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letters of introduction, and the clergy of the different sects of the Christian Church to which they may belong, are indirectly the cause of their death, because they have neglected their duty to strangers; and they may expect one day to hear the following sentence, “ Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels, for I was a stranger and ye took me not in.”* Were Elijah to appear again on earth, and to fulfil his mission of “turning the hearts of the fathers to the children,” would he not be tempted, when he witnessed the state to which competition has reduced all the industrious classes of Great Britain, to say to parents who were going to spend money in educating their sons for the Army, the Navy or any of the learned professions, or their daughters for governesses; “Waste not thus the fruits of your, or your tenants' industry; make your sons useful mechanics, or agriculturists, and train up your daughters to be good wives and mothers; buy land for them in Australia, and send them out in well organized societies to possess it; well supplied with good books to teach them how to live, so may you expect them from motives of gratitude, to find no difficulty in obeying the command, “Honour thy father and mother, that thy days may be long in the land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” †
John the Baptist proclaimed himself as the promised messenger, when he preached in the wilderness of Judea, before the Saviour of mankind appeared in the Temple at Jerusalem ; and the compilers of the prayer-books used in Romish and English “ Churches by law established,” allude to this event in the collect for the third Sunday in Advent, praying in the following words: “O Lord Jesus Christ, who at thy first coming didst send thy
messenger to prepare thy way before thee; grant that the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at thy second coming to judge the world, we may be found an acceptable people in thy sight.”. The substance of John the Baptist's preaching was, “ Repent ye, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”* And whereever the gospel is preached, this is the warning given by faithful preachers. But who could judge from the man. ner in which vice triumphs in Europe, that the meaning of this word “Repent," was understood. The word has been preached, but the enemy has sown tares. The Holy Spirit of God, which is the Comforter which he has promised to send to guide his people into all truth, may be the only fan, † which he will use to purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner, before the great day of his wrath arrives, when he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
Many of the precepts of John the Baptist are applicable to those who are now expecting the second advent of the Saviour of mankind. When he told his hearers to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance; and the people asked him, saying, “ What shall we do then ? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat let him do likewise.” | Thus it is plain that mutual assistance is a duty amongst christians; and those who possess this world's good should not suffer their poor brethren to be in need of assistance, to come out from an ungodly world, and worship God in the wilderness of Australia, in spirit and in truth. § John the Baptist quoted the words of the Prophet Isaiah, saying, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight, every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth ; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God. * Obedience to this precept, appears now to be the duty of the people of God. Our Saviour said that his kingdom was not of this world, where the devil was to have power until it was utterly destroyed; therefore, a wilderness, which in a short time may be made to blossom as a rose, through the industry of his humble worshippers, is now ready to be prepared for him. The Bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him. † The wise virgins are distinguished from the foolish in this parable, by having oil in their lamps; and the ten may be compared to "all who profess and call themselves christians.” The five wise virgins resemble those who are daily praying for the Holy Spirit, and studying the word of God, that they may grow in grace, and the knowledge of his will, and through the instrumentality of that written word, which has been a lamp to the feet, and a light to the path of so many, it will probably be His will to teach them when it is the right time for each individual to take refuge in the Lord's Garner.
* Matthew, iii. 2.
| Luke, iii. 8–11.
+ Matthew, iii. 12.
§ Jobn, iv, 24.
The five foolish virgins resemble those professors of Christianity, who are in possession of the Word of God, but who, although they are expecting the bridegroom, are “careful and troubled about many things ;” and never pray for the teaching of the Holy Spirit, or open their Bibles, except as a task to be gone through at stated periods; and many of them resemble the evil servant who is mentioned in the preceding chapter, who
say in their hearts,"my Lord delayeth his coming,” and in the confident assurance that the Saviour will not come in their life-time, they take no interest in anything which might interfere with their following the leaders of fashion into the "pomps and vanities” of an ungodly world. But the Lord of those professing Christians tells each of them, that “ He will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites.” * How important then is it, for all who wish to be inhabitants of the New Jerusalem, to study the Holy Scriptures with fervent prayer for that Comforter, which is promised to accompany the teaching of the Apostles to the end of the world.
Every faithful preacher or writer, who encourages others to “ seek out the book of the Lord and read,” is the Lord's Messenger. The preaching and writing of several of those messengers has been wonderfully blessed during the last century; and many of the Lord's people are so weaned from the “pomps and vanities” of the world, that they feel themselves only “strangers and pilgrims on the earth,” † and as their only wish is to be employed in their Lord's service, occupying their ten or their two entrusted talents, until he comes, as he has promised, “suddenly to his Temple," I they should now consider if it is not time for them to be engaged in building that temple, of which He himself is the “cornerstone;" and whether they should not be, like the Apostles of old,“ with one accord in one place,” s where they might be free from the Egyptian bondage of a world that “lieth in wickedness," and is ripening for de. struction. How difficult do Christian parents find it to
* Matthew, xxiv. 50, 51. + Hebrews, xi. 13. Malachi, iii. 1.
Acts, ii. 1.
keep their children from the pollution of evil associates, although they no longer sigh after “the flesh-pots of Egypt,” themselves. “Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord.” *
When those who are interested in the advancement of Christ's Kingdom hear of such men as the Bishop of Exeter, and the Bishop of Sydney, persecuting faithful Ministers, they are inclined to feel as Elijah did, when he went“ a day's journey into the wilderness.”+
The people of God were then lapsing into idolatry, and slaying the Lord's Messengers, and six years ago, a faithful servant I of Christ, gave warnings to the British nation in the following energetic language :
PROSPECTS OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
Storms are gathering in the sky;