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The third class embraces the distant pagans, whom the prophets seem more especially to have had in view. These neglect the Church of the living God when it is destitute of his blessing; but when it flourishes, then they, of every class and every name, are ready to return to dwell under its shadow and the blessing of its protection. You have reason to expect this will be the case if God shall prosper us by his own presence. We look around, and are sometimes discouraged; apostates are blaspheming, indifferent persons are freezing in their own carelessness, and the wicked world in pagan darkness seems to remain unbroken. We begin to calculate; we think how many ages must pass away ere this scene shall change. It changes in a moment, when it is touched by the power of God. Let him descend, let the Church have true prosperity, and others of every class—apostates, careless ones, pagans of every condition and every degree of sinful and spiritual malignity-shall be ready to return, and to place themselves under the shadow of the Church, and to partake of its benefits. It was so when the Spirit first descended; it is so now, whenever the Spirit more especially descends, and it shall be so to the end of the world ; that the prosperity of the Church, flowing from God's blessing, shall prove itself too by the extension of its influence unto the careless world around.
There shall be an increase of life in these new members of the Church :—They shall revive as the corn.” New life is given to them. At first they appear naked and unpromising as the corn; they decayed and died like that corn ; but, by the blessing of the God of Grace as well as the God of Providence, they revive, they live again as that corn, and, in connection with the living Church, they possess its living influence. “They shall grow as the vine”-another Scripture emblem of fertility-reviving in newness of life; they shall yield divine fruit, fruit correspondent to that of the true Church of God; they shall flourish yet more and more in all that shall bring glory to God and benefit to man. Once more.
They shall present an acceptable memorial to the God whom they have chosen. " And the scent thereof shall be as Lebanon;" or rather, “The memorial thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon,” used in libation, poured forth as an acceptable offering upon the altar of God. These converts to the flourishing Church, growing in number and abounding in spiritual life, shall bring their offering as a memorial, and pour it forth on the altar. It shall be a memorial of themselves, presented as a libation to God; it shall be a memorial of their service, yielded without reserve to Him who has called them to glory and to virtue; it shall be the memorial of their gifts—they yield to him
what they have as well as what they are; and each new memorial, poured forth on the altar of God, shall come up with acceptance in his sight. His dew gave the prosperity, which, spreading itself into this extension of blessings and hopes, shall be presented again back to God, holy and acceptable in his sight.
It is important that we learn from such a subject as this, in the first place, to repose our entire trust in God for the prosperity of the Church. It is only when he becomes as the dew unto Israel that Israel prospers. Paul may plant, and Apollos may water, but God alone can give the increase. At the present season it seems necessary, more than usually necessary, to call general attention to this great point. We form our plans, we employ our efforts; but let us depend on God. “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils; for wherein is he to be accounted of?" We had our standard-bearers—they seemed especially set for the work to which they were called: we almost felt as if the work, in a great measure, depended on them; we marked their genius, their attainments, their zeal, their fitness for this great work : we sometimes thought, perhaps, that they were the men to carry on this work of God, and spread the dew of his blessing on all nations. The standard-bearers have fled, and now their lifeless hands are lifted no more. We perceive, in the mortality which has taken place amongst us, that God has especially smitten those men on whom our hopes depended; that if the work depended on man, faithful as he might be, his mortality causes him to fall, and, at the very moment when he expected to extend his labors, he will himself sink in death, and leave his work, as well as its blessing, to others. But our heavenly Father lives—the word of the Lord endureth forever. Man may pass away-man, living perpetually amidst dangers and vicissitudes; but God, the fountain of our dew, ever reigns, and he will bestow upon us his blessing. Let us not lean upon man, let us not lean upon any creature; but let us place our hope and trust in God: he will be as the dew unto Israel, he will shed abroad an influence such as Israel most needs. I exhort and beseech you, my brethren, if you desire that God's work should prosper—if you long for the time when all the world shall be God's, invigorated by his life and covered by his influence—if you seek the success of all Christian missionary efforts—I beseech you, among all your exertions, to remember prayer to God. Let the voice of prayer ascend; let us acknowledge that all springs from Him; while, thankful for the instrumentality he may employ, let us still centre all our hopes of success in united and fervent prayer, that the dew of his blessing may more copiously descend and afford the prosperity he has promised.
It is important that we remark, in the second place, that the usual order of God's proceeding, when he pours forth his blessings, is, to give increased grace to his Church. I advert to this, because it is important that I mention it now for a practical purpose. My brethren, we assemble together on these occasions, in town and in country, with the avowed design of promoting the work of God on the earth: we look for this, we aim at this. But let us beseech God to carry on the work in his own appointed way. What does the revival of religion properly mean? Unquestionably it properly and strictly means something which re-lives in the Church : 'the withered and parched field revives, lives again, when it is visited with the plentiful shower ; long languishing and decaying, it lives again, when the right appliances are used. When we are speaking of revivals, the very word conveys the idea of life already existing in a low and languishing state, which must be revived, resuscitated, raised, invigorated. And the very word itself is used to mark, more especially, the Divine agency itself in the work. The Church itself must revive, live again, and prosperity must begin in God's Israel: the dew falls there, but blessing does not stay there. It is of the utmost consequence, that in every place we seek the revival of God's work in those in whom it is already begun, in order to its extension to the world around us.
I call on you, my brethren, to do this as societies, as members of societies, as persons concerned in the general prosperity of God's work. When you especially begin to seek the prosperity of the work in the right way, you desire to spread the truth, you long for the Pentecostal effusions of the Holy Spirit, and seek them for yourselves. If every professing Christian in this land were filled with the Holy Ghost, if the dew of God's blessing rested on him, there would soon be an astonishing extension of the work. The light thus kindled would spread; the influence thus poured forth would diffuse itself on every side; the leaven would exert its influence till the whole were leavened. The great duty of the Christian Church, in reference to God, is to . offer up fervent and believing prayers to him in reference to the Church, in reference to its practical influence, and to receive and cherish a large measure of influence from God.
Brethren, suffer this word of exhortation. I have never yet known an extension of God's work which did not begin in his own Church. Mercy, as well as judgment, begins at the house of God. We are pre-eminently required now to pray that God would pour out blessings on ourselves—that he would give us every token of prosperity—that the blossoms may appear, the stability increase, the members enlarge, the fruit abound to the
praise and glory of God. Let it be so, and we shall be blessed and be prepared to be blessings to others.
In conclusion, let us learn to cherish the confident hope, that God, even our own God, will not forsake us. Many difficulties seem to lie in the way, but if we have the desire of his blessing, and if we flourish in the prosperity that that dəw gives, we shail have the text verified delightfully; men shall revive, “ they shall revive as the corn, they shall grow as the vine;" they shall present the memorial as the wine of Lebanon. We may look East and West, and North and South-no human effort is able to withstand Him who is God. Let a Christian man go forth, not in his own weakness, but relying on God's power—let him go forth filled with the spirit of prayer, and faith, and zeal—let him go forth testifying his Lord and Saviour with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, and we care not what class of people he may visit—be they ever so degraded, they shall be raised -be they ever so barbarous, they shall be renewed—be they ever so prejudiced, they shall be conquered—be they ever so alienated, they shall be restored. Let us go forward trusting in God; let us trust in his blessing, and we shall find that Barbarian, Scythian, bond and free-every country and people and tongue shall be ready to yield to an influence so especially proceeding from God -shall turn to a flourishing Church, and present the Christian memorial on their altar; and the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ shall bring salvation to all. Let us go forth animated by his Spirit, and lift up that cross amidst the darkness of this world : it shall give light in the darkness; and by that cross you shall conquer. Let us go forth rejoicing in Jesus Christ and in him crucified, laying our foundation in his truth, and carrying on our work in reliance on his mercy. The world shall not stand against us, but the cause of our Lord and Saviour shall still spread and diffuse itself, until the promise given to the Church shall be abundantly fulfilled and the Church recovered and glorified. The word of the Lord shall have free course, shall mightily prevail, until a memorial from all nations shall be presented as an offering to our Lord and Saviour. May God hasten that time--may he carry on his work in every society, displaying his influence, and carrying on his work in the world by extending the fruits of that influence, until all shall know him, from the least unto the greatest! Amen.
ON CHRISTIAN PERFECTION.
BY REV. JOHN LOMAS. DELIVERED AT MOUNT-PLEASANT CHAPEL, LIVERPOOL, (AS APPOINTED
FERENCE,) ON TUESDAY EVENING, JULY 31, 1832.
fore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto
perfection.' HEBREWS, vi. 1.
The Apostle, in this chapter, exposes the danger of apostasy, and guards against it. A desire after perpetual progress is one of the most effectual antidotes to a spirit of declension; and St. Paul, having established the verity of the Christian system, and thus laid a safe foundation for practical admonitions, exhorts the Hebrew converts, in the words of the text, to diligence in seeking after a perfect acquaintance with the whole Christian scheme. Without any formal introduction to the passage before us, I shall endeavor, first, to explain, and, secondly, to enforce the exhortation of the text. First : WHAT ARE
THE DOCTRINE OF Christ,” AND IN WHAT SENSE ARE THEY TO BE LEFT? HOW AND WHY SHOULD WE LEAVE THEM, AND GO ON UNTO PERFECTION ? “ The principles of the doctrine of Christ are those elementary truths which lie at the foundation of Christian experience and Christian practice. Paul specifies the chief of these in the verses which follow the text—the duty and necessity of repentance enforced by the solemnity and certainty of the judgment to come; the necessity of the Holy Spirit's influences, and of his reception by all Christian believers ; with the joys produced by a sense of pardon, and the hope of future glory: These truths St. Paul denominates, “the principles of the doctrine of Christ," because they constitute the fundamental parts of the Christian system : they are, so to speak, the alphabet of Christian doctrine. Now, these “principles” are not to be left, in any sense of the term, till they are thoroughly understood. To leave principles before they are thoroughly mastered, is to expose ourselves to constant error in our future prayers. Every person who has been em