صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

should our grief, beloved, be, to see souls brought every hour to the brink of hell, and know that, if they die, they must fall therein, and to reflect that we have used no adequate means to succour and save their souls! Do you believe it, my brethren, that there are five millions of your own countrymen, who either have not the means to attend public worship—that is, there are not places of worship for theni to attend, or else they are not in the habit of hearing the Gospel at all ? Do

you believe that fact? If you do I will tell you this ; that supposing thirty years to be the duration of one generation, then there are one hundred and sixty-six thousand of your own countryinen dying without Christ every year; and there are four hundred and fifty of your own countrymen dying every day without the knowledge of Christ and Mis salvation! This is an appalling fact, my dear brethen, but can you look calmly and coldly on this, ( ye that love Christ? Is it a matter of indifference, that these individuals should pass into eternity, without any effort on your part to pluck them as brands from the burning? Esther felt, when the decree was issued against her countrymen ; and she sighed and mourned over it; and she said, “ How can I endure to see the evil that shall come upon my people? How can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred ?" And cannot you say the same ?

There is however, another point to consider. The evil that shall befall us shall be this-our souls shall want the joys of God's salvation. And tell me, my dear brethren, let your consciences speak to yourselves candidly this evening, what have you ever lost by obedience to Jesus Christ? Begin your calculation in his house this evening. When have you denied yourself any of the luxuries of life, and perhaps a few of its comforts? When have you unflinchingly taken up your cross in obedience to his commands ? When have you made the greatest sacrifices to his cause, and endeavoured to follow out all his commands ? | ask, Has he not repaid you with his “ favour, which is better than life," and made your cup overflow with spiritual blessings? Has he not? And when you have neglected his cause, and put earth first and heaven last ; when you have cherished the luxuries and comforts of life in your heart, instead of Christ's cause and his service; when you have put self above Christ, and held the salvation of your souls indifferent, thinking of your business, of your activity in life, or of your family, or of your neighbourhood, or of your honour-have not the chariot wheels of devotedness and duty, dragged very heavily? Have you found communion with Christ so sweet then as formerly, when your first love burned on the altar of your heart? Have you not found the ordinances of God without that refreshment which you previously had? Have you not walked in darkness, and had no light? I put it thus, beloved, to your consciences, seriously and affectionately this evening, whether that passage is not true—“ He that knoweth my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and I will love him, and my Father will love him; and we will come and make our abode with him." All our consciences testify, brethren, that this is true: and therefore this mischief shall befall us--that, if we act not up to our convictions of the pressing duties which are claiming our attention in Christ's cause, our souls shall want the joys of God's salvation.

Again: our conduct shall receive the condemnation of Christ. I refer now to the last day. That is so plainly spoken of, that it needs no illustration: “ Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, je did it not to me."

But I now advert to the state of mind which indifference to Christ s cause brings; and to the dishonour which even now it casts upon God. The inhabitants of Meroz did not help the enemy; they did not oppose the enemy but they stayed at home: while their brethren were engaged in war, and were going out against the enemy, they quietly looked on. There was no opposition, there was nothing directly opposite in their conduct. No; they indifferently looked at the war; they sent neither supplies of money nor treasures into the camp; and their oppressed brethren might fight their own wars, and endure their own perils for them. And what was the consequence? A voice from heaven said, "Curse ye Meroz; curse ye bitterly the inhabitants of Meroz because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty." They were not opponents; but our Lord has stated precisely in the same terms "He that is not with me is against me." Neutrality, beloved, is here quite impossible: we are one thing or the other; we are Christians, or we are enemies to Christ.

Let us, therefore, see brethren, that we live up to these privileges. And the Apostle explains, in another case, the kind of punishment such individuals often receive: Receiving in themselves the recompense of their error, which was meet." They "received in themselves the recompense of their error, which was meet." Can there be a greater punishment, than to be given up to an indifferent, covetous, hardened state of mind? O, to have it said to a man, "Let him alone," must of all the terrors which God can pour upon an individual on this side hell be the worst. See it exemplified in Judas; see it exemplified in Saul; see it exemplified in Demas. Let us dread the brink of such a precipice, the approach to such a fearful state as this. "From all hardness of heart towards our suffering miserable brethren, good Lord deliver us."

[ocr errors]

But, beloved, we hope better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. Your very presence here this evening, intimates a contrary spirit. You have come, it is true, with the earnest desire to hear what might be said, relative to the various openings which are about to be made, or which are making, or which are already made, for the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In many cases, perhaps, the want of the knowledge has been the result of the want of liberality on your part. The subject, perhaps, has not been sufficiently presented before you, and you have not therefore thought of it. You are saying this evening, "Jesus, what shall I do to shew how much I love thy charming name?" The text would, in the last place, suggest THE CONDUCT WHICH YOU OUGHT TO ADOPT UNDER PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES. "Let us go," the text says, "and tell the king's household." And, brethren, let us go and carry the Gospel to our poor brethren and sisters in England that are perishing for lack of knowledge Beloved, our brethren are perishing; and will you be kind enough this evening to look steadfastly at their condition. I do not wish you to look merely at the exterior; their drunkenness, and their vices, and their prodigality, are, perhaps, very distressing: but I wish you to look further than these things; I wish you to look at the cause of all this: and the cause of all this is, that they are without God, and they are without Christ, and they are without hope in the world. If they would go, as they should go, to Christ, the cause of all their evils would

[ocr errors]

"Let

instantly be banished. They are famishing, not for bread made of the finest of the wheat; our flax, our wool, and our wine, they want not: and if they were dying of famine, if they had but Christ's love in their hearts, why famine would only be a nearer road to immortality: it would be like going across the field, instead of going the long way round by the road. But they are perishing for lack of the bread of life; are dying for want of the water of life; are thirsting for pardon, and they know not where it is to be had. And though some of them, perhaps, reject it; and when your missionaries go to their doors, and say, "We come to tell you about the Saviour," they say, "We do not want to hear it; we want neither you nor your doctrine:" will you say, them alone in their ignorance?" That be far from you. Look at that maniac: does he ask you to come and help him? Does he beg you to take off his fetters? Does he say, "Set me at liberty?" No: he dances in his chains; he calls his fetters ornaments; he looks out of the window of his cell, and he talks about his inheritance; he lifts up his walking-stick, and tells you it is a sceptre; he points to the seat on which he sits, and tells you it is his throne. Do you pity him the less because he is under a delusion; because he is ignorant? O no; the very circuinstances of the poor maniac awaken your tender sympathies, and you pour over him, on account of his ignorance and his delusion, your warmest and most tender feelings. I have sometimes been at a funeral, where the dear infants have lost their dearest earthly relation-their tender mother; and I have seen them pleased with their black clothes, and playing with them, and running about the room with apparent delight that they had got these new habiliments: and many a sigh from the company present has issued from the mouth, as they said, "Ah, dear little children! you do not know what you have lost." Do you pity them the less because they are ignorant, because they do not know the value of the person they have lost? No; you sympathize with them, and pour out your souls in prayer for them.

And this is the very case with our countrymen; many of them reject the truth, and despise the truth and that very consideration should awaken the tenderest sympathies of your heart, to send them more fully the Gospel of our God. O beloved, they are perishing; they are perishing for lack of knowledge; and that should awaken your sympathy. Why, you have sixty agents in your work; and you have four hundred villages; and you have about thirteen thousand hearers; and you have four thousand Sabbath-school children. I bless God that you have but when you think that there are many villages, and many stations, where, for the compass of twenty miles round that station, it is impossible to hear the word of life preached, let it awaken your sympathies, and your earnest desires, and your liberality too, to send them the Gospel. O let us tell them that the victory is gained; that the pardon is offered, that salvation is presented, and that Christ bids every sinner come and partake of the bounties of his love and his salvation for ever. So shall you have, dear hearers, "the blessing of them that were ready to perish" come upon you.

It suggests, in the second place, that we should go and tell of these glad tidings, because success is certain. Success is certain. What though many of your dear missionaries, who toil night and day in the work, have not had extended encouragement of their heart's desire which you could wish—will yon give up? Brethren, the London Missionary Society spread the table of the

Gospel, with all its provisions, for fifteen years in Otalieite, and not ( ne soil, was converted by the preaching of the Gospel, as was known to the missionaries during that time. But the day of Christ's power was to come: lo, a nation, as it were, was born in a day : a revival took place; God came down, dispersed all the mists of darkness, and pointed the sinners' conscience to the salvation. “He inust increase :" not only his kingdom shall come; but he must increase : “ he shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied :" he “ will pour out his Spirit upon all flesh, and all flesh shall see the salvation of our God.” If we had been entirely defeated in this cause, defeat in this would be better than success in any other. But we are not defeated. It is true that now and then, a little drop of divine influence descends on the congregation, and our brother is pricked to the heart; and our sister feels the power of the truth; and our mother is awakened to seriousness ; and our father comes hoine with conviction on his conscience; and our neighbour is alarmed for his state. But presently a greater work than this shall be seen : when the Spirit of God shall be poured out from on high, then numbers shall wake and cry out, “What must we do to be saved ?” Brethren, your heavenly Leader has gone up before you: he has taken all the principal places, all the forts and towers of the enemy; and he bids you,

“ Follow me:" he says, “ There is much land yet to be possessed ;" and he calls on you, and says, “ Why are ye slack to go and partake of this land ; why are ye slack? Why do ye not go up and plant the standard of the cross upon the soil, and claim it for me?” Why, because our hearts are cold; and because our souls do not listen to the glorious tidings of the conquests of that Saviour, which are now to be presented upon the earth.

Dear hearers, when you think, then, that success is certain, that every guinea you give to the cause of God, shall be, as it were, a seed dropped-the very mite given into the treasury, shall go towards furnishing the Gospel of God to the poor and the miserable among your own countrymen-whilst you think Christ has bound himself by oath and promise, to bless every effort made ; let this stimulate you again to renew your efforts, again to desire that the glory of the Lord may be revealed, that all your kindred may see his Gospel.

Finally, brethren, let us furnish this Gospel to our countrymen, for our opportunities are vanishing. Timne is hastening on; health is inconstant; the fashion of the world passeth away. This, this is the only time we can use our strength, and talents, and time, and money. Give, therefore, this evening, as if this were the last act of your lives; as if you were about to stand at the bar of Jesus Christ, and to be judged for the deeds done in the body. Let the truths that you have heard impress your mind : and now, at the cry of this one hundred and sixty thousand who are annually dying, and of the five millions who are without the Gospel, and the four hundred and fifty daily who are waking in eternity without God and without hope; now, while their cry is ringing in your ears, and while the Spirit of God is speaking through his word, now arm yourselves against all selfishness, and against all covetousness, and .ct tbe love of Christ take an entire hold of your spirit, while you say,

“ Awake, my dormant zeal; for ever flame
With generous ardour for immortal souls:
And thou my bead, and heart, and hands, and all,
Spend and be spent in service so divine "

.

THE PROCLAMATION OF THE GOSPEL

REV. F. CLOSE, A.M.

ST. BRIDE'S CHURCH, FLEET STREET, MAY 14, 1835*.

"The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it. Kings of armies did flee apace: and she that tarried at home divided the spoil."-PSALM lxviti. 11, 12.

VOL. III.

THE Occasion upon which this psalm was penned was one of deep interest in the history of Israel. The pious king and prophet was about to carry up to the favoured city the ark of the covenant of his God. It was the gathering of the clans of Israel; it was the assembling of their different tribes: "There was little Benjamin, with their ruler, and the princes of Judah and their council, the princes of Zebulun, and the princes of Naphtali." There were gathered together as we learn from the books of Samuel and Chronicles-eight hundred and sixty Levites singing the praises of God. There, too, were the virgins of Israel in their companies, celebrating the praises of Jehovah: "Among them were the damsels playing with timbrels." There, too, went the great point of attraction, the ark, the mystic ark, the token of the Divine presence, upon which was the mercy-seat, the type of our redemption: and there the shekinah, the divine presence, glorious in the eyes of God's people, the most interesting object, at least to the spiritual eye, (though indeed it was despicable in the eye of a carnal woman)—there was Zion's lowly King, having laid aside his royal apparel, clad in the sacred vest, a linen ephod. He takes his harp, and, with a holy enthusiasm and pious ecstasy, he sings the praises of Jehovah, and dances before the ark of the Lord. Then the whole multitude strike up their national anthem, and exclaim, "Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him. It is well seen, O God, how thou goest; how thou, my God and King, goest in the sanctuary."

This is the literal interpretation of the psalm, the primary interpretation. but if you would understand its prophetic import, you must figure to yourselves a very different scene. You must conceive that a thousand years have rolled by: and now, behold, from one of the gates of the holy city there issues forth a lonely and mysterious man, accompanied indeed with a few despised followers. No royal princes there: the sceptre had departed from Judah, and the lawgiver from between his feet. No pompous priesthood there: there might be a ruler, a Nicodemus, a centurion; there might be two or three favoured friends, besides the immediate disciples of our Lord. He takes them forth, and he leads them a little space from the city, unto Bethany: there he stretches forth i * Anniversary Sermon for the London Missionary Society. 2 I

« السابقةمتابعة »