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THE CHRISTIAN HERALD.
Saturday, November 18, 1820.
ANTICIPATIONS REALIZED. A PRINCIPLE of unreserved obedience, is the grand article in the missionary spirit. This principle we think happily and correctly illustrated in a sermon preached more than eight years ago, sometime before our first missionaries sailed for India. The Reverend Author having yielded to our solicitations, we are enabled to present our readers with some extracts; and this we do, partly for the developement of the principle, and partly from the gratification we ourselves felt, in perusing a record of anticipations of a blessing to obedience, which have been so signally fulfilled.
The doctrine alone answers all objections: must not the blessing realized silence all objectors? And when God brings so great a blessing upon the exertions of those who obey him in blessing others, will not all obey ?
The discourse is founded on Mark, xvi. 15—“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." It is in obedience to this command, that the author endeavours to enforce the duty it implies, as follows: "Says God to the Jews, What things soever I command
you, observe that you do it: Thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminisk from it.' Does it seem to them useless to destroy the altars of the idol gods, after they have destroyed the heathen themselves? Does it seem to them as well to offer their burnt offerings on domestic altars, with rejoicing, as to carry them a tedious journey to the place where God has chosen to cause his name to dwell?They are not to listen to the decisions of their own understand. ings, but to consider all that God commands as right, and, whether they see the necessity or not of the command, to be obedient. • Whatsoever I command you, that observe and do.'
“In many cases, indeed, God's commands leave with us a dis. cretionary power: we are commanded to aim at a particular object, while, according to the dictates of our judgment, we are allowed to select the means which, in our view, most directly tend to accomplish it.
“In other cases, the particular means are commanded, and whether we will employ them, is left neither to our discretion, nor to our choice. Though other means may seem, to our limited capacities, more calculated to promote the object than those VOL. VIT.
which God commands, the direction still remains-Whatsover I command you, thal observe and do.' His command has marked out the path, and it is rashness for us to endeavour to make another.
“My brethren, we are too apt to forget our province. We take it upon us to plan, when our only business is to execute: to inquire into expediency-perhaps to desist, when it is our duty to obey. Yea, even when aiming, as we trust, at the great objects, the glory of God, and the salvation of souls, we are more apt to seek to accomplish them by what we think the most eligible means, than to search out and employ the means which He has appointed. We endeavour to do something in our own way, while obstacles prevent us, and dangers deter us, from direct obedience to his commands. We quit the chart that He has given us, and sail at random, because that chart, we think, leads upon rocks, and shoals, and quicksands.
“But, my brethren, if we have a definite command to direct us in promoting the objects which he have at heart, is it right, is it safe, to quit that command, and to endeavour, by our wisdom, to devise a surer method than obedience to it. When God commands, we have no right to examine either into the experiency of the command, or the advantages which will result from obedi
Our business is to obey. "In such cases, does it seem to us that our efforts will be fruitless? We must give up our own judgments, and trust in faith.Are there obstacles in the way? we must endeavour to surmount them. Does obedience require self-denials ? we must make them. Do dangers present themselves ? we must brave them. Does obedience require our blood ? we must spill it. We ought to remember, that in obeying a plain command we cannot be wrong-while, in adopting a plan of our own, we certainly are.
My brethren, let those who seek their own, and not the things which are Jesus Christ's, form their own plans. But let not us. If we join with God in endeavouring to accomplish the purposes of His grace, let us trace the line which He has marked, with undeviating step. Let not our sloth, or our self-interest, or our cowardice, or our unbelief, lead us from it, that we may find an easier, safer, or surer path.
“ Though obedience to the command may seem to us not to be the most likely means to obtain success, shall we prefer the decision of our own judgment, conflicting as it does, with the unerring wisdom, as well as the sovereign authority, of our King ?What are we that we can decide? Creatures of yesterday, we are-and how little do we know? We have never entered, nor are we capable of entering into the great secrets of His plan of grace. We cannot tell what shall prosper-whether this or that. Whenever we quit the light which divine command sheds before us, we walk in darkness-though guided by our own desires, we
know not whither we go. Do we leave the command of God, because we think that obedience will be of no avail, either to the glory of God, or the salvation of men ? But are we certain, that to obey our decisions will be of more avail? Do we leave the command of God because of the obstacles that present themselves in the way of obedience, or the dangers that await us if we do obey ? Are we certain that we shall meet neither with obstacles nor dangers, if we obey our own decisions? Or, when God commands, do we dare to fall back because there are obstacles and dangers ? Or can we say that he will not remove those obstacles as the obedient pass on—that he will not shield them from those dangers ? Or can we say that it is not better to be met in the path of duty by insurmountable obstacles, or even fall victims to danger, than to tread a single step in another path ?
"My brethren, we should not wish to mark out the path for ourselves. Blind as we are, we shall find it infinitely wiser to be led by God, who is wise enough, and good enough, to deserve our implicit faith. Without His voice, we know not whether to turn to the right hand or to the left. When he speaks, we may rest satisfied that it is wise to obey; for, from eternity to eternity, his eye sees, and his voice speaks; therefore, is the perfection of wisdom. Suppose that in obeying the divine command, our hopes of immediate usefulness are disappointed; still it is wise to obey. We may have fulfilled our part in the great plan, though the fruit of our particular labours may not be manifest.
“When the great Master Builder has appointed to us our work, it is not so much our business to see that the building rise, as to be faithful to our posts. One master builder, so adequate to his task, is enough to oversee the work. And in this have we confidence-the building will rise and the work of a single faithful labourer shall not be lost.
“My brethren, it seemed expedient to illustrate this general principle of unreserved obedience to the divine commands, before proceeding to the consideration of that which is given in the text. If this principle has been correctly stated, our only inquiry seems to be
“1. What did this command require in the apostles to whom it was addressed?
“ 2. Does the command impose the saine duty now that it did on the aposles ?
“ 3. And what is its peculiar application to individuals ?"
Did our limits permit, we should gladly present our author's clear illustrations of these three points, and his answers to the interrogatories ; but we must pass on to the conclusion, in which he applies the position laid down in the former part of the discourse, in the following manner :
“ Now, my brethren, having explained the nature and application of this command, let me ask, can any, ought any objections to be made to unreserved obedience? Should it not be the voice of every lover of Jesus, let the attempt be made to fulfil it. Ad- . vance, ye disciples of Christ, who began at Jerusalem to carry the news of the gospel to every creature; advance, and enter into countries yet unexplored-and let the reviving voice of salvation be heard among the captives of sin. Unbar the barred door enter the dangerous way-overcome the obstacles, and risk your life among its hazards. It is an objection to attempts to spread the gospel, which arises in the minds of many, thai our domestic wants are yet unsupplied—that many of our churches are yet unprovided with pastors, and that many parts of our land have scarcely the appearance of Christian order. Many make this objection, who are deeply interested in the cause of Zion.They say our efforts are needed at home-and it is chimerical charity, in the present state of things, to be exerting them abroad.
“My brethren, it is not my object to attempt, by argument, to invalidate the objection which is here stated. Let me rather say to the objector, only in coincidence with my subject-It is our duty to obey the plain command of Christ, and not to trust in judgments so inadequate as ours, to the task of deciding on such a subject.
“Shall we depart from our directions, and adopt our own plans of usefulness ? Shall we refuse to attempt to evangelize the heathen, and expend our whole strength in promoting the gospel in our own land, when God is able, even of these stones, to raise up children unto Abraham? How know we, but if putting an unsuitable value upon our own strength, we spend our time and our talents in domestic usefulness, the work will languish in our hands! And on the other hand, how do we know but, if we obey in faith, a blessing may flow back upon us, in consequeuce of our obedience in other lands; but that our labours and our obedience may be recompensed, an hundred fold, into our own bosoms.
“Does the objector say, that hundreds of persons are needed for our domestic churches? 1 ask, on the one hand, how do we know, but if on this account we neglect to obey, when the events of providence, and the example of the saints, so strongly invite us to duty, but that the spirit will cease to be poured out upon our youth-so that our rising pastors shall teach, for doctrines, the commandments of men-so that our churches shall ask for some to lead them in vain ? On the other hand, I ask, if we obey, how know we but a new spirit will be shed forth? How know we but the Lord will increase, from our colleges and schools, an hundred fold, the number of our faithful and zealous ministers, in answer to the prayers of those who shall lift up their eyes and behold the greatness of the harvest, and pray earnestly for an increase of fabourers? How know me, but the minister who now speaks ir: vain, sabbath after sabbath, and year after year, will then speak to the conviction and conversion of a multitude of sinners ?
“I do not, my brethren, dare to predict on this subject. But is not the way of Christ's command the better way? And if domestic labours are of uncertain issue, is it not better to obey and to trust in faith? Whether God will at this day bless the gospel at home or abroad, we know not. It is not for us to know the times and the seasons which the Father haih put in his own pow. er-it is for us to obey. For eventual success in any of our endeavours, we shall never have to answer. That which we shall never foresee is not our guide-but the command of Christ.
66 True it is, the church of Christ has not attained, in our own land, its utmost height. But are we certain that it can, till it diffuses its benefits to others? Perhaps it is as improper to suppose, that the church can attain its proper glory, while exerting only domestic efforts, as that a nation abould attain to martial prowess, to martial glory, whose strength remains domesticated-whose armies never fight a battle, but who remain disbanded at home.
" But besides the objection drawn from the state of our internal affairs, there remains another, drawn froin the difficulties, the obstacles, the dangers, that present themselves, in attempting to spread the gospel in heathen lands. And here it can neither be doubted nor denied, that difficulties, obstacles, and dangers, belong to an attempt to spread the gospel.
" But, have we a right to consider these, when the alternative is obedience to the command of Christ? If so, why did not the apostles, when their Saviour was gone, return to the occupations from whence they had been called, and abandon the project of evangelizing the world? Did not obstacles, difficulties, and dangers, as great as any we can foresee, present themselves to them! Especially when those obstacles, difficulties, and dangers, had been so particularly declared to them by their Master himself.
“ My brethren, when you consider all the circumstances of the case, the command of Christ, as given to his apostles, is one of the most astonishing requirements that was ever made. Behold a little company, unnoticed and dispersed without funds-without credil-without learning-without experience-commanded, to do what? From Bethany they were to return to preach the gospel at Jerusalem, the scene of their Master's sufferings and death. And afterwards passing again through the villages where he had been despised and abused, -and where it had been told of him that he was dead, to preach the gospel there,
My brethren, even this must seem to them a most stupendous, a most unpromising work. Though they were to speak to a people whose language was their own, and who had been nurtured in a religion which is only the door to the religion of the cross. How must it seem to them then, to hear a command requiring them likewise to go to nations of other tongues--and worshippers of