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changed my heart? Has it made e a self-denying, self-devoted Christian ? I bless God, beloved brethren, that I may go back to my people, and say that all I have heard this day has had a practical and a spiritual tendency; that I may say it is not now the custom at these great metropolitan meetings (as I used to think it once was, and I have not attended them many years) rather to applaud one another, and to flatter one another, than to give the glory to God. I bless God for the truths I heard this day, and pray that they may be remembered, and prove efficacious in our lives.
Again but this point I have in part anticipated-if it is the Lord who gives the word, and the company of preachers is great, let us give Him all the glory. Let us remember, that if there is a single individual sinner converted in any one of your congregations, it is not you that have done it. Let us remember, that if there be any Hindoos, or Hottentots, or New Zealanders, or Indians, brought to the knowledge of the truth, it is the work of God. It is as little in our power to convert a single soul as to convert the world. The man that can meet the simple-hearted missionary as I have done, and heard him tell," I have seen these men live to the Lord; I have seen them die to the Lord"-I pity the man who does not believe it: and if we do believe it, let us give to our God all the glory, and say, "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us; but unto tay Name be all the praise;" humbling man in the very dust, and exalting toe glory of our great God.
If it be the Lord that gives the word, and sends out the preachers, and if there be such a call for the preachers, what do we, beloved? "The harvest truly is great, and the labourers are few. Pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest that he will send forth more labourers into his harvest." There has been much said this day upon the subject of prayer. Now I venture to recommend something on this subject to you. Let me recommend to each master and mistress of a family-to Christian men labouring in the Gospelto you all when assembling in social meetings for prayer-earnestly to lay this particular matter before the Lord-that he would send out more labourers into his harvest. It is, confessedly on all hands, the point we need the most; it is the common complaint of all institutions; it is the want of the word. Now, the Lord is waiting for our prayers: if he will but pour out upon us a spirit of grace and supplication, you will see what an army of preachers will rise up. Put him to the test: say to him, as they of old used to say, "Lord, thou hast said." So Jacob reasoned in prayer: so Moses reasoned in prayer. Go this night, and say, Lord, thou hast said that thou wilt give the word, and the company of the preachers shall be great." O, let us lift up our united hearts to God that he will pour out this great supply of grace upon his Church; that he would stir up ministers, young men, and men in the prie of life, to lay aside the luxuries, the comforts, the ease, and the vanities of home, for the discomforts, and oft-times the bodily and mental sufferings, of the missionary work abroad.
Finally is it true that "she that tarrieth at home divideth the spoil?" What a motive, then, for fresh exertions here. But let me not be mistaken: it not all that tarry at home that will divide the spoil. It is not you (if such here who are tarrying at home, setting down upon your lees: not you who
at ease in Zion:" not you who are living in luxury, and pomp, and selfindulgence, while millions are perishing around you: not you who fold your arms in careless indifference, and leave the heathen to God's uncovenanted mercies. No: you tarry at home, it is true; but you will never share the missionary spoils. The man who serves his God with that which costs him nothing will never share the missionary's crown. That was a noble testimony of David when he said, “ I will not serve God with that which costs me nothing." I put it to your consciences—What does your religion cost you? What of self indulgence? What of self-mortification? What little pleasure and comfort have you given up? I could tell you of many poor people who have given up what to them were all but necessaries of life, that they might have something more to give to the glory of God. Have you done this? If those who have large establishments would reduce them but one-third, and give the rest to God, what a fund would be produced! The principle of self-denial is not known yet in the church of God. Blessed be God, is known by some; but it is not adequately known or felt by professing Christians. They think, for instance, if when attending these meetings they put their trifle into the plate, or if they give an annual subscription of what is considered a handsome amount, they think they have done all that is required of them. But is this the way God will reason when he brings you to account for the talent he has given to you? With shame
“ I spent eight hundred a year on myself, and gave but fifty for the glory of God." I believe there are many Christians who do this. I say the lowest scale on which a Christian man should give would be a tenth of his whole property to the glory of God. If I could speak of the glorious results that would follow if you would all determine to give a tenth of your income to God, you would be surprised. You would have whereof to give to charities of every description : we should not then hear the complaint which is often made, “ There is nothing but calls for charity” No; you would be ready yourselves with the gift: you would be like as they were in apostolic times. It was not necessary then to send ministers to implore alms: they had to restrain the people from giving; they felt a delicacy in taking from their deep poverty and affliction : but the people pressed it on them; they came forward and said, " Take mine, take mine."
It is a remarkable circumstance in the history of the church of God, that no great revival of religion has taken place without great benevolence bursting forth. How was the tabernacle built in the wilderness ? By the free-will offerings of the people: so ready were they to give that the proclamation was made throughout the camp,
“ Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary:" for what they had was enough, and too much. So it was when they built Solomon's temple: so it was on all occasions when they revived the worship of God; the offerings of the people could hardly be restrained : so it was in the apostolical days : and until those days are revived amongst us, the work must move on tardily. I pray, therefore, that the Lord would pour out upon us a liberal spirit, a large heart, an open hand, freely to contribute of our abundance to them that are ready to perish.
I think it unnecessary to say any thing respecting the particular institution for which I am pleading. As far as my judgment can go, and as far as my
information goes (and it is not a little on this point) I can most conscientiously commend the cause to your hearts and consciences. I do believe that whatever may be given to-night will be employed for the glory of God. There was one who “stood over against the temple," and saw the people as they threw their different offerings into the Lord's treasury. Though he is invisible now, he will watch what each man's heart does for him; lie will see whether you try to escape the pain of giving, and will tell you of it another day, when he will bless and applaud those servants who have heartily given to the Lord.
182 SINFULNESS OF UNBELIEF.
REV. G. SPRING, D.D.
ST. THOMAS'S SQUARE, HACKNEY, MAY 17, 1835.
"And when he is come he will reprove the world of sin, because they believe not on me." JOHN, xvi. 8, 9.
THERE is a sin alleged only against sinners of the human race: it is of so aggravated a character that it cannot be perpetrated except by the inhabitants of this lower world. In ten thousand forms of secret and overt iniquity have men disregarded the divine authority, and refused divine forgiveness: but these are all venial offences compared with the sin to which I refer. Hence the sin to which I refer, is one of which it is the work of the Spirit of truth specially to convince men. "When the Comforter is come," said the Saviour," he will reprove (or convince) the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment." Why will he convince the world of sin? Not because men have disregarded the claims of their Creator; not because they have thrown off allegiance to his authority; not because they have abused his goodness, and trifled with his threatenings: but because they believe not in Jesus Christ. This, says the aggrieved Saviour is the enormity of their crime-" They believe not on me."
We propose, therefore, to consider in the present discourse the nature and sinfulness of unbelief: hoping that, by so doing, we may all, beloved hearers, have more just impressions of our religion; and that those who have hitherto rejected the Divine Redeemer may no longer reject his great salvation.
Our first object is to consider, with great brevity, THE NATURE OF UNBE
Not to believe the Gospel appears, at first view, to be a mere want of faith, and therefore a very harmless thing: and if unbelief consists in the mere absence of faith, it is certainly very harmless; it is a mere nothing, and has no moral character whatever. There can be no criminality in mere negation, or want of volition. There is no harm for example, in inanimate things not believing; and there is no harm in the animal creation not believing. Nay, there is no harm in some of mankind not believing. This the Apostle intimates when he enquires respecting the heathen, "How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?" Those who have never heard Christ cannot be blamed for not hearing or for not believing: their guilt lies elsewhere, and not in rejecting the Saviour.
The Scriptures obviously mean by unbelief some positive criminal act of the mind. What then is that act of the soul which the Bible denominates unbelief?
Is it speculative infidelity merely? Speculative infidelity no doubt involves it, but the spirit of unbelief is often found where speculative infidelity has no place. And we would be slow to affirm, that unbelief consists in that diffidence of one's own good estate, and acceptance with God, which many a conscientious man feels. It may not be true, that in the same proportion in which a man doubts of his interest in the blessings of salvation he is an unbeliever: nor, on the other hand, that in the same proportion in which he is persuaded he is interested in the blessing of salvation, that he is a believer. Unbelief may. exist where there is strong and presumptuous assurance ; while there may be true faith, though weak and trembling, where there is much diffidence, fear, many clouds, and much darkness.
Unbelief is the opposite to belief ; that is, disbelief : it is the opposite to believing; that is, rejecting. When a man believes the gospel he receives, loves, obeys it; when he disbelieves, he sincerely and heartily rejects it. Hence it is written, “ He came to his own, and his own received him not : but to as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." " Did you never read in the Scriptures," says our Lord, " that the stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the chief of the corner ?" Speaking of the promulgation of the Gospel after his death, he says, “ First the Son of man must be rejected by this generation.” We are told that the pharisees and the lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves. The Gospel is the method which God has devised for the salvation of inan, and to reject this counsel is to disbelieve the Gospel. Such is the view of the nature of unbelief in several of the parables; and particularly the parables of the marriage feast, the gospel supper, and the husbandman and the vineyard. Our Lord describes this sin in that memorable declaration to the Jews, « Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life."
This is the true character, beloved hearers, of unbelief: it is rejecting and opposing with all the heart, the gospel of the grace of God. It is resisting this truth; rebelling against its authority ; refusing its mercy; opposing its terms, and rejecting its holy salvation.
With this view of the nature of unbelief, we proceed to that which is the inain design of our discourse, to speak, in the second place, of its EXCEEDING
“ And when he is come he will convince the world of sin, because they believe not on me."
“ If I had not come among them," elsewhere the Lord Jesus said, “ they had not had sin : but now they have no cloak for their sin.” This was the front of their offending : but for this their iniquity had been comparatively small: but this is the great sin, the damning sin ; the sin that binds the guilt of all their sins upon them. There must therefore be something peculiarly aggravating in the sin of unbelief, whether we can discover it or not. If we mistake not, there are some things discovered in this sin which may give us a view of its enorinity.
And here, let it be remarked, in the first place, unbelief is the rejection of the highest degree of knowledge in regard to our obligations and duties.
Sin is a violation of our obligations, whether those obligations are known or unknown: but in its highest and most aggravated forms, it is the violation of