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have occupied many of the chief topics connected with the question. Yet it is not, on that account, the less important: because, though the leading points may have become familiar to the minds of Christians; yet, to seize the varying appearances of events, to rouse attention to the particular duties arising from each, and to promote that earnestness and simplicity in the efforts which we are making, whereon our success, under God, so much depends, are matters of great moment.

And, indeed, the very difficulty of detailing these passing circumstances, and uniting them with some notice of the general cause of Missions, may be beneficial, if it lead us to a more unreserved dependence on Divine Grace, and to more earnest supplications for the presence of the Holy Spirit of God, without whom we can neither think nor do any thing that is good.

This reliance is the more necessary now, since there never, perhaps, was a time, when so weighty a responsibility rested on the advocate of Missionary labours. A new æra seems to have commenced. After many years of comparative depression, the mercy of God appears to be answering our prayers, by affording opportunities of usefulness, which we never could have anticipated in an earlier riod of our proceedings. A great occasion,


therefore, now presents itself; and we have especial need of Divine aid, while we endeavour to adapt to it the purport of those remarkable words of our Saviour, which I have read to you.

They were spoken when his disciples, during the absence of the Samaritan woman, had urged him to partake of the provisions which they had procured. Our Lord, in reply to their solicitations, described his ardent zeal for the salvation of souls, which the prospect of instructing the Samaritans had excited, as supplying the want of bodily food: My meat is, to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work. And then he addressed the disciples in the words of the text, with the design of leading their minds from the natural harvest, which was still four months distant, and of which they had probably been discoursing as they passed through the fields, just springing with the tender blade, to a spiritual harvest, which was already ripe for the sickle; and to excite them, after his own example, to that activity in teaching and saving mankind, which the husbandman manifests when the corn is ready for the garner.

The spirit of the passage, then, is obviously to animate the reaper to enter into the harvest, from the consideration of the ripeness of the whitening grain. And it will, therefore, afford me the occasion of bringing before you



In considering this subject, as represented by the striking image of my text, we must look AT THE ASPECT OF THE FIELDS; and AT




When our Lord uttered these words, he had immediate respect to the Samaritans. It wanted, at that time, four months to the natural harvest. But if the disciples would lift up their eyes and look on the fields, across which the inhabitants of Sychar were hastening at the tidings of the woman, and whom our Saviour probably pointed at with his finger when he spake, they would behold a spiritual harvest, not merely shooting up its early blade, but now ripe for their labour; they would see people coming with eagerness, to hear and receive the doctrine of salvation.

' This was the usual period in Judea, between the first appearance of the blade and the ripening of the corn. They began sowing about the end of our November, or beginning of December, and the harvest was ripe before May. When our Lord spoke these words, it was probably about the end of our December.

Our Lord had respect also, in this language,

to the general state of the Jewish nation, and of the world.

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The time of God's mercy was then near. The faith of the pious servants of God among the Jews had welcomed the consolation of Israel. The general expectation of the people was fixed on His character and doctrine. At the descent of the Holy Ghost, on the Day of Pentecost, multitudes were about to be converted to his name. The long series of typical sacrifices, and ceremonial observances, as well as the prophecies which had borne witness to the Messiah, had sown the seed of the harvest which was then whitening. Already were the fields laden with a plenteous crop; and the disciples had only to enter on the labour of gathering it in to eternal life.

But the whole civilized world was also, in a considerable measure, in a like state. The translation of the Holy Scriptures into the Greek language, which was then diffused throughout the Roman Empire, and the dispersion of the Jews in various parts of it; the tranquillity which generally prevailed, and the facilities of intercourse from the union of so many nations under one government; together with the vague, but important, expectation which the prophecies of the Messiah had ex


cited, all contributed to prepare the way for the promulgation of Christianity.

Thus things were ripening for the harvest; and the Apostles were soon to go forth as reapers into that vastly more extensive field of labour.

The spirit of our Lord's address, however, is applicable generally to all periods of the Church, when the providence of God concurs with his grace to present remarkable opportunities for diffusing the Gospel. For when facilities are afforded for disseminating divine truth; when these facilities are embraced by suitable activity on the part of the spiritual church; and when, above all, a disposition to inquire into the truth of Christianity appears among the heathen nations, then the fields may be said to stand loaded with corn, demanding the hand of the reaper.

That such a scene is now rising before our own and other Missionary Societies, cannot, I imagine, be reasonably doubted. I may be thought, perhaps, to speak strongly; but I firmly believe, that there never was such a scene presented before the Church of Christ since the first promulgation of Christianity, as is now presented to us in this country. For if the three concurring circumstances to which I have alluded—a disposition on the part of the Heathen to inquire into the Gospel; opportu

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