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to the faith of the Gospel-three thousand of the determined enemies of Christ and his Cross. What but a divine power, accompanying the evidence of Peter's reasoning, could have wrought this mighty change in the hearts of these men ?
Vast numbers of heathens (heathens to whom nothing could possibly be so offensive, or utterly at variance with all their own idolatry and previous habits, as the pure, simple, and spiritual religion of Christ) were turned from their idols to serve the living God. But still all this was not the full accomplishment of the text. It does not appear that during the Apostolic age the Gospel was published very far beyond the limits of the Roman empire, which is what is sometimes meant in Scripture by the whole world; and it is certain that a great part of the world was then unknown. Whatever further progress was made in the propagation of the Gospel, during the first three centuries of the Church, yet the promise here made was not then fulfilled ; and, shortly after, various corruptions and heresies found their way into the Church, deformed and debased the pure and primitive faith of Christianity, and the mystery of iniquity began to work. So matters continued, with more or less fluctuation, during all the dark ages, and the reign of the Papal power, till the glorious æra of our Reformation arose.
Then the Lord displayed his power afresh-a great and wonderful change was brought about ; of which we have, with many other nations, enjoyed the fruits. Many parts of the world, formerly unknown, have been discovered in later ages; and, owing to the great extension of commerce, and the intercourse thereby carried on between different countries of the globe, those only partially known before, have been fully explored. But in the midst of all this, what has been done, we may say, even up to this hour, by the various Christian, nations of the earth, in the great cause of missions, and for the propagation of that faith, in the knowledge and sincere reception of which, they profess to think and believe, can alone be founded the rational hopes of salvation for mortal man? Alas! my brethren, let us, in common with other countries, hide our heads, confess our languor and indifference in this all important work, and pray that God would infuse into us a better mind, a more active, diligent, and unwearied zeal in his service. Even that Church (the Church of Rome) from which we have happily separated, has claimed for herself the glory of a zeal for the propagation of the Gospel, which (whatever be the motives by which we may conceive her to have been actuated, or the measures she has adopted to gain converts to her communion), it cannot be denied, casts a reproach on the apathy and indifference of the Church of England. And this brings us to the third point.
Is it not the bounden duty of every one, calling himself a Christian, to do all in his power to use the means, whatever they are, which Providence places in his hands to promote this knowledge of the Gospel in other lands? No one can deny this, who does not deny the Gospel itself, and the authority upon which it rests.
My brethren, what is a Christian ! The answer may be given in the simplest form : he is one who is found doing his Lord's will-all the will of his Lord, as it is made known to him, and according to his power so to do. What do we all pray for in our daily prayer to the Throne of Grace? “ Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven." To pray that God's will may be done, without endeavouring, as far as in us lies, to do that will what is this but formality, insincerity, or worse, hypocrisy? What is an essential part of God's will, as made known to us in his word ? Let the same prayer answer. We
that God's name may be hallowed; that his kingdom may come. The name of God is “hallowed," when he is known and worshipped in the world as the one only true God, in opposition to all false gods and idolatrous worship whatever; as “the God and
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," rich in mercy to all who will so call on Him. The kingdom of God is that kingdom of which we have here spoken, which God has given to his Son as the Lord of the earth. That “ kingdom comes," where the Gospel is made known, where the Sun of Righteousness has arisen with healing in his wings, on the dark and benighted millions of the human race; where his “saving health" is spread among all those nations which have hitherto groaned under all kinds of spiritual maladies and disorders. God's will, then, is clear; and our duty is not
It is manifestly his design that his Gospel should be made known: and how is this to be done? God, no doubt, could do this by the immediate interposition of his Almighty power. But this is not consistent with his wisdom, or his ordinary mode of dealing with man. Why the Gospel has hitherto remained unknown to so many nations of the earth, why one people should be visited with it while it is withheld from another, is not for us to determine. The ways of God are not as our ways. There are many things left to us in this world as trials of our faith, “to humble us, and to prove us, to see what is in our hearts," whether we will believe and trust God or no. They who will believe nothing but what they can
fully comprehend, and trust no farther than they can see, must sink into infidelity.' And what is all this, my brethren, but the same pride of heart, the same corrupt passions, and self-will, which have ever drawn away the heart of man from his Maker; which were the cause of his first apostacy, and still continue to work in his fallen nature ?
The age of miracles has ceased: the means which God is now pleased to employ for the propagation of the Gospel are left (under his blessing) in the hands of his creatures. By the publication of the Gospel--the preaching of it through missionaries, sent out and supported for that purpose ; by the translation of the Bible into the various languages of the world; by establishing schools and seminaries for the Christian education of youth; and by the erection of churches, the work of missions is carried on. Can there be a glorious, a more necessary work—a work which, under divine Providence, promises in due time a richer harvest in return? That the Gospel is to be made known through the world, is clear. It is not to be confined to one country, or one clime. It is the last, the best gift of God for the salvation of his creatures. “ Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth."1 This is at once a
1 Is. xlv. 22.