Abbildungen der Seite

their courage

the very juncture when the sinking church' needed

and their prayers. Like some mighty constellation, which bursts from the east at the hour of midnight, they rose when moral darkness was almost total, and like that of Egypt could seem to be felt. By their aid the church emerged from the wilderness. By their courage her grand enemy was made to tremble on his ghostly tribunal. The power of the Pope had then outgrown the strength of every civil arm. · Every monarch in Europe was at his feet. Till Luther rose no power could cope with him. There was a true church, but she had no champion. The followers of Jesus paid for the privilege of discipleship with their blood. He who dared to be guided by his own conscience, committed an offence that could not be pardoned. The heavenly minded saw no relief but in death, and thirsted for the honour of a martyrdom that would place them in a world where conscience might be free. But God appeared and redeemed his people. -The theme is pleasant, but time would fail me to rehearse what God has done for his church. Every age has recorded the interpositions of his mercy; and every land where there is a remnant of his church, bears some monument that tells to his honour, and which will endure till the funeral of the world.

Now the argument is, that he who has done so much for his church will never abandon her. If he would float her above a drowning world, would re

[ocr errors]

deem her from bondage, would escort her through the desert, would rain her bread from heaven, would reprove kings for her sake, would stop the sun to aid her victories; with his smiles, light the glooms of her dungeon, and by his presence cool the fires of the stake, there can be no fear for her safety

God will do just such things for Zion as he has done. “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be.” His arm is not shortened, nor his ear heavy. The church was never nearer his heart than now.

And he now hates her enemies as really as he did Pharaoh, Sennacherrib, Nero, or Julian. He then governed the world for the sake of his church ; and for her sake he governs it still, “ The Lord's portion is his people.” We know not that he ever had but one object in view in the events that have transpired in our world ; and that one, the honour of his name in the redemption of his people : and this object sways his heart still. The destruction of the enemy is a part of the same plan. Still may

the church invoke the Lord God of Elijah, may rest under the protection of the God of Bethel, and wrestle with the Angel of Penuel. If she should be in bondage, there will rise another Moses, another cloud will conduct her out of Egypt, and the same heavens will rain her manna. If darkness should overshadow her, there will be found among the sons she hath brought up, another Luther, Calvin, or Knox, to take her by the hand, to protect her honours, and recruit her strength. Shame on the Christian who knows her history, and yet is afraid. Afraid of what ? That God will cease to defend the apple of his eye? Afraid that the city graven upon the palms of his hands, may be captured and destroyed ? If God continue to do such things as he has done, the church with all her retinue is safe. “ God is known in her palaces for a refuge.”

III. God is doing now just such things as he has done. We saw laid the corner stone, and drew thence our first argument. Then we saw the building half erected, and were furnished with a second. We are now to view the edifice covered with builders, and from their exertions derive our third. „We may now reason from things that our eyes can see. We may appeal for testimony to the very saw and hammer, and make the scaffold speak.

It may be that some who are present are not sensible in what a day of heavenly exploit they live. Do you

know what amazing events are transpiring ? Have you learned, that Bible Societies are forming in every part of Christendom, and that the Scriptures are now read in perhaps a hundred languages, in which, till lately, not a text of inspired truth was ever written? Do you know that the late editions of God's word have commenced their circulation, are traversing the desert, taming the savage, and

[ocr errors]

pouring celestial light on eyes that never met its beams before ?

Do you know the prevalence of a missionary spirit ? Have you learned, that youth of the first character, of the fairest prospect, and of both sexes, aspire to be missionaries of the cross ? Some have gone, and others wait impatient till your charity shall send them.

Many a mother has devoted her daughter to the work, and waits for opportunity to give her the parting kiss; and many a daughter, on whom has fallen Harriet's mantle, aches to visit her tomb, and rest under the same turf till Jesus bid them rise. And what daughter of Zion is not ambitious of a martyrdom like her's ?

How numerous and extensive the revivals, which at present we witness in our land! Even where there is no stated ministry, the showers of grace descend, and the waste places are made fertile. What other page of the church's history, but the present, could record an almost universal concert of prayer ? Christians of every continent employing the same hour in the same supplications! How unparalleled the success of every Christian enterprise! No plan of mercy fails. The active Christian is amaz

. ed at the result of his own exertions.

Much that God is now doing is evidently preparatory to future operations. . Bible and missionary societies may be viewed as the accumulated energies of the church. Hitherto our exertions have becn insulated and feeble. The little streams fructified the plains through which they flowed, but could easily be dammed or evaporated; but their junction has formed a mighty river, destined to penetrate every moral desert, and carry fertilization to every province of our desolated world : fed with the showers of heaven, and every day flowing on with deeper and broader channel, the wilds of Arabia, the heaths of Africa, and the plains of Siberia can oppose no effectual barrier to its influence.

What age but ours was ever blessed with Theological Seminaries, where might, be reared at the expense of charity, young evangelists, to go out and carry the bread of life to a starving world ? Fortunes, collected for other purposes, are poured into the treasury of the Lord, and thus are erected batteries to demolish the strong holds of the prince of hell. Jehovah bless their founders!

Churches and congregations, who, in seasons of coldness, grudged to support the gospel at home, are now equipping young men for the missionary field, and for their own edification. And it has at length become so disreputable to stand idle in these matters, that the man who would save his money,

feels himself in danger of losing his character.

Not long since, young men of piety and talents, who longed to fight the battles of the Lord, must equip themselves, and then find poor support in the service. But the scale is turned. Where there is no fortune but piety, a thirst for knowledge, and a

« ZurückWeiter »