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scene of mourning.
He died March 22, 1841; and South Berwick exhibited a But we will not linger around that scene of melancholy interest. The mortal has put on immortality, and lives, a spirit in the temple above.
THE GREAT COMMISSION.
The Great Commission: or the Christian Church constituted and charged to convey the Gospel to the World. By the Rev. JOHN HARRIS, D. D., President of Cheshunt College, Author of "Mammon," "The Great Teacher," &c. With an Introductory Essay, by WILLIAM R. WILLIAMS, D. D., Pastor of Amity Street Church, New York. Boston: Gould, Kendall & Lincoln.
THIS book was made to be read by the many. author's expectations will not be disappointed, for the substantial reason that it deserves to be so read. The style is by no means one that should be selected as a model. It is inferior in classical elegance to that of the introductory essay by our own countryman. But whatever faults critics may discover in the style, Christians of all degrees of cultivation will read it with pleasure and profit. No one who loves Jesus Christ, or feels the least degree of compassion for the millions of the human race, hastening unprepared to the retributions of an offended God, can read this book unmoved. A spring of fresh sympathy will be opened in his heart. New desires will be excited, that the world may have the gospel with the least possible delay, and that he may do something himself to effect such a result. Unless we have mistaken its character, there will be, in consequence of it, a perceptible increase of religious feeling in the church. And this feeling will terminate in action. There will be more prayer, more effort, and more self-denial. Most who read it will be quickened. And many who do not read it, will feel the silent influence of those
The spirit which it will excite, will reproduce its likeness in other hearts.
The author received for the work two hundred guineas, as a prize. This reward was offered by a private association of liberal minded Christians in Scotland, with the hope of eliciting a work which would arouse the Christian public in behalf of the heathen. Not only the writer's general character, but the book itself, shows that motives, superior to any thing mercenary, induced him to enter the list of competitors. It is evident that the subject of evangelizing the heathen is not new to Dr. Harris. Everywhere he discovers astonishing familiarity with the general principles, and even with the detail, of missionary work. And he speaks from an overflowing heart. The principles which should govern the church, in relation to the nations sitting in darkness, are to him but the elements of theology. And no one, who had not long cultivated a spirit of compassion for those nations, could have poured forth, through a work of nearly five hundred pages, such an uninterrupted current of tender, earnest, religious feeling, often rising to strains of impassioned eloquence.
But there are those, whose conviction of duty to co-operate with the friends of missions in giving the gospel to the heathen is weakened, in consequence of entertaining a secret doubt as to the intention of Christ to have his gospel promulgated among all nations. The settlement of this question would be a relief to many who are sincere. It would, also, remove one of those excuses, upon which indolence and covetousness are accustomed to seize.
The Old Testament has several passages which can be understood in no other way, than as teaching the ultimate universality of revealed religion on earth. It is not our intention to examine all, nor even the majority of the passages, in favor of such an event. There are a few which are full and direct, and, therefore, sufficient.
The following prediction by Isaiah, teaches us that a great religious change is to be experienced in the world, and that all nations shall participate in it. "And it shall come to pass, in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go
up to the house of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." Isaiah 2: 2-4. This, it should be observed, is to be effected by the law and word of God. "For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of God from Jerusalem." The light is to chase away the darkness.
Malachi is equally explicit. God admonishes the Jews, who had mingled sin with their worship, that he was not dependent on them for adoration. "For," says he, "from the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering; for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord." Malachi 1: 11.
And Daniel, in his interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's vision, foretells, in unequivocal language, the universality of God's kingdom on earth. The kingdom which the God of heaven shall set up, supreme over all others (and which is to be Messiah's kingdom), is presented to us under the image of a stone, cut out without hands, becoming a great mountain and filling the whole earth.
But, perhaps, there is no more satisfactory proof-text than the 27th verse of the 22d Psalm. "All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn unto the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee." The first part of this psalm is a most affecting description of the sufferings of the future Redeemer. "All they that see me laugh me to scorn. I am poured out like water. All my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax; the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me; they pierced my hands and my feet." After a series of similar expressions, all of which had a most striking fulfilment in the crucifixion of Christ, the psalmist glances at the results of Messiah's mission to earth, and of his unparalleled sufferings. He informs us that the time shall come, when, as a consequence of these sufferings,
every nation shall cease their idolatry, and become the worshippers of the living God. The source of this moral power, which is to regenerate the world, is the cross of Christ. This is to be made "the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.".
No one who shall examine these portions of the Old Testament can fail to discover that they speak of an event not yet realized. True religion is declared to be tending to a perfection and a universality, which it has not yet reached. The prophecies, especially such as relate to Messiah, constantly hold up to the view of the waiting church, future days of perfection and glory, such as have never been seen. The saints have always been looking forward to the time, when the earth should be full of the knowledge of the Lord.
Nor does the New Testament differ in this respect from the Old. Christ makes the ultimate extension of his kingdom on earth a distinct subject of instruction to his disciples. Though not of this world, yet it is to fill it, and to fill it with glory. It is likened to the mustard-seed, which, though the least of seeds, grows to be a tree with wide-spreading branches; and to leaven, which a woman hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. And, in perfect accordance with these passages, was his commission, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." As he designed that his gospel should be universal, so he ordained the appropriate agency. The end and the means are
included in the same decree. The Son of God indicated with no less certainty his purpose, when he taught his disciples to pray, "Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth, as in heaven." To the answer of this prayer look all the promises of Christ, the prayers and labors of the church. Why should it not be accomplished? For the conversion of the world to God,-of all nations,-we see that every thing good, both in heaven and on earth, conspires. Christians, therefore, ought not to doubt; but, with a believing, throbbing heart, to respond, "Even so come, Lord Jesus, come quickly."
But if it were not true that the gospel will ever reach and renovate all nations, it is true that it can be extended indefinitely beyond its present limits; and on this ground, there
can be no excuse for the church in not doing its utmost. Few direct and well sustained efforts have been put forth in. vain. Suppose history to be silent. What is there in the nature of the case, why the heathen should not be converted to Christianity? There are, at this moment, millions accessible to Christian teachers. Though there are in many, serious, and, perhaps, in some, insuperable obstacles, yet, among nearly or quite half of the heathen now living, the Christian missionary would be protected in his labors by government. In several instances, the nations invite us to enlighten them. And what reason is there to doubt that the gospel will triumph, provided it be carried to those nations? Is not intelligence superior to ignorance? The heathen of this age are universally ignorant, while the missionaries, are, in most cases, highly educated men. Their acquisitions are, as a body, equal, and their natural force of character (which is an essential qualification in such an enterprise) is almost universally superior to that of the ministry who remain at home. And is there any thing in idolatry which the gospel is not adapted to overthrow? Can darkness stand before the light, or frost before the heat? One was made to destroy the other. Infinite wisdom intended the gospel for the antagonist power to paganism. And it needs only to be applied. The decree and promise of God, the nature of divine truth, specially that of the cross, and the conscious wants of the poor idolater himself, all conspire to render the success of the gospel, in pagan countries, certain.
But history is not silent. The history of the church has been an exact fulfilment of the promise, that our labor should not be in vain in the Lord. Whenever, and just in proportion as the church has, in the true spirit of the gospel, been aggressive, it has won fresh territories. And had it been steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, there is little doubt that before this time, the earth would have been full of divine knowledge. The reason why Christianity has made no more triumphs, is to be sought for in the character of the church. The flesh lusteth against the spirit. Our author has well described the cause of the gospel's slow progress :
"The strength which should have been spent in conflicts without, was expended in fierce contentions within. When it ought to have been the almoner of God to the world, it became the great extortioner,