Page images
PDF
EPUB

devoted missionaries that we can find, and while we employ all the means in our power for imparting the Gospel to every creature ; let us remember, that all will be unavailing, unless the Holy Spirit accompany and give efficacy to the means employed. Let every thing pertaining to the spread of the Gospel, be done under the deep impression, that, in our own strength we can effect nothing; that as the promise is Jehovah's word, so the accomplishment of it is Jehovah's work ; that to Him, of course, for bringing to pass what he has promised, every eye and every heart ought to be directed. And allow me, my beloved friends, to say, we are never likely to be either so happy, or so successful in any enterprise for extending the Redeemer's kingdom, as when we lie in the dust of abasement, sensible of our utter inability to command, by our own power, the least portion of the blessing which we seek; and placing all our dependence for success, at every step, on the Holy Spirit's life-giving energy. And I must also be allowed to say, that, in my own view, this doctrine, viz. that success is all of God, instead of being a legitimate source of discouragement, is, while it humbles, at the same time, one of the most comforting and animating of all doctrines. For though it be most true, that he who planteth is nothing, and he who watereth is nothingbut God that giveth the increase ;—it is also equally true, that all hearts are in his hands, and that he is able to turn the most blind and hardened to himself, as the rivers of waters are turned. O, it is sweet to the believing heart, to lean on God; to plead his promises ; and to rejoice in the assurance,

that, though man cannot do it, by reason of weakness, He, “ with whom all things are possible," and who “cannot lie,” hath promised that the whole “ earth shall be filled with his glory ;” and that He is at once able and faithful to bring it to pass.

5. Finally; if so great a work as evangelizing the WHOLE WORLD, is promised, and is certainly to be accomplished, then our plans and efforts for promoting this object ought to bear a corresponding character : that is, they ought to be large, liberal, and ever expanding. We ought to consider it as our duty to devote to this object our utmost resources, and to engage the co-operation of all, over whom we can exert an influence. .

The promise of God to his people is, Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. It is spoken of in various passages of Scripture, as an excellence in Christian character, that the heart be enlarged ;—that is, filled with large affections, large desires, large hopes, and large confidence. Never were Scriptures more applicable than these to the case before us. When we direct our attention to the spread of the Gospel, our views, our prayers, our efforts, are all too stinted and narrow. We scarcely ever lift our eyes to the real grandeur and claims of the enterprise in which we profess to be engaged. We are too apt to be satisfied with small and occasional contributions of service to this greatest of all causes, instead of devoting to it hearts truly enlarged; instead of desiring great things; expecting great things; praying for great things; and nurturing in our spirits that holy elevation of sentiment and affection, which embraces

in its desires and prayers the entire kingdom of God; and which can be satisfied with nothing short of the “ whole earth being filled with the glory of the Lord.”

We now and then meet with a professing Christian who really does seem to regard the kingdom of Christ—its enlargement and glory—as the greatest interest in the universe; and who does seem to desire unfeignedly to consecrate all that he has and is to promote its progress. But, Oh, how small is the number of those who manifest this spirit! My dear friends, the number of such must greatly increase, before the church at large can be expected to rise from the dust, and put on her beautiful garments. The whole style of Christian character-if I may be allowed the expression-must become, generally, more decided ; more active; more unreservedly devoted ;-more abundant and fervent in prayer; more enlarged and liberal in the system of giving-far more, before the spread of the Gospel can correspond with the divine promises ; before it is possible that our raised expectations with respect to the conversion of the world can ever be realized. Yes, life and power must be greatly increased within the church, before her power on the world can be widely extended and triumphantly glorious. Professing Christians must be seen to be really in earnest in their faith and hope, before they can be expected to make a deep impression on the impenitent around them. We often come to you, Christian brethren, soliciting your pecuniary aid, in bearing the Gospel and its heralds to the ends of the earth. And, truly, without this aid, we cannot carry on our benevolent operations for a single

day. But, after all, we are much more anxious to see your souls swelling with holy love, and holy zeal, and holy activity; because we know that this indicates more deep and enlarged spiritual advancement; and because it is a pledge, not of a mere fitful gush of liberality; but of a perennial stream of Christian bounty, flowing from love to the infinitely precious cause.

This character was once much more common, than it is at the present day. How ought we at once to be humbled and animated, when we read the history of the primitive Christians! Many of them literally and cheerfully gave up all for Christ. Contemplate, my beloved friends,-contemplate the affecting narrative! : Ah! how they labored, and denied themselves, and made sacrifices, and gave their substance-sometimes to the last farthing—for the cause of Christ. See them “counting all things but loss,” and even cheerfully going to the stake, when the Saviour's honor required it. Read this narrative, professing Christians, and then say, whether those who feel reluctant to give the price even of a few luxurious dinners for promoting the Redeemer's kingdom, can seriously believe that they are actuated by the same spirit with those devoted disciples ?

But how ought we to be still more deeply humbled and animated, when we call to mind what our blessed Saviour has done for us! I have sometimes heard professing Christians talk of doing and giving as much toward the spread of the glorious Gospel, “as they conveniently could.” Surely this is wonderful language for the professed followers of a crucified Redeemer ! Did our blessed Master do no more for

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

32

May He who gave the Bible, and the promise before us, restore it in his time!

Let us, then, with one accord, rouse ourselves, and endeavor to rouse others to new zeal, and larger enterprise in spreading the knowledge and glory of the Lord. Every heart, every tongue, and every hand, that can be stirred up to engage in this great work, from infancy to old age, is needed. And remember that the more thoroughly any of the children of men can be excited and consecrated to this work—the richer the benefit they gain for themselves. Christian brother! Christian sister! whoever you are, in this large assembly !-you have each, respectively, a duty to perform in reference to this mighty work. It is incumbent upon you to do all in your power for sending the light of life to the benighted and the perishing. Nay, upon every human being, whether in the church or out of it, there lies an obligation to aid, as far as God gives the opportunity, in sending to “every creature” that gospel which is " the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." We invite you all, my hearers, not merely to the duty, but to the precious privilege, of co-operating in this holy and blessed enterprise. And we can venture to assure you, that, if the day should ever come, in which your hearts shall be thoroughly imbued with the spirit of missions, it will be the happiest period of your lives; as well as the pledge and the dawn of that wide-spread glory, which our text proclaims as certain and approaching. We can point you to no higher honor, no richer pleasure on this side of heaven, than that which is found in enlightened, zealous, active, absorbing zeal

« PreviousContinue »