2 Timothy 2, 9.—The word of God is not bound.
This is the language of a prisoner at Rome. Tho imperial city had seen many a captive brought in singly or to grace the triumph of her conquering chiefs. In comparison with these there was little to attract attention in the case of a Cilician Jew, sent by the Roman prefect of Judea to be tried before the judgment-seat of C'assar upon charges pertaining to the Jews' religion. To the Romans, such a case was too familiar and too unimportant in itself to excite much interest, especially before the prisoner's actual appearance at the emperor's tribunal. "With the exception of a few official functionaries, and of his own brethren, who were numerous in Rome, it is probable that few were aware of his presence or even his existence. It was little imagined by the soldiers whose swords rattled on the ancient pavement of the street where Paul dwelt, or by the vast mixed multitude of citizens in gown or armour, who continually passed before his prison, that within those doors sat one whose influence was to be felt throughout the empire, and beyond its furthest pale, for ages; one who, as well by self-devotion as by divine appointment, was the Apostle of he Gentiles, the official founder of the Christian church among the nations.
He was now a prisoner, and this his actual condition, bore a significant analogy to some points of his earlier history. In lineage and breeding he was a thorough Jew—a Hebrew of the Hebrews—a Pharisee of the straitest sect—brought up in Jerusalem at the feet of Gamaliel, a famous doctor of the law. His attachment to the faith of his fathers was attested by his zeal in opposition to what seemed to threaten it. In the first persecution of the Christians at Jerusalem, he was present, at least as a spectator. The upper garments of those who stoned the protomartyr Stephen, were laid at the feet of Saul of Tarsus. This sight, instead of softening his heart towards the sufferers or rousing his indignation against the persecutors, seems to have kindled in his own breast the flame of an intolerant zeal. Our next view of him is in the service of the persecuting priesthood—making havoc of the church—entering into every house, haling men and women and committing them to prison. A little after he appears again, still breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, soliciting employment as their enemy, volunteering his services to the high priest, and demanding letters to the synagogues of foreign cities, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them hound unto Jerusalem.
This was known to Christians abroad before he actually came among them, for when Ananias received the divine command to visit him and restore his sight, he expostulated saying," Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem, and here he hath authority from the chief priests to hind&ll that call on thy name." So after he began to preach Christ in the synagogues of Damascus, all that heard him were amazed and said, " Is not this he that destroyed them which called on thk name in Jerusalem, and came hither" for that intent that he might bring them hound unto the chief priests?"
The prominence given in this narrative to Paul's eagerness in hinding, i. e. arresting or imprisoning all converts to the new religion, is not an accidental one. It reappears in his own statement of his conversion before the multitude on the castle-stairs in Jerusalem: "I persecuted this way unto the death, hinding and delivering into prisons both men and women. I went to Damascus to bring them which were there, hound unto Jerusalem." And in answer to the Lord's command to go forth—" Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee. And again at Cesarea, before Festus and Agrippa, many of the saints did I shut up in prison." To the circumstance thus marked in his own recollection of Lis persecuting ministry, it pleased God that there should be something corresponding in his later history as a Christian preacher and confessor. In the catalogue of his sufferings for Christ, one item is in prisons more frequent. When he was bound with thongs upon the castle-stairs, it was but the beginning of this series of captivities, the last of which was terminated only by his martyrdom.
Thus he who once breathed only to bind the followers of Christ, became himself the prisoner of the Lord, "for whose sake," said he, "I am bound with this chain." How much his own mind was affected by this providential coincidence, is clear from the frequency and point of his allusions to it in his epistles, from the earliest in date, to this to Timothy, in all probability the last of all—" wherein I suffer trouble as an evil-doer even unto hands, But The Wokd Of God is Not Bound," i. e., though I who preach it am a prisoner, the word itself is not confined and cannot be. As he once said in writing to the Roman Christians, "let God be true but every man a liar," so here he seems to say, "let me abide a prisoner forever, if the glorious gospel may but run, have free course and be glorified." This was the prisoner's consolation in captivity—a consolation at once rational and trustful, pregnant with lessons of practical wisdom, some of which it may not be inappropriate or unjustifiable to consider in detail. the victory, however useful they may be in their own places. Had they been the indispensable conditions of success, the tattered and unshod champions of our own independence must have yielded to the brilliant and well-appointed forces of the enemy. Nay, the very loss or interruption of accustomed comforts and accommodations has been sometimes the not remote occasion of a victory.
1. The first idea suggested by the words in their original connection, is that Paul's incarceration did not hinder his own personal exertions as a preacher of the gospel. His countrymen and others were allowed access to him. Through the wise and tolerant indulgence of the Roman government, he "dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him." Though he was bound, therefore, the word of God was not—not even as to his personal share in its promulgation.
This was, of course, a precious consolation to the
captive. How much would the pains of his confinement have becn aggravated if, in addition to the restraint upon his limbs or his movements, his mouth had been stopped as an ambassador of Christ. How fervently may we suppose that he would then have prayed, and called on others to pray for him, that his mouth might be opened, that utterance might be given him, to speak freely as he ought to speak. But such facility he did possess; and, in the joyful consciousness of this advantage, he here puts the bane and antidote together—Wherein I suffer trouble as an evil-doer even unto bonds, but the word of God is not bound.
The practical lesson taught by Paul's example, in this view of it, is obvious. It is a reproof of our disposition to regard external disadvantages, restraints, and disabilities as either affording an immunity from blame if we neglect to use the power still left us, or discouraging the hope of any good effect from using it. Because we cannot do all that we would, we are too apt to do nothing; or, because we cannot command the means with which we are familiar, we are often ready to abandon the whole enterprise. In this disposition there is more pride than humility. It is tainted with the selfish ambition of a Cesar, who must be all or nothing. It is also condemned by the experience of the world. Some of the greatest achievements in science and the arts, in warfare and in government, in morals and philanthropy, have been effected in the absence of what some men would regard as indispensable appliances, and in a wise contempt of them. It is not the music or the uniform, the burnished metal or the flaunting flag, that secures Vol. ii.—14
It may be so, too, in the spiritual warfare. Men may form the habit of regarding the conventional facilities to which they are accustomed even in benevolent exertion as essential means to the desired end, and when these are withdrawn, may look upon the case as hopeless—as if Paul, when made a prisoner at Rome, had given up all for lost, and ceased to speak or labour for the cause of Clirist—as if he had said, I am bound and the gospel is bound with me. It must share my bondage and continue shut up in the walls of my compulsory abode. Such a course would not have been irrational or sinful on the principles which many of us Christians seem to hold; but it was wholly inconsistent with the sentiments and character of Paul. When he could not do all, he still did what he could; he had learned both to abound and to suffer need; he could bo all things to all men, that he might save some. "When he could not preach Christ as a freeman, he must preach him only the more zealously as an ambassador in bonds. When forced to say, Wherein I suffer trouble as an evil-doer even unto bonds, he could cheerfully and thankfully add, "But the word of God is not bound."
2. It was still true, however, that Paul's bonds diminished his efficiency. While he avoided the extreme of abandoning all hope, he equally avoided that of foolishly imagining that he could personally do as much for the diffusion of the Gospel in his own hired house at Rome, as in the wide sweep of his itinerant apostleship. This was impossible, as he well knew; and knowing it, he needed something more to comfort him in his confinement than the consciousness that, though he could no longer do as much as he had once done, he could still do something. This might be enough for him, but it was not enough for the honour of his master. It might satisfy his conscience, but it could not satisfy his heart or appease the cravings of his thirst for the salvation of the world. His work, though not yet at an end, was interrupted, and how should his lack of service be supplied? The answer is a plain one: by the labours of others. This was a large ingredient in the cup of the apostle's consolation. He rejoiced not only in the labours of others during his comparative inaction, but in that inaction as the occasion, the exciting cause, of other men's exertions. Nay, he could even go so far as to consent to be wronged and dishonoured, if by that means his ruling passion might be gratified. To the Macedonian Christians in Philippi he writes as follows from his confinement in the city of the Cesars: "Brethren, I would ye should understand that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel, so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace and in all other places; and many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold
to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife, and some also of goodwill—the one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, thinking to add affliction to my bonds, but the others of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? Notwithstanding every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is preached, and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice, for I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the spirit of Christ Jesus, according to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also, Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death; for to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain."
What is the principle involved in this sublime profession of heroic devotion to the cause of Christ? Plainly this, that while Paul was even ready to magnify his office as apostle to the Gentiles, and correctly appreciated both the honour and the difficulty of the work assigned to him, he never dreamed that it was meant to be entirely dependent upon his individual activity. It was not at himself, but at the world, that he continually looked. He regarded his own labours as important only so far and so long as it pleased God to employ them as means to the appointed end; and when they seemed to lose this peculiar relation to the cause, instead of lamenting that his agency was suspended, or dreading the success of any other than his own, he loses sight of his own share in the great work, to look at the great work itself, as something dear to him, yet independent of him, which he was willing to promote either by his life or death, as God might please to order, but which he desired to see promoted at all costs and at all hazards, whether by himself, or by his friends, or by his enemies.
This is a spirit worthy of a hero, nay, of an apostle; of one who could and did rejoice that Christ was preached, by whomsoever, and whose highest hope was that Christ might be magnified in him, whether actively or passively, by life or by death. Here too, the lesson to ourselves is obvious. The apostle's example ought to shame us out of all undue reliance upon certain human agencies and influences. Especially ought this to be the case in relation to our own share of the work to be performed for the honour of God and the salvation of the world. If Paul, with his apostolic dignity, confirmed by all the signs of an apostle, regarded his own personal exertions only as appointed means with which the sovereign power that prescribed them could as easily dispense, what are we, that we should think ourselves or our assistance necessary to the divine purpose, or that purpose in danger of defeat and disappointment at any momentary interruption of our share in its promotion, or that we should frown upon the emulous exertions of our neighbours in the same cause, as a kind of encroachment upon our prerogative, an insolent intrusion on our chosen and appropriated field of labour? How completely does the spirit of the great apostolic captive put to shame all such exclusiveness and selfish emulation, as displayed too often by the individual labourer, and still more by large bodies of suck labourers, however zealous and sincere.
This last is but another form of the same error, more insidious, because clothed in the garb of humility. He who professes to distrust, nay, who really distrusts himself as insufficient for this work, may be guilty of an undue reliance upon others, either singly or collectively. However little he may look for from his own individual exertions, he may repose an uncommanded confidence in those of his neighbours, or his leaders, or in the united strength of his party, of his church, or of his nation; and to these corporate bodies may transfer the idolatrous trust and admiration which he dare not arrogate to himself. But this kind of dependence upon human strength for that which God alone can do, though less offensive in its manifestations, is equally at variance with a spirit of true faith, and equally condemned by Paul's example. The principle which actuated and controlled his conduct comprehends in the wide scope of its application all dependence upon human agencies as absolutely or intrinsically necessary to the execution of the divine plan, whether the objects of this misplaced trust be individuals or communities—ourselves or others. The primary meaning of Paul's joyful exclamation is, that though he was a prisoner, the word of God was free, but it obviously implies that though all the preachers of the word were altogether like him, not even excepting his bonds, it would still have been true, that the word of God was not their fellow captive, but might run and be glorified. Though I and every other humau instrument be paralyzed or
shattered, God can perform his own work in his own way; though I and every other messenger endure affliction even unto bonds, the word of God is not hound. There is no need, however, of our stopping even here. We are not required to content ourselves with knowing that the word of God is not bound to the hand or foot of any human instrument however eminent, however useful. Let us view the teaching * of the text in its uttermost extent, and sound it in its lowest depths, or rather to the depth of our capacity, even though it should conduct us to what may at first sight seem a more abstract and artificial view of the apostle's meaning.
One of the most important lessons couched in this significant expression or deducible from it, would be lost upon us if we went no further. I refer to the doctrine that the truth of God is independent, not only of particular human agents, but of all human systems of opinion, organizations, and methods of procedure. This must be apprehended and believed as a distinct proposition. "We may grant the insignificance of any particular personal agency, and yet rely upon the intrinsic efficacy of. certain theories and certain plans, whatever be the agency by which they are reduced to practice. As in politics, so in religion, and especially in its active benevolence, the maxim " principles not men" may be delusive, by leading only from one error to another, by withdrawing confidence from personal advantages of character or talent, only to fix it the more blindly on the real or imaginary attributes of systems, schemes, contrivances, and methods. It is important, therefore, that the words of the apostle should be taken in their widest sense, as intimating that " the word of God is not bound" with this chain any more than with the others. The diffusion and triumph of the truth are not suspended on our methods of promoting them, however excellent. The truth we circulate is not a lifeless, inert mass, which we may shape, and regulate, and bear about at our discretion or caprice; it is a living element, which we can neither generate nor kill, but to which God allows us the honour of furnishing conductors and assigning a direction with a view to certain applications. "Whatever reason we may have for cherishing our own accustomed modes of doing this, we must still remember that, in reference to these as well as other things, "the word of God is not bound."
There may seem to be but slight ground or practical necessity for this admonition ; but the fact is otherwise. This error is a real and an operative one. Its tendency, if not directly to relax effort, is to weaken faith, discourage hope, damp zeal, contract the views, and thereby most effectually stop the wheels of all great enterprises. The error itself does not lie in the contrivance of ingenious and effectual plans, or in their zealous execution, but in looking upon their operation and results as the aggregate effect produced by saving truth; as if one should suppose that there was no light in the world but that employed in optical experiments, and no electric, or magnetic, or galvanic influence but that subjected to our senses by the pile or battery. It is an honour and a happiness to be allowed to gather up a portion of revealed truth, as the Hebrews gathered manna in their vessels, and
to cast it into certain moulds without destroying its vitality or virtue, and to blend it with other things congenial though distinct, and to clothe it in legitimate though uncommanded forms of our own choosing, and to apply it as we find expedient for our own advantage or for that of others. But we must not let this privilege mislead us into the delusion of imagining that this is all the truth of God can do, or rather that there is no truth at all except as we choose to exhibit or diffuse it; that if our machinery should burst or fall to pieces, it would leave the world to spiritual darkness and starvation. In short, that the word of God is bound to us and to our methods of preserving and diffusing it. In this, as in the other senses heretofore considered, be assured, my hearers, that "the word of God is not bound."
The mistaken views, of which I am now speaking, arise from natural and moral causes, some of which are easily detected. Our ideas of value, from their very nature, are connected with our customary modes of measurement and estimation. Whatever we can count or weigh, we own to have a real tangible existence. Whatever we can thus treat to a certain point, even without being able to include the whole, we look upon as vast in its extent or worth, but no less real than if we could measure it by pounds or inches.
But that which cannot be subjected to our measurement at all, we are disposed to reckon as imaginary, or as only half existing, not entitled to a place among the tangible realities by which we are surrounded. The very air we breathe, because it is invisible, is apt to be regarded by the uninstructed voi. ii.—14*
mind, as almost a nonentity; and even when it prove8 its own existence, when it sweeps over the earth in the tornado, tearing up whole forests, some would rather trace the terrible effect to causes utterly unknown, than to an agent in immediate contact with their bodies, yet apparently beyond the reach of their investigation. It is true that some of these mysterious agencies in nature have been brought to bear with wonderful effect upon the interests of real life. The indomitable light is made to do the slow work of the artist's pencil in a moment of time, and the flitting shadow is arrested in its flight and rendered permanent. An unsubstantial vapour now replaces on the ocean and the land, on the road and in the factory, a vast amount of animal exertion. A power once reckoned too mysterious for scrutiny, or even for belief, now apes the wonder of annihilating time and space, and instantaneously conveys men's whispers not only over continents but under oceans. Effects so real must have real causes, and the world reluctantly admits the fact.
Now, there are triumphs of advancing knowledge in the field of natural discovery—her triumphs over ignorant and stubborn prepossessions. And why may not the truth, though in itself immutable, gain kindred victories in morals and religion 2 Why should they who no longer venture to dispute the existence and activity of physical causes, which they cannot estimate or measure, still persist in believing that the truth of God is only operative through their channels and in their machinery—that when they have computed the amount of saving knowledge spread through these, by counting the words, or the pages, or the volumes that contain it, they have stated the sum total of the cleansing, strengthening, illuminating influence exerted by the truth upon this evil world? The doctrine which I would oppose to this delusion is the simple doctrine that " the word of God is not bound" or restricted, in its salutary virtue, to the formal and appreciable power exerted upon churches and Christian communities, or through the ordinary modes and channels of religious influence, however great this power may be, however indispensable to the completion of the work which God is working in our days. We may even admit that it is relatively almost all, but it is still not quite all; and the residuary power may be greater, vastly greater, than it seems to us before attentively considering the other less direct, less formal, less appreciable ways, in which the word of God, the truth revealed in Scripture, is at this moment operating on the condition of society, apart from its constant and direct communication through the pulpit, the school, and the religious press. These are the agencies, indeed, by which sound doctrine is maintained in your churches and impressed upon your youth; and this, in its perfection, is the highest end that can be wrought by the diffusion of the truth.
But let us not forget that much may be effected even when this highest end is not attained. In many a heresy, for instance, how much truth may be mingled, saving it from absolute corruption, and perhaps the souls of those who hold it, from perdition. Infidelity, in all its forms, affects to treat religion with contempt as the offspring of ignorance; but its own discoveries are mere mutilations of the truths which it has stolen from its despised enemy. The attempt of infidelity to do away with the great doctrines of religion, is the prowess of a dwarf mounting on a giant's shoulders to put out his eye. The best constructed system of unscriptural philosophy, however close and dark, still has its crevices, and through these some light cannot fail to percolate, if only to be seized upon as proof that the system is not one of darkness after all.
The same thing is true as to those slighter and more trivial, but for that very reason more effective forms of unbelief, which are propagated not in philosophical abstractions, but in poetry, romance, and other current literature. The novelist or journalist who, with a scom of Christianity only to be equalled by his ignorance of what it teaches, undertakes to show his readers "a more excellent way," often brings them at last to some elementary truth, already wrought into the mind and stamped upon the memory of every child who reads the Bible. What a tribute is this to the pervading, penetrating force of truth, that it can find its way even into such dark places, and at least serve to make the darkness visible! Look too at the schemes of civil government and social order framed by irreligious men, or unbelievers in the Scriptures, and observe these two facts easily established: that every departure from the lessons of God's word is a demonstrable evil or defect in relation even to the lower object aimed at; and that every thing conducive to a good end in the system is an adaptation of some Christian doctrine to a special purpose. It is no doubt far more flattering to the pride of theorists and system-mongers, to regard what they have borrowed or stolen from the Bible as a common stock from which both parties are at liberty to draw; but they have no right, upon this ground, to deny the notorious fact that this pretended common fund was given to the world by revelation ages before their own inventions came into existence.
It would be easy to pursue the same inquiry through every field of science and every walk of art, and to show that even there, the Word of God has first been followed as a guide, and then expelled as an intruder; that its light has first been used to kindle others, and then vain attempts made to extinguish it forever; in a word, that its enemies have first resorted to it in their time of need, and then ungratefully forgotten or unblushingly denied the obligation. In all these cases, it is no doubt true that the result of the mutilating and perverting process is something unscriptural and antichristian. It is not pretended that the few drops of pure water neutralize the poison, or that the single ray of light dispels the darkness into which, as if by accident, it finds its way. The general result may still be evil, although these foreign elements are there; but if they are there, who will undertake to say how much less after all the evil is than it would otherwise have been?
Here then is a case in which an inappreciable cause may be known to be producing great effects. The indirect and incidental influence of Bible truth upon erroneous systems of religion, the various forms of infidelity, or science, art, and Hterature, on manners, government, and social morals, cannot be measured, but it cannot be denied. It may be inscrutable, but it is real, and we must not leave it out of our account when we would estimate the power of divine truth, or our own obligations to diffuse it, or our causes and occasions of encouragement to persevere and look for great results from the diffusion of that light which, though it sheds its full effulgence only on a few most highly favoured spots, at the same time sends some of its rays into the dark places of the earth which are full of the habitations of cruelty. Thanks be to God, that the beneficent effects of his word are not entirely confined to those who willingly receive it, but that even in relation to the church and to Christendom, however vast their advantages above the heathen, "the word of God is not bound." If this be a correct view of the influence exerted even indirectly by the word of God; if over and above its certain and complete results, it shines through the interstices of unknown caverns, and mitigates the darkness of unfathomed depths; if in fertilizing one spot, it sheds even a few scattered but refreshing drops upon a multitude of others; if in doing all for some, it incidentally does some for all, let me ask, in conclusion, what should be the practical effect of this belief? not that of paralyzing hope or crippling effort, but the very contrary. It should forbid despair; it should excite to new exertion. Its tendency to this effect may be exhibited in three particulars. And first, if all these things be so, we need not tremble for the truth itself. Our efforts to preserve it and improve it may be vain; but it will take care of itself, or rather God will take care of it. If his word were something that existed only here and there like precious stones and metals, we might fear that it would be drained off to meet some urgent demand elsewhere, or that it might be actually lost or destroyed. But who can fear the loss of that which penetrates all substances, and reaches even the remotest regions? Who can fear the loss of water, air, or fire? To individuals, to families, to entire communities, the truth may indeed be wholly lost, to their eternal undoing. But it shall not be banished from the world. There may be savages to whom the use of fire is unknown. There are deserts which are always almost wholly void of moisture. But the flames can never be extinguished on these millions of hearths, or if they were, they would be soon rekindled by the electric clouds of heaven, or the volcanic craters of the earth. The world cannot die of thirst until the windows of heaven are forever stopped, and the fountains of the deep forever emptied. So shall it be with the word of God; he has not only spread it over the surface of society, but given it a lodgment in its innermost recesses. Every system, every institution, every community, has received of its fulness, more or less. Should its regular depositories be destroyed, it will burst forth from its hiding-places where it lay forgotten, to regenerate the world. Its champions may be overcome, its heralds carried captive, "but the word of God is not bound."
Another aspect of the same thing is, that if such be the indirect, as well as the direct effects of truth, there is some hope for the world itself, and even for those parts of it, and those things in it, which Otherwise might seem to be confined to hopeless, irrecoverable ruin. The mass may in itself be wholly corrupt, there may be present in it and diffused through out it a potent antiseptic principle, a salt, not superficially applied, but absorbed into the pores, and lodged in the vessels of the body politic, not so as entirely to purge out its impurities, but so as to preserve it from immediate dissolution. When we hear of wars and revolutions, when we see the weakness of all human safeguards proved experimentally by one convulsion following another, till the cause of human freedom and good government seems desperate, let us remember that amidst the corruptions and infirmities of even the best human institutions, there is still a power working, it may be insensibly, but constantly and not without effect, to procrastinate, if not to prevent forever the catastrophe which sometimes seems so inevitable. The statesman and the demagogue are far .from dreaming that what sometimes saves them from the ruin which they had long ceased to think avoidable, is that despised religion which they have in vain endeavoured to exclude from all participation in the honours of their boasted system, but which, in spite of them, has so far leavened it, that even their own suicidal violence fails of its effect. The hand of power may be palsied, or the wild force of the multitude coerced by various accidental causes, but this mysterious principle still lives, and-moves, and acts upon society, if not enough to give it health, enough to save its life. The ruler and the ruled may be alike in bondage; "but the word of God is not bound."
Lastly, if this be a correct view of the powerful and multiform energies of truth; of its oblique as well as its direct effects upon the world, it may teach us a valuable lesson as to the true spirit of philanthropy, as being not a formal, rigid, mathematical attempt to save men's souls by certain rules, and in the use of certain ceremonial forms, but a generous, impulsive, and expansive zeal for the glory of God in the salvation of the lost. If such be even the remote and secondary influence of truth upon men's social, intellectual, and moral state, their science, literature, arts, and government, let us give them excess of it, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear. And as the surest way of gaining this end, let Is flood the world with the pure and unadulterated word of God.
To our several and our separate systems of belief, we owe a diligent use of the necessary means for their establishment and propagation. But to God, to Christ, and to the souls of men, we owe an energetic and unceasing effort to saturate the whole earth with that word in which we all agree. Even when we have done all that seems incumbent on us through the channels of our own ecclesiastical relations, we may still do more through the deep and broad channel of our common Christianity. The word of God has already been repeatedly compared to water, the natural emblem of purification and refreshment. Its diffusion may be likened to the measures for supplying a whole population, such as that of a great city, with this precious element of cleanliness, comfort, health, and safety, great municipal measures now. Other supplies may be acceptable or even indispensable to certain classes or to certain spots, but this is requisite alike to all. To provide it may cost labour, time, skill, and vast expense; but it is worth the price. By some it may be wasted; some may mix it with intoxicating drinks, or use it in other noxious preparations, or directly apply to the injury of others; but in spite of all these possibilities of evil, and a thousand more as easily imagined, it is still a blessing, and may safely be afforded in unlimited abundance. So is it, and so be it, with the word of God. Whatever some may choose to do with it or mix with it, however some may lavish or neglect it or pervert it, it is still the word of God, and in its unadulterated form may be poured upon the nations as a flood, without a fear of either poisoning or drowning them. Then let it gush, and let the world bear witness that though every other channel be obstructed, and every other source of influence exhausted,—though philosophy and fancy be found unavailing,—though prophecies fail, and tongues cease, and all other knowledge vanish away—though the very ministers of truth be fettered in civil or religious bondage, the word of God is not bound—it is not bound; it is free; it is alive; it is in motion; it shall win; it shall have free course and be glorified till "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of God, as the waters cover the sea."