"Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me."—Isaiah 6:8.
BRETHREN, the heathen are perishing, and there is but one way of salvation for them, for there is but one name given under heaven among men whereby they must be saved. God in the glorious unity of His divine nature is calling for messengers who shall proclaim to men the way of life. Out of the thick darkness my ear can hear that sound mysterious and divine, "Whom shall I send?" If ye will but listen with the ear of faith ye may hear it in this house to-day—"Whom shall I send?" While the world lieth under the curse of sin, the living God, who willeth not that any should perish, but that they should come to repentance, is seeking for heralds to proclaim His mercy; He is asking even in pleading terms for some who will go forth to the dying millions and tell the wondrous story of His love—"Whom shall I send?" As if to make the voice more powerful by a threefold utterance we hear the sacred Trinity inquire, "Who will go for Us?" The Father asks, "Who will go for Me and invite My far-off children to return?" The Son inquires, "Who will seek for Me My redeemed but wandering sheep?" The Holy Spirit demands,"In whom shall I dwell, and through whom shall I speak that I may convey life to the perishing multitudes?" God in the unity of His nature crieth, "Whom shall I send?" and in the trinity of His persons He asketh, "Who will go for Us?
When a man is prepared for sacred work he is not long before he receives a commission. We come then to think of THE DIVINE CALL. I feel in my soul, though I cannot speak it out, an inward grieving sympathy with God, that God Himself should have to cry from His throne, "Whom shall I send?" Alas, my God, are there no volunteers for Thy service? What, all these priests and sons of Aaron, will none of these run upon Thine errand? And all these Levites, will none of them offer himself? No, not one. Ah, it is grievous, grievous beyond all thought, that there should be such multitudes of men and women in the Church of God who nevertheless seem unfit to be sent upon the Master's work, or at least never offer to go, and He has to cry, "Whom shall I send?" What, out of these saved ones, no willing messengers to the heathen! Where are His ministers? Will none of these cross the seas to heathen lands? Here are thousands of us working at home. Are none of us called to go abroad? Will none of us carry the Gospel to regions beyond? Are none of us bound to go? Does the Divine voice appeal to our thousands of preachers and find no response, so that again it cries, "Whom shall I send?" Here are multitudes of professing Christians making money, getting rich, eating the fat, and drinking the sweet, is there not one to go for Christ? Men travel abroad for trade, will they not go for Jesus? They even risk life, amid eternal snows, are there no heroes for the Cross? Here and there a young man, perhaps with little qualification and no experience, offers himself and he may or may not be welcomed, but can it be true that the majority of educated, intelligent, Christian young men are more willing to let the heathen be damned than to let the treasures of the world go into other hands? Alas, for some reason or other (I am not going to question the reasons) God Himself may look over all His Church, and, finding no volunteers, may utter the pathetic cry, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?
Now, brethren, if at any time the mission field lacks workers (it is a sad thing that it should be so, but yet so it is), should not that fact make each man look to himself and say, "Where am I? What position do I occupy towards this work of Go ? May I not be placed just where I am because I can do what others could not?" Some of you young men especially, without the ties of family to hold you in this country, without a large church around you, or not having yet plunged into the sea of business, you, I say, are standing where in the ardour of your first love you might fitly say, "Here am I." And if God has endowed you with any wealth, given you any talent, and placed you in a favourable position, you are the man who should say, "Perhaps I have come to the kingdom for such a time as this; I may be placed where I am on purpose that I may render essential help to the cause of God. Here at any rate I am; I feel the presence of the glorious God; I see the skirts of His garments as He reveals Himself to me, I almost hear the rush of seraphic wings as I perceive how near heaven is to earth, and I feel in my soul I must give myself up to God. I feel in my own heart my indebtedness to the Christ of God; I see the need of the heathen, I love them for Jesus' sake; the fiery coal is touching my lip even now: here am I! Thou hast put me where I a ; Lord take me as I am, and use me as Thou wilt." May the Divine Spirit influence some of you who greatly love my Lord till you feel all this.
Then you observe that he makes a full surrender of himself. "Here am I." Lord, I am what I am by Thy grace, but here I am; if I am a man of one talent, yet here I am; if I am a man of ten, yet here I am; if in youthful vigour, here I am; if of maturer years, here I am. Have I substance? here I am. Do I lack abilities? Yet still I made not my own mouth, nor did I create my infirmities; here I am. Just as I am, as I gave myself up to Thy dear Son to be redeemed, so give I myself up again to be used for Thy glory, because I am redeemed, and am not my own, but bought with a price. "Here I am."
Then comes Isaiah's PRAYER for authority and anointing. If we read this passage rightly we shall not always throw the emphasis on the last word, "me," but read it also thus, "Here am I, send me." He is willing to go, but he does not want to go without being sent, and so the prayer is, "Lord, send me. I beseech Thee of Thine infinite grace qualify me, open the door for me, and direct my way. I do not need to be forced, but I would be commissioned. I do not ask for compulsion, but I do ask for guidance. I would not run of my own head under the notion that I am doing God service. Send me then, O Lord, if I may go; guide me, instruct me, prepare me, and strengthen me." There is a combination of willingness and holy prudence—"Here I am; send me." I feel certain that some of you are eager to go for my Lord and Master wherever He appoints. Keep not back I pray you. Brother, make no terms with God. Put it, "Here am I; send me—where Thou wilt, to the wildest region, or even to the jaws of death. I am Thy soldier; put me in the front of the battle if Thou wilt, or bid me lie in the trenches; give me gallantly to charge at the head of my regiment, or give me silently to sap and mine the foundations of the enemy's fortresses. Use me as Thou wilt; send me, and I will go. I leave all else to Thee; only here I am, Thy willing servant, wholly consecrated to Thee." That is the right missionary spirit, and may God be pleased to pour it out upon you all, and upon His people throughout the world. To me it seems that if a hundred were to leap up and each one exclaim, "Here am I; send me," it would be no wonder. By the love and wounds and death of Christ, by your own salvation, by your indebtedness to Jesus, by the terrible condition of the heathen, and by that awful hell whose yawning mouth is before them, ought you not to say, "Here am I; send me"? The vessel is wrecked, the sailors are perishing; they are clinging to the rigging as best they can; they are being washed off one by one! Good God, they die before our eyes, and yet there is the lifeboat stanch and trim. We want men! Men to man the boat! Here are the oars, but never an arm to use them! What is to be done? Here is the gallant boat, able to leap from billow to billow, only men are wanted! Are there none? Are we all cravens? A man is more precious than the gold of Ophir. Now, my brave brethren, who will leap in and take an oar for the love of Jesus, and yon dying men? And ye brave women, ye who have hearts like that of Grace Darling, will not ye shame the laggards, and dare the tempest for the love of souls in danger of death and hell? Weigh my appeal in earnest and at once, for it is the appeal of God. Sit down and listen to that sorrowful yet majestic demand, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us" and then respond "Ready, aye ready; ready for anything to which our Redeemer calls us." Let those who love Him, as they perceive all around them the terrible token of the world's dire need, cry in an agony of Christian love, "Here am I; send me."
From Sermon No. 1,351, published by Passmore and Alabaster. Copied from The Evangelisation of the World: A Missionary Band... 2nd ed. London: Morgan & Scott, [1885?].
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