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Man's great business, after his own recovery, to aid in recovering others. — The command of Christ to preach the Gospel. — Reference to the writings of Paul on the same subject — Of the missionary spirit in early times. — The duty of the present age.— Of the missionary spirit as exercised at home. — Of our dependence upon the Holy Spirit. — Reference to Richard Mather.

MAN’S first great work is personal; and has reference to his own restoration. To renounce his separation, and to unite himself with God, is a work which cannot be postponed or made subservient to any other. Being, by God's grace, personally restored to a better state, hIs next business is to aid in the restoration of others. And, in doing this, the first thing is to extend the announcement of Christ's coming, and of the blessed influences connected with it; — in other words,
to preach the Gospel.

2. The last words of our blessed Saviour, as they are recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, were these: "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."

The command of the Saviour is explicit. The apostle Paul inculcates the same great duty, and assigns an obvious and urgent reason for it. "Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How, then, shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things!"

3. In the early periods of the Christian era, the command of the Saviour met with a prompt and believing response. The primitive Christians, filled with the spirit of their Divine Master, went abroad in all directions and spread everywhere the news of a Saviour crucified, a Saviour risen. Laborious, and full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, they not only endured all things but suffered all things; not hesitating to lay down their lives in support of the great truths they declared. At no time since have these efforts of the church altogether ceased; although in some periods they have not been made with the same degree of wisdom and earnestness. But while we remember the delinquencies of Christians, it is pleasing to reflect, that the followers of Christ, at the present time, under different names but animated by the same spirit, seem to be preparing for a final and victorious conflict. It appears to be their design and hope, with the divine favor resting upon their labors to rouse themselves at last as one man, and to carry the Gospel of the Son of God to every heathen dwelling. In this great work let every Christian coöperate, with some proper sense of the greatness of the undertaking, and of the obligations which rest upon him. At the present eventful period, no man, who has had a fair opportunity to develop Christian principle, and to learn the weight of Christian responsibility, ought to look upon himself as a follower of Christ, unless he feels beating in his bosom something of the spirit which animated the Johns and Pauls of primitive times.

4. "Preaching the Gospel," which we have spoken of as man's great duty after his own restoration to God, is a form of expression which may be understood in various ways. The first idea attached to it, as we find it employed in the New Testament, is announcement
abroad. It is said of the Saviour, on a certain occasion, that he sent his disciples to preach the kingdom of God, "and they departed, and went through the towns, Preaching the Gospel and healing everywhere." His last command was: — "Go, therefore, and teach all nations. And we know that the early Christians, after having labored a short time at Jerusalem, went abroad, as preachers of Christ's coming and kingdom, into various and distant parts of the world.

Preaching the Gospel abroad, however, does not exclude the idea of preaching it at home. The labor of those who are united with God, is not limited to the transmission of the news of salvation to distant lands. This, undoubtedly, is a great and indispensable work; but it is not the whole. He is truly a missionary of God, who communicates God's truth, and discharges God's mission of benevolence, whenever and wherever an opportunity is presented. Harlan Page, who labored at home, was as truly a preacher of the Gospel, and as truly a missionary, as the Brainerds and Martyns and other devoted men, who have preached and toiled in distant climes and among savage tribes. Always do we have the poor, the sick, the suffering, the ignorant with us. Constantly are we so situated, that a just and kind word, and even a kind look, will have its effect as a messenger of the spirit and truth of the Gospel. The ignorant are to be instructed, the suffering to be relieved, the impenitent to be awakened, the wandering to be reclaimed, the weak in faith and hope to be strengthened. There is a sense, in which every man, whatever his position in society, either is, or ought to be, a preacher of righteousness. Nor will these views be considered as unreasonable, or as destitute of foundation, when we remember that the man always preaches effectually, and cannot help doing so, who stands in the position which God's providence has assigned him; who lives the life of prayer and faith, and exhibits in speech and action that meek and benevolent spirit, which the Gospel is calculated to inspire.

5. And now we are to remember, that this great work, — namely, the bringing home the Gospel to every human soul, — is God's work; — his heart is set upon it. For this he has raised up patriarchs and prophets of other days; — for this he has employed the ministration of angels; — for this, in the fulness of time, he has sent his beloved Son. It is his purpose, by means of the Gospel, which was completed in the example and death of Christ, to raise up a people set apart for himself; — a peculiar people, — a people possessing the Christian spirit, and zealous of good works. Unchangeable in his purpose, unchangeable in his plan of operation, he can unite with those only, who are ready to unite with him. The man who is not disposed to do all that the providence of God allows him to do, in aid of this great work, is not a co-worker with God, and is not in harmony with him.

6. Preach, therefore, by word. Preach also by action. Preach the Gospel at home, and preach it every where. But always remember, in connection with a deep sense of human infirmity and liability to error, to preach it under the guidance, and by the power, of the Holy Spirit. The message is from
God, and God only. To be united with God in proclaiming his messages, we must speak as God gives us utterance. It is important, in this age of the world, when we hope the millennial period is rapidly approaching, to revive and to act upon the great primitive truth, that holy men speak as they are moved by the Holy Ghost; and that, so far as they are holy, they have no power of speaking otherwise.

So far as we are in union with God, while it is true that we ourselves may be said to speak, it is equally true that God speaks in us. There is but one true voice. The voice which speaks at the centre, if it embodies the truth, is the same voice which speaks at the circumference, and which speaks everywhere else. It is incapable of change. It speaks in the star, the flower, the falling leaf, the ocean's wave, in the winds, in the thunder, in the sound of the falling water, in the true philosopher, in the true poet, in the true preacher, in the Bible, everywhere the same in import, though various and differing in manifestation. When, therefore, we are in God by a true unity of spirit, we speak as God would have us speak, and by the inspiration of the Almighty.

7. And truly holy men, in all ages of the world, have known, by their inward experience, the truth of what has now been said; and they have not hesitated to proclaim what they have known. What was the language of the ancient prophets? What was the language of Paul? Everywhere does he discard the idea that his teaching is from himself. Everywhere does he discard all confidence in human wisdom. Prophets and apostles, by their own acknowledgment, were only instruments, which gave form and locality to the divine utterance. Holy men, in all subsequent ages, have felt and spoken in the same way. The records of the interior or experimental history of the church show this to be the case. In all periods of great religious attention, and in all cases of deep religious experience, language is used by those who are the subjects of such experience, which corresponds to the fact of the divine origination of all that is true and right in the soul. The human in men may be said at such times to be kept, as it is sometimes expressed, in
abeyance; or, what is better, to be placed under a divine and holy direction. While they are conscious of personal responsibility, it is still true that they utter what is given them. It is worthy of notice, that language, which, in religion as well as in philosophy, is an index of the mind's operations, often takes at such times the passive instead of the active form; — implying, while it does not exclude the idea of activity, especially of cooperative action, that we are also the subjects of action.

Richard Mather
8. We will give a single instance, among a multitude of others, in illustration of what we mean in this remark. Among the devotedly pious men, who came to this country from England about two hundred years since, was Richard Mather, a preacher of the Gospel. With his wife and children, and many other praying people he sailed from Bristol, in England, on the twenty-third of May, 1635. With him was another preacher by the name of Maud. Mather kept a journal. “The twenty-fourth," he says in his journal, "being the Lord's day, the wind was strong in the morning, and the ship danced, and many of our women and some children were not well, but sea-sick, and mazy or light in their heads, and could scarce stand or go without falling, unless they took hold of something to uphold them. This day Mr. Maud was exercised in the forenoon, and I in the afternoon." The language is passive; — implying that while they preached outward to others, they themselves were preached to inwardly by the Holy Ghost; and that they could not safely give the word to others, unless it was first given to themselves.

This form of language is used throughout the book. In reference to the second Sabbath on shipboard, he says, " It being the Lord's day, there could be no going out that day. I was exercised in the forenoon, and Mr. Maud in the afternoon." And so everywhere, when he had occasion to speak of his preaching. He had been inwardly taught in such a manner, that he could have no idea of good and effectual preaching, except so far as the preacher was himself first
inwardly exercised; that is to say, taught by an inward and divine inspiration. And I find this sentiment everywhere embodied in the language and the history of other holy men, who, at the same period, took their lives in their hands, and settled in the wilderness. Their strength was not in themselves. Their lives, their works, are an evidence. What but a God, indwelling in the soul, and “exercising them," as they expressed it, in the centre of their being, could have inspired the adventurous thoughts in the minds of those praying pilgrims, and have given strength to their mighty purpose?

The most successful and favored periods in the history of all denominations of Christians, will illustrate and confirm these views.

9. It is such preaching, we doubt not, which is destined more and more to characterize the latter days. As men are gradually brought into a closer alliance with God, as with their own consent they yield themselves to be watered from the everlasting fountain, the issues from their souls will be life to others, because they will have life in themselves. As the life which they have in themselves is life from God, it is light as well as life; that is to say, it is enlightenment, or truth. The true life always expresses the truth. The truth is written upon it, just as a falsehood is written upon a false life; — and, being written there, it is read and known of all men. The man who has the true life in him, harmonizes with providence, with God, and with all true and good things. Not only his words but his actions, are truths. Not only his daily talking of God and of divine things is a sermon, but his daily walking with God is equally a sermon. He is a preacher by divine right; "teaching like one having authority, and not as the Scribes," — not going before he is sent but tarrying at Jerusalem, like the primitive disciples, until he is
“endued with power from on high." [Luke 24:49]