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spirit of expansive benevolence which his gospel requires; that day, which shall witness the triumphs of his grace, from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same.
Such a day, blessed be God, we do hope has begun to dawn. The occasion on which we are now met, connected with the various circumstances which have led to this meeting, proclaims that this day has begun to dawn. Christians are at last awaking from the slumber of ages, and beginning to feel that the benevolence of the gospel does not permit them to sit down at their ease, and indulge in supineness and indifference, while there are so many millions of their fellow creatures, who never heard of the name of Jesus, and do not know that they are hastening to an eternal retribution. Thus did not Paul, and Peter, and other followers of the Saviour. Thus we cannot do, without disobedience to the holy injunction which requires us to do good to all men as we have opportunity; without dishonoring that benevolence which is the glory of the Christian religion.
I need not repeat the history of those benevolent efforts, by which the present age, beyond all since the first century after the death of Christ, is distinguished. It is familiar to your minds; and lies ready at hand, in a multitude of religious publications to which the spirit of Christian zeal has recently given birth. I longer necessary to inform you, how great a portion of the human race are yet involved in more than Egyptian night, and never have seen the blessed light of the gospel. This subject has been, in various ways, brought before your minds ; so that you now distinctly know the wants and woes of multitudes of your fellow creatures,
and what proportion of them are in a perishing state. I have thought then, that I could not occupy your time more appropriately, or profitably, on the present occasion, than by contributing, so far as lies in my power, to urge the continuance and the increase of that spirit of primitive Christianity, which has begun of late to manifest itself in so distinguished a manner, by spreading abroad the knowledge of a Saviour.
We must do good to all men, as we have opportunity;
I. We must do good to all men, as we have opportunity.
A real conviction of our obligation to do good to all men as we have opportunity, a conviction which is efficacious and permanent, which will regulate our affections and our conduct, can spring only from that benevolence, which I have already endeavoured to describe, and which renders us like to God and the Saviour. When the soul becomes a partaker of this spirit, and the obligations of love towards perishing fellow creatures are placed before it ; it cannot doubt, where the path of duty lies, nor hesitate, (so far as it is actuated by this spirit,) to follow it. When impelled by love, it will not be timid and skeptical, in admitting the evidence that there is opportunity to do good. Credible testimony that fellow beings are in want and wo, and exposed to everlasting misery, will make it anxious to seek opportunities to do them good. We are not to sit down and wait, until those opportunities are presented by some fortuitous circumstances, which we can never foresec, nor in which we can have any agency. Christ
and Paul went about doing good. They sought the objects of misery wherever they were to be found, at the expense of the greatest exertions, toils, and sufferings. And when this spirit animates the bosoms of the followers of Jesus, there never can be wanting opportunity to do good to all men. There is no nation, nor tribe, nor family, to whom good may not be done.
I do not deny that our text may, and does, comprize the good which may be done to our fellow creatures in a temporal, as well as a spiritual respect. It is a precept of a general nature, embracing all kinds of good. But granting this; it is very obvious, then, that spiritual good is not to be excluded. For if Christianity requires that we should do good to all, as we have opportunity ; it requires us to do that good, which of all is the most important. As long then as the soul is of more importance than the body; as long as eternity is of more consequence than the few, fleeting years of our mortal existence ; and as long as the retributions of eternity accord with the state of moral character here formed: so long, will efforts to saye the souls of men from everlasting death, and to hide a multitude of sins, be the most conspicuous and important among all the works of benevolence, which man can ever perform ; so long will they constitute the grand point of obedience to the injunction of our text.
It is not usual for those who bear the Christian name, to deny directly, that duty requires them to do good to all men as they have opportunity. But ah! how different the capacities and efforts of men, to find opportunities! One visits the shores of India, or Africa, and finds a thousand objects which seize his attention. The climate and productions, with the man
ners, dress, and appearance of the heathen inhabitants, pass in review before him_and he describes them with lively interest to others : but, the darkness which covers them, he does not recognize; he does not inquire how much they need a Saviour; nor whether the gospel can be published among them. He views them simply as human animals; investigates their means of animal enjoyment; but never once thinks, whether they are immortal beings, and capable of being formed, by the gospel, for the enjoyment of endless happiness.
Not so the Christian traveller, whose heart glows with apostolic zeal. Not so Buchanan! that oriental star whose beams have scattered light over many nations; and whose reflection, even after it has set, still brightens all the western hemisphere. He could find objects of christian charity, wherever he directed his steps. At Calcutta, at Ceylon, at the temple of Juggernaut-he found excitement to do the work of God. Heathen abominations kindled his zeal for his Master's honor ; and like the most exalted missionary that ever proclaimed the grace of God to the perishing heathen, his heart was stirred within him, whenever he saw the people devoted to idolatry. The holy flame which kindled in his breast, he has communicated to thousands in Europe and America. It is spreading far and wide. I trust it will burn with a more pure, intense, and heavenly warmth, until all hearts shall feel its influence; and the blessings which it will bring upon the race of man, shall be extended as widely as the ruins of the fal}.
O for a thousand Buchanans, to traverse the earth and survey the moral desolations of mankind with a Christian eye; and then to appeal to the followers of Jesus, with such tender compassion for perishing immortals !
Our opportunities to do good would soon transcend all our past conceptions on this subject ; and the injunction of our text would press with redoubled force upon us.
There is, however, little danger, but that our opportunities to do good will be more extensive, as it respects the wants that urge themselves upon our notice, than our ability, or even our inclination. There is, therefore, more need of our being excited to press forward in the course of benevolence, than of our being, at present, instructed where we may find opportunity to do good. Let us proceed, then, to contemplate the exhortation of our text;
Be not weary in well doing.
It is incident to our present state of being, that we are exposed to change; and sometimes, through discouragement, we abandon or neglect objects, which are of great importance. All men who are duly acquainted with themselves, feel and lament this weakness. In respect to the great object, on account of which we are this day convened, and for the promotion of which so many in our country are at present engaged; I am happy in being able to say, that as yet no sensible diminution of zeal appears; and no direct evidence that Christians are becoming weary of well doing. But, it is certainly true that the efforts which have been made to promote this object, have called forth the reasonings of some ingenious men against it; and that some circumstances exist, which are calculated to abate the ardour of 'those, who are not furnished with a good degree of information on subjects of this nature, or who have not become too deeply and thoroughly imbued with the spirit of missions, to be impeded by any objections, or dissuaded by any discouragements. Per.'