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LO, I AM WITH YOU ALWAY, EVEN TO THE END OF THE WORLD.
This promise was made by Jesus Christ to his disciples. It was made in circumstances deeply interesting. He had finished his course of instructions, his labors, and his sufferings. He had died for the sins of the world, and risen, and was about to ascend up to glory. He was now to make provision for evangelising the nations, and for the edification of his church in all ages to the end of time. And he gave the following commission to his disciples, and thus clothed them with the Christian ministry; “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 he annexed the precious promise;—"Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world.”
This animating promise we believe to have been made to all the faithful ministers of the gospel, and missionaries of the cross, to the end of tim. the promise annexed to the commission given to the
primitive disciples ceased with the Jewish dispensation, then did the commission also expire with it.But this would prove too much;—for this is the broad commission, under which the professed ministers of the gospel universally claim their authority to preach, and to administer baptism in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
Though the commission and the promise were addressed, as they fell from the lips of the Saviour, directly to the eleven disciples, yet they were addressed through them to Christian ministers and missionaries in all coming ages. This was the method in which the great Head of the Church instituted the sacramental supper. He said to his disciples, “This do in remembrance of me." But who will say the Lord's supper was to be celebrated only by the disciples, to whom he spake, or only in that age? He meant unquestionably to bind the church to the observance of the supper to the end of time. “Jesus said to his disciples, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” But who will say he meant to inculcate self-denial on his disciples only?-Again Jesus said to his disciples, “If thy hand, or thy foot offend thee, cut them off and cast them from thee." But who will say this injunction was binding only on those to whom he spake? He likewise said to his disciples, “If thy brother trespass against thee, go tell him his fault between thee and him alone." And has not this justly been considered a law in the kingdom of Jesus Christ from that day to this; and a standing lawn she end of the world? All these precepts were addressed to the very same persons, to whom the prom
ise was made, “Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world;"_and the promise is as sure to Christian ministers and missionaries to the end of time, as the precepts recited are binding to the end of time.
It will be my object, on the present occasion, to illustrate the importance of this promise to Christian Missionaries.
This promise will be seen to be of great importance to the missionary of the cross,
1. As it respects his QUALIFICATIONS.
The christian missionary "nters upon a peculiar work; a work arduous, self-denying, and responsible; and consequently he needs peculiar and high qualifications. He must go forth ordinarily into nations and tribes entirely heathen; where all the ignorance of paganism is to be enlightened, all the prejudices of paganism to be removed, and all the superstitions and idolatries of paganism to be done away.
He needs in such circumstances high mental qualifications. He will find full scope for the vigorous exercise of a clear understanding, a sound judgment, a ready invention, a retentive memory,-a well disciplined and well cultivated mind. He needs a facility in acquiring languages, that he may be able to translate the Scriptures into the vernacular tongue of those to whom he is sent; a most important and responsible part of his labors; and to tell the heathen “in their own language the wonderful works of God.” He must establish schools, that he may teach them to read the Scriptures.
It will be found in most pagan nations, that there is little sound learning, and little more knowledge of the
useful sciences, than of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The heathen are generally as degraded in ignorance, as besotted in vice, and destitute both of knowledge and morality. As an important auxiliary, the Christian missionary must cast around him the rays of knowledge, and promote useful civil and literary institutions. He is encompassed with mental darkness as intense as midnight; and he must be a radiating point; he must electrify by his own energy minds long torpid and palsied; he must be able to impart useful knowledge on almost all subjects; and he must excite ignorant, sensual pagans to think and reflect, to read and meditate. And who does not perceive, that for such a work he needs high mental qualifications; and who will affirm, that he, who is not qualified to move and direct minds somewhat enlightened, and accustomed to reflection at home, may better be sent forth to dissipate the thickest mental darkness, and to arouse and enlighten minds, never accustomed to thought and reflection? Who will say, that the dim taper, scarcely sufficient to guide the steps at twilight, would be a sufficient guide in exploring all the recesses of a dark cavern, where no ray of light from abroad ever entered? But the mistaken opinion that men of less than ordinary mental energy and acquisitions may well be employed as missionaries to the heathen, we trust is vanishing from the public mind, like the spectres of the night; and it begins to be generally seen, that high mental qualifications are necessary to the extensive influence and useful operations of the Christian missionary.
He needs also physical strength and vigor. His exposures are many and severe; his labors constant and arduous; his privations various and sometimes exhausting;—and bodily indisposition may either wholly interrupt his labors, or weigh down his spirits, and palsy his efforts, and very much limit his usefulness. To go forth to his work with the fairest prospect of accomplishing his great enterprise, he needs a sound mind in a sound body; a capacity to labor diligently, to endure all things, and to exert a resuscitating influence upon the stupid, inactive multitude around him. And who can impart and continue these qualifications, but he who gave the precious promise, “Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world;—he who giveth to man understanding and knowledge;" who said to the first Christian missionaries, "Behold I give you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” What hope would the missionary have of attaining those high intellectual qualifications so desirable; or of possessing that health and vigor necessary to sustain the abundance of his labors and the severity of his hardships, unless he could confide in the promise and presence of the Creator and Preserver of both body and mind? Confiding in this promise, he is not dismayed, though so many, who have gone far hence to the Gentiles, have died early, and rested from their labors.
That the Christian missionary needs high moral qualifications all will admit. He must not only have been renewed in the temper of his mind, and have renounced the supreme love of the world for the love of