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the house of Israel." But did they conceive it their duty to continue or close their labours among the Jews? If we judge of their principles by their actions, they considered themselves under as great obligations to employ a large proportion of their time among the Gentiles as to begin their labours with the Jews. At Antioch two Sabbaths were all they felt themselves bound to devote to their nation ; in other places where they were also opposed, they extended the time much beyond this limit. But among no people or country, with a very few exceptions, did they tarry long after the gospel was distinctly announced. Paul extended his personal efforts from “ Jerusalem round about to Illyricum;" and he tells the inhabitants of Spain that “having no more space” (where Christ had not been preached,) in the country he then occupied, he had determined to come to them..
As far as we can gather from the scanty history
of those times, one or two of the Apostles were settled pastors. James at Jerusalem is the one of whom we have the most authentic imformation. But a large majority of them appear to have spent their ministerial lives in foreign countries. The most distinguished of their number were foreign missionaries. Almost all the first churches of which we read were planted among the heathen, and nearly all the inspired epistles were directed to such churches. Every circumstance of which we are acquainted proves, that they obeyed the Saviour's command as literally as possible. They began with the Jews, but spent the principal part of their lives among those whose numbers and necessities exceeded those of their own country
Had the lives of the Apostles been the precedent for future times, the gospel would have been the professed religion of all nations, from the earliest period. However much it might have become corrupted through the sins of men; and especially through “the Man of Sin,” yet with regard to its universal prevalence there can be no question. If the same principles which governed the Apostles were now adopted, how quickly would the blessings of Christianity cover the earth. And why are they not adopted ? Could the most narrow-minded bigotry, or grudging avarice, plead that Christians are at liberty to make a greater difference in favour of their countries, than was conceded to the covenant-people of God. And yet, what but such an inadmissible preference represses their sympathies, and practically annuls their obligations to the heathen? They act on the absurd belief that nations which had no existence when the gospel was introduced, or which were among the barbarous tribes of the earth, have attained the privilege of monopolizing this gospel, even to the exclusion or neglect of the very people to whom it was first due.
There are reasons founded in the intrinsic worth of the human soul, and the equal relationship which God bears to all nations and classes of men, that condemn our respect to persons, and would bring into suspicion any law which enjoined such respect. What difference can country or kindred make in the essential value of an immortal being? Is not a soul rescued from the ignorance and vice of heathenism as precious to God, as though it were born and regenerated in the bosom of either of our families. Is not the divine relationship to the unconverted of all nations alike? Have we any reason to suppose otherwise, until God makes a difference? Does the Spirit of God discriminate between countries, where the same means are employed to obtain his co-operation? Has the blood of Jesus been shed for one nation more than another? How then can it be my duty to suffer hundreds of souls to perish because I am not related to them, while all my energies are devoted to comparatively a few individuals, who are no more valuable in themselves, nor in the kingdom of Christ, than those whom I neglect? Suppose that my relationship to all was the same, would it not then be my duty to attend to the
greater number? And is my relationship to men, and not God's to be consulted? Is not His interest in the friends of others, as great as in my friends ? There must be something wrong here. My obligations to men from their intrinsic worth are the same. My obligations to them from the relationship of God to them, and his interest in them are the same; and yet, as we are told, my obligations to them, founded on mere earthly alliance, are so different as to annul all the rest. Such is the difference that I may allow multitudes to live and die in ignorance, because there is no adventitious tie of connexion between us, while I employ all my life in endeavouring to save a few, who have rejected the proffers of salvation from childhood. Can this be possible ? Does not reason revolt at such a discrepancy? To plead that I am bound to take care of my own first, does not justify my neglect of others afterwards. To affirm that the providence of God in placing us in our present situation, has indicated our duty in reference to the sphere of our labour, is to array the providence of God, in opposition to itself-giving it one voice in one place, and a counteracting one in another. The Macedonian cry bids us "come over and help them,” while the voice from home forbids us to obey that cry. As long as the whole world is to be converted
as long as we have such a command from the Saviour, and such a practical interpretation of that command from his inspired apostles as long as the arguments in favor of the widest distribution of the gospel are founded on the very object at which the gospel aims, – the best interests of “ every creature," — so long must it be binding upon all Christians to devote a much greater proportion of their time to the destitute parts of the earth, than to those places where the privileges of the gospel are enjoyed, however much they may be attached to such places.