Delivered on Sabbath Morning, April 26, 1857, by
"Let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen."Psalm 72:10.
HERE was a time when this prayer would have been unnecessary; a period, in fact, when it could not have been offered, seeing the thing to be asked for was already in being. A time there was when the word rebellion had not been uttered against the great magistracy of heaven; a day there was, when the slime of sin had never been left by the trail of the serpent, for no serpent then existed, and no evil spirit. There was a hour, never to be forgotten, when the seraph might have flapped his wing for aye, and never have found aught of discord, or aught of rebellion or of anarchy throughout God's universe, when the mighty angels assembled in the halls of the Most High, and without exception did reverence to their liege Lord, and paid him homage due; when the vast creation revolved around its center, the great metropolis, the throne of God, and paid its daily and hourly homage unto him, when the harmonies of creation always came to one spot and found their focus near the throne of God. There was a time when every star was bright; when all space was filled with loveliness, when holiness, purity, and happiness, were like a robe which mantled the entire creation. This world itself was once fair and lovelyso fair and lovely that we who live in these erring times can scarcely guess its beauty. It was the house of song, and the dwelling-place of praise. If it had no pre-eminence among its sister spheres, certainly it was inferior to none of them, surrounded with beauty, girt with gladness, and having in it holy and heavenly inhabitants. It was a house to which the angels themselves loved to resort, where the holy spirits, the morning stars, delighted to sing together over this beautiful and fair earth of ours. But now how changed! how different! Now it is our duty devoutly to bend our knees and pray that the whole earth may yet be filled with his glory.
Almighty! Thine this universal frame,
Thus wondrous fair: Thyself how wondrous then?"
Oh! methinks you must have had some glowing bursts of devotion, somewhat like that burst of Coleridge in his hymn from the valley of Chamounix or, like that of Thompson, when he leads the Seasons out to sing God's praise, or, like that matchless burst of Milton, when he extolled God, making Adam in the garden praise his Maker. Yes, there have been moments when we could bow before God, when we felt our own nothingness, and knew that he was all-in-all. Ah! if you can get such thoughts as these, my friends, this morning, I know that the next thought akin to this will be"Let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen." You cannot bow before God yourself and adore him, without wishing that all the rest of mankind should do the same. Ah! and the thought has gone further; ye have wished that even inanimate objects might praise him. Oh! ye mountains, let the shaggy woods upon your crowns wave in adoration ye that with bald heads lift up yourselves loftier than those minor hills, let the clouds that gird you serve like wings of cherubim to veil your faces. But oh! adore him, adore him, for he is worthy of all adoration; let him ever be extolled. You cannot, I repeat, have great thoughts of God yourselves, without spontaneously rising up and saying, "Let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen, and Amen."
But, my brethren, turn your eyes yonder. What see you there? You see the Son of God stepping from the place of his glory, casting aside the garments of his majesty, and robing himself in garments of clay. Do you see him yonder? He is nailed to a cross. Oh! can ye behold him, as his head hangs meekly on his breast? Can ye catch the accents of his lips, when he says, "Father, forgive them?" Do you see him with the thorn-crown still about his brow, with bleeding head, and hands, and feet? And doth not your soul burst with adoration, when ye see him giving himself for your sins? What! can ye look upon this miracle of miracles, the death of the Son of God, without feeling reverence stirred within your bosoma marvellous adoration that language never can express? No, I am sure you cannot. You bow yourself before that cross, you close your eyes that are already filled with tears, and as you bend your head upon the mount of Calvary I hear you say, "Jesus, have mercy upon me." And when you feel the blood applied to your conscience, and know that he has blotted out your sins, you are not a man unless you start from your knees and cry, "Let the whole earth be filled with his glory, Amen, and Amen." What! did he bend his awful head down to the shades of death? What! did he hang upon a cross and bleed, and shall not earth praise him? O ye dumb, sure this might loose your tongues. O ye silent ones, ye might begin to speak; and if ye do not, sure the very stones will speak, and the rocks that rent once at his death will rend again, and open a wide mouth to let their hallelujahs ascend to heaven. Ah! the cross makes us praise him. Lovers of Jesus, can you love him without desiring that his kingdom may come? What! can ye bow before him, and yet not wish to see your Monarch master of the world? Out on ye, men, if ye can pretend to love your Master, and yet not desire to see him the conqueror. I give you not a doit for your piety, unless it leads you to wish that the same mercy which has been extended to you might reach to others, and unless it prompts you to pray this prayer, "Let the whole earth be filled with his glory, Amen, and Amen."
But gaze a moment longer. The man that died for sinners sleeps within a grave; a little while he sleeps, until the angel rolls away the stone and gives him liberty. Do you behold him, as he wakes up from his slumber, and radiant with majesty, and glorious with light, affrights his guard, and stands a risen man? Do you see him, as he climbs to heaven, as he ascends to the paradise of God, sitting at the right hand of his Father till his enemies are made his footstool? Do you see him, as principalities and powers bow before him, as cherubim and seraphim cast their crowns at his feet? Do you hear him? Do you hear him intercede, and do you hear also the music of the glorified spirits, ever chanting perpetual lays before his throne? And do you not wish that we might
And songs before unknown?"
Oh! it is impossible to see the glorified Christ with the eye of faith, without exclaiming afterwards, "Let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.
But now one other thought. Common humanity urges us to pray this prayer. Did you never walk through a village full of drunkenness and profanity? Did you never see at every ale-house poor wretched bloated carcases that once were men standing, or rather leaning against the posts staggering with drunkenness! Have you never looked into the houses of the people, and beheld them as dens of iniquity, at which your soul did turn aghast? Have you never walked through that village and seen the poverty, and degradation, and misery of the inhabitants, and sighed over it? Yes, you have. But was it ever your privilege to walk through that village in after years, when the gospel has been preached there? It has been mine. Once it was my delight to labor in a village where sin and iniquity had once been rampant, and I can say with joy and happiness, that almost from one end of the village to the other, at the hour of eventide, you would have heard the voice of song coming from every roof-tree, echoing from every heart. Oh! what a pleasant thing to walk through the village, when drunkenness hath almost ceased, when debauchery is dead, and when men and women go forth to labor with joyful hearts, singing as they go the praises of the ever-living God, and when at sunset the humble cottager calls his children together, and reads them some portion from the book of truth, and then together they bend their kneesoh! happy, happy households! Yes, we have seen some such places, and when our hearts have been gladdened by the sight, we have said, "tot the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen and Amen." It has been our delight sometimes to tabernacle amongst the lowly for a little season. We have had our seat given us in the chimney corner for awhile, and by-and-by as the time to retire drew nigh, the good man of the house has said to the prophet's servant, "Now, sir, will you read for us to-night, as you are here?" And we have noticed the faces of the little group around us, as we have read some portion like this"Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart." And then we have said, "No, we will not pray to-night, you must be priest in your own house, and pray yourself." And then the good man has prayed for his children, and when we have seen them rise up and kiss their parent for the night we have thought, "Well, if this is the kind of family that religion makes, let the whole earth be filled with his glory. For the blessedness and for the happiness of man, let God's kingdom come, and let his will be done." Contrast that, my brethren, with the murderous rites of the Hindoo; contrast it with the savagery and barbarism of heathen lands. If I could bring some barbarian to stand before you this morning, he might himself be a better preacher than I can be, as with his almost unintelligible utterances and clicks he would begin to tell you the few ideas he had, which ideas began and ended with himself, and with the miserable prey on which he lived. You would say, "What!-there such a miserable race as this?" Let us at once kneel down and utter this prayer, and then rise up and labor to fulfill it"Let the whole earth be filled with his glory." I feel that I cannot stir you this morning as I wished. (If I were a Welshman I think I could move your hearts they have such a knack of waking persons up by what they say.) Oh! my soul longs for that day, it sigheth for that blessed period. Would God that all sighed and longed for it too, and were prepared to work and labor, watch and pray, until we should indeed sing with truth,
God Omnipotent shall reign;
Hallelujah! Christ in God,
God in Christ is all-in-all."
May such a day come, as it certainly will!
III. And now I am to give you A FEW COUNSELS IN THE PURSUIT OF THIS OBJECT.
First, you cannot pray this prayer unless you seek in your own life to remove every impediment to the spread of Christ's kingdom. You cannot pray it, sir; you cannot say, "Let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen,"you who cursed God yesterday. How can the same lip that cursed God say, "Let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen." You cannot say it, sir,you who break his commandments, and violate his laws, and run riot against his government. If you said it you would be a vile hypocrite. Is there anything in our character and conduct which has a tendency to prevent the spread of the gospel? Oh! we say it with pain, there are many members of the churches everywhere whose characters are such that if they remain what they are, Christ's gospel never can fill the whole earth, for it cannot fill their hearts. You know the men. They call themselves God's dear people, and they would be dear if they were given away; certainly nobody would buy them at the lowest price in the world. They say that they are his precious ones, and they must be very precious, or else he never would have any thoughts of mercy towards such a set as they are. And they will sometimes say, "Ah! we are the Lord's elect," and they live in sin. They say there are very few of their sort, and we reply, "What a mercy!" If there were we should need many of our public buildings to be turned at once into gaols, to lock up such people. No, we do not believe in the characters of men who make a profession of religion and yet do not live up to it. Do not tell us about such profession, just be quiet altogether. Do not call yourselves religious, and yet act as others do. I do prefer a man that is a right down blustering sinner when he is at it. Do not let him go into sin, and then mask and cover it all up. There is no use in it. The man is not honest. I do think there is some hope of a man who is a down-right, thorough-bred sinner, that goes at it and is not ashamed of it, but a rascally, canting hypocrite, that comes crawling into our church, and yet lives in sin all the whilesuch a manGod Almighty may save him, but it is very seldom that he does save such people. He lets them go on, and reap the fruit of their own ways; he lets them find out, after all, that hypocrisy is a sure road to hell, and never can lead to heaven. We must look well to ourselves, by God's Spirit, or else we must not pray this prayer: "Let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen."
And there is my friend Mr. Save-all. I am sure he cannot pray this prayer, at least I think I hear him in his soul say, "O Lord, let the whole earth be filled with thy glory." A contribution is requested to assist the cause in so doing. Oh! no not at all. Like the old negro woman we have all heard of, who sang, "Fly abroad, thou mighty gospel," and put her eye up in such a devout frame, that her brother negro who was passing the plate that day could not get her to pay any attention to him, till he jogged her elbow, and said, "Yes, sissy, it is well enough to sing, 'Fly abroad, thou mighty gospel;' if you would give it wings then it might, but you are just singing this and doing nothing at all." Now, what is the good of a man singing, "Fly abroad, thou mighty gospel," and praying this prayer, "Let the whole earth be filled with his glory," if he has got six thousand a year coming in for doing nothing at all? It is no use for a man to put on a pair of lawn sleeves and say, "Oh, it is my devout desire that the whole earth may be filled with his glory," and then leave the world to stare at him and consider what good he is. It is no use for a man simply to have a curacy or something of that sort, buy his manuscripts cheap, come up and read off two sermons twenty minutes long, go home with a good conscience that he has done duty twice, and then say, "Let the whole earth be filled with his glory." Why, my friends, there is no chance of it if that is the way it is to be done, not the slightest in the world; to cry, "Let the whole earth be filled with his glory," and then stand still and do nothing at all; or merely do some nominal well-paid work, and feel it is all over. We want something in the ministry a little different before even ministers can pray this prayer in sincerity. I am not finding fault with any of my brethren, but I would recommend them to preach thirteen times a week, and then they can pray this prayer a little better. Three times a week would not do for me. It would hurt my constitution; preaching thirteen times a week is good healthy exercise. But you shut yourself up in your study, or what is ten times worse, you do nothing at all, but just take it easy all the week till the Sunday comes, and then borrow a sermon out of an old magazine, or buy one of the helps for ministers, or take down one of Charles Simeon's skeletons and preach it. My good man, you cannot pray in that fashion. The poorest Sabbath-school teacher has a better right to pray that prayer than you have. You go to a fire that is raging vehemently, and say, "Oh, let it be put out!" and stand with your hands in your pockets, while a little boy that is standing there and passing the bucket may pray that prayer sincerely, but you cannot. No, my brethren, you must be up and doing for your blaster, or else you cannot pray this prayer. You say, "I am doing my duty;" but my friend, that is not much use, you must do a little more than that, doing your duty, as you think, is often doing but a very small part of your duty. What is a man's duty? "Why, as much as he is paid for, Sir." Oh, no, I think not; a man's duty is to do whatsoever his hand findeth to do, with all his might; and until he does that he cannot with any sincerity offer this prayer, "Let the whole world be filled with his glory "Amen, and Amen." Ah, there are some here that I could mention, who by their unparalleled philanthropy, by their unique and unrivalled love of their fellow-creatures, have done much to fill the earth with God's glory; for they have let the world see what Christian men and Christian women are able to do when God's love has touched their hearts. There are to be found some who by devoting themselves to the service of their Master, and spending and being spent for him, have done much to heighten the opinion of the world towards Christianity, and make them think better of the Christian church than they would have done if it had not been for these few rare, mighty heroes in the midst of us. "Let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen." But it cannot be, speaking after the manner of men, unless we each of us labor and endeavor as God shall help us, to extend the kingdom of our Master.
And now, my friends, have I been urging you to an impossible toil Have I been telling Christian men to pray for that which never can be granted? Ah! no, blessed be God, we are taught to pray for nothing but that which God has been pleased to give. He has told us to pray that his kingdom may come, and his kingdom will come, and come most assuredly, too. Hark! hark! hark! I hear mustering for the battle; yonder in the dim distance I see the armies gathering; yes, I can dimly see their ensign, and behold the flag that waves before them! Who are these that come? Who are these? These are nobler and better men than we! These are warriors of Christ, as yet, perhaps, unborn. These are the mighty men, the rear-guard, these are the imperial guard of heaven, who have been fighting long. The enemy hath sometimes fled, but hitherto we have achieved but little, the phalanx of the foe standeth still fast and firm, and we have blunted our blades against the shields of the mighty. As yet the victory is not complete; the Master standeth on the hill with his reserve. Lo! I see themthey are coming, they are coming. Some of us shall live to see themmen those tongues are made of fire, whose hearts are full of flame, who speak like angels and preach like cherubim! The men are coming, and happy shall the man be that marks the triumph; each tramp of theirs shall be the tramp of victory, each blast of theirs shall level walls of spiritual Jerichos, each blow of their horn shall clear an acre of valiant foemen, each stroke from their sword shall cleave a dragon, and every blow from their arm shall be mighty to overturn thrones and scepters and kings! They come, they come; and till they come what shall we do?Why fight on and hold our posts. But lo! they come. Let us be cheered with the thought that victory is certain. The hour cometh when this mighty band of heroes shall sweep the earth with the banner of victory. And when in years to come, you and I shall look upon the plain of battle, we shall see there an idol broken, there a colossal system of wickedness dashed in pieces, there a false prophet slain, there a deluder cast away. Oh! glorious shall be that day when victory shall be complete; when the horse and the rider shall be overthrown; when the battle that is without blood and without smoke, without rolling of garments of warriors, shall be completed by the shout of victory through him that hath loved us.
Beloved, we will wait awhile. We will still continue on this side with our Master; for though we are fighters now, we shall be winners by-and-by. Yes, man, woman, ye who are unknown, unnoted, but are striving for your Master, by prayer, and praise, and labor, the day is coming when everyone of you shall have a crown of victory! The hour is coming when your heart shall beat high, for you shall share the conquest, those men who are coming, without whom we cannot be made perfect, shall not have all the honor. We who have borne the brunt of the fight shall have a share of the glory; the victors shall divide the spoil, and we shall divide the spoil with them. Thou, tried, afflicted, forgotten and unknown, thou shalt soon have the palm-branch in thy hand, and thou shalt ride in triumph through the streets of earth and heaven, when thy Master shall make show of principalities and powers openly, in the day of his victory! Only still continue, only wrestle on, and thou shalt be crowned.
But I have got one word to say, and then Amen. You know, in Roman warfare there were special rewards given for special works. There was the mural crown for the man that first scaled the rampart and stood upon the wall. I am looking on this great congregation with a thought in my mind which agitates my spirit. Young men! young men! is there not one among you that can win a mural crown? Have I not one true Christian heart here that is set for work and labor? Have not I one man that will devote himself for God and for his truth? Henry Martyn! thou art dead; and is thy mantle buried with thee? Brainerd, thou sleepest with thy fathers; and is thy spirit dead too, and shall there never be another Brainerd? Knibb, thou hast ascended to thy God; and is there nowhere another Knibb? Williams, thy martyred blood still crieth from the ground; and is there nowhere another Williams? What! not among this dense mass of young and burning spirits? Is there not one that can say in his heart, "Here am I, send me?" "Lo, this hour, by God's grace being saved, I give myself up to him, to go wherever he shall please to send me, to testify his gospel in foreign lands?" What! are there no Pauls now? Have we none who will be apostles for the Lord of hosts? I think I see one who, putting his lips together, makes this silent resolve"By God's grace I this day devote myself to him; through trouble and through trial I will be his, if he will help me; for missionary work or for aught else I give up my all to God, and if I may die as Williams did, and wear the blood-red crown of martyrdom, I will be proud; and if I may live to serve my Master, like a Brainerd, and die at last worn out here I am, do but have me, Master, give me the honor of leading the forlorn hope of leading the vanguard of Christianity; here I am, send me." O Lord, accept that young man! Lo, I consecrate him this day in thy name for that service, these outstretched hands this morning give a benediction to you, young hero of the cross! Your brother's heart beats with you; go, and go to victory; and if it must be mine to stay here to labor in a more easy and pleasant part of the vineyard, which I dare not leave, still I will envy you, that you have the honor of going to far distant lands, and I will pray for you, that your success may be great, and that through you the kingdoms of this world may be brought to Christ, and the knowledge of the Lord cover the earth. But we will all pray this prayer in our houses alone"Let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen."
You that are enemies to God, beware, beware, beware! It will be a hard thing to be found on the side of the enemy in the great battle of right.