FROM LETTERS BY JOHN ELIAS 1774-1841*
1 On the Loss of a Pastor
1. Pray for more of the Lord’s gracious presence among you, and a more copious out-pouring of the Holy Spirit upon you. Jesus Christ promised His Spirit to comfort His disciples after His departure from them; and He doubtless can comfort His church upon the loss of a faithful minister.
2. Resolve one with another that all of you in person, family and church, will strive to walk in the paths you were taught, and earnestly encouraged to pursue, by the brother that is fallen asleep in Christ.
3. Persevere and labour to preserve church union among you. ‘Let brotherly love continue among you, endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.’ Let each resolve, by the help of God’s grace, that nothing on his part, either in judgment, words, or conduct, shall be the means of disturbing the peace of the church, or weakening her union. Christ did not pray so earnestly for anything, neither did He seek anything so frequently in His last prayer, as the union of His people, that they might be one. The Apostles, in their letters to the churches, earnestly exhorted them to maintain brotherly love and union, to be of ‘the same mind, of the same judgment,’ agreeing together, thinking the same thing, and having the same love together; and thus they taught them that this is the way to obtain edification and consolation and the presence of God. He is the God of love and peace. And He dwells where these excellences reign. The union of the church is the true minister’s fulness of joy; ‘Fulfil my joy by thinking the same thing.’ It will be easy to be peaceable if we have grace to be humble and self-denying. The contentious and quarrelsome loves himself more than Christ and His church. He would, for the sake of name and opinion, destroy, as far as his influence goes, the church for which Christ died! I think better things of you.
4. Pray much for growth in spiritual, experimental, and evangelical religion, and for spiritual taste, that you may love the Gospel for its sound doctrines, and not on account of the gifts or delivery of any minister. And endeavour to come to hear the Word as the hungry man comes to the table, to satisfy his craving appetite; not as the glutton at the end of the feast, undecided out of what dish he may eat, but like the little children, desiring the sincere milk of the Word.
5 Let every member of the church be careful as to their expressions, that their conversation be always seasoned with grace, tending to administer grace to the hearer. Real grace governs the tongue: the professor whose tongue is ungovernable, deceives himself. The tongue has injured flourishing churches often. Let us use our tongue for the glory of God.
6 Let the churches be very careful as to their young ones. Let them feed the kids near the Shepherd’s tents. Take care of the lambs that belong to Christ’s fold. The good Shepherd bears them in His bosom. And the church officers who love Christ are commanded to feed them. One of the signs of the foolish and false shepherds is this, ‘Neither shall seek the young one.’ Zechariah 11.16. O brethren! care for the young, for out of them God will raise up for you priests and Levites. Some of them will be princes in all your land presently. Now I conclude -but say to the elders (as Israel did to Joshua, in chapter 1.17,18), Pray for me also.
2. On preaching the Gospel
Much at present is said about preaching the Gospel. It would not, therefore, be unprofitable for preachers and hearers to examine themselves, and see whether they understand what is the nature and end of preaching the Gospel. Not every one who is called a minister of the Gospel preaches it. What he delivers may not be the Gospel, though so called. It may not be good news to a sinner who sees his miserable state before God. Let us consider then-
What it is to preach the Gospel. It is to declare and publish good tidings respecting the way of saving sinners from their sins and the wrath of God, shewing that salvation springs out of the sovereign grace and love of God. Luke 21.10,11. Acts 20.24. John 3.16. It is to preach Christ, in His person, offices, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and intercession. It is to ‘preach Christ crucified.’ 1 Corinthians 1.23. It is to preach the blessings that are to be received through Christ’s merits, reconciliation, forgiveness, justification, sanctification, full salvation. It is to publish Christ as everything which a sinner needs. It is indeed ‘the Gospel of our salvation.’ 1 Corinthians 1.30; Ephesians 1.13. It is to invite lost sinners to Christ; to urge them to believe in Him, to receive Him, and to make use of Him. Acts 10.36,43; 16.31. Romans 3.22; 10.9,10. It is only by the Gospel that the Holy Ghost works savingly on the souls of men. It is the ministration of the Spirit: He works powerfully by it. If we expect Him to work on the souls of men, we must preach it purely and fully. Galatians 2.5. 2 Corinthians 3.8. 1 Thessalonians 1.5; 2.13. Romans 1.16.
2 Let us next consider who are to preach the Gospel. Doubtless those whom Christ has called and sent for that purpose. He received gifts for men, and He gives shepherds and teachers to the church. The body of Christ is not made up by any but by those who are sent by Him. Those whom He sends to preach the Gospel have themselves been brought to understand, believe, and experience its truths. He does not send any persons to warn sinners of their danger and their ruin but such as have known their own miserable and lost state by nature, and the terrors of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5.11. He does not send enemies as messengers of peace but those that are able to say, ‘We have peace with God, who hath reconciled us to himself, and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.’ Romans 5.1; 2 Corinthians 5.18,19. He does not send any to commend and exalt Christ who are ignorant of His greatness and saving excellences, but such as have seen His glory in some degree, and have tasted that the Lord is gracious. John
1.14. 1 Peter 2.3. Those who are sent by God to preach the Gospel do not set forth themselves but Christ. They seek not their own glory, nor wish for the praise of men on account of their gifts, skill, and eloquence or anything else. John 7.18. 2 Corinthians 4.5. 1 Thessalonians 2.6. They are examples to the flock; they are patterns in soberness, godly sincerity, simplicity, humility, and self-denying and every holy virtue. 1 Peter 5.3. 1 Thessalonians 2.10. Philippians 4.8,9; 2 Corinthians 6.6.
3. Let us next observe what are the ends of preaching the Gospel. It s to exalt and magnify the sovereign grace and love of God. The chief end He has in view in all his works is to glorify Himself, and to glorify His grace in the salvation of men. Therefore we preach among the Gentiles the ‘unsearchable riches of Christ,’ shewing the wonders of divine love, the abundance of mercy, and the riches of grace. As it is the chief end of God to glorify His grace in man’s salvation, it should be the end of those that preach the Gospel of peace to exalt the grace of God. They exalt and glorify Christ, preaching Him, His cross, and death, shewing forth His excellences, and suitableness as a Mediator and Saviour of sinners. Christ will be exalted when the Holy Ghost works by the ministry of the Gospel. We cannot preach the Gospel, leaving the Saviour out of the question, or making Him some secondary thing in the sermon. 2 Corinthians 4.4. John 16.14. Another end is saving sinners. It is called ‘the Gospel of our salvation;’ publishing salvation. It was intended as a means to save souls. When the Spirit works by it, the Gospel becomes the power of God unto salvation. ‘God, by the foolishness of preaching, saves them that believe.’ Ephesians 1.13. Romans 1.16. 1 Corinthians 1.21.
4. As it is one end of the Gospel to save souls, ministers should preach in a very sober and earnest manner. They should shew their hearers that they are guilty, vile, and lost sinners. Then they .should preach Christ as a complete and willing Saviour to such. They should invite lost sinners, sensible of their misery, to flee to Him, and shew that none who believe in Him shall be lost. They should also declare that it is a great sin and folly to reject Christ; that the Spirit overcomes the obstinacy of men, and makes them willing to believe in Christ. Ministers should also shew that faith works by love, produces obedience, and brings forth every good work.
There is, however, room to fear that not every speaker in the pulpit, though very fluent and respectable, preaches the Gospel; and that many who intend entering the ministry do not consider its nature and great importance. Many think that, if they can speak boldly and fluently on some religious subjects, they may then preach the Gospel, when perhaps they knew but little of it themselves. They may take pains to deliver their speeches well and in a manner acceptable to the people, without any sincere aim or desire to set forth the excellences of Christ, and the grace of God in the salvation of sinners.
Ministers should preach the Gospel in a clear, intelligent manner, in plain expressions, easily understood by the people; words taught by the Holy Ghost; speaking them as the words of God in the manifestation of the truth, and in the demonstration of the Spirit. If so, there will be no mixing it with philosophical reasoning and tales, or curious perplexing expressions, contrivance of the flesh or the wisdom of the world. 1 Corinthians 2.4,13,14; 2 Corinthians 4.2.
They should preach it experimentally. It is true that none but God can teach them to preach in that way. It is possible to please the curious and the whole-hearted with a dry human harangue. But in order to ‘speak a word in season to the weary’ there will be need for the teaching which is from above. The speaker must be acquainted with the misery of man by the fall, and his conviction of sin, dying to the law, fleeing to Christ for life and acceptance, and also with the succour of grace and joy of the Holy Ghost; being able to speak to the people the things he has seen and experienced. Isaiah 54.13; 50.4.
Ministers should preach in a practical manner: indeed all the doctrines of the Gospel should be preached so. Things relating to man’s salvation should be known and possessed, to benefit him. They never were intended to be discussed and argued as curious points. It is a useless work for a minister merely to please, though it be as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, amusing his hearers without bringing them to believe and to act. But let us teach them to do everything which the Lord hath commanded, and exhort them to attend to duties on evangelical principles. Ezekiel 33.32. Matthew 28.19,20.
Ministers should preach in the way of application, speaking to the people, not only concerning them, but also questioning them in such a manner as this, ‘Do you see your ruined state, and the value of the Gospel and its treasures? Do you believe the Word of God? Do you receive Christ? Have you experienced the virtues of the Gospel, and imbibed them? Do you bring forth good fruits to God, conducting yourself as becoming the Gospel of Christ’? Titus 2.10-12. Romans 7.4. Galatians 2.19. Philippians 1.27.
Ministers ought to distinguish their hearers, appropriating to each his own portion, thus ‘rightly dividing the word of truth,’ and separating the precious from the vile; giving their own share to believers, the ungodly, and hypocrites, yea, to the people of God in various circumstances and trials. Preachers should not address any of their hearers as reasonable creatures that are not very sinful. If so, they would be like men beating the air, addressing such persons as are not to be met with. But they should accost their hearers as fallen and lost sinners, totally corrupt, shewing them their misery and the way to escape. They may address other persons as those that had been lost, but now are found; that had been far off, but were made ‘nigh by the blood of Christ;’ yea, now as in Christ, having received the reconciliation, being born of God. They should show the great happiness of such, and their obligation to set forth the goodness of Him that called them, and to walk as the children of light.
O that every preacher would consider the unspeakable greatness of his work! Then levity, frivolity, and pride would no more appear in them, and the conceit of being great personages would cease. They would exclaim, ‘Who is sufficient?’ None, we are sure, but those whose sufficiency is of God. 0 that God would be pleased to raise up powerful ministers, each like the angel that flew through the heavens, having the everlasting Gospel.’
5. There is a great necessity that the hearers should consider the nature and end of preaching the Gospel. Without this, they cannot understand how they should hear. It is to be feared that many have but poor ends in going to hear, and an unsuitable and unbecoming manner in hearing the Word. Though there are great deficiences and even wretchedness in ministers, yet, it is painful to say, ‘the people love to have it so.’ Many ‘turn away their ears from the truth, and are turned unto fables.’ Many delight in hearing carnal preachers that use ‘enticing words, according to man’s wisdom.’ Jeremiah 5.31. 2 Timothy 4.4. 1 John 4.5. Many go to the house of God as matter of custom, hearing nothing to profit; others come to admire the talents and eloquence of the preacher. Others come from some carnal curiosity; expecting something new and extraordinary. Few come with a view to hear and know ‘what the Lord says,’ hearing the servant of the Most High declaring the message of his Lord to them. O that God would be pleased in mercy to draw near to us, pouring His Spirit upon us, that His Word may be preached, heard, and received as the Gospel of His grace, and experienced as the ‘power of God unto salvation,’ by many sinners!
3. The ministry
There is a great need that ministers should be careful as to the matter and manner of their sermon, and that the people should mind what and how they hear. There is great danger lest the preachers should be worldly and light, and the hearers should be carnal and indifferent.
1 The situation of ministers is awe-ful, and their office most responsible as to endless consequences. A poor insignificant man standing up to address multitudes of his fellow-creatures, as a messenger from God, to make known God’s mind; yea, all His revealed will to man, and nothing else but this manifestation; yea, publishing it to men, who are creatures accountable to God, transgressors of His law, enemies to Him every way, who are under condemnation already, and to be judged by Him in the last day. This messenger is to tell these people, honestly and faithfully, their awful state before God, and also the way in which He has in His sovereign grace contrived to save such creatures. He is to call on them to repent of their dreadful rebellion, and to invite them to reconciliation with God. He is to make known to them the way to be reconciled; and he is to preach the Lord Jesus Christ, publishing His death, the doctrine of the cross. But he is not to preach with words taught by human wisdom, but by the Spirit of God. Indeed, he is to make known to his hearers all the counsel of God, and to teach Christians how to walk and please God. He should most earnestly seek wisdom and strength from the Lord to enable him to fulfil his ministry and to make it useful to his hearers. He is to remember always that he is nothing in himself.
There is a great defect in the manner of many preachers. It can scarcely be said that the Gospel is preached by them. Their sermons are very confused; they contain many expressions which are not taught by the Holy Ghost; and subjects are so clothed with new words, that it is difficult to know what is meant. Though these preachers may not be accused of saying what is false, yet, alas, they neglect stating weighty and necessary truths when opportunities offer. By omitting those important portions of truth in their natural connection, the Word is made subservient to subjects never intended. The hearers are led to deny the truth which the preacher leaves out of his sermons. Omitting any truth intentionally in a sermon leads to the denial of it. Indeed, there are several deficiencies in many ministers; some acknowledge and lament them. There is room to suspect that those defects are intentional in others. I will name some things I consider as deficiencies in preachers.
There is need of shewing more of the greatness, purity, and justice of God, and the purity and spirituality of His law. It is impossible, without this, to shew the great evil of sin, and the demerit of sinners in suffering eternal punishment for sin. The great depth of the fall, and the total depravity of man, and his awful misery, are not exhibited in many sermons in scriptural language. It is not plainly declared that all the human race are by nature, ‘the children of wrath,’ and that the ‘sentence of condemnation’ is passed on every one; that none can save himself; that no one deserves to be rescued, and that none will come to Christ to have life. There are but few ministers that fully show that salvation springs entirely out of the sovereign grace of God, and that grace shines illustriously in the plan, work, and application of salvation. Salvation, we know, is entirely, in every respect, for the praise of the glory of his grace. There is too much of some dark, human mixture in many a sermon, under the name of preaching Christ. He is not, alas, preached clearly and scripturally as a complete Saviour. The glory of His person, the appointment of Him in the place of sinners, the performance of His mediatorial offices according to the covenant of redemption, the completeness of His atonement, the perfection of His righteousness, are not clearly set forth. The expressions respecting the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to them that believe are often very dark, confused, and wretched.
Few ministers speak clearly of the necessity of the Spirit’s work in order to save sinners, and of the nature of His operations on those that shall be saved. How seldom do we hear of dying to the law, in sermons, and of the necessity of being born again, and being partakers of the divine nature, and that man does nothing that is truly holy, except it proceeds from a pure principle! There is but little said respecting the necessity of being taught, led, and strengthened by the Holy Ghost in everything, and the need of His blessing the means of grace. Ministers should tremble for fear their hearers deceive themselves under their ministry, and lest their sermons should give them ease and strength in their delusions. It is a great thing for a minister to be ‘free from the blood of all men’ that have heard him. One thing necessary for this, is declaring ‘all the counsel of God’ revealed to us in His holy Word. And the way for a minister to ‘save both himself and those that hear him’ is by ‘taking heed unto himself and unto the doctrine, and continuing in it.’
2. It is a matter of the greatest importance that people observe what and how they hear. Hearing the Word of God is an ordinance of His appointment for the reception of faith and life. Isaiah 55.3. Romans 10.17.
Hearers should consider what they hear, for there are false teachers, and diverse and strange doctrines. Therefore they ought to search the Scriptures daily, like the Bereans, and see whether those things are as the preacher says.
They should also observe how they hear, what is their end and frame of mind in hearing. There are several kinds of hearing that are not for the glory of God nor the benefit of the hearers; such as to hear for the sake of the gifts, eloquence, and fluency of the preacher, or to feed the desires of their own conceited curiosity, or for the sake of carnal gratification. But they ought to hear with reverence what the Lord saith, trembling at His Word, understanding and receiving it, believing His testimony, obeying His commandments, keeping and hiding His sayings in their hearts.
There is nothing more proper and becoming for a preacher and hearer, than to converse about the doctrines of the Gospel in an humble spirit, willing to be taught of God, taking His Word to settle every dispute.
Shun the idea of submitting the Word of God to the judgment and reason of corrupt man. Avoid asking about anything God says in His Word, saying, ‘Is that reasonable, proper, or correct?’ To know what the Lord says respecting everything is enough for us; all His words are solid truths: there is infinite wisdom and perfect consistency in them all.
4. On hearing the Gospel
As the preaching of the Gospel is an ordinance of Christ, so the hearing of it is the duty of all that can attend. What is the use of preaching if none will hear? But it is necessary to ‘take heed how we hear;’ Mark 4.24. Luke 8.18. There never was, at any time, in any country, greater opportunity and liberty to hear the Word of God than there is in Wales at this time (1841); yet hearing is hitherto unprofitable to thousands! Hebrews 4.2. Many after hearing offend God, and are likely to fall under His wrath. Hebrews 3.16,17. But there is a great benefit to be obtained by hearing the Word of God; ‘faith cometh by hearing;’ Romans 10.17; yea, souls receive life thereby. Isaiah 55.3.
There are unprofitable hearers. Many go to a place of worship with unworthy motives, and in a very improper frame of mind. Many go from habit, without considering the purpose of preaching and hearing the Gospel; they hear unconcerned, and regardless of God and His Word. Some go, whose end in doing so is extremely vain and sinful – to see and to be seen – and because many others go! The conversation of many in going to, and returning from, a place of worship, is very frivolous and corrupt. It is respecting dress and fashion, neighbours and their failings, or concerning some other worldly or vain thing. Few converse about the Bible, Christ, the soul, and the eternal world. Such persons are not anxious for the blessing of God, neither do they pray for communion with Him in the means of grace. Some in a place of worship will look about, and then they will fall asleep; they appear as if they needed nothing. They consequently leave without any benefit to their souls, or sorrow for their loss.
There is another sort of hearers who appear to be greater professors than the above. They will talk much about sermons and preachers in a very improper manner; they will make comparisons between them, extolling the one and slighting the other. These are often unfair judges; they generally judge according to their own taste and opinions, and not according to the Word. They do not understand what are the qualifications of a minister of God. It might be asked them, ‘Are ye ripe in knowledge, judgment, and experience, to judge these things? Would it not be more proper in you to learn, than to become the judges of teachers?’ Ask these persons concerning their own eternal affairs; they will appear blind and confused. Ask them, ‘Do you know themselves? Is Christ in you, the hope of glory? Or else are ye reprobates?’ If they cannot discern their own case, what suitability have they to judge the ambassadors of God? The scales of these men are not correct to weigh ministers, being their own opinions and tastes, and not the Word of God. No wonder then, if the most scriptural, experimental, and godly preachers are too light in their balances.
The proper qualifications in the opinions of those hearers are these – boldness, fluency, eloquence, excellency of speech, enticing words, human wisdom, and a pleasant voice. And the ministers that please them are such as do not speak very plainly of man’s miserable state, nor press things too keenly on the conscience of man, nor say much of the total corruption of man by the fall, and his inability to save himself. Such ministers exalt but little of the sovereign grace of God; they speak but little of the Spirit’s work in changing the sinner;
and they do not state too minutely the signs of hypocrites, and false professors. Their manner of preaching accords with the carnal ideas of their hearers, to support their selfish confidence, touching slightly their pride, worldliness and carnal lusts. Then they are pleased with the preachers and with themselves likewise under them. Doubtless they will say that they receive benefit under their ministry, but they mistake gratification for profit, excitement of feeling for support, the satisfaction of their taste for spiritual edification. Hearers of this kind are likely to idolize the preachers they admire; they will depreciate other preachers, in order to exalt these. They become angry with all that doubt the excellences of these ministers. They speak more of them than of Christ; of their views than of the Bible. They plead that there is need of eloquence and talents to draw the attention of the people. It is possible for a preacher to draw the mind of the hearers by his gifts to himself and not to Christ. He may increase professors for a sect, disciples for a preacher, natural religion without the spirit; but neither gift nor eloquence, nothing but ‘the preaching of the cross,’ is ‘the power of God,’ to draw the sinner to Christ. It is God only that gives benefit and blessing by His own ordinances. ‘God giveth the increase.’
Preachers, yea, those that are truly good and pious, are too light in the scales of these hearers. They are not eloquent and gifted enough; their sermons, they say, are too plain, clear, and void of ornament. They imagine they speak too openly against sin, and that they humble and degrade man too much, and that they exalt free grace too highly, giving all the glory to God, in the salvation of man. So many godly preachers who live near to God, being often at the throne of grace, under great distress of mind for man’s salvation, and whose sermons are scriptural, and administer ‘the sincere milk of the word’ are nevertheless despised by these hearers, as their discourses are not adorned according to their taste. A ‘pearl of great price’ is often found in a mean shell. The food that is cooked in the plainest manner is the most wholesome and gives the greatest nourishment. It is indeed easier for these godly ministers to endure reproach than others, because they seek not their own things nor ‘preach themselves.’ Yet none are more distressed than they, because their communications are despised, their Master slighted, and free salvation neglected.
There are other sorts of hearers that receive no benefit by hearing. One kind is very numerous, and contains thousands of our youths. They come to places of worship, but retain nothing of what is heard. They have some pleasure in the sound of the Gospel and gifts of the preachers. Christ sets forth four kinds of hearers in the parable of the sower; one kind only received benefit. However, this was not owing to his being under a gifted ministry. The seed and sower were the same; it was because he understood, received, and kept the Word. This is the gift of God.
Next we shall observe the manner in which we should receive the Gospel; or what end and state of mind in hearing tend to the glory of God and good of souls. The greatest gain has been obtained by hearing the Gospel; ‘faith and everlasting life,’ have come by hearing, as observed already. ‘It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.’ 1 Corinthians 1.21. We should consider preaching and hearing the Gospel as divine ordinances, and we should use them with great soberness and reverence, ‘keeping our foot, being ready to hear’ considering ourselves as ‘present before God, to hear all things that are commanded by God’, through his ministry. Acts 10.33. Ecclesiastes 5.1. We should not consider a preacher less or more than a messenger from God to us. If we view him less than such, we degrade the ministry of the Gospel, and represent it as a human and a mean thing. If we consider him more than such a one, as able to administer some benefit to us himself, then we place preaching above and superior to the means of grace, and cease to wait on God. As to imparting any spiritual benefit, one minister is not superior to another; neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth. The benefit, the increase is from God. 1 Corinthians 3.6,7. We ought to pray more before we go to hear the Gospel, and look up more to God when we do hear. It may be said to many that complain they receive nothing under sermons, ‘Ye have not because ye ask not.’ James 4.2. Much is said about having blessings under sermons. But if you should ask many what is meant by a blessing, they cannot answer; perhaps they imagine that it is some pleasure in hearing.
However there are hearers that receive real profit by hearing. They have found a treasure of immense value in the Gospel field. They have exercised faith in Christ whilst hearing. The preaching of the cross has been ‘the power of God to their salvation.’ As by hearing they had spiritual life, so by the same means they receive nourishment and support. 1 Peter 2.2. They have benefit by means of sermons, when they come to see more of the evil of sin and the plague of their own hearts, until they hate and detest themselves more as sinners, and humble themselves more in the dust. Also, when they have a clear view of the glory of Christ, and greater aid to make use of Him, and more communion with Him. Also, when they are sanctified; when some sin is mortified, and the image of Christ is made more visible on and in them; when they are brought to love God, His law and Gospel more, and to be more obedient to Him. And lastly, when they are made more spiritual and heavenly, their affections being raised above the things of the flesh and the world, and set upon those that are heavenly.
This is the time they have blessings under sermons, and true benefit, being fed with spiritual food. Then God shall have the praise; they will speak but little of the preacher; they will forget him in admiring his Master; they will forget the cleverness of the sermon, by viewing the wonders of the Gospel. The excellence of the preacher in the judgment of these pious hearers is that he is a godly, sober, humble, self-denying, conscientious, and zealous minister. His fluency and gifts are but secondary things in their esteem. Those that are of God delight to hear those that are of God. 1 John 4.5,6.
Ye hearers, pray for the spirit of hearing, for hunger and thirst after real benefit; in hearing, pray for your minister instead of judging him. After all, ministers are but instruments; you must have the blessing from God Himself, through them. Pray for a humble, broken, meek, obedient spirit to hear the Word of God.
Use the Bible often; go to the throne of grace often; pray that the truth you hear may not be unprofitable to you. Thanks be to God for the Gospel.