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A VOICE FROM A FAR COUNTRY, ADDRESSED TO CHRISTIANS ASSEMBLED AT THE
MONTHLY CONCERT FOR PRAYER.
['The following remarks, addressed to those who pray for the conversion of the world, are from Rev. George B. Whiting, of the Palestine Mission. Being on henthen ground, and witneasing with his own eyes the operation of false religion in its work of destroying souls, he speaks from experience, and from deep feeling, on the necessity of Divine influence.]
The subject to which your attention, respected friends, is now invited, is the need of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at our missionary stalions. This is a subject of which, I rejoice to know, you are not unmindful. It is most consoling to the heart of the missionary, to reflect that this unspeakable gift is implored for him at the monthly prayer meeting always, and by very many of his beloved brethren and sisters daily. Still, it may not be improper to suggest, by way of remembrance, a few considerations showing its importance.
1. The effusion of the Spirit upon missionaries themselves, is necessary. The first inissionaries ever commissioned to preach the Gospel, needed the special unction of the Holy Spirit. It was not enough that they were pious and faithful men, and had been trained under the personal instruction of Christ himself.
They were not yet duly qualified, nor allowed to leave the holy city. “Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem,” said their Divine Master, "until ye be endued with power from on high.” What this power was, is afterwards explained to them. “ Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you."— Ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”
The influence of the Holy Spirit was given to the apostles, not merely to convey the power of speaking foreign languages, and of working miracles; it was given to sanctify themắto infuse new life and vigour into their character as Christians—to give fervour and boldness to their preaching, and enable them to speak with power to the hearts and consciences of men. Modern missionaries, engaging in the same sacred employment, need the same qualification ; they need the life-giving, sanctifying power of the same Divine Spirit. All Christians, it is true, need this heavenly infiuence. But do not those especially need it, who stand as the representatives of Christianity among Pagans, Jews, Mussulmans, or corrupt Christian nations; and from whose lives, no less than from their preaching, men will derive their ideas of Christ and his religion? What was it, think you, but a large measure of Divine influence, such a measure Vol. VI.
as is expressed by being baptized with the Holy Ghost, that made David Brainer what he was? What else can make any missionary what he ought to be?
Suppose that some one missionary, with whom you have been acquainted, should now be so happy as to receive such an unction from on high; that the Holy Spirit, with all his quickening powers, should come into his heart, and “abide with hin for ever.” What a transformation will take place in that was! What a heavenly spirit will now pervade his sermons, his prayers, his conter: tion, his letters,—what a blessing he will be to his associates, and to the whole community in which he lives! What a blessing to the world is the life and the prayers of one missionary, such as Brainerd was! But suppose that instead of an individual, each member of the mission with which your friend is connected
. should receive this precious baptism of the Spirit. What a happy little coemunity it will make them! How the hearts of all will glow with love, and bon cheerfully and entirely will they give themselves to their work. Peace, jor, love, and all those blessed fruits of the Spirit, will abound; each favoured brother and sister will be quickened by the example and the prayers of each, while then combined influence upon the people around them will be incalculably and eternally happy. But, brethren, your thoughts will not stop at one company of missionariei
. You will instantly recollect that there are hundreds of such companies in various parts of the world ; and as your thoughts travel from station to station, and from land to land, the importance of the subject will rise in your view, and you will, with increasing earnestness, implore for your missionary brethren and sisters the plentiful effusion of the Holy Spirit.
It should be remembered, too, that missionaries have not only to make known the Gospel, and endeavour to win souls to the Saviour: they have also, to s very important extent, to mould the intellectual and the religious character of the nations in which they live. They are to found the schools and colleges
, and make the books of those nations, as well as to set up the standard of piety among them.
Is it not important that the men to whom these responsible trosto are committed, should be men of much spirituality and prayer?
2. The Holy Spirit is needed on account of the native converls at our missionary stations. At most of these stations, Christian Churches have been gathered, embracing a greater or less number of converts from heathenism. The mission Churches connected with the American Board of Foreign Missions, contain not far from two thousand native members. Those connected with other Missionary Societies in Europe and America, contain probably more than forty thou. sand. Besides these, many profess themselves Christians, and give some eridence of piety, who have not, as yet, been received as Church members. That it is important, for every individual in this large number of professed disciples of Christ, to lead a holy and blameless life, and that the aid of the Holy Spirit alone can enable them to do so, you need not be told. But, brethren, you do not know how difficult it is for a convert from heathenism, or from popery, to lead such a life, in a heathen or a papal community. Could you see the dangers and teipptations by which these lambs of the flock of Christ are surrounded;
the powerful influences that oppose them at every step; the scorn, the malice,
the various persecutions which their attachment to the Gospel brings upon them, a toz you would not wonder that apostacies sometimes occur among them. You a brata
would wonder that they are not more frequent; and would praise God that any continue steadfast and are saved. If actually called to exchange our condition for theirs, should we not earnestly beseech our brethren in all the Churches to pray for us? And yet are they not often forgotten in your prayers?
But it is not enough that they be preserved from apostacy and from scandalous sins: their piety ought to be of a very fervent and decided character. These young disciples are " lights," set up in the dark places of the earth. It is not enough that they do not go out : they ought to "shine" with a pure, steady, growing brightness. They are the missionary's "epistles of commendation," which are to make him known, and give him influence among the people. It is not enough that they are free from disgraceful blots and errors ; they ought to be written in bright and living characters, that all men may know and read in them the truth and purity of the Gospel. The converts are the missionary's most efficient helpers. Some of them are regular preachers of the Gospel ; some are elders or deacons; a large number are schoolmasters; others are employed in translating the Scriptures and other books into their native languages. They of course know the language, the character, and prejudices of their people, far better than the missionary does, and can speak of Christ and salvation in places to which the missionary can have no access. Is it not important that all these persons should continually enjoy the reviving presence of the Holy Spirit-that they should serve Christ with the whole heart, and do every thing that a life of godliness and prayer can do for the salvation of their fellow men ?
3. The outpouring of the Spirit is needed, because it is his influence alone that can effect the great object of all our missions the conversion of the world to God.
In this age of benevolent action, one of the great practical errors of Christians, is a propensity to magnify the importance of means; und to undervalue the agency of the Spirit. We look at the grand missionary operations of the last twenty years we see hundreds of Christian labourers at work in different parts of the great vineyard of the Lord; the Bible translated into one hundred and fifty languages; printing presses multiplying copies of the sacred volume, and of various Christian books and tracts ; schools established, in which myriads of heathen pupils receive Christian instruction; Sabbath Schools in many heathen villages; spacious houses of worship, and crowded assemblies hearing from the lips of our missionaries the words of eternal life ; loud calls for tracts and Bibles; the door of access opening wide in countries hitherto barred against missionaries ;-we look at these things, and are almost ready to think the conversion of the world is well nigh accomplished. We almost forget that all these means and efforts, though used with our utmost zeal and perseverance, are, in themselves, perfectly powerless; and that until some mightier agency is put forth, not a soul will be converted. The truth is, the most perfect human instrumen: tality, is, of itself, as inadequate to the work of conversion, as it is to cause a
dead body to rise and walk. This truth, however, is by no means discouraging nor may we infer from it that human efforts are not important. They are intnitely important. For there is a power that can render them efficacious as the means of accomplishing the infinitely important result--the conversion of tbe world. That power is the influence of the Holy Spirit. Let this blessed indu. ence descend, and life will be imparted to the whole machinery of missions. The desponding missionary will no longer cry,“ Lord, who hath believed on? report?” Should revivals take place at our missionary stations, or, which is the same thing, should the Holy Spirit descend upon them, we might expect that the grace of God would triumph in many cases which, to human view, look mest unpromising. There are men in every pagan, and every papal country, such a Saul of Tarsus and Martin Luther were, before the Spirit of God took postes sion of their hearts. How easily could He who has the residue of the Spirit, transform those men into zealous preachers and defenders of his truth, and make them the leaders in a glorious “reformation,” wbich should quickly spread through every nation and kingdom under heaven! How easily could he call fres the ranks of his enemies a host of such champions as Asaad Esh Shidiak und Leang Afa; and multiply the number of such rulers as Pomaré, Kaahuman, and Africaner! Only let the Spirit of the Lord be poured out abundantly, and each missionary station will be to the surrounding population what leaven is ta & measure of meal-diffusing its benign influence gradually, but certainly, through the entire mass of ignorance and corruption, causing the wilderness and the solitary places to be glad, and the desert to rejoice and blossom as the rose. There is, then, a power which able to give to the missionary enterprise cof.
Be PLETE AND UNIVERSAL SUCCESS. Now, what invests the subject with overwhelming interest to the Christian, is the connexion of this power with prayer. The outpouring of the Spirit was the subject of express and repeated promise in the Scriptures of the prophets : the promise was renewed again and again by our Lord, both before his death and after his resurrection, and is in fact the most prominent, as well as the greatest among all the promises of the New Testament. It was to this promise that the waiting eyes of the disciples were directed after their Saviour's ascension, and by this they were encouraged to continue with one accord in prayer and supplication,” The wonders of the day of Pentecost, and every subsequent triumph of Christianity in ancient or in modern times, have proved that they did not hope and pray in vain. In short, it is as certain as the promises of God, and the whole experience of his Church can make it, that this most precious and most needful of all blessings can be of lained ; and that it is to be obtained by prayer. Dear brethren, let us welcome to our hearts this wonDROUS, JOYFUL TRUTH! that our heavenly Father has put into our hands a key that can open the windows of heaven, and bring dowa upon a perishing world the life-giving influences of the Spirit of grace!
The application of this subject, then, is obvious. What privilege is so precious, whal duty so obligatory, as prayer--fervent, constant prayer, for the righe ence of the Holy Spirit ? It is plain that there rests upon the children of God a most solemn responsibility in relation to this subject. Is that responsibility
s by ensuitably felt? Were some of our own relatives in imminent danger-if, for excare ample, we saw them drowning, should we not implore assistance for them with der ta infinitely greater earnestness than we pray for a sinking, dying world ? Had all
the saints sought the promised Spirit, since the commencement of modern miste le esions, as Jacob sought the blessing of his God at Peniel, is there not reason to be
lieve that those missions would have been attended with a thousand fold greater success than we now witness ?
The time must come when there will be a generation of Christians upon the earth, who will thus appreciate and implore this heavenly influence, and who, like the patriarch, will “ have power with God, and prevail” to the full extent of their pious desires. Then will the time to favour Zion have come.
palling obstacles which now oppose the spread of the Gospel, will melt away capace; the omnipotent Spirit will speedily “convince THE WORLD of sin,” and
bring all nations to the obedience of faith. And why may not the present be that happy generation of Christians ? Why may not we hope to see revivals of religion at our missionary stations, and that at no distant day? Is it necessary that another, and another, and another generation of our fellow men should die, before this glad consummation is realized ? Will the obligations and the encouragements to prayer ever be stronger, or the necessities of the world greater, than now ? Is the hand of the Lord shortened, or his ear heavy? O, brethren, what more could our gracious God have done, than he has done, to convince us that he is not willing that any should perish”—that he not only is now, but has always been, ready to hear our prayers, and to save our perishiog world? He gave his beloved Son—will he not give his Spirit? The Lord Jesus, by his death, purchased this heavenly gift, and, as Mediator, has power to bestow it without measure.
Will he withhold the precious boon, when it is sought by his own dear disciples, in reliance upon his own gracious promise ? Shame on our unbelief! Shame on all our vain excuses ! The momentous inquiry then returns and let us all carry it to our closets, and into the secret chambers of our hearts, and see if we can find the answer to it there-Why may not we, of this generation, be the happy persons whose effectual fervent prayers for the effusion of the Holy Spirit shall prevail ?
AMERICAN HOME MISSIONARY SOCIETY.
A3 VIEWED BY WESTERN MEN.
stirred to action, for the purpose of averting danger, there is cause for such alarm,
at the present day, in the United States. (The following is from a western paper, entitled So far from its being certain that virtue "The Friend." We commend it to the careful pe and religion will, as a matter of course, rusal of those who are disposed to lake largo views come off triumphant in this contest, no. of the Home enter prise. The several topics admit || thing can be more plain than that a fear. of copious illustration by facts, as all know who ful advantage is coming to be possessed have lived or travelled in the interesting region to by the other side, and that, as the war is which it relates.)
now carried on, victory will eventually If ever a people needed to be roused | declare in its favour. There must be a far from the torpor of a present security, and more vigourous and general action put