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promote it. It is plain, therefore, from the universally admitted point, that Christians ought to pray, and to pray with fervor, for the coming and prevalence of their Redeemer's kingdom, that they ought to feel interested-deeply, solemnly, joyfully interested, in the exertions which are making at the present time to bring about so desirable an event. Indeed, if they pray as they ought in relation to this object, they will feel interested in exertions to promote it. Their feelings will be enlisted, and their hearts engaged, in their favor. They will be led to keep up an acquaintance with these benevolent efforts, and to watch all those changes with anxious vigilance, which may have a bearing on the interests of the Church, and the furtherance of the gospel. I add,
3. It is implied in fervent prayer for the universal spread of the religion of Christ, that we are disposed to do all we consistently can, by our influence, our personal labors, and our property, to promote this religion.-Prayer is an expression of our desires, and fervent prayer of our earnest desires that this holy. religion might be promoted, and fill the earth. But if we earnestly desire such an event, shall we not be willing to do what in us lies to accomplish it? And if we manifest an unwillingness to do as much as this, who will give us credit for the earnestness or the sincerity of our desires? Who will believe that our prayers on the subject are not heartless and insincere ? -Will not the sick person, who prays for the restoration of health, be disposed to use all necessary. means that his health may be restored? Will not the pious parent, who prays for the conversion of his children, be disposed to do whatever he is able, that they may be converted and saved? And will it not hold universally true, that any object, for which we
can sincerely and earnestly pray, we shall be disposed and engaged, so far as in us lies, to accomplish? How plainly therefore is it implied in prayer for the universal diffusion of the gospel, which we all believe ourselves under obligations to offer, that we also consider ourselves engaged and pledged to do whatever we consistently can, by our influence with others, and by our personal labors and sacrifices, to spread the gospel of salvation throughout the earth?
There is but one way, my hearers, in which we can rid ourselves of the obligations, here urged upon us ; and this is, denying it to be our duty to pray for the spread of the gospel. We may, if we please, deny this, and then we may consistently deny that which is necessarily implied in it. We may say, if we will, that we are under no obligations to love our fellow men as we do ourselves; or if we are, that this does not bind us to pray for their spiritual and eternal welfare. We may say, that our Saviour was under a mistake, in dictating to his disciples and followers petitions such as those contained in the text. We may say, that all the saints, since Christ was upon earth, have erred in offering up these petitions ; and that the Christian world are strangely deluded, in supposing it their duty to pray for the universal spread of the gospel. But if we will not, and dare not, say this; if we accede to the propriety of praying as our Saviour directed, "Thy kingdom come→→→→ thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven;" then we must accede to the propriety of that which is most plainly and necessarily implied in such prayer. We must accede to the propriety of desiring the coming and universal prevalence of Christ's kingdom; of feeling a deep and joyful interest in the exertions which are making to promote this kingdom: and of
doing ourselves all we consistently can do to carry forward the work, and fill the world with the Saviour's name, and glory.
If all this is implied in praying for the universal diffusion of the gospel; then are not many chargeable with a very great inconsistency in relation to this subject? They accede to the propriety of praying for the coming and prevalence of Christ's kingdom; and when they hear themselves directed, by the Saviour himself, or by their civil rulers, to offer up such prayers; all is in their view as it should be. They have no objection to praying for such an object, and in words perhaps they often do pray for it. But notwithstanding this, they take no pains to make themselves acquainted with the efforts of christians, relative to the advancement of the Redeemer's kingdom, and appear strongly uninterested in every thing of this nature. And they are unwilling to do any thing either in word or deed-either by their influence, their personal labors, or their property, to promote the object for which they are praying, and spread the gospel throughout the earth. Now whether such persons are sensible of it or not, they are chargeable with a great and dreadful inconsistency. They are ostensibly praying that Christ's kingdom might come, and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven; while they sit still and behold the powers of darkness pushing forward their work of devastation and woe, without so much as lifting a finger against them. "The language of their lips is, carry on, O God, the purposes of thy redeeming love; gather in thy elect; save mankind from their awful state of wretchedness and sin; proclaim the glad news of salvation to the distant corners of the earth; send forth the ministers of thy word, and the missionaries of thy cross; give
thy son the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession." But “the language of the conduct is, Excuse our remissness in thy service; leave us, to amass wealth, to feast on pleasure, to shine with distinction, and to say to our soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up in store for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.'"*
There is reason to fear, my brethren, that the inconsistency here spoken of is no uncommon trait. It is an evil which, in a greater or less degree, I think extensively prevails. Nor is it difficult to be accounted for why it prevails. It is owing to the pride, and sloth, and avarice of men. It costs them nothing to pray for the coming of Christ's kingdom, and the universal diffusion of his holy religion; indeed, such prayers under particular circumstances may gain them credit;-but to do any thing to accomplish that for which they pray-to make an effort to propagate the religion of the gospel, must necessarily be attended with labor and expense. It costs rulers nothing, to recommend to the people in their public Proclamations, to pray for the universal prevalence of the religion of Christ-so far from this, such recommendations are actually and deservedly creditable to rulers; but it might cost them something, were they to enter with zeal and spirit into the great work of spreading the gospel, and to exert their influence and power for the purpose of advancing it. It costs Ministers and people nothing, to comply externally with the recommendation of their rulers, and the direction of Christ, and to pray in words that his religion might fill the earth; but were they to do that which is necessarily implied in such prayers, and
* Gallaudet's Serm. p. 82.
without which the prayers themselves are no better than mockery in the sight of God-were they to engage heart and hand in the great work of sending the gospel to the remotest nations this would involve exertions and sacrifices from which their slothful and selfish hearts revolt.
In conclusion, my brethren and friends, let us endeavour to ascertain how much of the inconsistency here spoken of attaches to us. We believe it our duty to pray for the coming of Christ's kingdom; do we also feel it our duty to do what is obviously and necessarily implied in such prayers? And if we feel thus, do we practise accordingly ?—It is of great importance that we be consistent somewhere. If then we are unwilling to stop praying for the coming of Christ's kingdom (as all must be who are not willing to be Deists) let us consent to act as well as pray, and be engaged to accomplish that for which we present our supplications before the throne of heaven.Of those who have been consistent in this great work, we are favored with numerous examples. Paul the Apostle was consistent. He prayed for the diffusion of the gospel; and he labored, and suffered, and sacrificed his earthly all, in spreading the gospel throughout the earth. David Brainerd was consistent. He prayed that the religion of his Saviour might prevail ; and he was willing to deny himself, and bear his cross and wear out his life, to accomplish the object of his prayer. And thousands of others have been consistent, who have not been Missionaries, or Ministers, or persons of extensive influence or high rank in life. They have prayed for the coming of their Redeemer's kingdom, and have done what they consistently could do to promote it; and more than this cannot be required of any one. Of such persons, my friends, let