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that he could not gain an entrance ; no error so specious he could not expose it: though it was a world of vast darkness he visited, he believed the light of life would dissipate it ; his heart was not more intent upon the object than he was confident of success.

The certainty of the promise was equal to its fulness. The Lord Jesus Christ had a special interest in its accomplishment. He had borne their sins in his own body on the tree. The Father had said, he should see of the travail of his own soul and be satisfied; what was left for the apostle was, to preach the word and plead the promise before God. How could he doubt? If he looked to the Author of the promise, the stability of the covenant, the interest of the Savior in the success of truth, he must believe that the great truths of the gospel would prove mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds ; if the Son of God had said, Lo, I am with you, my Spirit shall go before you, he might have confidence, that however feeble his ministrations or inadequate his efforts, they would prove mighty through God. A hope that rested on such a foundation could not fail. Is any thing too hard for the Lord ? Hath he spoken and shall he not do it? The character of Christ, the truth of his promise, the success of his cause, was staked upon the mission of the apostles. And though he turned his face to Rome, where Satan's seat was, where superstition reigned almost without a check, where power and prejudice were armed against the gospel, yet, relying upon the promise of Christ, he believed he should be instrumental in turning many to righteousness, of adding to the church such as should be saved.

2. His confidence in the promise was strengthened by past experience of its truth.

When he first began to preach the gospel to the Jews, the Spirit bore witness to the truth. As he opened their scriptures, and alleged that Jesus was the Christ, many were convinced. And when he turned to the Gentiles, he had still greater success. He had seen them obedient, by word and deed, through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God. He had already taken a wide circuit, dispensing the gospel of the grace of God. He says, from Jerusalem, and round about Illiricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. In all these places, as he had not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God, he had been encouraged by sceing the fruit of his labors. He argued, from the success which had attended him in other places, that he should succeed in Rome. The circumstances would be similar ; he would be called to attack the same system of idolatry; and, having fully tried the gospel as an instrument of conversion, being convinced of its adaptation, having witneised its triumphs, he was ready to preach it at Rome also.

There was an other consideration which strengthened his confidence in the promise of Christ : the providence of God had been his shield in danger. The King of Zion, when he sent out his ministers, early gave intimation that he would watch over their personal safety. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them. The apostle, in the execution of his commission, had been exposed to enemies and dangers, his life had been in imminent peril, but God had cast over him the broad shield of his protection; and he argued that he was preserved from threatened death, because there was other work for him to do. He was well aware of the hazard of setting up the standard of Christ in a heathen city, of preaching an uncompromising gospel to lovers of pleasure, aspirants after power, to the proud and idolatrous ; that he could not expose their system of error and denounce the wrath of God against all unrighteousness of men, without stirring the indignation of the carnal mind; still he would dare to do it, for He who had opened a way of escape from former dangers, would now be his defence, and clothe his message with power.

3. His confidence rested on the indications of Providence, both in regard to himself and to the church at Rome.

1st, In regard to himself. God had given him a strong desire to visit them.

The feelings of a minister are no slight indications of the divine will. The apostle inferred from the fact that he strongly desired to see them, that his visit would prove a blessing. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers ; making request if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end you may be established.

And no other door was opened to him in lesser Asia. He had formerly been hindered ; there had been much work for him to do; but now, having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you, whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you.

He is thus particular, because he believed the purpose of God was to be determined by the leadings of his providence.

Said the venerable Dr. Carey, the father of modern missions to the East, soon after he entered upon his work in Asia, “All my hope is in God; and when I reflect that he has stirred me up to the work, and wrought wonders to prepare the way, I can hope in his providence, and am encouraged and strengthened."

2d, The apostle was equally encouraged by the feeling of the church. It appears they had a similar desire to see him. Their hearts were drawn out to him; they reposed confidence in his character, and believed his visit would be profitable. In the case of his visit to Macedonia, a special revelation was given, because no previous disposition to hear the gospel had been evinced ; but here they were ready to receive the word. As every obstacle which had existed from his engagements and duties was removed, and the church at Rome were waiting for him, he could not hesitate. O, how does it encourage the heart of the minister, when the people, like Cornelius and his friends, are disposed to hear all that is spoken in the name of Christ ! when they are prepared to co-operate with him in every good word and work, giving him their countenance, holding up his hands by their sympathy!

4. His confidence rested on the prayers of the church.

The apostle had a high sense of the efficacy of prayer. He was fully convinced of the established connection between the bestowment of blessings and that preparation that is obtained by asking for them.

It is no less true that God is the source of all divine influence, than that he will be inquired of, sought unto, to bestow that influence. The apostle, though abundantly furnished to his great work, so far from relying upon his gifts, repeatedly solicited an interest in the prayers of those whom he had begotten in the gospel. In the verse following the text, in reference to his intended journey to Jerusalem, the dangers to which he might be exposed, the prejuaices he might be called to encounter, he earnestly entreats the prayers of his brethren at Rome.

Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me ; that I

may be delivered from them that do evil in Judea ; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints ; that I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed. The degree of confidence he reposed in the prayers of God's people is expressed in his Epistle to the Philippians - For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. When therefore he had reason, to believe that in reference to his proposed visit to Rome, multitudes of the saints were daily at the throne on his behalf, lifting up their hearts that he might be an instrument of good, he might well say, I am sure that when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.

Such are some of the grounds of the apostle's confidence ; it was not hastily indulged nor blindly persisted in; it rested on a reasonable basis; nor was he made ashamed of his hope. His subsequent history proved that his divine Master went with him. Some even of Cesar's household believed. He planted the standard of the cross on the royal palace, and the lodgment which had been made in Rome was maintained, and the victories commenced were carried forward, till every idol was prostrate, every heathen temple consecrated to the living God; till incense and a pure offering ascended from every altar.

We close this discussion with a few brief remarks.

1. We see what ought to be the sole and single object of ministers who visit a people : the same that was before the apostle ; to be instrumental of doing good; to make them wise unto salvation.

This should be the controlling object of every minister -- to this he ought to bend all his powers, direct all his efforts ; for this he ought to make every sacrifice, give up every preference ; for this mortify his love of ease, of society, of science ; his regard for reputation, his desire of influence. Accounting it his highest honor to be associated with Christ and his apostles in the divine work of

evangelizing the world; every step he takes should be directed to the attainment of this object, every sermon and visit have this only aim. Surely it is wise to view this subject now as we shall view it on a bed of death, with eternity in view, when the worth of souls and a sense of obligation is realized. How did the venerable Brown of Haddington, the pious Doddridge, the devoted Baxter, look upon the object of a minister's study and labor, when they came to die? They regretted that they had not been more single in their view and dealt more faithfully with souls. How can I gain the largest acces- . sions to the kingdom of Christ, how can I be the means of bringing the greatest number of sinners to Jesus, is the question which ought to engross a minister's most vigorous thoughts. He should be a man of one purpose.

2. We may learn that all success is of God.

Although the apostle preached and labored and prayed as though the whole weight of the vast fabric of the church rested upon him, still he manifested as much dependance, looked as much for aid from above, as though he had done nothing. He seemed to understand perfectly these two great principles of the gospel --- activity on the one hand, and dependance on the other.

No man ever exercised more vigilance and self-denial, more engagedness and perseverance; no man ever prayed and trusted more; lived more by faith, or put on more patience; and yet, after all his tears and prayers, his watering and planting, he felt that God must give the increase. And in this he is the pattern of every gospel minister. Those who depend upon their own resources and accomplishments, upon talent and learning, policy and eloquence, will find that there is a darkness upon the human understanding which no light of reason and science can dissipate -- an obduracy in the natural heart which no arguments can overcome, no persuasion soften. It is not by might nor by power, but by the living energy of the Spirit of God, that the heart is renewed, and the sinner saved. After Paul had gone on from conquering to conquer, planting churches and bringing men to a knowledge of the truth, he pauses in the midst of his victories, and says, lest any should trust in man, Who then is Paul, who then is Apollos, but ministers, mere instruments by whom ye believed? All our sufficiency is of God.

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