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durance rather than holy action; in a voluntary withdrawment from the world to avoid its contaminations, rather than in resolute efforts to make the world better. This was a leading feature in the ancient stoical philosophy. The same idea is incorporated into several of the religious systems prevalent in the East at the present day. It is this false notion, in nominally Christian churches, that has sent thousands of self-deceived, and no doubt some truly good men, into the seclusion of the cloister, to spend their days in penances and prayers, rather than in executing plans of benev. olent effort. Now it is not the true spirit of religion, but the want of it, that leads to such erroneous views of Christian duty. The unsophisticated promptings of the new-born soul are always to active effort for God. This is strikingly exhibited in young converts. It is illustrated with great beauty in the conduct of Christ's earliest disciples. So it must be ; for true religion is the spirit of Christ. It looks with pain upon the amazing evils of sin, under whatever form they may appear. It sees the world lying in wickedness; and it is not satisfied with sighing over its miseries. Its language is, something must be done. It conceives plans, it demands efforts, for the world's conversion. Every real Christian that lives in the spirit of religion may consult his own consciousness on this subject. In his most favored hours and nearest approaches to God, he will find bis impulses to religious effort strongest. The history of the apostles and primitive Christians confirms this view.
Take up the lives also of eminently holy men in later times Baxter, Brainard, Martyn, Payson. At the moment of meditating these thoughts I open Payson's Memoirs lying before me, and one of the first sentences that meets my eye, in his private Diary, reads thus :--" Enjoyed this morning endeared communion with God-felt his love constraining me, and had such desires for the salvation of souls that I could not rest at home--felt that I must go out and stir up Christians to pray, and exhort sinners to repent.” What an impressive illustration of the truth of our doctrine; and let me add of the identity of true religion in all ages of the Church. Payson's religion is seen working out precisely the same results with that of those persecuted refugees re. ferred to in our text. Such coincidences have a wonderful power to strengthen our faith in the reality of religion as a Di. vine principle, and they ought to be used as a searching test of the genuineness of our own professions of it.
2. The doctrine I have stated further appears from the fact that truth is the grand instrument which God employs to overthrow the kingdom of Satan, and advance and establish the king. dom of His Son. Now we know that the truth can be available for this high end, only as it is brought into contact with the human mind; and this, of course, involves a great enterprise on
the part of the church of the very character spoken of in the text. The Word of God must not only be translated into all the languages of the earth, but it must be carried to every man's door ; nay, its great truths must be pressed home upon every man's conscience. What a mighty work here opens for Christians of every name; it is, moreover, eminently an aggressive work, a missionary movement. How are they to accomplish it by shutting themselves up in nunneries and cloisters, and giving themselves up to divine contemplations? Is this the way to cause their light so " to shine before men that they seeing their good works may glorily their Father in heaven ?" Alas, for the preposterous teachings of a perverted Christianity!
Surely there are facts enough before the church to show her that the strongholds of error and sin cannot be demolished by sighs and prayers alone. They are not to fall down before ner, as the walls of Jericho fell before Israel of old, at the sound of a trumpet. The Captain of her salvation has seen fit to appoint oiher means of success—ineans which must task all her energies, and demand all her resources,--her resources of men and of money, of talent and of influence
“Her power to suffer,
And her will to serve." 3. Again :-Both the necessity and the vital importance of the aggressive movemenis of the church appears from the very attitude of a fallen world toward God. It is one of hostility io His character and opposition to His truth. I know there are those who love to represent the human heart as favorably disposed toward God and his gospel. Their theory is that all which men need is light-a fair and liberal presentation of the truth to the mind. But on what page of the Scriptures is this flattering pic. iure of our nature drawn? Does not the divine Teacher himself say: “ He that doeth evil hateth the light;" and again, “ This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” Hence the darkness thai overspreads the earth--the gross darkness that covers the people; and mark, this darkness is not confined to this or to that place, but it is to a deplorable extent in every place. It is in every city and village, in every house and heart." Even the children of light, how often does obscurity brood over their minds and sadden their hearts! They have need to be exhorted to cast off the darkness and its works, to put on the armor of light and walk as children of the light and the day. Does not this moral condition of the race indicate plainly the duty of the church?
The Bible teaches doctrines and records facts. It seldom makes direct appeals, and still more rarely pursues a course of
reasoning for the purpose of enforcing duty. This is the business of the church. God knew our active natures, and He has prepared work for us suited to develop and strengthen all our faculties and all our Christian graces. The world will not come to the church and crave instruction at her lips. As her Saviour sought her, so He requires her to seek sinners. In other words, she must make external and aggressive movements. She must not study so much her own comfort as her enlargement. And this general rule of duty for the church as a body, applies to each member of the church individually! So Christ teaches. The man who wandered among the tombs, a miserable victim of Satan's power, having become the happy subject of the Saviour's mercy, desired to follow in His train. But no, it was not for him the sphere of greatest usefulness. Hence the direction given to him ; “Return to thy house;" or, as Mark's gospel has
“Go home to thy friends and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee and had mercy on thee.”
4. The whole current of Scripture precept and representation is in perfect accordance with this view of the subject. The Bible never instructs the church, that she is to conquer the world by her passive virtues, nor by any means which aim. chiefly at conservation rather than aggression.
Look at Christ's own instructions on this subject. His immediate disciples are not permitted to remain permanently with him. They are in His family, temporarily, and for a specific purpose. They are to be fitted for their gre work as ambassadors for God. The moment this is accomplished, their divine Teacher sends them forth into all the cities of Judea, to preach repentance, and warn the people "to flee from the wrath to
Call to mind also his last command: “Go teach all nations ;"_"go ye into all the earth, and preach the gospel to every creature.'
My religion is as leaven: its first movements are silent and apparently feeble, but it is in its nature an active, all-pervading principle. It moves forward to a mighty consummation. It shall ere long fill the world with righteousness and peace.
5. The entire history of the gospel confirms this view of the subject. When has any signal advance been made in the work of human salvation, except by a movement similar to that described in the text? The very foundations of hope towards God were laid in our world by a stupendous movement of this very character. Christ's great redeeming enterprise—what was it but one of aggression ? What, but the boundless benevolence of Heaven bearing down upon the dominions of sin and darkness, in this apostate world ? His mission was gratuitous on God's part, and unwelcome on ours. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” Look at his whole' career, from the
manger to the cross. It was a missionary career. He left the hallowed places of the temple, and his sweet retreats for meditation and prayer amid the olive groves that were round about Jerusalem, and sought out, often at the hazard of his life, the miserable victims of disease and sin. He traversed various portions of Judea again and again, journeying on foot," without a home of his own," and as he himself affectingly says, “ without a place to lay his head.” The Evangelical record describes his manner of life in one short sentence: “ He went about, doing good.”
The Mosaic institution was peculiar. It was conservative rather than aggressive. It did not indeed repel the proselyte from Paganism, when he came to the gate of Zion, and knocked for admission; but it did not go out after the wanderer to bring him to the fold of God. It was the mysterious arrangement of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own glorious will. Still it was true then as now, that religion made no decided progress, even in Israel, except as the servants of the Lord made specific movements for this purpose. To this end pious kings and holy prophets must be raised up to unite their efforts in reviving and extending the work and worship of the true God. The feasts must all be kept; the daily sacrifices offered, and the law publicly explained and enforced.
In times of growing declension and abounding wickedness, some Elijah must come forth to warn the wicked of their wicked ways-to stand in the breach and roll back the outbreaking tide of iniquity and death : the bulwarks of idolatry must be assaulted, and all the faithful must unite their efforts, calling on God and putting their hands to the work of reform. Piety may retire to the caves of the earth, and weep her life out in secret places. It is all in vain : the abomination of desolation will spread wider and wider ; false prophets will multiply in numbers, and grow bolder in blasphemy, until not only the holy city, but the holy temple shall have become a den of iniquity. No, religion must not retire from the field, nor be content to occupy only neutral ground. She must make an aggressive movement or all is lost. Some Nehemiah must rouse and lead that remnant of God's host that has not bowed the knee to Baal; and pressing onward from conquering to conquer, must in the name of the Lord of Hosts achieve the victory. • If this aspect of things strikes us in the history of the Old Testament dispensation, how much more in that of the New ? Mark how faithfully the first preachers of the gospel carried out their Divine commission. They began, as directed, at Jerusalem. But having set up thousands of trophies to the power of the truth at that central point, they took up the standard of the cross and bore it in triumph round the globe. They travelled from city to city, and from region to region ; and everywhere they acted aggressively. They assailed pagan superstition in all its strong holds; they overturned its altars of blood; they cast down its false gods, and called its deluded votaries to repentance-exhorting them to turn from these dumb idols, to serve the living God.” It was thus that the apostles, their coadjutors and successors conquered the earth for Christ. Thus they subdued all nations to the obedience of faith, until shouts of victory and songs of deliverance went up to Heaven from a regenerated world.
Turn to a still later page in the history of the church. How was it at the Reformation ? Luther was a monk, shut up in a cloister. There, as he read his Latin Bible, the grace of God touched his heart. The scales of error fell from his eyes, as they did from the eyes of Saul of Tarsus. Having received the great doctrine of Justification by Faith, he rose upon Germany as a new and glorious star. He went forth as the sun when he shineth in his strength. By God's help he rolled away the thick darkness of ages, and filled Europe with intellectual and spiritual light. But mark, this great work was not effected, chiefly, by the prayers of the cloister, but by many a hard-fought battle for God and his truth, in the open field.
At length the zeal of the Reformers declined; their missionary movements were remitted. Then the cause of truth began to lose ground ; and the Protestant church ignobly surrendered field after field which she had gloriously won.
How was it in our mother country at the period when Whitefield and Wesley appeared ? The English Church, proud of her strength, had long reposed amid her privileges, surrounded by the defences and sustained by the aids of the secular arm. She had well-nigh forgotten the very end of her being. Vital piety had declined, until it had become nearly extinct. Then the Spirit of God moved upon the hearts of the devoted men I have just named. They were both young, but they were endued with much of the spirit, if not with all the wisdom of the first preachers of the gospel. It was the missionary spirit, and their movements were missionary movements. Through the impulse which they were chiefly instrumental in imparting, spiritual religion revived and extended both in Britain and our own country, and in all branches of the Evangelical church. So it has ever been ; and so I believe it will continue to be to the end of the world. Just in proportion as any branch of the Christian church in the spirit of Christ attempts . spiritual aggressior, missionary enterprises, at home and abroad, in the same proportion its interests are smiled upon and prospered. It is seen fulfilling its high destiny.
If these things are so—then our main position is established namely, that it is chiefly by the external and missionary movements of the church that she is to maintain life and health in her