Immagini della pagina

mystical waters is such, that, whithersoever they come, every thing that liveth shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: and it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it, jrom Enged to En-eglaim; or along the margin of the Dead Sea, from its southern to its northern limit: they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be, according to their kinds, earceeding many. What a comment on these words do the parting commands of our Lord present, the Charter of Missionary exertion: Go ye into all the world—teach all nations—preach the Gospel to every creature: and, it is added, They went forth, and preached everywhere; the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. How solemn the sanction! how imperative the duty! how great the reward! It is a command spoken by the Lord from heaven, and spoken to His people: it is the solemn duty of all who feel that they have freely received, as freely to communicate: it is the privilege of His servants to be fellow-workers with God, and to assist in collecting His people from “out of a naughty world.” If we knew the inestimable value of that privilege, if we felt the importance of Salvation, or could see souls as our Redeemer sees them, how would all our feelings and faculties be bent to this glorious, this Christian work! how desirous should we be to spend and be spent for our God! We cannot impart an healing influence to the waters, we cannot breathe over the dead bones and bid them live: but C 2

we can invoke the breath of God to come from the four winds of heaven; we can follow the goingsforth of the waters from the Tabernacle; we can gird ourselves as fishers; or can send the servants of God, who may bear that hallowed office, to gather into the Gospel-net those to whom, by the power of that stream, life from the dead may be given. It is no less a part of the Gospel dispensation that these should be collected in, than that the stream is to go forth which is to visit every quarter of the desolated land;—and woe to those who seek to oppose, or who refuse to assist in, the work of the Lord! It can arise, but from an ignorance of duty, or a disinclination to perform it—but from an indifference to the glory and advancement of Messiah's kingdom, or an awful determination to assist the mighty against the Lord. Let not indifference seek shelter under the cobweb pretext of domestic calls and domestic engagements: the Lord's work must be done, whether its scene is at home or abroad: and it is but a bad preparation for the performance of one duty, to evade or to deny the obligation of another. Then may we hope for a blessing from on high, on our ministrations at home: then may we trust, that His influence will be poured out on our Schools and our Tracts, our prayers and our preaching, when the spirit of our religion expands itself to the full dimensions of the Gospel; acquires its real character of Missionary zeal and Missionary love; seeks to collect into the Missionary net, fish according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, eacceeding many; to sow beside every water; and to make, not our own Israel only, but every dark and desert place of the earth, blossom and bud, and Jill the place of the world with fruit. The harvest will not be less plenteous in our land, because we have sent Labourers to collect it in another: nor will the fire of Christian charity burn with less vigour or brightness here, because its diverging rays warm and enlighten the shores of Africa or India. It is when the earth yields her increase to the Lord, that God, even our own God, will give us His blessing. Nor let a justification for indifference be found in the tardy progress of the Gospel, or the apparent want of success in Missionary labours: it is not for us to know the times and the seasons that the Father hath put in his own power; or to determine at what period of the eternal Now of His existence He may manifest Himself in might. His arm has been sufficiently revealed, to prove that the Lord Omnipotent reigneth: and, while the present is the period of duty, it is a part of that duty to leave futurity with our God. Though the Apostles had toiled the whole night without receiving any advantage from their labours, yet, at the command of Christ, they again cast their nets into the deep, in faith and obedience to His word: and, if we would hear that word, if we would be fishers of men, then no faltering of our faith, no latent infidelity in His promises, no distrust of His will or of His power, should prevent us from seeking to collect into His Church those who are animated by His

grace, or from bearing into the moral wilderness of this world the life-giving message of the Gospel. Reason might demonstrate, that no forms of opinion can be perpetual, except such as are founded upon immutable truth;—that, when circumstances vary, the systems which they have generated must vary too. Revelation tells us, that the Heathen are given for an inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Messiah's possession ;-that as Greece and her idols have fallen, so will Africa and India, and their idols: and experience, pointing to the measure of success that has been vouchsafed, to the Schools and Missionaries and Converts, to the many who have imbibed, and the many more who are subject to, the influence of the Spirit of the Gospel—experience may demand, whether reason or Revelation could justify us in expecting other or more abundant fruits from the exertions which we have employed. And oh, my Friends! while, with the prophet, we mark the marshes and miry places that are not healed; while we look through this world, and notice into how large a portion of it the waters from the Tabernacle do not seem to have flowed ; how frequently they appear to have been checked and turned aside; and even in countries nominally Christian, how little of their efficacy has been experienced; what an awful estimate is brought before the mind, of man's indifference to God's commands, and neglect of his perishing fellow-creatures! It would be neither uninteresting nor unprofitable, did time permit, to inquire into the causes that, to human ken, seem to have originally impeded the progress of the Gospel; and, after consecutive ages of victory and triumph, seem to have forced, of later years, the Cross to remain stationary, or to retrograde. We doubt not, that the same difficulties envelop this question, as the no less interesting one, Why the progress of the Reformed Churches was impeded, when they dared, in the sixteenth century, to assume the privilege of examining the Word of God, and half of Christendom started from its thraldom at the call of spiritual emancipation. We fear that the reply to both questions will be found in the justice of God. When the early Churches, relinquishing the simplicity of the written Word, added to the commandments of God the profanity of man's devices, buried the essentials of the Gospel under an idolatrous heap of rites and ceremonies and interpretations, or subtilized them away by human distinctions—and wasted, in useless or senseless disputations, the zeal and energies that should have been devoted to the service of God—then did their hands become unfit to wield the sword of the Spirit, and they themselves unmeet to communicate the words of life, which they neither understood nor valued; then did the devastating scourge of Islamism become the instrument of the Almighty's wrath over one-half of the Christian world, while the other half was given over to the foul apostacy of the Man of Sin; and then did the cessation of the progress of the Gospel impress Ichabod on the fanes of Christendom. Nor is the case different in degenerate Protestantism. How

« IndietroContinua »