And now, reader, ask your own heart, whether these sentiments habitually influence it? Do you long and labour to bring others to an experimental acquaintance wtth the preciousness of Christ ? Do you rejoice when favourable events in the dis
pensations of Providence open a way for the Gospel to spread in dark, idolatrous lands ? Do you daily pray that ministers of ability and piety may be multiplied ; “ that “ as God hath given the word, great may be the company of those who publish it ? Do you wrestle with God in supplication, that their souls may be enlightened and invigorated, and their work crowned and blessed by the gracious operations of the Holy Spirit ? When a stout-hearted, rebellious sinner is penetrated, softened, and subdued by Divine grace, so as to begin to cry, “ What shall I do to be saved ?” does a livelier and sublimer sensation of pleasure thrill through your heart to witness such a change, than if you heard of the most splendid national victory? If some, who once appeared promising, should seem to waver in doubt, or to turn again to the weak and beggarly elements of the world, do you with deep solicitude travail in birth, as it were, till Christ be formed in them? When the great variety of tempers, the strength of deep-rooted habits, and the inequality of circumstances among men are duly considered, do you see the need of wisely choosing, and prudently timing all your warnings, reproofs, counsels, and persuasions? It is in this way only that you can exemplify the exhortation of Jude, “ Of some have compassion, making a difference ; others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire.” Such a spirit, as leads, you earnestly to desire and seek the salvation of others, is a proof that you have found the Redeemer precious to your own soul.