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but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed. Here we may observe,
First, The cause of the success which attended the ministry of the apostles of Christ;
Secondly, The effect produced upon themselves by Divine grace; and
Thirdly, The object proposed by their ministry.
First, That which alone duly qualified St. Paul and the other' apostles of Christ for the work in which they all of them so ardently engaged, was the grace of God. He says to the Galatians, It pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen;27 and to Timothy he declares, The grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant towards me.
By this grace he was set apart to the apostleship; and by it he was enabled to labour in a manner approved of God, as a workman that needed not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.28 But notwithstanding that his labours extended over a great part of the Roman empire, so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum he fully preached the gospel of Christ; going, as he said, not where Christ was named, lest he should build upon another man's foundation ; but as it is written: To whom He was
27 Gal. i. 15.
28 2 Tim. ii. 15.
29 Rom. xv. 19-21.
not spoken of, they shall see; and they that have not heard, shall understand;29 yet he gave himself no credit whatever for his great exertions; his language was, Not I, but the grace of God which was with me, 30 did the work. It was exceeding abundant
which caused him to be in labours more abundants1 than others; and made those labours effectual to promote the object proposed by them. When Paul planted and Apollos watered, it was God that gave the increase. So then, concludes the apostle, neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase.30 All the glory is to be ascribed to Him whose grace renders effectual the labours of His servants. It is said of the first Christians, that great grace was upon them all.3 They were usually spoken of as those which had believed through grace ,32 and the effects produced upon them were such as caused gladness of heart to others who witnessed them; as it is said, that when Barnabas went to Antioch, and had seen the grace of God, as it was manifested by those who had believed and turned to the Lord, he was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave to the Lord.32
If we would see success attending the ministry of the gospel, we must pray earnestly for abundant grace to be bestowed by God. His pro
301 Cor. xv. 10; iii. 6,7, 312Cor. xi. 23. 32 Actsiv.33; xviii. 27; xi. 23.
mises are given to us that we may plead with Him for their fulfilment, and find Him faithful to fulfil His word, on which He hath caused us to hope. Let us then be importunate at the throne of grace for His promised blessing, that Divine grace may be vouchsafed, and the God of all grace may be glorified; that the gospel may be preached, as it was of old, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven,to give testimony unto the word of His grace, and sinners may be converted from the error of their ways, and believers built up on their most holy faith. It is in answer to humble, importunate, and persevering prayer, that the blessing of God is usually bestowed. Let us make use of the appointed means, and the end will doubtless be answered. It is a praying people who make a profitable ministry. This cannot too frequently be pressed upon
the consideration of the hearers of the word of God. Let me intreat you to consider this seriously; and before you come to the house of God, as well as while you are in it, and when you have left it, pray for grace to be enabled to worship Him in spirit and in truth,3while you present yourselves among His worshippers in His house of prayer; and pray for the hearing ear and understanding heart to be given you, to enable you to receive the word of the truth of the
33 1 Peter i. 12.
34 Acts xiv. 3.
35 John iv. 24.
gospel in the love of it, that you may grow thereby, and your profiting may appear unto all men. And forget not to pray for us who minister to you the word of life, that we may be enabled to set it forth in such a manner that the end
may be answered for which it is made known, that it may be believed, and those who hear it may enjoy the happiness consequent upon being reconciled to God, and made wise unto salvation by faith in Christ Jesus.
When the apostle said, By the grace of God I am what I am, he spake of himself not merely as a minister of Christ, but as one who believed in His name; and ascribed every blessing of which he partook to Divine grace. We may notice,
Secondly, The effect of Divine grace upon him, of which he speaks to Timothy as affording a pattern to them which should hereafter believe unto life everlasting. The apostle knew that he owed himself and all he had and was to the grace of God. This grace changed his heart, so that his affections were set no longer on things on the earth, but on things above. This grace influenced his life, and actuated him to exertion in promoting the cause of God in the world. He became himself a new creature in Christ Jesus, by Divine grace; so that old things were passed away in him, and all things become new. All things in him were thenceforward of God. He had respect to God continually in all the actions of his life. His whole desire was to accomplish the will of God, to lay himself out in every way, by every possible means, to promote His glory. He laid aside all selfish considerations, and gave himself up in soul and body to be entirely the Lord's, devoted to His service, and ready to spend and be spent in spreading the knowledge of the gospel of Christ, that he might be the means of bringing salvation to the souls of his perishing fellow creatures. He conferred not with flesh and blood, neither seeking his own ease, nor troubling himself about the opinion that others might form of him; but employed himself as the servant of God, in doing His will from the heart, not with eye service, as a man pleaser, but in singleness of heart, as one who served the Lord Christ. It was the grace of God and that alone which made the apostle what he was.
And the same grace is able to qualify others, as it qualified him for the work in which he was engaged, and enabled him to accomplish it. Did we earnestly seek this grace to be vouchsafed to us, we should obtain it, as he did. - Let us then implore it earnestly, importunately, perseveringly, for ourselves, and for all around us; that we and the whole church of Christ being abundantly influenced by Divine grace, may show forth His praise and glorify His holy name; and that many may be led to turn to the Lord, and seek His favour with their whole hearts, and partake