dom, more particularly on the subject of slavery, how far we ought to go, and what precise course we ought to adopt. This subject I mention here, not for the purpose of discussing it, for this is not the place, but because it is a great and difficult subject, and many and perhaps all the friends of this cause have come together feeling that it must press as a peculiar burden upon this meeting of the Board. God forbid that this Board should not as. sume fully every burden on this subject which the God of missions would lay upon them. I hope, and believe, it is their desire to do so. God forbid that they should do any thing to counte. nance or to sustain the curse of slavery, or that in their own on. ward movement they should create backwater that would retard the vessel freighted with any other benevolent enterprise. But then, on the other hand, there are evils equally obvious, and perhaps equally great, which must ensue if this Body should turn aside from its appropriate work, if elements should enter permanently into its discussions and counsels which must, in a body constituted like this, become the elements of distraction, and of disaster to the heathen world, but which might be appropriately and successfully controlled by organizations formed for the purpose, and be combined to issues that should be for the glory of God, and the good of the slave.

And while there are these dangers on the one hand and on the other, such as nothing but the wisdom and grace of God can enable us to avoid, the heart bleeds at the thought that in a day like this, Christian brethren cannot agree to labor together in sending the gospel of peace and love to the heathen. That in this day when divisions are extending so widely; when the dragon of popery is pursuing the church wherever she goes into the wilderness of heathenism, and stands ready to devour every child of her missions that may be born; when the malaria that comes up from his seat is borne on every breeze across the ocean, and is begin. ning here and there to render thick and stilling the free air to which we were born; when the missionaries are struggling and dying in the field for want of help; when the whole heathen world is open to us, and from its length and its breadth the Macedonian cry comes up; when it does seem as if, if we all would but unitedly put our shoulders under this ark of God-for under this dispensation he has made us all priests unto him—and bear it for. ward, the Jordan of our difficulties would open before us, and we might go in and possess the promised land-that in such a day, there should be danger that that union which is strength should be dissolved, that on any ground, those who have labored, and have loved to labor together in this good cause, should fall out by the way and bring reproach on the cause of Christ in the sight of the heathen, and of those who watch for our halting, is a thought that cannot fail to be as a heavy burden upon every heart that loves the cause of God. May that God who has hitherto interposed in behalf of this cause, prevent it.

But whatever the burdens now resting upon us may be, I may remark here, that probably they will not, as a whole, be less in tine to come. There are some who suppose that we are on the borders of the millennium, and that obstacles are to give way of themselves--that as the church begins to move upon the old strong holds and fortresses of sin, she will find them dismantled, and the gates wide open, and those who had hitherto defended them, waiting with open arms to receive her. But that law under which the love that would reclaim men and bring them back to God was of old espoused to struggle and suffering, has not been repealed, and is not likely to be in our day. The great adversary of God and man is not asleep; and we may be sure, if some fortresses seem to be weakened or abandoned, and some batteries to be quiet, that it is because there are masked batteries preparing, and mines duy, and trains laid, it may be under our very feet. He must have read history and man to little purpose, and know little of the deep-seated opposition of this world to the cross of Christ, and his simple and spiritual religion, who sees any thing in the improve. ments or enlightenment, or in what is called the liberality of the 19th century, which is to prevent the fires of persecution, and the agonies and triumphs of martyrdom. He must have looked upon passing events with but a listless eye, who has not seen indications that such things are on their way. Some of these are to be found in the tendency to unchecked democracy, and the spirit of mobs; in the prevalence of infidelity; in the increase and power of popery; and in the relations of these to each other.

There is evidently a kind of worship of democracy, and even an endeavor on the part of some to identify it with Christianity, without reference to the materials of which it is composed. But while a democracy in which every man should obey God, and love his neighbor as himself, wonld be well; an infidel and atheistic democracy, nianifesting, as it certainly would, the animalism of the brute with the art and malignity of the fiend, would give us the most vivid image of hell upon earth of which we can conceive. That there is, through the prevalence of this spirit, a gradual lowering down of authority, and loosening of restraint, and ten. dency to mobs, and a feeling of insecurity, cannot be denied; and than such a spirit, not all the art this side the pit, no, nor in it, could have devised a more appropriate agency to be made ready to the hands of the jesuit, by which, in the very name, and under the guise of liberty, he might heave from its base, and cause to go down in a sea of anarchy and blood that standing point, which, in the name of humanity, we had reached-that nov stw which we fondly hoped we had found, where we could place the lever that should lift a fallen world to freedom and to God. This Rome and


despotism well understand, and they are pouring in the materials of which mobs are made. Then there is the spirit of infidelity in its various forms, more extensive than many suppose. There is the coarse and brutal infidelity of ignorance and vice, that band. ages its own eyes, and under the goad of passion, rushes into sin as the horse into the battle; then there is the more refined and plausible infidelity that would fain pluck leaves from the tree of science to cover its nakedness; and then there is that, perhaps not less dangerous and unvenomed, which may be found coiled up under the broad robe of latitudinarian charity with which some Christian sects choose to cover themselves; and between this too, in whatever form, and popery, it will yet be found that there is a deep affinity. They have need of each other. It is upon such forms as those of popery, that in those hours of misgiving which it always bas, infidelity loves to pillow its head ; and then, with her penances and superstitions, the arch-sorceress well knows how to drug into stupidity the little conscience it had left, and, in the name of God, to put into its hand the dagger of persecution with which to stab the vitals of liberty and true religion. And when we remember how rapidly popery is increasing, and that it has lost vone of its art, or of its blood-thirsty spirit, we cannot fail to feel how ominous it is that, on such a wonderful theatre, these three elements are beginning to come into such close and extraordinary contact. It would not be surprising if, as they mingle, scenes should be revealed which may find a parallel only in the French revolution. And then, when we remember the materials of hate between the native and foreigner, between the capitalist and the laborer, and hear the low growl of agrarianism ; when we remember sectional jealousies and the distracting relations of slavery; and see how easily the standard of a civil and a servile war might be unfurled, we cannot feel the burden that rests upon the church in reference to the cause of Christ here, or in foreign lands, is likely to be diminished in our day. No; it will be increased. The call for prayer, and contributions, and effort, will be more and more urgent, till, under the pressure of such a burden, we can only go and cast it upon the Lord.

And this, fathers and brethren, I now invite you to do. Your burden is great. To you the churches are looking, to you the missionaries, to you the heathen. Upon you are dependant thousands and tens of thousands for the bread of life, and from stations upon which the sun never sets, that gleam amid the darkness of heathenism, along the continents and the islands of the sea, they turn their eyes to you, and they beseach you, by the love and ex. ample of Christ, not to “ fail or to be discouraged till judgment shall be set in the earth, and the isles shall wait for his law. But great as the burden is, cast it upon the Lord, and he shall sustain you.

I cannot but think that in this simple principle of taking up just the burden that God would lay upon us, and then casting it upon Him, we find our true position—the only position of true dignity, of usefulness and peace. Thus doing, it is evident that the simpler and more spiritual is our object, the less embarrassed and the more efficient may be our action. But whatever object we may feel bound to adopt, we shall never become committed to any thing but to the cause of God. Thus shall we be saved both embarrassment and disappointment. We shall never become committed to any former course of action. Our prejudices and pride of con. sistency we shall sacrifice before this principle. Dear as this Board is to us, we shall not be committed to it, except as its cause s the cause of God. Dear and cherished as other objects may be, we shall not wish to press them here, except as by so doing, we may promote the cause of God. This principle will teach us where to yield, and where to be firm; and while we are careful to take up each one his own burden, it will lead us also, in meekness and forbearance, to bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Thus doing, the embarrassments and complications that grow out of selfishness and pride, and a desire to promote personal objects will be removed, and we shall all hear the one voice of the Captain of our salvation, as he leads his hosts to the conflict, saying, "FOLLOW ME."

Fathers and brethren, in thus calling upon you to cast your burden upon the Lord, I cannot forget that I am speaking to those who have long known what it is to bear burdens, and to cast them upon Him-yes, and to be sustained, too. I speak to some upon whom the burden of this cause lay in its infancy. Do you remember, venerable men, how heavily it pressed upon you then, when you had small means, and no experience, and all was dark ? And where did you go? Do you reinember when you saw the sails expand and lessen in the distance, that bore the first missionaries from these shores? And where did you go then? Do you remember when your missionaries seemed to be shut out from the whole heathen world? And where did you go then? Do you remember, fathers and brethren, more recent days of darkness, and how you went to God, and how he removed you out of a strait in. to a large place, and compassed you about with songs of deliverance? Do you remember the darkness that might be felt when the commercial pressure was on the nation, and when, as the burden was rolled upon God in prayer, his Spirit came down into the special meeting, and made the place as Goshen, where there was light? Did we ever, in all the history of this Board, cast our burden upon the Lord, and find his promise fail? No, never; and we never shall.

To thee, then, O thou God of missions, according to thy command, we unitedly come and plead thy promise. This is not our

cause, but thine. Thou knowest perfectly the burden that is pressing upon us in bearing it forward. That burden we cast upon thee. SUSTAIN THOU US.-Amen.


[ocr errors]


Rightly dividing the word of truth."--2 Tim. ii. 15. The passage from which the text is taken decides for the gospel minister what he shall preach, and how he shall preach; and bids him bring up all the faculties of his mind, and the affections of his heart, to the performance of the duty. “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth ‘not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

To meet this demand, the minister must pray much--and study much-and think much. He is bound to conform in all things to the Bible, but that bond imposes no fetters on the intellect.

The solemn obligation which the text imposes on every minister of the gospel rightly to divide the word of truth, is seen in the important results which it produces.

1. It alarms the sinner.

Impenitent sinners are so much absorbed in their attention to "the things that perish,” that, if left to the influence of their own propensities and pursuits, they would never wake up, and flee from the wrath to come. Dealing with them at a distance, through labored essays upon the excellence of virtue, or the general odiousness of vice, where timid and feeble appeals, if any at all, are made to the conscience, does not meet the desperate exigencies of their condition. Their immortal souls are soon to lose their bold upon the privileges of probation, and go away into eternity, with all the awful issues of the judgment dependant upon their moral character. With all their frailty and responsibility, they manifest an inherent repugnance to the message of salvation, and even when partially aroused by its light and conviction, tending back again to the slumbers of sin and moral death. Oh! the messenger sent by God to warn them, must be in earnest. The solemn and searching declarations of the Bible are the only means he can use to save them ; let him determine therefore to seek the heart and conscience, if possible, to lodge the truth so deeply there, that the soul cannot rest under its pungent

« ForrigeFortsett »