« ZurückWeiter »
which the messengers of the Gospel might pioneer an access for Christianity to the consciences of the men of the whole earth-whether to the most sunken in the depths of ignorance and poverty at home or to the farthest removed in the wilds of distant and yet unexplored barbarism.
5. Each entire man has a conscience within his breast which tells him of the difference between right and wrong, and tells him somewhat of the God who planted it there; and each has a consciousness which tells him of his own delinquencies against this law of moral nature, and that, in the eye of him who ordained that law, he himself is an offender. Let the word which tells him the same things lay hold of his attention, and the recognized harmony between the lessons of the one and of the other—the felt echo in his own heart to the intimations of a message thus brought nigh unto him —the response given from within to the voice heard from without-will fix and perpetuate his attention the more; and all the discoveries made by this process of a joint or double manifestation, will have, at least, the authority of two witnesses to confirm them. Let us conceive that the ministrations of the spirit are superadded to the ministrations of the word, and that he who is the subject of these, obtains, in consequence, a clearer and fuller view both of himself and of the Bible. Under such a discipline as this, all his convictions, and with his convictions, his fears must grow apace; the feeble and incipient notices which first drew his regards, might now be to him the loud denunciations of terror; all that is said of the evil of sin
and of the vengeance which awaits the sinner under a holy and unchangeable lawgiver, might have tenfold greater weight and significancy than before ; and he be haunted in consequence, by the thought of an angry God and an undone eternity. In the midst of these disquietudes which so agitate and engross his soul, let us further imagine that the same Bible which told him of sin, now tells him of salvation; and that the same spirit from on high which irradiated the one revelation and made it stand forth as if in illuminated characters of greater dread and majesty than before, casts a bright but pleasing irradiation over the other also. In answer to the prayers of this tost and tempest-driven supplicant, seeking for rest but hitherto finding none, let the revelation of grace be at length made as palpable as before was the revelation of terror. Let him now be helped to take a view of redemption, in its characters and in its footsteps_of that great movement made from heaven to earth, and the object of which was to reconcile the outcast world and recall its wandering generations to the family of God.
Let the law have acted its part as a schoolmaster in bringing him to Christ; and, in the history of Him who came, charged with the overtures of peace, and went about doing good continually, let him learn the possibility at least that there is an outlet of escape from condemnation—that there is still a refuge from despair. Let this dawning hope ripen more and more towards a full assurance, as he becomes more intelligent in the doctrines of the Saviour, and listens to His repeated declarations of good will to the chil.
dren of men.
Above all let him be made to know the purposes of His death; and his mind be opened to behold the great mystery of the atonement, the union of heaven's justice with heaven's clemency. It is then that the scales fall from his eyes; and in the propitiated pardon of the Gospel, blending the honours of a vindicated sacredness with the freest and fullest proclamations of mercy, he at length finds that alone remedy by which the misgivings of his guilty nature can be met and satisfied. By one and the same manifestation, even the spectacle of the cross, his confidence, though a transgressor of the law, is restored; while his reverence for the law's authority is exalted—and, in the transition which he now makes to peace and holiness, he learns what it is to mix trembling with his mirth, to combine with the security of the Christian faith the diligence of the Christian practice. But his experience does not stop at this great event of his history, which might well be termed the turning point of his salvation. It rather only begins here; and, along the career of the new creature in Jesus Christ our Lord, with the power of sin broken, and a constantly increasing delight in that law which was formerly his terror, the descriptions of the book so tally with the findings of his own heart and his own history, as to multiply the evidence upon him that Christianity is divine. Under the teaching of the Bible which he daily reads, and of the Spirit which he daily prays for, these signatures of heaven in the whole religion of the New Testament become every day more legible and more convincing till
a belief never to be shaken be fully established within him, that verily God is in it of a truth.
6. Now throughout the whole of this schooling, we never once come into converse with the histo-rical or the literary evidence for the truth of the Gospel. The aids of a critical and controversial authorship, with its scientific apparatus of polyglotts and grammars and lexicons, are never called for. These mysteries of a higher scholarship are beyond the reach of our common people—who yet, with no other apparatus than that of a Bible and of a conscience, are capable of being introduced to the mysteries of a still surer and more satisfying revelation, There is a process by which the things that are hidden from the wise and the prudent, might be abundantly made known to the veriest babes in the learning of this world. Let them have but Bibles in their hands, and sciences in their bosoms—then, with that power from on high which operates on these and is given to our prayers, we are in possession of the adequate means for the saving illumination even of the humblest and homeliest of men. In other wordswithout either the gift of miracles or of profound erudition or philosophy, we might be in a state of full equipment for the christianization of the world.
7. There is a twofold application that might be made of this subject. First, the encouragement derived from it to efforts in behalf of the education of our own countrymen—secondly, the like encouragement to efforts for the civilization of the nations beyond the limits of Christendom. The philosophy of missions in their two great branches,
the Home and the Foreign, receives its best vindication on the ground of the self-evidencing power of the Bible—as portable, therefore, as the truths of the Bible are portable; and we hope it will not be deemed an unreasonable digression if, at this stage of our argument, we now advert to the likelihoods of both.
8. I. In the Gospel then there is a sure testimony, “making wise the simple”-the line whereof goeth out “through all the earth,” and its " words to the end of the world.” This diffusive property signifies more than the property of stretching to a far distance. To overspread implies a filling up, as well as an expansion. That Christianity go completely through all the earth, it must not only be carried forth to its remotest extremitiesthere must be no intermediate vacancies left, else the knowledge of the Lord does not cover the earth as the waters cover the sea, For a thorough fulfilment of missionary work, we must not only expound, we must also pervade. The object is not merely to enlarge the borders of Christendom ; it is to reclaim the interior wastes of Christendom itself—and, for this purpose, we must visit the desolate places that are within as well as those that are without the territory. When we hear of a missionary enterprise, our thoughts would carry us afar to the remotest isles of Paganism, or to those vast and yet unexplored continents, which have not been penetrated by the light of revelation. It is not recollected, that, beside these unvisited
Psalm xix, 4.