"The design of the ministry," according to James Angell James, "is to bring sinful men into actual reconciliation with God, on the ground of that system of mediation through Christ which God himself has devised and proclaimed." In other words, God conceived of man's existence, his inevitable fall, and his reclamation via God-sacrifice. He wrote the book on Gospel. It is, therefore, not to be conceived of in any way as man's concoction, and therefore must not be tampered with by frivolously altering it's tenets. On the other hand, since God created the good news and empowers it through the Holy Spirit, we have every reason to go forth in confidence knowing that as we proclaim the ministry of reconciliation, God WILL DRAW all men unto himself (John 6:44 & 12:32).
James describes in his own nineteenth century words what Paul was meaning in the above verse:
Wherever we go, we find men in unprovoked hostility, inveterate enmity, and mad rebellion, against God's holy nature, law, and government: we carry with us, as his ambassadors, the proclamation of mercy through the mediation of our Lord Jesus Christ: we tell them that we are appointed by God whom they have offended, and who could overwhelm them with the terrors of his justice, to call upon them to lay down their arms and accept the offer of eternal pardon and peace: but we find them every where so bent on their sins, and the enjoyment of their worldly occupations and possessions, that we are compelled to use the language of the most vehement entreaty, and to beseech and implore them in God's name, and in Christ's stead, to come into the a state of reconciliation.So, please pardon the somewhat whimsical title of this post. The real question today (as it has been from the beginning) is will we who know Christ, so proclaim him that others might enter into the message and pattern of reconciliation? Oh, the sheer beauty of a soul set free! Let us become enamored of that truth again and so go forth unapologetically with this message of peace!
Incidentally, the man on the cover above is William McKendree, pioneer Methodist preacher in the United States and a true representative of the earnestness which John Angell James calls 'the want of the times.' (taken from the back flyleaf)