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less salubrious. No: we should stand forth and say, “ Here am I; send me.” O that we all felt this holy zeal, and that we did not so lamentably “confer with flesh and blood," when, if called to it, we should leave even the vision of God himself, to execute his will towards sinful man ! *
But, in whatever line of life we move, we should be actuated by the same spirit ; and so feel the constraining influence of Christ's love, as to live no longer to ourselves, but altogether unto Him who died for us, and rose again Y.]
* This is a fit subject for Missions.
y 2 Cor. v. 14, 15.
A MISSIONARY SPIRIT DESCRIBED. Isai. vi. 8. I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall
I send? and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I;
IN former ages, God was well pleased to reveal his will to men, sometimes in dreams, and sometimes in visions, and sometimes by an audible voice, like that of a man conversing with his friend: and these methods were more especially vouchsafed when he was about to devolve on them any particular office, or to employ them on any extraordinary service. It was God's intention to send the Prophet Isaiah on a painful errand ; such as, if he consulted his own feelings only, he would be very averse to execute. But to prepare him for it, God vouchsafed to him a vision of the glory and felicity of the heavenly world. The scene of the vision was, the temple, in which Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, was worshipped. An assurance, at the same time, was given him of qualification for his work, and of acceptance in it: and by this he was brought to such a state, that, at the very first proposal from God to send a messenger to his people, he offered himself for the service, willing and desirous to undertake any thing whereby his God might be honoured, and his Saviour glorified.
Respecting the vision itself, I forbear to speak. The points to which I shall call your attention, are, I. The proposal made
[In the first instance, the proposal referred solely to a mission which God intended to send to his people. And, in this view, it may justly be applied to any call which may
be given to undertake the ministry of the Gospel, either in our own country or in foreign parts a
But we may consider the call as given to every one of us, not to undertake the office of the ministry, but to serve God in a way of general obedience : “Who is willing to fulfil my will, and to consecrate himself to me?"
This honour God is ready to confer on all who are willing to accept it: and, if we be really desirous to engage in His service, he will make us lights in the world, and monitors to all around us
Such offers as these are common in the Holy Scriptures
-and we may suppose it as now made to us, in the name, and by the command, of God himself ----]
To the proposal so made, let us consider, II. The answer given
This also we may regard, in the first instance, as an acceptance of the prophetic office. And we cannot but admire the conduct of Isaiah in relation to it, when he offered himself to God without hesitation and without reserve. Here were no inquiries made, what the particular office was, or what would be the difficulties attending the execution of it. It was sufficient for this holy man that he should be employed in doing the will of God; and he was willing to devote to that service all his faculties and all his
But, taking the proposal as made to us in general to serve our God, we may here see what a spirit we should cultivate. We should offer ourselves to God to serve him, 1. Instantly
[There should be no delay; no looking for a more convenient season.
We should not be questioning, whether we shall be able to do all that is required of us; but should
a Here somewhat of a parallel may be drawn between that particular occasion and any other which presents itself for more especial consideration.
• Here, if the subject of Missions be treated of, it would be proper to shew, that every Candidate for the office of such a Ministry ought to possess the very disposition which was here evinced.
expect assuredly, that God will enable us to perform whatever we undertake for him, and will give a successful issue to our endeavours -] 2. Without reserve-
[We should not draw back from any labour, nor hesitate to make any sacrifice. The loss of life itself should be regarded as no loss, yea, rather as a gain, in such a cause
Το live for God, or die for God, should be deemed equally desirable, if only God's will may be done in us, and the Lord Jesus Christ be magnifiedc
But the point to which I would more particularly draw your attention, is, III. The peculiar obligation which lies on us to follow
the prophet's example-You will find in the vision, that the prophet was favoured with a bright manifestation of the glory of Christ: for St. John, referring to it, says, " These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of himd,” that is, of Christ. You will see, also, that assistance in his work was promised him: for the putting of the live coal upon his mouth seems to have been designed to assure him of it. In addition to all this, a sense of God's pardoning love, through the Redeemer's sacrifice, was applied to his soul: for the live coal, being taken from the altar of burnt-offering, marked clearly the connexion between the atonement offered for him, and the pardon vouchsafed unto him. But in no respect do we fall short of the favours conferred on him: yea, rather, we may be considered as having 1. More glorious discoveries of Christ
[Bright as that vision was, it was far inferior to that which is vouchsafed to us in the Gospel. There we behold Christ as “ the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person';” yea, we see all “ the glory of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ 8" -] 2. More abundant communications of the Spirit
(Whatever measures of grace were imparted to some highlyfavoured individuals under the Law, as to David, Isaiah, Daniel, and others, the effusions of the Holy Spirit were very small and c Acts xx. 24. Phil. i. 20, 21. d John xii. 41.
Compare Jer. i. 9. and Acts ii. 3. f Heb. i. 3. & 2 Cor. iv. 6.
partial in comparison of those which are given to the Christian Church: so that none of us need to draw back from the greatest work; since the weakest of true Believers may say, “ I can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth meh."]
3. More certain assurances of the forgiveness of
[Doubtless the vision, and that one promise given him in it, were sufficient to satisfy his mind. But in the New Testament we have promises without number, " exceeding great and precious promises;" so "great," that they comprehend every possible state that can be imagined; and so “ precious," that they bring us into a participation of the divine nature, and “fill us with all the fulness of Godk.” I can have no hesitation in saying, that were an alternative offered to any true Christian, to receive for his comfort the personal and particular promise that was given to the prophet, or to have given him for his dependence the broad and general promises of the New Testament, he would do well to rest on those broad promises, which engage that “all manner of sin shall be forgiven unto men,” and that “ all who believe shall be justified from all things."]
Say, then, whether we be not bound to imitate the prophet, in his surrender of himself to God?
[Doubtless, if mercies vouchsafed are motives to obedience, we, who have received such transcendent mercies, ought to
present our whole selves as living sacrifices unto God; which, as it is a holy and an acceptable, is also a most reasonable, service!" -
--] It may
proper, in CONCLUSION, to reply to a question which will probably be asked, How shall I know whether any particular call to any special service is really from the Lord ?
[I readily grant, that that is a point very difficult to be determined. There is no difficulty at all in determining that we are every one of us called to devote ourselves to God. The difficulty lies in reference to those particular acts which are required only of few. And here I must say, that no rules can be given which shall apply to all cases; nor perhaps any rules that shall be perfectly satisfactory to every mind. And probably, instead of giving a direct answer to the question, the best answer will be, to suggest a caution against those workings of mind which render the full solution of the case so difficult. Moses, we know, was called to go to Pharaoh, and to bring the Lord's people out of Egypt. Now, in opposition to this call, he urged his own unworthiness of such an officem; the impro5 Philip. iv. 13. i 2 Pet. i. 4.
Eph. ii. 19.
m Exod. iii. 11.
bability of succeeding in his attempt"; his own utter unfitness for the work assigned himo;” and his desire that it should be transferred to some one else P." Nay, he further adduced his own experience of disappointment in less arduous labours, as a certain ground for apprehending that he must of necessity fail in a matter of so much greater difficulty? But what were all these objections? They were, in truth, only so many excuses, urged to cover his own backwardness to undertake the work. Had he been in the frame of mind which the prophet manifested in my text, all these difficulties would have vanished; and he would have engaged in his work as Paul did, who was “not disobedient to the heavenly vision,” but “preached at once the faith, which, till that moment, he had laboured to destroy.” To any one, therefore, who desires an answer to the question that has been proposed, I say, Get your soul filled with love to Christ; and that will answer ten thousand difficulties, and constrain you to engage in any thing whereby the kingdom of the Redeemer may be advanced in the world. You will depend on your Lord and Saviour for “grace sufficient for you?," and expect that "strength shall be given you according to your days.
As to excuses for withholding or delaying a general surrender of ourselves to God, they are lighter than vanity itself. Think not that they can stand one moment, when you come before your God. To serve God instantly, and with our whole hearts, is the duty of every child of man: and therefore, to the proposal which God at this moment makes by my voice, let every individual amongst you reply, “Here am I; send me."]
n Exod. iv. 1. o Exod. iv. 10. P Exod. iv. 13.
9 Exod. vi. 12. N.B. Cite all these passages from Exodus ; because they are, in fact, the very excuses which a false humility invariably suggests.
2 Cor. xii. 9. s Deut. xxxiii. 25.
GOD THE ONLY PROPER OBJECT OF FEAR. Isai. viii. 12–14. Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to
whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself ; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread: and he shall be for a sanctuary.
RELIGION, under any circumstances, is of incalculable advantage: but its benefits are most seen and felt when we come into trials of a complicated and VOL. VII.