Thomas Shuttleworth Grimshawe.

A memoir of the Rev. Legh Richmond .. online

. (page 10 of 31)
Online LibraryThomas Shuttleworth GrimshaweA memoir of the Rev. Legh Richmond .. → online text (page 10 of 31)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

2d. The application of the commandment to feed the
sheep of Christ, as it respects the heathen nations, and our
own exertions, in order to their conversion.

Under the first head, he briefly describes the peculiar in-
terest and solemnity of the occasion ; — the question propo-
sed : " Lovest thou me ?" The answer given : " Yea,
Lord, thou knowest that I love thee " The successive re-
petition of the question, and Peter's asseveration, «* Lord,
though knowest all things, though knowest that I love
thee ;" and the final command of the Saviour, obedience
to which is the test of the sincerity of the profession :
" Feed my sheep." The motive of love to Christ is dedu-
ced as the only adequate and scriptural stimulus to mission-
ary exertion; and the commandment given, to feed his
flock, declares the nature and object of the duty required.
The application of the whole to ourselves, is inferred from
the commission given to Peter and the apostles, as the re-
presentatives of the church universal to the end of time ;
and from the fact, that general exhortations, accompanied
by, and founded upon, Christ's general promises to his
church, admit of no limitation, either of time^or place.
Under his second head, he inquires —

Who are the sheep of Christ ?

Why ought they to be fed ?


By whom ?

With what food must they beefed, nourished; and support-
ed ?

We pass over the first, as obvious in its meaning. Ta
the second inquiry, " Why," &c. he replies — " Because
the heathen are without Christ — aliens from the common-
wealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of pro*
mise ; having no hope, and without God in the world*'^

Digitized by VjOOQ IC


And, he adds, that our own opportunities of ascertaining
their present state, fully proved it to be. in all respects, ana-
logous to tbeir former state, as described by the apostle,
Rom. i 21. ; although, under specious but very equivocal
pretensions to candour, some had maintained a contrary
supposition ;— which he considered to be opposed to the
honour of God and the testimony of his .revealed word.

Mr. Richmond quotes the well known and modest Ian-'
guage of Bishop Ridley,* as expressive of his own feel-
ings, in respect of a subject confessedly mysterious : — »• In
these matters I am so fearful, that I dare not speak further ;
yea, almost none otherwise, than the very text doth, as it
were, lead me by the hand." Yet^ with respect to the
state of the heathen, Mr. Richmond observes ; — " I think
the nature of the covenant of grace is so clearly stated in
the word of God, and the condition of sinners so plainly
there described, that it is no presumption to adopt the con-
clusion of the primitive church, as expressed in the terms
of our own article — 'that * men cannot be sav^d by the light
of nature. For holy Scripture doth set out unto us only
the name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.' "
— Art. 18.

He adds — " ft may with propriety be asked, whether
any thing short of the absolute demonstration of their
safety without Christianity, can justify our withholding
from them the knowledge of the way of salvation by Christ

As to when this duty is to be undertaken he unhesitating-
ly answers — " Now is the accepted time, — behold now is
the day of salvation/ 1

He then recites the ^following circumstances, to point
out the present as a season of special hope and promise,
viz : —

The great increase of Gospel light and knowledge among
us, of late years.

The revival of the principles of the primitive church,
and of the reformation.

* See • Fmthert of the Englifh church,' vol. iv. p. *49.

Digitized by VjOOQ IC


Our present freedom from papal tyranny, the experience
of which prevented the martyrs and confessors of our pit>»
testant faith from engaging in so holy a cause, leaving the
duty to be fulfilled by succeeding generations.

The growing attention to prophecy, as it concerns the
downfall of the papacy, the restoration of the Jews,
the conversion of the Gentiles, and the approach of the
millenium ; all which subjects are intimately connected
with missionary plans.

The naval and commercial eminence of this country, and
the ample facilities enjoyed by it, for the promotion of such
an undertaking.

Again, — " By whom are the sheep of Christ among the
Heathen to be fed ?"

This duty devolves evidently on the visible churches of
Christ, which, by their principle and constitution, are mis-
sionary bodies ; but more especially does this duty rest
with the Protestant churches, which, by the actual princi-
ples they profess, arc alike called upon to protest against
the idolatry of the Heathen tribes, and the idolatry of the
church of Rome.

Here he notices the triumphant boast, often uttered by
the church of Rome, though less applicable to the times in
which we now live " It has never ceased," says Mura-
tori, their zealous historian and partizan, " sending into
divers parts of the earth fervent labourers to plant the
true faith." " Let the modern sectaries (the Protestants)
be considered : this heroic charity will not be found among
them. They leave the bringing over of idolaters and infi-
dels to the belief of the Gospel, to the missionaries of the
Catholic church ; and freely resign to them the inestima-
ble advantage of being consumed with evangelical labours,
and exposing their lives to enlarge the kingdom of Jesus
Christ." " Hence," the historian adds, " the church in
communion with Rome, is the only one that keeps up the
first spirit of Christianity : she alone, like the primitive
church, abounds in apostles and martyrs : hence, she
alone is the true spouse of the Saviour of mankind*"

Digitized by VjOOQ IC


From this reflection of Muratori, Mr. Richmond takes
occasion to call upon Protestant churches to wipe away
the reproach.

M Let the superior purity of the religion which we pro-
fess, be made manifest in our superior union of the various
qualifications, which are requisite to adorn and give energy
to the cause of missions."

The church of England, in particular, ought to be found
among the foremost of her Protestant sisters in this glori-
ous exertion. The purity of her doctrines, and the con-
formity of her government to the primitive model, &c.
unite in distinguishing her as highly qualified for this
mighty conquest over the powers of darkness.

In answering the inquiry,—" who shall be the mission-
aries ?" he observes ; " the shepherds whom you set apart
to this honourable labour of feeding and nourishing souls
for Christ, must be men who love Christ for the salvation
which he bath wrought in their own souls ; men, who « feel
in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ; mortify-
ing the works of the flesh, and their earthly members, and
drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things. 9 " —
{Art. 17) Tbey must be men, not of warmth and zeal
alone, but of solidity, patience, and perseverance ; men
who, like their Lord, can endure the contradiction of sinners.
For the most part, it is not so often men of extensive learn-
ing, of genius, and superior literary talents, who are want-
ed, as men of simplicity and sincerity ; men of prayer and
meditation ; men who so love Christ, as to be willing to
spend and be spent, for his sake ; men of subdued passions
and mortified minds, who patiently wait for the coming of
our Lord Jesus Christ.

In his next important inquiry, — " wherewith they are to
be fed," the following remarks claim the attention of all
who are engaged in the cause of missions.

" Preach Christ, as a free 9 full, perfect, and all-sufficient
Saviour to the greatest of sinners. The sheep of Christ,
whether at home or abroad, will hear and know their own
good Shepherd's voice, and none other. Proclaim, as

Digitized by VjOOQ IC


from the house-top, « that God commendeth his love towards
us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us ;'
and thus accomplished that wonder of men and angels,
4 that God might he just, and the justifier of the sinner
which believeth in Jesus.' "

" Preach to them the blood of Christ : its atoning and
cleansing power. Send over your missionary shepherds,
to feed the flock of Christ among the Heathen, with the
wholesome bread and the pure water of life. We must
not trifle in this matter. It is the cause of God and truth.
Mingle therefore nothing with their food ; disguise it not
with any self-accomodating explanations. It is not the
equivocal language of a mere fashionable profession of the
Gospel, that will convey the word and substance of sal-
vation to the soul of either a nominal Christian, or a real

" Let the hemisphere of light, which is to burst upon the
dark mountains where now the heathen sheep are scattered,
be unsullied ard without a cloud. Be ye pastors ac-
cording to God's heart, and feed them with knowledge
and understanding, Christ living, Christ obeying, Christ
dying, Christ risen, Christ ascended, and Christ interceding
for sinners : this is the true bread of life. " Our com-
mission to feed his sheep runs thus : « Go ye and teach
all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and
of the Son, and of fie Holy Ghost' " Hence, the love of
the Father, in giving sinners to Christ ; the love of the
Son, in dying for their redemption ; and the love of the
Spirit, in sanctifying and preparing them for glory, are
the grand themes for Christian meditation. When these
invaluable truths are enforced in a practical and experi-
mental manner, the sheep of Christ are truly fed, ac-
cording to their good Shepherd's design and command-
ment ; and so shall they live and prosper.

In illustration of the foregoing remarks, he quotes the
following testimony of Johannes, a converted Heathen,
and who also became a blessed witness of the truth to his
own nation. The circumstance is recorded in the history

Digitized by VjOOQ IC


of the missions of the United Brethren among the Indian
nations of North America.

** Brethren, I have heen a Heathen, and have grown old
amongst them ; therefore I know very well how it is with
the Heathen, and how they think. A preacher once came
to us, desiring to instruct us ; and began by proving to us,
that there was a God. On which we said to him : « Well,
and dost thou think we are ignorant of that ? Now go
back again to the place from whence thou earnest.'

** Then again, another preacher came, and began to in-
struct us, saying, * you must not steal, nor drink too much,
nor lie, nor lead wicked lives.' We answered him : « Fool
that thou art, dost thou think that we do not know that?
Go and learn it first thyself, and teach the people whom
thou belongest to, not to do those things. For who are
greater drunkards, or thieves, or liars, than thine own peo-
ple V Thus, we sent him away also.

"Sometime after this, Christian Henry, one of the
Brethren, came to me into my hut, and sat down by me.
The contents of his discourse to me were nearly these :
* I come to thee in the name of the Lord of heaven and
earth. He sends me to acquaint thee, that he would gladly
save thee, and make thee happy, and deliver thee from the
miserable state in which thou liest at present. To this end
he became a man, gave his life a ransom for man, and shed
his blood for man. All that believe in the name of this
Jesus, obtain the forgiveness of sin. To all them that re-
ceive him by faith, he giveth power to become the sons
of God. The Holy Spirit d welleth in their hearts, and they
are made free, through the blood of Christ, from the slavery
and dominion of sin. And though thou art the chief of
sinners, yet if thou prayest to the Father in his name, and
believest in him as a sacrifice for thy sins, thou shalt be
heard and saved, and he will give thee a crown of life, and
thou shalt live with him in heaven for ever.'

" When he had finished his discourse, he lay down upon
a board in my hut, fatigued by his journey, and fell into a
sound sleep. I thought within myself, 'What manner of


Digitized by VjOOQ IC


man is this ?' There he lies, and sleeps so sweetly — I
might kill him, and throw him into the forest, and who
would regard it ? But he is unconcerned — this cannot be
a bad man ; he fears no evil, not even from us, who are so
savage ; but sleeps comfortably, and places his life in our

"However, I could not forget his words; they con-
stantly recurred to my mind ; even though I went to sleep,
yet I dreamed of the blood which Christ had shed for us.
I thought, ' this is very strange, and quite different from
what I have ever heard.' So 1 went and interpreted
Christian Henry's words to the other Indians.

" Thus, through the grace of God, an awakening took
place among us. * 1 tell you, therefore, brethren,' said he,
« preach to the Heathen, Christ- and his blood, his suffer-
ings and his death, if you would have your words to gain
entrance among them ; if you wish to confer a blessing
upon them.' "*

" Such was the exhortation of Johannes, the Indian, to
the missionaries, founded upon the circumstances of his
own conversion to God."

But the passage in Mr. Richmond's sermon, which pro-
duced the strongest impression upon his hearers, was the
following :

" I stand before you this day, as an ambassador for
Christ, in the cause of those who are ready to perish. In
his and their name, I beseech you to hear me, while I pro-
pose a few considerations to your attention.

«* Consider the state of the world, its empires, nations,
kindred, and tribes. When a map of the world is pre-
sented to the eye, with what a variety of affections it is
viewed, according to the character and pursuits of the in-
spector !

* See Crantz's History of the Greenland Mission, a most in-
teresting publication, in which the preaching of the Cross led to a
general awakening of the Green landers, after the preliminary truths
of religion had been brought before them nearly eighteen years
with little or no effect.

Digitized by VjOOQ IC


" The mere statesman, diligently examines the magni-
tude, position, and boundaries of other countries, with a
sole reference to the political aggrandisement of his own.
Wars, conquests, treaties, alliances, and a multitude of
considerations connected with ambition, power, and na-
tional honour, dictate and accompany all his speculations
on the map. And then he has done with it, and lays it

" The merchant takes up the map, and eagerly traverses
the delineation of seas, continents, and islands, with anxious
inquiry as to pecuniary profit and loss, trade and mer-
chandise. His thoughts are absorbed in considering how
much may be gained by his speculations to some distant
island, or foreign shore. He meditates on the track of his
vessel upon the ocean, marks its course upon the hazardous
waves, and is full of agitation with respect to its fate.
There is his golden treasure, and his heart is there also.
As he views the map, he conjectures, hopes, fears ; and,
with much solicitude, contemplates his future gains, or
dreads impending losses. The map is again laid down,
and he has done with it.

" The curious traveller takes up the map of the world,
and is occupied with the remembrance or anticipation of
the various customs, manners, dresses, languages, build-
ings, and ceremonies ; with a long list of wonders and
amusements, that have engaged his attention. In such a
way, his imagination travels over the whole globe ; and •
then this man's contemplations on the map are likewise

" The natural philosopher investigates the various pro-
ductions of this diversified globe with another object.
Theories of the earth's formation ; the animal, vegetable,
and mineral kingdoms ; the origin of volcanoes, the cause
of earthquakes, the variation of the magnetic needle — all
afford him endless subjects of examination. Every conti-
nent, sea, climate and zone, which the map presents to
his eye, furnishes him with matter for inquisitive specula-
tion. And then, he has done with it also.

Digitized by VjOOQ IC


" But when the Christian beholds the world's map, he
has a subject of investigation far beyond them all. What
they have overlooked and disregarded* is every thing to
him. His great inquiry is, * Show me the visible kingdom
of Christ : name the countries where Christ is known and
worshipped. Oh ! when shall the kingdoms of this world
become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ ?
When shall the Heathen fear the name of the Lord V

" As his eye traverses the globe, he sighs over the awful
contrast which its different portions exhibit. His own
soul loves Jesus, the Saviour of men. But how small a
part of those immense tracts of country which the map
presents to his view, so much as know whether there be
any Christ ! What nations immersed in Heathenish ido-
latry I How many overrun with the tyrannical supersti-
tion of Mahomet ! Yea, where even tie name of Christ
is professed, how many are sunk into the deep mire of
Popish corruption or virtual infidelity ! How small a por-
tion seem, as yet, to belong to Christ !

*- He mourns over the prospect, but does not lay downt
the map and think no more of it. Again and again he
takes it up, prays for the sheep of Christ in distant lands,
recommends their case to God, and meditates plans for
their deliverance. He surveys the vast continents of Asia
and Africa, and, for the most part, it seems to be darkness
visible. Then he looks for his native island at home, en-
deared to him by a thousand considerations, but most en-
deared on account of the Gospel light with which she is
blessed. And shall not the rays of that light soon be dif-
fused, as from a centre, to all the surrounding world ?
Doth not a voice from above, in an especial manner, say
unto Britons, • Go ye into all the world.' Wherefore ?
Only for political aggrandisement — for merchandise — for
travelling recreation — for collecting of philosophical rari-
ties ? Are these your only objects ? No ; saith the Word*
« Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every

Digitized by VjOOQ IC


" From such a meditation on the map, the Christian re-
tires, not to slumber over the convictions of duty ; not to
say much, and do nothing. Fie freights a vessel to carry
the pearl of great price to those, who neither know of its
existence nor its value. The missionary is on board the
ship. The messenger of God is crossing the seas ; not
as formerly, to make the Ethiopians afraid, but to proclaim
the glad tidings of salvation to the Heathen, to preach the
Gospel to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted, to preach
deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the
blind. Whilst the Christian, at home, who has been the
instrument of sending him forth on this errand of love,
anxiously waits to hear the happy news, that Dagon is
fallen upon his face to the ground, before the ark of the
Lord ; that Bel boweth down, and Nebo stoopeth, while
the great trumpet is blown ; and that they which were
ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in
the land of Egypt, are now worshipping the Lord in his
holy mount.

" O ye statesmen, merchants, travellers and philosophers,
take up your maps once more.

" Again consider the state of the church ; and if you love
Christ, feed his sheep."

He then makes the following appeal to his hearers.

" Are you Christians ? How came this ? Did no man
cross the seas to teach your forefathers wisdom ? Did no
missionary brave the perils of a journey among your Hea-
then ancestors, because he loved the sheep of Christ ? Yea,
brethren, through a blessing on missionary exertions, Christ
visited Britain. He had a fold here, and he sent some
faithful shepherd to gather the scattered sheep into it. Go,
then, and feed the sheep of Christ, as yourselves have
been fed.

" Are you Protestants ? Then let the names of the first
Reformers — of Luther, Zuinglius, Calvin, Tindal, Cranmer,
Latimer, and all the venerable host of faithful martyrs and
confessors of their day, be loved and honoured by you.


Digitized by VjOOQ IC


They were missionaries at home to your Popish ancestors ;•
and you were delivered from the mark of the beast on your
forehead, by God's blessing on their firm and consistent
declaration of scriptural truths. Those holy men came
forth as witnesses for God to a sinful and superstitious
generation They were as angels flying in the midst of
heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach unto them
that dwell on the earth. Show that you value the blessings
which the first Protestants purchased for you with their
very lives, by bountiful and efficacious exertion to convey
the same truths to others, if the Son hath made you free,
then ye are free indeed Freely ye have received, freely

" Are you members of the Church of England ? Be
dutiful sons of an honourable and gracious mother. As-
sist her with your counsels, your experience, your various
talents, your prayers, your time, and your money. Ena-
ble her to send forth messengers of love and peace to
those who at present have no knowledge, no Gospel, no
church, no Christ, no God in the world. Her doctrines
are precious, for they are the doctrines of the Cross : send
them abroad to those, who know none but the doctrines of

"The Church of England was the glory of the Refor-
mation. Let her be so still. Let her character be written,
not in the- empty boasts of nominal grandeur, but in the
actual exhibition of t^e fruits of the Spirit. Let her be
distinguished and approved * by pureness, by knowledge,
by long-suffering, by kindness * by the Holy Ghost, by love
unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by
the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the
left.' Let her be among the foremost to send forth the
preachers of the Gospel into foreign lands, and to employ
her peculiar advantages in the service of Christ. If you
love the communion of your church, and the privileges you
enjoy in it, multiply your contributions this day in her be-
half. She pleads in a noble cause ; a cause that proves

Digitized by VjOOQ IC


her to be the spouse of Christ ; for she longs and labours
lor the increase of bis kingdom* and calls upon you to pro-
mote it : let her not call in vain."

The collection on this occasion amounted to 33 1Z. 1#. ;
being the largest sum ever contributed at any of the anni-
versary sermons of this society.*

The sermon was published with the proceedings of the
Church Missionary Society. Yet as many of the readers
of this memoir may not possess that publication, we have
been the more diffuse in our extracts.

Mr. Richmond's exertions in behalf of the religious so-
cieties, began from this period to form a very prominent
feature in his life. His journals, which we mean to. lay
before the reader, will discover an, extraordinary degree of
zeal and labour, such as few men would attempt to equal,
and fewer have ever exceeded. His correspondence at the
same time will show* that so far from sacrificing parochial
or family duties to his more public engagements, he was
most strictly conscientious in the observance of them, [t
is admitted, that incessant occupation in the service of the
public, may prove a- serious interruption to the due dis-
charge of private obligations, and that personal piety may
be endangered by the excitement and distraction of public

Mr. Richmond formed an exception to the too common
effect of popularity. So far from being injured by his ex-
ertions abroad, they seemed to invigorate and fit him for
the better discharge of his duties at home ; and his return
from these missionary tours was ever accompanied with
some signal revivals in his church and family.

In the year 1810, an Auxiliary Society was formed for
the county of Bedford, to co-operate with the London So-
ciety for promoting Christianity among the Jews. The
Parent Institution was not then established on its present
basis, as a Church Society, but comprehended Christians

* Equal to one thousand four hundred sixty nine dollars and
eighty six cents. In the following pages the amounts collected will
be put down in dollars and centg^.and, not in, sterling currency. A. E.

Digitized by VjOOQ IC


Online LibraryThomas Shuttleworth GrimshaweA memoir of the Rev. Legh Richmond .. → online text (page 10 of 31)