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heathen, which occurs only twelve times a year, seldom, if ever, gathers them among its little group. What then can be expected ?
It is an inviolable law of our nature, not only that interest in an object suggests the desire of acquaintance ; but that the more intimate the acquaintance, if the object be worthy, the deeper will become our interest. Worldly men avail themselves of this principle. The early Christians knew its power. The very means which are now employed in some parts of Christendom to enlist the affections, and secure the resources of God's people, were suggested by the inspired Apostles. They came together, and rehearsed their obstacles and successes, and the effect was electrical. A holy sympathy thrilled the assembly. The scattered rays of light and heat were thus collected, and poured in one stream of animating effulgence into every bosom. Their zeal became intense. They besieged the throne of grace. They praised God with triumphant gratitude for what he had accomplished. They invoked the farther exertion of Almighty power, and with increasing confidence and energy, they rushed again to the conflict. And God approved of the means they employed, and while they were engaged, blessed them with the effusions of his Spirit. On one occasion, “ the
place was shaken where they were assembled together, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness; and with great power gave the Apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all."*
Now if such means were employed by the Apostles, and if the results were recorded for our benefit, ought we not to thank God for the suggestion, and labour to improve it? +
The most eminent Christians are well informed on the subject of missions. They are familiar with the progress of their Redeemer's kingdom, and every accession to its glories they hail with exultation. They avail themselves of all those opportunities of gaining knowledge, and enkindling zeal, which missionaryjournals and missionary meetings afford. They are not afraid of over excitement. They know how to discriminate between zeal and fanaticism. It is the perversion, and not the degree of feeling which alarms them. Every child of
* Acts iv. 23, and following verses
Also xiv. 27, xv. 4, xxi.
| Mere cursory reading is not sufficient. We must read minutely. We must study the geography and history of heathen nations. A free and careful use of maps is indispensable in the acquisition of this kind of knowledge.
God deplores his want of ardour in the service of his heavenly Father. “I am awakened,” he says,
, “by the merest trifles. The least object of worldly interest arouses my attention, and fixes my thoughts; but religion, whose inestimable truths ought to produce the deepest emotion, scarcely stirs the surface of my soul. Can I be a Christian? Am I not deceived ?"
What would the Apostles have thought, if, when they had appointed a time to inform their brethren of what God had wrought by their hands, not the fourth part of their fellow-Christians had assembled to hear them ? Would they have expected any assistance from the absentees? Would they not have concluded, that if there was no disposition to hear, there could certainly be none to pray, none to co-operate? It is this same conclusion which fills the hearts of missionaries, at the present day, with sadness. The frowns of the world, - the opposition of enemies we can bear. From them we expect nothing better. But when we turn to our friends for sympathy and support, and are met by ignorance and apathy, our courage often fails, our feeble “hands hang down."
It is not that we place so much dependence upon the assistance of those who stand aloof. No: it is because the Almighty has, in a great mea
syre, suspended the exertion of His own power upon the prayers and efforts of His people. He does not need us; but he has mysteriously determined not to accomplish his purposes without us.
When a new heart is to be given to the children of Israel, and a new spirit to be put within them, “God must be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them.” Zion must first travail in prayerful agony of spirit before children shall be born into the kingdom of Christ. “Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion - for the time to favour her, yea, the set time is come ; for thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof."
“ The ministry of reconciliation” is to be sapplied with faithful men through prayer. “ Pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest that he will send forth labourers into his harvest."
The reconciliation of the world to God, the sublime object of the ministry, — is to be effected chiefly through the same means. “ I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem! which shall never hold their peace, day nor night. Ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, and give him no rest till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth." Watchmen of Zion, is this your character? Is this the burden of your cries - the aim of your efforts? If God has called you to the ministry, you will struggle not only in the outward obedience, Lut “in the prayer of faith,” for the universal extension of the gospel. You will give the Lord no rest, you will allow yourselves none, until your Saviour is acknowledged, by all his creatures, as "God of the whole earth."
If such, then, is the connexion which God has established between the prayers and exertions of his people, and the promotion of his kingdom among men, what shall be said to arouse Christians to a sense of their obligations ? Is it not enough to declare that while they remain indifferent to his interests, their ascended Lord can never “see the travail of his soul and be satisfied ?” Even on the eternal throne he is represented in the posture of expectation, “ from henceforth expecting.” And for what is he waiting? What prevents him from receiving the objects for which he died? Has he not power to accomplish his purposes ? “ All power,” said he, “is given unto me in heaven and in earth." Who withholds from him the glories of his mediatorial kingdom ? Can any of us, my fellow Christians, answer this question without the deepest self-reproach? Are we not the chief impediments -- the only insurmountable obstacle? Every thing else God