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you, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For 1 neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”* -Such' was the Word preached by all the Apostles of Chrißt. It was in the strictest sense, "the Word of God.” They were under the immediate inspiration of the Holy Ghost ; " who taught them all things, and brought all things to their remembrance, whatsoever Christ had said unto them.” So that according to his own declaration to them ; " It was not they that spake, but the Spirit of their Father which spake in them.”+ Such also is the written word, contained in the Bible. It is, " in truth the Word of God.” Men were employed to write it, but they wrote under the especial direction and guidance of the Holy Ghost. By his power they were kept from error. " All Scripture is given by inspiration of God;" and " prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."* So that the written word is as certainly the Word of God as that preached by the Apostles themselves; and God as directly speaks to us in the Bible, as he spake * Gal. i. 11, 12.
+ Matt, x. 20. I 2 Tim. iii. 16.-2 Peter, i. 21.
to the Jews by the mouth of his Prophets. -The same also may be said of the Word now, and at all times preached by the true Ministers of Christ. They indeed lay no claim to inspiration, or to any extraordinary influence of the Spirit; but still, so long as their preaching agrees with the written Word of God; so long as the doctrine and precepts which they teach, are either contained in Scripture, or are founded on it, or can fairly be drawn from it, the word which they preach, is "in truth the Word of God." They are God's messengers to their fellow-creatures. They speak in his name. They sound forth his truths. And hence it may be justly said, in a lower sense indeed, but not in an improper use of the passage, that "the words which they speak are not theirs, but His, who sends them."
But the description here given of the Word may be considered farther, as to its effects, "Iteffectually worketh in them that believe." God not only makes use of his word as the channel for revealing to us his will, but appoints it as his instrument, for quickening us when dead, and for “creating us anew in Christ Jesus unto good works." There is a peculiar power which attends the Word, The Lord pours out his Spirit with his Word; and thus makes the Word effectual
in promoting his work of grace in the soul. St. Peter tells us that those“ who have purified their souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit, are born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."* Hence the Word of God is called in Scripture, “the Rod'of his Strength.” Hence, the Lord inquires, by his Prophet Jeremiah " Is not my Word like as a fire? and like a hammer, that breaketh the rock in pieces ?" Hence David declares of the Word of God, not only that it " enlightens the eyes, and maketh wise the simple," but also that it #converteth the soul.”
But to obtain clearer notions on this point, we may consider two respects in which the Word effectually works in them that believe. 2. In producing Conviction of sin.
Conviction of sin is the begitining of life in the soul. Our Saviour said of the Spirit, that when he should come, he would " convince the world of Sin:"$ which means, that by his secret work on the heart, he would cause men to see and feel their sing in a way in which they had not seen and felt thett before: and this effect he produces by the Word of God; which is therefore called
* i Peter, i. 22, 23. * Psalm, ex. 2,- Jeremiah, xxiii. 29.--Psalm, xix. 7. # John, xvi. 8.
“the Sword of the spirit;" that effectual instrument, which is." quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and narrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."* By this spiritual weapon a man's false peace is destroyed. Hitherto perhaps he has bad a good opinion of his own heart. He has thought favourably of his merits and pretensions. Though he has confessed himself to be a sinner, yet he has never felt that he is one. He is offended at being told, that he is an enemy to God, and full of all evil. But through mercy he is brought under the faithful preaching of the Word: A divine influence attends the appointed instrument. It comes home with power to his heart. It begins with shaking his self-confidence: by degrees it opens to him his own sinful nature; it brings to his remembrance many sins, which he had long forgotten; shews him how very fart he is from being the righteous character, which he bas supposed himself to be: teaches him to measure, not only his actions, but even his words and thoughts, by the pure standard of God's law; sets before him the dreadful punishment threatened against sin; till at length, "convinced of all, judged of all," alarmed at his guilt and danger, he anxiously looks around for help, and cries, " What shall I do to be saved ?
* Ephes. vi, 17.-Heb. iv. 19.
And have we not at times felt something of the same effect? When we have heard the Word, have not our consciences been disturbed ? Has not a suspicion been raised in us, that we are more guilty than we would willingly believe ourselves to be? Have we not been forced, as it were, to apply what has been said to ourselves, and have felt some serious alarm at our danger ? Such convictions, such alarms, have been the working of God's Spirit on our souls. Hitherto perhaps we have resisted and stifled them. God grant, that it may not be always thus ! God grant, that his Word may so effectually fasten
on our hearts, as to work in us genuine repentance and real faith!
But farther, the Word of God effectually worketh in them that believe,
2. In binding up the broken heart. The same instrument which gives the wound, brings also the cure. The Word of God, which convinces the soul of sin, reveals also a way in which that sin may be forgiven. It proclaims a gracious Saviour, whose "blood cleanseth from all sin.” It sets before the convinced and trembling sinner a remedy