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submit, till he assures them, that he has actually pardoned them, and intends to save them. They insist upon it, that they cannot submit unconditionally. But did any garrison ever plead, that they had not power enough to throw down their arms, and submit to the superior force of their enemies? The besieged sometimes plead, that they are forbidden to give up their fortress, or to submit to any terms. And they sometimes refuse to submit, because the terms proposed appear too hard and unreasonable to be complied with. But it is to be presumed, that no garrison, who had a discretionary right to give up their fortress to a superior force, upon reasonable terms, ever refused to do it, upon the pretence, that they had not power to lay down their arms, and give up their untenable post. Now, the terms of submission, which the gospel proposes to sinners in their strong holds, are as reasonable and low as possible ; and they are not forbidden but commanded to comply with them. It is, therefore, extremely absurd as well as criminal in them, to refuse compliance, upon the pretence that they are not able to lay down their weapons of rebellion, cease hostilities, and comply with the gracious offers of salvation. It is not because they are unable to accept the terms of mercy proposed in the gospel, that they do not accept them; but it is because they choose to remain rebels, and to justify and defend themselves in their rebellion. Their plea of inability is a self-justifying, and God-condemning plea. It is virtually charging God with injustice and severity, and justifying themselves in persisting in their enmity and opposition to him. It is fortifying their strong hold, instead of giving it up, and attempting to bring God to their terms, instead of yielding to his. It is their obstinacy, and not their impotency, that is the sole cause of their rejecting the counsel of God against themselves; and he will treat them accordingly, and say, “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.” God is not deceived, and will not be mocked, by his rebellious subjects.
4. If God arms his ministers with spiritual and powerful weapons ; then they have good ground, to be bold and courageous in attacking his enemies in their strong holds. It gives soldiers courage and resolution to be well armed, to be engaged
, in a good cause, and to know, that the strong holds of the enemy are not impregnable, but may be completely destroyed. And the ministers of the gospel have still better grounds to be bold and courageous in attacking the enemies of God in their strong holds. They know that their weapons are spiritual and powerful, and have often done great execution. They know, that they are engaged in a good cause; that the strong holds
; of the enemy are not impregnable, but have been often attacked and destroyed; and that God has promised to be with them, and to afford them all the aid and assistance they need. Why should they be afraid to declare all the counsel of God, and to point all the great and weighty truths of the gospel at the hearts and consciences of all, who are fortifying themselves in their groundless and criminal rebellion against God? The armory of the gospel contains a great variety of spiritual weapons; and they have a right to employ any one of them, or every one of them, as they find occasion, in pointing any divine truth to the understandings, and the consciences of sinners. The greatest and heaviest truths are the most mighty and powerful to penetrate, wound, and subdue the minds of sinners. No minister need to be afraid to use the heaviest and sharpest spiritual weapons against those, who have only carnal weapons to defend themselves. The great and powerful truths of the gospel, are the best weapons, not only to attack and subdue sinners, but to defend those who use them. The preachers of the gospel are always safe, so long as they plainly and faithfully preach the truth, and no longer. And they are not only safe, but really successful; the truths which they preach, always produce the effects, which God designs, and which they ought to desire, should be produced. “ Now thanks be unto God," saith the apostle, “which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish; to the one we are the şavor of death unto death ; and to the other the savor of life unto life.” What greater encouragement can ministers have or desire, than to know, that if they plainly and faithfully preach the great and powerful truths of the gospel, they shall certainly be successful ?
5. If God puts spiritual weapons into the hands of ministers, for the sole purpose of their employing them in pulling down the strong holds of sinners; then they are extremely unfaithful
; and criminal in giving up their spiritual weapons into the hands of sinners themselves. This sinners always desire them to do; and often plead with them to do, and not unfrequently prevail upon them to do. Their spiritual weapons are all taken from the gospel, and consist in the peculiar and important truths of it. But how many sinners not only desire them, but plead with them to give up these weapons to them; and sometimes threaten them, if they refuse to do it? And how many ministers, through fear or favor, comply with their wishes and demands?
Is it not notorious, that some ministers give up one great truth; some another great truth; and some all the great truths of the gospel; and exert all their ingenuity and learning, to explain away, or disprove them ?.. This is giving up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, into the hands of sinners, to employ it in defending themselves in their opposition to God; and it is the strongest weapon they have, and that which they most frequently and successfully employ in fortifying and defending themselves in their hostility to God. Sinners derive some of the strongest weapons, which they ever use in their self-defence, from ministers, who either misconstrue and misrepresent, or deny the pure and potent truths of the gospel. Nothing strengthens the hearts and hands of sinners more, than to hear the doctrine of the blessed Trinity denied ; the doctrine of the divine decrees denied; the doctrine of the divine agency denied; the doctrine of total depravity denied; the doctrine of special grace denied; the doctrine of unreserved submission denied; the doctrine of natural ability denied ; the duty of im. mediate repentance and faith denied; and the doctrine of eternal punishment denied. How often do they find these great and essential doctrines of the gospel denied in the books they read, and in the sermons they hear? And how many materials do ministers afford them, to build their strong holds, and how many weapons do they put into their hands to defend themselves in their opposition to God, and in their opposition to those who employ only spiritual weapons, in their preaching? When ministers resign their spiritual weapons into the hands of sinners, they are as weak, and weaker than other men; and the enemies of truth feel themselves abundantly able to resist all their carnal reasonings. Instead of pulling down, they build up the strong holds of sinners. And this is betraying their trusts, and ruining themselves and others.
6. Since all sinners are constantly and zealously engaged in building strong holds in defence of their rebellion against God; it is much to be lamented, when any able and faithful ministers, who have employed their spiritual weapons in pulling down the strong holds of sinners, are not suffered to continue in their spiritual warfare by reason of death. The late removal of Dr. Spring from the stage of action is much to be lamented, not only by his family, his friends, his own church and congregation, but by the pious public at large. He was a brave and faithful soldier of Jesus Christ. He fought a good fight, and he kept the faith to his dying day. No minister was more correct in his religious sentiments. And few ministers of late, have done more to promote the cause of truth. He not only faithfully discharged his ministerial duties to his own flock, but he was one of the first members, and the last President of the Massachusetts Missionary Society. He was one of the first movers and promoters of the theological seminary at Andover. He was one of the first movers and promoters of the Foreign Missionary Society, and the vice president of it. And all these
, offices he filled with fidelity and dignity. But alas this stan. dard-bearer is fallen, and the friends
of Zion have rarely, if ever, had more reason to lament the decease of any minister, than the death of Dr. Spring. There is reason to fear, that the breach will not be healed, and the wide chasm his death has made will not be filled up; but the cause of truth will be greatly weakened. This I fear and feel. Hence,
7. It behoves the friends of God at this day, when sinners are increasing, and continually erecting and fortifying their strong holds, to pray that he would raise up, commission, and arm many pious young men with spiritual weapons, to pull down their strong castles of defence. The enemy are multiplying and boasting.
CONSOLATION OF FAITHFUL MINISTERS.
"FOR I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."2 Timothy, iv. 6, 7.
This second epistle Paul wrote to Timothy from Rome, when he was a prisoner there, and in danger of his life, as appears by these words, “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.” He had great reason to expect, on account of his advanced age, and of the power and prejudice of his enemies, that he should be soon called to seal his testimony to the gospel by his blood. And expositors are generally agreed, that this was the last letter he ever wrote. He had a peculiar attachment to Timothy, whom he calls his own son in the faith. By the faith, he means that faith which he had kept, or the gospel itself, and not merely that gracious exercise, which is more frequently called faith. He often uses this phraseology to signify the gospel. By the faith, he means the gospel, when he says to Timothy, in his first epistle, “Fight the good fight of faith.” Speaking of the gospel to the Romans, he says, “It is the word of faith, which we preach." Speaking of the churches of Judea, who first heard of his conversion, he says, “But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past, now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed;" that is, the gospel. We read, that Felix “sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ ;"' that is, the gospel itself. This gospel, or word of faith, the
. apostle in the context solemnly exhorts Timothy to preach with the greatest constancy and fidelity. “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke,