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from its great fountain, it will fly to cheer the nations who sit in darkness. And having no resistance to encounter, but the simple power of error, the conflict will be but momentary, and the victory complete. This also is in accordance with prophecy : for immediately after the downfall of Babylon is announced, all heaven breaks forth in ecstasy, saying, Let us rejoice and give honour to him, for the marriage of the Lumb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. The church of Christ is called his bride ; and the conversion of the nations to Christianity and to God, the day of her espousals.
That this glorious victory is to be consummated by the special influence of the Holy Spirit is equally manifest. The simple presence of Christianity would no more convert the heathen, than it converts those where it already exists. Were every family on earth now blessed with a Bible and a pastor, these, without the effusion of the Spirit, would not maintain upon the earth an uncorrupt nominal Christianity, for one hundred years. Revivals of religion are alone adequate to the moral reformation of the world. All other means-science, legislation, philosophy, eloquence, and argumenthave been relied on in vain. The disease is of the heart, and they reach it not. But revivals touch the deep springs of hunan action, and give tone and energy to the moral government of God. They multiply families that call upon the name of the Lord and train up children in his fear, and churches, constrained by the love of Christ, to propagate the gospel. They elevate the standard of liberality, and augment the capital which is consecrated to the renovation of the world, and the importunity of prayer, which secures its application and efficacy. They multiply the host of evangelical ministers and missionaries. They repress crime, and purify the public morality, and breathe into legislation and the intercourse of nations that spirit of the gospel, which shall banish wars, and introduce peace upon earth and good-will towards men. They pour day-light upon darkness, and destroy, with a touch, the power of sophistry. Hence nothing is so terrible to the enemies of evangelical truth as revivals of religion, because nothing is so irresistible. If they oppose them by violence, they move on. If they misrepresent them, they move on. If they ridicule them, they
If they imitate them, the imitation fails, and they move on. While, often, the chosen vessels of opposition fall under their power-sending panic and rage through the ranks of the enemy. It is owing to this power of revivals, that they are every where, by the wicked, so much spoken against ; and all the infirmities of humanity, which attend them, gathered up with such exultation, and urged as confirmation strong, that they are the work of man, and not the work of God. It is reserved, therefore, for revivals of religion to follow in the train of the means of grace with increasing frequency and power, until a nation shall be born in a day. This also is predicted.-Who art thou, O mountain, before Zerubbabel? Thou shalt become a plain. Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord. Drop down ye heavens from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness. I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground. It shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all filesh. And then shall that
wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth and with the brightness of his coming.
The judgments which are to shake down antichristian empires, and cast down high imaginations, and lay open the world to the entrance of truth, and the power of the Spirit, are to be closely associated with a new and unparalleled vigour of christian enterprise. Until now, the church will have been the assailed party, and stood upon the defensive : but henceforth the word of command will not be, Stand, but March. The gates of the holy city will be thrown open ; the tide of war will be rolled upon the enemy; and one shall chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight.
The means and efforts for evangelizing the world must correspond, however, with the magnitude of the result. The idea that God will convert the heathen in his own good time, and that Christians have nothing to do but to pray and devoutly wait, is found in no canonical book. It is the maxim of covetousness, and sloth, and uncaring infidelity. We have no authority for saying, what some, without due consideration, have said, that God, if he pleased, could doubtless in a moment convert the whole heathen world without the gospel. It might as well be said, that he can, if he please, burn without fire, or drown without water, and give breath without atmosphere, as that he can instruct intellectual beings without the means of knowledge, and influence moral beings without law and motive, and thus reclaim an alienated world without the knowledge and moral power of the gospel. It is no derogation from the power of God, that, to produce results, it must be exerted, by means adapted to the constitution of things which Himself has established. God has no set time to favour the husbandman, but when he is diligent in business; and no set tiine to favour Zion, but when her servants favour her stones and take pleasure in the dust thereof. From the beginning, the cause of God on earth has been maintained and carried forward only by the most heroic exertion. Christianity, even in the age of miracles, was not propagated but by stupendous efforts. And it is only by a revival of primitive zeal and enterprise, that the glorious things spoken of the city of our God can be accomplished.
Nor need we be disheartened. We possess a thousand fold the advantage of apostles and primitive Christians for the spread of the gospel. And shall the whole church on earth-shall the thousand thousands who now profess the pure religion-be dismayed and paralyzed at an enterprise which had once been well nigh accomplished by the energies of twelve men ?
But what can be done? It would require ten discourses to answer this question in detail. We can only sketch the outlines of that moral array by which Jesus Christ is preparing to come upon the strong man, and overcome him, and take from him all his armour.
1. There must be more faith in the church of God.
All the uncertainties and waverings of unbelief must be swept away by the power of that faith which is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.
Those “scenes surpassing fable," when Satan shall be bound, and an emancipated world shall sing hosanna to the Son of David, must rise up before us in all the freshness and inspiration of
a glorious reality. Such faith, and only such, will achieve again the wonders it wrought in other days. It has lost none of its power.
Again, it will subdue kingdoms, work righteousness, obtain promises, stop the mouths of lions, quench the violence of fire, escape the edge of the sword, out of weakness become strong, wax valiant in fight, and put to flight the armies of the aliens. For this is the victory over the world, even your faith.
2. There must be a more intense love for Christ in his church.
Such love as now burns dimly in the hearts of Christians ; a low, and languid, and wavering affection ; halting between the opposing attractions of earth and heaven; may answer for standing upon the defensive, but never for making that vigorous onset which shall subdue the world to Christ. Effort will never surpass desire. And as yet our hearts are not equal to those efforts needed for the achievement of victory. They linger and look back upon the world. They hesitate, and slowly, and with a sigh, part with substance in penurious measure. Weight hangs as yet on the wheels of the Victor's chariot : and never, on earth, as in heaven, will it move,
"Instinct with spirit,
Attended by ten thousand thousand saints." 3. There must come an era of more decided action, before the earth can be subdued to Christ.
Compared with the exigency, we have not, as yet, the semblance of an army in the field; and our munitions are yet to be collected. Two hundred souls constitute the entire force, which twelve millions of freemen, cheered and blessed with the light of the gospel, have sent forth to bring the world out of bondage. And yet one half the nation is panic-struck at the drasts thus made upon her resources! What has been done, however, is but mere skirmishing before the shock of battle. Half the subjects of Satan's dark empire on earth, have not heard, as yet, that we have a being. And were none but such feeble efforts to be put forth, he, instead of coming down in great wrath, would keep his temper, and leave the war to his subalterns.
Nothing great on earth, good or bad, was ever accomplished without decisive action. The
cause, in the moral world, as really as in the natural, must ever be proportioned to the effect to be produced. And what have we done, as yet, to justify the expectation, that God, by such means, is about to make all things new? Could our Independence have been achieved by such indecisive action as we put forth for the emancipation of the world ? Dear Brethren, we must fix our eye earnestly on a world lying in wickedness : our hearts must be fully set upon its deliverance: our hands must be opened wide for its relief. Not only the ministers of religion must give themselves wholly to this work; but all who prize civil and religious freedom—all who exult in these blessings—must come forth to the help of the Lord against the mighty. And when, to all who are now cheered by the light of revelation, the deliverance of a world in bondage shall become the all-absorbing object, and the concentrating point of holy enterprise, then speedily will the angel descend from heaven, with a great chain, to bind and cast into the bottomless pit him who through so many ages has deceived the nations. But,
4. For this glorious achievement, there is demanded more courage than has, in modern days, been manifested by the church of God.
Wherever circumstances have precluded the application of force for the defence of his cause, there the god of this world has attempted to fortify it by a perverted public sentiment. This, while it predominates, is as terrific as the inquisition; and if not as bloody, it is unquestionably as virulent, overbearing, and severe. Multitudes shrink before it, who would not hesitate to storm the deadly breach; and one half the power of the Christian church is doubtless this very moment paralyzed by it, if not even arrayed by its influence against the cause of Christ. Fashion is the Juggernaut of Christian lands; around whose car pilgrims of all conditions gather, and do homage.
Here, then, in communities civilized and nominally Christian, is to be fought one of the keenest battles : For after every strong hold is demolished, if Satan can but frame the laws of honour and of fashion, he will not fail to govern by maxims which will shut out the gospel, and perpetuate the dominion of sin. And Christians are the first to be emancipated. While they are in captivity, the world will be in chains. Jesus Christ must have entire possession of his own soldiers, before the armies of the living God can put to flight the armies of the aliens.
This conflict for dominion over public sentiment is coming on : and by this generation, in city and in country, it is to be decided, whether an evangelical or a worldly influence shall prevail--whether the land-marks of Christian morality shall stand against the inundations of vice; or with every thing that is pure, and lovely, and of good report, be swept away. Emboldened by the pusillanimity of the friends of virtue, the enemy have become audacious, and scarcely covet the veil of darkness; but seem even to glory in their shame. And if no stand is made, we are undone. The church in this land will go into captivity, and the nation is undone. Our prosperity and voluptuousness will be our ruin ; and short and rapid will be our journey from the cradle to the grave. But if resistance is made, then will the waves rise, and foam, and roar, and dash furiously upon those who shall dare to make a stand : and birds of ill omen will flap their sooty wings, and croak, and scream, to intimidate and dishearten the fearful, and the unbelieving: and all the engines of bad influence will be applied to prevent that coalition of patriotisin and of virtue, which would set bounds to the encroachments of evil, and shed day-light upon the works of darkness, and stamp with indelible and intolerable infamy wickedness in high places and in low places.
And now, custom, with silver tongue, will plead prescription-It always has been so, and always will be, and why shor'l we attempt innovation ? And interest, too, will plead necessity— How can I withdraw my capital, or alter my course? To refuse to do wrong a little, would be to take away my children's bread.' And now, dificulty, with good wishes and sorrowing face, will plead, "Spare thy servant in this thing—is it not a little one ?? While fear will see the giants, the sons of Anak, and call out for care, and prudence, lest we should act prematurely, or be righteous overmuch. Petulance, too, will lift up her voice, with vexation at our presumptuous meddling, wondering that we cannot mind our own affairs, and let other people alone.
And even charity, so called, will draw aside her veil, for the archers with poisoned arrows to hit us. While liberality, provoked beyond endurance, will hail upon our heads the hard names of bigot, enthusiast, fanatic, hypocrite.'
All this, however, we could easily sustain, were there no treachery within. But our hearts are yet in too close consultation with flesh and blood. What will the world think? What will the world say? How will it affect my reputation—my interest—my ambition--or even my usefulness ?--Suppose I step in as a kind of candid mediator between the world and my too zealous brethren, taking the prudent course, and not carrying matters too far? O, that prudent course!-that middle ground--so crowded, when the lines are drawing between Christ and the world! Satan desires no better troops than neutral Christians. And the Lord Jesus Christ abhors none more.
He prefers infidelity to lukewarm Christianity. I would that thou wert either cold or hot ; so then because thou art neither, I will spew thee out of my mouth.
As to cheating Satan out of his empire over men, by a reserved course of warfare, he has no objection that Christians should dream about it, and try it. But we mistake, if we suppose our wisdom a match for his wiles ; or that we can so prudently drive bim out of this world, as that he will find no pretext for controversy. Whenever we do enough to give to religion a solemn reality upon the minds of men, and draw the cords of evangelical morality with such power, as shall compel reformation, or inflict disgrace; we must calculate to meet his resistance who reigns in the hearts of the children of disobedience. And the time will come, when men must take sides. For as the conflict between virtue and vice waxes warm, neither side will tolerate neutrality: and he who plants his foot upon neutral ground, will select just the hottest place in the battle, and receive the fire from both sides.
Two things are required of all who would be found on the side of liberty and evangelical morality. One is, that we will not do wrong in obedience to custom : The other is, that we will not be accessary to the wrong done by others——that we will give to the cause of virtue the testimony of correct opinions--the power of a correct example—and the influence of our inflexible patronage. There are piety and principle enough in the community to put down the usurpations of irreligion and crime, if the sound part of the community will only awake, and array itself on the side of purity, and order. But we must come out, and be separate, and touch not the unclean thing. The entire capital in the hands of honest and moral men, which is employed in establishments that corrupt society, must be withdrawn; and that patronage which has swelled the revenue of establishments that lend their aid to the cause of licentiousness, must be turned over to the side of purity and order. Until this is done, we shall not cease to be partakers in other men's sins. The press, that mighty engine of good or evil, in a free country, must be enlisted decisively on the side of virtue ; and its perverted influence, if it continue, must be sustained only by those whose guilty cause it espouses. We cannot, as Christians-we cannot, as patriots-give our patronage to that press which will not plead the cause of virtue, and which will prostitute its fearful energies to the cause of sin.
5. There must be new and more vigorous efforts to increase the number and power of evangelical churches in our land.