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will never prosper and have the blessing of God if we expect to bring about the kingdom of God by any other instrument than that which God has appointed. O that we may lay this to heart, and honour God in his own appointed
Men and brethren, if these things be so, then how faulty must many of yon be when you go to hear the preaching of the word much as the world goes to the theatre ; and you listen to the preacher as a man does to an actor, when you go to hear the words of man instead of the word of God. O that you would hear the word of God by his prophet, and may they sink into your hearts and never be forgotten: “ Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited." The dew of divine grace often falls on the individual that sits beside you, and yet not a drop of that dew falls on your soul; and if you continue to trust in man you shall be • like the heath in the desert, and you shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited." But “ blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit."
My heart s desire and praye: to God for you, beloved brethren, is, that you may wait on the ministry of my long-loved and cherished friend in the spirit of simple faith in God. The most persuasive and eloquent minister who ever stood up to preach for God would profit you nothing in the matter of the salvation of your souls, save to heighten your responsibility, and deepen your doom, unless you looked, not on his eloquence or his persuasiveness, but on the blessing of God, who alone can give the increase. But the simplest and weakest creature who ever spoke the word of God may save, convince, and sanctify the mightiest mind that ever waited on the truth as it is in Jesus, if the Spirit of God sends home the truth, however faultily delivered, in demonstration and power to the conscience.
If these things be so, how much does it behove the Christians of this country, and especially the members of the church of England, to multiply that machinery which is God's great ordinance, to beautify the people with salvation, and promote that righteousness which exalteth a nation, and destroy that sin which is the shame of any people. Our teeming population and our vast commercial prosperity will hurry us down to the gulf of national anarchy and ruin, unless the church of God arouse herself with all the energy and power which God has imparted to her as his steward in this nation, in order to meet the exigences of the case, and provide a fold where the sheep may be in safety. I thank God that the spiritual overseer of your vast population has felt the importance of this ; and I trust in God that there will go forth amongst you a spirit that will respond to the appeal which he has made ; and that it will be proved that God has not forsaken us, and that our God has not left this highly favoured land.
“And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified," through faith that is in Christ Jesus.
THE NECESSITY OF UNION TO SPIRITUAL SUCCESS.
REV. S. ROBINS, A.M.
ST. JOHN'S CHAPEL, BEDFORD ROW, MAY 12, 1836*.
“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may
be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”—John, xvii. 21.
There is no such proof of affectionate, endearing, disinterested friendship, as that which exhibited when death is at the door. Through many long years of patient unwearying kindness no opportunity of service may have been overlooked; but still memory doth fondly and gratefully travel back to the moment when the dying benefactor called us to his bedside, and proved to us that we were in his remembrance at the last, and that we had a place in his parting supplications. Even so it was with the Lord Jesus Christ; he knew the death and the sufferings that awaited him: he knew he was to tread alone the wine-press of the Father's wrath ; he knew that the crushing burden of the world's sin was to be all bound upon him: and yet when this season of extremest anguish was at hand he did most tenderly recollect his people, and in his far-sighted love he prayed for them, bearing them in his heart before the throne of grace.
And the prayer that Jesus offered for his people was the prayer of infinite wisdom and unbounded affection. He prayed that even as the Father and himself were united, that so his people might be united together. He prayed that they might be fashioned and spiritually shapened after his most glorious model: and as there is no disunion, as there is no dissevering of views, and interests, and purposes among the persons of the Deity, so did Jesus pray that his disciples in all coming time might be bound up closely and compacted together. And while he prayed for his people he prayed for the world; for the union of the one is the conversion of the other. In the ages that succeeded the departure of Jesus from this earth, there was a proof of the efficacy of this prayer. There were wondrous conversions ; men were gathered in by thousands unto the Lord Jesus Christ; prejudice, bigotry, and superstition were trampled in the dust; and they were brought, in all humility of heart, and in all earnestness of purpose, to accept the faith that was promulgated among them. And we can trace the cause of this it was the united result of the prayers of Jesus : his people who were the preachers of the Word were one in heart and mind; they had all things in common-their purposes, their counsels, their hopes, their successes were all in common: and then, and for centuries after, did the church greatly prosper, so that although the arm of earthly power was continually extended to crush, overwhelm, and annihilate, the fait
* Anniversary Sermon for the London Missionary Society.
tree which had been planted by the hand of God himself sprang up from this small beginning, and cast forth its wide branches and overshadowed the known world.
And then came the time of external prosperity and of internal disunion for they came almost contemporaneously; and for fifteen centuries hath the church been vexed and troubled with afflictions; for fifteen centuries hath the church been in her widowhood, and hath had to sit in the dust of humiliation and lamentation; and in spite of all effort, and all prayer, and all the preaching of the Gospel, and all the machinery of means that are put into operation, the earth is yet full of darkness and of the cruel habitations of men. believe that the cause is to be traced to the converse of that which caused its early prosperity—we believe its disunion has caused its unsuccess.
And, beloved, we think that this is a matter exceedingly appropriate to the times in which we live, and very seasonable for the occasion which hath now gathered us together. We believe that that which we have commonly called " the evangelical world” hath gone greatly astray in this matter; that there hath been an oversight of the great principle which the Lord Jesus exhibited to his people—the necessity of union to all spiritual success. There hath been effort; there hath been championship of particular portions of truth; but of truth itself the church has sometimes, in her factious zeal, made almost an entire shipwreck. So that the Gospel which was like universal sunshine for the gladdening of the nations and the blessing of mankind, hath come to be the patronage of a party and the legacy of a few. There hath been enough championship and enough proselytism, and enough bitterness, and more than enough of party spirit; but there hath not been enough of union, and therefore there hath not been enough of success.
Now we do not propose to speak to you at present upon the bearing of this matter upon the character and prospects of the church at large, but we want to narrow the field of our observation, and to bring what we have to say to you more into a point; and therefore will we apply it to the matter which is more especially in hand. And we propose, in the opening of this subject matter to you, to shew in the first place, that disunion among professed Christians hath been the great hinderance of missionary success; and, in the second place, to shew you
the result of union in the conversion of the world.
As to the first head, then, of our subject, that this DISUNION HAS BEEN THE MAIN HINDERANCE OF MISSIONARY SUCCESS. Disunion hath its source among the lower and the worse parts of our better nature; and by whatever fair names we may choose to call it, or with whatever fair concealment we may choose to cover it, it is yet in its origin and in its issues altogether hateful, and altogether contrary to the principles of the Gospel; it cometh from man's selfishness, which makes him willing to pay the sacrifice of a large amount of universal good, just for the extending of his own partial and particular benefits: so that provided only he shall establish his plans, plans upon the uprearing of which he hath staked his reputation, it maketh little concernment to him that the cause of his Master is blasphemed, and the extension of his kingdom is hindered. Every man looketh to his own things, and not to the things that belong to Jesus Christ. It hath its origin in pride—the pride which maketh a man desire to get a name for himself, to establish his own reputation by the championship of a particular plan-pride, that anti-social principle, which is like the principle of repulsion among the particles of matter, preventing their union and their consolidation. This principle is at work in the church of Christ, keeping Christian men apart from each other, and hindering the result which would spring from an united effort. And Satan is ever at work, and he is reaping his rich harvest in the disaster of the church, and the disappointment of the hopes of God's people. He does not come (0 no, he is far too wise and far too experienced)—he does not come in all the naked deformity and hideousness of his own aspect, but he ever clothes himself with raiment of light, and he speaks with an angel's voice, and he praiseth our zeal, and deems us to be champions of the truth, and confessors of the faith; and so doth involve us in controversy, until we have destroyed all the Christianity of our spirit, antil we have become unfit for the work, to which the Lord by his providence and his grace hath called us—unfit for the work, for nothing doth so unfit for the work of promulgating the Gospel, as disunion among those who have set themselves to the accomplishment of it. There is wasted energy: we do not attempt to affirm so untenable a proposition, as that all professing Christians are locked in deep spiritual slumber. No, they are up and astir ; their minds have been awakened : and how could it be otherwise, when all the world is awake, and all men are eagerly and with full energy following their favourite objects? There is energy enough and zeal enough at work, but it hath been turned into a wrong direction, it hath been turned into a wrong channel; and the issues are not those on which the hopes and prayers of God's believing people have been so long fixed.
Not only is energy thus wrongly expended, but men are unfitted for the performance of their work. For let me remind you party views cannot be held as something distinct from personal character. A man cannot be unhurt engaged in controversy. He cannot engage himself in all the keenness of partizanship, and then go home quietly to his own chamber, and pray efficaciously for the spread of missions. He cannot go to his bome, and set himself in simplicity of spirit to the furtherance of the great work which he desires to accomplish. You remember the apostle Peter's warning to Onesimus against domestic strife, because it “ hindered prayer" in the great family of the church of Christ. Prayer is so hindered because of the factious divisions, because of the feuds, and because of the hot and hasty tempers that are exhibited. Prayer is inade inefficacious, and its wings are clipped, and it is earth-bound, and it cannot rise up to bear its sayings to the throne of grace; it cannot go to Him who heareth and who answereth, and who giveth a rich return of blessing.
And if this take place at home, if we are divided among ourselves, each upholding his own partial view; and if we are at home so imbued with the spirit of party, that men will make sacrifices, far mightier sacrifices than w. can conceive, for the advancement of it, so that we join heart and hand with those who entertain common views upon that which is contingent and accidental, while at the same time we are divided, the distance of the universe on matters that are necessary and essential-if it be so, we say, that party spirit hath so eaten into the heart's core of our home piety, we cannot marvel if our missionaries should go away with much of party spirit from such an atmosphere as they have been breathing, and that their work abroad should be hindered just in proportion as the preliminary work at home hath been hindered. What
marvel if they should go away from us to fight the battle of church governments, or their own particular modes of worship in regions which are yet lying in the darkness of heathenism, or where Satan yet holds his usurped supremacy? And thus doth it happen that the heathen hath almost always a prejudice against the reception of the Gospel; for the first tidings of Christianity that have reached him have come in connexion with strife and controversy. The heathen know (for let me remind you that many of them are shrewd and keen-witted men)—they know well enough that truth is one; and when they see the divisions of their teachers, by a very inconclusive mode of reasoning indeed, they come to the result that the message is false. And where are we to find a remedy for these things? In nothing short of an union; in nothing short of flinging away from us the party spirit which hath hindered and paralyzed our efforts. And how can this be accomplished? We must pray God that he would advance the spiritual character of every one of us; for union and piety are more closely connected than we at first imagine ; nay, we believe that they always stand to each other in the mutual relationship of cause and effect, mutually re-acting, and mutually reproducing. We must pray God to raise us above the low level that we now occupy, and make us breathe a purer and better atmosphere, and make us go away from all the stir and tumult and turmoil of this poor world, and that we live in, and fix our thoughts and our hopes more constantly and more intently upon, the spiritual and immortal world that we are all travelling unto.
And when these things shall have attained unto their due prominency, when we shall have thoughts for God and his glory, and man and his salvation, then there are hopes that we may meet in a consistent uncompromising union. When we shall have fastened our view on that land which lieth far away, on the sunshine of God's ever-smiling face; when we shall have looked over the wide waste of this world's troubled waters to the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, advancing slowly, yet steadily on our sin-stricken world, silently and without observation-we cannot, O we cannot, come down from our point of lofty view, to mingle again in things so mean and so unworthy as those which have engaged us. These will have sunken to their puny insignificance, while the others shall have risen to all the majesty and magnificence of their true and real gradation.
And now we go on to consider THE RESULTS OF CHRISTIAN UNION IN THE CONVERSION OF THE WORLD. The acceptance of the Gospel, with all its consequent and everlasting benefits, is included in the phrase which our Lord employs: “That the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” God doth in the one province of his dominion just as he doth in the other province of his dominion—he commonly connects the means with the end. What he doth in providence, that he also doth in grace. Now the appointed means of the conversion of the world is by dissemination of Christian faith, which is included in the phrase,
“ That the world may believe that thou hast sent me"—that the Father hath sent the Son. It is not a mere assent of the understanding to an undeniable truth, when arguments shall have been so close and concise as to shut us up to a conclusion from which there is no escape ; but it is a matter in which the heart also hath had its employment, a matter in which the moral feelings have had as much to do as the mental faculties. The evidence of the