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the altar of God, and to restore the priesthood and the sacrifices; and yet they had not done the whole. “Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in
ceiled houses, and this house lie waste? Now, therefore, thus saith the Lord of hosts, consider your ways.” Let us suppose this congregation, obedient to the voice of God, were to leave our houses and our business here, and to go a distant journey to Jerusalem ; that we were willing to dwell there, and to expose our families to the incursions of the enemies around, to submit to all the inconveniences which such a removal would cause, to rebuild that city at our own expense, at the devotion of our persons and the very
risk of our lives; and that there we had shown such earnestness in divine worship, as to meet in the streets regularly, daily, morning and evening, for worship,—would we not be looked upon by society around, as some of the most devoted people the world ever saw ? And yet it was to a people who had done this that the Lord said, “Now, therefore, consider your ways. The heaven over you shall be stayed from dew, and the earth from her fruit, because ye dwell in your
ceiled houses, and this house lieth waste, saith the Lord.” Now, they were men who had forsaken all they had, for we read that that reproof sank deep into their souls, “For the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel, and the spirit of Joshua, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people, and they came and did work in the house of the Lord of hosts, their God." And they obtained the blessing, for we read in the next chapter, “ Consider now, from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, from this day will I bless you."
Brethren, it is a solemn thing to hear these words of
Christ: that man sold all that he had : have you sold all that you have? He who preaches, and they who hear, we all have need, great need, to ask ourselves the same question,- have we sold all that we have ?
Have we given up more than our own sins ? Have we given up our own self-will? Have we given up our own wisdom ? Have we given up our own treasures? Have we transferred ourselves from our own service to Christ's service ? Have we chosen the unsearchable riches of Christ? Every hour and every day can test whether we have done so. Are we able to look upon all things as bringing some treasure from Christ to us? And are we willing to sell all to obtain that treasure ? Can we account the loss of our goods a treasure to us, if it bring greater submission to Christ? Can we count the mortification of our vanity a blessing to us, if it makes us more humbly prostrate before Christ? Can we count like the apostle, the disappointments in the world, the things we lose in it as things filled with blessing, if they bring us to him who is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother, and who never disappoints the heart that waits upon him? Can we apply to ourselves this blessed language: “ Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life or death, or things present or things to come, all are yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's ?” The apostle does not merely say, “I count all things but
, loss,” but “ I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” And now, if this parable teaches us thus to look at the hidden treasure contained in all things, what a view does it give us of the treasures that are in the world around us. Is not every human soul a treasure for which Christ died ? Is not every uninstructed soul a treasure for which Christ
died? Is not every opportunity of good to souls an unspeakable treasure committed to human beings and to human hearts? Yet how do we esteem these unspeakable treasures, the enduring treasures for which Christ died. We have our “ceiled houses,” and the “ Lord's house is lying waste.”
We have our thousands around us, uninstructed and uncared for. We have our distant colonies dependant upon us, to which our sous and daughters, in the need of seeking the bread which perisheth, have been obliged to go, forsaking family and home, because the necessities of life pressed heavily upon them.
A cry from them comes to us, “Come and help us ; we need ministers ; we need churches; we are souls for which Christ died ; we are your flesh and your bone; we are your countrymen; come, give something to us; give ministers to us; give churches to us; give the Gospel to us; share the treasures of the Gospel with us; we are Christ's treasures, Christ's jewels; he redeemed us from ignorance; bring us from sin, bring us to holiness, bring us to heaven, bring us to Christ.” Are we ready, then, to forsake all that we have ? Are we ready to do like those Jews of old, who went up to the mountain to cut down the timber, to spend our time and our earnestness, and our zeal and our money, upon the Lord's house, that it may be built, sending forth labourers into the Lord's harvest ?
We have a very especial call upon us this day, and it is now just one hundred and fifty years since the Lord stirred up the hearts of faithful men to commence in very feebleness that mighty operation which has since developed itself in the two great streams of the “ Chris
tian Knowledge Society," and "The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel." Three fifty-years have now closed,- the third jubilee comes upon us,—the voice of God, in the third of these fifties, is now speaking to us ; and what does it say? Can God praise this nation of England, praise this church of England, for forsaking all that she has for his praise and glory? We boast of our colonies, and talk often of that sceptre which sways over lands
which the sun never sets, of those almost measureless countries where we have our race spread, east and west and north and south, our own flesh and blood dwell there,—are we stirred up as we ought, to send to them men to preach the Gospel, to send forth labourers into their harvest ? If we are not doing so, then we have not done what this parable teaches; we are not selling all that we have; and, we may be but rejoicing selfishly in our Gospel privileges, as we vainly call them. If we have not done this, we have done worse than nothing. We have been hearing Christ's words, and treating them as though they were empty words. In the last day all our time, all our thoughts, all our opportunities, all our talents, all our money shall stand on one side, and we shall stand on the other, and the Judge shall be there, and those terrible words shall be said, “ He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much: go into the land of faithfulness. He that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much: go into the land of unfaithfulness: who will commit to you the true riches.”
Oh, brethren ! let us in earnestness, in self-rejection, in self-humiliation, and in dependant prayer, pour out our hearts before Him from whom we have sadly wan