« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
fortitude, and extensive his learning, who does not know in his own experience the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and who cannot place unshaken confidence in his presence and assistance. Nothing short of this qualifies him for his office. He must take hold of the promise in the text, or in the day of trial he will sink into despondency, or abandon his work. He must secure the approbation and presence of Jesus Christ, or he goes forth depending on himself, unqualified for his enterprise, and in vain. On the promise of the Lord of missions he may confidently rely; then he may expect the presence, and direction, and blessing of his divine Master; and then he "can do all things through Christ strengthening him.”
The churches at home, who send forth the missionaries of the cross, must place their dependance on the same presence and aid of the Lord of missions. They ought not, and they do not expect even the most able, faithful missionaries to convert the heathen, or ensure any valuable success to their labors, without the interposition of Him, who is exalted to give repentance and remission of sins. And because they confide in this promise, they pray the Lord of the harvest, not only to raise up, and qualify more laborers, but to guide and succeed those, who are now enduring the heat and burden of the day. It is with dependance on this promise, that they assemble on the first Monday in every month, to pray for the blessing of God
the efforts of missionaries. Nor do they wonder, that those, who believe this promise ceased with the Jewish dispensation, do not send missionaries to the heathen. Why should they? For if this promise is annull
ed, if this source of dependance has failed,--what could missionaries accomplish, or expect to accomplish, in heathen lands?
If this promise is repealed, the commission, to which it is annexed, is annulled also; and missionaries abroad, and ministers at home, must assume their office, and go forth to their work, without any commission or authority in the word of God. But evangelical churches, who send missionaries to the heathen, and the missionaries themselves, and the conductors of missions, have not so learned Christ. They believe his promise; they believe he is with his faithful ministers and missionaries alway, even to the end of the world.And here they must fasten their dependance; they must plead this promise fervently in prayer; and in its fulfilment they must hope for success.
And if their dependance is placed here, they will not be disappointed. Ultimate success is then as sure, as the promise and oath of God.
Our subject also furnishes the highest encouragement to faithful missionaries, and to all the friends of missions. I
say, the highest encouragement; for what greater encouragement in this enterprise could they have? They have secured to them by promise, the wisdom, and power, and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is “God over all, blessed forever.” The Universe is his storehouse of means for the fulfilment of this promise, and for the accomplishment of their enterprise.
In the commission preceding this promise we see the origin of Christian missions to the heathen; for the
first preachers of the gospel were not settled ministers at home; living amidst all the luxury, and learning, and splendor, and fashion of the age. They were commissioned to go into all lands, to “teach all nations, to preach the gospel to every creature." Christian missions among the heathen, then, are not an invention of modern times. They were as truly instituted by Jesus Christ, as the Christian ministry at home. Nay, they are more literally an obedience to the commission given to the first preachers of the gospel, and more nearly an imitation of the example and labors of the Apostles.
It is not, therefore, a mere question of expediency, or of policy, whether we shall send missionaries, and the gospel of the grace of God, to perishing pagans. Christian missions are, by the explicit command of Jesus Christ, as binding upon the Christian world, as the support of the ministry at home. And this is the divinely appointed way, in which benighted nations have been enlightened and evangelised, and in which they will be in all future time. The angel, who has the everlasting gospel to preach to all nations, must commence his flight; the missionaries of the cross must be sent every where to employ the appointed means for the renovation of man, confiding in the promise of Jesus Christ; and then the world will be converted, the millennium introduced, and the glory of the Lord fill the earth, as the waters do the seas.
The Christian world, and even Christians in this country, may hasten the millennium; not by praying formally and heartlessly every day, “thy kingdom
come,” while they do little or nothing to advance this kingdom at home or abroad, as though it was to be extended over the earth by miracles, a way in which it never gained a loyal subject;—but by multiplying the means of its advancement, by sending forth the gospel with its publishers into all the earth, and by pleading fervently, and in faith, the irrepealable promise of the Lord of Missions.
Christian missionaries have also the highest encouragement to preach the gospel, as the grand means of evangelising the heathen. They are as really commanded what means to employ for the conversion of benighted pagans, as to employ any means whatever. It is a part of their commission, “Teach all nationswhatsoever I have commanded you,—preach the gospel to every creature.” It is not to be a question then, whether it is to be their great object to introduce the philosophy and sciences of Christian nations. Their great business is to make known "the gospel of the grace of God.” This is the instrumentality by which the world is to be evangelised and saved. It is the sword of the Spirit unsheathed, and skilfully and prayerfully wielded, accompanied with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, which is to demolish the empire of darkness in pagan lands. And the kingdom of Jesus Christ can be extended over the earth by no other instrumentality, and by no other agency.
Christian missionaries may indeed find it their duty, and they undoubtedly will, to promote useful knowledge, the means of civilisation, and all useful institutions; and to encourage intellectual and physical
improvement;-but all this must be done as auxiliary to their great work, that of making known the gospel of Christ. Their great business is to evangelise and save; and this is to be done by proclaiming evangelical truth, and the way of salvation. And missionaries have great encouragement to go forth and preach the gospel every where, because it is the divinely appointed means of attaining their high object; and the means which Jesus Christ hath promised to bless.
The missionaries of the cross, and the friends of missions, may also find great encouragement in their enterprise, from the increasing facilities of raising up missionaries, and obtaining the means of sending them forth, from the increasing facilities of conveying them to all parts of the earth, and communicating with them in all their different locations; from the increasing facilities of acquiring languages, from the
from the progress of knowledge, from the march of freedom, from the providences of God, and from the prophecies of his word.
But the highest encouragement is still found in the promise contained in our text. However dark the immediate prospect of the missionary at any period, however circumstances may change, this encouragement never changes, this promise never fails.
And it is with humble reliance on this promise, my dearly beloved brethren, who are this day to be invested with the high and sacred office of missionaries to the heathen, that we consecrate you to your work. The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, who are only the Agents of the Christian community, to distribute their charities, and to send