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“No such restriction is to be found in the commission which the Lord Jesus hath left his church. Thus it runs :
6 Go and teach all nations ; - go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature;" manifestly every human creature, for such only are objects of the gospel salvation. Not a syllable about civilization. And unless it can be proved that Indians and other savages are neither nations nor human creatures, or, if they are, that they are in no part of the world, -- the prejudice we are combating must be abandoned, as in direct opposition to the will and the commandment of Christ.
“ Such a restriction, moreover, effaces the chief character and glory of the gospel, viz. that “ it is the power of God to salva
Were it, what many take it to be, a system of mere moral suasion, of cool, philosophic argument, the case would be different, and the prejudice just. Indians and Hottentots, are, indeed, rather rough materials for a religion cantly styled 'rational. But whoever knows any thing of real Christianity, knows, that the conversion of a sinner is the exclusive work of Jehovah the Spirit. It is this principle, and this alone, which makes the preaching of the word to men “dead in trespasses and sins," a reasonable service. Now, to say that the gospel cannot succeed among a people not previously civilized, is to say, either that it is not the power of God, or that there are some things too hard for Omnipotence !
“ 3. This opinion, dissonant from reason and Scripture, is also contrary to fact.
“ Was the world universally civilized when Christianity was promulgated ? or did it prosper only in civilized countries ? What were the ancient Getulæ, in Africa ? the Sarmatians and Scythians, in Europe? If we can credit history, they were as remote from civilization as the American Indians.
Yet, ainong these, and other nations equally uncultivated and savage, had the gospel, in the time of Tertullian, established its reign t. And in Britain it penetrated into those places which Roman arts and arms had never been able to reach I.
“This general assertion might be amplified in an interesting detail, and might receive additional force from the sanctions of modern listory. But either woulii protract, to an immoderate. length, a note already too long. We may, however, ask, Why the gospel should be unequal to the effects which it formerly produced, and of which its friends made their just and unanswerable boast ? Let us fairly risk the experiment, whether the cross of Christ has lost its influence on barbarian minds. Instead of waiting till civilization fit our Indian neighbours for the gospel, let us try whether the gospel will not be the most + Tertull. adversus Judæos, cap. vii. opp. p. 139, Ed. Rigaltii.
Inaccessu Romanis loca. Id. ib. A number of testimonies to the same facts are collected in that learned work of Grotius, De Verilai: Heligionis Christiana, opp. tom. iii. p. 46, 47, fol. Lond. 1679.
successful means of civilizing them. The grace of the Lord Jesus will do what philosophy and the arts will never do, tame the wild heart; and there is no doubt of a corresponding alteration in the conduct. One Christian institution alone, the holy Sabbath, will go farther to civilize them in a year than all human expedients in a century. Driven continually before an extending frontier, their manners debauched by the commerce of unprincipled whites,--their number diminishing by war and by vice,-the only alternative which seems to be offered them is, Conversion or Extermination."
On a summer's evening, as Corylus was looking on the descending sun, he was led to reflect on the termination of his own life:
-“ O! that I could sink into my grave with the same composure as the light of the world has left my country !” He sat down and reclined his head on his hands ; fatigued by the labours of the day, he fell asleep, and dreamed that he met with his deceased brother in his father's house, who announced to him his speedy departure from time to eternity. “I have obtained,” said he, permission from God to make your bed in your sickness, — to assuage the anguish of death, -- to lead you through the dark valley, and introduce you into the presence of God; for I have often heard you say, there is no one returned to tell the sad tale, -- what dying is.'
what dying is.” Corylus then asked his brother what dying was. • I am not authorized to say,” he replied, " what it is; but I am commissioned to be your guide and comfort in
affliction. Remember that I am your brother; you never doubted my affection towards you ; I remain the same; have full power from God to minister to you every possible comfort that wisdom can dictate or kindness perform : I have suffered, -and can, therefore, sympathize ; I have died, and know what dying means. Corylus was comforted; he waited for the summons; but, looking round on his family, his affections were wounded, and the tumult of his heart awoke him from bis slumbers. He arose, and wished his dream realized ; wlier., putting his hand into bis pocket, and taking out his Bible, he read, “ For both be that sanctifietb, and they that are sanctified, are all one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them Breíbron, saying, “I will declare thy name unto my brethren ; in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thec.” Yes, he said, my brother has died indeel, and is alive again. I have trust in the inerits of his cross; I have hoped in the prevalence of his intercession; and I will rely on the veracity of his promises, and the perpetuity of his affection. Who can separate me from the love of Christ
not even death. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil," &c.
THE EFFICACY OF GRACE DISPLAYED
IN EXTRAORDINARY CONVERSIONS.
Some general remarks having been made in a former essay *, on the Efficacy of Grace, it is the design of this paper to investigate that important subject, as it is illustrated in extraordinary conversions. Conversion is a figurative term ; and, in its generally acknowledged acceptation, supposes an essential change in the state and character of its subjects ; it is, therefore, adopted, on the present occasion, as synonimous with Believing, Regeneration, and Effectual Calling. Conversion is the work of
- of God alone; and this work he often accomplishes in extraordinary ways. It is accomplished under such circumstances as are pre-eminently calculated to excite attention, admiration, surprize, and astonishment. As in the
As in the government of the world he is sometimes pleased to dispense with the established laws of nature, so, in the dispensations of grace, he displays the sovereignty of his good pleasure, by sometimes departing from the usual course of his procedure in the salvation of souls.
To confirm the truth of this remark, let us, in the first place, attend to local circumstances. Let us go in the spirit of meditation to the dark places of the earth, where vice and violence long defied and bafiled every attempt to introduce the means of salvation ; and which seemed as if wholly abandoned of God to perish by the tyranny of the destroyer. In such places we have seen the prey taken from the mighty; --- we have beheld the glorious triumphs of God our Redeemer, in the deliverance of captive sinners from their galling yoke, and in bringing them to enjoy the transcendent blessedness of spiritual liberty. By some great and unexpected event, or by some. peculiar corijunction of circumstances, a wide and effectual door has been opened for the preaching of the truth; and, by that truih, the strongest holds of sin have surrendered to bis victorious arir, who was manifested to destroy the works of darkness. The carlier days of the gospel dispensation, and every subsequent period of it, afford some illustrative evidence of the omnipotence of Jesus over all that is hostile to his mediatorial government; and the innumerable trophies already erected by his omnipotent hand, will be contemplated, with joyful anticipation of his universal reign, by all who are devoted to the promulgation of his gospel.
When the gospel thus makes its way to those parts of a country where the God of this world Iras maintained an undisturbed authority, we are generally presented with some singular
* See Vol. viv, p. 19.
instances of the power of grace in the conversion of notorious sinners. Then does it please God to reveal his Son in those who have taken the lead in rebellion against his throne; and often to make them preachers of the faith they once destroyed. Men enslaver by the most diabolical errors, abandoned to the most hateful vices, and who were as obdurate as they were wicked; - men whose lives were the grief and disgrace of their families, the plague of their neighbourhoods, and a curse in civil society ; - men studied in the arts of sensual gratification, inventive in profanity, daring in blaspheiny, and seemingly ripe for destruction ; -- in a word, men who were literally the chief, the most desperate of sinners, have been brought into the kingdom of God by discriminating grace, while the sell-righteous, trusting in their morality and good works, have perished in their guilt.
Glory to Goxl in the highest! we have seen all this mercy exemplified in our churches! The mighty power of Jesus, displayed in his own ministry, and in the first preaching of the gospel by bis apostles, that mighty power still triumphs in the word of truth. There are many who now have an honourable name, and who now occupy stations of usefulness in our Zion, who once ranked with the most degraded and injurious of Yes, we have
witli us, “ sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothel, and in their right mind,” who are suspected, and feared, and despised, on account of their former eminence in the paths of guilt. Like the elder brother in the Parable of the Prodigal, inflated with the pride of his comparative goodness and worthiness, some will be angry, and refuse to partake of the feast prepared to celebrate the wandering sinner's return to God. But, whatever be the thoughts of the vain and presumptuous Pharisee, this shall still be the confidence and joy of the believing penitent, that there is no character, no condition, no crime, to which the salvation of Jesus does not apply, and that there are none now prostrate at his feet, though before the most infamous of wretches, who shall not finally realize all the free blessings of that salvation before his throne.
The extraordinary efficacy of grace appears in the conversion of sinners, when, independent of all the peculiar aggravations of their guilt, their exterior circumstances are such as tend to fill the minds of surrounding observers with desponding thoughts of so desirable an event. The circumstances of one of the malefactors, who was crucifice with the Son of Man, were of this description. They were such as tended to discourage the Biope of his salvation. Not that we consider the case of any sinner on this side eternity as hopeless; or that we believe there was any thing so extraordinary in the con:lition of the dying thief, as to preclude the expectation of the same mercy under similar circumstances of ignonny and approaching dissolution : and we rejoice in the persuasion, that our Lord intended this
event as a pledge to every future 'age of his ability to save the greatest criminals in their utmost extremity.
The maladies of the soul gather strength with time. Every day they become more obstinate and malignant. But the remedy, the precious blood of Christ, is infallible; and, in various instances, we have seen the efficacy of that remedy glorified on the very verge of eternity. There is no case beyond its rçach: it is adequate to the salvation of man in the most desperate of all possible conditions. The brief history of Alcimus affords an affecting confirmation of this truth. He was well known in the place where he resided; but was known only as an object of pity and detestation. He had now passed the bounds of threescore years and ten, and was rapidly descending to the grave, an infidel of the highest order an infidel struggling for the miserable consolations of Atheism. Although become utterly incapable of enjoying the world, and just going to leave it for ever, he clave to it with undiminished solicitude, and, with an exultation too evidently feigned to deceive, declared his disbelief of future retribution, The blasphemous epithets he applied to the character and work of the Saviour, and the unbounded contempt in which he hield his disciples, most strikingly exemplified the wretchedness of man grown grey under the hardening influences of sin.
In all his conversations he betrayed the most complete subjection to the basest passions of our fallen nature; and affected to laugh away the feeble remains of life, till forced to think lie was actually dying. In that critical and awful moment a religious neighbour, who knew his character, obtained
permission to see him : when, taking the 'old dying infidel by the hand, he abruptly proposed the following questions to him:-Are you
still sure there is no God? Are you now as fully satisfied, as you have often professed to be, that there is indeed no Hell? that there is no Heaven ? Will you now tell me that there is no such thing as sin in the world? and that the blood of Christ is of no more account than the blood of any common animal?" Here a long and solemn pause ensuel, which Alcimus himself at last interrupted by exclaiming, what folly ! What madness!"
The visiter was at a loss to know whether these terms were intended to characterize the Christian or the Deist; till one of the ignorant attendants whisperingly said, “Poor man, his mind has been wandering in this way most of the night; and but a little while before you came in, he was talking to himself, and saying, “ All is wrong! I see it will not do! Almost eighty years gone, and not to be recalled! Millions to come, not to be endured !” and many other such things just as foolish.” Upon this the good man resumed and said, " But yet there is mercy, yet there is hope.' “ Ab !" rejoined Alcimus, “but I am too guilty! and it is now too late! Last night, for the first timc, I