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stitions. In this respect we are inclined to believe that the condition of the missionary who goes forth and speaks for the first time to the heathen, to preach concerning things altogether strange to him, has necessarily, therefore, a different position to occupy from the minister who is to preach Christ among people to whom his message is familiar. In the former case there will be opposition enough in the savage nations with which the man has to encounter; there will be hinderances enough from the strange modes and fashions of their lives; but when he speaks to them, the very novelty of his message will cause it to be fastened on their minds. They may argue against him; they may set themselves to put away his words from them; but at the same time the very newness of the subject will, in some sort, tend to fix it on their attention. The progress he makes among them may be slow, gradual, and almost imperceptible; but we scarcely believe that the missionary can go forth in simplicity of heart, carrying the Gospel in his hand, labouring for souls, ready to spend and be spent, and yet that he should pass many years and find no good result.
But, many a minister hath known, to his heart's bitter sorrow, how he may toil, and how there may be gathered round him a circle of listening people, indifferent and careless; and how he shall proclaim the Gospel day after day, and year after year, and they seem frozen up in a deep and utter apathy of their souls. And wherefore this? Because we believe, in this latter case, that this is a special hinderance; that it is an old subject; there is no novelty. The people have assumed that they participate in the joint stock in the common religion of the land. They have heen baptized in their infancy, and therefore they assume christianity to themselves: they have participated in the external means of grace; sabbaths have been observed by those around them; Bibles have been read, perhaps, in their hearing; therefore they come to the wrong conclusion that they are not and cannot be unconverted. But, perhaps, to the ordinary means of grace, furnished forth through all the towns and villages of an evangelized kingdom, they may have possessed peculiar, and separate, and enlarged privileges. It may be that the minister whom God hath set over them, hath dealt very faithfully, tenderly, and affectionately with their souls: it may be that he hath proclaimed all the message, and in a form the most winning and the most subduing. It may be that they lacked none of those opportunities and means of grace which one would antecedently suppose must so tend to convert them. Yet what hath been the result? Truly, where the Gospel hath been rejected, there are proofs enough of the evil results of such a conditionthe ministry of the word in all faithfulness amongst unchanged hearts. It hath often happened that a minister hath to occupy a parish sphere, perhaps, the most hopeless and destitute which man could take up; a place where the Gospel hath been faithfully preached, and hath been rejected by the people; so that he labours on heartlessly and hopelessly, because he sees that there is no results of the labours of his predecessor who had toiled among the people, and prayed over them, and wept for them, and gone down to his grave broken-hearted because he saw no change; and how shall a new servant of the sanctuary find his way unto their souls ? How shall be make them anxious about Christ? The terrors of the law have been proclaimed among them already, but their hearts have not been broken-up by the ploughshare of conviction. The seed hath been scattered abroad among them, but hath found its way to no fertile furrows. It hath been watered by prayers; the minister hath again and again asked the divine blessing ; but there went up no corresponding prayers from the untouched and unchanged hearts of those to whom he ministers; and he seeth no results. It is as though he had exhausted all the arrows of its weapons, as though there were no arguments he could fetch in from the Bible but hath been familiar to them, and no resources drawn from the tenderness of God's compassion. They have heard it again and again; and by these very repetitions of the plan which God hath formed for man's salvation, their condition hath by each reiteration, and by all these repetitions, their condition hath be
But let us suppose that to all this there has been added something over and above the circumstances of common life-early discipline and education, which appeared at the first sight to tend directly to the changing and the saving of the soul ; let us suppose that even from infancy the mother's heart hath been anxious for her child, that she hath spent her faithful and thoughtful hours in leading him to Jesus ; and as he grew up he was familiar with the observances of a pious household, and the morning and evening prayer were never strange to him, the word of God being expounded by the paternal voice, and listened to with attention by the circle of the family ; and the boy grown up, yet unconverted— baptized with water, but unbaptized by the Spirit-hath submitted to these things, which he could not well avoid during his time of discipline, but eager and glad for his emancipation into the world on which his thoughts and his hopes have been fixed : and we will suppose he has fallen into many a snare, and he has come home spirit-wounded, and bitter remorse laid upon him; and it findeth him out upon his bed of sickness and suffering, where he is reaping the fruit of his sin; and the minister comes to his bed-side: we do believe that the dealing with such a one would be far less hopeful than the dealing with one who had never heard the Gospel. For one should tell him of sin, and how it hath wrought these bitter works, and these miserable results; but all this he heard in his father's house: we tell him of mercy, and the word, one would think, would fall, almost like the sweetness and melody of a familiar voice upon his soul; but it is a thing with which he has been familiar, and it awakens no new thoughts, and enkindles no new feelings within him : they are things he has heard again and again, and therefore, by the very hearing of the Gospel, and by the very re-echoing of its message, by the very bringing the tidings of mercy unto him, while he hath resolutely stood out in the rejection of them, he has made his own condition just in so far more hopeless. And yet God's word is working its result; it shall not return unto him void, but it shall accomplish that which he pleases, and shall prosper in the thing whereto he sent it. It must be either of life or of death ; the preached Gospel must be unto him the “ savour” of the one or of the other.
Now what is contained in that single word, life? Who can comprehend it? We are yet acquainted only with the outskirts of the existence. We know of life only a broken and an isolated fragment. We might take all that is most attractive on earth, all that does most engage the young heart, all the success, and all the glory which were ever enjoyed by the human heart; and we say of all this glory, and all this success, Ichabod ! “Departed glory” is written over all. Nay, we must affirm, concerning the most advanced believer, concerning the man who has made the greatest progress in divine things, who has had the clearest and most intimate communion with Jesus ever enjoyed on earth—he yet knows not the meaning of the word; he yet understands not what life is. The prisoner in the deep dungeon might listen with delight to words that told him of liberty, and hope, and free companionship, and
communion with familiar nature, and the bright morning sun, and the quiet evening shade ; and his imagination should be wrought, and his heart would be gladdened, and he would seem almost to present unto himself a perfect portraiture of that whereon his hopes were fixed. But when the day cometh that his prison-door is unlocked, and his fetters are removed, and he goes forth to breathe the free breath of heaven on the mountain-top, and to look abroad on the scenes whereon the hopes of his earliest years were fixedO, then he sees that imagination never rose to the truth, and that the pleasant dreams of his heart, in the days of his captivity, never half told him of the delight and the blessedness which he now experiences.
Even so is it with the believer now. He is in the prison-house, from which he is not and shall not be set free till death, and his soul evermore fretteth herself against the bars of her cage. But God doth not let such an one be spirit-broken, does not let his heart be crushed; but tells of future times; tells him of a brighter and better state, where sin shall be known no more, and where sorrow shall never set its foot: and, by and bye, when God takes him out of his imprisonment, and brings him into the land of liberty and light, all the anticipation wherewith he hath sustained his mourning spirit was as nothing; for “ Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” We tell you this for your comfort: we tell you this because we do believe that to some of you the preached Gospel is the “ savour of life unto life.”
But we have to speak of death : and concerning this we have as little power of giving information as concerning life. It is not the mere breaking-up of the tie that bindeth the material and the spiritual nature; this we do conceive: but it is the second death; the extinction of hope, but not the annihilation of being. It is the destituteness of the heart; the desolation in which the condemned shall live for ever, when they have launched upon the ocean of dark waters, to which there is no shore. Now, when we look on the departed, the mantle of mortality spread over them, the composed limbs, and the quenched light of the eyes, we do say “ Weep not for the dead.” If they “died in the Lord,” there is hope, there is peace, and there is joy; there is the angels' song, and the martyr's crown; there is the companionship of the blessed for those. But we speak of that concerning which there is no comfort, and for which no redemption has been provided, which is to last onward and onward : and we beseech you by these things, if there be death, if there be the sentence of righteous condemnation against the sinner. God hath provided a Saviour: “ seek him while he may be found ; call upon him while he is near.'