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LUKE X. 2.
Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is
great, but the labourers are feu : pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
The propagation of our most holy religion, among those who still remain strangers to its in- . estimable benefits, should be considered as the common cause of Christians throughout the world : and all attempts to disseminate scriptural truth by scriptural means, should be countenanced and forwarded by every man according to his ability, and as far as it consists with his other duties and engagements. “For his name's sake, they went forth taking
nothing of the gentiles-We therefore ought to “ receive such,” (or help them on their way,)“ that “we might be fellow-helpers to the truth.” 1
Indeed, to withhold any assistance which we can, with a clear conscience, afford to those who are endeavouring to rescue from destruction some of the many millions of perishing sinners among the gentiles, merely out of regard to unessential
differences in forms or opinions ; seems not less absurd, and in some respects more unfeeling, than to suffer the destructive progress of a conflagration, and to disregard the cries of such as are perishing in the flames, while we scrupulously inquire into the tenets of those who attempt to raise the ladders and work the engines. With the greatest alacrity therefore, my beloved brethren, and in full confidence that I do not at all act inconsistently with my more immediate relation to another society, formed for the same pious and benevolent purposes, I have acceded to the request of the directors, and am ready to bear my feeble testimony in behalf of the London Missionary Society: to which this peculiar distinction belongs that it has excited an immensely more general attention to the state of the heathen and the obligations of Christians respecting them, than before prevailed ; and thus has occasioned the establishment of many other societies of the same nature, in Britain, on the continent, and in North America ; the fruit of which will, no doubt, in due time be made manifest, to a degree not easy to be calculated.
It has indeed been asked, Why preach for both the societies? To which I answer, for the same reason that I would preach for both the Westminster Infirmary and St. George's Hospital, (contiguous charities, both for the same purposes because both are needful and useful, and are entitled to support. But this leaves us at a loss to which we should subscribe: Then, if you can afford it, subscribe to both : if not, use your own discretion, and follow the dictates of your own judgment. I do not come to urge subscriptions,
but to recommend the general cause of missions, and of this society in particular, as standing forward in that cause ; and to intreat at least the assistance of your fervent prayers.
When we hear of several societies for missions, established and holding their annual meetings in this metropolis, we are apt to inquire, What need of so many for the same purpose ? But, when the immensity of the field which lies open to their exertions is carefully considered, there will by no means appear too many. The societies may seem, (and probably no more than seem) to crowd and interfere with each other in London: but there is no fear that their missionaries, when sent abroad, will be in one another's way, or impede each other's usefulness. Thus the ships, by which our extensive commerce is carried on, are greatly crowded together in the river ; but not so on the vast seas and oceans which they severally navigate. Nay, (the case of war excepted,) the sight of a sail is generally refreshing to the seamen : when vessels, even of different nations, meet at a great distance from home, they relieve each other's wants; and often the approach of a vessel, though belonging to a rival company or merchant, gives the most heartfelt joy that can almost be conceived. Perhaps the comparison may hold still further : and, as a greater number of ships of moderate size are generally preferred to a few that are inconveniently large, so different societies, if mutually aiding each other, will be found more useful than any one which could be formed out of them all.
• It is, however, of vast importance, that the se<veral societies should consider one another as
* coadjutors, not competitors, and cultivate an - amicable intercourse. In this case many may be preferable to one, though proportionably
larger. One may embrace this special object, • another that : one may find the readiest access
to this country, another to that country: external circumstances may give one an advantage for a 'particular kind of service, from which the other ‘may be precluded : each may, as it were, bring ‘into circulation the treasure of wisdom and piety, as well as of influence, which is found in its ' particular circle! and they may all profit by the counsels, plans, observations, success, or failures of every one; and help one another in various ways, when that assistance becomes especially seasonable. Thus more methods may be tried, more talents brought into exercise, more infor'mation and wisdom acquired, and more exertion 'made by several societies, amicably striving together for the faith of the gospel, than by one: as divers kinds of soldiers form a better army than
if they were all exactly of the same description, 'armed in the same manner, and formed into one ' vast phalanx ; provided they have no other competition, but who shall best serve the common cause.'l
• One society should not be considered as op'posing any that are engaged for the same purpose. - The world is an extensive field, and in the church of Christ there is no competition of interests. * From the very constitution of the human mind, slighter differences of opinion will prevail, and
First Sermon before the Society for Missions to Africa and the East.