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few who seem carried forwards to personal sacrifices, and disinterested labours, by the constraining power of our Lord's love! How few of the disciples live to him who died for them! There are some, blessed be God! we deny it not. The associated efforts of many individuals and many churches to educate the young, to visit with the Gospel destitute villages, and to carry the glad tidings of salvation to the ends of the earth, indicate the existence of much love to the Saviour in the land, which is a foundation on which to build the hope of still brighter and better days. Yet, alas! among the baptized and professed Christians of this land, how large is the number of those who still continue the devotees of amusement and frivolity; who spend on mere self-gratification their time, and their property, and the exertions of their minds. Day after day, and night after night, do the trifles of fashion and amusement occupy their thoughts and their conversations; and yet are they to be found in churches or in chapels at least once of a Sunday. In such cases, how evident the defect of Christian love and living to the Saviour. How little evidence have they that they are indeed Christians.
And there are, too, men in Christian societies, whose hearts are wholly set on the accumulation of wealth and fortune. How industrious, how laborious are they. Early and late do they fix their attention on schemes of gain, laying up treasures on earth, anxious to leave riches to their children or near relatives, whilst Christ's cause is either neglected, or receives some scanty crumbs from their well-spread table; they live to themselves, and not to him who died for them.
Again, the lettered men of this land, who profess the Christian name, what do they study to promote the diffusion of Christ's gospel throughout the world? Alas! this is but rarely their object. Their own fame, or the agreeable or the fashionable pursuits of literature, are those to which they attend; and the living languages of mankind, amongst nations to which the gospel has not yet reached, are left to here and there a solitary individual; and scholars and divines will spend their lives in perusing,
or in translating dead pagan books into English, whilst the translation or composition of Christian books, for the instruction of hundreds of millions of living pagans, is by them totally neglected. These instances will convince every pious mind that much yet remains to be done, to evince the general existence of the love of Christ in the hearts of his professed disciples throughout the Christian churches of this land. But I must close:
This subject should lead us all to self-examination, and to put to ourselves this question:-To what has the love of Christ constrained me? and, first of all, has it constrained me to hate sin? for they were the sins of men which crucified the Lord of Glory. A hatred of sin is the first and the best evidence of the love of Christ being efficacious in producing a corresponding love in our hearts; for a love to the Saviour and a love of sin cannot exist together in the same heart. He that loves sin, hates the Saviour; therefore, the first effect of the love of Christ being shed abroad in any heart, is inducing it to crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts. Take St. Paul's reasoning and advice on the subject: "In that Christ died, he died unto sin once ; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God: likewise reckon ye yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, that ye should fulfil it in the lusts thereof." And take St. Peter's admonition: "Forasmuch as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind, for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin, that he should no longer live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God." Thus you see that the love of Christ must constrain us, in the first place, to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, adorning the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things, and by well doing putting to silence the ignorance of foolish men. This first effect of the Saviour's love terminating in ourselves is essential to the Christian character, and without it the utmost apparent zeal for the enlargement of the visible church, for the increase of education,
or for the conversion of the nations to Christianity, will not prove any real attachment to the Saviour. Wilful and habitual sin in professed disciples is like crucifying the Son of God afresh, trampling his blood under foot, and exposing him to open scorn. It will, at the great day of judgment, be in vain to say, "Lord! Lord! have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name done many wonderful works," and shewn great zeal for thy cause in the world, if we love and serve sin. He will say, Depart from me, all ye that work iniquity, I never knew you: they that loved me kept my commandments, but ye despised and disobeyed them. True zeal and ardent affection to the cause of our Lord, is not shewn by assailing the sins and ignorances of other men, and indulging our own; but since, humanly speaking, our own sins are most within our own reach, they will be first cast away, whenever our hatred of sin is real. And ministers, and parents, and teachers have need most especially to regard this, when attempting to communicate moral and religious instruction to the young, if they would have God's blessing rest on their labours.
There have been periods of the church, when pious good men seemed to neglect the external diffusion of Christian principles, and to retire within themselves, and let their love to Christ terminate in holy contemplations, and devout admiration of his infinite and ineffable grace. The present is an age of external effort and exertion, and as man, weak and wicked, is ever prone to go to extremes, there is a danger of being hurried onward to activity by the impulse of men's opinions, instead of being actuated by an internal principle of love to Christ. I may, therefore, be permitted to suggest to you, my fellow Christians, the propriety of self-examination on this point, to see whether you are drawn by the cords of divine love, or with the bands of man's opinion. Alas! if man's opinion only, or chiefly, or the importunity of zealous individuals, are the things which carrry us forward to support schools, and to advocate the cause of education, and the building of chapels, and the raising up of ministers, and printing Bibles, and sending forth missionaries, and all the while
the crucified Redeemer be forgotten, or overlooked by us, in the secret movements of our souls; although man cannot know it, the Saviour knows it, and he cannot possibly accept with approbation our contributions and our doings; for in such case it is not him we serve, but our own vanity, or our own good name. It is the praise of man we are aiming at, and not the praise of God.
These hints will, I hope, induce us all to cherish a spirit of watchfulness, and to be instant in prayer, that our motives may be pure and sincere, that our eye may be single, that it may never be turned away from the cross and crown of our divine Lord; that we may be workers together with him, and labour or suffer with him; that we may now fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, be ever cleaving to Jesus, for our life is hid with Christ in God; and that we may be permitted at last to reign with him for ever and ever, joining in the celestial song of Moses and the Lamb, and reciting, throughout eternity, the praises of him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood; to whom be glory and dominion, Amen and Amen!
Topics of an Exhortation founded on the preceding
The cause of Christian missions is the cause of Christ.
The heathen nations are given to him as his inheritance. When he sees their conversion, he sees of the travail of his soul, and is satisfied.
He has commanded ordinary means to be used:-Go and teach all nations.
The idea of waiting for miraculous interference has been acted on, but does not seem warranted. Chinese, supposed to be the most difficult language under heaven, has given way to the use of means.
Christian missions are Christ's cause, and love to him should constrain every Christian to aid in sending forth missionaries, and supporting them, till churches be formed amongst the heathen.
Neglect of children raises up careless men and women, who neglect the next generation, and onwards the world grows worse.
Tuition of children raises up a generation of men and women who teach the next generation of children, and the world is improved.
To assist the poor in educating their children is doing them the greatest service.
And to bring little children to the Saviour must be pleasing to him.
Jesus, the Son of God, who once
For us his life resign'd,
Now lives in heaven, our great High Priest,
And never-dying Friend.
Through life, through death, let us to him
With constancy adhere;
Faith shall supply new strength, and hope
To human weakness not severe
But tho' he felt temptation's pow'r
Nor 'midst the frailty of our frame,
As, in the days of feeble flesh,
He pour'd forth cries and tears;
What every Christian bears.
Come boldly to the throne
And grace to help in time of need,