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sinners, they practice as if no such agency existed, and devolve the work upon the providence of God alone. The prevailing feeling is one which removes the responsibility from individual consciencs, and throws it upon some agency distant from ourselves. We know that this is said to be an age which magnifies human instruments, and delights in a visible activity. Grant it; but still this spirit shows itself in speculation, rather than in actual effort. It expends itself in magnificent schemes—in laying large plans, which promise mighty consequences, rather than in faithful labor as individuals. The men who will co-operate zealously in some splendid enterprise that promises a large result, think they can do nothing in some plain, obvious work, that lies over against their own doors. So then, even if there be a tendency in the age to rely too much on buman agency, we see no tendency to put forth too much agency in individual labors. We see no such thing as a community of men, each of whom is weighed down with a sense of personal responsibilites. Grand operations, that promise grand results, do indeed find enough to embark in them, because they fire the imagination. But those duties which a man is to do alone-which rest upon him though all other men should stand aloof, have few attractions, and receive little attention. And what we now need for the conversion of the world is, that each Christian should irradiate his own sphere with the light of holiness; and next, that he should teach—each particular man should teach, his neighbor and his brother. Then would every neighbourhood and every fraternity of men know the Lord, from the least even to the greatest.
Let us give an illustration. During the prevalence of the cho. lera, in Ireland, in 1832, when the utmost apprehension prevailed in every cabin, some ecclesiastic is said to have devised the following expedient to quiet the fears of the people: a piece of burning turf was exhibited on a certain occasion, said to have been lighted by fire from heaven: pieces of it were given to the people, with the injunction, that each man should go to his own house, and kindle his fire with this sacred turf: and they were assured tbat as long as this fire was perpetuated, the pestilence should not come nigh their dwellings. But, one condition of this sacred gift, was, that every man, after lighting his own hearth, should carry a piece of the fire to his
peighbor And thus, in an incredibly short space of time, it spread from house to house, and from hamlet to hamlet, over the whole district. Now, what was in this case a mere imposture, is, in the case of the Gospel, a reality. The truth of God, received by the soul, is an infallible preventive of the fatal tendencies of sin; and it is given to us on the condition that we distribute it to others. We must “teach every man his neighbor and every man his brother.” “The Spirit and the bride say, come; and let him that heareth say, come.”
That this is the way to do a great work, we learn from the analogies of the natural world. How are the coral isles of the ocean made? Not by being upheaved by some grand convulsion from the bosom of the deep; but by the ceaseless labors of little insects, each of which works in its own place, and adds its mite to the accumulated mass. It stops not to form combinations and lay plans, but labors on in its sphere. How is the huge globe watered and made productive ? Not by great seas, but by little streams, or rather by single drops of rain and dew, each refreshing a single leaf or blade of grass. How is bread produced for the millions of mankind ? Each stalk of corn becomes responsible for a limited number of grains. And in the moral world we see results produced in the same way. How is it that vice is propagated ? How are drunkards, gamblers and infidels made ? Not by wholesale, but by individual contact. One corrupt heart infects some other heart; one polluted soul taints some other soul with the infection of its own depravity; and thus recruits are ever multiplied for the host of Satan. Let it be so in the work of salvation. Let each Christian labour to rescue his neighbour and his brother, and how soon will the world be filled with the knowledge of the Lord. According to this Divine arrangement, pbilanthropy ceases to be an ambitious reaching after things beyond our sphere, and addresses itself to the first object it meets. The Christian looks around
upon family, and says, “ This is my starting point: here I begin my share of the work of converting the world, This companion, these children, these associates, demand my first regard, because God brings their condition first before my conscience, and places them most directly under my influence. If I cannot let my light so shine as to guide them to heaven, how shall I be a light to those
that are afar off? If I am unfaithful in that which is least, how can I be faithful in much?” Could a man never make his influence felt beyond a single individual, and that one the humblest child ; still, there is infinite propriety in his addressing himself at once, and with all earnestness, to the work of saving that child from ruin. There is a moral beauty in it, and a benefit to himself; independent of any other result.
Nor will such benevolence be restricted to its own immediate circle. A genuine concern for the salvation of one soul is of the nature of the most enlarged philanthropy. Thus it has ever been. The men who have done the greatest good in the world, and most command our veneration for the sublimity of their benevolence, have begun their career of well-doing by blessing their own immediate circle. Some of our most devoted missionaries, were first missionaries in their own families and in their own villages. Thus it was with Martyn, and Brainerd, and Gordon Hall. This was the spirit of Harlan Page. Thus it has been with some beloved living examples. Ere they went abroad to foreign fields, they were living epistles among us, known and read of every one with whom they came in contact. Whether in the ministry or not, the history of their lives is this : Warning every man, and teaching every man, night and day, with tears.” And so, too, the Saviour of the world, in his own exemplification of the workings of love, "went about doing good," seizing every opportunity to teach indiriduals, as well as the multitude: the fishermen of Galilee, as really as the throngs of the temple—a woman by the well of Samaria, as truly as his great congregation on the mount-received his Divine instructions.
This, then, is what must abound ere the world will be convertedpersonal holiness as the vital principle-personal labor as the mode of effort and individual persons as the subjects. We must depend less on plans, and betake ourselves to deeds. We should not wait for the millenium to burst upon the world in some distant land, but each one must labour to make a millenium around himself. Let every individual do this, and create about himself a circle of light; let these circles become so numerous as to meet and blend their radiance, and the whole horizen will be at once illumined. 0, let the imagination dwell for a moment on the glorious idea! Let us
suppose each of the children of God thus coming up to his individual duties to his own soul, and to his neighbor's. He walks through the world with the light of heaven on his brow, and its love and peace in his heart He trusts in the Lord too firmly to be cast down in gloom. He is so happy in God, that the only tears he sheds are those of compassion for dying souls. He lives so much in converse with heaven, that his very raiment savors of Paradise, and men take knowledge of him that he hath been with Jesus. His presence is a rebuke to sin, and his life an unanswerable argument in favor of religicn. Infidelity cannot live where he is, nor a quiet conscience dwell in the sinner's breast. Without waiting for the stimulus of any combined effort, his own abounding love incites him to seek the salvation of men; and he goes to work immediately, and on the spot, to do all the good he may; and continues to do it. Thus he is always prepared to unite with others in every proper species of associated action—to carry out, on a large scale, the holy principles which he has cherished into maturity in his own private sphere. Now, imagine this same spirit to be general—that whole churches—yea, the common brotherhood of disciples on the earth—were such as this; and no foe of Zion, nor combination of foes, in or out of the pit, corild retard her career of conquest. Soon the tide of victory would roll over oceans and continents, surging against every mountain, and pouring through every valley and triumphal song, “The kingdom, and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, is given to the people of the saints of the Most High.”
From this subject we learn,
1. The true remedy for all our social and political evils, Although our conntry is still young among the nations of the earth, she has made rapid strides in sin; and already voices prophetic of woe begin to be heard in the distance. The simple manners, the integrity, temperance, and contentment which become private life, are giving way to pride, luxury, and the lust of gain. Instead of inviolate public faith, we have political chicanery. Patriots are becoming few, and demagogues numerous. The awful sanctions of law are losing their hold on the popular mind. Justice and judgment, instead of being regarded as things of eternal fixedness, are degenerating
into matters of fluctuating expediency, that may be bought and sold. Error in opinion and corruption in practice spread rapidly, and find ready advocates ; while truth and virtue are opposed at every step. And these evils are only outward symptoms of a disease that is deeply seated in the body of society. And what is the remedy? How shall our beloved country be delivered from the ruin that impends? By spreading the knowledge of the Lord. We must teach every man his neighbor and every man his brother. Every Christian must bring the power of the character and law of God to bear upon some one or more consciences. We must hold up the great and glorious attributes of Jehovah before men, till they become a law unto them, written in the very heart; till the internal authority and force of love will not permit the oppressor to grind the face of the poor, nor the assassin to lie in wait for blood, nor the magistrate to sell judgment for bribes Then, private friendship, truth and righteousness, and public faith, and the majesty of law will reign in our land; the Sabbath will be honored; the Holy Spirit will dwell among us; God will be our God, and we shall be his people.
2. We also learn the excellence of those methods of doing good which exercise the conscience on questions of personal duty. Those forms of benevolent action accord best with the Divine will, which employ individuals in laboring for the salvation of specific subjects; which combine the living heart, and eye, and voice of a Christian to compass the rescue of some particular soul from hell. Hence the excellence of all those forms of effort in which teaching is employed. The mother amid her children,- the teacher of a Sabbath-school or Bible-class,-the faithful distributer of Tracts,-and, pre-eminently, the pastor and the missionary,—are thus engaged. All these may indeed fail; they often do fail, by aiming at no specific results, but dealing only in vague generalities. But if they do justice to their opportunities, and if they aim at distinct objects, and seize each particular occasion to benefit individual souls; under God, they will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the service of the Lord.
3. Finally, this subject illustrates the mode in which revivals of religion may be promoted. It is not-as some are apt to feel—by any particular set of measures. It is not by the zeal or eloquence of preachers merely. Ministers have their place, and a place, too, pre