Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

a right hand, and pluck out a right eye, and, if necessary, to sacrifice every earthly pleasure, for the sake of eternal salvation. Place yourselves in imagination, where you will soon be in fact, near the close of your probation, with death and the judgment just before you; and you will have the sentiment fixed deep in your hearts, that the care of the soul is the one thing needful for you, while you are members of the Seminary, and at every other period of your life; and that, if you neglect this, you neglect what is more important to you than all things else, and are guilty of a folly and a sin, for which no tears or sufferings can ever atone.

It is also obvious, that the present care of your soul is a duty which you owe not only to yourselves, but to your fellow-men ; inasmuch as it is the bes: way, and the only way, to prepare yourselves for the bigliest degree of riselulness. Such I well know was the sentiment of those devoted young men who have so soon fiuished their earthly Jabors. And the sentiment is most evidently just. Suppose a theological student says within himself: I am so deeply engaged in cultiruling my intellectual powers, and in acquiring huoledge of the various subjects connerted with my future profession, that I have little time for proyer, and improvement in spiritual religion ; and as I am prueceding in this way for the sake of fitting myself to do good, I hope I shall be excused for my neglect of personal pitty. Such a student has fallen into a mistake which is most pernicious in its tendency, and which neither Christ, nor the church, nor his own conscience will ever excuse. What! shall a man forsake God to prepare bimself to serve God? Shall he neglect his duty to qualify himself to perform it? Shall he turn his back upon the cause of Christ, to qualify himself most successfully to promote it? Shall he forsake prayer, that he may be fitted to teach others to pray? It is utter absurdity and sin. The very benevolence which prompts a man to prepare himself to do good, will prompt him to seek first of all to abound in the fruits of the Spirit. A student who cultivates his understanding, and neglects his heart, is not influenced by a pure desire to do good. He is influenced by worldly wisdom, by ambition, by selfishness.

But there is another question which the present occasion may help you satisfactorily to answer. Suppose the paramount importance of practical piety to be admitted; what are the particular branches of intellectual improvement which demand the chief attention of theological students ? Could you have put this question to our deceased friends a short time before their death, what think you would have been their reply? Or suppose that, within one or two years after entering on your profession, you yourself should be laid on a dying bed, and that a younger brother of yours, about to join a theological seminary, should ask you, what particular studies will be most im

portant, and what branches of knowledge onght to command his chief attention; can you doubt what answer ought to be given to such an inquiry? Those studies, you would say, are most important, and most worthy of attention, which are most intimately related to the great interests of religion :—those which lead most directly to the knowledge of the word of God, and which will help you most fully to understand the essential truths of Christianity, and most effectually to teach them to others; those, in a word, which will fit you to do most towards accomplishing the grand object for which the Savior came down from heaven, and lived and died.

There is one more question, which the present occasion may help you to answer: namely, what are the things which theological sludents ought most carefully to avoid ? Could this question have been proposed to our departed friends during their last days on earth, how united and forcible would have been the answer from their lips! How earnestly would they have warned and intreated you to avoid every thing in disposition, in thought, in word, and in deed, every thing in public and every thing in private, which is forbidden by the holy precepts of revelation, or which would interfere with your growth in kuowledge and grace, or your usefulness to the church.

Your own experience has taught you, that there are certain companies and amusements, certain kinds of reading and conversation, certain emotions and trains of thought, certain indulgencies of the natural appetites, certain kinds of business, and certain modes of doing business, which prove hinderances to study, to prayer, and to spiritual enjoyment, and bring pollution to the soul. Every thing of this nature should be avoided with more resolution and vigilance, thau that which would destroy your health or your lise. Do nothing which would leave a bad impression on your characier or your hearl, and lay a foundation for regret and sorrow in after time. Keep yourselves free from the lists of the flesh, the lusts of the eye, and the pride of life. Do nothing to defile the temple of God; which temple ye are.

Turn your attention now to another point, on which the present occasion may give you serious instructiou. Those five brethren, whose early death has been announced, have been subjected to a decisive trial as to the soundness of their conversion. They now know for a certainty, whether their hope of salvation was well founded. The time is near, when your hope will be tried in like manner. A sincere repentance, a sound conversion, prepares men to die, and to appear before God. But a spurious conversion, a superficial religion, though it may answer for worldly purposes, and may bear the test of a worldly inspection, will be worthless in a dying hour, and will vanish like a vapor at the judgment seat of Christ. Consider this subject now, while a mistake may be corrected. You are soon to go forth to the duties and trials of the ministry. And you are soon to go forth to meet the Lord Jesus, the almighty Savior and Judge. Behold, he cometh. Arise, and trim your lamps; and take heed that you be not like the foolish virgins, who found, too late, that they had no oil in their lamps. May not theological students and ministers be found, who have nothing but a false conversion, a counterfeit religion, and whose hope, quivering and ready to fail even now, will perish for ever when God taketh away the soul? The voice of those who have lately gone before you into the eternal world, and who know what it is to have their hope tried by him who searches the heart,—their voice now cries aloud in your ears: “Ye who are studying where we lately studied, and praying in those closets, and those public places, where we lately prayed, and are about to enter on that sacred work which we began and ended so soon; remember, that it is a serious thing to die. Examine yourselves, then, whether ye be in the faith. And do this with your eye turned to the hour of death, and to that day of account, when God will bring to light every work, and every secret thing, whether it be good or bad."

Finally: Endeavor to make these affecting events the occasion of special advancement in the divine life--the occasion of rising 10 higher fervor and constancy in your devout affections, and in your religious duties, than you have ever attained to before. There have been special seasons in the life of eminent Christians, when, under the impression of some divine truth, or of some remarkable providence, with the gracious help of the Holy Spirit, they have made uncommon progress in the work of religion; when they have gone forward in their warfare against sin with new courage, and have gained victory upon victory in rapid succession ;-seasons when they have done more to subdue their evil propensities and to grow in grace, in a few days, than they had done in years before. Could your five departed brethren speak to you on this subject, methinks they would say: “Oh, that our early death may be the means of raising you to higher degrees of faith,

nd love, and devotion! Then we shall feel that we did not die in vain." Members of this sacred Institution, turn your thoughts in earnest to this momentous concern. Let all low, earthly desires die away, and your souls be fired with holy, heavenly ardor. And let it be your humble but firm resolve, that you will impartially look into your spiritual state, and see what has been done, and what remains to be done, in your great work for eternity, and that, in reliance on divine help, you will make this a season of special advancement in your religious character; that you will strive with all your heart to attain to that habitual warmth and elevation of piety, which you have heretofore contemplated only as a distant and almost unapproachable object of desire, and to those holy joys, for which you have only panted before. Perseveringly do this, and you will learn from happy experience, as well as from the holy Scriptures, that God is able to do exceeding abundantly for you above

all that you can ask or think; and in all future time you will, with hearty thanks to God, look back upon this Sabbath, and this week, and this academic year, as a new and happy era in your Christian life.

So, through the great mercy of God, may it be with all the Students and all the Instructors of this sacred Institution.

SERMON CLXXXV.

In the forenoon my address was to the students of this Seminary generally. My present remarks will be adapted to those who contemplate engaging in the missionary service, and to others interested in the great cause of evangelizing the world.

First, to those particular students whose purpose it is to engage in the missionary service. We rejoice, dear friends, and give thanks to God, that your hearts have been moved with compassion to the perisining heathen. Yon have already made it a matter of frequent inquiry, what are the necessary qualifications of missionaries, and what is the spirit of mind which they ought to cherish. On this subject, which is too large to be particularly discussed at the present time, I shall aim only to impress upon your minds a few of those thoughts which are suggested by this very solemn occasion. An event of a sorrowful and appalling character has been announced to you,--an event unknown in the history of missions of late years, and of very rare occurrence for many centuries. Two young missionaries, of amiable manners and unexceptionable character, and urged on by Christian love to seek the good of those who are perishing in ignorance and vice, have been suddenly cut off by an act of the most shocking barbarity. Consider this, ye who have devoted yourselves to the service of Christ among the heathen. By this event you are carried back to primitive times, when it was nothing uncommon for missionaries to suffer martyrdom. How fondly have we been hoping that such times were for ever gone by. And the feeling may have found a place in our hearts, that as there are fewer trials and dangers to be encountered now, than formerly, lower qualifications in missionaries will be sufficient. If so, then may not God have permitted the awful event for the very purpose of correcting this hurtsul mistake, and making a more just impression on our minds as to the proper character of missionaries, and the views and feelings which should govern their conduct? You now see, perhaps in a more striking light than ever before, that as they who engage in the missionary service must die, and may die at the very commencement of their work; those who are looking forward to that service ought, by all means, to be in a state of preparation for the kingdom of heaven. And you well know that the grand article of preparation is, that you be truly converted men, born of God, living Christians,—having your hearts so purified by faith, and so changed into the holy image of God, that you may be at all times ready for your departure. You see also, that as peculiar difficulties and perils may lie in your path, you ought to be armed with invincible courage and patience and trust in God, and so be prepared for trials the most sudden and severe. To prepare yourselves

for the self-denying and laborious work which you contemplate, accustom yourselves to strict self-denial and hard labor. Banish for ever the love of praise, the love of promotion, and a worldly spirit in every form, as totally uncongenial to the nature of the missionary enterprise. Let your heart be possessed with so strong an affection for the heathen, and so earnestly pant after their salvation, that the difficulties and sacrifices associated with the missionary work may lose all their terror, and even become attractive. Do you think that, Lyman and Munson were afraid of danger and suffering ? Had they known the mortal violence that was coming upon them long enough beforehand to make it a subject of deliberate reflection, would they have repented of having devoted themselves to the missionary service? Now, while preparing for that service, ponder well the trials to which you may be exposed. Count the cost. Regard sacrifices and sufferings as constituting a substantial part, and not an unwelcome part, of the life of missionaries. Be ready to follow Christ to prison and to death. The true missionary spirit showed itself in Paul, when he said to his sorrowing friends who were anxious for his safety,—“What mean ye to weep and to break my heart? for I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem, for the name of the Lord Jesus ;” and again, when he said to the Philippian Christians --"Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice, and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all." If you would achieve great and noble deeds, prepare for great and severe trials. If you would be strong to act, be strong to suffer. Never think of enlisting in this holy warfare without a cordial readiness to endure affliction. Let your minds be so thoroughly informed and settled on this point, that no danger or suffering can ever move you. Have that steady faith in God, and that unquenchable love to the souls of men, which are proper to the ambassadors of Christ; and then what has taken place on the island of Sumatra will have no power to disquiet your minds, or turn you back from your holy enterprise. The world is to be converted; and the last command of the risen Savior is, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." It is not, Go preach the gospel so far as you can without exposing yourselves to suffering and death. It has no such condition. It is peremptory. “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." The early propagation of the gospel cost thousands of lives. The mere profession of Christianity, even when made in the most noiseless, inoffensive manner, was attended, in instances which cannot be numbered, with deprivations, imprisonment, tortures, and death in its most frightful forms. But did the prospect of such sufferings prevent ministers from preaching the gospel, or private Christians from adhering to it? Did their conscience bend or their hearts grow faint under persecution ? No, never. Persecution did indeed help to draw the line between true and false professors. When afHictions came on account of the word, those who were not of the fold of Christ, generally drew back. So it would be now. Should dangers and troubles multiply, and should the powers of the world and the powers of darkness gain the ascendency in every missionary field, and breathe out threatenings and slaughter against the preachers of the cross; what think you would be the effect of all this upon the number of missionaries? Weigh the question well. Would their number be increased, or diminished ?-It is not to be doubted, that such a prospect of persecution and suffering would intimidate and drive back those,

« AnteriorContinuar »