NOTE: Sermon Preached at the Tabernacle in Salem February 6, 1812, on Occasion of the Ordination of the Rev. Messrs. Samuel Newell, Adoniram Judson, Samuel Nott, , Gordon Hall, and Luther Rice, Missionaries to the Heathen in Asia, Under the Direction of the Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (Boston: Samuel T. Armstrong, 1812), which can be accessed here: archive.org/details/sermondelivereda00wood.
Leonard Woods is the preacher who preached the missionary ordination sermon for Adoniram Judson and Luther Rice, along with two other missionaries, on February 6, 1812.
Woods was a Harvard graduate in 1796 at the top of his class, one of the founders of Andover Theological Seminary in 1808, and its first professor of theology.
Woods’ sermon text was Psalm 67. He states the purpose of his sermon:
“I would persuade you to act, decidedly and zealously to act under the influence of Christian love.”
The whole tenor of this sermon is wrapped around God’s love for every human being on planet earth and how our love for the unsaved should motivate our missionary endeavors.
The outline of his sermon consists in seven motives for missions and evangelism.
The worth of souls.
“The souls of all these are as precious as your own. The wisdom of God, — the blood of the dying Savior has so declared.”
2. The Atonement as a full provision for the salvation of all people.
Wood speaks of
“the plenteousness of the provision which Christ has made for their salvation. Were there anything scanty in this provision, — any deficiency in divine grace, — any thing circumscribed in the evangelic offer; our zeal for propagating the gospel would be suppressed.”
“But my brethren, the word of eternal truth has taught us that Jesus tasted death for every man; that he is the propitiation for ours sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world; that a rich feast is prepared, and all things ready; that whosoever will may come and take of the water of life freely. This great atonement is as sufficient for Asiatic and Africans, as for us. This abundant provision is made for them as well as for us. The door of Christ’s kingdom is equally open to them and to us. Unnumbered millions of our race have entered in; and yet there is room. The mercy of God is an ocean absolutely exhaustless; and so far as his benevolence is a pattern for our imitation, and a rule to govern our exertions and prayers, he wills that all men should be saved.”
3. The Bible commands us to take the gospel to the world.
This missionary command is “an exact expression of the heart of Jesus; a display of the vastness of his love.”
4. The history of missions and the example of those who have gone before us compels us to go.
5. The uniqueness of Christianity and its adaptedness to be a universal religion.
6. Prophecy which guarantees success: Psalm 2:8; Isaiah 49:6; 52:10; and 53:11.
7. Operation of divine providence at the present time opening the door to reach the nations.
Woods concluding charge to these missionaries:
“You go, we believe, because the love of God is shed abroad in your hearts by the Holy Ghost. . . . The cause in which you have enlisted, is the cause of divine love.”