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the same may be communicated to all nations; and while these desires are formed into earnest ejaculatory prayers for the blessed change ; you will be prepared for the sequel of the subject: while we consider
II. The duties in this respectincumbenton us, and inquire how far we have criminally neglected them:
And here it is necessary to be cautious that we do not, by an indiscriminate statement, both fail of producing conviction; give occasion to rash and unwarrantable attempts; and furnish opponents with plausible objections, as if we wanted to induce men, by a disproportionate and romantic zeal in one particular, to disregard all other duties in pursuing the favourite object.
When our Lord said to his apostles, “Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the “ Holy Ghost ; teaching them to observe all things “ whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo I am “with you always even unto the end of the world ;” “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel “to every creature ;” and “ that repentance and “ remission of sins should be preached in his name “ to all nations ;" he certainly did not mean that the apostles and primitive evangelists alone should be employed in this service ; for they could only execute their commission for a very few years, and in comparatively a small part of the globe. No doubt therefore he intended that the churches which they established, and the ministers who should afterwards be raised up from age to age, should not merely stand on the defensive and indolently keep the ground which had been gained; but should carry on an offensive war against the kingdom of darkness with persevering constancy. And, so long as any part of any nation remains unconverted to Christianity, the church militant ought, no doubt, to persist in this holy warfare, without indulging sloth, or fearing man, or regarding any secular interest, compared with the enlargement of the Redeemer's kingdom“ of righteousness, peace, “ and joy in the Holy Ghost.” The work is the Lord's, but he carries it on by means and instruments: and it must therefore be our duty to use such means, and to seek such instruments as he employs and blesses ; in order that, according to the predictions and promises of scripture, “Christ may “ be a light to the gentiles and the salvation of " the Lord to the ends of the earth.”
The progress made in this respect during the first century was so great, that, had the same holy ardour animated succeeding Christians, every part of the world would long since have been evangelized. But alas that disinterested, courageous, and patient zeal, and that deep compassion for perishing sinners, which actuated the apostles and primitive preachers of the gospel, gradually declined, till it almost expired ; and then its feeble exertions were made to promote a corrupted gospel by antichristian means. So that it may be doubted whether, all things considered, the kingdom of the Redeemer, during the course of above fifteen hundred years, has not been contracted rather than extended. All the professed Christians, of every name, do not at this day amount to one sixth of
mankind; and what sort of Christians most of them are is alas well known!
Whether therefore we consider the great ends for which the Son of God came into the world ; or his commands to his disciples ; or the way in which they understood them, and their example of zealous unwearied exertion, amidst hardship and persecution, and with martyrdom always before their eyes; or whether we advert to the law of love, as illustrated by his conduct “who came into the “ world to save sinners,” and “ for the joy set be“ fore him endured the cross and despised the “shame;" it is obvious that something should be attempted, with zealand perseverance, to enlarge the Redeemer's kingdom by evangelizing the heathen.
But even in the primitive times it was not the duty of every Christian to become a minister ; nor that of pastors in general to leave their stated chạrges to preach the gospel in distant lands; and therefore they were not criminal in declining these services. Slaves, poor persons, and others would have very little acquaintance with the state of distant countries ; very little ability to amend what they saw amiss nearer home; and no direct influence beyond their own contracted circle.
Some individuals however were so evidently called forth, qualified, and marked by their brethren, and the pastors of the church, for these services, that if they declined or forsook them they were highly criminal : such at first was Mark, when he went not with Paul and Barnabas to the work, evidently because he shunned danger and hardship; and Demas who forsook the apostle,
having loved this present world." It was also
incumbent on the stated pastors of the church to excite in the minds of Christians a zeal for the conversion of the nations; and, by their example, prayers, and ministrations, to stir up a desire in proper persons to engage in the arduous but honourable service. They who were not employed in the ministry, or endowed with the needful qualifications, were doubtless bound to contribute, according to their ability, to the support of such
went forth in the name of Christ, taking “nothing of the Gentiles;” in order that they might be “ fellow-helpers to the truth.” Others would be required cheerfully to part with their dear relatives, that they might not prevent their engaging in the perilous work; nay, it would be their duty, loving Christ more than any relation, to excite them to the service, if competent judges deemed them called to undertake it. In a variety of ways the common cause might be promoted, by the examples, influence, and conversation of Christians in general; as every thing, that tends to communicate and perpetuate a spirit of genuine zeal and love within the church, must also tend to remove obstructions to its enlargement. And especially all might unite in constant prayers to “ the Lord “ of the harvest, to send forth labourers into his “harvest,” and to protect, comfort, guide, and bless all those who were engaged in preaching the gospel to the nations: while the degree of every man's obligation, and his criminality in not fulfilling it, bore a proportion to the talents entrusted to his stewardship
The case is still the same. It behoves every one of us to inquire what we can do in this respect, consistently with other duties? what advantages we possess, for promoting so good a cause? what we might attempt, did not selfishness, love of the world, and fear of hardship and suffering induce a reluctancy; or unbelief lead us to conclude that no good can be done? how we may, by patronage, liberality, or labour, second such well concerted plans as others have formed, but have not the means of executing ? or how concur in forming plans, which others, who have more influence, may adopt and carry into execution? or how we may suggest hints to those who are employed, which may conduce to their success? 1. The talents and circumstances of men are immensely various ; and we should not merely aim to induce the concurrence of multitudes, but that each individual should be employed according to his peculiar qualifications, or the situation in which he is placed. In times of war, it would not conduce to success for all to become soldiers : for statesmen, and senators, and very many descriptions of men in subordinate stations are as necessary as even the soldiers themselves.
Thus faithful pastors in their several congregations; prudent and active men who form and conduct plans for evangelizing the heathen; men in business, who devote a portion of their honest gains to support the expenses ; they who study the languages of the nations, and use other means of preparing missionaries for their work, or facilitating their progress ; and they that, having influence or reputation, patronize and protect their designs against the opposition of worldly men ; are all serving the common cause: nor would it be ad