Page images
PDF
EPUB

She has time enough to turn a few reflex acts on herself The object of the church is to make the world like herself. But let her in the meantime make herself more like what the world ought to be. It is scarcely desirable that the world should be as the church in general now is. Let her become a better model for the world's imitation. Her voice is heard for Christ; but let her " hold forth the word of life” in her conduct, as well as by her voice. Let her light shine. Let her good works be manifest Let her heaven-breathed spirit breathe abroad the same spirit.

The work of the conversion of the world goes on slowly; but it makes as much progress as the work of the conversion of the church does. No more sinners are converted, because no more Christians are converted. The world will continue to lie in wick. édness, while " the ways of Zion moum as they do. Does any one wonder that iniquity abounds, when the love of so many has waxed cold? We are sending the light of truth abroad, when we have but little of the warmth of love at home.

We are often asked what we are doing for the conversion of the world. We ought to be doing a great deal-all we can. But I would ask, what are we doing for the conversion of the church? What to promote holiness nearer home, among our fellowChristians and in our own hearts? Let us not forget the world, but at the same time let us remember Zion.

[ocr errors]

16. Inquiring Saints.

I was asked the other day whether I had had any recent meeting for inquirers. I replied that I had not --that there were few inquiring sinners in the congregation, and I judged the reason to be, that there were few inquiring saints." Inquiring saints ! that

“ is a new phrase. We always supposed that inquiring belonged exclusively to sinners." But it is not so. Do we not read in Ezekiel, 36 : 37, " Thus saith the Lord God, I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them ?" By the house of Israel, that is, by his people—by the church. You see that God requires and expects his covenanted people to inquire. It is true that saints do not make the same inquiry that sinners do. The latter ask what they must do to be saved, whereas the inquiry of Christians is, “Wilt thou not revive us again ?" It is a blessed state of things when the people of God are inquiring. It is good for themselves, and it has a most benign influence on others. When the people of God inquire, presently the impenitent begin to inquire. That question, “ Wilt thou not revive us ?" is soon followed by the other, “What must I do to be saved ?" Yes, when saints become anxious, it is not long ere sinners become anxious. The inquiry of the three thousand on the day of Pentecost, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?" was preceded by the

a

inquiry of the one hundred and twenty, who '"all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication.” Generally, I suppose, that is the order. First saints inquire, and then sinners. And whenever, in any congregation, religion does not flourish, one principal reason of it is that the saints are not inquiring. They do not attend their inquiry meeting appointed for them. The saints' inquiry meeting is the prayer meeting. In that Christians meet together to inquire of the Lord to do it for them," that is, to fulfill the promise about the new heart and the new spirit, of which he had been speaking. Now, when this meeting is crowded and interesting -when the inquiry among Christians is general and earnest, and importunate, the sinners' inquiry meeting usually becomes crowded and interesting.

O that I could make my voice to be heard by all the dear people of God in the land on this subject I would

say,

You wonder and lament that sinners do not inquire. But, are you inquiring ? You wonder that they do not feel. But do you feel? Can you expect a heart of stone to feel, when a heart of flesh does not ? You are surprised that sinners can sleep. It is because you sleep along side of them. Do you but awake, and bestir yourselves, and look up and cry to God,

and

you will see how soon they will begin to be roused, and to look about them, and to ask the meaning of your solicitude.” O that the saints would but inquire! That is what I want to sec.

66

We hear a good deal said about the anxious seat. Concerning the propriety of the thing signified by that not very elegant expression, we will not now dispute, especially since that seat is at present pretty much vacant every where. I only wish that the piace where Christians sit were a more anxious seat than it is.

Neither will I engage in pending, controversy about measures, new and old. What I fear most from the controversy is that it will cause many to become no measure men.

I do not know why we want so many measures, if we will only make good use of those we have. There are two measures, which, if generally adopted and faithfully applied, will, I think, answer every purpose. You may

call them new or old. They are both. They are old, yet, like the new commandment and the new song of which we read in the Bible, ever new. The first is, the measure of plain evangelical preaching "in season, out of season,” and “not with wisdom of words.'' The other is the measure of united and fervent prayer, such as preceded the memorable events of the day of Pentecost. I am for these old, yet ever-new measures. O that the brethren of every name would take fast hold of these measures and hold on to them. I think then we should not want many more measures. Praying and preaching used to be "mighty, through God, to the pulling down of strong holds.”. I am sure they will never fail. Let us employ them.

17. Do you Pay for a Religious Newspaper ?

I was going to ask the question in another form, • Do you read a religious newspaper ?" but then I reflected that many read a religious newspaper who do not themselves subscribe for one, they being in the habit of borrowing from their neighbors, and after sending and respectfully soliciting the loan of the

paper before the family have read it, and not unfrequently keeping it a length of time greater than the golden rule will exactly justify. Then I had like to have thrown the question into this shape: " Do you subscribe for a religious newspaper ?" but it struck me all at once, that some subscribe for a paper, but do not pay for it. I have heard this complaint made, and I have no doubt there is foundation enough for it. I, for my part, would advise such persons to take a moral newspaper, if they can find such a thing. That is the sort of paper they require A religious newspaper is quite too far advanced for them. I don't know, and cannot conceive why these non-payers want to read a religious newspaper. I should suppose they would be satisfied with secular newspapers. I can imagine that they may desire, notwithstanding their delinquency, to know what is going on in the world, but why they should care to know how things go in the church, I cannot conjecture. What do those who do not give any thing for value received, want to know about revivals, mis

а

« PreviousContinue »