The first sermon preached after the institution of the Christian church was the means of converting three thousand souls, and some of these stained with the crimson guilt of having participated in the crucifixion of Christ! Surely there was no failure here. Soon afterwards five thousand more were added to the church in Jerusalem. And not long afterwards a large number of the priests became obedient to the faith.
The power of the gospel was manifest in the conversion of the people of Samaria, under the preaching of Philip the evangelist. And at Antioch a glorious work of grace was wrought through the preaching of the gospel. So also at Corinth, at Ephesus, at Philippi, at Thessalonica, and even at Rome. Glorious indeed was the success of the gospel when first promulgated. It was to the world as "life from the dead." It shed a marvelous light over those who had all their lives been walking in darkness, and dwelling in the region and shadow of death.
We behold the triumph of the gospel in the conversion of the man who was its most bitter and determined opposer. Saul of Tarsus, who was destroying the church by a cruel persecution, dragging both men and women to prison and death, and whose burning zeal led him to extend the persecution to a foreign city--was arrested by the persecuted Savior, and made a chosen vessel to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to many heathen nations, and was the honored instrument of founding many famous churches. He did not find the gospel a failure. No! he found it to be the power of God unto salvation to both Jews and Gentiles. And in his days the joyful sound had gone out through all the world.
Some good people are dreaming of a new dispensation, as though the present were ineffectual for the conversion of the world. To such we would say, "Do you expect another gospel to be revealed? Can you conceive of any better means for the conviction and conversion of sinners than the truths which we already have in the gospel? And can you conceive of a more powerful efficiency than that of the Holy Spirit?" If not, then discourage not the hearts and the hopes of God's people, but preach the gospel to every creature, and pray incessantly for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.