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Title: The Believer not Ashamed of the Gospel
Author: Hoare, Edward N.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcribed from the [1850] edition by David Price, email


                                * * * * *

                       THE SIXTH ANNIVERSARY SERMON
                                  OF THE
                  Church of England Young Men’s Society,
                   ON TUESDAY EVENING, APRIL 23, 1850,
                                  BY THE
                         REV. EDWARD HOARE, M.A.

                                * * * * *

    “_For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ_: _for it is the power
    of God unto salvation to every one that believeth_.”—Romans i. 16.

                                * * * * *

THERE is nothing more strange than human nature.  It is afraid where no
fear is: yet bold in the midst of danger.  It is ashamed where there is
no disgrace; and yet shameless, when it ought to be abased, even to the
dust.  It is proud of things which do it no honour, and yet ashamed of
gifts which are the wonder and admiration of the saints in heaven.  If a
man is possessed of great intellectual attainments, he is never found to
be ashamed of them!  If he is successful in the accumulation of wealth,
he is never known to be ashamed of that; if he is remarkable for worldly
wisdom, he is never tempted to be ashamed of that; nor, if he deduces his
pedigree from a long line of ennobled ancestry, does he show any tendency
to be ashamed of that.  But if, on the other hand, he be made partaker of
the highest gift that the world has ever known—the gift of the grace of
God in his heart—the most blessed and glorious gift within the reach
either of man or angel—then, strange to say! such is the folly of human
nature, that he is strongly tempted to be ashamed of that; ashamed of the
deep emotions which the Spirit of God has kindled within his soul,
ashamed of that which, in the secrets of his own heart, he acknowledges
to be his hope, his joy, his salvation, and his glory.

Now this is no new thing in the church of Christ, and the words of the
text are a clear recognition of its existence in the days, and even in
the heart, of St. Paul.  He was not “ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.”
But the temptation was there; the sense of shame _did_ arise in his
heart, and _did_ struggle there; but the grace of God overcame it.  So
that in allusion to this victory, he makes the declaration of the text.
Now what does this declaration imply? and what is the full force of the
sentiment contained in it?  Clearly that he was not ashamed of confessing
Christ, and of acknowledging, before both Jew and Gentile, that his whole
life was wrapt up in Christ.  Nay, more! that he was not ashamed of
preaching Christ, of consecrating his every power to the holy work of
proclaiming Christ before the world.  The text, therefore, appears well
suited for an address to the Church of England Young Men’s Society, as I
trust it may be said of the great body of young men composing it, that
they are not “ashamed of the Gospel of Christ;” not ashamed of confessing
Him before men, nor of uniting together, as a holy band of faithful
labourers, in the earnest endeavour to spread His Gospel through the

Let us examine, then, into the reasons why St. Paul was not “ashamed of
the Gospel of Christ,” and we shall find three especially mentioned in
the text—the Divinity of its origin, the blessedness of its end, and the
magnificence of its terms.

                                * * * * *

I.  _The Divinity of its origin_.  “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of
Christ, for it is the _power of God_.”  By which he means that it is no
human system, but a Divine scheme, divinely planned and purposed; a
scheme contrived by no human wisdom, nor carried into effect by any human
power; a scheme Divine in its plan, Divine in its execution, and Divine
in its application to the soul.  The purpose was His, arranged in His own
eternal counsels; the execution was His, and His alone to perform the
vast work by which atonement and mediation could be provided for the
sinner; the application again is His, for who but Himself can really
bring home the Gospel with appropriating power to the soul, can really
touch the hard heart, and soften down the rebellious sinner into the
humble and believing child of God?  The whole, therefore, is Divine; from
first to last it is the work of God; and thus it stands out, far above
every other system, as the most marvellous combination, which the world
has ever witnessed, of Divine wisdom, Divine love, and Divine

There are many practical lessons to be learned from such a fact.

It should teach us, in the first place, the proper limits of human
inquiry with reference to the Gospel.  We must never forget that the
human understanding has its own most important sphere of action, and that
its enlightened exercise is essential to the right reception of the truth
of God.  We are not at liberty, for example, to shut up the
understanding, and deliver ourselves blindfold to the guidance of any
church which may call itself infallible, but we are bound as thinking men
to examine the credentials of its assumed infallibility.  And so with
reference to the Word of God itself, it is our manifest duty to study
well the proofs of its inspiration, and the careful examination of
scriptural evidences is a legitimate and noble theme for the diligent
exercise of an enlightened understanding.  Then again the understanding
must be employed in the patient study of the contents of the inspired
Book.  Having learned that it is the Book of God, we must next inquire
what it teaches, and being satisfied that it contains the truth, we must
proceed to examine what the truth is which it contains.  But this truth
being once ascertained, the understanding must immediately give place to
faith, and the inquiring spirit must simply believe what the inspired
Word is found to teach him.  The Gospel is the power of God, and
therefore the human mind must be prepared to find in it many things
altogether beyond its range.  If it were the work of man we should of
course expect to find the whole within the compass of man’s intellect;
but as it is the power of God, His own plan and His own purpose, we must
be prepared to meet with deep and unfathomable truths, bearing some
proportion to His infinite and unfathomable attributes.  Thus, for
example, our finite minds are unable to comprehend the great mystery of
the incarnation, or how one person can be at the same time both God and
man; but such a difficulty is no stumbling-block to the believer, for
though by reason he cannot understand it, yet he finds it written in the
Scriptures, and by faith he receives it, for the Gospel is the power of
God.  It was the neglect of this principle that led to the error of the
Sadducees, as we are taught by our Lord in the twenty-second chapter of
St. Matthew, and the twenty-ninth verse: “Ye do err, not knowing the
Scriptures, nor the power of God.”  They had not employed their
understanding when they ought to have done so, namely, in the
investigation of their Bibles, but they had employed it where it could
give them no safe guidance, namely, in vain speculation on fancied
difficulties in the plans and purposes of God.  To avoid a similar error
we must bear in mind that the Gospel, being Divine in its origin, is
likewise superhuman in its arrangements, and we must adhere strictly to
the great principle of diligent investigation when we want to know what
God has taught us, and of simple faith when we have once discovered the
vast truths revealed to us by His Spirit.

Again, the fact that the Gospel is the power of God should fill our
hearts with hope in every effort for its extension; and we find it so
employed by the Lord when He taught us in His prayer to urge it as an
argument for the speedy coming of His kingdom.  We may observe that the
spread of the Lord’s kingdom has always required men to make attempts
apparently beyond the reach of human power.  Nothing, for example, could
have appeared less probable eighteen hundred years ago than that the
whole of civilized Europe should be more or less controlled by the
preaching of twelve ill-educated fishermen on the shores of Galilee; but
so it is; and for the simple reason that “the Gospel is the power of
God.”  It would have appeared at first sight next to impossible that such
an one as William Tyndale, a private tutor in a gentleman’s family in
Gloucestershire, should break down the barrier which Rome had raised
against the circulation of the Scriptures, and force the New Testament
into this country in spite of the united powers of Henry, of Wolsey, of
the nobility of England, and the hierarchy of Rome.  But the Gospel was
the power of God, and the humble private tutor triumphed.  Nothing could
have appeared more hopeless to all human calculation than the mission of
Mr. Marsden, when he first landed among the cannibals of New Zealand, and
saw lying stranded on the shore the hull of a vessel whose unfortunate
crew had been recently devoured by the islanders; but he landed there in
faith, and because the Gospel is “the power of God,” the island has been
won to the sovereignty of our Queen, and a noble church gathered out to
the glory of the Lord.  So in all our present efforts we must ever bear
in mind that our weapon, the simple Gospel of the Lord Jesus, is not a
human but Divine instrumentality, and we must endeavour to go forth to
our work in the same spirit in which Morrison went to China, of whom it
is related, that, when asked on one occasion, “Do you expect to convert
the Chinese?” he replied, “No, but I expect that the Lord will.”  There
may be many hindrances, for example, in the way of the Jews’ conversion,
and much to dishearten the devoted labourer in the dense masses of our
manufacturing population, but who need be discouraged when he strives to
preach a Saviour, and remembers that his simple message is the mighty
power of an omnipotent God?  And so with reference to the great
principles of the Reformation, those principles so inexpressibly dear to
the heart of every scriptural believer, there may be much to alarm in all
we see around us; in the many adversaries, some open, and some secret;
some in undisguised opposition to the truth, and some professing it, it
is much to be feared, for the unhallowed purpose of betraying it.  Yes!
there is much to be feared; but there is much more to be hoped for by the
Christian; for our weapons are Divine; our trust is in the Word of God,
the truth of God, the grace of God; and therefore we may go on our way
fearlessly, peacefully, hopefully, joyously, for we know where our
strength lies, in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus, which is the power of God
unto salvation.

                                * * * * *

II.  We may pass on then to the second reason why we should not be
ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, namely, the blessedness of its end.  It
is the power of God “unto salvation.”  Now what is meant by this
salvation?  It must not be limited to one particular act of God or to
another, but includes the whole work of Divine grace in the soul,
commencing with the new birth, and about to be perfected at the glorious
appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  When a man is accepted
in Christ Jesus, and born again of God the Holy Spirit, then is that poor
sinner declared in the Scripture to be saved.  He is saved, for he is
adopted into the family of God, and he no longer stands condemned as a
guilty, sinful, child of wrath; “to as many as received Him to them gave
He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His
name.”  He is saved, for he has a new life bestowed on him, which all the
powers of death shall never be able to extinguish, for he is “born again
not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which
liveth and abideth for ever.”  He is saved, for he is born to be a
conqueror; so that although there may be a deep struggle in the secrets
of his heart, and many a strong temptation alluring him from his course,
and exerting such a power over his soul, that he trembles at times lest
he should be plunged again into the abyss of sin; yet through it all he
comes forth a conqueror, and the Scriptures are proved true, which
declare without reserve, “Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the
world.”  Nay, more!  He is saved, for he is adopted into a coheirship
with his Lord.  He passes through life like other men, engaged in
interests, afflicted by its sorrows, and partaking of its joys.  You meet
him in society, and you observe no marked distinction, except in his
character.  But all the while the hidden seal is on his forehead, the
Father’s name is written there, and the quiet, humble believer, with
nothing here to attract attention, is in the sight of God a child of God;
and is destined to reign triumphant in the approaching kingdom of his
Lord: “If children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with

But this is merely the first step in the great salvation.  The living
believer, though saved, is in the midst of his warfare.  He may be
confident of victory, but he dare not lay aside his armour.  We must look
forward therefore to the time when his struggle will be over, and his
victory perfected in Christ; when his ransomed spirit shall take its
place in the great multitude, who stand in the presence, and behold the
glory of the Lord.  How many are there that have stood beside the open
grave, grieving, and bitterly grieving, for the loss of those over whose
remains it was about to close!  But how would that grief be soothed,
could we only see beyond the veil, and there witness the joy of the new
born spirit, no longer struggling against sin, nor bowed down by its
heavy burden; no more contending against its subtlety, nor compelled to
confess its power; but welcomed there to uninterrupted blessedness, a
spotless spirit in the joy and presence of the Lord.

But even this is not all.  It is enough to fill our hearts with gladness
to know that the departed spirit rests in perfect peace before the throne
of God; but there are blessings richer still in store for all the saints
of God.  There is a time coming when there shall be no division in the
family, nor any great gulf between the brethren assembled before the
throne, and the brethren still struggling upon earth; but when the whole
of God’s elect shall be gathered; when the Jew, the European, the
African, and the New Zealander, will all be assembled into one company,
to bow before one throne, to speak one language, and to join in one
universal hymn of praise to the one Author of their eternal life.  Then
again each individual will be perfected.  There will not then be merely
the spirit in separation from the flesh, but it will be reunited to the
risen body, as pure, as spotless, as incorruptible as itself.  And who
can realize the joy of that wonderful day, when all shall be gathered, so
that no single individual of the whole family shall be absent, and all
shall be perfected, so that throughout the whole multitude there shall
not be found a single spot or stain of sin—when the whole corruption of
our nature shall be gone, the whole effect of that corruption gone
likewise, and the whole church of God created anew in the perfect
likeness and image of the Lord?  Such is the great, the complete
salvation.  And the present means for compassing this mighty end is the
simple preaching of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus.  Men go forth with
stammering lips, and multiplied deficiencies; but God is blessing their
message for the ingathering of His own elect, and the final completion of
His own glory.  So that notwithstanding all defects, we may look onwards
to the great result, and say with St. Paul—“I am not ashamed of the
Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation.”

                                * * * * *

III.  But, following the guidance of the text, we are led to a third
reason why we should not be ashamed of the Gospel, namely, _the
magnificence of its terms_.  “It is the power of God unto salvation to
every one that believeth, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

It is in human nature to admire anything that is grand and glorious.  The
heavens, the sea, the mountains, command our admiration by the beauty of
their appearance, and the vastness of their scale.  But in the whole
range of the works of God, there is nothing to be compared in grandeur
with the Gospel of Christ.  It is the most perfect display of the most
perfect and holy of His attributes.  If it be inquired which is the
greatest of all His holy attributes, it will not be found to be His
omnipotence or His omniscience, but that in which all the rest are summed
up by the inspired Word, when it says, “God is love.”  And if, again, it
be inquired how this crowning attribute has been most abundantly
exhibited, we shall not find our answer either in creation or in
providence, but in “the height and depth and length and breadth of the
love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.”  “Herein is love, not that we
loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation
for our sins.”

Now this love is displayed in the Gospel, according to the language of
the text, both in the extent of the offer, and the freedom of its terms.

In the _extent of its offer_; for there is no limitation of any kind
whatever, but the door is thrown open to every one that believeth, to
whatever nation it may be his portion to belong.  It is “the power of God
unto salvation, to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also
to the Greek.”  There is none excluded, nor any who possesses a peculiar
interest in the promise.  It is, indeed, preached first to the Jew; but
he has no exclusive interest in its blessing, for the Greek, or Gentile,
is accepted on the same terms, and made partaker of the same inestimable
gifts.  It is well, therefore, that we should strive to stir up each
other’s hearts in the work of missions, both to the Jews and to the
heathens; to the colonists in distant lands, and to the great masses of
our uninstructed countrymen at home.  The Gospel is the same power to all
classes and in all lands.  The Jew may long strive to work out a
salvation for himself, and rest content in his own most sinful
righteousness; but let the grace of God touch his heart, and he will find
the Gospel to be the power of God unto his salvation, while he kneels, in
faith and deep humiliation, before the throne of his crucified and risen
Lord.  The manufacturer may be for a time lost in the midst of the dense
population with which he is surrounded, having his mind soured by the
preachers of sedition, and his heart estranged from God through the
deadly teaching of the Chartist and the Socialist; but let the earnest
pastor convey to him in his own home, or preach to him in the church, the
life-giving Gospel of the Lord, and it is found to be the power of God
unto his salvation; so that the bold blasphemer becomes the meek, the
humble, the believing child of God.  So again with our colonists.  They
are a class of persons for whom we should feel the most tender sympathy.
Many of them are compelled to leave their country on account of poverty;
and then, settling in some distant settlement, are wholly cut off from
their wonted enjoyment of the means of grace.  Many who once loved the
house of God at home, now rarely hear the voice of the minister; and, if
ever they enjoy the blessing of the communion, can only hope for it after
the long interval of many years.  But the Gospel is the power of God unto
their salvation; and it is delightful to realise the joy felt by
multitudes of thirsting souls, when the faithful missionary arrives on
his long-expected visit, and sets forth, in rich simplicity, the
unsearchable riches of Christ.  So again to the poor African, the unhappy
captive of that wicked slave-trade, torn from his home, his wife, his
children, his all that is dear to him on earth, is the same Gospel
brought home with the same power.  It is a shame that the heart of every
Englishman is not moved to its very core, by the awful miseries inflicted
by that most guilty traffic; and, while we look at the apathy of the
Christian church upon the subject, we may well exclaim, ‘Where is the
spirit of Clarkson and William Wilberforce, of Buxton and Zachary
Macaulay?’  Why are we not all stirring heart and soul to remove such a
curse from human nature?  There is a joy, however, in placing the happy
peace of the believing African, in bright contrast to the dark horrors of
the abominable traffic, and in following the liberated captive on his
way, till we find him in one of the Sierra Leone churches; a holy
believer, a living, happy, triumphant, witness that the Gospel of the
Lord Jesus is the power of God unto salvation.

But the real beauty of the Gospel consists in the _freedom of its terms_,
as expressed in the latter part of the text:—“to every one that
believeth.”  These words show that salvation is granted freely without
any preparatory qualification in the sinner; and if this one feature in
it were changed, it would at once be stripped of all its excellence and
power.  Suppose, for example, that the text were otherwise expressed, and
that it were said, “The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, to
every one that _repenteth_:” we could never then have laid hold on a
Saviour’s love, until we had ascertained a clear evidence, in our own
soul, of a repentance so perfect as to be satisfactory before God; or, in
other words, we should have been for ever cut off from mercy.  Or suppose
it had been written, “to every one that loves:” we must then have turned
our thoughts inwards for a strict scrutiny of our own affections, and
although we desired with the whole heart to love the Lord, we should have
found there so much of cold apathy, that we should have been compelled to
the conclusion that the great salvation could never be for us.  Or
suppose that the common low standard of the world had been adopted, and
the text had been written, “to every one that does all in his power to
deserve it:” where, we ask, is that man who has even fulfilled this low
requirement, and who would not through his manifold defects and
deficiencies, be for ever excluded from the covenant?  But thanks be to
God, the text says, “to every one that believeth!”  Now faith is the act
of the lost soul in laying hold on Christ.  The Gospel therefore requires
no preparatory fitness, it does not bid us wait till we repent enough, or
till we love enough, or till we have endeavoured enough; but it does bid
us trust, as we are, to the Saviour who died for us; and it does assure
us, because He made a perfect atonement for the whole of our sin, that
“whosoever believeth on Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting
life.”  This one great truth is the very key-stone of the Gospel; and let
any poor, guilty, brokenhearted sinner only learn through God’s grace
what it is to accept that free pardon in faith, and then it will be
strange, indeed, if he cannot enter into the spirit of the apostle, when
he declares, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the
power of God unto salvation.”

Now let us thank God that there is in this metropolis a body of young
men, to the number of about 1,200, and in other parts of the country to
the number of about 1,200 more, who are not ashamed of the Gospel; not
ashamed of the broken heart,—not ashamed of being called saints,—not
ashamed of uniting together heart and soul in the earnest endeavour to
spread the glad tidings of a free salvation through the world.  May the
Lord prosper their work, and give them all an experimental knowledge of
the Gospel which they strive to spread!  If a man look on it merely as a
theory, he is very likely to be ashamed of it; but if he know the joy of
an abiding and soul-saving union with his Lord, then may we hope to see
him take his stand, as an earnest and unflinching witness for Christ.  It
is the deep sense of Divine love that must move all hearts to labour for
His kingdom.  So may God grant us all grace to labour till the day when
all toil shall cease in the joyful presence of our reigning Lord!  How
shall we then feel, if you and I are permitted to meet on that day, on
the right hand of the throne!  What triumphant praises will then burst
forth from the whole company of God’s elect! what joy will thrill through
every heart, to whom the Lord shall in that day be pleased to say, “Well
done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord!”
Let us labour now with that bright end in view; remembering that we are
nothing and thanking God for the knowledge of our nothingness; but
remembering, likewise, that Christ Jesus is our all, our life, our peace,
our joy, our hope; and that, therefore, it is our delightful privilege,
although we be nothing, to cast that nothing before His throne, and
consecrate all with entire simplicity to His service.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *


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