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diffusion of christianity was reserved to be the distinguishing feature of our own generation of the church. It is wonderful to reflect that three hundred years have passed since the protestant reformation, and yet that the establishment of missions is, comparatively, an affair of yesterday ;that now, for the first time, christians appear to feel the force of the command, “ Go ye into all the world.” Hence our multitude of sabbath and national schools ;-hence the Bible circulated by thousands and by millions;-hence the consecrated use of our commercial and naval advantages, to waft to the most retired and unknown corners of the earth, treasures of immensely greater value than any which had ever before been carried abroad, even “ the unsearchable riches of Christ.” - In conclusion, permit me briefly to suggest to you two or three important modes of attaining this christian enlargement of heart :
1. In order to its attainment, you must, in the first place, cultivate an acquaintance with God : “ Acquaint thyself with God." First, draw near to the Father, in that new and living way which he has opened to your approach by the sacrifice of his beloved Son: then will this spirit of benevolence, like an elastic fluid, circulate from your heart to every human being; for “whoso loveth him that begot, will also love all those that are begotten." Once taste for yourself that the Lord is gracious, and then go abroad, and, like the apostles, you will find that you “cannot but speak of what you have seen and heard:” or like the woman of Samaria,
you will call upon others, “ Come, and see a man who hath told me all things that ever I did; is not this the Christ ?” Begin here : the acts and exercises of benevolence will prove the natural emanations of this holy fountain.
2. In order to attain this principle, and to improve it, we must exercise ourselves in prayer for the Holy Spirit's influence. Spiritual influence from above is the true element of our sanctification; and by this alone can our hearts be truly enlarged in love to man. The ointment which Christ received was the Holy Spirit; and that sacred unction must descend to the skirts of his clothing-must be diffused among all his followers: then christians will follow his example, who preached the gospel to the poor, gave light to the blind, and liberty to the captives; healed the broken-hearted, and proclaimed to all around the redemption of our God.
3. Thirdly, and finally, if you would cultivate an enlarged spirit of love, connect yourself with great objects of beneficence. The mind takes a tincture from the objects it pursues. If you engage your attention in the concerns of christian philanthropy, your mind will be dilated in proportion to your ardour-in the ratio of cause and effect. The way of extensive benevolence is now opened and prepared by God; and it is become as much the duty of every christian to assist foreign missions, as to assist the christian ministry at home. From us, as from the ancient Zion, must the word of the Lord go forth: the waters of the sanctuary must be diffused by our exertions, until, rising by degrees, they overspread all lands. The only question with every one should be, What can I do in the support of this great cause? How can I touch and quicken the springs and movements of that vast machinery which is now in such extended operation ? It is a day in which the voice of Providence to all is, “Come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty.” The powers of darkness are awake and zealous : Satan seeks to excite his agents to new activity, “ in great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time.” Our duty is to oppose his machinations with the only antagonist force,—to set up the kingdom of Christ against him. This has already been attempted with great success. Missionaries have gone forth (Dr. Carey in particular) in the true spirit of martyrs at the stake : they have deliberately and joyfully gone forth from their country and their home into a perpetual and voluntary exile. You, my brethren, are called to no such sacrifices : how different the circumstances in which you may fulfil this part of your christian vocation !- you have only to sit still, draw from your private store, and distribute a portion of that superfluity with which Providence has blessed you; and thus, while you remain at home, you may touch the wheels of the machine which produces such incalculable good. It is a happy circumstance of the age in which we live, that even filthy lucre may thus be transformed into a mean of the most extensive spiritual beneficence. And what equal use can you make of your substance ? When life is hastening to its close, the
world itself must pass away, with all that it contains; and true converts to christianity are the only portion of its inhabitants, that shall emerge from its ruins, and enter into the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness ;”—the only portion that shall be gathered together in an eternal and blessed society around the throne of God and of the Lamb. The divisions and distinctions of christians vanish away before such a prospect. The spirit of missions, indeed, has proverbially contributed to harmonize the church of Christ; and to give signs of the approach of that bright æra, when the names of sect or party shall no more be heard, but all shall form “one fold under one Shepherd.”—Finally, remember that you are expected to act as stewards of the manifold gifts of God; that neutrality in a cause like this is peculiarly detestable. Remember who has said, “ He that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad ;" while He has declared, as an immutable axiom, that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” Remember the apostle's solemn charge, that you “ trust not in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy ; that you do good, and be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate ; laying up in store for yourselves a good foundation against the time to come, that you may lay hold on eternal life.”
MARKS OF LOVE TO GOD.*
[PREACHED AT BRIDGE-STREET, BRISTOL, SUNDAY MORNING,
AUGUST 22, 1824.7
John v. 42.—But I know you, that ye have not the love of God
The persons whom our Lord addressed in these words made a high profession of religion, valued themselves upon their peculiar opportunities of knowing the true God and his will, and proclaimed themselves as the Israel and the temple of the Lord, while they despised the surrounding pagans as those who were strangers to the divine law. Yet the self-complacent Pharisees of our Saviour's age were as far from the love of God, he assures them in the text, as any of those who had never heard of his name. In this respect, many of “the first were last, and the last first.” The rejection of the gospel evinces a hardness of heart which is decisive against the character; and, in the case of the Pharisees, it gave ample evidence that they possessed no love of God. Had they really known God, as our Lord argues, they would have known himself to be sent by God: whereas, in proving the bitter enemies of Christ, they proved that they were in a state of enmity against God. By parity
* Printed from the Notes of the Rev. Thomas Grinfield. These Notes present a valuable example of that species of Mr. Hall's preaching, in which, throughout the sermon, he kept pressing the application upon the consciences and hearts of his hearers.