« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
fought against evil-doers, and a victory has been
With whatsoever individual, class, or nation it comes fairly into contact, the evil is driven out, the tendencies to good sublimed and purified. It is the Gospel which shews the only way of meeting the clamour of insulted conscience, and supplies motives strong enough to lift the soul into harmony with its own moral law.
The missionary of the Cross, who can go into heathen lands and live and die there for Christ, who can carry the good news of God reconciled to man, who can bring that truth into close contact with the conscience of man, has done more telling service against the powers of darkness than all the denunciations of broken law, all the grim messengers of death, all the emissaries of civilization, all the armies of this world put together have ever effected. The history of Christian missions is the heroic history of humanity. The bald facts assume miraculous grandeur, and stand out in the calm light of day as though magnified by the haze of centuries and the belief of buried generations. I hold that there is nothing more sublime in history than the triumphs of the missionary during the last half century. When he has lifted his sword, a flash of heaven's own light has cleared the way before him. When he has opened his “ little book," the thunders have uttered their voices. His message has been as the little leaven, whose properties have diffused themselves through vast masses of humanity. His
influence has been that of the mustard-seed, which even while we have gazed has become the greatest of trees, so that the fowls of heaven have taken refuge under its branches. Further, the Gospel has
, triumphed over every kind of man: over the cannibal shut away and cut off from all the influences of civilization; over the Laplander in his dismal night amid the gloom of the Arctic winter; over the luxurious Asiatic in the midst of his sensuous paradise on earth, tearing him away from the dream of a still more voluptuous paradise in heaven; over the Brahmin and the Buddhist saint, already ranked among the gods; over the slave-driver and the slave; over the Jew still glorying in his superb pedigree and hating the Nazarene; over the Greek still speculating on the mysteries of creation, in Germany and Oxford, in Geneva and New York; over the “ male and the female," over the “ bond and the free." The history of this triumph is the response that God's children ever give to the tremendous appeal of the text.
How small our efforts, how unworthy our sacrifices, how insufficient our love, how feeble our grasp of this great invitation! Yet how stupendous have been the results of Missionary enterprise. Our devotion to this grand work has been as yet feeble, fitful, fragmentary, unworthy of our profession. There have been few acts of real self-denial, few lives have been resolutely sacrificed on this altar; yet we have only to look at Madagascar, the West Indies, Burmah and Hindoostan, for colossal results. If we
search for the indirect effects of Christian missions on the Heathen world abroad, and on the worldly spirit of our Churches, we may anticipate with some enthusiasm the effects which shall follow, when our zeal shall be commensurate with our faith, and our love correspond in some degree with the magnitude of the work that we have to do.
Do you ask, How shall we obey the summons of the text ? I ask you to remember that every child whose heart is touched by the love of Christ, every worker for God who is ready to sacrifice his time, his comfort, his luxury, his life, for Christ, whose sympathy with the advance of God's kingdom is produced by an intelligent understanding of the magnitude of the interests that are at stake; every bedridden, poverty-stricken Christian, who is daily wrestling with God in prayer; every Sunday-school teacher who identifies himself with this great enterprise, not simply by giving money (that is sometimes an easy way of putting aside a pressing claim), but by earnest thought, honest speech, and loyal feeling; every one of us who, appreciating the magnitude, sublimity, and consecration of Christian missions, does devote himself to this work, is responding to this appeal, rises up for God against the evil-doers, enlists in the great battle which can only terminate when death and hell, the beast and the false prophet, are cast into the lake of fire.
THE TEACHER AND THE TAUGHT*.
1 TIMOTHY IV. 16.
Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them :
for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
It is a common complaint that our ordinary duties, by the very fact that they are daily and constant, lose their power to impress us with their own grandeur. Habit and acquired instincts take the place of lofty motives; unconscious and resistless tendencies often do our work for us, in the place of the intelligent and comprehensive mind, the active and well-balanced will. The result is, that very often the noblest duty becomes the mere revolution of a machine; the divinest sympathies flow in some deep channel of routine; and the sublimest work dwindles into common-place, or is degraded into drudgery. There is an old copy-book sentence about familiarity and what it breeds, perpetually establishing itself in the very heart of benevolent enterprise and high profession.
* This sermon was addressed to a large assembly of Sundayschool Teachers.
Our religious work suffers from the same cause of depression. We may continue to do it, but it is often done from the most tame, worldly, and incompetent motives. When face to face with its hard realities, when hand to hand with the sheer worldliness of a good deal of it, we lose its higher inspirations, and tamper with its heavenly intention.
God has provided a vast system of mutual cooperation and stimulus, by which He means to rouse us from such lethargy, to awaken within us new and higher motives, and has further designed that we should provoke one another to love and to good works. He has given the poet, the artist, the public orator, the successful writer, the preacher of His gospel, a work to do in this matter; and has said to multitudes of His servants, ' Arise, lift and strip the veils which custom has thrown over the face of truth! Awake! clear off the rubbish which has accumulated on the pathways of holy duty, the dead leaves which cover sacred way-marks, the rust which defiles and impedes the wheels of religious organization !
Our Father summons us perpetually to higher exertion and to deeper feeling by one another's conscience, and mercifully provides a scheme of mutual and reciprocal appeal, to war against these depressing tendencies. I know well that the effect of these mutual appeals is considerably diminished by a provoking reflection which pervades the minds of those who need arousing,-namely, that the poet, the preacher, or the writer is bound to say such and