Page images

ing upon


conversion, 'from dead works to serve the living God in holiness and righteousness. This I may call the outer wall—the grand outline of a minister's commission. Then, look

the world, it must be confessed that, to a great degree, it is still ‘lying in wickedness;' and, looking upon the Church, we see it feeble in many parts, shattered and torn in others, and dead in others. “What is to be done ?' immediately suggests itself. This is my field. I must labour, but I cannot give life; I cannot revive the work where languishing or dead; or by reasoning, argument, or persuasion heal the divisions which the enemy's tares have caused. Neither can I sit down in silent lamentation. Then, this is what God has put it into my heart to do:Every morning I commune long and earnestly with him in prayer; I wait at the throne of grace to get my spirit more deeply imbedded in the Rock of eternal Truth; I tell him all I feel, all I desire, for we must come to him as to a Father, and the promise that. Whatsoever we ask in the name of his Son shall be given,' is a source of never-failing comfort and support. Thus by wrestling with him in prayer for his Church in reliance on that promise, I find that he both blesses my own soul, and makes me a blessing to others. I am thus enabled to come forth under a renewed sense of his faithfulness to his Word, in glorifying his Son Jesus, by answering the prayers presented in his name, and find that by his Spirit he makes his word, “a true and lively word” both to myself and to my, people. This is all I do. By striving to get my heart to feel the greatness and difficulty of my work, and the real state of the Church and of the world, a minister's workreligion-death-judgment and eternity are seen as real and important realities, and every power of the soul is taken into the work. And to God be all the praise, for it is he that

prospers my work.

Whatever we may do it is 'He alone who can give the increase.'

“This is all plain, reasonable, and Scriptural,” said he who came enquiring, and, by the grace of God, I will take the same course. must come to the Head if we would be blessed. 'Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,' is a command which will never lose its force while the Church is in a militant state ; and the annexed promise, they shall prosper that love thee,' it is equally our privilege to take to ourselves."

Was there ever a time when the Church stood not in need of praying ministers? They have to contend with the invisible powers of darkness, and to spread the shield of protection over their flock. The enemy of souls has lost none of his vigilance, none of his hatred, none of his subtlety. Where he cannot lead into gross and open sin, he will blind and benumb, by which means the work of grace will be as effectually checked, as if the Spirit's exhortations to repent and believe were treated with scornful blasphemy. A minister's post is ever to be on the watch-tower of humble, but fervent prayer, for the extension of the Redeemer's kingdom, and for its preservation from every opponent, spiritual invasion from the prince of darkness. They may sow the seed by their public and private ministrations, but man's three-fold foe—the world, the flesh, and the devil—will soon choke it, or destroy it, or take it away, unless the Spirit of the living God fix it in the heart, and promote its growth. Many a faithful labourer in the Lord's vineyard mourns over the devastation which this insidious foe causes amongst those of his cure, and knows not how it is that all his efforts become ineffectual to any real change. Let him try more prayer-more intercession with the Head of the Church. It is his own Church, and they shall prosper that love it.



ALL are bound to communicate of pride, or avarice, or luxury, the day that spiritual store which they have may come when judgment shall go received without any desert of their forth upon our land, and its sentence own, to those who, without any pecu- shall be written in characters of flame; liar fault of theirs, are destitute of it. “God hath numbered thy kingdom, All are bound to let that light which and finished it. Thou art weighed has fallen upon themselves from on in the balances, and art found wanthigh shine before men, especially ing?”. where darkness covers the earth, and And then, again, let us consider gross darkness the people. But there the age in which we live. What is it are some obligations in this respect that distinguishes this age from every which are peculiar to our own coun- former period in the history of the try, and to the age we live in. How world ? "It is, more than anything marvellous is the dominion which this else, the prodigious progress that has country possesses over so large a been made in the establishment of a part of the surface of the globe; over rapid and easy communication beregions separated from it by such vast tween distant parts of the globe. The distances ; over so many millions of inventions of modern times have in men utterly foreign to ourselves in a manner brought the opposite extreblood, language, manners, and reli- mities of the earth nearer to one anogion! What an immense power for ther, by shortening, to an extent good or evil is hereby given to us! which would once have seemed inLet us only cast a glance at a map of credible, the time that is necessary the world, and consider for a moment for passing from one to the other. the countries comprised within the And here again let us observe, that dependencies of the British empire. in these inventions, and in the conIn one hemisphere the vast territories stant application and improvement of which stretch to the shores of the them, this Christian nation has borne Arctic sea; in the other the great the foremost part. What is the tencontinent of Australia, only separated dency of the great changes wrought by the waters of the southern ocean by these discoveries — changes to from the opposite pole ; and again, on which, surprising as they already are, one side India, with its millions of we can fix no limit? It is to proidolaters, and on the other the west- mote the mutual intercourse of all ern islands, peopled chiefly by our the inhabitants of the earth, to bring enfranchised slaves. Such an em- them all more and more into the conpire as this was never before given to dition of one great family, to enlarge any nation sin

the world began. and strengthen the influence which And this empire has been assigned the more civilized and enlightened by Providence to a nation which pro- have over those who most need edufesses the name of Christ, which has cation and instruction, while they been indebted to his religion, not only give increased facility for the disfor higher blessings, but for the moral pensing of these blessings. And strength which enabled it to achieve with these wonderful engines at our such mighty conquests. And can we command shall we effect, shall we at think that there was no special design least attempt, nothing for the cause in such a dispensation of Providence? of Christ ? " Shall every valley be exor that we shall not be called to ac- alted, and every mountain and hill be count for the use we have made, made low, and the crooked be made nationally and individually, of these straight, and the rough places plain? extraordinary means? Must we not and shall we, notwithstanding, fail to fear that if they are suffered to lie

way of the Lord, to make idle in our hands for the highest in- straight in the desert a highway for terests of mankind; if they are only

our God? applied to the gratification of our But while the duty-which it is

prepare the

impossible to deny--may be acknow- we are not content with the limits of ledged in the abstract, as belonging our own shores ; if emigration, conin a general sense to the Church of quest, and commerce have planted a Christ, an objection may be raised to part of our people in foreign lands, the application which I have been how can we pretend that their inhamaking of it to ourselves. It may be bitants, though connected with us asked whether we ourselves, or the closely enough to be subservient to Church in our own land, is in so our interest, to minister to our wants, luminous a state as to be fitted to im- our avarice, or our ambition, though part light to others. The Lord has entitled to protection and to friendly indeed arisen upon us, and his glory treatment from us, are yet, so far as has in a measure been seen upon us; religion is concerned, utterly stranbut has it spread far enough among gers to us, and have no claim either our own dwellings? Has it not suf- on our justice or our benevolence? fered a partial eclipse? Are there If the first heralds of the Gospel not many dark corners, and even if those who received the commission large and populous tracts, to which to make disciples of all nations, or it has not penetrated ? Are there those whom they first converted to not among our own countrymen, the faith of Christ, had acted upon thousands, and tens of thousands, the principle which is thus pleaded as sitting in the darkness of ignorance a bar to missionary exertions; if they and unbelief, and in the shadow of had waited until the heavenly truth death--the gross darkness of tres- which they laboured to propagate, passes and sins, whom the dayspring had thoroughly penetrated, leavened, from on high has not yet visited ? Is and sanctified that portion of the not the duty which we owe to them Gentile world into which it was first the most pressing, the most sacred of introduced, before they attempted to all? Is it not the first in importance, diffuse it more widely, what would and therefore entitled both to our most have been our condition now? Should earnest and our earliest attention? we have been deliberating whether it Is there not a want of churches and is our duty to let our light shine upon schools, of pastors and teachers, at others? Would a single ray have home? and, until this want is sup- fallen upon ourselves ? Should we plied, are we justified in applying any not all at this moment be covered portion of our means to relieve cases with darkness as gross 'as that in of spiritual destitution not more ur- which the most flourishing, powerful, gent in themselves, and in which we and civilised nations of the heathen at least are not equally concerned ? world were once given up to, the de

I have endeavoured to state this vices and desires of their foolish objection fairly and in its full force, hearts and reprobate minds? But it and I am far from considering it as was not so that the primitive evanan empty cavil. It is one sufficiently gelists prosecuted their work, and specious to strike many minds well- executed their divine commission. disposed towards the cause of reli- ' They went forth to sow the Gospel gion as a very serious difficulty, to seed, and they scattered it far and make them hesitate about lending wide, not stopping to see what hara their sanction to missionary enter- vest it would yield in the soil where prises, and to induce them to dole it first fell. They passed onward out their contributions toward them from city to city with their message with an unsteady and parsimonious of salvation, leaving many behind hand. Yet it is an objection to which them in every place who had not Scripture, reason, and experience fur- heard the word, or had not received nish an abundance of satisfactory it, or had not experienced its power,

I have already mentioned or in whom it had been choked again the declared will of God, the express with cares, and riches, and pleasures command of our Lord. If this com- of this life, and had brought no fruit mand does not apply to us, what to perfection. That was the way, nation on the face of the earth ever happily for us, that they understood was, or ever can be bound by it? If their Master's parting injunctiqņa Let us be content to follow their ex- whatever cause men are engaged, ample, without aspiring to be wiser whatever strengthens their attachor more faithful than they. Well ment to it, and their confidence in its will it be for us, if we are able to give success, must in the same degree as good an account of our steward- tend to promote it. And, whatever ship, and so employ the talents en- part of Christ's Church be the scene trusted to us, that we may be judged of our labours, we cannot but be enworthy to have authority over many couraged and animated to redoubled cities!


efforts in its behalf, by every new imWe ought not to need any stronger pression we receive of the excellence motives to stimulate our efforts in of his religion, by every additional the missionary cause; nor have we proof of its power, by every fresh any right to expect clearer directions. assurance of its ultimate triumph. for our guidance. But still it must But the light in which we have been be satisfactory and cheering to be- "long walking attracts but little of our lieve that whatever is done for the attention. The blessings with which propagation of the Gospel abroad has we are surrounded, and have become a tendency to promote its success at familiar, but slightly affect our feelhome; and this is a truth which, ings. It is the temporary privation though at first sight, as I have already that most endears them to us: it is observed, it may seem difficult to in their absence that we form the comprehend--so that this difficulty truest estimate of their value. This forms the substance of the objection is what renders it so important that I am now combating-will, on a we should often carry our thoughts nearer view of the subject, force itself back to the first introduction of irresistibly on our minds. Our Lord's Christianity, and to the changes which promise, that he would be with those it wrought in the heathen world. This who should teach and baptize in his

it is that should lead us to prize every name always, even unto the end of opportunity afforded to us by the the world, is a sufficient assurance of modern history of missionary enterthe fact; for in every age those who prizes, of observing the contrast beadhere to his instructions, and walk tween the light of the Gospel and the in the steps of his apostles, must be darkness which still covers so many entitled to a share of the promised parts of the earth. Now it is true blessing. And, whatever may be the that, even in our own land, that light force of the promise in other respects, is not so universally diffused as to it must be especially applicable to his have reached every corner.

There own cause as a ground for believing are, even among us, many that he will not suffer what is done places full of the habitations of for it in one quarter to injure it in cruelty;" dwellings in which the another. And when we remember sound of prayer is never heard, in that whoever may plant, and whoever which the book of God's word is may water, it is He alone who giveth never opened, into which the spirit of the increase, we may very safely and

Christian faith and love has never cheerfully leave the matter in his found entrance, and which are the hands. But in this case we are not haunts of all impure, malignant, and confined to a difficult exercise of faith ungodly passions and tempers. But as the sole foundation of our hopes. still, happily for us, it is impossible We are permitted to see something that in this Christian country we of the manner in which the promise should ever have the means of conis fulfilled of the form in which the templating the contrast between Gosblessing descends; we are enabled in pel light and heathen darkness as it some degree to perceive that it is not is exhibited in lands on which, after an altogether miraculous incident de- a long night of ignorance and superpending on an immediate divine in- stition, the beams of divine truth are terposition, but rather a dispensation now for the first time beginning to of Providence, falling within the fall. With us, if the light is chequered, sphere and order of natural causes the darkness also is broken, and is and effects. It is evident that in nowhere so gross and entire as in

« dark

regions on which the glory of the Lord has not yet risen at all. Even here the depravity of the human heart sometimes breaks out into foul and hideous excesses. But still it is always in some degree restrained by the influence of institutions, laws, usages, and public opinion, which are more or less moulded and animated by the spirit of Christianity. We do not see it in its native deformity and its full energy, as it shows itself where it is neither softened by religion nor controlled by fear or shame; where, on the contrary, some of its worst enormities are sanctioned and legalised by the State, and hallowed by a licentious superstition. It is only where this is the case that we can witness a repetition of the great moral miracles of the Gospel, such as changed the face of the world and the character of society in the first ages of Christianity.

And, if any doubt were left in our minds as to the connexion between the success of the Gospel abroad and at home, we might safely appeal to experience for the decision of the question. If we inquire who the persons are that display the most lively interest in its propagation among the

heathen, they will certainly be found the same as those who make the most active exertions to speed its course, and increase its efficacy in their own country and neighbourhood. Or, if we ask at what times the Church shows the greatest degree of zeal and alacrity for missionary enterprises, they will prove to be the periods in which she is most vigorously prosecuting her work within her domestic pale. Such is the character of our own day in this respect. Never was our Church more awake to a sense of her duty as the teacher of the nations; never did she make more strenuous efforts to discharge it; and at no other period of her history has she ever

en more earnestly intent on the nurture of her own family, or more diligently and successfully employed in providing for their spiritual wants. It was indeed the activity excited by her growing consciousness of this responsibility that afforded an occasion and an incentive to the great undertaking by which she is now endeavouring to extend the advantages of her government and discipline, together with her doctrine and ritual, to her colonial churches.


[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »