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unbelief of God; their tongues were confounded; literally, they became no longer of one lip. Now what is the result? That every missionary who goes out to preach to the heathen, goes out cramped and scathed by the curse of Babel. He has to sit down three or four years to learn the language, and, after he has learned it, who does not know that the speaking with foreign idioms, and with all the deficiencies of foreign habits, to a heathen people, is presenting the gospel with the least element of power, and in its least favorable aspect? We have in our experience every day to deal with that great fact before us — the confusion of tongues. And what is the cause of most men's quarrels? Not that their hearts are really so much at issue the one with the other, but that the language in which they unfold and express them is misunderstood the one by the other. Whenever we hear great ecclesiastical quarrels between bishops and presbyters, synods and general assemblies, we hear the undertone of Babel in the midst of them — the quarrel is less about things, and more about modes of expression. In the case of Calvinism and Arminianism, hear a truly converted Arminian and Calvinist pray together, and you will find that they pray the same; hear them preach, they preach very much the same; and you find that the logomachy is rather in the terms employed—that it is a Babel dispute—that they are at heart really and vitally one. The reason of our quarrels generally is more in our expression of our meaning, than in our meaning itself. Every man has not the power of expressing his thoughts. Some men have such power of speaking, that they can speak for hours without a particle of meaning. Other men have great stores of thought, but such inability to utter it, v that they cannot speak five minutes fluently. And when we know what mighty varieties there are between these two extremes, we shall learn to forgive those that differ, and
lament the Babel curse that is found in our divisions, and we shall pray for what I now refer to, that future and coming Pentecost, of which the last was but an instalment, when, not the earth shall be of one tongue, for that would be monotony, but when all men shall speak all tongues as they speak their mother-tongue, and then there will be unity and peace. Pentecost came only in the first drops; the great shower, I believe, is yet to come. At Babel, separation was the curse; at Pentecost, separation was turned into a blessing. At Babel, men were scattered mechanically by the different tongues that instantly broke out; at Pentecost, men were morally united, though mechanically separated. Let us then pray for that blessed Pentecost, when God shall pour out his Spirit upon all flesh, and all shall see eye to eye, and all shall be taught of God, and great shall be the peace of his children. How truly do we see at each stage of the book of Genesis, God’s presence — God reigns. He taught mankind, that though man had sinned and the world had strayed, yet he had not given up the reins of government, he had not left all to chance. I have no doubt that the Babel builders fancied that God, having satisfied his justice, as they would call it, by the deluge, had returned to repose, and left the world to manage itself; but he interposed to show that he held the reins, that he is throned above the floods, and that he will restrain the wrath of man, and make the remainder of it praise him. Unity in itself is not necessarily a blessing. The Romish church boasts always of its unity. Now there never was a finer specimen of unity upon earth than the unity of the Babel builders. They were all of one tongue, they were all of one mind, they had all one purpose, and they set to work shoulder to shoulder to accomplish that great enterprise. Therefore, mere unity is not necessarily a blessing. It is what men are united in, that is the main thing, not the mere fact that men are united. Better differ in the details of a holy enterprise that we seek to accomplish, than be united in a wicked enterprise, on which we have set our hearts. Where there is unity without truth, there there is conspiracy. Where there is unity in truth, there is no doubt a blessing. And certainly, when bad men combine, good men should always try to unite. But, never forget, our union will be in the ratio of the truth that we hold, and only through the truth can we be made one; for the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then it is peaceable. And in the next place, let us learn from this, too, how inefficient a channel of truth tradition is. They had no Bible in those days; they did not perhaps strictly need one, men lived so long—for it seems that still after the Flood the patriarchal ages of the antediluvians were continued, gradually lessening until the days of Moses — that truth had every chance, if I may use the expression, of remaining undiluted; yet these builders had lost every vestige of truth, and departed from every announcement that God had made; they atheistically lived and atheistically perished. Let us set our hearts upon building, not a Babel, but on building up living stones in the living temple of the living God. Let us also anticipate that “city that hath foundations,” for Babel had none, “whose builder and maker is God:” which hath no need of the sun, nor of the moon; for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the light thereof; in which there shall enter nothing that defileth, and the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick; and in which the descendants of Shem, and Ham, and Japheth shall meet, because they have previously met in Christ; and so shall we be for ever with the Lord, to whom be praise and glory. Amen.
CHA PTE R XIX.
THE EVERLASTING GOSPEL.
“Onward as we trace
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”—John iii. 16.
THESE words, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life,” constitute one of the very simplest, and yet the most comprehensive summary of Christian truth in the whole word of God. It is the centre and the circumference of all Christianity. The most precious truths are folded up in it as in a beautiful and living bud, and they are only developed and expanded in all the pages of the writings of evangelists, the epistles of apostles, and the preaching and sermons of faithful ministers of Christ Jesus. It was the faith of Adam, Abel, Enoch, and Noah. Its truth was in their hearts, as in ours. It was the creed of the Church before the Flood.
It assumes certain great propositions which all Christians admit, — that the world is in ruins. The Church before the Flood saw the ruins. I do not stop to dispute, or to try to gauge the measure and the extent of these ruins. It is one of the plainest propositions in the word of God, that all have sinned, that all are plunged into a common catastrophe, that all are perishing from God, “by nature children of wrath, even as others,” without any distinction of any practical value as to a future and eternal state. The imaginations of man's heart are evil. This same book reveals another fact just as plainly, and as distinctly; a fact brought out before the Flood also—that man cannot recover himself; that it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps; it is still less in man that liveth to quicken his own dead heart. It reveals in the plainest terms, that for 4,000 years before the Christian era, and for 1,800 years since, society has been attempting to regenerate itself, and it has all along been a gigantic failure; and the only evidences of progress, the only traces of advancement, are those patches of beautiful sunshine which are the direct or the indirect rays of that Sun of righteousness who has arisen with healing under his wings. The only prescription which the Bible urges now, or ever urged since the Fall, for this great calamity, is faith in him whom God promised once, and has given since, and by faith in whom we have eternal life. Nothing better was ever conceived by man; nothing more is required by God. We need what we may have, salvation through the blood of Christ; nothing less will suit the greatest saint, nothing more is needed for the very chiefest of sinners. “God so loved the world, that he gave” this, which alone is adequate—“his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” But before we open up these words, I pause a few minutes in order to meet difficulties that occur to one's self, and to many that do not venture to express them, and that have been urged by some who reject the gospel as reasons why they must refuse it at its very commencement. It has been said, Might not God have saved all this vast expendi