THE WANT OF A DIVINE CALL A MAIN CAUSE OF FAILURE IN THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY.
We may sometimes trace Ministerial failure to the very threshold of the entrance into the work. Was the call to thesacred office clear in the order of the church, and according to the will of God? This question bears with vast importance upon the subject. Where the call is manifest, the promise is assured.1 But if we run unsent, our labours must prove unblest. Many, we fear, have never exercised their minds upon this inquiry. But do not we see thestanding ordinance of the church written upon their unfruitful Ministrations—” I sent them not, nor commanded them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the lord?”‘ The blast was not, that their doctrine was unsound, but that they preached unsent.
I do believe, from soul experience, that one of the greatest, if not the greatest burden and trial to the child of God, is the daily, hourly, minutely, momently workings of sin. The adulterous eye, the roving heart, the defiled imagination, the constant stream of iniquity polluting every word and thought, every feeling and desire, is and must be a burden to the soul, just in proportion as the fear of God lives and works in a man’s conscience.
We can have no greater evidence of a change in us from this state and condition, than a change wrought in the course of our thoughts. A relinquishment of this or that particular sin is not an evidence of a translation from this state; for, as was said, such particular sins proceed from particular lusts and temptations, and are not the immediate universal consequence of that depravation of nature which is equal in all. Such alone
are the vanity and wickedness of the thoughts and imaginations of the heart.
Where prayers are effectual, they will bring in spiritual strength. But the prayers of many seem to be very spiritual, and to express all conceivable supplies of grace, and they are persisted in with constancy, — and God forbid we should judge them to be hypocritical and wholly insincere, — yet there is a defect somewhere, which should be inquired after, for they
are not so answered as that they who pray them are strengthened with strength in their souls. There is not that spiritual thriving, that growth in grace, which might be expected to accompany such supplications.