« AnteriorContinuar »
not up to the help of the Lord—to the help of the Lord against the mighty."
God's will and power are the only forces in nature, in providence, and in the kingdom of grace. “Everywhere there is present God acting, not at random, but by law, on principle, and with fixed design. There is a plan in his working, a distinct, and by us undiscoverable plan based on law, and an extended system of laws. He sees forward, and his far-seeing eye connects the end with the beginning. His agency is a vast, complicated, but harmonious whole, throughout which we trace not only one mighty hand, but one unerring mind.”
The ultimate and universal diffusion of the gospel, and the extension of the kingdom of Christ to the ends of the earth, are embraced in God's plan, based on God's decree, and carried forward by his power and wisdom, in his own way, and in accordance with his own manifold wisdom and purposes. But what these ways are, and what in any circumstances may best advance his ends, and secure the greatest good, we are alto
gether incapable of determining. “We do not,” says Butler, “know what we are about when we endeavour to promote the good of mankind in any ways but those which he has directed.” Our short and limited views, our narrow prejudices, and selfish feelings, render us incapable of acting beyond the known will of God. On this rest all our obligations, and by this alone are we guided—like soldiers in the midst of a wide spread battle, or labourers in some extensive building, to that course of action which will best secure the designed result.
God moves in a mysterious may,
His wonders to perform;
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill,
And works his sovereign will.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour ;
But sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
And he will make it plain.
It is, therefore, unspeakable presumption in any man to determine that God's plan for the UNIVERSAL diffusion of the gospel can be best secured by his devoting his energies to the promotion of personal, local, or national evangelization, to the exclusion of that which is universal, and which aims at. giving the heathen to Christ for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession. This latter alone is God's plan, God's will, God's command, and God's way of best securing his blessing on all other efforts. And in order, therefore, to manifest the highest exercise of faith and obedience, as good soldiers and efficient co-workers of God, we must, while strenuously labouring to promote every grace in our own hearts, and pure and undefiled religion in our families, in our church, and throughout the length and breadth of our whole country, we must fight manfully, and
labour diligently, to do good unto all men, and to preach the gospel to every creature. “There is that scattereth and yet increaseth, and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, and it tendeth to poverty.” “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,”—and then in so doing“lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”
ALL KINGDOMS AND EVENTS SUBORDINATE TO GOD'S
WILL, DECREE, AND CHURCH.
But here it will be objected, that after all, this will and decree of God has been very partially fulfilled at any time, or in any country. For while the converts gathered into the kingdom of Christ on earth, and in heaven—including among the latter the whole number of those who have passed from earth in a state of infancy, idiocy, and every other form of irresponsible personal agency -have been innumerable, still the greater number of the adult population of the globe
have never given evidence of any such spiritual change.
Now this objection would have great weight if God's decree implied the immediate and universal establishment of Christ's kingdom, or the universal conversion and salvation of all who are subjected to Christ. But it implies neither the one nor the other. “The kingdom of God, the King himself has declared, is not a fabric, but a growth; its beginning is a little seed, which a bird might easily devour; its end is a waving tree, in whose branches the birds of the air may come flocking to build their nests. Such is the life of the church on earth; finished and perfect in its divine beginning, but only as & germ is perfect, not to be finished and perfect, as a tree is perfect, till human history has run its entire course, and the trumpet of the archangel announces the final judgment. Twelve men were the beginning of a kingdom, which has gone victoriously down. the ages, and over the continents, and amongst the races of men, slowly but surely, subduing all things to itself, till now, if Cel