페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain sha- | harvest is plenteous; but the labourers are

dows flee:

[blocks in formation]

"Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous; but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send

forth labourers into his harvest."

THESE, my brethren, are not the words of man, not even of an inspired apostle: they are some of "the gracious words" which proceeded out of the mouth of him "who spake as never man spake," who had the Spirit without measure.

He came into the world to save the world: he loved us, and gave himself for us: he was full of compassion for man's infirmities; and, while on earth, he went about doing good, On the occasion referred to in the text he was journeying through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people: he compassionated their sufferings, he felt for their wants. At times he fed them with the bread that perisheth; but, still more, he gave them the bread of life. He healed the sicknesses of the body; but he came especially to heal the diseases of the soul. And, when he saw the multitudes who followed him when they saw the miracles which he did, and heard his words of life and blessing; when he beheld the thousands who, wearied and restless (under the false teaching of their blind guides), were looking with longing eyes, and waiting with aching hearts for a true teacher to guide their feet into the way of peace; when Jesus "saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepberd": he taught them many things. But he knew that he must soon depart from the world, and go to the Father; and, that all who were hungering and thirsting after righteousness might be filled, it would be necessary to raise up pastors who should feed them with a faithful and true heart; and therefore he said to his disciples, "The

few" there are many who are willing to receive instruction, but few who are fit to give it them: the will and the ability to do so can be given by God alone. "Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest"— that he will raise up pastors and teachers, ready and willing to instruct and guide, to warn, to cheer, and to lead all who have taken upon them the yoke of Christ.

This subject, so important at all times, is especially brought before us to-day in the prayer in which we have all joined. Within a very short time many additional labourers will have been sent forth into the Lord's vineyard; and we are required to pray for them, and the bishops and pastors of Christ's flock, who will set them apart to Christ's service. Our blessed Lord continued all night in prayer, before he chose and ordained the apostles; the apostles prayed before they ordained the deacons after their example, we pray (more particularly at these four seasons, called the Ember weeks) for those who are to be admitted into holy orders. And, my brethren, it is hard to conceive any "form of sound words" more in accordance with our blessed Saviour's precept and example, more touching and searching than the beautiful prayer in which we have all just joined. We have addressed Almighty God, our heavenly Father, the Giver of all good gifts: we have pleaded his tender love to mankind in purchasing to himself an universal church by the precious blood of his dear Son: we have prayed him "mercifully to look upon the same" (for without him nothing is strong, nothing is holy), "and at this time so to guide and govern the minds of his servants, the bishops and pastors of his flock, that they may lay hands suddenly on no man, but faithfully and wisely make choice of fit persons to serve in the sacred ministry of the church". We acknowledge that the salvation of souls is his work. His instruments alone can accomplish it: those only whom he has called to the work can labour truly and effectually; "How shall they preach unless they be sent ?" And we pray, not only that none but those lawfully called by God himself may be admitted into the sacred ministry of his church, but also that to those who are ordained, or shall be ordained, to any holy function, God would be pleased to give his "grace and heavenly benediction; that, both by their life and doctrine, they may set forth his glory, and set forward the salvation of all men".

My brethren, do not you think that, if this prayer came from the heart of every

member of the church, we should see a very different state of things from the present? Do you not think that, if the millions who join in this prayer said "amen" with their hearts as well as with their lips, the continual dew of God's blessing would be poured down upon this church and nation in such abundance as our hearts can scarcely imagine? blessings, which we cannot conceive, would he shed abroad upon us? We receive not because we ask not.

In all probability by far the greater number of you have never witnessed the solemn sotting apart of men to the service of Christ, and to the edifying of his body, the church. I think I may go further than this, and say that most of you have never read the ordination service, and know nothing of the solemn engagements into which those who are set over you in the Lord have entered. But is not this a great, a fatal oversight? Do you owe no obedience to Christ's commands? "The harvest truly is plenteous; but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest." And do you imagine that the Lord of the harvest will send you faithful ministers, "rightly dividing the word of truth," sound in doctrine, and endued with innocency of life, unless you sincerely pray to him to give you so inestimable a blessing? Many, perhaps (if they think at all on this subject), suppose that it is our concern alone; that we, who are in the ministry, have to answer to God, not only for the motives which induced us to enter it,

flock in the sincere milk of the word, and acquaint them with the things belonging to their eternal peace, from a heart full of love to God and to the souls committed to his charge, deserves not the name of a true shepherd; for the want of these things in the scribes and Pharisees made our Lord complain that the Jews "were as sheep without a shepherd." And all these things afford subjects of most solemn consideration to those who watch for your souls as they who have to give account to "the chief Shepherd at his appearing."

of the ministry, whom the providence of God has placed in another station, should pray, fervently that God would raise up men fitted for their instruction, and zealous for his glory and the salvation of souls. And, where the harvest is great, where there are many ready to receive instruction, we ought to be all the more zealous and diligent to afford it to them. We are all children of the same heavenly Father: we are all bound to love one another as brethren. But what proof darkness and in the shadow of death, if we do we give of our love to those who are in never remember them in our prayers, never lay their sad case before the Father of mer cies, never beg the Father of lights to shine into their benighted hearts, and to give them the knowledge of God as he has revealed himself to us in the gospel of his grace for those whom God has not placed in the same My brethren, if we have no care or concern favoured position as ourselves, it is evident that we have no love to God, no gratitude to our able love of God in the work of our redemp blessed Saviour, no sense of the unspeak tion, and in all the mercies and blessings with which he surrounds us. If this be our state we may rest assured that, however our

But those who are not called to the work

worldly desires may have been gratified, God has, for our ingratitude, "sent leanness

into our souls."

but also for our faithful discharge of its most solemn and sacred engagements. Now, there is truth in this supposition so far as this: woe be to every man who takes God's vows upon himself without being called to so high, so holy an office. "Woe is unto me (says the apostle, and so may we say) if I preach not the gospel necessity is laid upon me." And so may we say. And the awful responsibility of our office may well make us tremble, and at times almost wonder how we dared to enter into the ministry: no man" who has a due sense of its great difficulty, and of the solemn account to be given at Christ's judgment-seat, dares to seek so solemn a charge without counting the cost, and asking himself, many, many times, if he have good reason to believe that God's blessed Spirit calls him to the work- If he have reason to trust that he is moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon himself this office and administration, to serve God for the promoting of his glory and the edifying of his people, then God will enable him for his work. But he, who does not instruct his

Consider, further, we pray daily to God, Thy kingdom come. We thus ask him to make his "way known upon earth", his "saving health among all nations". Now, if our hearts go along with our lips, we must always at these times desire fervently that he would send his gospel to those who sit in darkness, and bless his word whenever it is preached. And, if this be our duty daily, how much more at times like this, when hundreds and thousands of Christ's ministers require their hands to be strengthened for their work; when many are just about their hand to the plough, and, with a deep sense of their own unworthiness to enter upon

put

the great work which pertains to the salva- | notwithstanding all this, it is his will that tion of mankind! by men his glorious gospel should be preached to their fellow-men; and, although Paul may plant and Apollos water," but "God alone giveth the increase," yet, unless Christ's ministers do plant and water, there will be no increase. The harvest truly is plenteous; but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest." It is his harvest: all good labourers in it are his labourers: he is most willing to send forth labourers into it; but it is his will that men should first pray earnestly for so great a blessing, in order that they may know and feel whose they are, and whom they ought to serve, and that it is of God's gift alone that they can render unto him true and laudable service.

"The harvest truly is plenteous; but the labourers are few." Consider for a moment the sad state of the tens of thousands whose lot has been cast in large towns. How many are there, who have not the means (if they had the inclination) of worshipping their Maker in his earthly sanctuaries! How many dark places are there, in the midst of this country on which so many blessings have been showered! "The labourers are few"; for, in many cases, there is but one pastor where four or five or more would be barely adequate to minister the word and sacraments to the many thousands who form but one parish. Remember, my brethren, that Christ's ministers have "their treasure in earthen vessels"; and poor frail human nature cannot do more than God has formed it to accomplish; and, though it is the duty, as well as the privilege, of the ministers of Christ, "to spend and be spent" in his service, yet it is impossible for one, or two, or three to fill the place of ten. And there is scarcely any reflection which so deeply depresses the hearts of those who are called to labour in the midst of a large population as the constant wearing thought that something has been left undone; some weary and burdened heart not comforted, some sinner not warned, thousands of God's immortal creatures left to perish. Who can say that all this is not a punishment upon a people, whose hearts are not poured forth in tervent prayer to "the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth labourers into his barvest”?

And, if we turn from the heathens of our own land, from our own tens of thousands who are steeped to the lips in vice, crime, and misery, to those tens of millions whom Gur colonies and dependencies contain, the prospect is darker and darker. When we read of millions, who in our Indian empire worship devils, and are given up to a degree of degradation of soul and body which we can scarcely imagine, in whose state of utter declension from God the awful declarations of the apostle to the Romans are completely ulfilled-when, my brethren, these things come forcibly to our minds, can we forbear to say, with grief and compassion, "The arvest truly is plenteous; but the labourers are few"? By far the greater portion of mankind are "strangers to the covenants of promise," having no hope, and "without God in the world."

Now we know that "God would have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth." We know that he has no pleasure in the death of a sinner. But,

To what has been already said let it be added that, all persons being concerned in the choice of pastors, everybody ought to pray for good pastors. For, if the labourers were many instead of being few, if they were sufficient in number, yet the will and ability to win souls to Christ can be given by God alone. Men can give to their fellow-men nothing which they have not first received from the Giver of every good and perfect gift: the harvest is his harvest: the church is his vineyard; and, those labourers only can labour with effect to whom he gives his blessing.

Therefore, my brethren, if you value your own salvation, "pray ye the Lord of the harvest that he will send forth labourers into his harvest;" that those who go forth in Christ's name may be imbued with the Spirit of Christ; may devote themselves, soul and body, to their work; may feel, like the apostle, that "a dispensation of the gospel" is committed to them, and that necessity is laid upon them to preach the gospel. For, the more you consider the subject, the more clearly you will perceive how your own eternal welfare is bound up with the fidelity of those who minister unto you the word of life. "If the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted?" If the shepherds slumber, what will become of the flock? Consider, my brethren, we stand or fall together. If we be faithful in our ministry, and are helped and strengthened by the prayers of those committed to our charge, we shall save both ourselves and them that hear us; and, at the last great day, when we are called upon to give an account of our stewardship, our Saviour will welcome us as good and faithful servants. But, if we be slothful or negligent, worldly or wicked, what will become of you? It is a chief part of the

[ocr errors]

so that "the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea."

THE GIBEONITES*.

"And the men took of their victuals, and asked not coun

sel of the mouth of the Lord. And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live; and the princes of the congregation sware unto them."-JOSHUA

ix. 14, 15.

duty of every Christian to pray earnestly
for the clergy, that they may prove faithful,
that their hearts may be in their work, that
they may preach the truth in the love of it,
that they may have souls for their hire, that
they may warn every man and teach every
man in all wisdom, that they may present
every man perfect in Christ Jesus, that they
may make full proof of their ministry, that
they may warn them that are unruly, com-
fort the feeble-minded, support the weak, be
patient towards all men"; and thus, when the
chief Shepherd shall appear, they may give
account with joy and not with grief.
"Brethren, pray for us." Do you re-
member whose words these are? The words
of that great apostle who, by the grace of
God which was given unto him, laboured
more abundantly than all his apostolic breth-
ren. And, if the great apostle of the Gentiles
was helped by the prayers of those to whom
he ministered, and desired their prayers as
the best gift they could give him, how much
more do the ministers of Christ, in these
days, need to say to their people, "Breth-
ren, pray for us; that the word of the Lord
may have free course, and be glorified, even
as it is with you"! The apostle, under a
deep sense of his own insufficiency for "the
necessity which was laid upon him," be-
sought them that they would "pray always
with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit
for him, that utterance might be given unto
him, that he might open his mouth boldly,
to make known the mystery of the gospel;
that therein he might speak boldly, as he
ought to speak." Therefore, brethren,"
pray for us. "Is the work of the ministry less
difficult now than when St. Paul had the care
of all the churches? Is Satan less watchful,
less active, less successful? Is human nature
changed? Is there more of the power of god-
liness in the church now than when, for its Sa-
viour's sake, it did labour and fainted not? Is
there more heart-religion amongst us, my
brethren, than there was amongst the first pro-
fessors of Christianity? I fear not; and, there-
fore, it is not more easy to be ministers of Christ
and stewards of the mysteries of God now
than it was then. O then pray for us at all
times (and especially at this time) "that
we may shine like lights in the world, and
adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all
things."

"The harvest truly is plenteous; but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest," that he will raise up good and true and faithful men (pastors after his own heart), who shall carry the word of life to every creature under heaven;

EMOTIONS of solemn joy must have animated the breast not of Joshua only, and of Caleb, but of every devout Israelite, in the moment when the hosts of Israel first stood marshalled in the land of Canaan, on the further bank of Jordan. Emo tions of solemn joy, called forth not only by the signal miracle of the dividing of Jordan's waters for their passage on dry ground, but by the remembrance that the promise given to their fathers was now, in large measure, fulfilled. Many a conflict indeed was yet before them: the land was not yet subdued: foes many and fierce yet had the land of promise in possession. But their feet were upon it: the Lord had brought them in. He, who, to deliver them from Egypt, clave a path for them through the Red Sea, to bring them into Canaan, made the waters of Jordan to stand upon an heap. More than four hundred unto Abram, "Get thee out of thy country, and years had rolled away, since the Lord had said from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee"-since the bondage and deliverance of his seed were predicted, and the land of Canaan covenanted to them. They are now in the plains of Jericho, and the promises of Israel's faithful God: as with encamp in Gilgal. And thus is it with all the vision given to Habbakuk, they may be yet for an appointed time; but at the end" they "shall speak and not lie.” ́ On whatsoever pro mise, then, O believer, thou art resting; how ofte soever thou hast pleaded it; how long soever your it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, God has delayed its accomplishment; "though it will not tarry.”

After the mingled promise and exhortation of the charge given him by the Lord, Joshua, as we learn from the opening chapter of this book, proceeded without delay to exercise the functions of his high office. And the whole history of his wars, from the sending forth of the spies to Je richo to his victorious settlement of the tribes in of the politic and diligent use of means on his their inheritance, presents to us the combination part, and of the unfailing faithfulness and power of Jehovah in the guidance and protection of his people. The word of the Lord must be their guide in every movement, their signal for every battle, the arm of the Lord their defence against every foe. But in obedience to that word, and in dependence upon that arm, Israel must

ler, M.A., rector of St. Martin's, Birmingham. London: * From "Lent Lectures: Joshua." By the rev. J. C. MilSeeleys; and Hamiltons. Birmingham: Hall. 1852. We have great pleasure in introducing this volume to our readers. Many will, we trust, from the specimen we here give of it, be induced to possess themselves of it.-ED.

fight, as must other soldiers: Joshua, like other generals, must employ the common tactics and means of warfare. And thus the story of his wars presents the interesting combination of the stratagems and the prowess of man's warfare with the miraculous interpositions of the arm of the Most High. Spies must be sent to Jericho; but Jordan is divided by a miracle. The soldiery of Israel must besiege it; but its walls fall down flat before a mightier than human arm, when, in obedience to the divine command, they have been compassed seven days. "I have given into thy hand," said God, "the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land;" but by the stratagem of an ambush did Ai fall. Not by Israel's sword and bow only, but by great hailstones from heaven did Adonizedec and his confederates fall; "and the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies." Throughout his warrior's life was Joshua animated by a dauntless and cheerful confidence in his God; and never was the promise of his faithful God broken, "I will not fail thee or forsake thee." The God who had raised him up gave him grace to be faithful, and was his strength and wisdom to the end.

Had ought been wanting to establish his authority among the people committed to his charge, it was afforded by the miraculous passage of Jordan at the very outset of his career as the successor of Moses. "On that day," we read (iv. 14) "the Lord magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life." Of this miraculous passage he was commanded to erect a twofold memorial-a pillar of twelve stones on the other side of Jordan in Gilgal, and a like pillar in the midst of the river—the witnesses to their children of the fact, and the grateful memorial of the Lord's power and goodness. We are wont to regard this Jordan which flowed between Israel and their heritage as the instructive type or illustration of that chill flood of death's dark waters which must be crossed by the heaven-bound pilgrim ere he enters his promised rest. And, as the arm of their faithful God clave the literal Jordan before the literal Israel, so of those waters does the promise emphatically hold good, "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee." And as, not in Canaan only, but in the very river's midst, the children should, in after days, behold the memorial-pillar, and ask, "What mean ye by these stones?" so in the very midst of death's Jordan, have countless pilgrims upraised their Ebenezers to the faithfulness, the sufficiency, the tender compassion of their God. Not the heavenly Canaan only, but the very river of death, is thick studded with the memorials of his people's adoring praise. Ten thousand times ten thousand of his saints have testified in a dying hour, not only that their retrospect was mercy and their prospect mercy; not only that he has been with them through the wilderness, and animated them by lively hopes and glorious visions of the Canaan that they love, but that he was with them then-that in dying they find him present, bestowing dying comfort and imparting dying grace. Yes, beloved-and be the remembrance treasured up against the solemn and trying hour of your own passage

[ocr errors]

through death's Jordan-many of the strongest testimonies to the Lord's faithfulness, to the sustaining sufficiency of his grace, have been borne by his dying people; testimonies not only to the past, not only to the sustaining power of hope's glorious future, but to present mercy and truth. He has been with them, they say, in the wilderness: he will be with them in Canaan; and he is with them in Jordan. With feeble tongue and sinking mind, but with adoring hearts, they tell out his goodness and shew forth his praise. And this God, beloved, is your God, your guide "unto death," your God in dying. Trust in him: hope in him. Flinch not in anxiety and fear from the anticipation of your passage through Jordan. You have learned that this world is a wilderness; and haply in your thoughts of death you do not find your greatest trial in the remembrance that death will remove you from an evil and vexatious world. You believe that your Canaan is a goodly and a delightsome land, and sometimes you long to be at rest within it. But you fear Jordanthe floods which roll between, which must be passed. The pilgrims, who have entered in before you-will not many a one tell you that he too had his fears and his sinkings of heart, as he was wont to look forward to that passage? But, as living, so dying, he found a present God and sufficient grace. Many a one has left behind him for your comfort, beloved, and for mine, such a testimony, erecting, as the story of his death-bed will tell us, his memorial in Jordan's very midst; for countless such have passed through in peacenot a few have entered Canaan with Alleluias on their tongues.

On the events recorded in the fifth chapterthe events immediately subsequent upon their entrance into Canaan, I shall not dwell-the circumcising of the people who had been born during the wanderings in the wilderness, the celebration of their first passover in the land of promise, and the ceasing of the manna "on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land." In the three closing verses of that chapter we have the record of a further encouragement graciously vouchsafed to Joshua previous to the attack on Jericho: "And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand; and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; bat as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the Lord's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so." Little if any doubt can be entertained that this was no created angel, but the Second Person in the Godhead, who on this, as on other occasions, appeared to Old Testament saints. Gracious as had been the promise given to Joshua at his entrance upon his work, he is thus further animated. A gracious God condescends to assure him, even through his bodily senses, that he is with him. And, as throughout the history of Joshua's wars we mark his unfailing faith and valiant prowess, we cannot doubt that, though

« 이전계속 »