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"The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth laborers into His harvest."--St. Luke, x. 2.
These words were the outcry of our Lord as He saw the multitudes as sheep having no shepherd. The harvest truly is great, the laborers are few; pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest that He would send forth laborers into His harvest.
Eighteen centuries have passed away. The world does not yet own Him as its King. From the realms of paradise He looks down upon its sin and sorrow, and He calls His Church to work with Him and for Him in its redemption. "The harvest truly is great." It is a fearful thought that more than one thousand millions of human beings share in the awful heritage of sin and death. The only ray of light upon this mystery comes from the Gospel. The only eye to pity or hand to help them is that of Jesus Christ. It appals one to think that of these there are more than five hundred millions of human souls who have never so much as heard that there is a Saviour. Think of what humanity is without the knowledge of the true God, without anything to hallow social or civil bonds, with no key to life's mystery, with [3/4] no guide amid its labyrinth, no hope beyond the grave. Heathenism is a black abyss of darkness. It has no homes, no hallowed womanhood, no consecrated childhood, no guide but sinful appetites and lusts. If we turn to Christian lands, the picture is sad enough to melt one's heart to tenderness and blind one's eyes with tears. Thousands have lost faith in a personal God. The sharp lines between sin and holiness are effaced. The daily press teems with tales of impurity, crime, and red murder. No scheme of man's devising can cure these evils. Men work bravely at reform. They build human barriers, they found social orders, they organize brotherhoods, they band together in societies, and yet the waves of death rise higher and higher. No human schemes can regenerate the world. Sad as is the unbelief of the educated classes, it is more sad to see the people drifting from all faith. When the day shall come that these men whose life is a hard battle for existence do not believe in God, when they have no belief in a future life, when the Gospel no longer cheers and sanctifies their toil, when they shall recognize no eternal law of right, when their horizon is bounded by this life, they will ask questions which may be answered in blood. This work is already begun: infidel teachers have robbed them of the Bible. There are many who have only a dim, shadowy belief that there is a God. Heaven and hell are to many only fables to coax and frighten women and children. No scheme of human philosophy can take the place of a well-grounded faith. New rulers will bring no enduring reform, for the rulers represent the people.
 I take my stand by humanity--sinful, dying humanity. I ask only one question, "Is there help?" I look out upon the world, and every living thing is cared for; even my body, which has in it the poison of death, has every want supplied. But the body is not myself. There is in me something which thinks, which loves, which fears, which sins and suffers. This poor body, which grows world-worn and weary, which sickness mars and death turns to dust, is not my highest self. There is a deeper, higher, truer life in the aspirations and hopes of the soul. Is this thinking intelligence the only orphaned being in the universe? Is man left to stumble along a blind pathway to eternal night? I raise no question here as to revealed religion. It assails the whole order of the universe if man is left a blind waif upon life's stormy sea. Men talk of Nature as God. Can Nature hear me, feel for me, pity me? My child hears me; he casts his throbbing heart upon my heart. Do you give me a God Who is weaker than my child? I do not ask for inexorable laws which will grind me to powder. That stern, pitiless creed may do for men who have no sin, no weakness; but for me it is despair itself. I do not ask for a man to pity me or an angel to weep over me. It does not help me to tell me that my sins are my own fault, as if I did not know it. I must have a God to save me. The moment that I learn that there is a God, and feel the wants of my humanity, I have compassed every argument of revealed religion. I then ask, like a little child, for help. I must grasp a hand, I want a person. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not [5/6] a dogma, it is not a philosophy. It is the story of a person. It meets humanity with a helper. It reaches out the hand of God to save us. The eternal Son who was with God, and who was God, became our Saviour. Into Himself He took man's nature, and redeemed it from sin and death. He ransomed us by His Cross, He conquered death, He ascended to heaven, He is the friend of every man who needs a friend. It is in Him and by Him that our sins are pardoned. It is from Him and through Him that, by the Holy Ghost, we are made the children of God.
Take the Gospel away, and what a mockery is human philosophy. I once met a thoughtful scholar who told me that for years he had read every book which assailed the religion of Jesus Christ. He said that he should have become an infidel if it had not been for three things:
"First, I am a man. I am going somewhere. I am tonight a day nearer the grave than last night. I have read all that they can tell me. There is not one solitary ray of light upon the darkness. They shall not take away the only guide and leave me stone blind.
"Secondly, I had a mother. I saw her go down into the dark valley where I am going, and she leaned upon an unseen arm as calmly as a child goes to sleep upon the breast of a mother. I know that was not a dream.
Thirdly," he said, with tears in his eyes, "I have three motherless daughters. They have no protector but myself. I would rather kill them than leave them in this sinful world if you could blot out from it all the teachings of the Gospel."
 Brethren, it is eighteen hundred years too late to deny the religion of Jesus Christ. It has healed too many sinful hearts, it has led too many wanderers home, it has given to too many heathen tribes the light and gladness of Christian civilization.
That Gospel of God's infinite love is committed to the Church to carry it to the people of every tongue and clime and kin. It is for this, and for this alone, that men are made ministers of Jesus Christ. That work is committed to His Church. There never was a time when God's providence had so opened the door to fulfill that trust.
There is not to-day a single nation on the earth to whom we may not carry the Gospel. I believe it is the first time since our Lord ascended into heaven that such a door was opened for Christian work. Here at home God is sending us the people of every tongue and clime and kin to preach to them the Gospel. For the first time in the history of our Church the heathen red men are reaching out their hands for help. Five millions of the African race are our fellow-citizens, and it seems as if Divine providence was calling us to win them to Christ, and, through them, to give that vast continent of Africa the light of Christian civilization. I know of no period in the world's history so full of hope to the laborer for God. I will not wrong your heart by any argument about missionary work. I am in a Christian church. I am preaching to Christian men. If you are the disciples of Christ you settled all this when you bowed your heart to Him. You can not, you dare not, question the [7/8] obligation. The heart which has been touched by Divine love will long to lead other sin-sick souls to find rest and peace in Jesus Christ.
II.--The laborers are few, "pray ye the Lord of the harvest that He would send forth laborers into His harvest." Prayer lies at the foundation of Christian work; all that we can know of God is through Jesus Christ. The condition of that knowledge is the entire subjection of the soul in the trust of childhood. Prayer is the going out of childhood to Fatherhood. It is the door to the audience chamber of the majesty of heaven. Love makes us cry "Abba, Father," and prepares us for His work. We may organise missions; we may plant churches; we may ordain clergy; we may have our ecclesiastical system perfect in every line and feature; but if the Holy Ghost has not breathed into our hearts the love of God, all will be as destitute of life as the marble statue. We may, like the old Pharisees, talk about God; we may say prayers and repeat articles of faith; we may have a beautiful ritual and a valid priesthood. They had all this, and yet crucified the Son of God. If this is all, it will be human work, human plans, a humanitarian society. Unless God quicken us with that life which is in His Son, all is an empty form.
III.--The inward call to this ministry comes from God and the Holy Ghost. We may, and we ought to pray for it. We may set forth the dignity of an ambassador from God, but the call is from Him. It is not difficult to judge of its reality. The man who, in the hurry of business, or the quiet of home, feels a power above his [8/9] own weak will urging him to enter upon the ministry; who tries other paths and yet feels, "woe is me if I preach not the Gospel," may not doubt that God calls him; and he ought to answer, "Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth."
The life of the faithful minister is the happiest life which God ever gave to man. But he who enters the ministry simply as a profession will find it an irksome task and a heavy burden. He may be learned, orthodox and circumspect; he may have a clear head and a ready tongue; but if the heart has not been touched by divine grace, his ministry will be a miserable failure. Woe to the Church which has an unconverted ministry. This inward call must have the outward consecration--"No man taketh this honor unto himself but he that is called of God as was Aaron." God has not left His people at the mercy of every impostor who may claim to speak in His name. In the long line of His ministers, from the calling of Moses, there has always been the outward consecration to this holy office. Whenever men have been sent as were His prophets upon a special mission, He has clothed them with power to prove that they were sent by Him. The commission is from God. We hold here that which we have received as the tradition of the Catholic Church. We believe in a historic Church. We have received from it a three-fold ministry; and we know that such as Christ gave it, such it will be until He who gave it shall come to receive it as the judge of the quick and dead. The laborer must be thoroughly prepared for his work. The age is one of great intellectual [9/10] activity. It takes nothing for granted; it challenges every opinion; it sifts every question to the foundation. The minister of Christ must be a scholar; not that he can turn aside from his sacred calling and hope to equal those who have given to any department of learning their lifelong work, but he must be an honest thinker; he must grasp the relations and harmonies of truth; he must have the reverent spirit of a true learner in the school of God; he must not doubt that when the truth is reached it will be in perfect harmony with the revelation of God. The laborer for God must know the faith. These are days of shifting anchorages. The world holds all spiritual truth by a dim shadowy assent. The faith is not the creed of any sect or party. It is not the rallying cry of any school; it is chrystalized in the old creeds of Christendom; it is God's revelation of Christ incarnate, Christ crucified, Christ risen, Christ the Mediator, and Christ the Judge. Believe that; hold that; live for that; die for that. One evil of our times is, that young hearts come to our theological schools as enlisted recruits for a party. They are pledged to one line of thought; they are bound to one course of action; they cannot rise above party fetters; they lose all breadth of thought and all true scholarship, because they are barred as slaves. The laborer for God must be spiritually acquainted with the sacred scriptures. The bible is the foundation of theological learning. It is the rule of Christian living; it is the revelation of divine mysteries. The Church requires of every minister an oath that he will teach nothing as necessary to eternal salvation which he is not persuaded [10/11] may be proved by the scriptures. The bible must be studied. The minister must learn in these divine oracles that truth which alone can make men wise unto salvation. Our danger is lest we darken the simplicity of the cross with our human reasoning. We all preach too much to the scholar. There is a majesty and power in the simple story of God's love which will go straight home to the heart. The laborer for God must be a man of hearty sympathy; he must know these men who see and suffer. The ideal man of the pastor's study is not always the actual man of the street. The best physician is he who knows best the disease. So it is here. The truest man is the truest pastor. He must speak as one tempted man speaks to another who is battling with temptation. There is a language of the heart which reaches other hearts. The one thought underlying all study must be to work for God, and share its blessedness. It is not enough to know how to make the service beautiful, or to prepare well-written sermons, or to learn the routine of a pastor's work. He must feel the hungering for souls which St. Paul felt when he counted "all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ." The older clergy ought to tell their younger brethren of their experience, as old veterans tell recruits of their battles and victories.
This preparation cannot be made unless the Church provides the means to fit men thoroughly for the Lord's work. The ministry cannot be left to the law of supply and demand. The men who throng the broad way to death do not ask Christians to hedge up their path. The [11/12] heathen idolater does not cry as the man of Macedonia, "Come over and help us." The scoffer does not ask for a Christian pastor. It is the Lord who commands us to preach His gospel to every creature. There are those who believe that we are paying a premium for incompetency and idleness by aiding candidates for Holy Orders in their work of preparation; that we have done our whole duty when we ask them to deny themselves and take up the cross. But is there in the gospel one rule for laymen and another for the clergy? Are the latter to live a life of self-denial and sacrifice, and the former to hoard up wealth? Is the gift of two hundred dollars a year such a tempting bribe in this worldly age? Is the hard lot of the missionary such a lure for worldly ambition? The Candidate for Orders may be able to earn the means to educate himself; but can the Church afford to wait? Within a score of years, a country larger than all Europe has been opened to civilization. States are born in a day. God is sending to us the people of every clime. The Church cannot wait! To lose a year may lose us a generation. It is as great a work as God has ever given to His Church. Every element of worldly success is against us; and unless the laity of the Church give us their alms and prayers and efforts, the bishops whom you send to those new fields are most pitiably helpless men. There are brethren of the same household of faith whose life is utter loneliness, because they never hear their mother's voice. This last month I gave the Holy Communion to those who had not received it in eight years. I baptized children in the depth of that [12/13] northern forest, and I wept at the mother's joy when she cradled her babes in the arms of Christ. Would to God that I could show you a bishop's heart. If you would know care and anxiety, gather around you a body of teachers to educate young men for the ministry. Do it without any endowment. Have nothing for the morrow. Day after day carry in your heart the knowledge that better men than you have tried to do this work for the Church, and died of a broken heart, and then you will know a little of the burdens which make your bishops old before their time. You may ask why they do such work. Because life is short; because eternity is nigh; because they hear the Lord's words ringing in their ears--"The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few."
I am not pleading for Minnesota to-night; I plead for every bishop whom God has made an overseer of the flock of Christ. I plead for the General Theological Seminary, dear for the long roll of names who have been leaders in the Church; I plead for Alexandria and Philadelphia, which have given us, in this faithless age, men who counted it joy to die as martyrs on a heathen shore; I plead for Nashotah, Griswold, Nebraska and Faribault; for Berkeley, Cambridge, Colorado, Oregon and Tennessee. If there were no schools of the prophets, where would be our western work, our Indian missions and our schools. It is no question of theological parties, but it is a question of men going down to death without the knowledge of Christ. You Eastern folk owe the West a deep debt of gratitude, as the West owes it to you. You gave us the sainted Kemper; you sent us Breck and [13/14] Adams and Wilcoxson; you gave us the long roll of missionary bishops and clergy; you gave us means to lay the first foundation of our schools and charities; you sent us to save the poor wandering red men. We remember it all, and day by day we pray for God's blessing upon you and yours. But the West has sent back to you a deeper missionary spirit. It has taught you that the Catholic Church is not alone for the dwellers on the avenue; it is for the people in the lanes and alleys, for the country school-house and the backwoodsman who lives alone with God. For your noble gifts, God has returned to you a wealth of love; and parish schools, cathedrals, sisterhoods and free churches are the rewards of your love to us.
Brethren, the Society for the Increase of the Ministry has asked me to tell you of its work. After a rigid examination, I believe it is worthy of the confidence of the Church. I do know it is a work of faith. It belongs to no party; it is not in the interest of any theological seminary; it is worthy of your love for its Catholic spirit, for its rigid economy, for its standard of piety and scholarship, and for the character of its scholars. This society has educated 382 ministers of the Church; it has had 734 scholars; it has aided in the education of 153 sons of the clergy, of whom 52 are ordained. There are now 150 young men who ask for aid to study for the ministry. There is no way of estimating such work for time or for eternity. It will go on widening and increasing, and its blessed fruits will be in the redeemed souls prepared by grace for heaven. I desire to place on record my own sense of gratitude for the men they [14/15] have educated at Faribault. They have given us western bishops as fellow-laborers, many true-hearted servants of Christ. Far away on the western border there are educated men who are going on foot to tell the story of Christ's love. The cry is everywhere, "The laborers are few." There are whole counties in the East and West without one clergyman of the Church. There are districts of country which are being rapidly settled, larger than the New England States, without a single missionary. There has not been, so far as I know, any addition to the missionary force of the Church this past year. The Church has the men; the Church has the means. The question is, Will you send them? I cannot doubt your answer. You have not the heart to leave us to fight the battle alone; you will work with us; you will hear the Saviour's message; you will pray; you will work; you will give. And when you think of your dear Lord looking down from heaven on the world for which he died, it will be a joy to work with Him and for Him in its redemption.
There are here to-night some loving daughters of the cross with the great heart of womanhood. You long to testify your love to Him who redeemed you; you are often tempted to murmur at your limited sphere, and would do greater things. Oh, mother, sister, could an angel do anything greater than train up a brave-hearted servant of Jesus Christ? Is it nothing that you may weave the gentleness of a Christian woman with the great heart of manhood? Is it nothing to give another brave boy to be trained for the ministry of the Church? You know not the power of a Christian wife, a [15/16] Christian mother, a Christian sister, a Christian daughter; it is to you we look for that holy influence which will constrain these young hearts to consecrate all to Jesus Christ. You, young men of the bounding pulse and the eager heart, you who look so hopefully on the future, are there none of you who will offer yourselves for the Lord's service? I know how the heart leaps for joy when the world gives us its honors. Is it nothing to be permitted to be the herald and ambassador of the Most High God? Is there joy in this sad world like that of leading wanderers home? There is a song which no man can learn but they who are redeemed from among men, and that joy which angels feel when the sinner repents is the joy of the minister of Christ.
Brethren, is there no one of you who covets the privilege of sending out a brave heart to represent you in the Lord's harvest? Is there no one here to-night who will found a scholarship or endow a professorship in some theological school, and so provide that the work shall go on forever? Pray for us. Work with us. Give unto Christ. We promise you in His name that the bread you send to hungering souls will be returned to you here, and multiplied for you in His eternal and heavenly kingdom.
To each of us the Lord who bought us with His own precious blood gives his work, and just time enough to do that work. To some of us the end may be near. God grant that if the Master comes to us suddenly, as He did to that sainted brother who has just gone to rest, at even, or midnight, or at cock-crowing, He may find us working, waiting, and watching.