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Lord Bishop of Rochester

Arc all prophets?- — t Cor. xii. 29.

Lord Bishop of Rochester

Arc all prophets?- — t Cor. xii. 29.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jun 14, 2013
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GIFTSBY ATHOY W. THOROLD, D.D.Lord Bishop of RochesterArc all prophets?- — t Cor. xii. 29.'TWO great hindrances to usefulness in thosewho think they wish to be useful, yet havenever really tried to be, are pusillanimousnessand ambition. They are twin sisters. To putit otherwise, there is the fault of not thinkingit worth while to do a little because it is little,and of not caring to do something because itmay not lead to much. Further, if we werealso to inquire from which of these faults theworld has suffered most loss, the answer wouldprobably be from the former. It is the millionSERVICE 275workers who keep the world moving and grow-ing by their industry and cheerfulness, thoughof course these millions need daring and originalleaders to inspire them with enthusiasm and togive them their start. Of either fault, no doubt,pride is at the bottom.The point of the apostle's argument is clearenough. After stating a fact, which is so con-spicuous and so undeniable that it needs nofurther proving, — the fact of the existence of giftsand the diversity of them, — and after referring allto the divine sovereignty, which in an often un-accountable exercise of mercy and righteousnessbestows these gifts where and how it pleases, heproceeds to press that while no man possessesall these gifts, and few have many of them, eachman has at least one, and instead of complainingthat it is not some other which perhaps mightearn him more distinction and bring him moreadvantage, he is to remember how much poorer
the world would be if gifts were limited insteadof being various, that the distribution of themis with the intention of making them more ex-tensively useful, and that each man has the exactgift given to him for doing the work that Godhas ordained for him to do.Are all prophets ? o, but some are. Thisgift of prophecy was not the faculty of foreseeingthe future, but the much more important oneof interpreting and expounding the word of God.This gift in our time has a wide scope. It276 QUESTIOS OF FAITH AD DUTYincludes, often outside the limits of an ordainedministry, the gift of simply and attractively ex-plaining the Scriptures, so indispensable for allwho would teach the ignorant, visit the sick, ordo in any degree or fashion what St. Paul callsthe work of an evangelist. It includes also theduty of teaching the young in day or Sunday-schools ; where the work if disciplinary is alsodidactic, where the task of bringing Christ inHis word to the minds and hearts of His re-deemed children has to be constantly, intelligently,and perseveringly done.Are all prophets ? o, and there is no needthat they should be. Some have not leisure forthe work of prophesying ; others are too old, ortoo young, or too inexperienced. Others havenot health. St. James has said, " My brethren,be not many masters, knowing that we shall re-ceive greater condemnation." The word mastersis better rendered teachers. But there are otherthings to do for God and men beside prophesying,and one of them is the good that is to be doneby our influence on society. There are somepeople who, without opening their lips or sayinga word, create an atmosphere which by itself elevates, purifies, protects, consoles. They helpthe world by what they are, even more than bywhat they do. A virtue goes out of them of which they are quite unconscious, and, like
the waters of Ezekiel's river, they bring lifeand healing wherever they go or stay. ThisSERVICE 277is a wonderful power, for it cannot be evadednor contradicted, nor escaped nor quarrelled The geniuswith, and the strangest thing about it is that '',.it is in the power of us all. It is true, as hasbeen quaintly and not quite inexactly observed,that some men have a genius for goodness.They seem to have less to contend with in theirpersonal nature than other men. In a way theyare born saints, and grow up in saintlincss. Butit is even with them only by effort and struggle,and duty and prayer, and grace and truth, thatthe divine presence is manifested and augmentedin them, and that Christ's promise about life isliterally fulfilled, that " ye might have it moreabundantly." To be able, just because we arcat hand, to check uncharitableness, to silencemischievous gossip, to make irreverence shocking,and scoffing impossible ; to kindle a glow of devotion, to move the springs of duty, to makeChrist understood, and to touch hearts with thethought of His unspeakable love, ought not tobe something far up among the stars, or hope-lessly out of our reach ; will be blessedly possible,though usually they do not know it, for all thosewho walk closely and humbly with Him.Are all prophets ? o, but all may be thefriends of some lonely stranger, the consolers of some sorrowful mourner, the guide of some littleorphan child, the means and instruments, by wayseasily discovered and delightfully practicable fortender and kind hearts, of bringing sunshine and278 QUESTIOS OF FAITH AD DUTYthe feeling of being cared for to those for whomearth has become a desolate and flowerless habi-tation, and life a dull monotony of duties without

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