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strength, and filling the firmament with his glory? balance him against the soul of the most degraded? Weigh both in the balances of unerring truth; and which is the most momentous ? That sun has no consciousness of its existence; it knows not its origin or its destiny; nor is the period remote when its glory shall be quenched, and itself shall have passed away, even as the morning vapour which it now exhales from the face of the firmament But the most humiliated soul, which we can poise against the lamp of heaven, has a consciousness of its existence—has faculties which, if developed to perfection, might approximate it, nay, might equalize it to the angels of God—has a being that shall survive the extinction of the sun, and which, amid the dissolution of the visible universe, shall stand forth in all its indestructibility, then only commencing a career interminable as His who inhabiteth eternity.
Can we, then, brethren, over-estimate man's value? Can we be too much concerned to save the sinner from the error of his ways, and to communicate to him the knowledge of that free salvation, which we have ourselves received ?
Then, secondly, by the loss which every soul that perishes must sustain we ought to be incited to awaken men to their immortal interests. What finite mind can comprehend the joy of which the soul is susce tible, if perfected in all its powers, and filled whith all the fulness of God ? Such will be the inheritance of the saints in light.”
Glorious things are spoken of the portion that awaits them. We are told of a city “which hath foundations," whose streets are gold, whose walls are jasper, whose gates are pearl. We are told of “a pure river of water of life," which flows inexhaustible throughout its borders, while along its banks the trees of life immortal bend beneath their healing fruit. We are told, that the inhabitants shall never say, “I am sick, sorrow and sighing shall flee away, and God himself shall wipe away all tears from all eyes. We are told, that the mortal must put on immortality, and death be swallowed up in victory. We are told, that the city hath no need of the sun to give her light by day, or of the moon by night ; for the Lord is her everlasting light, and her God her glory. In short, brethren, we are told of harps of sweetness, and palms of victory, and robes of whiteness, and crowns of glory, and songs of ceaseless adoration; of fulness of joy and pleasures for evermore. Yet, after all, it is said, that "it doth not yet appear what we shall be;" that
eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the
heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."
Bnt now this, all this is irreparably lost to the sinner, who dies in his sins. O! what a motive is this ! How touching, how overpowering to constrain us to win souls to Christ, and to lead them to the fold of that good Shepherd, who “came that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."
Then, thirdly, by the misery which every soul that perishes must actually endure, we ought to be mightily roused. Here, as before, conception falters and expression fails. Yet how fearful are the figures by which the Scripture shadows forth the torment of the lost. It speaks of the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, of the smoke ascending up for ever and ever. It speaks of the blackness of darkness for ever. It speaks of the worm that dieth not, and of the fire that is not quenched; of weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth. Who can dwell with the devouring fire? who can dwell with the everlasting burnings? And this wretchedness is without mitigation, without intermission, without end? Who can think of it, and not shudder ? Who can dwell upon it, and not feel his heart withered within him?
Nor let it be forgotten, that each individual around you is determining here his immutable lot hereafter. Time is the infancy of eternity, the crisis of immortality, the hinge of everlasting destiny. We are sowing the future harvest, which shall be for ever reaping, and for ever to be reaped. Awfully momentous plunge! there is but the breath in his nostrils between every child of man and the blackness of darkness, or the fulness of joy. “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord,” ought we not to persuade men? Ought we not to compel them to flee from the wrath to come, and to take refuge in the hope set before them in the Gospel ?
Then, again, by the agony and bloody sweat, by the cross and passion, by the precious death and burial of the Lord Jesus, and by the coming of the Holy Ghost, we ought to be zealously affected with a concern for the salvation of others. Would you, my brethren, estimate a fellow-creature as you ought to do? Then recollect the price that has been paid down for his redemption. Realize the thought, that each has been bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. What was the joy set before him," when he stooped from his everlasting throne to the manger, the cross, the sepulchre ? What was the glorious result on which his eye was rivetted, whilst his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood falling down to the
ground, and when, in the extremity of his agony, he exclaimed, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” It was the glory of his Father, in the salvation of a multitude from the fallen family of man--a multitude, countless as the stars of the firmament, or as the drops of morning dew. This was the grand purpose which absorbed his mind on earth, and which still employs him at the right hand of God.
Then, brethren, if sympathy with a friend be indeed the surest evidence of friendship, if to sympathize with his sorrows, and to rejoice in his joys, be the very essence of true fellowship, then it cannot fail, if you are the friends of the Redeemer, if you love him for having loved you, if the same mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus-it cannot fail to follow, that that which he lived, and died, and bled to achieve; that which he lives, and reigns, and ascended, and intercedes, and labours to accomplish, should be the supreme object of your being, that to which you consecrate your lives, and for which you would be willing, if needs be, to lay tłın down.
Nor can encouragement and confidence be wanting, whilst the Captain of our salvation sits on the throne and sways the sceptre of the universe; whilst, as our Advocate with the Father, he is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him ; and whilst that mighty Spirit, who, on the birth-day of the creation, called forth from chaos light, and loveliness, and harmony, vouchsafes his gracious energy to create the soul anew to love and to good works.
Thus, by arguments of a general nature, bearing alike on sinners of every country, and of every kind, I have striven, in the first instance, to enforce the apostolic charge contained in the text.
Suffer me now briefly to direct your thoughts to a few specific arguments, fitted to incite you to pre-eminent effort as MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
The spiritual exigencies of our own beloved country ought greatly to move us. Remote as is the period when Christianity first visited our shores, erected her altars and suspended her lamp among us, it is mournful to reflect that the day is yet to arrive, not only when it shall be said of our whole population that they are in verity Christians, but when it shall be said that they even theoretically possess the knowledge of Christianity. Even since the era of the Reformation, when the clouds of Roman superstition were rolled from out
horizon, and the light of truth beamed upon us with somewhat of its pristine purity, though the church, with little interval, has been unpersecuted from without, she has not thoroughly and universally saturated our whole population with the truth of God. She has slumbered upon her post. She has never discharged herself of the full weight of her responsibility. And the consequence of this supineness has been, that a deep and darkening mass of ignorance and ungodliness has been suffered to accumulate in the bosom of our land, and still remains inert, stagnant, and corrupt.
My brethren, if you only consider how enormously our population has augmented within the last generation, and how utterly inadequate has been the increase of folds for our strayed sheep—when you remember that, if that part of our people, who ought to frequent the ordinances of religion, were to attempt it, there could not be found accommodation (I believe it to be no exaggeration to say) for one half, either within or even without the walls of the Establishment—when you bear in mind, that such a flood of prosperity is flowing in upon this country at this moment, as must necessarily multiply its inhabitants with fourfold rapidity, while at the same time there is no corresponding process going forward for multiplying the means of moral and religious instruction for this vastly augmenting population—there is much in all this, to excite our solemn apprehensions, our ardent prayers, our "enlarged beneficence, and our earnest exertions. It is a startling reflection, that, whilst we have been sending the scriptures of truth and the ambassadors of peace to the remotest corners of the earth (and in so doing we have done right, and I would that we had done it to a hundred fold,) yet it is certainly a startling reflection, that, while we have been taking care to send the Gospel to the heathen abroad, we have sadly neglected the heathen at home. There has been no proportionate aggression upon the atheism, and the profligacy, and the ungodliness of large and extensive districts within our own land. So that it would not be an exaggeration to say, that there are spots, and many of them, to be found in this professedly Christian country, to which something like missionary effort is as intensely needful as to the heathen in foreign lands. Nay, brethren, it is no exaggeration to assert, that, if you sought to discover the blackest specimens of alienation from every thing like religious sentiment, you would have to direct your researches, not to the savage of the frigid, nor to the barbarian of the torrid zone; no, if you wished to discover the blackest specimens of human depravity, you must explore the long forgotten hamlets of England and the recesses of this vast empire. For, investigate where you will among uncivilized nations, you will find, that, however brutalized or abandoned they may be, they yet retain a consciousness of a supernatural Being—some notion of homage due to a superior Power. But there are, in this christianized country, many who know the name of God only to blaspheme it, who never bend the knee in sign of adoration, who have not even an apprehension of a hereafter. It is a fact fully ascertained, that, in many of our large manufacturing districts, there are those who never crossed the threshold of a place of worship, who have never been baptized into the name of Christ, who are absolutely and emphatically godless. And this, you will remember, in the bosom of a land that glories in her sabbaths and her sanctuaries, and to which the eyes of all nations are directed, as the light of the whole earth.
The exigencies being thus extraordinary, it will not suffice to adopt ordinary remedies. We may, and we ought to erect churches in
every destitute locality, to stud our population with heavenpointing spires, and to bid every cottage echo back the sabbathspeaking bell.
And what we do for our country we must do promptly. Popery is on the alert. Infidelity is rampant. The powers of darkness are confederate. There is no room for neutrality. There are no doubtful overshadowings of a tempest, which will work up this country into a stormy ocean, unless the oil of heavenly influence and truth be poured upon the healing waters. There is no other alternative left us. Anarchy, and popery, and infidelity, are not to be put down by legislative enactment, nor by the authority of our rulers, nor by our swords; we must anticipate victory only from the effusion of the Spirit, from the energy of divine truth, and from the irresistible influence of Christian love. Men and brethren, the destinies of our country are vibrating in the balance, and, humanly speaking, it rests with the people of God which side shall preponderate—that which is big with our weal, or that which is heavy with our woe.
But whilst Christians of all denominations among us are called upon to exert themselves, this call is addressed, with a fourfold emphasis, to the faithful children of the Church of England. I am not going to indulge in bigotry, nor to attempt to unchristianize those who dissent from us; I rather take the ground of our high privileges, as constituting the ground of our high responsibility. Now, brethren, it ought never to be forgotten, that the Church of England is the authorized, the professed. and the accredited spiritual