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It can hardly be necessary to observe, that the Society for which this Sermon was preached is that now denominated, "The Church Missionary "Society for Africa and the East."--J. S.
EPHESIANS II. 12.
At that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.
Or all the times in which during many years I have been called to exercise my ministry, the present appears to me by far the most arduous and important: as it not only has respect to the eternal condition of the individuals which compose this auditory, and their immediate connexions; but as it is also especially intended to recommend an institution, which, though small in its beginnings, may, if properly conducted, adequately supported, and graciously prospered, extend its beneficial consequences to remote regions and future ages. So that multitudes of whom we know nothing, nay, who have not yet received an existence, may ultimately be concerned in the present service.
If the blessings derived from Christianity be so deeply needed, and so inestimably valuable, as its zealous friends suppose the scriptures to represent them; genuine philanthropy alone might, one would suppose, induce us to communicate them, if
possible, to such as still "sit in darkness and the "shadow of death." But, besides the benumbing power of selfishness in its varied forms, and disregard to God and religion compared with what are judged the personal or political interests of mankind, infidelity has diffused its contagion even among Christians: and the anti-scriptural sentiment, that Heathens, and Mohammedans, and Jews may be saved by their religions, if sincere in them, as well as Christians by their's, has cut the very sinews of exertion, and led men to undervalue the gospel itself. But, if this sentiment be true, why were apostles and evangelists sent forth to preach to all nations? To what purpose their labours, sufferings, and martyrdom? For what were they so zealous and earnest? Did they, or did they not, consider all men, of every nation, exposed to the wrath of God, under condemnation, and in danger of everlasting misery, from which they could not possibly be delivered except by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? If this were their judgment, they acted consistently; and if this "judg"ment were according to truth," they acted with genuine wisdom and disinterested philanthropy, as well as ardent zeal for the glory of God. The language of their conduct may be expressed in the words of the apostle; "The same Lord over all is "rich unto all that call upon him: for whosoever "shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. "How then shall they call on him on whom they "have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall "they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach except they be sent? As it is writ