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directed efforts than ever, for promoting the universal reign of knowledge, religion, and happiness among men.
It remains that we III. Inquire, WHAT IS OUR PRESENT DUTY IN RELATION TO THE PROMISE BEFORE US ?
And here, 1. Undoubtedly, our first duty is to believe the promise. This is the very least that can be demanded. “
Unbelief " makes God a liar;" poisons the very fountain of Christian confidence; cuts the nerves of all spiritual exertion; and tends to discouragement and despondency. To what purpose has Jehovah promised, if even his own people will not hear and believe? We may say now, I fear, to the great majority of those who bear the Christian name, as the Master himself said to the desponding disciples on their way to Emmaus-o fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Ah, my friends, the lack of faith is the great, crying sin, not of an ungodly world only, but eminently of Christians. It is the littleness of our faith which makes us dwarfs in spiritual stature; cowards in conflict and in enterprise; narrow-minded in our views and plans of duty; and niggards in sacrifice and in contribution to the cause of Christ. Yes, it is the sin and the misery even of the sincere disciples of Christ, that the promises of God have so little daily influence on their practical habits. Christians! be afraid of unbelief; be ashamed of unbelief; only believe, and act as if you believed ; and you shall see the salvation of God.
2. Another duty incumbent upon us in relation to this promise, is to labor and pray without ceasing for its accomplishment. They are undoubtedly guilty of an unwise and criminal perversion of God's word,
who infer, because he has promised a specific and rich blessing, and will certainly bring it to pass, that therefore they may repose in a state of entire inaction and unconcern respecting the event. There is no piety, my friends, in that confidence which neglects prayer, and which does not add to prayer diligent effort to attain that for which it prays. Show me thy faith by thy works, is a maxim equally of reason and revelation. God's kingdom is a kingdom of means. He never did, and probably never will, convey the light of the Gospel to any people, by direct miracle ; but by the agency of man. He “will be inquired of,” he declares, by us—to accomplish even that which he hath promised, and which he fully intends to bring about And although he is able to effect all his purposes of mercy and salvation without the instrumentality of man's labors, yet he condescends in all cases to employ them. And is it not a mercy that he does require and employ them ? Does not every reflecting man perceive that it is a wise and benign arrangement of Providence which renders constant activity of body and mind indispensable to the highest physical, intellectual, and moral enjoyment ? And can any one doubt that it is an equally wise and merciful arrangement which makes it our duty to pray, and exert ourselves without ceasing to promote the reign of salvation throughout the world ? Not only is it certain that the great King of Zion has commanded us to send the Gospel to every creature : not only is it manifest that we may properly estimate our Christian character by the degree in which we take an active interest in the conversion of the world; but it is equally plain, that every fervent
prayer we offer, and every sincere effort we make for hastening
this great consummation, has a tendency to benefit our own souls, as well as the souls of others; to increase our faith ; to inflame our love; to enlarge our vision ; in a word, to make us more like Christ, and to impart a richer preparation for the holy joys of his presence. In short, we may say of him who is much employed in fervent prayer, and in diligent labor and sacrifice for the conversion of the world to God,—that he is twice blessed ; blessed as a benefactor of his fellow men, and as the receiver of a blessing, by the very act of conferring benefits on others.
3. A third duty, in relation to the promise in our text, is, that in laboring for the spread of the gospel, no adverse occurrence, however painful, ought ever to discourage us, or at all to weaken either our confidence, or our efforts. What could be more discouraging than the state of the visible church when the promise before us was given ? Yet the promise itself really prohibited all despondency. If, indeed, we had any thing short of Jehovah's promise to rely upon, when difficulties or disappointments arose, we might despond. But with that promise, we may meet the most distressing difficulties without fear. What though some of our fondest hopes and plans are frustrated ? What though some of those instruments on which the highest confidence was placed, unexpectedly fail? What though the lamented Evarts, and Cornelius, and Wisner, follow each other in quick succession, to their eternal reward, and leave us to mourn over the sore bereavement of the missionary cause? What though one beloved brother and sister after another falls, in the flower of life, and on the fields whitening to the harvest ? What though even the hand of
of savage violence be permitted to cut down young, zealous and promising heralds of salvation, when just about to present the glorious Gospel to their merciless murderers ? Our tears may flow over bereavements such as these. They ought to flow. But let no thought of discouragement arise. Frail instruments may die; but the “ Captain of Salvation ” lives. Is the military commander disheartened, when, in the shock of battle, some of his choicest subalterns fall around him? Not if he has the heart of a soldier. And shall the “good soldier of Jesus Christ” have less courage ? In fact, every adverse occurrence ought only to constrain us to turn our confidence from the creature, and to place it more firmly and entirely on the Lord of all creatures. Tell us not, then, of the difficulties which beset our enterprise for the conversion of the world. Tell us not, that, going on as the Christian church has done for eighteen centuries, it will take thousands of ages completely to evangelize all nations; or rather, that, at that rate of progress, there is little hope that the work can ever be accomplished. We know it all. And if our dependence were on the wisdom and power of man, we might abandon all hope. But in the name and strength of Jehovah, our covenant God, who can never fail or grow weary, we may go forward with confidence, in the face of every difficulty; intimidated by no danger; disheartened by no disappointment or adverse occurrence. Nay, how often has it happened that those events, which we considered as deeply calamitous, and over which we mourned, as greatly hindering the Gospel,—have resulted in its signal and extensive furtherance ! When Stephen, the first
martyr, was stoned to death by an infuriated mob, to whom he came with a message of love, “devout men," we are told, “ carried him to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.” But, mark the event! That persecution, though not so intended by the persecutors, became the means of sending many ministers of the Gospel away from Jerusalem, in various directions, and thus of extending and building up the church of God, instead of effecting its destruction, as the malignant adversary had confidently expected.
4. A further duty, in reference to the promise before us, is, that we pray without ceasing for the power of the Holy Spirit, to render all the means which are employed for its accomplishment, effectual. When we recollect the extent and difficulty of the work to be done : how many millions are yet in darkness and misery: how hard and full of enmity the human heart; and how obstinately the warnings and entreaties of mercy have been resisted; we may well despair of human wisdom and strength; and look to Almighty power alone for success.
It is not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith Jehovah, that means are attended with a saving energy. Had we millions of the most learned, eloquent, and holy preachers in Christendom to send forth, and all the funds that could be asked or desired for this enterprise ;-all would be in vain, unless the power of the Almighty Spirit went along with the laborers. While, therefore, we labor with unwearied perseverance for the conversion of the world ; while we raise funds with growing liberality ; while we select, instruct, and send forth the most able and