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presumed can be mentioned, in which religion has flourished, and a Church prospered, during such a season. In the earliest and happiest days of the Christian community, it is recorded of its members that they 66 were of one heart, and of one soul;" and it was among the last directions of Paul to the Church at Corinth, a direction on which were suspended signal blessings, that they should "be of one mind, and live in peace."
The prosperity of the Church requires, that its members properly understand and cordially receive the great truths of the gospel.-This, in the estimation of some, we know is of minor consequence. They would regard many circumstances as more intimately connected with the prosperity of a Church, than the particular doctrines which it professed to receive. -But with the Apostles, it was an object of prime importance, that believers should be established in the faith; "and they spoke of the Church as "the pillar and ground of the truth." It is plain also, from the nature of the case, that a Church cannot enjoy spiritual prosperity, in a rejection of the essential doctrines of the gospel. These are the spiritual nutriment of the Christian-" the sincere milk of the word," which he desires to receive, and by which he lives. And as they are the support of Christians, they must be the support of Churches, which are composed of Christians. These also are the spiritual implements, by which hard hearts are broken, stubborn wills bowed, and the rude children of nature are prepared for the Church of God, and the kingdom of glory. On these several accounts, it must be essential to the prosperity of a Church, that it understand and embrace the great doctrines of the gospel. Deprive any Church of these doctrines, and
however elevated its present standing, it will soon be seen to fall from its spiritual glory, to wither and decay.
It is further necessary to the prosperity of the Churches, that the true spirit of religion be generally diffused among the members. This is essentially a spirit of love-love which fixes upon God as its supreme object, and upon other objects, in proportion to their perceived importance.-It is a spirit of humility and faith. It disposes its possessor to entertain low thoughts of himself, but high thoughts, exalted conceptions, of his God. It disposes him to fall as an unworthy sinful creature at the feet of an atoning Saviour, and fix his whole trust and reliance upon him. It is also a spirit of activity and prayer. It will excite those in whose hearts it dwells to do all they consistently can, for the honor of God, the advancement of his cause, and the salvation of immortal souls. And feeling that they can do nothing without strength and assistance from above, they will be led to approach the throne of grace, to seek by fervent persevering prayer the promised Spirit and blessing of Jehovah.-The spirit of religion is moreover a spirit of liberality. He who maintains it in vigorous exercise can assent heartily to the truth of the Apostle's declaration, "Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price; wherefore glorify God, in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." He regards all that he is and has as consecrated to the service of Christ, and is ready to make. any sacrifice or exertion, whenever he can be satisfied that his Redeemer calls -No words are necessary to shew, that when a spirit such as this is generally, diffused and enjoyed in the Churches, they must be. in a prosperous state. They will walk, like the
primitive Churches, "in the fear of the Lord, and in the comforts of the Holy Ghost," and will be builded up under the smiles of their all-powerful Redeemer. And as little need be said to shew, that no external circumstances or advantages can compensate for the absence of such a spirit. Churches may be able to tell of their wealth and numbers, and point to the splendor of their exterior embellishments; but if they lack the true spirit of religion, all is but a body without a soul, and on all may properly be inscribed, "The glory has departed."
When the Churches prosper, the spirit of religion among them will be not only felt, but exemplified. Those who exercise love, humility, and faith, will manifest the reality of them, not indeed in empty professions, but by habitual obedience, fleeing from sin, and walking humbly with their God. Those who possess a spirit of activity and prayer will exhibit this, by unwearied efforts and persevering cries, that the kingdom of Christ might be advanced, and perishing immortals converted and saved. And those who feel, that all they are and have is consecrated to the Lord, will manifest this, in being "ready to distribute, willing to communicate," and thus "laying up a good foundation against the time to come."
It is necessary to the prosperity of the Churches, that the holy discipline of the gospel should be maintained in its purity. The members must be willing to watch over one another in love, and mutually to perform those painful but important offices which their Saviour has enjoined. Those who decline from their duty must be admonished; those who wander far away must if possible be reclaimed; and those who prove themselves incorrigible must be cut off as
lifeless members, and regarded as unworthy of a standing among the saints.
It may be observed again, that when the Churches prosper they will be enlarged. They will be builded up with lively stones, and numbers will be added to them of such as shall be saved. By frequent revivals, frequent seasons of spiritual refreshing, the enmity of many hearts will be slain, and many will "subscribe with their hands unto the Lord," and enrol themselves among his people. Numbers will be coming forward to "stand in the gaps" which death is making; to take the places of those who are removed to higher scenes; and to "bear the burden and heat of the day" in the vineyard of their Divine Redeemer.
I have thus endeavoured to point out, under several particulars what is most necessary to the continued prosperity of the Churches. The remarks which have been made present indeed but a sketch of what might be offered on this branch of the subject. It is necessary however that I now attempt to shew,
II. In what manner the prosperity of the Churches at home is connected with the success of Missions.
This connexion plainly is a very intimate one. The Missions are in an important sense dependent on the churches. I know not but it may be said that, under God, they are entirely dependent. The connexion is that of the stream with the fountain; or that of the extremities with the seat of life. It requires no greater sagacity to perceive, that the stream must diminish as the fountain fails, than that the Missions abroad must decline and languish in proportion as the Churches at home are suffered to decay.
1. The establishments abroad are dependent on the Churches at home for Missionaries.--Melancholy experience proves, that those beloved brethren and sisters who are at present laboring in foreign regions are fast wearing away their constitutions and lives, and will soon be gone. And although native teachers in some places are already commencing their labors, and will in future be raised up we trust in great numbers, yet, these cannot, for a considerable time at least, supersede the call for laborers from home. And Missionaries from home will long be needed, not only to repair the ravages which disease and death are continually making, and to retain the ground already gained; but to form new establishments, enter on new and extended fields of labor, and make farther advances upon the empire of darkness. But how are all these laborers to be furnished, unless the Churches at home continue to prosper ? Unless, by frequent and powerful revivals of religion, multitudes of our youth are brought into the kingdom of Christ-unless the spirit of religion is felt and its power exemplified in the hearts and lives of its professors-unless the doctrines of the gospel are taught and received, and the pulse of Christian feeling beats strong and vigorous in the Churches; how shall faithful, devoted soldiers of the cross in sufficient numbers be raised up, to forego the pleasures of home and kindred, of Christian intercourse, and civilized life-to encounter the dangers and hardships of Missionary exertion in foreign and unhealthful climes and to stand in the places where others have fallen, and from which they have gone to their final reward?
2. The Missions abroad are dependent on the Churches at home for support. To provide for the