Obrázky na stránke

Human agency alone is wanting. “ Is not the Lord gone out before thee?” What have we done? Can we speak of “counting all things but loss” for this? Has any thing that we have attempted “ drawn out our soul”? Is there not the same race of ambition? The same pride of life? Should not our conduct, to comport with the crisis, bear a far more self-denying feature ? “ Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep and oxen, and men servants and maid servants ?” May not this inadequacy, this unworthiness, of the Church, be the occasion of our national judgments ? Why His present controversy with us? “Our breach is great like the sea.” In vain we have spoken of our prospects but as dimmed with passing clouds. “The clouds have returned after the rain.” Prognostications have but mocked us. “ We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble!” Where is the dial which only counted its bright and cheerful days ? When knew we such "distress with perplexity”? Thick-coming omens may well excuse thick-coming fears. Our Country sitteth desolate! “Her tears are on her cheeks.” Why has “ the Lord come out of his place to punish” us? Among innumerable and aggravated sins, may not the apathy of the Church in our land be henceforth considered a national offence? Instead of saving our country, may we not have hurried it to its doom? “Our way and our doings have procured these things unto us." Falls there not a two-fold retribution on the wicked nation and on the supine Church? For,

though previous admissions are cheerfully recollected, -that much has been accomplished, that many have been interested, - where is the treasure, the mind, the energy, we could bestow ?

The expenditure of one war might be enough for all we need. Ah, sinful nation”! Is this thy requital of all thine honours and resources ? Is this thy care of a world which thou hast been raised to govern that thou mightest the better bless? How soon might thy ruin come! Should He speak to pluck up and to destroy,

-all thy might and all thine alliance, thy massive form, thy wide command, would avail thee nothing,

as easily wouldst thou perish, in the day of His fierce anger, as the flax burns up before the flame, or the ripe grape bursts beneath the foot of him who treadeth in the wine-press!

We should regard this season not only as one of warning, lest the kingdom of God be taken from us, - but as that which is singularly responsible. We have every facility. Where all is praiseworthy, it is invidious to discriminate: yet the order of our Missionaries seems to us the greatest of all our auspices. There could have been no rational expectation of finding such men. They are found for us. They are raised up among us. They go forth under promptings from heaven. An inspiration burns within them. Scarcely has the Church owed them more in their distant labours, than, when driven back by disease or persecution, for their return. Then has it listened, like the Saviour to his disciples, to “all things, both what they have done, and what they have taught":

“ Come

and then, too, like the Saviour, it had said : ye yourselves apart, and rest a while.” To those visits, mournful in their occasion, how large a measure of holy impression and righteous excitement is due ! But this teaches us the lesson of mortality. How soon shall those admirable men go hence, and be no more! How quickly will their acquisitions and experience be lost! How should we seek the extension of their invaluable lives! How does it become us to work amidst so precarious a day! How must we, if we will do our duty and improve our season, make the utmost of gifts and habits, on which the grave só soon may close! Fathers may rejoice in children thus devoted, — children can emulate their fathers in the sacrifice. Wives shall share the glory. Mothers will bid their sons go forth, tearing themselves from their embrace. Unlike the “wars and fightings, which come from our lusts warring in our members,” this conflict involves but cheerful though trying loss, and well-supported though poignant sorrow. None hate the cause, however it bereaves them.*

We might goad ourselves into more consistent activity, by thinking on the devoted attachment of Pagans to their superstitions. Religion is every thing to them, interwoven with all their customs and influencing all their ideas. It is the life of every festival: it gives a note to every day. Music and poesy court

*“Hîc matres, miseræque nurus, hic chara sororum

Pectora mærentum, puerique parentibus orbi
Dirum execrantur bellum.”

VIRG: ÆNEID: Lib. 11.


no other strain. The element fills their lands. “All people will walk every one in the name of his god.” The Hindoo is supposed to give the half of his income to his rites and temples. The idolater is in earnest. He will perform any pilgrimages, he will endure any tortures. “Ye have taken away my gods, and the priest, and what have I more? and what is this that ye say unto me, What aileth thee ?

“The king of Moab took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt-offering.” But we hesitate to bear any inconvenience. We confer with flesh and blood. Covetousness is our idolatry, and here, idolater-like, we are generous and sincere.

“ In Christian hearts, O for a Pagan zeal!

A needful but opprobrious prayer. As much
Our ardour less, as greater is our light.

Nor will the results of a more corresponding exertion and liberality be secured, until a higher condition and mood of piety obtain among us. We need a stronger faith, a more diligent devotion, a stricter self-discipline, a more disinterested determination. We are not yet susceptible of the grace we profess to implore: we could not wield the usefulness of which we think ourselves ambitious. We are not sufficiently clean that we should bear the vessels of the Lord. Too many wicked things are with the host in its going forth against its enemies. Our ministry at home must be raised in its spiritual energy. Our congregations must be set in order. Our household


[ocr errors]

regimen must be purified. High-souled integrity and honour must govern our trade. Our whole example must shine in an embodied Christianity. The gospel must be allowed all its utterances and all its demands. As He was, our Lord and Pattern, so must we be in the world. We must speak in light and proclaim from the house-top. Reserve and disguise must be contemned. We must exhibit and urge an undeviating decision. We must blow the trumpet and summon to the battle of the great day of God Almighty. Each man must gird his sword upon his thigh. Resolve must bind and move the compact mass of His army Who sitteth on the white horse. The Church shall then be equipped for its warfare and capable of its victory.

Its renovation is that on which all is suspended. Let the Refiner sit, and purge its gold and silver. Let the Husbandman, with his fan in his hand, thoroughly purge its floor. Let judgment, saving but searching, begin at us. As soon as God shall convert the Church, the Church shall convert the World !

When Xavier, - and who can pronounce that name without a deep veneration ?-lay upon the bed of death in Santian, the death which arrested his career of triumph, while the delirium of fever acted upon all the associations of his zeal, — he cried, as though giving military orders, Amplius, Amplius! Farther, Farther yet !—The whole East was too little ! Island and continent could not satisfy! He dreamed, with method in his madness, of still enlarging conquests. Or might it not be more ? An inspiration

« PredošláPokračovať »