Sermon 806. A Young Man's Vision
Delivered on Thursday evening, April 16, 1868, by
C. H. SPURGEON,
at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington,
Being the Annual Sermon of the Young Men's Association in Aid of the Baptist Missionary Society.
"Your young men shall see visions.'" Acts 2:17.
MANY visions have led to the most disastrous results. When Napoleon had a vision of a universal monarchy over which he shouldpreside, with the French eagle for his ensign, he drenched the lands in blood. Many visions have been wretchedly delusive.Men have dreamed of finding the fairy pleasure in the dark forest of sin. Carnal joys have danced before their eyes as temptinglyas the mirage in the desert, and they have pursued the phantom forms to their misery in this world and to their eternal ruinin the next. Mistaking license for liberty, and madness for mirth, they have dreamed themselves into Hell! Many dreams havesucked the life-blood out of men as vampires do.
Men have passed from stern reality into dreamland and while seemingly awake, have continued like sleepwalkers to do all thingsin their sleep. Many pass all their days in one perpetual daydream-speculating, building castles in the air, thinking of whatthey would do-and vowing how they would behave themselves. With fine capacities they have driveled away existence! As theirtheory of life was born of smoke, so the result of their lives has been a cloud. The luxurious indolence of mere resolve,the useless tossing of regrets-these have been all their sluggard life.
But for all this, good and grand visions are not unknown-visions which came from the excellent glory. Visions which, whenyoung or old men have seen them, have filled them with wisdom, Divine Grace and holiness. Visions which have worked with sucheffect upon their minds that they have been lifted up above the level of the sons of men and made sons of God, co-workerswith the Eternal! Such visions are given to men whose eyes have been illumined by the Holy Spirit-visions which have comeof that eye-salve which only the Holy Spirit can apply. Visions which are not bestowed on carnal men nor unveiled to the impurein heart. Visions reserved for the men elect of God who are sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and made meet to be partakers ofthe witness of God and the testimony of His Son.
All Divine things, when they first come to men from the Lord, are as visions because man is so little prepared to believeGod's thoughts and ways that he cannot think them to be real. They appear to us to be too great, too good to be real. We lookat them rather as things to be desired and wished for, than as things that may be actually ours. It must be so while Jehovah'sways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts than our thoughts. It must be so, that even Divine mercy should at first bea burden to the Prophet who has its message to deliver, and that the eternal promise should be a vision to the Seer who firstreceives it.
We are so gross and carnal, even when most clarified and made fit to receive Divine impressions, God's spiritual messagesand directions to us must usually at the first float dimly before the sense, and only in after thoughts become solid and clear.We must take care that we do not neglect heavenly monitions through fear of being considered visionary. We must not be staggeredeven by the dread of being styled fanatical, or out of our minds-for to stifle a thought from God is no mean sin. How muchof good in this world would have been lost if good men had quenched the first half-fashioned thoughts which have flitted beforethem!
I mean, for instance, had Martin Luther taken the advice of his teacher when he said to him, "Go your way, silly monk! Goto your cell and pray God, and if it be His will He will reform the abuses of this Church, but what have you to do with it?"Supposing the agitated monk had administered an opiate to his soul, what then? Doubtless the Gospel to Luther at the firstwas dim enough, and the idea of reform most vague and indistinct-but had he closed his heart to his vision, how long mightnot the Romish darkness have brooded over the multitudes of Europe? And George Fox, that most eminent of dreamers who dreamedmore and more vividly than any other man! Where had been all the testimoniesfor a spiritual religion? Where all the holy influences for benevolence, for peace, for anti-slavery, for I know not whatbesides which have streamed upon this world through the agency of the Society of Friends, if the wild Quaker had been contentto let his impressions come and go and be forgotten?
These things, which nowadays are ordinary Christian doctrines, were considered in his day to be but the prattle of fanatics,even as the reforms which some of us shall live to see are denounced as revolutionary, or ridiculed as Utopian. O young men,if you have received a thought which dashes ahead of your times, hold to it and work at it till it comes to something! Ifyou have dreamed a dream from the Lord, turn it over and over again till you are quite sure it is not steam from a heatedbrain, or smoke from Hell-and when it is clear to your own heart that it is fire from off God's altar- then work and prayand wait your time.
Perhaps it may take 50 years to work that thought out, or what is worse, you may never live to see it realized, but what ofthat? You may have to leave that thought sown in the dust, but the thought will not die. It may produce a harvest when youare with the angels! Do not, I pray you, because the thing happens to seem new, or too enthusiastic, or too far ahead, besnubbed into putting it into a corner. But take care of it and nurture it-and if it is not of God, a little experience willdisabuse you of it, let us hope. But if it is of the Lord, you will grow in your attachment to it and by-and-by God will findan opportunity for you to make it practical.
The great Father of spirits does, in fact, say to you when He puts a great design into your keeping, as Pharaoh's daughtersaid to Jochebed, "Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages." And though the Moses that younurse may not deliver Israel in your lifetime, yet shall you have your wages if you nurse the thought for God. Many suggestionswhich come from God to men are not so much visions to them as they are to the outside world. And need we wonder at this? Why,men of science and art have to endure the same ordeal! Stephenson declares that he will make a machine which will run, withouthorse-power, at the rate of 12 miles an hour-and how the Tory benches of the House of Commons, loaded then, as now, with stupidity,roared at the man as a born fool!
How was it proved to a demonstration that if the engine began to work, the wheels might revolve, but the engine never wouldmove an inch! Or if it moved at a great speed, the passengers would not he able to breathe! Yet Stephenson lived to see hisdream fulfilled and we have lived to see it a much more wonderful power still. Now, if men of science can endure this, andif we members of the Baptist Mission remember still the roars of laughter which were launched by Sydney Smith against "theinspired cobbler," when he talked about the conquest of India for the Lord Jesus Christ, we may well be prepared, when weobtain an inspiration from God, to put up with a world of scorn, opposition and contempt for a little time, and to say, "Never mind, there is a day coming that shall reverse the hasty judgment of this world. You sons of darkness are not a fairjury to sit upon questions of light. You blind men who know not God, nor the glory of His power are not qualified to mountthe bench and sit in judgment upon thoughts which flash from the eternal mind. You may give your judgment, but the Lord shallreverse it, and time, which is always with the Truth of God, will before long turn the laugh in another direction.
With this rather too long preface about dreaming, I will now confess that, after my own fashion, I, too, have seen a vision.And though you should say of me in days to come, "Behold, this dreamer comes," yet, as he that has a dream is bid to tellhis dream, so I tell mine. My dream is this-I have seen in vision, missionary spirit in England, now so given to slumber,marvelously quickened, awakened and revived! I have seen-the wish was father to the sight-I have seen the ardor of our firstmissionary days return to us! I have seen young men eager for the mission field, and old men and fathers sitting in unitedcouncil to correct mistakes, to devise new methods, or to strengthen the old ones, so that by any means the great chariotof Christ might roll onwards and that His victories might be more rapid.
I thought that I saw, from one end of England to the other, the Christian Church stirred with a deep sense of her duty tothe heathen Christian ministers full of pangs and sorrows on account of dying myriads. I thought that I saw Christian menand women universally contributing liberally of their substance, while men fitted for the work pushed forward at the callof the great Lord of the harvest to toil in the great harvest field. I have seen such a vision. By God's Grace, we shall seeit a fact! Would to God that the captivity of our Zion might be turned-then should we be like they that dream! Then shouldour mouth be filled with laughter and our tongue with singing while the heathen would cry, "The Lord has done great thingsfor them."
First, this evening, I shall try to justify my vision and show that it is by no means unreasonable. Secondly, I shall, ina few words, elaborate the vision or give the details of it. And then, in the third place, as time may suit us, I shall endeavorto promote its realization.
I. First, LET US JUSTIFY OUR VISION. We have dreamed that the missionary spirit was suddenly revived among us, that missionswere pushed on with greater ardor and that God vouchsafed to them a far greater blessing than He has done of late. There havebeen more incoherent dreams than that in this world, and for this reason-first, that which we have dreamed of is evidentlyneeded. Brethren, we are not among those who are prepared to croak and complain at the very first difficulty that may arisein a great enterprise, but no man can look upon our own Baptist Mission-and I suppose we are not much worse than others-withoutfeeling that there is a pretty general flagging in missionary interest.
And albeit that the funds may not much have fallen off, yet the annual recurrence of a debt, which is far from being welcome,together with other matters goes to show that missionary zeal needs rekindling. This results partly from the fact that thenovelty of the thing has worn off-the work having now been on the anvil for 50 years and more-and partly because we have hadfew very startling incidents of late to evoke a display of enthusiasm.
That the missionary fire exists is certain, for when the recent events in Jamaica acted, as it were, as a refreshing breeze,the embers glowed and flamed anew. It is there, certainly, for the heart of the Church is alive. It is there, but it is slumbering.You who remember the thundering voice of William Knibb and the great meetings which would be gathered when some such Brethrenreturned home to tell what God had done among the heathen, must feel that you have fallen upon dull, uninteresting days inmission life. It is as when the thing is flat and stale, and when men have reached the dregs of the wine and the new wineis not in the cluster.
Well, then, if it is so, let it be remembered that missionary zeal ought not to flag-if there is any one point in which theChristian Church ought to keep its fervor at a white heat, it is concerning missions to the heathens. If there is anythingabout which we cannot tolerate lukewarmness, it is in the matter of sending the Gospel to a dying world. How can we expect,in such an enterprise, with difficulties to our poor weakness so insuperable, that we shall ever succeed if any of our strengthis left unused? With all we have we are weak enough, but if we send but part of the army to the battle-if we exert but halfof our strength-how can we expect that the blessing of God shall rest upon us? Depend upon it, that the flagging of zeal athome acts like a canker abroad!
When the heart of Christianity in England does not throb vigorously, every single limb of the missionary body feels the decline,and there is not a missionary anywhere, from the snows of Labrador to the burning heats of Africa, who is not enervated andinjured when the Christian public at home begin to weary in well doing. It needs then, it imperatively needs, that our visionshould be made a fact. We may be excused our vision because it is very possible that it may be realized. It is not a thingtoo hard to look for. It was far harder work, surely, to have established the mission than it will be most thoroughly andearnestly to revive it!
If we will but enquire into what may have been the causes of any decline that exists, we shall not find them, I think, tobe very deep, nor to be difficult of remedy. They are but superficial, and a little loving earnestness will soon remove them.Brethren, as a denomination we are beginning to cluster more closely around our standard. We have been up to now somewhatscattered over the field-isolated, divided-and therefore weak. But now we feel that our strength must lie, under God, in ourunity, and our ranks are classing each man to his Brother. We feel the fire of sacred love burning in our hearts, and as wecome together and begin to talk of the difficulties before us in a fraternal spirit, they will all vanish!
Lovingly correcting errors, carefully removing excrescences and boldly advancing, the stone shall be rolled away from thesepulcher before we reach it, for if not in God's name and by His strength, we will never roll it away ourselves. And if therehas been a flagging, this very meeting, in which there are young and ardent spirits, shall help to supply the material withwhich to kindle a fire which shall nevermore grow dim. More than that-it is not only possible that our dream may become areality, but it is very probable-for so it always has been. If ever God's Church has declined for a little while, unexpectedlythere has been yielded a season of refreshing from the Presence of the Lord. We know not what God has in store. He is greatat surprises! His best wine last amazes us all.
When the devil is most secure upon his throne, then God springs a mine and blows his empire into atoms. Just when the wisevirgins and the foolish alike have allowed their lamps to burn low, then is the cry heard, "Behold, thebridegroom comes!" and those virgins arise and trim their lamps. So will it be among us. I am hopeful that, in answer to earnestprayer, God will speedily send among us a general intensity of desire for the glory of Christ, accompanied by broken heartsand weeping eyes for the perishing heathen, and a solemn resolve that, in Jehovah's strength we will spare no pains and neglectno efforts by which we may make the Gospel known unto the ends of the earth!
Yes, a thorough renovation of the missionary society, a resurrection of the mission spirit, and an arousing of our Churchesis delightfully probable-it were wretched, indeed, if it were not so. One thing more we will say upon this topic, namely,that such a renewal is solemnly required of us. What are our personal obligations to the Crucified? What owe we not to theGospel which has delivered us from an eternity of woe and has guaranteed to us an everlasting career of blessedness? Thisnight, redeemed, regenerated, adopted, justified, sanctified, with your feet upon the rock, a song in your mouth, and yourgoings established-will you not feel it to be a call from Heaven that you should be in earnest to gather in the Lord's chosenout of all nations that dwell upon the face of the earth?
Did our Savior slumber in His life-work? Was He tardy in His service for our redemption? Then might we grow lax? But if, settingHis face to Jerusalem, He panted for the baptism in which He was to be baptized, and was straitened until it was accomplished,then He claims of us, according to our measure, the same steadfastness of resolve and perseverance of purpose, and sacrificeof self! I charge you, young men, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, be not slow to spend and be spent for Him. Allis too little-shall we give Him less than all? Fervent services are too poor-shall we be lukewarm? Descend, O heavenly fire,and now inflame us, for less than Your flames cannot enable us to live as live we should! I will not tarry upon this point.You have already forgiven me my dream.
II. LET US PROCEED TO ELABORATE THE VISION. I was asked principally to address young men this evening.
I am a young man myself, and therefore if I utter anything exceedingly visionary, you will observe its justification in thetext, "Your young men shall see visions." My dream seemed to take this shape: In order that missionary work should be reformed,revived and carried on with energy and with hope of success, it seemed necessary that especially among our young members thereshould be a revival of intense and earnest prayer, and anxious sympathy with the missionary work.
The power of prayer can never be overrated. They who cannot serve God by preaching need not regret it if they can be mightyin prayer. The true strength of the Church lies there. This is the sinew which moves the arm of Omnipotence. If a man canbut pray, he can do anything! He that knows how to overcome the Lord in prayer has Heaven and earth at his disposal. Thereis nothing, Man, which you cannot accomplish if you can but prevail with God in prayer!.
Now, I will not say that we ought to have our Prayer Meetings for missionary objects more largely attended- everybody knowsthis-but does everybody try to attend? But I will say this, which is more likely to be forgotten-that it were well if we hadsettled private seasons of devotion, each of us, especially to intercede with God for the conversion of the heathen. It willbe a notable day when the young men of this society say, "Not only will we attend the Prayer Meetings for this object, butwe will, each one, as before the Lord, make it a matter of conscience that there shall be at least one hour in the week sacredlyhedged around and spent in private prayer for the missionary work."
Beneath the banyan tree you will not stand surrounded by black faces to tell of Krishnu's Christ-but in your own little room,by the old armchair you will as surely be bringing down showers of blessings upon the heathen by importunate entreaties. Hereour old men and our matrons, as well as our young men and maidens, may unite. If it is so, that the entire Church shall sendup one impassioned, continuous, prevalent cry to God, "O Lord, make bare Your arm for Christ and for His Truth!" verily, verily,I say unto you He shall avenge you speedily though He bear long with you! Your prayers shall come up unto the ears of theLord God of Sabaoth and He will reveal the glory of His power!
Next, if our young men who see visions will follow up their prayers with practical effort, then we shall see in our Churchesa larger and more efficient staff of collectors and contributors. We should then find men who would give of their substanceas a matter of principle, give themselves, or in other fair proportion so that the kingdom of Christ should never have anempty treasury. I speak to some who sit often in this place who need not to have a word said to them by way of stirring themup to liberality, for I can glory in them in this respect, that they do beyond all that I could expect! But I wish that thesame spirit of giving were paramount throughout all the Church that men would give, not because they are asked, nor by wayof emulation or compulsion, but because God has given to them, and they recognize their stewardship. A few men in a Churchmay often move the whole to liberality. The example of a few and those few, perhaps, not the richest, may be contagious tothe whole mass. And a few earnest young people, especially, may often push rightand left with their proverbial enthusiasm till they have stirred the inert mass and constrained the whole body to be liberalto the cause of Jesus Christ!
Up till now my dream has been reasonable, you will say. I will now be more visionary. If we were all praying for missions,and all giving for their support, it might be very well asked of us, "What do you do more than others?" for what Romanistis there who is not zealous for the spread of his religion? What heathen is there who does not give quite as much as any ofus give, yes, and a great deal more than we give, to his superstitions? But, supposing next to this, that there should bea number of young men here who know each other very well-young men who have been trained in the same sanctuary, nurtured inthe same Church-who should meet together tomorrow, or at such other time as shall be convenient, and say to one another, "Now,we are in business, we have just commenced in life, and God is prospering us, more or less. We are taking wives to ourselves.Our children are coming around us. But still, we trust we are never going to permit ourselves to be swallowed up in a mereworldly way of living-now, what ought we to do for missions?"
And suppose the enquiry should be put, "Is there one among us who could devote himself to go and teach the heathen for us?As we, most of us, may not have the ability, or do not feel called to the work, is there one out of 12 of us young men whohave grown up side by side in the Sunday school who has the ability and who feels called to go? Let us make it a matter ofprayer, and when the Holy Spirit says, 'Separate So-and-So to the work,' then we, the other 11 who remain, will do this-wewill say to him, 'Now, Brother, you cannot stay at home to make your fortune or to earn a competence. You are now giving yourselfup to a very arduous and earnest enterprise, and we will support you. We know you-we have confidence in you. You go down intothe pit-we will hold the rope. Go forth in connection with our own denominational society, but we will bear the expense yearby year among ourselves!
"Have you faith enough to go trusting that the Lord will provide? Then, we will have faith enough, and generosity enough tosay that your needs shall be to our care. You preach for Christ-we will make money for Christ. When you open the Bible forChrist, we will be taking down the shop shutters for Christ. And while you are unfolding the banner of Christ's love, we willbe unfolding the calicos, or selling the groceries. And we pledge ourselves always to set aside your portion, because, asour Brother, you are doing our work."
I wish we had such godly clubs as these-holy confederacies of earnest young men who thus would love their Missionary, feelfor him, hear from him continually-and undertake to supply his support. Why, on such a plan as that, I should think they wouldgive 50 times, 100 times as much as ever they are likely to give to an impersonal society, or to a man whose name they onlyknow, but whose face they never saw! I wonder whether I shall ever live to see a club of that kind? I wonder whether sucha club will ever spring up in the midst of this Church, or any of the Churches in London? If it shall be so, I shall be gladto have seen a vision of it!
Further, I have dreamed, also, that there would spring up in our Churches a very large number of young men who would countit to be the very highest ambition of their lives to give themselves up to the work of Jesus Christ abroad, and who, seeingthat in London and throughout England men may hear the Gospel if they will, while many of the heathen cannot hear it, likeor no, would feel it to be their duty to serve Christ in the foreign field. And I have wondered whether we should have thesenoble fellows coming by the score, and saying, "Here am I, send me." Then I have considered whether God would pour out enoughof the missionary spirit upon these men to make them say, "Well, the missionary society is in debt and cannot take us-it hasenough men to support already-it is doing a good work enough.
"I will not interfere with it. I do not want to be a burden to any Brethren. Will you send me out and let me exercise my faithin God, only having this for my comfort-that you will stand at my back and give me what you can, while I will only draw uponyou for what I cannot get for myself? I wonder whether we shall see 50 or 100 missionaries within the next year or two leavingour shores, whose passage has been paid and who will land in some foreign country with just enough about them to keep themtill the language has been learned, and who will then, in confidence in God, set about working to support themselves?
I set Paul before you, young men. When he preached the Gospel at the first, he was a tent-maker and he earned his own living.Are there no occupations in these days by which a man may earn his living and yet preach the Gospel? It is not the best thingto do-the best thing is for a man to give all his time to his ministry. But if you cannot have the best, you must have thesecond best. Are there not to be found physicians who, in China and in India, would not only procure a subsistence, but muchmore, and might proclaim the Gospel at the same time? Thank God there is such a thing as amedical mission! Thank God that the profession of medicine has not been behind in sending heroes to the field! But are thereno other occupations?
Young men, are there no clerkships to be had in India? I find men going out there by scores to make their fortunes, and ruintheir constitutions. And I see young women going out to get married to Indian settlers almost on speculation. Have we no youngmen and women who will go across the sea and find their way round the Cape of Good Hope to preach the Gospel, intending touse their commercial pursuits as a means of introduction and support? Surely it must be so! I know that at this present momentthere are hundreds of Christian men living along the coasts of South America, especially of the Brazils and the ArgentineRepublic, where skilled artisans, engineers, and such like are in constant request by the government. And I have often hopedto hear that some of these men were originating Christian missions.
I have often wondered why more has not been done of that kind. We hear of our young Brethren going forth to Morocco, to Algiers,to Turkey and Egypt-they are in demand in almost every part of the earth-for the young men of England are the very pick andprime of humanity! The various trades which are connected with machinery are scarcely to be taught except by their means.What about their faith if they do not become evangelists? O young men and women, what grand opportunities must open up beforesome of you! I am sure they must, and if you did but set your hearts to it with a full resolve that you would not live thedead-and-alive life of most of us, but would distinguish yourselves in Christ's service, what might you not achieve!
If there were a will, there would be a way-and if there were a fixed purpose, God would send the means! And He who quickenedyou to such a degree of spiritual life that you could not rest unless you were telling the Gospel to the ungodly would notlet His Providence so obstruct His Grace as to shut the door in your face when you were willing to be serviceable to His cause."That is a dream," says one! Well, may some of you dream it, and in the midst of the dream may there rise up before you aface which, as it shall by degrees settle and become clear, and you shall discern its features, shall be wonderfully likeyour own-and as you wake may you have to say, "Here am I, Lord, send me, for where You would have me go, there will I go toproclaim the name and the love of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Oh when shall I see once again the missionary going from door to door, determined, according to his Master's command, thatwhatever things they set before him he will eat, believing that the laborer is worthy of his hire, and that he is to expectto find his hire among those to whom he preaches the Gospel? When shall I see once again the missionary believing that theacceptance of hospitality is the master-key of missions, and that the eating of the strangers' salt is the nearest way toput before them the Bread of Life and the reception of hospitable courtesy the very stepping-stone towards the giving outof the precious Gospel? May we live to see this! We shall, by God's Grace, if His Spirit visits us.
III. Lastly, and but very briefly-what shall we do to assist THE REALIZATION OF THIS VISION? We can all do something if welove the Lord and that something will be eminently a blessing to ourselves. If ever we are to see the missionary spirit broughtto its very highest and most perfect condition, it must be by each individual's own personal piety mounting to the very highestdegree of elevation. Why, we are not half saints-we seem, many of us, to forget what sainthood means!
We are content to be just saved, like the drowning man dragged to shore just alive, and that is all. O that we were not satisfiedwith this, but that our love to Christ were flaming! Our hope in Jesus Christ bright and clear! Our faith in God firm andunstaggering! O that we served Christ, not at a snail's pace, but within the utmost energy of the best conditioned manhood!O that we loved Christ and worked for Christ up to the last ounce at which the engine could be driven! O that we could butjust for once see what manhood could do when God was in it! O that some of us were raised up to be as Brainerd, living, dying,through love to Christ! O that we were men who were conquered by Divine love, led in fetters as slaves to the blessed captivityof love to the souls of men!
May it grow into a passion with you, Men and Women, to snatch fire-brands from the flame! You will never be very useful untilit is so. If holy work is a mere diversion for your leisure moments, you will do nothing. You must make a trade of it, a solemnoccupation of it. It must be your calling, your meat, and your drink to do the will of Him that sent you. When the ChristianChurch glows in this fashion it will swell with an intense heat like a volcano whose tremendous furnaces cannot be containedwithin itself, but its sides begin to move and bulge-and then after a rumbling and a heaving-a mighty sheet of fire shootsright up to Heaven and afterwards streams of flaming lava run from its red lips down, burning their way along the plain beneath.
Oh, to get such a fire for God's cause into the heart of the Christian Church till she began to heave and throb with unquenchableemotion! Then a mighty sheet of the fire-prayer should go up towards Heaven, and afterwards the burning lava of her all-conqueringzeal should flow over all lands till all nations should enquire, "What is this new thing in the earth, and what is this modernmiracle, and what is this Cross of Christ for which men live and die?" I would say, as subsidiary to this great thing-whichis the main matter tonight-that young men and young women would do well to feed the flame of their zeal with greater informationas to the condition of the world in reference to our mission-work.
I wish that those who supply us with our periodical missionary literature had an idea of the great difficulty there is inkeeping awake while reading it. I should be glad if they could, by any means, put a small allowance of salt into it, or serveit up in a more tempting form. I do not plead for making it into light literature, far from it! But if our editors could giveus something that would tempt the literary or the spiritual palate, it would be well. But, young men, you are not dependentupon periodical literature-I almost regret that there is such a thing-there are solid books to be read. There are librariesteeming with the works of missionaries-their travels, their adventures. You can read of the history of heathen nations-theirdesolations, their needs, their crimes, their idolatries, their infamies.
There is a great literature for you. You may not have time to get through it all, but if you read some of it I think you willfeel a great accession to your zeal. When you have gained such information, which may be as fuel to the fire, I pray you keepyourselves right in this matter by constant, energetic efforts in connection with works at home. Those who do not serve Godat home are of no use anywhere. It is all very well to talk about what you would do if you could speak to the Hindus. Nonsense!What do you do when you are in the streets of Whitechapel? You will be of no use whatever in Calcutta unless you are of usein Poplar or Bermondsey!
The human mind is the same everywhere. Its sins may take another form, but there are just the same difficulties in one placeas in another. It is all very well for you to turn a sort of Don Quixote in imagination, and dream of what you would do ifyou went out upon a spiritual crusade as a heavenly knight-errant, tilting against windmills. Just try your hand at the conversionof that young man who sits next to you in the pew! See what you can do for Jesus Christ in the shop! See whether you can serveyour Master in that little Bible class of which you are a member. Rest assured that no missionary ardor really burns in thebreast of that man who does not love the souls of those who live in the same house and dwell in the same neighborhood!
Give me that man for a missionary of whom it is said that when he took a lodging in a house, all the other inhabitants werebrought to God within six months! Or he was a son, and his father was unconverted, but he gave the Lord no rest till he sawhis parent saved! Or he was a tradesman, and while he was pushing his business earnestly, he always found time to be an evangelist!That is the man who will maintain missionary fervor alive at home, and that is the man who will help to promote missionaryeffort abroad.
Brothers and Sisters, here are the practical points-have a higher degree of piety, a wider and more extensive knowledge, anda more practical zeal in God's work near to your hand. But oh, do make sure that you are saved yourselves! Do make sure thatyou yourselves know the Christ whom you profess to teach! That missionary-box, what is it but an infamous sham if you putinto it your offering but withhold your heart? You talk about missionary collecting, missionary meetings, lectures to theyoung, and I know not what, when you yourself are a stranger to the power of vital godliness! No, my dear Friends-begin athome! May the Lord begin with you.
O young men, young women, are you yet unsaved? Then instead of your pitying the heathen, the heathen may well pity you! Howmight a heathen with a tender heart stand here and say, "If that Bible is true. If that Gospel which you talk of has reallycome from God. If Christ is the Savior. If there is no salvation but of Him, then how I pity you who have heard about it andyet have rejected it! How I pity you, because your own Savior, whom you profess to serve, out of His own mouth of love hassaid it-that it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day ofjudgment than for you!"
Oh, then, let it be tonight that you give your heart to God! And when you have given your heart to Him, then think of thematter of which I have spoken. God grant that my vision may become a fact. May you help to make it so, and Christ shall havethe glory. Amen.