« السابقةمتابعة »
such a temple for his worship, and there made the Gospel instrumental to your everlasting good.
Now, I say, behold the change; you who were once leprous souls are become rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom : you are satisfied with marrow and fatness; and your mouth praises him with joyful lips : you who were afar off are brought nigh by the blood of Jesus Christ : and though the day may be distant, yet cleansed, exalted, justified, and glorified, you shall one day arise to the place where he is, and see him, and be like him, and be with him, and shall change your lamentations for hallelujahs, your pilgrim's staff for the palmbranch of victory, and all your distresses for everlasting pleasures. O “ this day is a day of good tidings." “ Bless the Lord, o our souls, and all that is within us bless his holy name."
But, my brethren, there is another point connected with the day in which we live—that Jesus Christ has opened channels for the publication of these good tidings to others. This day may be emphatically called, indeed, “ a day of good tidings." Will you indulge me, my dear hearers, by reflecting a moment on the contrast of this day and the days that have preceded us; and let us see whether this day be not “ a day of good tidings." Formerly the Scriptures were not completed ; now the canon of inspiration is closed. Formerly the Scriptures were not translated; now we have the Bible, not only closed as it respects the canon, but we have it translated in our own and numbers of other Janguages. Formerly the saints looked forward for a Saviour to come; we behold him arrived: for an atonement to be inade; we behold it finished : for a righteousness to be wrought out; we behold it brought in. Formerly, my brethren, what impediments had the primitive disciples, in the publication of the Gospel, in the governments under which they lived; our government, blessed be God, if it does not patronise, does not oppose; and under the sanction of this government, we can carry our Gospel every where. Formerly, wherever it was preached, the exertions of our brethren were always impeded by desolation and war; but now we are at peace; there is no port shut against us; missionaries may be sent to every place.
At this time God seems to be going forth, and shaking the very nations, stirring up the minds of men to an earnest desire for happiness; a certain something they feel they want, a general buz and cry over the whole world for a certain something; and although individuals may not know exactly what they want, yet there is a certain anxiety for the way that leads them to glory, happiness, and eternal life, which the Gospel so amply supplies. Now they are throwing off the shackles under which they are groaning, and are crying for Christ and the Gospel. Twenty years ago, the public press was the vehicle of slander against the saints, and against the Bible, and against Christ ; but now newspapers, with very few exceptions, are constrained to be the public and avowed advocates of the kingdom of Christ. The Missionary Society-I mean the London Missionary Society—the Bible Society, and the Tract Society, and others, which were begun with handful of praying men in Mr. Hardcastle's counting-house, and rose in the world by little and little, like the cloud that the prophet saw, now rise majestically, like the sun, and are scattering light, salvation, joy, and peace, over the whole world. Again, the petty jealousies and distinctions amongst Christians, which so hindered and impeded the work of conversion, are wonderfully softened down, so that they now seein to vie with each other who can do the most good, and who can most extend the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. ' In our own land, light is spreading in every direction. The pulpits of the Established Church, which mnany years ago
rere not so filled as they now are, now we see are filling in every direction with wise, holy, zealous, devoted, and powerful men. The population of our country, which was formerly sunk in the grossness of ignorance and darkness, are now—with some exceptions which we shall afterwards show-are now placed in those situations by which they can attain to the knowledge of the truth, in hundreds of public places, from the servants of Christ. God is putting it into the hearts of wealthy men to erect places of worship. One in your own city has built perhaps as many as eleven or twelve; another has built one at Bristol: one is built at Weston-super-mare: and churches, too, without parliamentary grants, are erected by the munificence of individuals in various parts of the world, and the glorious Gospel of the blessed God is preached in these places. Notwithstanding the difficulties connected with all these things, we see that God is making this “ a day of good tidings,” by opening channels, and granting facilities for the publication of his truth, which unquestionably never existed before. The days of the Countess of Huntingdon are in some respects revived again. She, from her own hearty desire, and love for the spread of the Gospel of Jesus, would now sell her jewels for the sake of building a chapel; and now strip her house at Ashby-de-la-Zouch of its furniture, in order that another house of God might be erected in another part, and the salvation of the Gospel of God made known to the sons of men.
My dear hearers ; let it also be remembered, that notwithstanding the difficulties, and the sacrifices, and the distresses connected now with home and foreign labours, God is raising up both his servants and handmaidene, very willingly and joyfully to take this work. I cannot but also look at the immense improvement in our own land, as indicative of God's favour in this day. When Mr. Rowland Hill first commenced his exertions in country places, how different was the spirit and temper of the times. When he first went forth to preach the Gospel at Devizes, he told me that two individuals endeavoured to waylay him, and with an oath swore he should not preach the sermon that evening, and that they would take away his life: some singular circumstances attended his emancipation from their grasp. Persecution has ceased to a very great extent, and God is giving facilities in every direction for the publication of his truth. There is hardly, perhaps, a village or town in the whole kingdom, where the Gospel cannot, at this present time, make its way. These are facilities which we could not have expected or dreamed of thirty years ago.
And then, brethren, may I not say, that notwithstanding the difficulties of the times, and the pressure of the times, upon various individuals, yet is it not a marvellous thing, connected with the present day, that the subscriptions to the various societies increase; and, above all, that a greater spirit of prayer for tne outpouring of the divine influence on the churches, and all the exertions connected with missionary and home labours, connected with the great work of God, should be more amply excited among the churches, is evidently a token for good. This day is indeed “ a day of good tidings." I bless God I was not born a century back ; I thank God I have lived to see 1835; for it is “
day of good tidings." It warms and cheers our hearts to see God going out before us, causing a noise in the camp, and making the enemy fall before us, and makmug way for his servants to penetrate the dark recesses of the earth, and claim his people for himself.
1 pass on, in the second place, to notice, that the TEXT REPROVES OUR INDIFFERENCE TO TÌR MISERIES OP OTHERS. 6 We do not well ; this day is a day of good tidings." This may appear a very strange connexion with the foregoing statements that I have made, brethren: but a very little explanation will, perhaps, alter your opinion. It is true that the Lord Jesus has graciously opened channels, and given facilities for the publication of his Gospel: but, beloved, is it equally true that we have embraced them? Will you allow me to put this question very seriously, beloved, to your consciences, and to my own conscience, this evening? Has the Lord Jesus gone out before us, and granted facilities for the publication of his truth, and have we embraced them? Have we seized these openings? Have we, as he has opened, entered into the breach, planted the standard, and claimed the territory for him? No; in many cases, this has not been done. Alas, my brethren, if every conscience brings the subject to hear upon itself, and proposes these questions to itself—“ Have I seized the efficiencies which Christ has offered me to make known the bounties of his love to my kindred, to my neighbours, and to the world ?" each of us must be condemned to-night. “ Have I made any sacrifice commensurate with the object, or equal to the prospect that was open before me? Have I made Christ's kingdom my first, my earnest, my prime request ?" Alas, brethren! we are all condemned. What have we endured, compared with Christ's sufferings for us? What have we given that we could not well spare? What have we ever made of sacrifice for the service of the Lord Jesus Christ ? Beloved, we are all in the same condemnation; we are all convicted and condemned. We have satisfied ourselves with the precious provision of the Gospel; but, to a great extent, we have forgotten our perishing brethren. We have tasted, alas! the ease, and the comforts, and the luxuries of our own personal enjoyments, without remembering that our brethren were perishing for lack of knowledge.
Certainly, then, “we do not well.” For, first, let it be remembered that while this disposition exists in the mind, we dishonour our character. What is our character ? If we have believed in Christ, we are the sons of God; we are united to Christ, our Elder Brother, and we are under infinite obligations to his boundless love, inexpressible obligations to his gracious care and love to us. Now, all he asks us, in return for his love to us, is, to love him in return-not to be ashamed of him ; to establish his kingdom, and to give ourselves up to his service. And who would think the terms hard that knew the blessedness of this Master's service? Who would even think tbat this proposition were too much to request of souls so deeply indehted to his love and to his mercy? To us, and to us only, he has deputed the honour of instrumentally bringing home to his fold our kindred and our countrymen. Beloved, our vows are upon us : we have opened our mouths to the Lord, and we cannot go back. All those of us, who are accustomed to visit the table of the Lord, remember our vows there. How oft our hearts have been deeply impressed with the love of the Lord Jesus, and we have said, as we have departed from his house, “ I am the Lord's · n:y
as our VOWS.
time is his ; my talents are his; my property is his : all that I have is his : my Beloved is mine, and I am his." And our prayers witness against us as much
We have said, “ Thy kingdom come;" and did we mean it? Did we mean that his kingdom should come, when we so said? Yes, we meant that his kingdom should come; but without any great sacrifice on our part: or else we have slighted our prayer. If we with hold our persons, if we withhold our property, if we refuse to establish his kingdom in the earth, let us relinquish the name of Christian ; it does not belong to us.
But, secondly, we not only dishonour our character, but we disobey Christ's command. Our prayers have been, “ Lead me into thy truth, and teach me, for thou art the God of my salvation :" “ Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ?” has been our cry. Now this is his instruction: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature, beginning at Jerusalem." Go tell the world my love, but begin at Jerusalem; begin at your own homes ; begin where the people shed my precious blood; begin where the man lives that nailed me to the tree; begin where the soldier resides that pierced my side: let the virtue of my cross, and its salvation, be seen by those who were my murderers and my foes : that is, begin at Jerusalem, begin at home.
Now this is not an arbitrary command of the Eternal, my brethren, but a very necessary answer to your prayers, to your most earnest wish.
You have prayed that his kingdom may come; and now he is opening his way, that his kingdom may come, for you to embrace the opportunities that will be the means of establishing that kingdoin in the world. It is the very work in which you delight, according to your own profession in your best moinents at the foot-stool of divine mercy, that you have earnestly desired every thing that has now happened; and then you have sung that hymn
“ Now will I tell to sinners round,
What a dear Saviour I have found;
All this was perfectly sincere at the time; but it must be carried out to prove its sincerity. The command is our warrant; the promise is our encouragement : and if we live in disobedience to Christ's commands, how can we expect his blessing? “We do not well :' the text reproves our indifference. If our hearts say, we are too weak and unworthy to be engaged in the work, then I hear him saying, “My grace is sufficient for thee; my strength is perfected in thy weakness." By me," says the leper," he saved Sainaria," and "By me," the little captive maid, in her master's kitchen, was the means of saving her master's soul, and healing her master's body. “By me," the fishermen, and tax-gatherer converted thousands. And it is his pleasure still, to choose the weak things of the world to confound the mighty, and the weak things of the world to bring to nought the things that are. Let, therefore, no hearts be discouraged in their village exertions, in their visitations around their districts, either with tracts, or with the opportunity in society round us-our friends, our neighbours, and the poor too, in speaking for Jesus Christ. You may not speak so eloquently as an Apollos; but if you can say one word for your Master, for the Prophet that is in israel, as the little captive mad did; who can tell but that God may
give that word an efficacy and blessing, which the greatest efforts without bis blessing would not effect ?
There are especial and great encouragements resulting from such a thought as this, to an extended exertion. Where shall we find men for the purpose ? This is the great, the last, the only question that we should ever propose to ourselves. The great question that commends itself to our especial notice is, What has Christ commanded? What is the work he would have us do? We are to go and labour, and leave the rest to hiin. Success is not ours; labour is ours. He has the gold and the silver in his possession; and as he raises up friends for different institutions, he manifestly proves that he has the hearts of all in his hands. 0, dear Christian friends, there is a branch of liberality I want to see extended. I think I may say, that many of the Christian friends of the church “do not well." How many rich members have we, to whom it would be no sacrifice each to support a missionary? Christ's command is, “ Go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." Why,” says the rich and wealthy professor, the member of the Christian Church, “ I cannot go." True, but then you can go by depaty; and why not have your deputy in a heathen land ? Why not have your deputy at home? Why not have hiin circulating the knowledge of the Gospel around your city; in the village where you were born, and perpetuate the memory of Jesus Christ there, in the very place, where you yourself cannot go? May I beg to press this upon the attention of Christians ? How much more noble, how much more durable, the monument would thus be after the decease of the individual, to have a man of God publishing Christ's salvation in the spot where, perhaps, that person was brought up-in poverty, perhaps, brought up; but who came to this great city, or went to other places, and God blessed hiin, and caused his riches to increase : how much better would it be to have a monument inscribing his name, and telling of deeds that few, perhaps, ever saw.
But I pass on to notice, in the next place, that THE TEXT PRONOUNCES OUR PUNISHMENT IP WE DELAY. “ If we tarry till the morning light, some mischief will befall us." I will not detain you, my beloved, long in proving a point, which I believe you will all subscribe, that some mischief will certainly fall on the heads of those who, knowing their duty, do not fulfil it. It is not doubtful, it is not chimerical: but it is plain, and certain, and awful. Yet I cannot suffer this opportunity to escape, brethren, without stirring up your minds by way of remembrance. Let me just, therefore, remark, that the Scriptures assure us, if we delay, three things shall befall us : first, our eyes shall see the destruction of our kindred; secondly, our souls shall want the joys of God's salvation; and thirdly, our conduct shall receive the condemnation of Christ.
If we delay this work our eyes shall see the destruction of our kindred. When our Leloved Lord had used all efforts to evangelize Jerusalem, by preaching, by miracles, by residing amongst them, by various conversations, and yet, after all their misery affected his heart; he could not look upon them without tears Many times he wept in his prayers; but there are two scenes only recorded where he publicly wept: the one was at the grave of Lazarus, his dear friend · and the other was when he looked over Jerusalemn, and saw the people perishing --people who had discarded the prophets that had been sent them Now wbat