« FöregåendeFortsätt »
present state of imperfect knowledge it is, I imagine, utterly impossible to comprehend the height and the breadth, the depth and the length of the love of Christ. For passing over the consideration of the dignity of his person, and the depth of his humiliation, and the cruel form in which death was inflicted, and the ignominious circumstances attending it; there was, in the Saviour's death, a sting, the venom of which is unknown to us; there was in it, the curse of the law, the wrath of justice, the inconceivable and indescribable agony and anguish which the punishment of sin occasioned; for on him were laid the iniquities of us all, and he bore the mighty load ! and this was his own free and unconstrained proceeding-the compassion of his own soul prompted him to this. It was love to perishing sinners that brought the Saviour from heaven to earth, and which led him through a series of sufferings, indignities, and insults, to the cross on Calvary. The tongue of angels cannot express, the mind of angels cannot conceive, the Saviour's love. And Oh! how low are man's ordinary conceptions of this amazing subject.
At times, indeed, when the terrors of an awakened conscience flash in a man's face; when death, and hell, and the unknown horror and miseries of the invisible state cross the imagination; the feeling of gratitude for deliverance is a little aroused, and the perception of the Saviour's love somewhat sharpened. When heaven and eternal bliss, and the rivers of pleasure near the throne of God and of the Lamb, are vividly seen by faith, the workings of a grateful heart to the Saviour indicate some sense of his love ; and the Christian mourns with shame on account of his past forgetfulness and daily inattention to so grand a theme; but, after all, O how feeble the impression, how indistinct the perception of the love of Christ which usually exists in the hearts and understandings of Christians. But according to the Apostle, the love of the divine Redeemer should originate in the hearts of Christians a corresponding sentiment, which shall be the master principle, the strongest motive that operates in a man's breast; the constant, never-wearied feeling of attachment and devotedness, which shall grow
more intense as the believer advances in life, and go with him through the vale of death, into the eternal world. In the life, the labours, atid sufferings of the Apostle Paul, a striking example is exhibited of the constraining power of divine love. He forsook all, took up his cross, and followed Christ. Being called to the work of the Lord, neither kindred, nor country, nor ease, nor respectability, could allure; nor contempt, not reproach, nor penury and want, nor bodily sufferings, nor mental anxiety, nor death could intimidate hint. In the history of many of the other apostles and disciples, and confessors and martyrs, in every age, there have been bright examples of the constraining power of the Saviour's love; it has carried his servants (sometimes the weakest lambs of his flock) onward with an overpowering force, through all that was becoming, and dignified, and faithfaf, even in the midst of the keenest opposition, and persecution, with fire and sword; and has made them more than conquerors. He that loved them and redeemed them by infusing his own Spirit into their souls, made them equal to the conflict against earth and hell, and gave them the victory. Ask, in the memoirs of faithful men of God in every age, who have endured afflictions, for the cause of the Redeemer, who have borne great persecutions, who have been exiled frơm kindred, or banished from their country, or resisted to blood striving against sin? ask, what was the principle that actuated them? and invariably will it be found that the love of Christ was that which constrained them, was that which supported them and carried them through.
The dedication of our persons and services to God might be inculcated on the ground of what is called natural religion. For we belong to the great Creator of all ; His property we are, and Him, it is reasonable' we should serve. No man can justly say, my tongue is my own, and I will use it as I will, to oppose the truth, or to revile, or to blaspheme. No mere steward can justly say, the property I have in keeping is my own, and I will use it as I please. Divine authority, and Divine right and justice forbid these pretensions; and hence, I say, we might argue
self-dedication to God, on the ground of simple duty, as creatures. And even in this view of the case, the heart and the affections, and cheerful obedience and devoted ness, are by the law justly required. But notwithstanding that these claims on the part of Heaven can be fairly urged; the blessed Gospel of God our Saviour, as set forth in our text, prefers resting the claim on the powerful influence of the Saviour's love: and it is the recognition of this principle, or spirit of love, as the ruling principle, which is the prominent mark by which all true disciples are distinguished. A spirit of frigid philosopbisne, and visible disaffection to the Saviour, amounting sometimes to a palpable loathing, and dislike of the very mention of love to Christ, especially mark the formalist, the mere moralist, and the fallacious pretenders to a superior degree of rational Christianity. But he who has not the love of God in him, is in heart a rebel: against the Most High; and he who is not constrained by the love of Christ, who does not make this his glory and his delight, is heretical and antichristian. If any man in the Christian church love not the Lord Jesus Christ, he is anathema maranatha: He is accursed, and shall be destroyed, unless he repent of his unnatural resistance of divine love. Love to God is essential to the happiness of an immortal spirit; and to win the human soul, what more could have been done than has already been done? God so loved the world in its ruined condition, as to give his Son Jesus Christ, to suffer and to die for its salvation--that whosoever will, may be restored to the Divine favour; Christ Jesus loved us, so as to die for our guilty race. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us.. Here is God manifest in the flesh dying for rebel man ;--and here is wretched, puny, proud man, standing aloof and unmoved, and his heart unaffected, and callous and hard, and cold as a stone; but, for a human heart not melted, not influenced by the Saviour's love, it is not possible, we believe, for all heaven, nor will it be possible to all eternity, to furnish a stronger moral motive. If Christ's love melts not man's heart-if it remove not the heart's enmity to God, nothing can; it
they would find most useful at home, and they will generally be most useful abroad. Not very eccentric men, but steady, prudent, holy, zealous, humble men; and let these men employ as many of the means that have been useful here, in this land, as they can, according to the peculiarity of circumstances, wherever they may be. And let the churches at homne minister willingly to their necessities, and pray devoutly and fervently for them, and for the descent of the Holy Spirit in copious showers, to cause the seed sown to take root and bring forth abundantly.
I said, let the churches minister willingly to the necessities of their Lord's servants abroad. Whatever is done in this cause, should be done willingly, and from right principles, because it is felt to be a duty, and not as a meritorious work, nor as a charity extorted by persuasion, or importunity. Pecuniary resources are essential to foreign missions, under the existing dispensation of Divine Proridence, and pecuniary aid, or the obtaining of it, are not to be despised; but at the same time it is the least and lowest part of the whole concern; nor should it be sought by any unholy, unchristian contrivances; not by flattery, nor by appeals to the passions, the vanity, or the self-complacency of the human mind. We can never spread Christianity in the world by any unchristian trickery to obtain pecuniary resources. I am of opinion, the necessary resources will always follow the right sort of men, and the right sort of men it is not in the power of money to procure. We shall not make the nations renounce lies, vanity, and unprofitable things, but by truth, simplicity and real godliness, which is profitable for all things, for the life that now is, as well as for that which is to come.
I trust this audience will forgive the freedom of these remarks, as they are given, although with freedom, not with disrespect.
And finally, from the lies and vanities which so generally prevail in this apostate world, let us ever raise our hearts to the great source of all truth, and the fountain of real bliss. The cause of Christian missions is the cause of God; men are in it but feeble instruments; important,
indeed, in his hand, but utterly useless, if they affect to act independently of him. Except the Lord build the house, the spiritual temple on earth, they labour in vain that work at it. These are simple truths, which we every day repeat, and which every body acknowledges to be true, and which, practically, we every hour forget. The religious and the moral apparatus, as it is sometimes called, got up in our day, with the design of tarning the nations from their lies and their vanities, although it makes a bustle and stir here, in the united kingdom, is, when separated, and sent forth in different directions to the ends of the earth, scarcely perceivable; but were it much, as it is supposed to be, all this . moral machinery will be utterly useless, unless the hand of Deity guide it; unless the Divine Redeemer recognise it; unless the Holy Spirit's influences descend upon it. And here we have no occasion to be discouraged; we have reason to hope that this guidance, and recognition, and these influences will all be granted; for our endeavours are directed to what God has declared shall one day take place. We krope, with simplicity and humility, that we are workers together with him. We, the several Missionary Societies of this land, never imagine, that by our handful of generally feeble and despised Missionaries, we shall be able to change the religious and superstitious opinions of hundreds of millions of human beings, intrenched as they are with reverence for their fathers, and surrounded by the rust of antiquity, and possessing, as they do, sages, and learning, and cleverer
of the Missionaries or most of their supporters; and pampered, as many of them are, by all the luxuries and delicacies of life; rich, and increased in goods, and standing in need of nothing, of a worldly nature,
I say, we affect not, by any power possessed by Missionaries or Missionary Societies, to re-model nations. But we are assured it is God's design, that false religions shall one day give place to true religion; that the worship of idols shall be exchanged for the worship of himself; that the spirit of delusion in the world the Lord shall consume, with the spirit of his mouth-with the blessed Gospel with which his mouth has revealed. It is not man, but