« PreviousContinue »
heavenly messenger to be” tidings of great joy to all people. - These and similar, expressions doʻnot imply, that all of every dation, or of any nation, shall participate in the blessings of-his "salvation; but they do implys that all kindreds of mankind shall hear the sound of bis Gospel, and that some of every kindred shall believe in him and be saved by him. The standard of Messiah's'cross shall yet wave triumphant in every region of the earth; and some of every tribe of the human kind shall'Aock to it, and rally around it, and exult in it; 'as their shield, and consolation, and glory. - This charter to the nations indiscriminately, as his inheritance, which had been given to the Saviour from eteróity,'' he recognized in his appeal to his Father shortly before his decease at' Jerusalem. Thou hast given him power over all flesh; thou hast delegated to him the exclusive administration of this lower world, that he might give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him; that he might gather in, by the ministry of his Gospel, those of every nation formerly made over to him as the reward of his bumiliation and toil. Thus at the commencement of the present dispensation, which was to be the last and most liberal and luminous dispensation of mercy to mankind, he unfolds this charter, and gives command and commission to bis apostles to enter immediately upon its execution; ; go ye into all the world; "be circumscribed in your travels no longer by the little region of Palestine, but consider the circumference of the earth as the only boundaries of my kingdom, and consequently the only limit of your labours, and in going into all the world” preach the gospel to every creature; tell the nations that all distinction is now done away; that the partition
wall, which had stood for ages between the Jew and Gentile, is cloven in twain from the top to the bottom; and that the saved of all countries shall hereaiter constitute one flock, under me their Shepherd; one family, under me their Father; one soldiery, under me their Captain and Prince.
But how are the nations to be evangelized? How shall the idolatry of the pagan, and the delusions of the false prophet, and the superstition of the papal power be abolished; and their blinded votaries be brought submissive before the cross of the Saviour of the world?
This is the last subject of inquiry, and the answer is as obvious, as the interrogatory is interesting. All this mighty conquest must be obtained, through the co-operating agency of the Lord the Spirit, by means; by means of the word, either read, or preached. The kingdom of Messiah was never extended, nor its trophies multiplied, by miracle. The administration of his covenant is wholly an administration of means. Of his own will he begets the individual by the word of truth, and of his own will shall the nations be convertcd through the instrumentality of the same word of truth, the same Gospel of salvation. And, therefore, before the name of Jesus-Jehovah can become great, from the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the Scriptures must be translated into every language, and circulated through every land. therefore cannot pass unnoticed that, in all ages, when any inportant work was to be accomplished in favour of Zion, correspondent provisions were made preparatory to such a work. Mcws answerable to the magni
tude of the end were furnished; and, while the divine, agency' was visible, the necessity of diligence on the part of the church was not in the least degree, superseded. Previous to the colargement of the spiritual kingdom, at the death and ascension of our Lord, the. learning of the Greeks, by the subjugation of that power, was transferred into the hands of the Romans; the language of the former became the court language of the latter; and thus the Greek language, through the controlling influence of Rome, was adopted at the courts of the surrounding nations. About the same period, the Old Testament, 'scriptures, were translated by the Seventy into the Grecian language; the New Testament scriptưres were written originally in the same language; and thus, through the agency of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will, the sacred cạnon became accessible to the learned of different countries, and preparation was made for teaching all nations. How visibly did the Lord God again interpose for, preparing the way for the enlargement of his church, at the commencement of the memorable Reformation About that time, the virtue of the magnetic needle was discovered; the science of navigation was improved; the various arts were cultivated to a degree of perfection formerly. unknown; different oceans were explored; other islands were found; and especially this continent, which we occupy, was discovered; and thus an Asylum was provided for the true church from the corruptions and persecutions of the old world. About the same time, the art of printing was invented; copies of the sacred Scriptures were multiplied; their price was suddenly reduced; and thus the Bible, circulated through
different countries, and read by persons in all conditions of life, became a mighty engine for extending the boundaries of Zion. The incorruptible sced, scattered around by the distribution of the word of life, took root, sprung up, and presented a liberal harvest to the glory of sovereign grace.
But there is another and still more powerful means, by which the Gospel is to be diilused among the nations:—the preaching of the word of reconciliation. The Scriptures, translated and distributed, will probably remain a dead letter, unless accompanied with the ministrations of the living teacher. Far be it from me to detract from the importance of Bible Sucieties, or to utter a reinark, which might tend to relax the exertions of those who are engaged in the honorable work of diffusing the Scriptures. Let associations of this character be formed; let copies of the sacred volume be multiplied; let them be dispersed through every country; let them be conveyed into every house, and placed on the shelf of every habitation of mankind. Let all this be done with a zeal answerable to the unutterable importance of the work; yet I venture to assert, that it is by the prcaching of men, enlightened, ardent, self-denied, disinterested men; by the prcaching of such in a pre-eminent degree, that the nations are ultimately to be subdued to the obedience of faith. Without the evangelical, laborious pastor, how are the people to be collected from sabbath to sabbath; how are the Scriptures to be expounded and enforced; how are the denunciations of the law to be brought home to the conscience for conviction, or the consolations of the promises to be conveyed to the despondent heart; how are the
seals of the covenant, theșe, badges of Christian char. acter, and theşe mediums of Christian comfort and support, to be dispensed; in short, without the living ministry, zbow, is the visible church to be organzized, Jor jits.i privileges perpetuated,.,on the earth? -This challenge is confideņtly, made, because it is -founded jon athe Bible, itself, and confirmed by the general history of, Zion. It hath pleased God by the foolishtiess.sofi preaching to save them that believe.
Again, faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Invord of Godgeway, so important,,so indispensable is othe midstry of reconciliation to the advancement of the , Saviour's kiogdom, on the earth, that the
Apostle asks; as he looks abroad on the benighted mations, How, shall they believe on him of whom they -thave not heard, and how shall they hear without a preacher? There is much instruction in the follow
cing declaration of our Lord, This Gospel of the kingzdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to
all nations; that is, shall be propagated by preaching, randy the New Testament prophet, in foreseeing and
foretelling the glory of the millennial day, also fore: :saw., and foretold the preaching of the cross, as the great; meáns, by which this glory should be ushered
upon the world. . I saw, he asserts, I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth, and to
every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people. Bir These declarations of Scripture, are illustrated and supported by the history of the church in all
past •- ages... Did we ever see the Gospel making any conwisiderable progress beyond the sphere actually occu
pied by the preacher of righteousness? Or, to vary