This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
" Then they said one to another, We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold OUT peace: if we tarry till the morning light, some mischief wilt come vpon us: now therefore come, that we may go and tell the king's household." — 2 Kings vii. 9.
The circumstances which dictated this brief conversation were the following. — Ben-hadad, the king of Syria, with a numerous army, had besieged Samaria, the capital of the kingdom of Israel. It appears that the siege was continued so Jong, and under such distressing circumstances, that the most awful consequences began to rage in tlie city. Such was the high price of all kinds of provisions, that as much as ten pounds were given for an ass's head, unwholesome, unsavoury food; and a pint of corn, taken from the crops of doves collected from the neighbouring country, was sold at the rate of twelve shillings a pint. Hunger had so blunted the sympathies of nature, that mothers had killed and eaten their own children ; and the resources of the city were now in such a dreadfully exhausted state, that
an entire surrender, or total destruction, must be the necessary sad consequences. Jehoram, instead of reproving himself for his own wickedness, and confessing to himself privately that he was the great cause of all the miseries which Samaria was now enduring, laid the fault upon Elisha, the most patriotic friend the country had ; and he determined, therefore, to kill him. For this purpose he went to his house ; and previous to the execution of that purpose he determined to hear the prophet for himself. Uttering some impious, abominable, and blasphemous expression, he was induced to 444
delay his design till the next morning, on account of a prophecy which Elisha delivered, contained in the first two verses of this chapter. "Then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the Lord ; Thus saith the Lord, To-morrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold
for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria. Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said. Behold, if the Lord would make windows in heaven, might this thing bel And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof."
In the afternoon of the same day four leprous men suggested to one another the expedient of going out to the camp of the Syrians, and seeing what had become of the army, or what was the state of the Syrian's force. They were outcasts from society ; they were devoured by the leprosy ; they were under the ban and curse of God and man : and therefore any thing that happened to them, they thought, could not make them worse. And, therefore, " they said one to another. Why sit we here until we die? If we say, we will enter into the city, then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there : and if we sit still here,
we die also. Now therefore come, and let us fall unto the host of the Syrians : if they save us alive, we shall live^
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and if they kill us, we shall but die."] As soon as it began to grow dark they commenced their operations, proceeding on their journey; and, to their great astonishment, when they arrived at the camp, they found no man there : for the Lord had gone out before them, and caused the Syrians "to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host : and they said" — that is the Syrians — " one to another, Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us
the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us. Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life." When they had satisfied themselves, by going to the extreme end of the camp, that it was not a stratagem of the enemy, they then went, first into one tent, and partook of the luxuries of life that tiie Syrians had left behind ; and entered another, and took of the gold and silver, and concealed it in the earth. And after they had thus satisfied themselves, they began to think of their friends : " We have been into the Syrians' camp, and we have now got their money, and we have had their food ; our spirits are refreshed, and our bodies are nourished, by that of which we have partaken ; but there are our poor bretliren in the city ; there are our wives, and our children there, and there are vast numbers there dying of hunger. We do not well to ait here : this day is a day of good tidings; we have reaped the advan-
tage of coming out; we have partaken of the bounty of God in this extraordinary way : if we tarry until the morning light, and be so ungrateful to divine Providence for the blessings that are conferred upon us, some mischief will befall us. Come, let us rise up and go into the city, and tell the king's household tlie good tilings of which we have partaken."
My (Miriatian brethren, tho present state of tliu worhl is, in a spiritual sense, somewhat HJmilar to that in which Samaria was placed wiien these lepers uttered thoso words. The armies of Satan and of sin surround it; the people, by
millions, are perishing for lack of knowledge : God has blessed a variety of individuals, by his rich providence, with a foretaste of the rich provision of grace and mercy, which makes happiness abound on earth, and fits souls for ever-
lasting glory. Thousands are every day perishing for lack of knowledge ; and millions more must perish, if the bread of life be not sent. Now we, like the favoured lepers, have found out a plentiful supply to enrich ourselves, and feast the world. Thanks be to God that some few efforts have been made to supply the world with this provision I But their wants are infinitely beyond all the supplies we have sent them. iSIillions are crying, and are praying for this bread of life : and not only millions of the heathen, whose case is constantly presented to our view, but millions of our own bre(hret%, in villages, and hamlets, and towns of your own country, with your own blood running in their veins, where many of your relatives dwell ; where some of you have friends, servants, children, relations residing. And these dark parts of the earth, though not like the habitations of cruelty in the heathen world, are yet full of vice, and misery, and ignorance, to almost an abounding extent : and the obi ject of my standing before you this even-
I ing, is to " provoke you to love and to I good works ;" and to endeavour to " stir j up your pure minds by way of rcmemj brance," to exhort you to " add to your faith virtue," and to your virtue still greater liberality than you have been accustomed to show to this great and necessitous cause which now presents its claims to your notice. And may I especially, in entering upon the subject this evening, beg the prayers of this congregation, that I may be so assisted in laying its claims before you, that your hearts may be opened and expanded, and (^hrisl's name bo honoured and glorified this evening.
Tho text, then, describes tho limes in which wo live ; "This day is a day of jrood tidings." Tho toxt reproves our iuilifTerence to tho miseries of others : " \N o <to not well." Tho toxt pronounces our punishment if we dulay to send them hoip
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And the text suorgests the method which Ave ought immediately to pursue.
First, then, the text describes the times IN WHICH WE LIVE. " This day is a day of good tidings."
And is it not, my dear brethren and sisters, a day of good tidings 1 What are the peculiarities of the day in which we are called to live 1 There are these four peculiarities in it; the first of which I will now mention : — that Jesus Christ has ohtaineda complete conquest over all our enemies. And this is the great and especial truth which is published in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Sin, and the world, and Satan, like a mighty army, with all
their leagued friends, were arrayed against us. The justice of God which we had offended, appeared in dreadful majesty against us ; and until satisfaction was made to divine justice, mercy itself could not spare or pardon. The wrath of God was revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and all unrighteousness of men ; and all our sad expectation consisted in tribulation and anguish, misery and wo, which were ready to fall upon our heads. Now we had to engage these hosts ; we had to go out against them, these armies which surrounded us as they did Samaria. We had no champion, we had no individual who could protect our cause; no army went out against them. Like Samaria, beloved, when we beheld our condition, we were all alarm and all dismay : and, as in the case of Samaria, the victory was wholly of heaven, so it is in our case: Jesus, from the height of the throne of his majesty, beheld us ; pity moved him to compassionate our case; love, which had heights, and depths, and lengths, and breadths, un-
known, and which passeth knowledge, brought him from heaven to earth in our flesh. In that flesh he dwelt for thirtythree years in our world, in the form of a servant; and, as the Captain of our salvation, single-handed and alone, he entered the bloody field; and sin and hell opposed all its force against him. The wrath of God seized and fell upon him in all its awful majesty : justice demanded of him the debt which we had contracted ; and the law poured forth all its
curses upon his head. He engaged in^ the mighty conflict: and, as smoke is driven away, so he drove them away. Our God arose, and he scattered all his enemies. It is true that Christ in this conflict died ; but in dying he " destroyed death, and him that had the power of death, and delivered us, who through fear of death were all our lifetime subject to bondage." It is true that he died ; but in dying he " put away sin, by the
sacrifice of himself." It is true that he died ; but he proclaimed the victory with his dying breath — "It is finished:" " Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." It is true, friends, that he died ;
"But justice quenched its flaming sword In Jesus' vital blood ;"
and the law was magnified, justice was satisfied, God was well pleased, and sinners were saved. And now the host of heaven and the church of Christ may sing " Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah ! the work is done ; the conquest is made, salvation is brought in ; and the blessings which were so much needed for my soul, are all ready to be procured, to be bestowed, through his dying atonement." So that " this is a day of good tidings." Moreover, " this is a day of good tidings" because Jesus Christ has procured an ample provision for all our necessities. The spoil is ours ; the glory is his. The conquest was made by himself, and through that conquest all the benefits of
salvation are now amply provided and amply presented to our use. And what are these blessings 1 My brethren, our enemies had robbed us of peace, of joy, of communion, of justification, of holiness, and of heaven : but this day is " a day of good tidings ;" Jesus Christ has restored that which he took not away. Whatever scarlet and crimson sins have been committed, in the gospel he has presented a full, and free, and everlasting pardon. If pride, and passion, and prejudice had corrupted the soul, and become its grief, in the gospel is presented a fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness. If condemnation arise from the law, to terrify the spirit that knows not how to justify himself before Gad, Christ
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m the gospel has presented him with a righteousness that is " unto all and upon all them that believe ;" for there is no difference. If hostility to God and his service be the plague of the man's heart, and oppose the message he constantly hears, Christ has brought and has preached tranquillity ; for " we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord." If heaven be desirable, and its glories be coveted, and the hope of attaining it be lost to any spirit here, " this is a day of good tidings," my hearers, for the way to the holiest of all is made manifest, through the rent veil of the Redeemer's flesh. Beloved, the gospel is a table spread, where all the spiritual wants of sinners may be supplied : here, in abundance, are found the bread of life, the water of life, the fruits of the tree of life, and all other blessings connected with life eternal. And may I ask this vast congregation this evening, Have you,
dear hearers, satisfied yourselves at this table? Is there any unconverted spirit here, who, yet c#ivicted of its own guilt, is earnestly desirous of the blessings which the gospel imparts ] This is B. Home Missionary Society; and we are about to plead for home ; and where can I better plead than here, dear hearers, and tell you the gospel is for you, and the blessings of the gospel are for you, and the ample provisions of boundless grace do invite you, do welcome you, to come and partake of them largely ?
"O all ye hungry, starving poor, Behold the royal feast. And let your longing appetites The rich provision taste."
"This day is a day of good tidings :" I am sent on a message from the bountiful Provider of this feast: "Come, for all things are now ready." See, my dear hearers, the Master is at the table ; the provisions are spread ; the guests are seated; hut .Mary's place is empty ; La-
tarus is not one of ihem that sit at the table with liim; .John is not yet amongst his discijilcs. Havt- not you, my young friends, wlio hoar mo this evening, l)crii the burden of your inolhor's prayers ami hopes, and your fathcr^s expcctatioos fur
years that are past 1 Come to this blessed provision; this is "a day of good tidings" for you ; when you are heartily welcome to all the boundless grace of the great Provider.
But there is another point connected with this good tidings, and that is this : that Jesus Christ has led many of us who are present to participate in the provisions of his love. And this makes it " a day of good tidings" to us. Blessed forever be his holy name, that not a few of us have tasted that he is gracious, and that we can put our hands to our heart, and say that the ample provisions of his love have not only satisfied, but done more for
us than we could ask or think. We take up the language of Scripture : we delight to know that " we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren," We know that " all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to liis purpose." " We know whom we have believed, and are persuaded that he is able to keep that which we have committed unto him against that day." " We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true ; and we are in him that is true, even in his Son .Tesus Christ." We know that his " flesh is meat indeed, and his blood drink indeed." We " know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet fol our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might become rich." " We know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him ; for we shall see him as he is." Now how came we in this happy state 1 How came we feelingly and experiinentaiiy to know these
heavenly truths 1 " not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name be the glory, for thy mercy and for thy truth's sake."
Beloved, the four leprous men exemplify our condition. Like them, we were cast out of the congregation of the sainl-s: like them, we wore loathsome in our own eyes: like them, we were infectious to our neighbours: like them, we were under till! ban and curse of (Jod ; but, liko these leprous men, ho filled us with
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views of our own misery, made us discontented with the state in which we
were, raised a spark of hope in our bosoms, that for us there might be hope, and that we might, as we could not be in a worse condition, be better, by application to his mercy and grace. And you who hear me this evening, recollect that the day in wliich we live must necessarily be "a day of good tidings." Who brought you to London ? Who placed you in such a situation 1 W' ho fixed you, young man, in that counting-house, where the first sermon you heard should be made evidently the power of God to your salvation ] O methinks I see your mother taking her last farewell of you ; and as you went away from the door, she lifted up her voice and said, " God bless thee, my son, and make the God of thy father the God of thy life." And God has answered that prayer; and this is "a day of good tidings" to you. O it was he who, by the operation of his Spirit, applied divinely to your heart : it was he who brought you to listen to its voice : it was he who ordered the visit of that friend ; who put that book into
your hand ; who suggested the visit to such a house, or such a family, or such a temple for his worship, and there made the gospel instrumental to your everlasting good.
Now, I say, behold the change; you who were once leprous souls are become rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom : you are satisfied with marrow and fatness ; and your mouth praises him with joyful lips : you who were afar oflf are brought nigh by the blood of Jesus Christ : and though the day may be distant, yet cleansed, exalted, justified, and glorified, you shall one day arise to the place where he is, and see him, and be like him, and be with him, and shall change your lamentations for hallelujahs, your pilgrim's staff for the palm-branch of victory, and all your distresses for everlasting pleasures. O " this day is a day of good tidings." " Bless the Lord, our souls, and all that is within us bless his holy name."
But, my brethren, there is another point connected with the day in which
we live — that Jesus Oirist has opened channels for the publication of these good tidings to others. This day may be emphatically called, indeed, "a day of good tidings." Will you indulge me, my dear hearers, by reflecting a moment on the contrast of this day and the days that have preceded us ; and let us see whether this day be not " a day of good tidings." Formerly the Scriptures were not completed ; now the canon of inspiration is closed. Formerly the Scriptures were not translated ; now we have the Bible, not only closed as it respects the canon, but we have it translated in our own and numbers of other languages. Formerly the saints looked forward for a Saviour to come ; we behold him arrived : for an atonement to be made ; we behold it finished : for a righteousness to be wrought out; we behold it brought in. Former-
ly, my brethren, what impediments had the primitive disciples, in the publication of the gospel, in the governments under which they lived ; our government, blessed be God, if it does n Jr patronize, does not oppose; and under the sanction of this government we can carry our gospel every where. Formerly, wherever it was preached, the exertions of our brethren were always impeded by desolation and war; but now we are at peace; there is no port shut against us; missionaries may be sent to every place.
At this time God seems to be going forth, and shaking the very nations, stirring up the minds of men to an earnest desire for happiness; a certain something they feel they want, a general buzz and cry over the whole world for a certain something; and although individuals may not know exactly what they want, yet there is a certain anxiety for the way that leads them to glory, happiness, and eternal life, which the gospel so amply supplies. Now they are throwing off the
shackles under which they are groaning, and are crying for Christ and the gospel. Twenty 3'ears ago the public press was the vehicle of slander against the saints, and against the Bible, and against Christ; but now newspapers, with very few exceptions, are constrained to be the public and avowed advocates of the kingdom of
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Christ. The Missionary Society — I mean the London Missionary Society — the Bible Society, and the Tract Society, and others, which were begun with a handful of praying men in Mr. Hardcastle's counting-house, and rose in the world by little and little, like the cloud that the
prophet saw, now rise majestically, like the sun, and are scattering light, salvation, joy, and peace over the whole world. Again, the petty jealousies and distinctions amongst Christians, wiiich so hindered and impeded the work of conversion, are wonderfully softened down, so that they now seem to vie with each other who can do the most good, and who can most extend the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. In our own land light is spreading in every direction. The pulpits of the established church, which many years ago were not so filled as they now are, now we see are filling in every direction with wise, holy, zealous, devoted, and powerful men. The y)opulation of our country, which was formerly sunk in the grossness of ignorance and darkness, are now— with some exceptions which we shall afterwards show — are now placed in those situations by which they can attain to the knowledge of t!)e truth, in hundreds of public places, from the servants of Christ. God is putting it into the hearts of wealthy
men to erect places of worship. One in your own city has built perhaps as many as eleven or twelve; another has built one at Bristol : one is built at Westonsuper-mare : and churches, too, without parliamentary grants, are erected by the munificence of individuals in various parts of the world, and the glorious gospel of the blessed God is preached in these places. Notwitlistandiiig the dinTicullies connected with all these things, we sec ttiat God is making this "a day of good tilings," by opening channels, and grant
now strip her house at Ashby-de-la-Zouch of its furniture, in order that another house of God might be erected in another part, and the salvation of the gospel of God made known to the sons of men.
My dear hearers, let it also be remembered that, notwithstanding the difficulties, and the sacrifices, and the distresses connected now with home and foreign
labours, God is raising up both his servants and handmaidens, very willingly and joyfully to take this work. I cannot but also look at the immense improve ment in our own land, as indicative of God's favour in this day. When Mr. Rowland Hill first commenced his exertions in country places, how different was the spirit and temper of the times. When he first went forth to preach the gospel at Devizes, he told me that two individuals endeavoured to waylay him, and with an oath swore he should not preach the sermon that evening, and that they would take away his life : some singular circumstance attended his emancipation from their grasp. Persecution has ceased to a very great extent, and God is giving facilities in every direction for the publication of his truth. There is hardly, perhaps, a village or town in the whole kingdom where the gospel cannot, at this present time, make its way. These are facilities which we could not have expected or dreamed of thirty years ago.
And then, brethren, may I not say that, nf)twithstaiuling the difficulties of the times, and the pressure of the times upon various individuals, yet is it not a marvellous thing, connected with the present day, that the subscriptions to the various societies increase ; and, above all, that a greater spirit of prayer for the outpo\iring oftiie divine intluence on the rliurrhes, ami all the exertions connected with missionary and home labours, connected with
iig facilities for the publication of his iho great work of God, should be more truth, which unrjuestionably never ex- ^ amply excited among the churches, is isted before. The days of the Countess | evidently a token for goo.l ? This day is of llunlingJon arc in some respects re- indeed "a day of good tidings." I bless vivel agiin. She, from her own hearty , (iod I was not born a century back; I desif, and love lor the spread of the gos- thank (Jod 1 have lived to see H.l.'i ; for pnl of Jc^ua, would now sell her Jewels it is "a day of good tidings." It warms for the sake of building a chapel; and land chcofs our hearts to see (Jod going Vol. I.— S7 '-J »¦ -'
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out before us, causing a noise in the canrip, and making the enemy fall before us, and making way for his servants to penetrate the dark recesses of the earth, and claim his people for himself.
I pass on, in the second place to notice
that THE TEXT REPROVES Ol'R INDIFFERENCE TO THE MISERIES OF OTHERS. " VVc
do not well ; this day is a day of good tidings." This may appear a very strange connexion with the foregoing statements that I have made, brethren : but a very little explanation will, perhaps, alter your opinion. It is true that the Lord Jesus
has graciously opened channels, and given facilities for the publication of his gospel : but, beloved, is it equally true that we have embraced them 1 "Will you allow me to put this question very seriously, beloved, to your consciences, and to my own conscience, this evening 1 Has the Lord Jesus gone out before us, and granted facilities for the publication of his truth, and have we embraced them 1 Have we seized these openings ] Have we, as he has opened, entered into the breach, planted the standard, and claimed the territory for him ? No : in many cases this has not been done. Alas ! my brethren, if every conscience brings the subject to bear upon itself, and proposes these questions to itself — " Have I seized the efficiencies which Christ has offered me to make known the bounties of his love to my kindred, to my neighbours, and to the world V each of us must be condemned to-night. " Have I made any sacrifice commensurate with the object, or equal to the prospect that •was open before mel Have I made Christ's king-
dom my first, my earnest, my prime request?" Alas, brethren ! we are all condemned. What have we endured, compared with Christ's sufferings for usi What have we given that we could not well spare 1 W'hat have we ever made of sacrifice for the service of the Lord Jesus Christ? Beloved, we are all in the same condemnation ; we are all convicted and condemned. We have satisfied ourselves with the precious provision of the gospel ; but, to a great extent, we have forgotten our perishing brethren. "We have tasted, alas ! the ease, and the
comforts, and the luxuries of our own> personal enjoyments, without remembering that our brethren were perishing for lack of knowledge.
Certainly, then, " we do not well.'* For, first, let it be remembered thatu-AzVe this disposilion exists in the mind, we dishonour ovr chnrader. What is our cha-
racter? If we have believed in Christ, we are the sons of God ; we are united to Christ, our elder brother, and we are under infinite obligations to his boundless love, inexpressible obligations to his gracious care and love to us. Now all he asks us, in return for his love to us, is to love him in return — not to be ashamed of him; to establish his kingdom, and to give ourselves up to his service. And who would think the terms hard that knew the blessedness of this Master's service 1 Who would even think that this proposition were too much to request of souls so deeply indebted to his love and to his mercy ? To us, and to us only, he has deputed the honour of instrumentally bringing home to his fold our kindred and our countrymen. Beloved, our vows are upon us : we have opened our mouths to the Lord, and we cannot go back. All those of us who are accustomed to visit the table of the Lord, remember our vows there. How oft our hearts have been deeply impressed with the love of the Lord Jesus, and we have
said, as we have departed from his house, " I am the Lord's : my time is his ; my talents are his; my property is his; all that I have is his: my Beloved is mine, and I am his." And our prayers witness against us as much as our vows. We have said, " Thy kingdom come ;" and did we mean it? Did we mean that his kingdom should come when we so said? Yes, we meant that his kingdom should come; but without any great iicrifice on our part: or else we ha\e slighted our prayer. If we withhold our persons, if we withhold our property, if we refuse to establish his kingdom in the earth, let us relinquish the name of Christian ; it does not belong to us.
But, secondlj^ we not only dishonour our character, but we disobey Chrisfs command. Our prayers have been, " Lead
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me into thy truth, and teach me, for thou ! " By me" the fishermen and tax-gatherer art the God of my salvation :" "Lord, converted thousands. And it is his pleawhat wilt thou have me to do ]" has been sure still to choose the weak things of our cry. Now this is his instruction : the world to confound the mighty, and "Go ye into all the world, and preach the weak things of the world to bring to the gospel to every creature, beginning naught the things that are. Let, there-
at Jerusalem." Go tell the world my love, but begin at Jerusalem ; begin at your own homes ; begin where the people shed my precious blood ; begin where the man lives that nailed me to the tree ; begin where the soldier resides that pierced my side : let the virtue of my cross, and its salvation, be seen by those who were my murderers and my foes : that is, begin at Jerusalem, begin at home.
Now this is not an arbitrary command of the Eternal, my brethren, but a very necessary answer to your prayers, to your most earnest wish. You have prayed that his kingdom may come; and now he is opening his way, that his kingdom may come, for you to embrace the opportunities that will be the means of establishing that kingdom in the world. It is the very work in which you delight, according to your own profession in your best moments at the footstool of divine mercy, tliat you have earnestly desired every thing that has now happened ; and then you have sung that hymn —
" Now will I tell to sinners round. What a dear Saviour I have found , I'll point to his redeeming blood, And say, Beliuld the way to God."
All this was perfectly sincere at the time ; but it must be carried out to prove its sincerity. The command is our warrant ; the promise is our encouragement : and
if we live in disobedience to Christ's commands, how can we expect his blessing] "We do not well :" the text reproves our indifference. If our hearts say, we are too weak and unworthy to be engaged in tho work, then I hear him saying, " My grace is sufficient for thee ; my strengtli is perfected in thy weakness." »' Hy me," says the leper, " ho saved Samaria ;" and "by me" the little captive maiil, in her master's kitchen, was tho means of saving her master's soul, and healing her master's body.
fore, no hearts be discouraged in their village exertions, in their visitations around their districts, either with tracts, or with the opportunity in society round us — our friends, our neighbours, and the poor too, in speaking for Jesus Christ. You may not speak so eloquently as an Apollos ; but if you can say one word for your Master, for the Prophet that is in Israel, as the little captive maid did ; who
can tell but tliat God may give that word an efficacy and blessing, which the greatest efforts witiiout his blessing would not effect ?
There are especial and great encouragements resulting from such a thought as this, to an extended exertion. Where shall we find men for the purpose? This is the great, the last, tiie only questuin that we should ever propose to ourselves. The great question that commends itself to our especial notice is. What has Christ commanded 1 What is the work ho would have us do ? We are to go and labour, and leave the rest to him. Success is jiot ours ; laljour is ours. He has the gold and the silver in his possession ; and as he raises up friends for different institutions, he manifestly proves that he has the hearts of all in his hands. O, dear Christian friends, there is a branch of liberality I want to sec extended. I think I may say that many of the Christian friends pfthe church "do not well." How many rich members have we, to
whom it H'ould be no sacrifice each to support a missionary? Christ's command is, " Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to eveiy creature." " \N'liy," says the rich and wealthy professor, the member of tho (-hrisilm chiirch, " I cannot go." True, l)ut then sow can go by deputy; and why not have your deputy in a heathen land 1 Why not have your deputy at home? Why not have him circulating the knowledge of tho gospel around your city; in the village where you were born, an<i
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perpetuate the memorj' of Jesus Christ there, in the very place where you your-
self cannot go] May I beg to press this upon the attention of Christians 1 How much more noble, how much more durable the monument would thus be after the decease of the individual, to have a man of Cod jiublishing- Christ's salvation in the spot where, perhaps, that person Avas brought up — in poverty, perhaps, brought up; but who came to this great city, or went to other places, and God blessed him, and caused his riches to increase : how much better would it be to have a monument inscribing his name, and telling of deeds that few, perhaps, ever saw.
But I pass on to notice, in the next place, that the text pronounces our PUNISHMENT IF WE DELAY. " If we tarry till the morning light, some mischief will befall us." I will not detain you, my beloved, long in proving a point which I believe you will all subscribe, that some mischief will certainly fall on the heads of those who, knowing their duty, do not fulfil it. It is not doubtful, it is not
chimerical : but it is plain, and certain, and awful. Yet I cannot suffer this opportunity to escape, brethren, without stirring up your minds by way of remembrance. Let me just therefore remark that the Scriptures assure us, if we delay, three things shall befall us : first, our eyes shall see the destruction of our kindred ; secondly, our souls shall want the joys of Cod's salvation ; and thirdly, our conduct shall receive the condemnation of Christ.
If we delay this work our eyes shall see the destruction of our kindred. When our beloved Lord had used all efforts to evangelize Jerusalem, by preaching, by miracles, by residing amongst them, by various conversations, and yet, after all, their misery affected his heart ; he could rot look upon them without tears. Many times he wept in his prayers ; but there are two scenes only recorded where he publicly wept : the one was at the grave of Lazarus, his dear friend ; and the .other was when he looked over Jerusa-
lem, and saw the people perishing — people who had discarded the prophets that
had been sent tliem. Now what should our grief, beloved, be to see souls brought every hour to the brink of hell, and know that, if they die, they must fall therein, and to reflect that we have used no adequate means to succour and save their souls ! Do you believe it, my brethren, that there are five millinns of your own countrymen, who either have not the means to attend public worship — that is, there are not places of worship for them to attend — or else they are not in the habit of hearing the gospel at all 1 Do you believe that factl If you do, I will tell you this : that, supposing thirty years to be the duration of one generation, then there are one hundred and sixty-six thousand of your own countrymen dying without Christ every year ; and there are four hundred and fifty of your own countrymen dying every day without the know-
ledge of Christ and his salvation ! This is an appalling fact, my dear brethren ; but can you look calmly and coldly on this, ye that love Christ 1 Is it a mat ter of indifference that these individual* should pass into eternity, without an) effort on your part to pluck them as branda from the burning? Esther felt when the decree was issued against her countrymen ; and she sighed and mourned over it ; and she said, " How can I endure to see the evil that shall come upon my people? How can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred V And cannot you say the same 1
There is, however, another point to consider. The evil that shall befall us shall be this — our souls shall want the joys of Godh salvation. And tell me, my dear brethren, let your consciences speak to yourselves candidly this evening, what have you ever lost by obedience to Jesus Christ? Begin )'our calculation in his house this evening. When have you denied yourself any of the luxuries of
life, and perhaps a few of its comforts? When have you unflinchingly taken up your cross in obedience to his commands ? W'hen have you made the greatest sacrifices to his cause, and endeavoured to follow out all his commands? I ask, Has he not repaid you with his " favour, which is better than life," and made your
THE LEPERS OF SAMARIA.
cup overflow with spiritual blessings? Has he nof? And when you have neglected his cause, and put earth first and heaven last ; when you have cherished the luxuries and comforts of life in your heart, instead of Christ's cause and his service ; when you have put self above
Christ, and held the salvation of your souls indifferent, thinking of your business, of your activity in life, or of your family, or of your neighbourhood, or of your honour — have not the chariot wheels of devotedness and duty dragged very heavily] Have you found communion with Christ so sweet then as formerly, when your first love burned on the altar of your heart ¦? Have you not found the ordinances of God without that refreshment which you previously hadl Have you not walked in darkness, and had no light ¦? I put it thus, beloved, to your consciences, seriously and affectionately, this evening, whetlier that passage is not true — " He that knoweth my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me ; and I will love him, and my Father will love him ; and we will come and make our abode with him." All our consciences testify, brethren, that this is true: and therefore this mischief shall befall us — that, if we act not up to our convictions of the pressing duties which are claiming our attention in Christ's
cause, our souls shall want the joys of God's salvation.
Again : our conduct ahall receive the condemnation of Christ. I refer now to the last day. That is so plainly spoken of, that it needs no illustration : " Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me." But I now advert to the state of mind which indilTerence to Christ's cause brings; and to the dishonour which even now it casts upon God. The inhabitants of Meroz did not help the encmi/ ; they did not oppose the enemy ; but they stayed at home : while their brethren wore engaged in war, and were going out against the enemy, thry quietly look' d on. There was no opposition, lliere was nothing directly opposite in llieir conduct. No; llujy indilTcrenlly looked at the war; they neither sent supplies of tnoncy nor treasures into
the camp ; and their oppressed brethren
might fight their own wars, and endure their own perils for them. And what was the consequence ] A vuice from heaven said, "Curse ye Meroz; curse ye bitterly the inhabitants of Meroz ; because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty." They were not opponents; but our Lord has stated precisely in the same terms — " He that is not with me is against me." Neutrality, beloved, is here quite impossible : we are one thing or the other; we are Christians, or we are enemies to Christ.
Let us, therefore, see, brethren, that we live up to these privileges. And the apostle explains, in another case, the kind of punishment such individuals often receive : " Receiving in themselves the recompense of their error, which was meet." They "received in themselves the recompense of their error, which was meet." Can there be a greater punishment than to be given up to an indifferent, covetous, hardened state of mind 1
O, to have it said to a man, " Let him alone," must, of all the terrors which God can pour upon an individual on this side hell, be the worst. See it exemplified in Judas ; see it exemplified in Saul ; sec it exemplified in Demas. Let us dread the brink of such a precipice, the approach to such a fearful state as this. " From all hardness of heart towards our sufifering, miserable brethren, good Lord deliver us."
But, beloved, we hope better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. Your very presence here this evening intimates a contrary spirit. You have come, it is true, with the earnest desire to hear what might be said, relative to the various openings which are about to be made, or which arc making, or which are already made, for the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In many cases, perhaps, the want of the knowledge has been the result of the want of liberality on your part. The subject, perhaps, has not
i)een sufiicienlly presonied bi-forn you, and you have not therefore thought of it. You are saying this evening, "Jesus,
THE BRITISH PULPIT.
what shall I do to show how much I love thy charming name 1" The text would, in the last place, suggest the conduct
WHICH you ought TO ADOPT UNDER PRKSENT CIRCUMSTANCES. " Let US go," the text says, "and tell the king's household." And, brethren, let us go and carry the gospel to our poor brethren and sisters in Enirland that are perishing for lack of knowledge. Beloved, our brethren are perishing; and will you be kind enough
this evening to look steadfastly at their condition. I do not wish you to look merely at the exterior; their drunkenness, and their vices, and their prodigality, are, perhaps, very distressing: but I wish you to look further than these things ; I wish you to look at the cause of all this : and the cause of all this is, that they are without God, and they are without Christ, and they are witiiout hope in the world. If tliey would go, as they should go, to Christ, the cause of all their evils would instantly be banished. They are famishing not for bread made of the finest of the whe, t; our flax, our wool, and our wine they want not: and if they were dying of famine, if they had but Christ's love in their hearts, why famine would only be a nearer road to immortality : it would be like going across the iield, instead of going the long way round by the road. But they are perishing for lack of the bread of life; are dying for want of the water of life ; are thirsting for pardon, and they know not where it is to be had. And though
some of them, perhaps, reject it ; and when your missionaries go to their doors, and say, " We come to tell you about the Saviour," they say, " We do not want to hear it; we want neither you nor your doctrine :" will you say, " Let them alone in their ignorance 1" That be far from you. Look at that maniac : does he ask you to come and help himl Does he beg you to take off his fetters'? Does he say, "Set me at liberty]" No: he dances in his chains; ho calls his fetters his ornaments; he looks out of the window of his cell, and he talks about his inheritance ; he lifts up his walkingstick, and tells you it is a sceptre ; he points to the seat on which he sits, and
tells you it is his throne. Do you pity him the less because he is under a delusion ; because he is ignorant] Ono; the very circumstances of the poor maniac awaken your tender sympathies, and you pour over him, on account of his igno-
rance and his delusion, your warmest and most tender feelings. I have sometimes been at a funeral, where the dear infants have lost their dearest earthly relation — their tender mother; and I have seen them pleased with their black clothes, and playing with them, and running about the room with apparent delight that they had got these new habiliments : and many a sigh from the company present had issued from the mouth as they said, "Ah, dear little children! you do not know what you have lost." Do you pity them the less because they are ignorant, because they do not know the value of the person they have lost] No: you sympathize with them, and pour out your souls in prayer for them.
And this is the very case with our countrymen; many of them reject the truth, and despise the truth : and that very consideration should awaken the tenderest sympathies of your heart, to send them more fully the gospel of our God. O beloved, they are perishing;
they are perishing for lack of knowledge ; and that should awaken j'our sympathy. Why, you have sixty agents in your work ; and you have four hundred villages ; and you have about thirteen thousand hearers ; and you have four thousand Sabbath-school children. I bless God that you have : but when you think that there are many villages, and many stations, where, for the compass of twenty miles round that station, it is impossible to hear the word of life preached, let it awaken your sympathies, and your earnest desires, and your liberalit)" too, to send them the gospel. O let us tell them that the victory is gained ; that the pardon is offered, that salvation is presented, and that Christ bids every sinner come and partake of the bounties of his love and his salvation for ever. So shall you have, dear hearers, " the blessing of them that were ready to perish" come upon you.
THE LEPERS OF SAMARIA.
It suggests, in the second place, that we should go and tell of these glad, tidings, because success is certain. Success is certain. What though many of your dear missionaries, who toil night and day in the work, have not had the extended encouragement of their heart's desire which you could wish — will you give up] Brethren, the London Missionary Society spread the table of the gospel, with all its provisions, for fifteen years in Otaheite, and not one soul was converted by the preaching of the gospel, as was known to the missionaries, during that time. But the day of Christ's power was to come : lo, a nation, as it were, was born in a day: a revival took place; God came down, dispersed all the mists of
darkness, and pointed the sinners' conscience to the salvation. "He must increase:" not only his kingdom shall come ; but he must increase : " he shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied :" he " will pour out his Spirit upon all flesh, and all flesh shall see the salvation of our God." If we had been entirely defeated in this cause, defeat in this would be better than success in any other. But we are not defeated. It is true that now and then a little drop of divine influence descends on the congregation, and our brother is pricked to the heart ; and our sister feels the power of the truth ; and our mother is awakened to seriousness; and our father comes home with conviction on his conscience; and our neighbour is alarmed for his state. But presently a greater work than this shall be seen: when the Spirit of God shall be poured out from on high, then numbers shall wake and cry out, " What must we do to be saved ]" Brethren, your heavenly Leader has gone up before you: he has taken all the princi-
pal places, all the forts and towers of the enemy ; and he bids you, " Follow me :" lie says, "Tiiere is inucii land yet to be possessed ;" and he calls on you, and says, " Why arc yo slack to go and partake of this land; why are yo slack! Why do yo not go up and plant tho stand-
ard of the cross upon the soil, and claim it for me]" Why, because our hearts are cold ; and because our souls do not listen to the glorious tidings of the conquests of that Saviour, which are now to be presented upon the earth.
Dear hearers, when you tiiink, then, that success is certain, that every guinea you give to the cause of God shall be, as it were, a seed dropped — the very mite given into the treasury, shall go towards furnishing the gospel of God to the poor and the miserable among your own countrymen — whilst you think Christ has bound himself, by oath and promise, to
bless every effort made ; let this stimulate you again to renew your efforts, again to desire that the glory of the Lord may be revealed, that all your kindred may see his gospel.
Finally, brethren, let us fnrnish this gospel to our countrymen, for our opportunities are vanishing. Time is hastening on ; health is inconstant; the fiishion of the world passeth away. This, this is the only time we can use our strength, and talents, and time, and money. Give, therefore, this evening, as if this were the last act of your lives; as if you were about to stand at the bar of Jesus Christ, and to be judged for the deeds done in the body. Let the truths that you have heard impress your mind : and now, at the cry of this one hundred and sixty thousand who are annually dying, and of the five millions who are without the gospel, and the four hundred and fifty daily who are waking in eternity without God and without hope ; now, whilr their cry is ringing in your ears, and while the
Spirit of God is speaking through his word, now arm yourselvt-s agaijist all selfisiiness, and ag;iinsl all covetousness, and let the love of Christ take an entire hold of your spirit.
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