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during the last half century there has been a great increase of the missionary spirit. In the minds of thousands of the disciples of the Lord Jesus, the purpose is formed in reliance upon His grace, while life shall last, to labor and pray for the conversion of the world, and the training up of the succeeding generation to carry forward the work when their bodies shall moulder in the dust. For the accomplishment of the grand and God-like purpose of spreading the gospel through the world, hundreds of thousands of dollars are yearly contributed, a large proportion of which is from the hard earnings of industry and the scanty pittance of the poor. Since this new era of missions commenced, hundreds of devoted men and women have gone to distant, barbarous continents and islands to make known to their benighter and perishing population the salvation of the gospel. Constrained by the love of Christ, they cheerfully bid adieu 10 country and kindred, cross oceans, penetrate inhospitable and insalubrious regions, and expose themselves to piercing cold and scorching heat, and all the privations, hardships, and sufferings of savage life. Many of them have already fallen victims to incessant toils and insalubrious climate; and some by the hand of savage violence. Still, those who survive are not disheartened or dismayed. They are now prosecuting their benevolent, self-denying labors amidst the frosts and snows of Labrador and Greenland, and on the burning plains of Asia and Africa. Prophecy assures us this spirit shall live and increase till the glad tidings of salvation shall have been published to all people.
Who has not admired the fortitude and enterprise of those who, for the sake of discovery or gain, have traversed unknown oceans, circumnavigated the globe, and penetrated into the heart of unexplored and barbarous kingdoms? Their boldness of purpose, their fortitude under suffering, their heroism in danger, and perseverance against seemingly insuperable difficulties, have won for them the admiration of the world. The daring purposes and enterprises of ambition, have done the same for their authors. Napoleon sought to bring all Europe and part of Asia and Africa under his control; and Alexander achieved the conquest of the world. By their bold and comprehensive plans and purposes, and their indomitable resolution and untiring perseverance, they secured to themselves the honors of an earthly immortality. But what were their purposes and exploits in the scale of moral grandeur, compared with those which Christian love has originated! In importance to mankind, what are travels and voyages of discovery, and the acquisitions of science and gains of commerce, secured by them, compared with the blessings of the gospel of peace? The advantages of the former are limited to the present transient state of existence: those of the latter are eternal. And the former have often been procured by acts of injustice and violence. For what purpose did Alexander and Bonaparte labor to extend their power and authority over the nations? Not to bless, but to make them subservient to their own low ambition and pleasure. Both made their way to empire through countries desolated by their armies, over the ruins of pillaged and conflagrated towns and cities-over the gory, lifeless bodies of slaughtered millions, and amidst the tears and sighs of those whom they had bereaved.
The Christian spirit seeks the conquest of the world, not to enslave, but to emancipate it; not to curse, but to enrich it with the choicest blessings. Although it does not seek, as its main end, the temporal amelioration of mankind, yet its humane and benevolent work will not be fully accomplished till all the forms of despotism on earth give place to free and righteous governments; till fraud and oppression shall cease; till the last accursed slaveship shall retire froin the coast of injured, bleeding Africa, and all her enslaved children shall be made free; till the blessings of civilization and science shall be diffused throughout the world; and “nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
Did the spirit of Christian benevolence contemplate nothing more than the emancipation of mankind from temporal evils, and putting them in possession of the blessings of civilization, science, and of free and equitable governments, all other schemes of good compared with this enterprise, would have little to command admiration. But these temporal benefits of Christianity, great and invaluable as they are, do not constitute its chief mission. The spirit of Christian benevolence contemplates men mainly in their relations to God and the world of eternal retribution; as rational and immortal beings, ruined by sin, and offered salvation in the gospel. Through the medium of the revelation which God has given, it views them as destitute of holiness, and obnoxious to His eternal curse, and yet as candidates for the bliss and glory of heaven. While it weeps over their sin and peril of perdition, it taxes its energies to the utmost, to convey to every member of our fallen race the welcome message that he may nevertheless be pardoned, and purified, and exalted to the more than princely dignity of a son of God, and made heir “ to an inheritance, incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, eternal in the heavens.” Till these glad tidings shall be published in the ears of all our world's population, accompanied by all the tenderness and power of Christian entreaty, and the supplicating energy of prayer, that these means may be blessed to their salvation, the object of its benevolent desires and purposes will not have been attained. In respect to moral grandeur, all others have “no glory by reason of the glory that excelleth.”
My brethren, do we realize the dignity and obligations of our high calling? The littleness of dishonesty, falsehood, vindictive
ness, and the love of things earthly for their own sake, we ought not merely to shun, but despise and detest. If we be in reality what we profess to be," the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty," we were made such for great and noble ends. It becomes us to wage an unrelenting war with all sin, overcome the world by faith; to "forgive those who trespass against us” as we hope to be forgiven of God; to labor, contribute of our substance, and pray without ceasing for the spread of the Gospel, and the conversion of the nations. If we thus make evident the validity of our claim to the possession of the Christian spirit, we may hope to be God's agents in accomplishing his purposes of mercy toward our race, to triumph over the last enemy, and that " an abundant entrance shall be administered to us into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
Are there any present who look upon the Christian spirit as degrading to human dignity? Nothing so exalts it. It purifies the heart, achieves the noblest victories, forms, and labors with invincible perseverance, to accomplish the most stupendous purposes of benevolence in respect to the great brotherhood of humanity, and makes its possessor a son and heir of God. Compared with this, all other dignity is meanness. This is the highborn spirit of heaven-the spirit of Him who came from thence and laid down His life a ransom for sinful and dying man. Nothing else will so protect you against the assaults of temptation, sustain you under the heavy pressure of adversity, enable you to 6 overcome evil with good," and perform your duty at the sacrifice of ease and interest, and popular favor. Nothing else can give you a victory over death and the grave, and fit you for the society of heaven, and fellowship with God. Embrace it-surrender your souls to its influence—and it will sustain and comfort you under all the toils and sorrows of your mortal pilgrimage, and conduct you to mansions of everlasting glory.
• They have deeply corrupted themselves as in the days of Gibeah : therefore he will remember their iniquities, he will visit their sin.”-Hosea, 9:9.
As an aged inhabitant of Gibeah was returning, on a certain evening, from his work in the field to his dwelling in the city, he found a group of travelers resting in one of the streets, as if they could find no place of shelter. The group was composed of a man and a woman and a man-servant, with a couple of asses laden with provisions for the wayfarers; and with straw and provender for the beasts. The old citizen upon enquiring whence they came, and whither they were going, learned that their home was on the side of Mount Ephraim; that they were returning thither from Bethlehem, the residence of the woman's father; that they had passed by Jerusalem, because it was still in possession of the Jebusites, and preferred to spend the night at Gibeah, among their own nation.
The whole truth of the case was, that the man was a Levite, who had taken the woman whose husband he is called, from Bethlehem to his house in Ephraim; that she had deserted him there and returned to her fathers; that after four months her husband sent for her, was reconciled, and was now with her on his way homeward ; that they had stopped at Gibeah to lodge, but no oné had, as yet, offered them a place of shelter, though private hospitality was, in those days, the only dependence of travelers.
The old man no sooner heard so much of their story as they chose to communicate, than he insisted upon their lodging at his own house, being especially moved in their favor by the fact that he himself had come from Mount Ephraim, and was but a sojourner in Gibeah. His generous salutation was, “ Peace be with thee; howsoever, let all thy wants lie upon me, only lodge not in the street. So he brought him into the house and gave provender unto the asses, and they washed their feet, and did eat and drink."
But whilst they were refreshing themselves at this friendly dwelling, the house was beset by a crowd of brutal men, whose outrages surpassed the enormity of common crimes, and terminated in leaving the woman a corpse at the door.
Whatever may have been her character, or that of her husband, the guilt of the ruffians could not be palliated. The Levite felt the case to be so aggravated that nothing less than an appeal to the whole nation could meet the enormity of the offence. Nothing indeed could repair his wrongs ; but he felt as a Jew, that unparalleled disgrace had fallen upon the nation through the act of these Benjamites of Gibeah, and that the whole people were concerned in vindicating the demands of justice. “They have committed lewdness and folly in Israel," was the Levite's complaint; and adopting a method of appeal which the feelings of the age allowed, he sent to each of the tribes a bloody fragment of the woman's corpse, as at once evidence of the deed, and a call for their counsel. “And it was so that all that saw it, said: There was no such deed done nor seen from the days that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt, until this day ; consider of it, take advice and speak your mirids.”
Four hundred thousand men soon assembled, from all the tribes in Mizpeh. The Levite told them his story, and called upon them as Israelites, for advice. The indignant multitude, as with one heart, resolved to proceed at once against the guilty town. They did so; but not wishing to involve the innocent, they first called upon the tribe of Benjamin (to which Gibeah belonged), to deliver up the persons guilty of the deed of violence and murder. But the tribe, instead of yielding to so just and fraternal a demand, espoused the cause of the murderers and flocked to Gibeah, not only to resist, but to attack the army of Israel. Two battles were fought, in both of which the Benjamites prevailed, and with a dreadful slaughter of the other tribes. This surprising result was probably permitted to correct the feelings of revenge and the spirit of self-confidence with which the tribes had gone into the war. For after the two defeats, they humbled themselves before God with weeping, and fasting, and sacrifices. They were now more likely to feel that it was not as avengers of their own quarrel, but as instruments of Divine justice-not by the might of their superior numbers, but by the strength of God, that they were to purge the land from the iniquity of Gibeah. The city was for the third time attacked. It was now taken and burned, and so small a remnant of the Benjamites escaped, that the tribes turned from the melancholy victory to weep before the tabernacle of God, and cry, “O Lord God of Israel, why is this come to pass in Israel, that there should be to-day one tribe lacking in Israel !”
This is a specimen of the character of the people of Gibeah,