Page images
PDF
EPUB

3. Let us learn from our subject a lesson of godly fear, lest by any thing wrong in our spirit and manner of doing this work, we turn away God's helping hand from us.

The cause, my brethren, in which we are engaged, is God's cause, and not ours, and its success depends absolutely on his blessing. Our plans, our means, our efforts, however multiplied and extended, would not avail for the salvation of a single soul, without the continued guidance and help of God's Spirit. "It is not by might, nor by power, but by his Spirit,' that this world's salvation is to be effected. This great cardinal truth is ever to be kept in mind by missionaries and the directors of missionary societies and their friends. It should form their plans, guide their policy, animate their efforts, and draw forth their prayers in faith and hope, under a deep, abiding impression, that without the help of God nothing can be done in this work ; and with his help, nothing is too great or too difficult to be done. Every thing we attempt in this great enterprise should be begun, continued and ended in an inward, heartfelt persuasion that we are simply instruments in God's hand to do God's work ; and this should make us most seriously solicitous to do his work in his way, and not in ours. There is no room here for worldly wisdom, or worldly policy. The whole enterprise should be conducted in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with Neshly wisdom, but by the grace of God. Especially does it become us to cherish habitually a godly fear, a holy jealousy, lest in the doing of the work committed to us, we displease God, and he withdraw his help from us. We may do this in a great variety of

ways. We may

do this by indulging a spirit of selfconfidence, or placing undue reliance on mere human instruments. We

may

do it by turning aside from our proper work, taking up burdens which the Lord does not impose upon us, or engaging in controversy about matters which, however important in themselves, or desirable to be attained, fall not within the appropriate sphere of this Board's agency. We may do this by departing from the scriptural model of missions-strictly a spiritual model—and conducting them on a wrong plan ; introducing into them more of the form than of the power of religionmore of what is secular and showy, than of what is spiritual and enduring; building of hay, wood, and stubble, rather than of gold, silver, and precious stones, which only will abide in the coming day of trial.

In a conversation I had with the Rev. Mr. Tidman, one of the Secretaries of the London Missionary Society, some two years since, he made this remark, in reply to a question I put to him, in regard to the policy pursued by his Society in conducting its missions : Our only policy, he said, is to have no policy, but to preach the pure gospel, Christ and him crucified. This remark struck me with force, as having in it sound philosophy, as well as sound scriptural truth. It suggests the only true and efficient policy of conducting Christian missions-a policy aiming, as its main end, at the conversion of souls, and building them up in truth and holiness. This was Paul's policy; it should be ours; and the more closely we adhere to it, the simples will be our plan, the more plain and unembarrassed our

course, and the more likely shall we be to enjoy the continued help of God. Much prayer, much humility, much consciousness of dependence on the Holy Spirit, with great simplicity of purpose, and consecration of heart and life to God's service and glory,—these are the essential elements of efficiency and success in the missionary work. They are right and pleasing in God's sight; they honor his power and grace; and where he sees missions conducted in this spirit, and with this end in view, there he will afford his help, and the work will go forward with power in the conversion and salvation of dying men.

4. Let us learn from our subject a lesson of encouragement and hope in regard to the future. The work of missions, it is true, is encompassed with great difficulties and embarrassments.

It is a work which draws forth little sympathy or co-operation from an unbelieving world. It has no charms for the mere scholar, statesman or philosopher. It is not carried forward by the resources of the great and mighty among men. It is a work not to be consummated in a day or a year, but is to be carried on from generation to generation, how long we know not. It is to be carried on, too, in the midst of toil and suffering, with the sacrifice of much property and of many lives, and in the face of much opposition and of many reverses and discouragements. Still this work will go forward. It will go forward when we and others now engaged in it are dead and gone.

It will pass into other hands, and be urged on by other agents, till the great object at which it aims, is accomplished, and the

whole world converted to God. The cause of missions is God's cause. He has set upon it, in our day, the seal of his approbation ; and his promise and power are pledged to make it triumphant over all the earth. It may meet with local and temporary checks. Particular missions may, for a time, fail of success, or be abandoned. False friends may desert the cause, and its true friends may sometimes be ready to faint because of the greatness of the work, and the mighty obstacles which lie in the way of its accomplishment. The heathen themselves, or such as falsely bear the Christian name, may rise

up to persecute and oppose, and governments may put forth the strong arm of power to suppress

the

progress of truth, and test the fidelity of our missionaries, by subjecting them to trials, like those which the apostles and primitive Christians had to endure. Still, I repeat, the cause of missions will

go forward. It has gone forward in a remarkable manner in our day, and never perhaps more remarkably than during the last year. Many events have occurred of great and auspicious interest in their bearing on our missions. The mission in Syria, long and severely tried, has assumed a new and very encouraging aspect; and its facilities for preaching the Gospel in that dark land with success were never so great as at present. The great battle of religious freedom, it would seem, has been fought in Turkey, and the victory won. What it cost our fathers more than a century of struggling and suffering to achieve in England, has been achieved, after the struggle of a few months, in the empire of the Moslems. The rights of Protestant

ism are recognised, and Protestant churches, under the auspices of our mission there, are being established. Divine influence, too, during the past year, has descended upon many of our missions, if not in copious showers, yet in refreshing dews, reviving the hearts of our missionaries, and raising to hope and to God many of the benighted and the lost. When I read of the work of God among the poor Indians in the far west, and especially of what has transpired within a few months among the Nestorians of Oroomiah and its neighboring villages, I seem to myself to be in the midst of those scenes of mercy which have so often been witnessed in the churches of our own land, and which we gratefully recognise as the manifestation of God's special presence and grace. These visitations of divine influence, we may confidently hope, will be more and more frequent, powerful and extensive, till the seed of the word, having been scattered broadcast over the earth, and the way prepared for so glorious a consummation, nations will be born unto God in day, and a quick work will be made in bringing the whole world into subjection to Him who reigns King on the holy hill of Zion. Let us then look upon the cause of missions with strong confidence and bright hope. This cause is safe—a spiritual cause, carried on in the hearts of men by God's invisible, almighty power. Its elements are truth and love ; its seat of action is the soul of man; its fruit, peace, joy, hope, present and everlasting happiness. This cause is safe; and it is the only cause in our world which is safe. Nation may rise against nation, governments may be established and over

a

« PreviousContinue »