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ample encouragement. Not, in short, that a sufficient motive is wanting to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. But who does not know, that the churches are slow to engage in this work?—that the work itself is regarded in the light of a charity, which one is at liberty to perform, or not, as he pleases, instead of being the great thing, for which the church exists, and for which the Christian lives ?-and that it is hard to obtain the men to go as missionaries to heathen nations, and still harder the means of supporting the few that go; while the results of missionary labor, though equal, nay, superior to those of pastoral labor at home, and greater than is generally supposed, are still such as would require ages upon ages to complete the earth's spiritual renovation ?
Does it follow, that the conversion of the world, by means of human instrumentality, is a hopeless or even doubtful work? By no means. On the contrary, the enterprise is full of hope, full of certainty. And it is so for a reason which is gloriously set forth in the Scriptures. The piety of the professed people of God is not always to remain in its present low condition. The church is to have a transforming visitation from on high; and the world is to have a similar visitation. The Spirit is to be poured out upon all flesh. There is to be an advent of the Spirit, so to speak—a grand putting forth of his influence, a mighty effort of his power, that shall ensure both the publication and the triumph of the gospel over all the world.
The delightful theme, then, on which we are to dwell, is this :That a time is coming when divine power is to be exerted, in connection with the preached gospel, at home and abroad, to an extent far greater than it ever has been, so as to render the gospel every where triumphant beyond all former experience.
My first object, of course, will be to ESTABLISH this great truth.
As a first step in the argument I assert the fact, that such an exercise of divine power is NECESSARY, if the world is to be converted.
Look at the greatness of the work to be done. The field is the world, with scarcely less than a thousand millions of inhabitants. Three-fourths of these are beyond the pale of Christendom-Mohammedans, or else Pagans. Estimating the population of China at three hundred and fifty millions, which is believed to be its true population, at least eight hundred millions are yet to be made acquainted with the gospel. Whether we regard this part of the great field numerically, or geographically, its magnitude is truly overwhelming. And all the missions, which we discover in our survey of it, seem only a few bright points on a boundless region of darkness. We may contemplate the magnitude of the work in a two-fold aspect; first, as so many hundred millions of minds, to be approached in all the extent of their wide dispersion, and then interested, enlightened, and won over to the kingdom of Jesus Christ, involving the overthrow of numerous ancient systems of philosophy and superstition, and an almost entire revolution in the social state of mankind. And, secondly, as an endeavor to enlist the whole Christian community in this work, and for a long course of years, and to an extent of selfconsecration and devotedness very far beyond any thing yet seen in any portion of that community. How many thousands of the best and ablest members of the church must engage personally as missionaries; and how many millions of money must be contributed annually, to furnish them and their native helpers with the means of living and usefulness.
Now who does not see, in this view, the necessity of such an agency of the Spirit? In vain shall we expect so universal a movement, so vast a spiritual revolution, without it, either in the church, or the world. Indeed it must be confessed, that the zeal and enterprise of the church are almost as much behind this result, as is the spiritual condition of pagan nations. There is even more difficulty, as I believe, in perceiving how we are to obtain the means for the great moral conflict, than how, if we had them, they could be successfully employed. I feel more inclined to despair, when looking on the worldliness and apathy of the church, than by all I can see of opposition and difficulty elsewhere. Woe to the world, if the church is not to be blessed with such an outpouring of the Spirit! And alas for mankind, if that Almighty Agent does not soon wing the rays of his truth everywhere, with far more of his Power Divine!
2. Proceeding another step in the argument, I assert, that such a result is not only necessary, but HIGHLY PROBABLE, irrespective of all direct prophecy or promise on the subject.
Who can believe, that a world embraced within the range of the influence of Christ's atoning blood, is always to remain covered with the ruins of the fall? Who, after learning that the Son of God made a sacrifice of his own life in order to destroy the works and power of the devil, can believe that the god of this world is always to hold his usurped dominions? Who, that has reflected on the object and plan and history of redemption, does not expect that work to proceed onward till its influence embraces the whole earth? It is not prophecy and promise alone, that awakens expectations of this sort. Such expectations arise also from just views of the gospel as a system of mercy; they are the spontaneous breathings of every heart that is. filled with the love
of Christ. The true follower of Christ rejoices to anticipate the triumphs of his King, the universal extension of his reign, and the clearing off from the face of the whole earth of the ruins of the fall. And though this result be connected with ever so great an amount of human instrumentality, he spontaneously refers it to divine power as the only effective cause. And the more pains you take to make him acquainted with the greatness of the enterprise, the more does he feel the necessity of divine interposition for its accomplishment; and the more probable does it seem to him that his almighty and gracious King will grant such an interposition. Yes, it is an animating truth, that what the world needs there is the highest probability, under the government of God, that it will sooner or later have. And what does it need so much, let me ask, as such a gracious visitation of the Holy Spirit as is predicted and promised in the Scriptures ?
3. This brings me to my third topic, in which, after all, lies the main strength of the argument, viz. the direct Scriptural evidence of a great and general outpouring of the Spirit in the latter days.
The following is, perhaps, the most remarkable passage bearing on this subject, in the word of God.
6 And it shall come to pass
afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days, will I pour out my Spirit. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord, shall be delivered." The apostle Peter, in his sermon on the day of Pentecost, declares this passage to be a prediction of events, which were to happen under the Christian dispensation. Referring his hearers to the outpouring of the Spirit and the wonderful events they then saw, he says, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel ;" and then he quotes the whole passage above cited. He means, that the time on which they were then entering was the time referred to by the prophet, that the events they then saw were the kind of events foretold, and that this remarkable prophecy began then to receive its fulfilment. Then commenced the dispensation of the Spirit. It was, however, only the commencement of that dispensation. The grand progress, the glorious consummation, was reserved for other days. The pouring out of the Spirit on all flesh, with that universal, overwhelming influence described by the inspired bard in figurative language drawn from prophetic raptures and oriental warfare, is a blessing the world is yet waiting for. It is to be an all-subduing agency of the Almighty Špirit. When coming in its power and fulness, it will be to the whole church, with the exception of miraculous gifts, what it was to the small company of disciples assembled in the upper room on that memorable day; and it will be to the whole world, what it was to the three thousand that wept and repented under the preaching of Peter. Then was seen, though on a small scale, what is yet to be seen on the broad scale of the universal church and the entire earth. Then was seen the beginning of the fulfilment of a prediction, that looks mainly at that last great shock in the mighty conflict, which is to be followed by voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever!
But there is another source of proof, still more convincing, in the results foretold, as to follow from the reign of the Messiah and the publication of his gospel, every one of which presupposes an extraordinary putting forth of divine power. I can quote only a very few of the many predictions. “Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice, with the voice together shall they sing ; for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion." “And they shall beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; na
tion shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed, their young ones shall lie down together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice's den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain ; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries also of Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.” “In his days shall the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.” “For thus saith the Lord, behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream.” “The kingdoms of this world [shall] become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” “ And so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.”
Now these results are to happen on earth, under the reign of the Messiah ; and who does not perceive that they are what has never yet been? Yet, making due allowance for figurative language, they are what would certainly follow from such an outpouring of the Spirit as is foretold by the prophet Joel. But in vain shall we look for them, either in the church or in the world, without such a visitation. All that we now see, and all that we read of down from the apostolic times, whether in the church or out of it, are scarcely the dawn of the glorious day predicted in the passages just quoted. In the church Ephraim is then no more to vex Judah, nor is Judah to vex Ephraim; because the spirit of sect will then cease to exist, if not its very form and reality, under the almighty influence of the Spirit of truth and love. The world, too, is to become thoroughly pacific, and to be filled with the knowledge of the Lord. On the most moderate supposition, its inhabitants will then be blessed with a religious education, and with a general prevalence of piety. Now there are said to be as many as ninety-five thousand teachers of schools in the United States, and not less than fifteen thousand preachers of the gospel. To supply the world, therefore, with means of instruction no better than our own country possesses, would require (to say nothing of books) that in some way a million of preachers be furnished, every twenty years, for the pulpit, and more than six millions of teachers, every five years, for the school-room. And to bring the world under such a holy and blessed influence as the word of God predicts, even within the space of a century, the church must hear of not less than twenty millions of souls brought into the kingdom of Christ every year, or what on an average shall be equivalent to that. All this and far more would take place, if the Spirit were to be poured out upon all flesh; for the great body of these teachers, both for the school-room and the pulpit, are not to be sent from Christian lands, but raised up on the spot; they are to be of native growth. But without such an outpouring, the greatest possible array of means could be regarded with no feeling of hope. Nor must we for one moment forget the lamentable truth, that the very same outpouring of the Spirit is as necessary to procure the means, as it is to make them effectual.
With the same unwavering confidence, therefore, with which we do actually look forward to the universal triumph of the gospel on the earth, do we anticipate this universal outpouring of the Spirit. This certainly is yet to come.
All that has been seen of his agency in the world'hitherto, has been in the first instance to plant and then to preserve a church upon the earth, rather than to make that church universal. His presence has been as it were local and occasional, rather than general and constant. The church has looked to this grandly decisive outpouring as yet to come, rather than rejoiced in it as already happened. As, under the old dispensation, the church waited and waited long for the promised Messiah to make redemption for the world; so now, under the new dispensation, the church waits, and has waited long too, for the promised Spirit to come and appropriate to the world the blessings of that redemption. Yes, we now stand in the interesting attitude of waiting for the coming of the Spirit, just as the saints of old did for the coming of the Savior. And let us wait with prayer, with hope, with joyful expectation. For he will surely come. We are disposed to believe he will come suddenly-it may be not every where at once, but wherever there are the due preparations for his operating on the minds of men. It may be that he will come first into his church, his spiritual temple, and cast out thence the spirit of the world, and fill it (blessed day!) with the beauty and glory of his celestial influence.
4. We now proceed another step, and show how this advent of the Spirit is even now indicated by certain remarkable preparatory measures.
Some of these preparatory measures result from direct efforts of the church, and others and those the most important from great providential movements in human society.
The unprecedented efforts made by the church to multiply the number of preachers of the gospel in Christian lands, to plant new churches, and to extend the benefits of a Christian education, are all so many preparations for the Divine Spirit to exert his power. The Spirit operates on the minds of men by means of the truth, and therefore whatever is done to increase the amount of religious knowledge, prepares the way for his coming and agency: This is the object of the Christian ministry; and, I need not say, this is the object of Christian missions to the heathen. Missionaries go as the forerunners of the Spirit, as pioneers, as heralds. Their whole prescribed duty is to make proclamation of the truth. They are answerable only for making this proclamation faithfully. He who sends them forth says to each of them, as he does indeed to every preacher of the gospel,