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even in the Apostle's days, we find all them that were in Asia turning away from the Apostle: we find St. John, speaking as the mouthpiece of the Saviour, warning the seven churches under his care there that Christ would remove the candlestick out of its place. We find corruption gradually spreading over the church until the desolation that came upon her through the fall of the Roman empire, and again the voice of God was heard. In christendom, what do we find ? The glory of the true gospel of God made manifest at the Reformation, the eastern churches remaining in their superstition, the great western christendom having oppression instead of judgment, having a cry instead of righteousness; and even our own church, how is it defiled with worldliness, with covetousness, with Christlessness, with coldness, can we dare to say christendom as it now stands, if it were to come to judgment, and the Head of the church were to meet his baptized body on earth, that we have stood in God's goodness? Is it in Italy, that is only kept by foreign bayonets from a baptized brotherhood slaughtering each other? Is it on the continent of Europe, any. where, that we can find a baptized body of christians bringing forth the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ to the praise and glory of God? Is it in England, with the feebleness of divine love, compared with others indeed, (when we are foolish enough to do so) we may appear bright, but, is it in England with all her wealth, and the small amount of that wealth thrown into the Lord's treasury, with all her energy directed to the world more than to God? Would England dare to say that she has stood in the goodness of God? And therefore there is indeed an awful warning here, “behold therefore the goodness and severity of God; on them which
fell, severity, but, toward thee goodness, if thou continue in goodness, otherwise, thou also shall be cut off." And, Brethren, we have entered now upon that period of the Gentile church's history in which the warning voice of God has gone forth , and the judgment of God shall soon take place. We find in the 14th chap. of the Book of Revelations, that there is a series of events predicted, which are declared, prophetically declared, to end in ruin. There is first a new proclamation of the gospel to all nations, the universal gospel preached with this addition, "for the hour of his judgment is come." There is then the falling of Babylon from bad to worse, and becoming the habitation of devils, “another angel followed, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen. There is then the persecution terminating with that dreadful admonition, that if any man worship the beast and his image the smoke of their torment ascendeth
for everand ever, Then the Son of man sends forth his ministers to gather his fruit. The true people of God are gathered, “thrust in thy sickle and reap; for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe, and he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped." Here is the gathering of the wheat into his garner, the taking up of the saints to meet the Lord in the air: and then what is the end of the Gentile church ?" And another angel came out from the altar which had power over fire, and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, “thrust in
. thy sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe: and the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great wine-press of the wrath of God."
Is it not a marvelous mystery of satanic delusion that any one should dare to speak of the infallibility of the vineyard of the Lord, of a vine which thus has the judgment of God written upon it, that it is to become an earthly vine and to be cast into the great wine-press of the wrath of God ?
That voice speaks to us in a voice of solemn warning: if the whole church will not listen, at least let the believers in Christ solemnly, earnestly, faithfully, prayerfully, listen that we may have the grace of God to bring forth those fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ unto the praise and glory of God.
It is my duty briefly to appeal to you in God's name this morning for one of those fruits of the vineyard.
Many and deep are the wrongs which England has inflicted upon Africa. The curse of the slave trade has been a blot and taint upon England's character, and for many years she has endeavoured to wipe out that blot from off her by her legislation and by her costly sacrifices, in endeavouring to remove that slave trade. The blessing of God has rested upon the missionary efforts which have been made in Africa, and now there is the voice of God in his providence crying to us from Sierra Leone, the centre of England's benificent influence that once had been the centre of England's cursed influence, There we have christian churches becoming so numerous, and christian communicants so many that they need that episcopal superintendence which Christ has appointed in his church, the ministry that is the head and source of all true ministry, so far as human ordinances are concerned, and around which Christ has clustered more of power than around any other ordinance of human ministration in his church.
An appeal is made to us to provide a bishop for Sierra Leone. The providence of God is giving an influence of good there,-grace and peace, prevail there, almost beyond any other spot of the church's operations on earth. Surely it is an appeal to us to bring forth the fruits of the vineyard, that we may thankfully contribute to such an object as this. There is found one minister of the church of England willing to go to that place, that has been so often called the grave of Europeans, and there to devote himself to his Saviour's service in that portion of his church. feel it to be indeed an opportunity for the thankful exercise of christian love, to contribute of our means to his establishment and his comfort there.
I feel, brethren, that every heart and every conscience this morning will consider that this is an appeal not from man but from Christ that every effort which is within our power may be made by which we may turn a wellearned curse into a very great blessing from him who has promised that if the wicked shall turn from the evil of his doings, his sin shall no more be remembered but his thank-offering of God shall be accepted with mercy through Christ.
III. In the last place we have to consider who are the nation of whom our Saviour says, “the Kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." They are not the Gentiles, for the Gentiles have not borne the fruit: but they are the restored converted Jews. They are the nation, the descendants of the very people to whom Christ then addressed himself. They shall bring forth the fruits : but when ? When the spirit of burning and the spirit of judgment shall have taken away all the evil from the midst of them,
may enter in.”
and all the sins that they committed shall have been punished by the sword; and they shall be a restored nation prepared to meet a returned Saviour, and the word of the Lord shall go forth from Jerusalem, and the law of God from Mount Zion. The 26th chap. of the prophet Isaiah gives this view to us of the nation that is to bring forth the fruits thereof. “ In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah: we have a strong city, salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. Open ye the gates that the righteous nation that keepeth the truth
Here is the righteous nation that keepeth the truth, or (as the margin reads it) the truth, that is, the faithfulness. They shall enter into a rebuilt Jerusalem, a returned nation, and that a righteous nation: they shall enter in, and they shall be indeed a nation bringing forth the fruits of righteousness to the praise and glory of God. Of that nation we read in the 31st chap. of the prophecies of Jeremiah, in the 33rd and 34th verse, “ But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel : After those days saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord : for they shall all know me, from the least of them, unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."
Christ at the very moment that he was speaking words of judgment, was including in those words promises of mercy. While he was telling these Christ-rejecting Scribes and Pharisees that the Kingdom of God should be taken from them, he was