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People, than any other institution of which she can boast.
. We shall now conclude this discourse with stating to you the cause why so few, comparatively, co-operate in these sacred designs. Many, it is probable, are ig. norant of their existence : some may be supposed, without any culpable motives, tó question their expedi. ency: but the greater part, it is feared, are restrained by a state of mind which we cannot sufficiently condemn and deplore. It is not because they do not believe in Christianity, generally ; but because they are strangers to Christ's spiritual religion. They have seen the light of civilization, but they have not seen the “ Light of Life ;” and this is the great and important distinction on which the happiness of the soul depends. This was the great distinction in the time of the Apostle Paul ; for even in the day of his ministration, the Gospel was hid from some. « If our Gospel be Hid," saith he, “it is hid to them that are lost, 2 Cor. iv. 3. If then the light was hid from some when he preached, with a divine energy, and with the demonstration of miracles, shall we wonder that it is hid from some in our day?
There is nothing, my Brethren, worth living for, of equal importance with the diffusion of this light. We must all meet again at a future day, in a larger Assembly than the present, when we shall behold HIM who hath said, “ I am the light of the world.” Let every one of us, then, “ BEAR WITNESS to the light ;" by contributing, according to his ability, to its extension throughout the world : If the Christian Revelation be from God, to give that Revelation to the heathen world is the first duty of a Christian nation. If there be a inajority of our nation who do not acknowledge this duty, the case is not different from what it ever hath been. When the Apostle Paul went forth to evange. lize the world, men accounted him to be « beside himself.” Now we have stronger encouragement to attempt the conversion of the heathen world at this day, than the Apostle had, in the first age ; for we have seen that their conversion is PRACTICABLE. We only meditate to do that a second time which hatli been once
done already. And we know that the same Divine Spirit which was with him, “ will abide in the world forever.” Men were not converted then, merely by the sight of a miracle : but by the Grace of God. And the same Grace is promised to us.
But there is another consideration. Do we not hear the command of Christ ? " Go ye and teach all nations.” If we are sure that this is Christ who speaketh to us, let us not « confer with flesh and blood.” If there be any man who is swayed by the opinion of the multitude, he “is not worthy of Christ. «He that taketh not his cross and followeth after me," saith our Lord, “is not worthy of me: and he that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me.” No man can follow Christ in the sense here intended, who cannot follow the example of Enoch and Noah, and believe God and not man: Let us, therefore, press forward in faith, and « serve God in our generation," contented to do a little, where much cannot be done. Some of the disciples of our Lord, whom he addressed as the Light of the World," left the world very shortly afterwards :* but, like Jobn the Baptist, whose race was also short, they shone as “burning lights” during their appointed season. So let us shine.
Yet a little while and “the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him ; and be. fore him shall be gathered all nations." Then shall the adversaries of the truth be abashed and confounded, when they shall hear him say to the Redeemed out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation," (some of whom, they had said, could never believe in Christ) COME, YE BLESSED! Then shall they strike their breasts and say, “ Destroyers of our own souls! we could not believe the word of God. But our doom is just. We believed Satan and promoted his designs, and laboured for his glory : and we opposed the work of God, and obstructed the Gospel of Christ, and ruined the souls of men. Our condemnation is just; and now we must go with the “ Prince of Darkness" whom we served upon earth; and now
* Stephen and James.
we must hear the terrible sentence, “ Depart ye curse ed into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels,” Matt. XXV, 41.
My Brethren, “ Heaven and earth shall pass away; but the words of Christ shall not pass away," Mati. xxiv, 35.
Let us, then, with true affection for the souls of our brethren, earnestly supplicate a merciful God who willeth not the death of a sinner, that he would send forth his Light and his Truth to convert their hearts and enlighten their understandings, in this their day of life and hope ; that so they may unite with his people in endeavouring to do his will on earth, as it is in hear. en; “teaching all nations to observe all things whatso. ever Christ hath commanded us,” Matt. xxviii, 20.
And now, with one voice, and with true faith, let us ascribe to God the FATHER, who loved us before the world was : and to God the Son, who redeemed us by his blood; and to God the Holy Ghost, who hath sanctified us and « made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light," all blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, for ever and ever. Amen.
" IN THE BEGINNING, GOD created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And God said, Let there be Light; and there was Light.” In these first words of Revelation, we read how God gave light to the NATURAL world. But he is also the author of spiritual light; and by the same almighty Fiat, he dispelled the darkness of the MORAL world. For, « when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son,” who is “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person ;" and he said unto the Church, which was to be illuminated by him, 66 Arise, shine, for thy light is come;" Is. Ix. 1. and « the people which sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, saw a GREAT LIGHT,” Mat. iv. 16.
Now the Scriptures mark a certain analogy between the creation of natural and of spiritual light; and shew that both are produced by an exertion of the same Almighty power. “ For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our HEARTS, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ," 2 Cor. iv. 6.
Under the authority of this analogy we may be permitted to inquire, which is the grandest display of the Divine power, the creation of natural or of spiritual light ? the production of the sun, which shines in the firmament, or spiritual illumination by him, who is called “ the Sun of Righteousness : connected as it is with those stupendous events in heaven and earth, " which angels desire to look into ;' the incarnation of the Dei.
ty; the passion, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Mediator; the coming of the Holy Ghost; the gift of Tongues : the promulgation of the Gospel; and the liberation of millions of souls from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God? Doubtless, the glory of the spiritual dispensation far transcends that of the natural creation, both in the importance of its effects, and in the extent of its duration.
Let this, then, be our subject, to contemplate the spiritual illumination which comes by Jesus Christ; who, when the world was in darkness, « brought life and immortality to light by the Gospel.” Of the diffusion of this heavenly Light, we shall notice three distinct Eras. ; I. The first Era is that of the Promulgation of the Gospel by CHRIST himself.
II. The second is the Era of the REFORMATION; when, after that the Christian world had again sunk into darkness, and passed a long night of SUPERSTITION, the beams of truth broke forth with renewed splendor.
III. A third Era of Light is the PRESENT PERIOD. The Reformed Church, after preserving its purity as long, perhaps, as the primitive Church, began to suffer a general declension, and was in danger of being utterly oyerthrown by INFIDELITY. A decorous external profession was indeed observed ; and in our own Church, « the form of sound words” was retained ; but the spirit and power of religion had very generally de. parted. By many persons the spiritual influence of the Gospel was not even acknowledged. The effusion of the Divine Spirit was not believed to exist in any measure or degree, but was considered as something which was confined to the first age of the Church. But now the vital spirit of our religion hath revived, and is producing the fruits of the first century. Christianity hath assumed its true character, as “the Light of the world." The Holy Scriptures are multiplying with.. out number. Translations are preparing in almost all languages; and Preachers are going forth into almost every region, “to make the ways of God known upon carth, his saving health among all nations."