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Preached at Boston, Oct. 7, 1830, before the American Board of Foreign Missions,
THE GOSPEL HARVEST, AND CHRISTIAN'S DUTY,
Matt. ix. 37, 38. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.
The history of the world in all ages exhibits the extended prevalence of ignorance and error, of sin and misery. The mind of the philanthropist feels oppressed with the contemplation, and naturally inquires, Shall this state of things always continue? Will the time never arrive when truth, and holiness, and peace shall pervade the earth? Philosophy, falsely so called, has speculated on the perfectibility of human nature, while in infidel rejection of truths the most simple and sacred, she has ministered by her spirit and by her instructions to the pride and corruption of our nature. The legitimate fruit of her theories and of her practical influence, appeared in that harvest of pollution and wo, which is still vivid in the remembrance of many. The humble Christian, whatever may be for the present his griefs and disappointments, cherishes the confidence that a brighter scene will yet be unfolded through the world ; a scene of blissful reality, succeeding the darkness and depravity which now abound. He believes that this will be accomplished through the word of divine truth. He believes this, because this truth is precisely adapted to the state and wants of human nature, as it unfolds the true character of God and man, reveals the way of salvation, prescribes a perfect rule of duty, and is accompanied by an influence adequate to subdue the heart and life to holy obedience. He believes this, because numerous instances are presented of its efficacy in renovating the heart and character, and thus becoming the “wisdom and power of God unto salvation.” He believes this, in view of the numerous and emphatic promises of Him who is infinitely true and faithful. Promises like the following remain to be fulfilled, and claim and deserve the Christian's faith and hope :—“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the tops of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it." - The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” “For 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 cffered unto my naine, and a pure offering." “ And the seventh angel sounded, and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever.” The Christian believes this, because the Redeemer, for his obedience unto death, is promised “ the heathen for his inheritance, and
VoL, 5. —No. 7
the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession.” Jesus now sees of the travail of his soul in the victories of his grace among men; and the full fruit of that travail will be enjoyed when the earth shall be rendered tributary to his glory, and filled with his salvation. For this purpose, exalted as Mediator, he has authority in heaven and on earth, and rules in the king. dom of providence, as well as grace, rendering all events subservient to the fulfilment of his counsels, and to the final and universal diffusion of his kingdom, which is “ righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” The ministry of the Gospel is the great instrument for accomplishing these results. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” “ The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion; rule thou in the midst of thine enemies." " When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.” In organizing his church, he has committed (if we may so speak) into her own bosom the principle of her perpetuity and universal triumph. From the faithful discharge of the trust committed to her, under the blessing of God, stability and enlargement will assuredly result. The words of our text were spoken by Jesus to his disciples as he contemplated the multitudes destitute of the means of religious instruction. " Ile was moved with compassion on them because they fainted, and were as sheep without a shepherd.” The compassion that dwelt in the heart of Jesus is not foreign to the hearts of his people, for they are of one spirit with him. The text,
1. PRESENTS AN ARGUMENT FOR MISSIONARY EFFORTS. “ The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few.”
II. URGES A DUTY IN REFERENCE TO THEM. “ Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.” I. An argument for missionary efforts.
* The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few.” This harvest will be gathered when the Christian religion shall universally prevail. It is well denominated great in view of,
1. The field which it will cover. 2. The blessings it conrcys. 3. The instrumentality it requires. 4. The means and prospects now furnished by Providence. 1. It is great in view of the field which it will cover. “ The field is the world.” As yet Christianity has extended its influence to but a small part of the earth; and where that influence has been found, it has been partial in its character. Here and there a spot has appeared in some degree verdant, amid a surrounding, wide-spread, arid desert. But this desert in all its extent will be cultivated and rendered fruitful. All obstacles will be overcome, and the whole earth exhibit the triumphs of truth. Benighted, degraded, and oppressed Africa shall become enlightened, elevated, and disenthralled ;-the wall of China (like that of Jericho) shall fall at the sound of the Gospel ; - the castes of the Hindoos shall be broken, and one bond in the faith and service of Christ shall unite ihem ;-the Heathen shall every where cast their idols to the moles and to the bats, and worship the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent ;-the worship of the false prophet shall cease, and the pure light and peaceful influence of Christianity shall spread over the regions where now Mohammedism exerts its sway ;- the isles shall receive the law of the Lord ;-all the perversions of the religion of Jesus shall be removed, and the truth shall be received in love, and exhibit its fruits wherever professed! Then shall be realized
" Scenes surpassing fable,