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the affirmative, we shall be encouraged to pray the more earnestly and to give the more liberally. We shall look upon our various endeavors as “bread cast upon the waters, which we shall find again after many days.”
Our confidence in the conversion of the heathen rests on the promise of God. God has said that it shall take place. " It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." Is. 2: 2-4. “And it shall come to pass that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all fiesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.” Is. 66: 23. “All shall know me, from the least to the greatest.” Heb. 8: 11. What God has promised will, without doubt, come to pass. His simple word is a sufficient guaranty that it will. But he has confirmed it, also, by an oath. The promise and the oath of God cannot fail. The course of events tends towards the fulfilment of the promise. Heaven and earth look on, as deeply interested spectators. The veracity of God and his glory demand that the heathen should be converted, therefore, because God has promised it.
The conversion of the world is a matter of prophecy, as well as of promise. From the beginning of God's communications to mankind, this has formed one of the most glowing themes of prophetic revelation. The patriarch Jacob, on his dying bed, looked down the long vista of ages, till Shiloh should come. David tuned his lyre to celebrate a King greater than Solomon, whose dominion shall last " as long as the sun and the moon endure." Isaiah, with his lips touched by a coal from the heavenly altar, foretold in seraphic strains the conquests of Immanuel. Daniel saw, in solemn splendor, “one like the VOL. XI. —NO. XLI.
Son of Man,” coming “with the clouds of heaven," to whom was given “dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all people, nations and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. His vision was definite, full, and clear. Its grasp embraced the whole earth. “ And," he says, "the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven. shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him." The prophet Micah reflected the brilliant picture of Isaiah; he echoed the melody of his prophetic music; he sung the chorus of the song, and closed it by his joyful Amen. He, also, foresaw the mountain of the Lord's house established in the top of the mountains, and exalted above the hills, and people flowing unto it. After a long interval, Christ appeared, and often foretold the triumphs of his cross. And last of all, a celestial radiance streamed forth over the waste of the Egean, and lighted up the rock of Patmos, where the apocalyptic prophet was confined, when the messengers of God came down to spread before him the vision of the period, in which the kingdoms of this world should be the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. The promises, in this respect, are prophecies; and the prophecies, promises. Other prophecies of the word of God have been fulfilled in their season; at the appointed time, we may infer from analogy, these will be fulfilled also. “God is not a man that he should lie, nor the son of man that he should repent. Hath he said, and will he not do it? Hath he spoken, and will he not make it good ?”
The Scriptures teach that it is the purpose of God to subdue the hearts of men, ultimately, to the spiritual sway of Jesus Christ. Promise and prophecy are no more than the expressions of his purpose. We understand the purpose of God in respect to future events, only through such expressions of it. Because God is unchangeable, whatsoever he has promised to do, that he will do. Because he is almighty, nothing can effectually resist the execution of his will. The attempt has, often enough, been made, to stay the progress of his empire. But the arm of man has found itself too weak for so unequal a contest. The weapons of the sinner and the skeptic have been turned against themselves. The projects for the dissemination of infidelity, God has diverted from their object, and made use of them as the means of the extension and establishment of the Christian religion. The scheme by which Pope Leo hoped to refill the exhausted treasury of the church, that he might still bind men in the iron fetters of Antichrist, proved the moving cause of the great Reformation. When men resist the purposes of God, “he that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision."
We infer the ultimate conversion of the heathen from the fact that prayer shall be answered. No doctrine is more largely taught in the New Testament, than the doctrine that God will answer prayer. And no subject of prayer finds so universal a place in the supplications of Christians, as this—that the world may be converted to God. Our Saviour, in the formula contained in the gospels, teaches us to make it one of our first petitions when we pray,—“thy kingdom come.” “Ask of me, my Son," saith God, "and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." Undoubtedly, the Son of God is not heedless of this promise. Moreover, he asks of his Father this consummation, when he pleads through his people. Their prayer is his spirit, speaking through them and in them. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?' I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.” “I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you.” T'he special occasions of the triumph of the gospel have been commonly connected with prayer. Prayer preceded the day of Pentecost; and the conquests of Christianity immediately commenced, which, within a few hundred years, were carried over the whole habitable earth. In the course of the last century, President Edwards composed a treatise which was designed to promote the agreement of the people of God in prayer for the conversion of the world. Not long afterwards, the Baptist brethren in England instituted the Monthly Concert of Prayer for the same object. And, in a short time, the missionary societies were founded and the work begun, which is still advancing, under the title of the enterprise of modern
missions. Every occasion set apart for the purpose of prayer, and every sincere petition offered before God for the heathen, taken in connection with the promises of the New Testament in respect to the efficacy of prayer, is an argument full of encouragement, bidding us to cherish with confidence the hope of the conversion of the world. " Before they call," saith God, “I will answer, and while they are yet speaking, I will hear."
In point of time, also, this consummation is, undeniably, approaching. If it is to come at all, which we cannot doubt, then every day brings it one day nearer. Every event of public interest and importance leaves one event of magnitude less to transpire, before this shall be achieved. Every kingdom overturned, every point of progress in national policy, every rise or ruin of a monarch, marks the rapidity with which the time is approaching, when “the kingdoms of this world shall be the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ;" and "he, whose right it is, shall reign." Every instance of the success of the gospel is but as another wave of the coming tide, rolling in to swell the sum of the glory of God, which “shall fill the whole earth, as the waters fill the sea.” Every morning when we rise, and every evening when we lie down, we have come still nearer, nearer to the universal reign of Christ. Never did men live so near to that sublime consummation as we. great are our encouragements to labor for its speedy achievement! How weighty are the responsibilities of so eventsul an age! “I, the Lord, will hasten it in his time.”
“On all the wings of time it flies,
“ Each moment brings it near;
« Welcome each closing year.
“Nor many mornings rise,
“ To our admiring eyes.”
If the faith of any one should be staggered in respect to such a consummation, by the question, “is such a thing possible?"-he may re-assure himself by recollecting that the gospel has once been actually carried over the whole known world; and that which is now proposed is only to send it forth again on a similar mission. In Col. 1: 23, Paul affirms, that it “was preached to every creature which is under heaven." Tradition avers that by the disciples of Christ, who “ went every where, preaching the word," the gospel was conveyed to the most remote kingdoms and provinces. And the history of the church exhibits its renewed progress, as it was proclaimed in various countries in successive centuries during the first thousand years of the Christian era, every where making conquests to Christ, until the darkness of the middle ages closed in, and the triumphs and the efforts of religion were, for a season, finished together. That which has been done once, can be done again. The population of the earth is greater, and there are more obstacles; but there are also more facilities. If the work was once effected, when there was little commerce, few means of transit and intercommunication among men, no Christian literature, and no art of printing, when most governments were leagued against Christianity, and there were few protective influences of a political kind, how much more, under the circumstances of this generation and of successive generations after it, entering into and perfecting its improvements, may the work be effected anew. Besides, even if to human view it were impossible, is not Jehovah the God of missions? And is he not omnipotent?
It is an important fact that, at present, missionary stations exist at many of the most favorable points in the unevangelized world. The work of missions is also approved and aided by the chief commercial nations. The influence of Britain and America is on the side of Christianity; and the more widely the power of their arts and their arms is felt, the more widely will their God, the true God, be known, and the way of salvation through heathen penances give place to the way of salvation through the Cross. It is to be lamented that the British power has in former years lent itself to the support of idolatry. Such a prostitution, however, is not to be charged to the nation. It is not a national act; but the act of a corporation, composed of a small number of persons. The nation, as such, would abjure the sin. But passing over such exVOL. XI.-NO. XLI.