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hope, and yet general virtue, without true religion in their hearts and households, is a delusive dream. As so memorably announced by the immortal Washington, in his farewell ad. dress to his countrymen— that legacy of wisdom for the ages : “Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles.”
We thus reach the conclusion, as well nigh demonstrated, even apart from the direct testimony of inspiration, that the vast system of hunian culture which is pledged in the adjustment of the world, embraces in its wondrous purpose all the blessings of moral elevation and religious life, as inseparably involved in the universal improvement therein planned.
Turning now to the sacred assurances of inspired truth, we can not but be most seriously impressed with the general correspondence between the natural prophecy we have been contemplating, and that higher, more explicit promise of a happier day for our world, which glows so brightly in the pages of revelation. Here indeed, we have a grander spectacle vouchsafed to human view, than the mightiest of all the sublimities that fill the material universe: the wonders of Divine redeeming mercy. But as we gaze thereon, the very sense of its high and holy significance seems to prepare the mind for finding all nature constructed in harmony with this everlasting provision of wisdom, and goodness toward men. Nor is it less than a great satisfaction thus to perceive, how amazingly the same exhaustless resources of celestial love which devised the wondrous plan of redemption, have so adjusted the world as to cause all material agencies to coöperate towards the high culture that plan involves. It is a new department of evidence as to the all-reliable truth of the Bible, a most singular confirmation from the noblest testimonies of nature, to the revealed assurances of highest good, intended for the human creation as a whole. An instructive commentary on the general purport of a large class of sacred promises. An unexpected, but very impressive rebuke to the unbelief which has been wont to regard as chimerical, hopes founded on Scripture, of truth diffused, and goodness triumphant over all our fallen race. An encouragement, as with cheering shout of earth responsive to heaven's call, animating to more unreserved consecration, to more hopeful zeal, and to redoubled energy, all Christian hearts, all missionary efforts, all beneficent action looking to the relief of wretchedness, the abatement of evil, the extension of knowledge, and the universal diffusion of that kingdom which is "righteousness, peace, and joy."
So familiar are the main lessons of the Bible pertaining to a great advance of good influences on earth, that any extended exhibition of them here were needless, if not impertinent, Yet there are one or two points of such importance in connection with the natural prophecy we have been unfolding, that it is due to a fair presentation of the case as it is, with a view to its practical influence, that they should be distinctly brought to mind.
In the first place then, let it be noticed with what emphasis the comprehensiveness of merciful purpose for all nations, all families, all men, in the mission of Messiah, is announced, reaffirmed, insisted on, throughout the Bible. This world-wide compass is implied indeed, in the very relations assumed by the Redeemer, as the second Adam, the conditional representative-head of the entire human race; but it is besides in manifold connections asserted and reïterated again and again. Look at such ancient promises as those to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: “In thy seed shall all the nations, all the families of the earth be blessed.” See such pledges to the “ Beloved Son," as that of the second Psalm: “I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession." Note such exulting expectation put into the heart and lips of the Church, as that of Isaiah 52:10: “All the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” Then mark how all this is responded to by our Lord himself, and by the Holy Spirit in the last records of inspiration. The prayer, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” can surely have no narrower meaning. Nor the commission embracing "all nations," "every creature." Nor the authoritative announcement, “God now commandeth all men every where to repent." Nor the proclaimed “propitiation not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” Nor the world-wide invitation, sounded forth in prolonged echo
from the last notes of heaven's utterance: “The Spirit and the Bride say come. And let him that heareth say come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely."
In the next place let it be observed, how this all-embracing provision is connected with the principle of instrumentality, a principle coëxtensive with the entire system of God's government, as known to us. Instrumentality, not in itself vitally efficient, needing ever, that it may be so, divine energy, yet conditionally indispensable, of enduring importance, and, under blessing from above, ordained to accomplish great results. This we see inseparably contained in the appointment of a church upon earth, with all its benign influences, and against which the gates of hell shall not prevail; in a ministry charged with the service, “Go preach the gospel,” and assured, “So I am with you;" and in the place assigned holy truth, “ Sanctify them through thy truth,” declared by men, and studied in sacred record, yet vitalized by the spirit of grace, “He shall teach you all things, ... and convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.” And when we perceive so completely identified with the very structure of Scripture, and of heaven's great plan, such a provision of promise-strengthened instrumentality, must we not conclude that some serious mistake is made by those good men, whose hope for the world rests mainly, if not entirely, upon an interpretation of certain obscure Scriptures, under which they anticipate a new, millennial dispensation, nothing short of miraculous in its relation to the existing resources of the Church, and its condition in every past age, patriarchal, Mosaic, apostolic? This conclusion becomes, however, much more decisive in another aspect. For,
Let it again be considered how exceedingly significant, how unmistakably explicit the teaching of Scripture is, as to the onward progress, on the whole, of the kingdom of grace. Whatever hindrance it may at times seem to meet from earthly or Satanic opposition, through disorder in the world or faithlessness in the Church, whatever retardation, or even recession may occur. Still, in the main, from generation to generation, shall its power become mightier, its compass
broader, the blessings it conveys to the needy children of men fuller, more abundant. “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end," attached to the commission of instrumentality, were a sufficient pledge of never-ceasing success to faithful effort, amid all adverse appearances, even were there very much less than there is, to like effect; but the Scripture is really full of kindred assurances. “Is Ezekiel permitted to behold the gospel prefigured in the living stream which flows from the Sanctuary? He sees that stream deepen and widen in its onward course, till the waters are risen, waters to swim in, a river that can not be passed over Is Daniel instructed to recognize in a stone cut ont without hands,' an emblem of the kingdom of Christ? The mysterious manner in which it becomes enlarged, and occupies province after province, till it ‘fills the whole earth,' strikingly represents the growth of that spiritual empire which is destined to break in pieces and consume all' hostile power, and to stand forever.' Does the Sovereign himself of that kingdom select appropriate emblems of its progress? He finds them in the growth of the mustardseed, and in the diffusive influence of the leaven. Not, indeed, that, in its progress it will be entirely exempted from external shocks. Like the earthly empires which it is destined finally to absorb, its affairs may often approach a crisis, which may appear to threaten its existence. But, true to the emblems by which our Lord represents it, its history will eventually exhibit the threefold characteristic of original insignificance, constant though imperceptible progress, crowned with ultimate greatness and universal power. ... And though its advance to the universality and glory which await it, may be attended by a seriess of providential judgments, that progress will be made, and that ultimate glory attained, by the diffusion of the Gospel directed and made efficient by the agency of the Holy Spirit. Let us 'not then be moved away from the hope of the gospel,' and expect that judgments and providential occurrences are to produce effects which are promised only to the diffusion of the word of God. That judgments will accompany and pioneer its march through the earth, as they ever have done, we freely adınit. But they are not to be regarded as forming an order of means distinct from the Gos
pel economy, and superior to it. They wait on its steps. So vast is that economy in its sweep and design, that it includes and appropriates every kind of agency; presses into its service the angel of wrath, as well as employs the angel of mercy; and lays under tribute all the revolutions of time and all the dispensations of Providence.” (Harris' Great Commission, pp. 156–161.)
Then see how this pledged on-going of the great cause has been already vindicated. The little band in an upper room, at once, with the beginning of the Spirit's dispensation, swells by thousands under pungent appeals of witnesses for heaven, whose souls are quickened into irrepressible earnestness by convictions clear as the unclouded sun, hopes high as heaven, gratitude stronger than death. Thence onward the new influence is borne with an unselfish devotion, a zeal never tiring, a perseverance that knows no intermission, a noble heroism unparalleled in the annals of human exploit, till Jew and Gentile, Greek, Roman, and Barbarian, hear, to effectual purpose, the glad tidings, and multitudes believe, obey, and live. What though they die by thousands in the gardens of Nero, under every refinement of cruelty possible to the contrivance of a wretch so incredibly vile. Yet in those gardens shall one day arise a temple, nominally Christian at least, “surpassing the ancient glory of the Capitol.” (Gibbon, Decline and Fall, chap. xvi.) What though the best emperors, the Trajans and Antonines, as philosophers despise them, and as sovereigns consign them to the bloody butcheries “that make a Roman holiday ;" yet shall their faith and its adherents multiply, till the empire is itself subdued, at least in name, under the power of the cross. What though Barbarians overthrow that empire, and all old classic civilization perish in its ruins, yet is there now alive the spirit of a better, purer, fresher, mightier civilization, that can not be there, never can be on earth, entombed: the civilization of grace and truth, of righteousness and peace, of faith, hope, and love. It gains access to the hearts and homes of the conquerors, and gradually, as the ages roll on, tames the wild, rules the lawless, and refines the rude. True, there is vast confusion. The elements of society are in strange chaos. East and west are wasted with conflict. And the dark