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will is revealed. This revealed will of God, therefore, is undoubtedly the source of all our relations to him, as the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, uniting in one mysterious counsel, and in offices of ineffable love, for the redemption of an apostate world. This will of God to show mercy and not wrath, induced him to make known the mystery of godliness, hidden for ages in the infinite depths of his incomprehensible nature. And this revealed will of God is also the sum of all our divine knowledge. This will, and this alone, creates therefore all our obligations and duties; gives origin to faith and hope; to peace and joy; to confidence and expectation; to love and labour; to sacrifice and service. This will determines what is truth; what is faith; what is obedience; what is the nature of piety; what is the life of piety; what is the final end and purpose of piety; what are the laws of growth and maturity to piety; and what shall be the abiding fruits of piety in its everlasting recompense.
My Saviour calls, faith bids me rise
And calmly do my best;
Of hope and fear, the rest.
Men count my haltings o'er;
I love his precept more. All questions beyond this revealed will of God, are among the secret things still reserved in the arcana of the divine mind. They cannot affect what is revealed. They cannot alter, amend, or contradict it. They cannot become the ground of faith, or the authority for obedience. They are not only beyond our cognizance, they are wisely and purposely withheld and kept in abeyance. They are not intended to be known, nor to be comprehended, nor to be made the basis either of practical faith, or of actual obedience. They are laid under a divine interdict. To pry into them is sin. To demand their revelation is impious presumption. To assume to know and understand them is infatuated folly. And to act upon them, and not to obey what is revealed, 'under pretended compliance with what is not revealed, is fanaticism and treasonable disobedience.
Difficulties there may exist both in the way of faith and obedience to this will of God, but difficulcies do not affect positive knowledge. Trials may lie like so many obstacles in our way, but trials do not weaken truth. Conflicting demands upon our time, talents, obligations, and services, will present their urgent claims, but these do not neutralize the supreme will and demands of God. In regard to Christian missions therefore—while there are a thousand perplexing questions, and innumerable, and in many cases insurmountable difficulties—and while, 80 far as permitted, selfishness, and carnal wisdom, and national partiality, and immediate local interests, (in themselves good and great,) will multiply difficulties and discouragements, and while some men will even boldly and blasphemously deny both that faith which is the principle of missions, and that obedidence which is the life of missions, yet, nevertheless, the counsel of the Lord standeth sure, and that counsel alonė shall stand. There is, therefore, and can be, but one question to every faithful heart, on this and every other practical subject, and that is, “What is the will, and wish, and word of God ?”
O might we know, for sore we feel
The languor of delay,
Our foes block up the way.
With zeal—a patient heart.
OBEDIENCE TO THIS DECREED WILL OF GOD THE EVI
DENCE AND END OF PIETY. The will of God as it regards the conversion of the world, and the instrumental agency by which it is to be accomplished, are, we have seen, indubitably plain. The kingdom of Christ, composed of all who profess to receive and believe on him, is established for the express purpose of carrying into effect the decreed will of God—that the heathen shall be given to Christ for his
inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession. This is the chief end and purpose of every church, and of every Christian. To secure this end, God has evidently adapted the gospel, and the church, and the ministry; and to this end also has God adapted every Christian, both by the natural and spiritual nature he has imparted to him. For what is the essence of Christian piety, but conformity in nature, disposition, and desires, to God as manifested in Christ? And the very character of Christian life, what is it but sympathy with Christ in doing the will of God for the redemption of the world; in seeking and saving the lost; in preaching the gospel to every creature; and in doing good unto all men, as we have opportunity and ability ?
Prove thou thy words, the thoughts control
That o'er thee swell and throng;
And change to purpose strong.
In soft luxurious flow,
And faints at every woe.