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Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, he fully preached the Gospel of Christ.” His history gives us a detail of his severe sufferings in this long circuit, the amount of which is, that bonds and imprisonment awaited him in every city.
His zeal prompted him to adopt the most probable methods of winning souls to Christ. Hear his own account, 1 Cor. ix. 19—23, “ For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews: to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law: to them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some: and this I do for the Gospel's sake.” Never did the Christian temper appear to greater advantage than in the apostle. His fervency and zeal rendered him indefatigable in the work of the Gospel. He counted nothing dear so that he might finish his course with joy. Not to say more, he was an unparalleled example of the injunction he gave to Timothy, 6 But be thou in these things."
5. The apostle's language “ Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men,” implies that there is no likelihood of gaining the hearts of sinners to Christ, unless some impressions are made by the terror of the Lord. The whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. If conscience does
not feel the weight of guilt, and tremble at the consequence, the heart will never seek relief. While we think that we are rich and increased in goods, and standing in need of nothing, we will never make application for supply. In vain is the Saviour preached, unless persons know and feel themselves to be sinners. Salvation always begins in a senso uf sin, and sin is never properly understood, but as offending the highest Lord, and entailing great and certain misery. True, the Gospel is good news, and Christ is freely offered unto all; but he is always exhibited as a Saviour from sin, and the good news always suppose and only suit the greatest misery and want. Christ never will be apprehended, unless the person is deeply sensible that he cannot do without him. Agreeably to this we are taught in a well known form of sound words, that “ Effectual calling is the work of God's Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the Gospel.” Here, if conviction of sin is not spoken of as previous to the enlightened soul's reception of Christ in the Gospel, it is expressly mentioned as always accompanying, and necessary to, if not included in that faith which appropriates him. In the Scriptures it will be found, that only such as felt and feared their misery, applied for salvation. The jailor trembled and believed. The publican, weighed down with a sense of sin, cried for mercy. Most emphatic is the apostle's account of
his own history at conversion, Rom. vii. 9, “ For I was alive without the law once ; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” Without the sentence of death in ourselves, we will never apply to the Saviour. Unless we feel ourselves bondslaves, we will never desire redemption; and till we åre sensible of our starving condition, we will never think of returning to our Father's house. Whether we consider conviction prior to, or contemporary with faith, it is absolutely necessary; and in its nature includes not only a sense of sin, but a certain persuasion that misery will infallibly accompany it, unless we are delivered.
6. It also includes that he insisted much upon a present compliance. When men are persuaded, the end is gained; and Paul never attempted to persuade, but he desired, if possible, to gain the point before he concluded. An advocate at the bar, when a critical and momentous cause is in dependance, makes the utmost exertions to persuade while he pleads, and gain a present decision in favour of his client. If possible, his urgency is increased if the life of a near relation is at stake, if he is absolutely certain that the cause is good, and that only false charges, and not legal bars, stand in the way. In Christ's behalf, the apostle plead that sinners might be saved. Their everlasting life was at stake. Many just charges lay against them, especially from the law of God. These were all answered in the blood of Christ, and every legal bar between them and their complete redemption was removed. Nothing was wanting but
their consent. This the apostle laboured to gain, and prayed them in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God. To prevail with them, he pointed out that even their consent was secured by the divine promise.
When a physician, or a friend by his direction, persuades a person, apparently at the point of death, to make the only experiment which is likely to preserve his life by taking some powerful medicine, he labours now to prevail, and persuade the patient without delay. Paul was in a situation exactly similar. Sinners, whom he endeavoured to persuade, were every moment exposed to eternal death, and therefore he urged a present compliance. While this is in the nature of persuading, many considerations stimulated the apostle to press sinners immediately to comply, and guard against procrastination. These convenient seasons, so congenial to the sinful heart, were not to be depended on, and he might never again see those whom he then addressed; and though he should, their hearts, if not now softened, would be harder, and more steeled against every impression. If they were now gained to Christ, while they would be the apostle's joy and crown in the other world, in this they would immediately commence workers together with him, and cordially join in endeavouring to persuade others. Besides, the sooner any are persuaded to come to Christ, their period of sinning is shorter. and their guilt less aggravated. He did not know how soon they might be cast into that place from which there is no redemption, and the terror of the Lord be fully inflicted.. Every thing loudly called him to use every art to win souls to Christ without
delay. While it was Christ's leading injunction, seek first the kingdom of God; it was the apostle's constant caution, receive not the grace of God in vain, for now is the accepted time, and day of salvation.
7. In persuading men, the apostle earnestly urged them to use all possible means to persuade themselves. In vain do we speak to others about matters of everlasting concern, unless we can prevail with them to think. Recollecting how much he himself was deceived, and certain that others were equally deluded by the deceitful heart, the apostle was truly in earnest to detect their mistake, and open their eyes. Before conversion, sinners are totally unacquainted with their own hearts, and when brought to consideration, then only do they either come to themselves, or to Christ. The means recommended by the apostle were, a diligent study of God's law in its spirituality and extent, serious meditation on the holiness of God, a careful perusal of the written word, great concern about eternity, frequent self-examination, and much fervent prayer.
8. The apostle concluded all his aims at persuading sinners, by assuring them in the most plain and unequivocal terms, that if the fear of the terror of the Lord, in conjunction with other motives, did not prevail timeously to persuade them, they should certainly feel divine wrath, when persuasion would be too late, and wholly in vain. It was this which made him use such urgency with sinners not to receive the grace of God in vain. This, also, made him warn them that if they received it in vain, they would know the great