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It should ever be remembered that repentance, in some cases, is unavailing; and repentance, even in cases where it is admissible, may be deferred till it is too late. When man violates the laws of his fellow-creatures, it often happens that his repentance will not prevent his punishment. There is no proof that when the angels sinned, they were allowed to repent. And when a man has, by vicious excesses, ruined his health, repentance, and even reformation, will not always restore him to health.
But, in reference to man's salvation, the mediatorial work of our Saviour, his death and sufferings in our stead, have made repentance admissible. He came to call sinners to repentance; his servants, the ministers of religion, are directed to go into all the world, and proclaim the good tidings, that the work of redemption is finished ; and now God commands all men, every where, to repent.” The good angels are interested about man's repentance; and when but one repents, there is joy in their presence. Thus, all that are divine and good, in heaven and on earth, are moved about one man's salvation or condemnation. Their united admonition and entreaty, is, “ Repent and believe the Gospel, and thou shalt be saved.” To the returning penitent, then, there is no hindrance-none such need despair. No returning prodigal will ever be rejected: quite the contrary, he will be received with demonstrations of joy.
I have only one caution to suggest; let no one defer repentance; for death may surprise thee, and there is no repentance in the grave. The axe is laid ready at the root of the tree ; if it bring not forth good fruit, it will ere long be cut down and cast into the fire. To delay repentance is not the suggestion of a friend, but of an enemy. It is a suggestion that comes from the destroyer of men's souls--the father of lies. Take the resolution at once, and, looking to God's Holy Spirit for help, say, “ I will arise and go to my Father;" for you have the Saviour's word for it, that you will be welcomed with joy : the act of faith and repentance will make Heaven glad ;-and then, O man ! do thou go and bring forth fruits mcet for repentance.
Exhortation delivered in England.
And one of the meet and becoming fruits of repentance is an anxious desire to bring others to repentance. A sort of missionary spirit is the general result of true repentance. A gracious state in this world is sometimes said to be glory begun, or an incipient degree of the same sort of sentiments, affections, and joys as will be experienced in heaven. Now if sinless angels rejoice in the return of one human creature to obedience and duty through the blessed Redeemer, is it credible that a gracious soul in this life can be indifferent to the repentance of sinners ? and if not indifferent to the effect, neither can such a person be indifferent to the means. To bring sinners to repentance is to co-operate with God, who wills not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should repent, return, and live. To use means to bring sinners to repentance is to co-operate with the Divine Redeemer and with the Holy Spirit ; it is to glorify God, and to cause joy in heaven.
By a missionary spirit, I mean a desire to win souls to Christ, to bring men to repentance; to find a sacred delight, to feel (as our text suggests) a seraphic, an angelic joy in the good tidings of sinners being brought to repentance.
Those Christians who take no sort of interest in the news of a sinner repenting, who will not aid in any means to bring sinners to repentance, who will neither give their personal services to call men to repent, nor join with God's people to pray that a spirit of repentance may be poured out upon the nations, nor contribute of their property to send forth the heralds of salvation--are wanting in some of the best evidences of the reality of their Christianity. Here is a work that makes heaven glad; but they are frigid and careless about it-it affords them no joy. What proof then do they give of a fitness for heaven?
Repentance and remission of sins are to be proclaimed in God's name amongst all nations; and Heaven wills that one man should be the medium of conveying this proclamation to others; and yet there are professed disciples of the
Saviour who will not at all aid this divine cause. In such cases, is there not a manifest lack of real Christianity?
On the other hand, how great is the encouragement to the missionary spirit amidst apparently small results. Whole districts, tribes, and nations may not be converted; but the repentance of one sinner causes joy in heaven. And although multitudes may not throng the road of true repentance, a solitary traveller attracts the attention of angels, and fills their hearts with joy.
And since angels derive joy from the repentance of sinners, they must look with complacency on the use of scriptural means to enlighten the human mind, to convince the conscience of the evil of sin, and to bring men to repent
And therefore the zealous evangelist at home, in his own town or neighbourhood, as well as the friends of Christian Missions to foreign lands, need not much regard, nor need be much discouraged by human censure, or by man's neglect.
Since human affairs are known to the angels-who indeed are ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to the heirs of salvation-and this knowledge cannot be by any powers approaching omniscience, it follows that spiritual beings must traverse the universe, and communicate knowledge to each other. And if angels communicate the affairs of our world to each other, why may not they communicate such knowledge to the spirits of just men, that have attained the perfection of a heavenly state ?
I see no reason to answer this question in the negative; at the same time, I do not presume to make any positive affirmation concerning what is not expressly revealed. But the probability of this knowledge and intercourse, may be useful in leading our meditations more frequently, and more impressively, to the invisible state ; and may prevent our being so much absorbed, as men too frequently are, with sublunary things. O, my fellow-sinners--my Christian brethren, all heaven is concerned for our eternal welfare :forbid it, О blessed God! that we should be stupid and unconcerned.
WRITTEN IN THE INDIAN OCEAN, JAN. 2, 1824.
[It is the annual custom for two of the ships from China to carry, on their way home, stores to the Cape of Good Hope. The Waterloo, in the season 1823 and 24, was one of those. Anticipating a short stay at the Cape, (which indeed proved to be only four days,) Dr. Morrison prepared the following discourse for the African Missionaries connected with the London Missionary Society.
The Rev. Dr. Philip, Resident Agent at the Cape for the Missions, was then in the interior, awaiting at the different stations, his Majesty's Commissioners, who were making a tour of the Colony. However, several Missionaries, the Rev. Mr. Moffat and others, were then at the Cape, residing in Dr. Philip's house, adjoining a Chapel which he had built. Mrs. Philip, a pious and amiable lady, exerted herself to the utmost, and beyond her strength, to render the families, then “
upon her, as comfortable as possible.
On the Thursday evening, Jan. 29th, 1824, an accustomed service took place in the Chapel, and the stranger from China was expected and pressed to address the Congregation. He readily assented, but the intense heat of Cape Town, and the fatigue of walking about its streets, and paying the usual respects to the local authorities, induced a severe head-ache, to which, from childhood, he has been in all climates constantly subject; and it was totally impossible that he could even read the discourse which he had prepared.
Under these circumstances, Mr. Moffat, instead of preaching a Sermon of his own, read to the people the following Dis
And the Rev. Mr. Faure, Dutch Clergyman at the Cape, who was present, took a copy for the purpose of translating it into the Dutch language.
Cape Town, to an Asiatic, appears quite European; or if not quite European, so nearly allied to Europe, as to seem European to an old İndian. The closeness of the houses, occasioned by
the inhabitants shutting every door and window to keep out the clouds of dust and sand, was, to people from the high seas, perfectly intolerable. Capt. Alsager and the writer of this were, on one occasion, shewn into a room to await the appearance of the master of the house, where they could scarcely breathe, and consequently retreated to the door-way and there took their stand till some external air was admitted into the chamber.]
MISSION OF BARNABAS AND SAUL.
Acts, XIII, 1, 2, 3.
“ Now there were in the church that was at Antioch, certain
prophets and teachers ; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, See parate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid
their hands on them, they sent them away.” When it is remembered, that the prophets declared the Messiah should be for a light to the Gentiles, and for salvation to the ends of the earth, Is. xlix. 6; that the angels at the Saviour's birth declared the Saviour's advent was good tidings to all people, Luke ii. 10; and that Jesus, when ascending to Heaven, commanded his Gospel to be taught to all nations—it is surprising how slow of apprehending this essential truth the first Jewish Christians were. Eight years elapsed before any of the Africans attended to this command to preach to the Gentiles—and then Peter required an express revelation from heaven to induce him to go to a Roman military officer, Cornelius--and when he did do so, the Apostles and brethren at Jerusalem censured him for it; and still no Church was formed amongst the Gentiles