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down among the lower orders of the people, the very means which are provided for its exclusion, may sometimes prove the channels for conveying it,-or the illusions of an enthusiastic and unproductive Faith may find a readier entrance into their unstable minds than that simplicity of belief which is ever coincident with the sincerity of obedience. Such are the clouds which are ever, from time to time, obscuring the radiance of the Gospel; and we might sometimes despond amid their gloom, did we not recollect with thankfulness and humility, that the progress of this Divine System, to its great consummation, hangs not upon the weak efforts, and cannot ultimately be impeded by the errors or the passions, of men; that the very circumstances which to us seem to be keeping it back, may be (as in former periods of its history they have been,) the positions from which it is more distinctly to start forward ; and while such reflections teach us to think humbly of the extent of our own views, and to be somewhat diffident of the wisdom of our own plans or exertions, they inspire us with a patient dependence on Divine Providence, mingled with a devout adoration of that Supreme Wisdom which
is making every event, however seemingly adverse, ultimately contribute to its own great and beneficent ends. They instruct us to revere the order of that Providence, not rashly to attempt to hurry on the steady majesty of its course, not to limit our conceptions of its universal superintendence and love by the narrowness and partialities of our own fallible decisions of truth,—but to rest in the assurance of Faith, that the same infinite and Paternal Goodness and Compassion which watched over the fates of the human race for thousands of years before the saving light of the Gospel arose, is no less benignant now to those who still “ sit in darkness, and under the shadow of death ;” and that it is silently preparing that “ fulness of time," when, from the east and from the west, froin the north and from the south, wherever they are scattered over the wilderness of the world, they shall all be brought into one Heavenly fold, and under one everlasting Shepherd !
III. Are we then ourselves to sit down inactive, and to leave the progress of the Gospel in the world entirely to superior agency ? No, assuredly, my brethren, for resistless as the Unseen Power is from which the whole direction proceeds, the visible agents ever have been, and must be, human Beings; and although the opposition or neglect of particular men will not be any lasting obstacle to its triumph, it is of infinite importance for every individual himself to consider whether he is to be classed among the sluggish or the productive labourers. Happily the inquiry does not lead into a very wide examination. The truth is, it is impossible for any one who is himself under the influence of Christian principle to be inactive in advancing the reign of the Gospel. In whatever way his Faith becomes visible, or his labours of love are exerted, to whatever extent his light is made to shine before men, so far even without any immediate view to the efficacy either of his precepts or his example, He is yet powerfully serving the general cause of Christianity; and were every Christian faithfully to perform his own duties in the particular department marked out for him, “ having gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, prophesying according to the proportion of faith,-or ministry, waiting on our ministering,
or he that teacheth on teaching, or he that exhorteth on exhortation,—he that giveth, doing it with simplicity,—he that ruleth with diligence, -he that showeth mercy with cheerfulness ;" were such the general picture of the Christian world, were the mind that was in Christ Jesus commonly exhibited among those who are baptized in his name, I ask, where would be the resistance to his Gospel ? Would the vices or prejudices of men long oppose themselves to so genuine a display of the most disinterested and unassuming love? Where then would be those among its opponents who now esteem themselves “the wise?" where the scoffer?
where the disputer of this world? Would not God, thus, make foolish the wisdom of this world ?” Whoever then models his own heart upon the Faith and the affections of the Gospel, implants it in the hearts of his family and dependants, and exhibits it before men in all its charities and humane and amiable aspects, is, in truth, its greatest and most efficient Apostle, although his name may never have been heard beyond the walls of his own home, or the immediate neighbourhood in which his Faith and his works are conspicuous. It is, indeed, in such private and domes
tic example and training, and amidst such daily influences, when it runs from heart to heart, more than in its popular exhibitions, when its course is rather from head to head, or it may sometimes be from tongue to tongue, -that the Gospel has ever struck its roots deepest in the human soil. It is hence chiefly in the course of ages that its boughs have gradually expanded over the most thoughtful and improving portion of mankind,—that it has reared under their shelter all the noblest endowments and purest virtues of the soul, and has never failed in time of need, even amidst barbarism and ignorance, to nerve the arm of the Patriot, or fix the resolution of the Martyr!
The times in which we live, are not certainly the times of ignorance. Knowledge has every where spread, and is rapidly spreading around us; and we might thus, perhaps, at first, and not altogether erroneously, be disposed with still greater confidence to trust the progress of the Gospel to its own native energy, without any distinct or peculiar effort : yet it is one evil among the many advantages of an age of civilization, that its lights, of every description, are apt to be thrown upon the broken and uneven surface of society, in very unequal,