« AnteriorContinuar »
The Church of Christ has done without them, and may again dispense with their fainter glimmerings ; but if the day spring from on high be intercepted, how shall not the light which is in us be darkened ? Be this our glory and our crown, that we have laboured and do labour in the dispersion of these wonderful testimonies; that to this one authority we refer our several claims, convinced that where the word of God is, God Himself is not far distant; that in His presence is light, and by this light shall every man's building be proved, whether it be gold or silver, stubble or hay.
On these grounds, and supported by these reasons, I now entreat your assistance for the Bible Society. Of what we have done already, and what we purpose by your bounty to perform, of the glorious distribution of God's word which has by our means been effected in the Christian world, and of those still wider prospects which the land of “them that sit in darkness” offers, the time forbids me, and I hold it unnecessary, to enlarge. I might tell
of the ignorant enlightened, of the poor made rich, of the prisoner by our means released from a worse captivity; I might point out to you that Germany, from whence our own reformation was derived, now taught and comforted by our filial piety, I might show universal Christendom rejoicing in our light; and hostile nations offering up their prayers for England, the friend of souls; I might boast of the bounds of knowledge extended, and paint genius and learning braving in our cause the toils of barbarous dia
lects and the terrours of pestilential climates. Your attention might, lastly, be directed to those mighty fields whose harvest has not yet sounded under the Christian reaping hook, to benighted Africa waiting for our illumination, and to those vast regions of Indian ignorance which Providence has planted under our country's care. But I need not urge you farther; these things have not been done in a corner; our sound has gone forth into all lands, and our words unto the ends of the earth; and as you wish these blessings to continue, and these hopes to be realized, the world itself, for whose spiritual instruction I plead, in God's name demands your assistance. I entreat you then, my brethren, as you would not be found wanting in the work of Christ, to join our holy fellowship; as you would escape the curse pronounced against those who come not forth to the help of the Lord, I conjure you that you stand not idle in this His victory! But remember, above all things, if you desire these labours to be available to your own salvation, as well as to the salvation of other men, if you hope to partake in those spiritual blessings which your bounty may distribute, remember that we vainly make others wise while our own hearts are blinded and ignorant; that it is not enough to give the Bible to the poor unless we also study it ourselves, and unless our daily prayers and daily actions cherish and display that faith and hope of which this blessed volume is the treasury !
And, oh merciful God, who hast caused all holy
Scriptures to be written for our learning, grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of Thy holy word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us through Jesus Christ our Lord!
THE DUTIES OF THE MINISTRY.
[Preached at Chester, 1819.*]
MATT. ix. 38.
Pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest, that he will send
forth labourers into his harrest.
What is meant by this harvest of the Almighty Father, and what manner of labourers they were for whom the disciples of our Lord are instructed thus to pray, are points which require no explanation. There are two questions, however, which naturally arise from these words of Christ : First. Whether the injunction here given to pray for a supply of ministers in His Church were confined to the apostles alone, or whether it extend to every Christian and every age of Christianity? Secondly. In what manner they who offered such a prayer
• This Sermon was published with the following Dedicaton :
BISHOP OF CHESTER, (BATU AND WELLS) WHOSE TALENTS
were to look for its fulfilment from God, and by what actions of their own they were to concur with and forward the accomplishment of their devout desires ?. In other words, we are led to examine the necessity of a continued succession of Christian teachers, and the means whereby this succession is to be preserved and rendered effectual.
I. That a due supply and succession of preachers and ministers of the Gospel is a circumstance of the greatest importance and necessity to the extension and perpetuation of truth, to the knowledge and happiness of mankind, and to the glory of our common Master, is a truth which a moderate acquaintance with the history of the world, and even a careless survey of its present state will easily enable us to determine. There have, indeed, at different periods of Christianity, been found some enthusiastic believers who, by a too literal application to the militant Church, of expressions by which the prophets have described her triumphant condition, have been induced to renounce and deprecate all human means of instruction as derogating from that abundant and universal illumination of the Spirit, which was to be the distinguishing glory of the Messiah's sovereignty.
But to a fancy of this kind the facts which we behold are a sufficient answer, inasmuch as, understand the passages in question as literally as we please, it is certain that they cannot apply in such a literal sense to the actual condition of human beings. In no sense can it be said that the time