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742

1824

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4 History of the Connecticut Missionary Society.

[JAN
grown up together with themselves, ciety is managed by twelve trustees,
they had been neighbours, friends, of whom six are civilians, and six
and parishioners, with whom they clergymen, all of whom are annually
bad often taken “sweet counsel, elected by the Society. The Treas-
and gone to the house of God in urer is made responsible for bis
company.” Many of them they bad trust by heavy bonds. Thus this
baptized and called them their spirit- Society was brought into existence
ual children. They were now com- by the urgent wants of the early em-
pelled to see them growing up in ig- igrants; its object is "to christian-
norance and immorality ; to see ize the Heatben in North-America,
them scattered in the wilderness and to support and promote chris-
without a shepherd to protect them tian knowledge in the New Settle-
from the wolves; and their hearts ments; its plan is one of great sim-
yearned in compassion. Hence, plicity. What have been its effects,
ihese ministers left their own flocks, is yet to appear.
while they went to seek those who Difficulties encountered by the Soci-
were fornierly under their care.

ety.
These visits were occasional ; were It will be recollected that this So-
very thankfully received, and were ciety is the oldest of its kind in our
apparently very useful.

In conse country.

At the time it was formed,
quence of similar applications, the and for many years afterwards the
several associations of the State, sent subject of missions was new, and but
out one or more of their ministers, little understood. Though the trustees
whose pulpits were supplied during have ever been men of sound, dis-
their absence by their neighbouring criminating judgment, yet, confined as
brethren. In the year 1788, the they were at home, and with but lit-
General Association of ministers of tle experience in the business, it
Connecticut took up the subject, and could not be expected that their ear-
recommended the several associa- ly operations would be marked with
tions to send out ministers as far as that efficiency, with which they are
they had power. But as they had at the present time. The judgment
no funds, and as the calls for labour necessary 10 select proper missiona-
at home and abroad 'were fast in- ries, the requisite knowledge of the
creasing, con: paratively little was exact condition and wants of those
accomplished. In 1792, the Gene to whom they were to be sent, could
ral Association petitioned the Legis- only be acquired as they advanced.
lature of the State for an annual con The difficulties in the way of obtain-
tribution for three years, to be ap. ing good missionaries were many, in
plied to inissionary purposes. This the early stages of their operations.
petition was granted, and the first Few of those who were appointed,
contribution was taken up in May could accept the office of a mission-
following. From that time to the ary on account of the many incon-
present, the new settlements have veniences of leaving their own par-
never been destitute of missionaries ishes ; and if they did accept, many
froin the State ot Connecticut. In delays occurred before they could get
the year 1798, the General Associa- into the field of labour. The funds
tion resolved itself into "the Mission- too of the Society were at first small,
ary Society of Connecticut.This though they have been increasing, as
was only taking a name ; for the So- their exigencies demanded.
ciety had existed in fact, since 1792. About the time of the coinience-
The Society was incorporated by ment of the operations of this Socie-
the Legisiature in 1802, before which ly, the march of Infidelity was deso-
body the trustees annually present lating the fairest portions of Europe.
an account of their receipts and ex Reason became the guide of men ;
penditures. The business of the So- and after trampling on the revelation

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of God, she covered the earth with each other, and by practice, they be-
the slain, and wading through the came expert in asking knotty ques-
blood of nations, ascended the throne, tions ; but as the Society commonly
and ruled the greatest part of the sent out none but men of sterling
continent. It was a fearful time. character, they generally yielded him
Infidelity had almost "put out

" put out his place, or, as they expressed it,
the sun of Righteousness," and “ gave him the great chair,” and lis-
brought back “darkoess visible.” tened to his instructions. Our mis-
It was a sweeping storm, whose burst- sionaries manifested a desire to make
ing nearly overwhelmed all that is christians, and not proselytes; and
cheering in this life or the next. As the different denominations gradually
might be expected, a part of the laid aside their peculiar prejudices
cloud soon spread, and rose over our and heard them gladly.
country, darkening our prospects, Another obstacle has been the
and threatening to drowo us in the prevalence of bigoted and ignorant
fury of its tempest. We were at this preachers, with whom our new coun-
time in a kind of wild exultation, or tries have ever abounded. They
heyday of liberty, having just thrown have often crossed the path of
of our allegiance to England, and preachers from this Society, and by
become an independent people. their cavils and boisterous conduct,
Hence freedom, for a time, was have caused them no small trouble.
little else than another name for li- They usually are ignorant, illiterate
centiousness. The contagion reach- men, some of whom are scarcely a-
ed our new settlements in a peculiar ble to read. They commonly sub-
manner, and the missionaries were stitute rant and noise for the solem-
often necessitated to combat Infidel- pities of the Gospel. They have
ity in her boldest attitudes. Per produced many divisions and disa-
haps they encountered more harden- greements among infant churches ;
ed and daring infidelity during the and spent no small quantity of breath
first six years, than during all the re in railing against educated minis-
maining period. This was a great ters, and against doctrines and truths
obstacle; but it was one from which of the import of whose names, they
it would not do 10 shrink. Our mis are entirely ignorant. They are
sionaries were generally able, judi. “ zealous, but not according to
cious, pious, energetic men, and they knowledge.” I do not pretend to
finally rebuked avowed impiety from deny that uneducated ministers have
their presence, wherever they came. been in a degree useful in our new

The population of our new seule settlements. I am only stating facts,
ments is composed of emigrants from without theorizing.
all parts of New-Eogland, and in The trustees have often had mali.
deed, from almost all parts of the cious reports circulated, impeaching
world. Hence our missionaries have sometimes their motives and charac-
found almost as many opinions and ters, sometimes those of their mis.
sentiments on the subject of religion, sionaries. These have been indus-
as individuals. They were of many triously propagated at home and
different sects or denominations, and abroad. But as the Directors have
each bigoted and tenacious of his own. ever been discreet, disinterested,
They were often jealous lest the ob. and public in all their measures, the
ject of the missionaries, was to gain enemies of evangelical religion have
proselytes. In Vermont especially found it hard to pass coin so evident-
it was often the case, that when a ly base, and such reports have com-
minister arrived, the most skilful or monly sunk under the weight of their
jealous men of the village would as-

own sins.

All these obstacles have semble and examine him as to his been met and overcome with a pacapacity to teach. By watching over tience that does honor to our religion,

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