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Gospel cannot savingly be received without the interposition of the one just as much as the intervention of the other. To believe that God hath sent his dear Son as the messenger of mercy, of the missionary of love to this lost world, what is this, but to acknowledge our need of a Saviour ; what is it but to confess that we wanted one to interpose on our behalf, and to rescue us from all the wretchedness, and ruin, and guiltiness into which our first parents had brought us? So that to believe this great proposition, that the Father hath sent the Son, is nothing else but to receive the tidings of infinite and yearning compassion which never rested, and which never wearied, until the great work of rescuing and restoring had been accomplished.
And then as the moral character of man has to do with the first reception of the Gospel; as it is necessary that not only the evidence should be brought to the door of his understanding, but to make its ingress into his heart, so in the reception of the Gospel he is brought into a new relationship, his own heart becomes changed; he is made a creature of hope : and he that hath hope purifieth himself: hope is the mightiest engine of man's civilization. He will no longer consent to be the drudge of sin, he will no longer consent to live in slavery of the lower and baser parts of his nature. God hath looked upon him. The eye of compassion is on him, and he will no longer be what he once was; but he is elevated, he is advanced, and feels that he stands in a new and inconceivable relationship to his God.
It were a very easy thing for us to exhibit to you the mighty proofs of the preached Gospel in taming men down from their savageness, turning thein to civilization, and making them such in their relations and connexions with each other, and such in their personal habits and characters, as we would most desire that man should be made. It would be an easy thing for us to shew you, how they are brought under the protection of equal law, and the securities of home, and the establishment of independent rights; for there is no safe and sound government like that which stands upon the Gospel. And we might shew you how, by the very same means, their homes, and their every-day life are adorned with all the sweet, and kind, and gracious interchanges of courtesy; for the Gospel is the parent of all our best affections, and the sister of all oar tenderest charities. It were easy to dilate on this matter, and to tell you how rough hordes of rude men have been reclaimed, and bound up into societies; how the hedge-row hath divided the fields of occupation; how wellordered villages have risen up and school-houses have been built, and men by the mere operation of the Gospel, in their temporal character and prospects have been brought into a condition, which by no other means they could have attained unto. But this were to take the lowest ground, this were to speak of man only as to the concernments, and the interests, and the relations of time. We have to speak of him as an immortal creature ; we have to speak of him as one whose inheritance lieth in that world of faith which is beyond the world of sight; we have to speak of him as one whom God hath mightily ennobled and inconceivably dignified; and whom he hath cause to look at in the new aspect of a redeemed spirit and an heir of immortality. Now the missionaries go forth to tell this new tale of eternal life; to tell those who have been sunk and ground down under the bondage of Satan, that they are heaven's own freemen, and that God so loved them that he would not have them to perish, but sent his own Son to bring them into the arms of his mercy, and the circle
of his complacent kindness. And by no other means could men be reclaimed; by no other means could they be softened and civilized, and made in themselves and to each other what we love to think they may be.
We throw back on the infidel and the worldly the charge of enthusiasm; we think it belongeth to them, and to them solely, for they still hope for results from means whose inadequacy hath been again and again demonstrated. Philosophy hath never accomplished this ; legislation hath never accomplished this ; schools have never accomplished this: but men must remain in their uncivilization, and all the best and most important parts of their character must remain uncultivated and untilled, if God do not by his own Spirit bring them under the operation of a spiritual husbandry, and make their souls, formed, gifted, and endowed by himself, to be fruitful to his own glory.
Now the means of the world's conversion are not merely the circulation of Bibles: it is not merely that our printing-presses with their thousand hands should deal forth without intermission copies of the word of life; but the servants of the cross must go forth, and from their lips must the word start forth into all its potent energy; it must become the preached word, ere it can be efficacious to the conversion of the world. If the Bible be the silent missionary, the missionary must go forth as the speaking Bible. And he goes well furnished for this work. He hath evidence for every form of heathenism with wbich he has to contend. This was beautifully explained by the returned missionary of the Scottish Church, when he gave to his own assembly an account of his stewardship: he did prove indeed that to the well-furnished and the well-cultivated there was evidence enough, and that the very instruction and enlargement of the mind fitted it to grasp other modes of evidence, and to apply it for the removal of all doubtfulness. But if unfitted it gave to those who had no cultivation, and who could lay claim to no mental strength, while it is just the evidence which we find efficacious among the most untaught of the population of our towns. We can exhibit the necessities of those to whom we speak; turn their looks into their own hearts; and they find traces enough of sin; and they find proofs enough of departure from the great and glorious original. And thus they see that the Bible which interprets these things is the revealed word of God. We shew them also a remedy which the free, full, and unfettered mercy of God hath provided ; and that just for their condition of helplessness as well as sin, God hath made a rich and glorious provision : so that they have but to lift the dying eye to Him that hung on the cross, and there cometh back life and health, and they live before their God. And then they feel that this abundant, this perfect provision for all their wants, doth prove that the book which contained it is of God.
But there is yet another class of evidences which we would not that one of our missionaries should go forth unprovided with. When the Gospel hath been preached the missionaries have to exhibit concerning themselves that they have membership with Jesus: they have to exhibit their own brotherly affection one to the other, that all men may know they are the disciples of Jesus. And when their own personal interest in the Gospel hath thus been proved, then their brotherly and affectionate union will serve, as our text affirmeth it will serve, for a proof that the Gospel itself is from God. And we do believe there is alsolutely no evidence which shall come home so powerfully and so effectually to the heart of a heathen man, as the sight of such an union of tenderness, and kindliness, and self-denying affection, as they never saw spring from their own gross superstitions. And this, which was something apart from what they had ever known, something more bright and more lovely than they ever had anticipated, would bring before them the reverse of what they had hitherto seen, and convince them that of a truth this message is from the Lord. And so the first Christian teachers, and so the first Christian converts, being bound in union to each other, are presenting a most beautiful exhibition, that the Gospel is of God; are presenting a most irresistible proof to the understanding of the most unenlightened, and the hearts even of the most obdurate, that the God of goodness and grace hath sent this religion unto them. If there be any who feel doubtfulness as to the result of this evidence so presented, then do we intrench ourselves behind the language of our text, shewing it to be the very prayer of Christ, that his people might be one, as he and the Father were one, and that this may be the result, " that the world may know that thou hast sent me."
Now the work on which the missionary effort is to be spent is the mightiest and most magnificent work on which man can ever expend his energies. We do believe that the Gospel is greatly undervalued, that its character is greatly depreciated, when we only vindicate for it those gentler and softer home moralities which fall under our daily observation, and so seem to sweeten and adorn our existence. We do think that a mighty injustice hath been rendered to Christianity, when we assign all of grandeur, all of heroism, all of bravery, and all of daring, unto the worldly and the carnal. We believe that the Gospel hath its heroism, before which all the mightiest exploits of human warriors sink into nothing; we believe that never did the men of renown present to the world such majestic achievments as the soldiers of the cross of Christ, who have gone forth to give battle to an evil world, to fight for their Master, and to plant the standard of his cross, in regions which had been taken under a foreign yoke. They went forth, and their only weapons of offence were the sword of the Spirit, and the only armour for their protection was the shield of faith. O we do think that there never hath been in the world such an exhibition of the principle of duty, of lofty, considerate, self-denial, as when the man, who in sincerity and simplicity of purpose has given himself to the work of evan gelizing the heathen, goes forth, knowing his toils and having an anticipation of his perils, yet not shrinking from them. But 0 it was not at the outset of his work that he had most to endure : it was not even when he was bidding his last farewell to the white-headed father, or to the brother and the sister whose childhood was nursed on the same bosom, and whose youth grew up under the same roof: it was not when he trod the deck of the missionary ship, as it bounded over the waters, and he lost sight of the cliffs of his own fatherland; for there a prosperous wind was in his sail, and he knew he was wafted on his way by the sympathies and the prayers of Christians at home: it was not even when the vessel slept in her shadow becalmed in the vast Pacific, for even then hope was at his heart, and told him there should be years of prosperity, that there should be heathen to be saved, precious and immortal souls given to Jesus ; but he landed, and there was no hand to grasp his, and no lips to speak a word of kindness : yet his courage hath not failed him. Years pass by, and he has been disappointed, and he hath had to deal with rough natures which he could not tame, and he hath seen no conversions; and he hath gone
down to his rude tomb. He hath lived, and he hath died, enduring hardness like a good soldier of Jesus Christ: and there cometh a word of warning from the
grave of the missionary, and it comes to us, and bids us to be up and astir in this great matter.
O the purpose, and the motive, and the success, are so great, that we do feel if this matter might only be worthily commended to you, that your hearts should leap in your bosoms, and many start forth, and breaking away from all home-ties would give themselves to the work. The wise men would bring in the results of their art and prudence for the counsels of this society, and the rich would pour into its treasury the results of their successful enterprise. But let the cause be commended inadequately and imperfectly as it may, it is the cause of God. It is the cause of God; but if we are asleep, and listless, and nnexcited, and unroused, O let us not think that we are safe. That the work is proceeding, that the prayer of Jesus shall be answered, faith will not suffer us to question. But then there will be the searching, overwhelming inquiry, “Where, where were ye, that ye came not to the help of the Lord against the mighty ?” There shall come a voice from India, and a voice from Africa, and a voice from the islands of the Southern Sea, a voice from the perishing and the dead, a voice from those who went down to eternal destruction, and we knew that they were dying, and we never went to save them ; we knew that they were perishing, and we never put out an arm or a prayer for their rescue. Beloved, we do entreat you that you lay this matter to heart. There shall be a witness against all the careless, and all the indifferent, and all the inactive, amongst us. It is not by sickly sentiment that you can be acted upon; it is not by paying the cheap contingent of fair words to our cause : but there must be active, hard-working, and self-denying love excited, and then should we give ourselves to the work. And because Jesus hath redeemed us, Jesus hath made us his own: and whoever we are, and whatsoever we can do, with all the faculty of the understanding, and all the affections of the heart, with all our property, with all our influence, with all our time, and with all our prayers, we are bound to devote ourselves to this cause.
We hold just the converse of the doctrine of those who think that the conversion of the world is to result from the machinery we put into operation. These are times when business hath been dove-tailed into all our associations, and all orders of our efforts; so that there is peril of men supposing, that the evangelizing the country will be a thing which their money can accomplish. If all treasure is brought unto us; if we might lay hands upon all available resources; if we might enlist all the talent, and all the zeal, and all the patience, of the land, we should not accomplish the conversion of a single soul without the blessing of the Lord Jehovah. Therefore we come back to the point from which we started: there is need of prayer, there is need of the united prayer of the church of Jesus, that he put forth the power of his own arm, that he manifest his own strength, and that he himself convert the land.
And it seemeth to us as if the crisis of the world were well-nigh come; it seemeth to us as if the shades of evening were falling on its path. It seemeth to us as if the things of time and the affairs of men were falling into their dotage. And sure we are of this, that the superstitions which have domineered so long, that the forms of false faith which have tyrannized and lorded over men's spirits for so many ages, are now fast crumbling to pieces. We are sure that Mahommedanism, the great apostacy of the West, shall not long continue --the great apostacy of the East shall not long continue, that it shall crumble and decay. Sure we are that Popery, gigantic though its external developments be, hath its heart's core eaten out.
But do we therefore take comfort from these manifestations of coming things? Heathenism may be dead—and we believe that by the traffic of the merchant, light and knowledge shall be carried to every door ; but because the idols shall be broken, and because the altars shall be desecrated and thrown down, do we thereon build the foundation of our hopes ? No; we believe that the passing away of Mahommedanism, and Popery, and heathenism, shall, if left to their own working, be just serving as the handmaid of infidelity. Therefore it is for the people of God, those on whom he hath laid the material of all conceivable obligation, to be earnest in prayer, to be earnest in their endeavours, that this antagonist principle may be met, and vanquished, and trampled under foot, and that on the ruins of this world's deities the kingdom of the Lord Jesus may be established in its length and breadth.
Above all, let us pray that our church-our church—not a part, or a section, or a fragment—but the whole catholic universal church of the Lord Jesus Christ on the earth, under whatever form of government it be manifested ; let us pray that that church be in truth the power of Jehovah, the mother of our hopes, the city set upon a hill; that the church of Jesus Christ in the compactness of its privilege, in the firmness of its consecration, may move on through its long train of prophecy; and being at once the depository and the dissemination of truth, may become the joy of the whole worid.