Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

arc enveloped, >s darkness that may be fch. All the prophets znd apostles were Israelites, and almost all - tbe sacred miters; yea, our Saviour himself was a Jew. Yet bow are they neglected! even more than Mahometans, or pagans! Perhaps that nation is now more numerous than it was in the days of Solomon. What a plenteous harvest here then presents itself to our view and our hope! Oh that some plan of persevering attempts for their conversion might be formed!

I will only hint at the vast and populous regions of China, Tartary, Japan, Hindostan; in short all the continent of Asia, containing perhaps four hundred millions of inhabitants; dying, yet immortal; sinners, yet generally without even the means of grace; and now then should they have the hope of glory? Idolaters with their bloody sacrifices and detestable rites: or Mahometans, sunk in sloth and sensuality, and buoyed up with pride, and the ambition of proselyting by the sword!

Nor shall I dilate on the abject state of the unnumbered multitudes, inhabiting much-injured Africa; nations yet unvisited by avarice or ambition; who never heard of christians or Britons, but by report from those distant shores, that have felt the detestable crimes of men, who disgrace at once their country and their religion. Their brethren also, the wretched Africans in our West Indian islands, whom their cruel lords of late seemed determined to deprive of consolation and of hope, in prohibiting the preaching of Christianity to them, by men who have shewn themselves, willing to fare as slaves themselves, for

the pleasure of imparting to poor negro slaves, the blessed gospel of God our Saviour. What a contrast between the missionaries and the slave holders! They seem not to be of the same species: certainly, in one sense, they are not of the same nature.

I have heard, indeed, that this cryel law is repealed; and cheerfully do I pray, that the legislators of it, and all that counselled it, may " repent and do works "worthy of repentance," for their own sakes at least as much, as for the sake of the missionaries and the negroes.

The vast regions of America, the numerous isles of the immense oceans which separate the continents; all, all inhabited by human beings! all, living without Christ, and dying without hope!

This, my brethren, is the field from which the plenteous harvest is to be gathered, when labourers shall be sent forth for that purpose.

But let us take another view of the subject.—Have we any reason to hope, that the Lord of the harvest purposes to convert the nations, or any considerable part of them, to the christian faith? Or that he purposes to do it ere long? Have we any such ground to proceed upon, as Daniel had, respecting the end of the seventy years of Judah's captivity? Or as the Jews had, in the days of Christ, that Daniel's seventy weeks were about to close?

It b very readily conceded, that many vain attempts have been made to apply particular prophecies to the transactions of this extraordinary age: indeed the prophetical part of scripture seems to be, so to speak, a map on too small a scale, to shew every place that appears considerable in its vicinity. Particular interpretation seldom is accurately given, by uninspired contemporaries, who are generally too much interested in the transactions of the times; too much disposed to magnify events, in which themselves are concerned, beyond their due proportion; and too prejudiced in various ways, to be sufficiently calm and impartial for such a work. But beyond all doubt, the scriptures do foretel a season, when all kings shall submit to the Redeemer, "all nations shall do him service;" when "the kingdoms of the earth shall become the king"doms of the Lord and of his Christ;" and when *' the old serpent shall be bound up for a thousand "years, and deceive the nations no more."

Surely it is predicted that the man of sin shall be destroyed by the brightness of the Saviour's coming and glory; that the reign of every Antichrist in the holy city shall terminate; that the veil will be taken away from the hearts of the blinded Jews, and they shall turn in penitent faith to their crucified Messiah, and be grafted into their own olive-tree; that this shall be as life from the dead to the nations of the earth; and Uiat at length all people shall so entirely obey the Prince of peace, as to beat their swords into plowshares, and to learn war no more.

To suppose that the Holy Spirit, by these exalted expressions, foretold events no way answerable to their exact meaning; and that they are nothing more than highly-wrought figures of speech, like those of eastern poets, and suited to excite expectations in simple-hearted believers, which must be eternally disappointed, savours too much of infidelity, net to sayblasphemy, to deserve in this connexion a serious confutation.

\

The prophet Daniel and the apostle John, both mark out with great care and accuracy, a period of '* a "time, and times, and half a time," of three years and a half, forty and two months, or twelve hundred and sixty days: and surely we are as much required to compute these months or days, if we are able, as the Jews were to calculate Daniel's seventy weeks. Now, date the beginning of this term as late as any respectable expositor yet hath done, we cannot be far from the close of it. The seventh trumpet, if not sounding, is about to sound: the witnesses in sackcloth will soon close their testimony, whatever be meant by their death and resurrection; and the kingdoms of the earth, will soon be the kingdoms of Christ.

It is not reasonable to suppose that transactions of so vast a magnitude, should be accomplished at once. —Even the seventy years of the Babylonish captivity had several beginnings and correspondent terminations, as learned men have shewn: and a hundred years is no long term, in the case before us.

But I feel a confidence in giving it as my opinion, grounded on careful examination, that these prophecies will soon begin to be accomplished; and that within two or three centuries, at furthest, "the earth "shall be filled with the glory of the Lord, as the "waters cover the sea.'*

We, like David, shall not live to build this temple: btit it will " be well, if it is in our hearts;" and even we may hope to bring stones and timber, and iron, and brass, and silver, and gold, which the true Solo* «ion will employ in that sacred edifice.

Vol. III. E e

Indeed, I cannot doubt, but that the missionary .designs of the present period, if prosecuted with persevering zeal and improving wisdom and experience, will be honoured as an introduction to those great events. We shall "labour, and others will enter into "our labours," (as we have into those of our predecessors:) but at length, " both he that soweth and he "that reapeth shall rejoice together: for we gather "fruit, and shall receive wages, unto everlasting "life." . . ;. , .

II. We proceed then, to consider the small number of the labourers.

I would by no means represent the number of the labourers to be less than it realiy is: but it must be evident that all, who bear the name of christian ministers, are not such labourers as our Lord, intended. Beyond doubt, there are now, as there were in old times, " blind guides," drowsy " watchmen who do "not give warning," "idol-shepherds," with others of like character, who either do not labour at all, or else belong to that company which our blessed Saviour points out, when he says, " he that is not with me is "against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth."

In order to constitute a true labourer, scriptural doctrine, (at least in all the grand outlines of evangelical truth applied to holy purposes,) must be connected with an edifying example, and zealous self-xlenying diligence in the,work of the ministry, as the one business and. delight of a man's life. There was indeed no want of teachers in Israel, yea, authorized ministers in religion, according to the divine law, as

« IndietroContinua »