Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
I. WHAT IS ENTHUSIASM? Enthusiasmos means the fulness of Divine inspiration, an absorbing, a passionate devotion to some good cause, the state of those whom St. Paul here describes as "fervent," literally boiling in spirit, the spirit of man when transfigured, uplifted, dilated by the Spirit of God. Without enthusiasm of some noble kind a man is dead, and without enthusiasts a nation perishes. There are two forms which enthusiasm has assumed — the enthusiasm for humanity, and the enthusiasm for individual salvation. When the two have been combined; when the sense of devotion has been united with the exaltation of charity, it has produced the most glorious and blessed benefactors of the world. What was Christianity itself but such an enthusiasm? Learnt from the example, caught from the Spirit of Christ, the same love for the guilty and the wretched, which brought the Lord of glory down to the lowest depths, was kindled by His Spirit in the heart of all His noblest sons. Forgiven, they have longed with others to share the same forgiveness, and they have been ready to do all, and to dare all, for His sake who died for them. Again and again this Divine fire has died out of the world; again and again has it been rekindled by God's chosen sons. What would the world have been without them? Ask what the world would be without the sun.
II. THE ENTHUSIASM OF THE STUDENT, ARTIST, DISCOVERER, MAN OF SCIENCE — what else could have inspired their infinite patience and self-sacrifice? It plunged Roger Bacon into torture and imprisonment; it made Columbus face the terrors of unknown seas; it caused years of persecution to Galileo, to Kepler, to Newton, to the early geologists, to Charles Darwin. What supported them was the fervency of spirit which prefers labour to sloth, and love to selfishness, and truth to falsehood, and God to gold.
III. THE ENTHUSIASM OF THE REFORMER. Think what Italy was fast becoming when Savonarola thundered against her corruption and apostacy. Think how an intolerable sacerdotal tyranny would have crushed the souls of men had not Wycliffe braved death to give the people of England their Bible. Think what truths would have been drowned in deep seas of oblivion if Huss had not gone calmly to the stake. Think what a sink of abominations the nominal Church of God might now have been if the voice of Luther had never shaken the world. Think how the Church of England might now be settling on her lees if such men as Wesley and Whitefield had not driven their fellows back to the simplicity which is in Christ Jesus.
IV. THE ENTHUSIASM OF THE MISSIONARY. In the first centuries every Christian looked on it as a part of his life to be God's missionary, and for centuries the Church produced men like and Columban. Then for one thousand years the darkness was only broken by here and there a man like St. Louis of France, or St. . It is to Count Zinzendorf and the that we owe the revival of missionary zeal. In the last century missionaries were regarded as foolish and rash, and I know not what. When Carey proposed to go as a missionary to India, he was told that if God wished to convert the heathen He would doubtless do so in His own way. Think of John Eliot, the lion-hearted "apostle of the Indians," and his motto that prayer and painstaking can accomplish everything. Think of young and sickly David Brainerd going alone into the wild forests of America and among their wilder denizens, with the words "Not from necessity but from choice, for it seems to me that God's dealings towards me have fitted me for a life of solitariness and hardship." Think of Adoniram Judson and the tortures he bore so cheerfully in his Burmese prison. And we, too, in these days have seen Charles Mackenzie leave the comforts of Cambridge to die amid the pestilent swamps of the Zambesi, and Coleridge Patteson, floating, with his palm branch of victory in his hand, over the blue sea among the Coral Isles. Nor do I know any signs more hopeful for the nation than these, that our public schools are now founding missions in the neglected wastes of London, and our young athletes are going out as poor men to labour in China and Hindustan.
V. THE ENTHUSIASM OF OUR SOCIAL PHILANTHROPISTS. Who can measure the good done by St. when he founded his Sisterhoods of Mercy? What man has done more for multitudes of souls than John Pounds, the Plymouth cobbler, who became the founder of ragged schools? What a light from heaven was shed on countless wanderers by Robert Raikes, John Howard, and Elizabeth Fry! Think, too, of the effort of Clarkson, Wilberforce, Sharp and Garrison in their efforts to liberate the slave. Conclusion: There are questions even more pressing and vital now than the slave trade was in the days of our fathers. Shame be on us if we prove ourselves degenerate sons! There are two particular evils which we must either conquer or be ruined by them. One is drink, the other is uncleanness. Are we to be such cowards as to leave these arrows to rankle and gangrene in the heart of England? If the Parliament of England will not deal with them, then the people of England must deal with them.
Parallel VersesKJV: Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;