« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
little else than a record of injustice, of fraud, of violence, and of misery These are the legitimate fruit of that spirit which has dominion over natural men. The circumstances of mankind have been different. Their habits and their religions have varied. One age has been marked by extreme ignorance, another by the light of science; but, in all ages, and in all conditions, mankind have exhibited the most incontestible evidence of the alienation of their hearts from God.
But as far as the gospel prevails, and its spirit is cherished, men will be disposed to lay the interests of others in an even balance with their own. Hence its influence
peace and happiness of mankind must be salutary. There can be no unhappy clashing of interests in a community, where a spirit of disinterestedness becomes a prevailing excitement to action. The spirit of the gospel is a spirit of justice. It is good will. It takes delight in bestowing a favor on him that dwells in the humblest cottage, and even upon an enemy; or it expands itself to all sensitive beings within the compass of its perception. Such a spirit diffused through a community would make them all feel that they have a common interest, and dispose them to seek the greatest advancement of that interest. Says Wilberforce, “ It resembles majestic rivers that are poured from an unfailing source. They begin by dispensing comfort to every cottage by which they pass. In their further progress they unite kingdoms. At length they pour themselves into the ocean, where, changing their name but not their nature, they visit distant nations, and spread throughout the world the tide of their beneficence." Such is the spirit which constitutes the glory of God. 66 God is love." He is pure, impartial, universal good will. The same spirit all holy beings possess. Love is the bond by which they are held together, and all their efforts are directed to the same ultimate end. They all feel interested in the same objects, and derive their blessedness from the same
There must be perfect union, and perfect blessedness among those who love each other as themselves. Let this spirit have its practical influence among mankind, and no root of bitterness can ever spring up to trouble them,
The direct tendency of the gospel is to conform the heart and life to the will of God. Fix your eye upon that man who possesses the spirit of the gospel, and you will see something more than benevolence in theory; the very thing itself will be exemplified in his public and private conduct. Everything belonging to time and sense will appear subordinated to what pertains to the glory of God and the advancement of his cause. He who feels the spirit of the gospel, will manifest a paramount regard to the will of God, whatever personal losses he may be called to sustain, or whatever scoffs he may endure as the consequence. Whatsoever thing is lovely and of good report; if there be any virtue, or any praise, the gospel tends to produce it. Are men in a state of ruinous alienation from God? Do they stand condemned by his law as transgressors? It is the gospel only that can redeem them. It is this, only, that by destroying the power of sin in the heart, can restore men to the favor, and prepare them for the service and enjoyment of God.
4. It is the spirit of true benevolence which will give rise to the great and persevering efforts which are requisite to the universal spread of the gospel.
That the gospel will spread over the face of the whole world, there is no room to doubt. For it is written,
The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the seas.” John in the spirit of prophecy writes, “I saw an angel fly through the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” It is said, “ All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.” By Daniel it is said, “ The kingdom and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” By these prophetic declarations we are assured, that the gospel will spread, and exert its proper influence among the nations of the earth. But, since the gospel is to be extended by human instrumentality, it needs but a small acquaintance with the present state of the nations of the earth, to foresee, that the predictions of the Bible on this subject, cannot be fulfilled without great and persevering effort on the part of the church. Satan, who is called the god of this world, has hitherto deluded most of the nations, and is still successful in turning them away from the service and favor of God. Far the greater portion of mankind are led captive by him at his will." In what heathenish superstition and wickedness, are four hundred millions involved! Half as many Jews and Mohammedans are sunk, if possible, into a more hopeless condition. And what multitudes, in those portions of the earth, on which the light of the gospel has shined, and in which its wells of salvation have been opened, are still ignorant of its saving power. A moral darkness covers the earth. To dissipate this darkness, to chase away the delusions of man, to counteract this widely extended influence of Satan, to deliver a world from the dominion of ignorance and sin, by bringing them to the knowledge, and love, and enjoyment of the living and true God, requires a vast system of means carried forward by a spirit of holy, untiring benevolence.
5. The truly benevolent cannot but contemplate with gratitude the indications in divine Providence, of the speedy and universal extension of the gospel.
The means which are now in operation, have a favorable aspect in regard to the spread of the gospel, and the deliverance of the nations from the bondage of sin and Satan. The establishment of numerous Missionary Societies, Bible Societies, Education Societies, Tract Societies, the means employed to rend the vail from the minds of the Jews, to put an end to slavery, together with the large accessions that are made to the churches, are among the most prominent indications in divine Providence, that,
“Six thousand years of sorrow, have well nigh
Fulfilled their tardy and disastrous course
Before a calm that rocks itself to rest." Who will not rejoice, that wherever man resides, thither, by human agency, the blessings of redemption, by the blood of Jesus Christ, are to be extended. Let us not forget, however, that the means employed in this enterprize of benevolence, have no independent efficiency; that it is not to be supposed they will overcome the ignorance, and prejudice, and enmity of the human heart, by their own power. “ Not by might, nor by power, but my Spirit, saith the Lord.” Here is revealed the only basis of our hopes, in regard to the triumph of the gospel. How soon would the benevolent operations of this distinguished age languish, and come to nothing, were it not that they stand in connection with an invisible power, that is able to overcome the strongest prejudice, and soften the most obdurate heart ? How surely, would the millions of the human race, remain in delusion and wickedness, and fall into endless ruin ? · But the promise of God, that the whole earth shall be filled with his glory, together with the expression of his pleasure, that his promise shall be fulfilled by human instrumentality, is a sufficient foundation for the fullest confidence, that these plans of benevolence shall not languish, but increase yet more and more; and that, ere long, God will display " the riches of his glory, and the exceeding riches of his grace," in restraining the aboundings of wickedness and misery, and in preparing a world of rebels for his praise.
“Oh scenes surpassing fable, and yet true;
Scenes of accomplished bliss! which who can see,
PUBLISHED BY THE
AMERICAN DOCTRINAL TRACT SOCIETY.
PERKINS & MARVIN, AGENTS,
THE PRAYER OF FAITH.
Prayer is an unspeakable privilege. By it imperfect men are permitted to have power with God, and to exert a prevailing influence in obtaining blessings for themselves and for their fellow men. The instances of this, recorded in the holy Scriptures, are numerous, and full of encouragement to Christians. But it is not every prayer, so called, that is acceptable with God. The prayers of the wicked are an abomination. It is essential to right prayer that it be made in faith ; not only faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, through whom alone sinful men can have access to the Father, but faith in God, an unwavering confidence in him. • Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering." It becomes, then, an inquiry of great importance, What is the faith necessary to prevailing prayer ? As different answers have been given to this inquiry, and as a mistake on this subject must be one of great magnitude, and might lead to other mistakes affecting the foundation of the whole Christian system, it is the object of the writer of this Tract to explain what is the faith necessary to prevailing prayer, and to point out some mistakes into which he thinks many are in danger of falling.
The Lord Jesus was pleased to represent the readiness of our Heavenly Father to hear and answer the prayers of his people, by the readiness of an earthly parent to give good things to his children, when they ask him. The comparison here instituted is full of instruction. Dutiful and affectionate children, in going to a wise and good earthly parent to present their petitions, would do it with reverence, according to the true spirit of the fifth commandment, and not with any such familiarity as might be allowable in approaching their equals. They would remember that they go to ask for favors, and not to claim their rights, favors which the parent may grant or withhold, at his pleasure. If they had been disobedient to a good father, they would go with deep humility.