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The wants of the Christian Church as a Missionary Society Examined, and Motives to enforce entire devotedness to the Missionary Enter. prise.” These topics are subjected to close investigation, and are presented to the reader with great perspicuity, in logical order, with rich variety of illustration and eloquence.
In the first part, it is shown, that “mutual dependence and influence” is the universal law which God has made to operate upon all intelligent and unintelligent existences. That if this law had not been perverted by sin, it would have operated to produce harmony throughout the whole of God's works, and happiness to all his intelligent creatures. That the design of the Gospel dispensation is to subjugate the corrupt selfishnesss of human nature, which works, against the interests of mankind, stimulating to every evil practice, and by the example of the love of Christ, - by the efficacy of his atoning sacrifice, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, so to change the heart of man, that he may no longer exert a baneful influence, but that he may, by living to God, communicate happiness to others. It is shewn to be the design of God, that when one sinner is converted, he should seek the conversion of others,— that all who are converted should unite to extend the knowledge of the truth, and that they should regard it as their solemn duty to spread a gracious influence all around them; regarding them. selves as centres of influence which are to radiate to the circumference of the globe. The duty of individual Christiaus and of Christian Churches, is forcibly expressed in the following passages.
"We are to suppose, then, that the Gospel has, in this way, won its first convert; that the transforming effects which the Saviour ascribed to his being lifted up from the earth, have taken place upon him. Here is a man imbued with the spirit of the Cross, and ready to sacrifice life in its service-how is he to be employed ? He is not to live to himself; for by the sentence of a law which has gone forth from the Cross, he who lives to himself is not a Christian. He has not been “ created anew in Christ Jesus” for mere selfenjoyment or idle show that the act might terminate in itself. Every thing in nature exists for a purpose. Even the atom of the rock has its appointed place, and its definite end. Surely man-and, of all men, the Christianis not exempt from this law ! What then is his destiny ?
Here is evidently a fitting agent for Christ to employ. No other being in the universe has the shadow of a claim to him, beyond that which his new proprietor may choose to grant. Every part and property of his nature, and every moment of his future existence, have been bought-paid for with
precious blood.” And as the new interest to which he is pledged is opposed by every other, he cannot yield to any other claimant, even for a moment, without lending himself, during that moment, to a hostile party; so that he has no alternative but that of devoting himself unreservedly to Christ. Accordingly, the Saviour claims him for himself. From the moment he felt the power of the Cross, his duty became definite, imperative, one. If every other member of the human family were abandoned to live without control if the sun itself were abandoned to wander through infinite space-his course would yet be minutely prescribed. As if he alone held the great secret of the Cross, and were consequently the most important being on the face of the earth, his every moment is charged with an appointed duty. As if he had been recalled from the state of death ; yes, not merely as if he had been called out of nothingness into existence-not merely as if he had been selected and sent down from the ranks of the blessed above--but with stronger motives still, as if his guilty soul had been recalled from perdition where the undying worm had found him, and the unquenchable flame had enwrapped him, and his dissolved body recalled from the dust of death—and as if he had literally come out of the tomb with Christ, and had received life and salvation together at the mouth of the sepulchre, at the hand of Christ-all his new-found powers are to be held by him as a precious trust for the service of Christ. As if he had come forth from the sepulchre at first with life only-and as if his reason, knowledge, affections, speech, property, had there been restored to him separately, and in succession, with a distinct intimation accompanying each, that he received it back for Christ, he is to look on himself, henceforth, as a part of the Cross, as taken up into the great designs of Christmas bound up for life and death in his plans of mercy. His character is to be a reproduction of the character of Christ. The disinterestedness which appeared in Christ, is to reappear in him. The tenderness of Christ—his untold solicitude for human souls, is to live over again in his tones of entreaty, his wrestling prayer for their salvation. The blood of the Cross itself, is, in a sense to stream forth again, in his tears of anguish, his voluntary and vicarious self-sacrifice to draw men to Christ. And if tempted to lend but a particle of his influence to any other claimant than Christ, his reply is at hand, “ I am not my own, I am Christ's. He has put it out of my power to give him more than belongs to him, for he has purchased and challenges the whole through every moment of time; and out of my will to give him less, for if I know any grief it is that my all should so inadequately express my sense of obligation. * * *
As a church, they are to acquire and wield an influence of a character essentially distinct from that of all around, and incomparably superior to it. Whatever the moral state of the world may be, their fitness to improve it will depend, under God, on the breadth and distinctness of the line of demarcation which separates them from it, and on the perfection of contrast to the world which they exhibit. The world, for instance, is selfish, acts without reference to a Supreme will, and constitutes itself the end of all it does. How important, then, that they should embody the self-sacrificing spirit of Christ! To do this by halves only, to study their own aggrandizement, or to live in comparative indolence and luxury, would be to symbolize with the world, and to confirm it in its besetting sin. But they are to exhibit that fiction of the world-a life of self-denial. By relinquishing all delights, all passions, all pursuits, by which the world is engrossed and enslaved ; and by going out of themselves, abandoning themselves, evincing a readiness to sacrifice life itself in the cause of Christ, they are to stand out in vivid contrast with the selfishness of the world, silently to condemn it, to proclaim a will higher than human, the responsibility of men to that will, and the supreme happiness of absolute conformity to it. And thus they are to prepare men to hear with effect of that sacrifice compared with which nothing else can ever deserve the name."
The design of God to bless mankind by moral influences communi. cated by human agency accompanied by the influence of his Holy Spirit, is illustrated and enforced from the precepts and examples of the Word of God. The prophetic Scriptures are examined ; and the Millenarian theory of quietism, waiting for the conversion of the world, by some extraordinary interposition of Jehovah, without the agency of man, is proved to be unsupported by the testimony of prophecy,--at variance with the commands and promises of God; and derogatory to the Christian dispensation. The issue of the contest in which the Church of Christ is engaged, is described with much force and beauty in the following eloquent passages.
. "The Church of Christ is militant; and, considering the object of its contest, the character of its spiritual allies and resources, the divinity of its Leader, and the grandeur of its destiny, it absorbs all the spiritual and created greatness of the universe; * * * Should not every blast of the Apocalyptic trumpet ring through the Church as a summons to universal action ? and every soldier of the Christian army demean himself as if an angel fought at his side, and infinite issues were waiting the result ? Do we ask to look beyond the conflict, and see its final results ? They have been seen; and the eyes that gazed on them, though closing in death, beamed and brightened with the reflected glory. They have been sung; and they who sang them may be regarded as having lived for this as for their highest earthly end; and while they sang, angels have hushed the music of their harps to listen to the strain. And still it is the office of prophecy to point out these results to the eye of faith. But what is the form in which we would see them ? for "in the visions of the Lord ” they have been made to assume every hue of beauty, every character of greatness, every aspect of glory. It is that of a stone instinct with life, and growing as it rolls by an invisible power, till it fills the earth? Prophecy conducts us to an elevation where we behold that mystic stone in motion. Already has it attained the magnitude of a mountain, and attracts the eyes of the nations. Now it moves, and all things vibrate at its approach. Now it is arrested by an obstacle which appears insuperable ; but still its base expands, and its head towers higher. Again it moves, and the obstacle that opposed it is “ground to powder.” Onwards it rolls through islands and continents, scattering from its sides the seeds and fertility of a new creation, and pouring from its bosom the streams of the water of life. It touches another province, and is resisted on the very shores. But vain is the opposition. After the pause of a moment—the falling of idols and shrines announces that it is again in motion. Even while we have been describing its progress, it has continued to swell and enlarge. Like the Andes to South America, it is seen from every quarter; and, with the light of an unsetting sun resting on its summit, and the nations collecting at its foot, it forms the only object of true sublimity the earth contains. * * *
When we read the history of an earthly power we are constrained to admire the march of events by which it attains to national greatness. As its population multiplies and its boundaries enlarge, battles are fought, and victories won. Its times of excitement develop greatness of character, and that greatness of character impresses its image on the times. But how effectually is all this glory eclipsed when brought into contrast with the progress of the kingdom of Christ'! Here the field is the world, while every object in it is a wea. pon, every being it contains is in action, and every issue depending is eternal. In this strife already kingdoms have been subverted, and generations have been engaged! Who does not pant to gain a height whence he can look down and survey its progress ? To such a point does prophecy conduct us. Even while we look, the charge is sounded, and the onset made. Far and wide the conflict rages. Banner after banner joins the foe : tribe after tribe comes “out to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty.” Victory seems to alternate from side to side. Now the soldiers of the cross give way, “ as when a standard-bearer fainteth ;" and now, raise a shout of joy as they plant their standard on some fallen fortress of Satan. Here, “ the Captain of salvation” sends them unexpected support; and there "his right hand teaches bim terrible things.” Leading them on from "conquering to conquer,” opposition gradually slackens; “the armies of the aliens " are put to flight, or yield themselves willing captives. The earth with joy receives her King; and his kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy embraces the world. * *
True, these are visions ; but they are visions painted by the hand of God ; dear in every age to the Church of God; gazed on in death by the Son of God. Yes, then they were brought and set before him ; and such was the joy with which they filled him, that he endured the Cross, despising the shame. He saw that stone advance; that temple rise ; that kingdom come; that new creation dawn; that beatitude of the redeemed in heaven-his grace the theme of every tongue, his glory the object of every eye. He saw of the travail of his soul, and was satisfied--his soul was satisfied. Even in the hour of his travail it was satisfied. What an unlimited vision of happiness inust it have been happiness not bounded by time, but filling the expanse of eternity! His prophetic eye, even then, caught a view of the infinite result in heaven. His ear caught the far distant shout of his redeemed and glorified Church, singing, “ Worthy is the Lamb that was slain.” And if we would do justice to our office as instruments for the salvation of the world, if we would catch the true inspiration of our work, we too must often cross, as he did, the threshold of eternity, transport ourselves ten thousand ages hence into the blessedness of heaven, and behold the fruits of our instrumentality there, still adding new joy to angels, and new tides of glory around the throne of God and of the Lamb.”
In considering “ Benefits of the Missionary Enterprise,” Dr. Harris takes a survey of the history of Christian Missions. He justly remarks that the Church has prospered or declined in propor. tion to its attention to or neglect of its Missionary work. It is painful to consider how unfaithful the professed Church has been-how soon it became apathetic and indifferent-for how many ages it comparatively did nothing to advance the kingdom of Christ. By neglecting to attempt the conversion of the world to the faith of Christ, the Church itself became converted into the world, and consequently was Christian only in name. For several centuries the efforts made to extend Christianity, were generally connected with some political, or commercial enterprise, sought to be accomplished by the agency of the Church. At length however the Church has awakened, or at least has begun to awake ; for we cannot yet say, that its eyes are fully opened, or its activities and resources properly called forth and applied. Compared with what remains to be done, nothing has hitherto been effected. All the Missionary Societies of Great Britain and America, do not unitedly number 200,000 members in church fellowship-Alas ! how small a proportion of the population of the world- not more than a unit to three thousand. Hitherto our Missionaries have, to a considerable extent, been employed only in the preparatory departments of the work — they have been acquir. ing the languages of the heathen, producing grammars and lexiconstranslating and printing the holy Scriptures and religious tractsteaching the natives, and especially, their children to read. In this way much has been done, the good results of which will we doubt not ere long appear in a glorious ingathering of souls to the Church of Christ.
Missionary efforts have been productive of most beneficial results in reference to the temporal interests of those among whom the Missionaries have laboured. To christianize, is to civilize man : and, as Dr. Harris most clearly demonstrates, the work of civilization, will most speedily and effectually succeed through the labours of the Missionaries of the Cross of Christ. From what has already been effected in the island of the South Sea, as recorded in Williams'
Missionary Enterprises, and from the uniform effects of Christianity, we may be bold to affirm, that the Gospel will confer upon every people, by whom it is received, the greatest amount of temporal enjoyment, which human nature can be made to enjoy. Referring to the temporal advantages resulting from the diffusion of the Gospel, Dr. Harris makes the following just remarks :
Among the most distinguished benefits accruing to the heathen world from Christian Missions-so distinguished that we deem it worthy of separate notice—is their elevating effect on the moral character and social rank of women. Wherever our Missionaries have gone they have found that degradation is the condition of the sex, and insult and suffering its reward. Of the Chinese women, Gutzlaff writes, they are the slaves and concubines of their masters, live and die in ignorance, and every attempt to raise themselves above the rank assigned them, is regarded as impious arrogance. As might be expected, suicide is a refuge to which thousands of these ignorant idolaters fly. And a large proportion of their new-born female children is destroyed. Even in Pekin, the residence of the emperor, about 4000 are annually murdered; and to ask a man of any distinction whether he has daughters, is a mark of great rudeness. The condition of the Hindoo women is, if possible, worse. “Any thing,” says Bishop Heber, “is thought good enough for them; and the roughest words, the poorest garments, the scantiest alms, the most degrading labour, and the hardest blows, are generally their portion.” And yet China and India alone, are at this moment holding two hundred millions of immortal beings in this abject condition ! If there are those who can account for the entailed slavery of the negro race, only by resolving it into a divine malediction, where is the curse recorded which can account for the social slavery and wretchedness of one half of the human race? For, be it remembered that Divine Christianity is the only system which denounces the enormity. Mahometanism adds its authority to that of Hindooism and Budhism, in excluding women, by system, from instruction; and in pronouncing her soulless and irreclaimably wicked. But if such be the verdict of civilized heathenism, what may we expect to be her doom in uncivilized lands? To be prohibited from certain kinds of food which are reserved for the men and the gods, and from dwelling under the same roof with their tyrannical masters, are among the lighter parts of their fate. Well might the female barbarian of North America look on the coming of Eliot as that of an angel. Well might the Caffres denominate a Missionary, "The shield of women.” While every other system makes her the butt of their cruel shafts, the effect of the Gospel is to provide her with a shield. By exalting marriage, and denouncing licentiousness in all its forms, it provides for her the honourable relation of a wife, and the comforts of a home. By discountenancing polygamy, it dries up unnumbered sources of domestic discord, and challenges for her the undivided affections of her husband. By extinguishing infanticide, and inculcating the parental duties, it multiplies the ties of conjugal endearment, and increases her importance to the welfare of her family. And by developing her mind, and exalting her character, it adds respect to domestic love, and renders her influence useful and lasting. All this Christianity has done. Ten thousand happy Polynesian, African and negro homes attest it. And the operations of the “Society for promoting Female Education in China, India, and the East,” are calculated, by the Divine blessing, to increase their number. * * *
“ The social and moral advantages, then, which the Missionary enterprise has conferred on the heathen, are before the world. And had the good which it has imparted terminated here, who does not feel that it would have amply repaid the cost and toil with which they have been attended ? What vast
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