« AnteriorContinuar »
mankind, and to reduce the powers and ramparts of Satan into a level with the riches of Christ.
Now ministers are not only to teach and preach to them who will come, but they are to go to those who will not come. They are not only to invite people to come to the temple, but they are to go to their houses" in every house they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus Christ." When the Saviour ordered his disciples to preach his Gospel, he did not say, "Now you go to Jerusalem, and stand up there, and preach in my name; and send messengers all round the country, telling them to come and hear you illustrate the Gospel of the grace of God." No; but he said, "Go into all the world; take the Gospel to them, and let them be benefited by this aggressive system of the power of divine truth." Therefore the more humble disciples went from house to house; they conversed with the people, told them their moral guilt, shewed them the preciousness of the Saviour, exhibited the fulness and freeness of redeeming love, and the blessedness of believing in Christ.
And such must be our plan; and such is the plan of THE CITY MISSION. Many people stay from public worship, not from vice, but from habit-many from ignorance, many from prejudice, many from indifference, and many other reasons connected with their state. Now to these the messenger of mercy from this society must go, warning them, as Lot warned his daughter and sonsin-law, and telling them to come out of the city: they are to go wherever they can, and to draw the bow at a venture: who can tell but that the message will be made effectual to their salvation and their comfort?
Finally, I have to show you THE CONSTANCY OF APOSTOLICAL MINISTRATION. "Daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus Christ." At this Pentecostal season, when we look at the Acts of the apostles, we suppose that every thing was done by divine influence: and objectors are telling us, that that was a remarkable time, and that it was by divine influence men were converted. Doubtless all that is the truth; no soul will ever be converted without divine influence, but we must not look slightly at means: means must have their proper place as well as divine influence. If I look at one of the reservoirs of the New River Company, I expect that there must be pipes to convey that water to individuals. If I take the water to drink it will refresh me; but if I want it at my house I must have a pipe to convey it. Now ministers are the channels through which divine influence flows; and the means of grace are the pipes through which this influence flows to us. It was in the use of the means that such influence was bestowed in apostolic times, and such wonders wrought: to thousands they preached, and thousands were taught; they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus Christ. Only let the same means now be put in operation. Three thousand were converted on the day of Pentecost, and five thousand a few days after. Now let eight thousand souls in this great metropolis be alive to a sense of salvation, and let every man and woman among the eight thousand think they have not done a day's work unless they have attempted to convert a soul, unless they have entered a house, and made a direct attack upon some poor sinner who had lived in sin, and had let fall the battering-ram of truth against the wall of their prejudices; what a different scene would London present if individuals in the church of Christ were only active, in proportion to apostolic
and primitive times! This is the great thing we want, and what this Society attempts to supply. The Spirit was poured out to furnish men with a right spirit; the Spirit of God in those days was intended, not simply to convert men to God, but to furnish them with a right spirit to bring their neighbours to a knowledge of Jesus Christ and his salvation: and the Spirit is ready to be poured out now. There is no limitation except the limitation of unbelief and scanty prayer. If there were more prayer and more faith, there would be more exertion, and more success.
Now what was the spirit these men had? I will just briefly tell you.
The influence of the divine spirit of God on the minds of the apostles and the primitive preachers produced three blessed states of mind. Burning zeal for their Master's glory: this was one. They went into "every house:" not only those into which they were invited, but into "every house," of the rich as well as of the poor; of the learned as well as the illiterate. And what though it was said, "You have no business here; keep your religion to yourself?" They had too much love for their brethren to care for the frowns of men whose souls they attempted to bless: their Master's honour was what they attempted to sustain: and if men blasphemed, and dishonoured them, they bound the scorn to their brow, and gloried in their shame.
They had ardent love for the souls of men. Many among them were richothers were learned; some were very respectable in their professions and what did they do? Why they all of them united together: and see them apportioning out Jerusalem, making districts of the holy city, and saying, "Now you have influence in that quarter: go and tell those people of a Saviour's dying love. You are better fitted for that district: go and tell your friends the Saviour there." O! this love that burned in their spirits, and melted them into tender compassion for the souls of men-this love made them daring. conscious that they sought their Master's honour, and conscious that they sought the salvation of men, they feared no rebuke, but entered into every house, and ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus Christ.
I am not aware, and can hardly suppose, that there are any of the preaching agents of this Society present. If I had I would to encourage that dear young man who is engaged in this work, say to him,' If you have never read the life of Joseph Alleine (who wrote the " Alarm to the Unconverted") read it. We are told that that man of God, notwithstanding the cruel persecution which he suffered, although his name was scoffed at and despised in Taunton, the place where he led souls to the Saviour, used to go and knock at the doors of the inhabitants, and though the servants would frequently shut it in his face, he would knock again, and say, “ Pray, do let me in; I have a message to your master, and only wish to converse with him." Sometimes the servants would not let him in; then he would go the next day taking a little present in his hand, a book, or something to gain admission: and when he could once gain admission, it was seldom that the enmity of the people was not slain by the power of his love and his kindness to them. O dear young man, do not be afraid of a rebuff; you have a soul to save: do not be afraid of scorn; you have to gather souls to Christ: and though you be despised and reproached, yet count it all joy when you fall into these divers tribulations, if you may but win souls to the dear Redeemer.
"In every house they ceased not to teach and to preach :" here is indefati
gable perseverance in their work. God hath sworn that Christ should be " a light to lighten the Gentiles," and that the earth should be filled with his glory. That was enough for them. Though every thing seemed to oppose them-though they were scorned and laughed at-though they were severed from their families and cut off from their comforts, it was enough for them to persevere in their work, that God had sworn with an oath that every sinner should listen to the sound of his voice, and multitudes be gathered to his name. And so they persevered in their work; they taught publicly, and from house to house.
Now, my dear hearers, I have endeavoured to explain to you the doctrinal part of the subject, and to illustrate it in your presence this evening. All perhaps who hear me have been privileged to sit under the Gospel ministry; many who hear me, in addition to the public alarms of the ministers of the Gospel, have had the prayers, the counsel, the advice, and the exhortation of fathers and mothers, of brothers and sisters, of relations and friends. I ask you whether you are the better for hearing the Gospel. Has it reformed your minds? Has it renewed your nature? Has it brought you to Christ as penitent, humble, broken-hearted sinners? Has it taken you away from bad company? Has it dissociated you from evil practices? Has it enabled you to cast yourselves on the mercy of the Saviour of sinners? I beseech you do not put away this question from you—it is for your life. Strange events frequently happen, and mysterious providences occur. You may never hear the voice of the preacher again, and the preacher may never be permitted to preach any more. I seem to-night, beloved, to stand on the brink of eternity while I am preaching to you. Every one of you may drop into eternity before the morning light, and the preacher may be summoned to his Master's bar before that light Let me then seriously ask you, Has the preaching of Christ done you good? Has it converted your souls? Has it renewed your minds? Has it brought you to love communion with God? Has it made a change in your views, and feelings, and prospects, and pleasures, and habits? Has it indeed made you a new creature in Christ Jesus? Suppose my Master were to come from heaven at this very moment, and begin at the first in this assembly, and go all round the house, and put the question to every individual here-Lovest thou me? Lovest thou me? Lovest thou me? Lovest thou me? What would you say? What! not love Christ who came from heaven to save sinners, who died the just for the unjust, to bring sinners to God, and who ever lives to make intercession for sinners? What! not love Christ? Well then, if you die in that state, if you die enemies to him, this is what is pronounced upon you: they are not my words, dear hearers; they are God's words: “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ let him be Anathema, Maranatha"-let him be devoted to destruction till the Lord shall come. Awful thought! Young man, you are gay and foolish now. Young man, you may have come from your mother's arms perhaps to this great metropolis. Alas! she bade you depart with many blessings, praying that God would keep you in this city. She said, "God be merciful to my child: let him be the partaker of his heavenly grace." Is tha prayer answered? You, young woman, are away perhaps from the ken of your father's and your mother's eye; you are now gay, and careless, and thoughtless and now dress and company are your chief engagements. There is a day coming
when they will not cheer you-when all your friends and your pleasures will be like thorns in your sides and goads in your hearts. "Cursed be my companions," you will say, "that drew me from the house of God, and from a Saviour's love! Cursed be the pleasures that drowned my peace, and destroyed my soul!" Come, then, to Christ to-night; his open arms are spread wide to receive you. If you have a heart sensible of your necessities and your sins, be it known to you that he is able to save to the uttermost all that come to God by him. I leave you with this prayer-a prayer which was offered by one soul, as it is recorded, and received mercy: may it be offered by many, and receive merey to night. "Lord, save my poor soul!" Take this prayer home, and put him to the test of his love and faithfulness: and who can tell but you shall become the partakers of his eternal power and his eternal grace?
But many of you are the happy partakers of this precious Gospel: many of you have received it in the love and in the power of it. It has often attended you in your domestic comforts: it has given you many mercies, many blessings, of which you would never have partaken without it. Now I ask you to-night, and I intend to have, if God will give you his Spirit, a response to the question -I ask you, dear hearers, will you for your Master's sake send the Gospel which has so blessed you to save your perishing fellow mortals? Will you let your neighbours die and perish in their sins without making any attempt to save them? I pity you if you will: but I am satisfied you will not. I need not state to you the objects of this Society: it is simply by the means of salaried agents to publish the Gospel of Christ in all parts of the metropolis where access can be obtained. It is to raise up an aggressive system of warfare against the kingdom of Satan, and to convert souls to God. This is its plain, simple, and scriptural object. I am happy to tell you that forty agents are now employed in this work of mercy: and if it were not trespassing too much on your time I would read a letter which my beloved friend Mr. Broadfoot has written to the secretary of the Society respecting the character of the agents. He tells us that the lengthened interviews he had with all of them, it was his endeavour, by conversation or examination, or both, to form as correct an estimate as he could of their spiritual condition and mental furniture; and though as to talents and acquirements, they are, as might be expected, greatly diversified, it affords him much pleasure to state that he believes them all to be persons of fervent piety, of holy affection, and devout zeal to the glory of the Redeemer, and the best interests of their fellow-men. Such a testimony, I hope, will have sufficient weight with you.
I have heard one objection to the society-that it employs salaried agents. But then this is apostolical. It is said that all Christians should be engaged in the work of the Lord. True, my brethren; every Christian should be a missionary and that is the foundation of this society, and the principle on which it works. But still you recollect that all the rich men among the people that were converted in apostolic days, sold their lands and their estates, and distributed to those who had need; and all these were deeply interested in the progress of the Gospel.
I have a letter, sent to me before I began preaching, which I will read. "Rev. Sir-Those who are desirous of gaining happiness may do so by supporting this cause of the City Mission. It has already repaid more than this world is worth. You are in possession of facts as to the great good which the
Society has done, which when they are brought before the people they will find themselves not provided with sufficient money to discharge their debt of gratitude to the Lord. Therefore let them have the luxury which I have had. I promise to pay to the City Mission two and sixpence a month. I have a box, and I am happy to say there are twenty shillings in it, given in one week. The operations of the Society are directed to the poor: I pray God they may even be directed to the abodes of the rich. O may God send down his Spirit upon the people this night!" I should not have read the letter to you, but as it is without a name, and encloses the first contribution, I thought it would be an encouragement to persons present to do so.
I shall make no more statements, but commend the Society to your contributions. If you know the value of the Gospel, I doubt not but the preciousness of its truths will enable you to do that which is right in God's sight, just to your neighbours, and instrumental to your own soul. May God give you the spirit of liberality and the spirit of love this evening! Amen.