« AnteriorContinuar »
If such, then, be the individual and general efforts of the members of the Church to promote its peace and prosperity, they will be followed by general prosperity; for the converse of the former argument, that if there be general prosperity, we shall be partakers of it, is correct; for the prosperity of every individual swells the aggregate prosperity of the whole Church. And we may carry the idea still further; that so far as we are promoting the prosperity of that section of the Church to which we belong, we are promoting the prosperity of the universal Church. We are too apt to be influenced by appearances; and if we do not see great results, we are discouraged. But it is not the labours of any one individual, however great and splendid his talents, that will effect the conversion of the world to Christ. Nor will this end be accomplished by any one section of the Church, but by the united efforts of the whole. Every member of the Church may contribute his quota, be it more or less, to the erection of this glorious spiritual temple; and may have a part in the bringing about of that consummation so devoutly to be wished, when it shall be said, "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever." And to animate us in the contest, we have the full assurance that such a period shall come. If it were doubtful, we might faint by the way; we might give way to unprofitable speculation as to the probable proximity of that period; but of the time and the season knoweth no man, but the Father only. We have but one day in which to labour. Our duty is to occupy it fully, and we shall not lose our reward. But the prospect is not so dark that we may not be privileged to look at the signs of the times.
1. The past history of the Church is sufficient evidence of its great and immutable principles being fully adapted to the purpose designed. It was the little stone cut out of the mountain without hands, and it has smitten the images of idolatry, superstition, ignorance, depravity, and worldly power. The wave sheaf has been gathered out of every, cast and section of the human family, proving that it is united to the moral constitution of the whole; and kings, and statesmen, and phi-, losophers, as well as the mere savage, have equally bowed at the feet of Jesus, and crowned him Lord of all.
2. The prophecies of the future throw a heavenly halo around, and assure us that the effects which we have been called to witness to thi9 partial extent, shall become universal, when to Him every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess, and Christ shall reign in every heart, the Lord of all. What a stupendous and yet what a delightful thought! How exhilirating to every true Christian! And what a stimulant to renewed zeal in so great a cause I Have I the love of God shed abroad in my heart? Has the religion of the Gospel proved itself to be to me the power of God to my salvation? And do I in the bowels of Divine love, long that all my fellow.men should be partakers of like precious faith? Then "pray for the peace of Jurusalem." And now "let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us; and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it." (Psalm xc. 16, 17).
REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.
Christian Missions To Heathen Nations. By Baftist W. Noel. Post 8vo. pp. 415. J. Nisbet And Co.
The author of the work before us is an excellent minister of the established church; he is well known, and deservedly much respected and admired for his catholic spirit, his talents, and devotedness to the advancement of the best interests of humanity and Christianity. Notwithstanding there have recently appeared several admirable volumes, written professedly upon the subject of Christian Missions, yet, we have not seen any which can be regarded as having rendered the publication of the one before us unnecessary. In fact, it contains much information which the others do not supply, and will, we doubt not, be productive of very beneficial results.
In the first chapter of the work, the author considers, "The duty of Christians with regard to the heathen," and shows that as " God so loved the world, and gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," that it is the duty of all Christians to endeavour to make the world acquainted with the love and purpose of our heavenly Father in the bestowment of his unspeakable gift. The obligation resting upon Christians to engage in this all important work is acknowledged by nearly all professing Christians. Whatever may be the differences by Mhich the different sections of the church are distinguished, they agree in this, that it is their duty to proclaim to the world the glad tidings of the Gospel of Christ. On this topic Mr. Noel makes the following appropriate remarks: —
"If, therefore, any one who bears the Christian name, can find it in nis heart to despise these missionary efforts, or to deny that we are called t0 make them, his views and practice, supported as they are by the indolent, the thoughtless, the selfish, and the profane, are opposed to the views and practice of the great body of the disciples of Christ. He sets up his heartless scepticism against the universal conviction of the church of God. All who are animated by gratitude to the Redeemer, and by compassion towards sinners, are compelled, by the sacrifice of Christ, by the value of salvation, by the practice of the early Christians, by the language of prophecy, and by the express command of God, to engage in this work: and he who, rejecting these considerations, and dissenting from the universal practice of real Christians, will do nothing to promote it, too plainly shows that he knows little of the Gospel, and may well fear that he has no part in its promises. Not to aid, if we have the power, in sending forth missionaries, is to live in violation of Christ's express injunctions. He has loved us, and given himself for us; he is Lord, both of the dead and the living; his will is the law of the church; his pleasure ought to be our happiness; and if we disregard his authority, and despise his command, we are no Christians. Whatever, therefore, others may think, those who engage in this work need not falter. They go with his sanction; they act under his orders: The eternal God is their refuye, and underneath are the everlasting arms; and he shall thrust out the enemy from before them; and thall say, Destroy them. They are now in the path of duty, and they will ultimately reap their reward."
The state of the heathen world is considered in the second chapter; and truly the general condition of those who have not the light of divine truth, as revealed by the Gospel, is such as ought to excite the the commiseration, and call forth the efforts, of every disciple of Christ. We cannot, however, conclude that those who have never heard of Christ, and therefore have not, and indeed could not believe in him, are placed beyond the possibility of salvation. A short time since, when reviewing " The Great Commission," we briefly expressed our opinion upon this very solemn and important question; and although we have carefully read both what Dr. Harris and Mr. Noel have advanced upon this topic, we are by no means convinced that they have established the point for which they have contended, that of the utter impossibility of the salvation of any who have not heard of the name of Christ; and who, therefore, have not believed in him. The texts generally quoted to confirm this opinion are such as do not apply to the case; they are those which apply only to those to whom Christ is made known, and who neglect to accept salvation by him. Mr. Noel reasons thus—he states, that the blessings of salvation "are everywhere in the Scripture, limited to faith :"—" for since all men deserve to perish, or Christ's death would have been superfluous, what reason have we, in the absence of any promise, to suppose that they (those who have never heard of Christ) will not suffer what they deserve ?"—" What is there to enable us to believe, that they are not in the condition in which they would have been, had Christ not come ?"—" Men are to be saved by knowing Christ; then it seems too plain, that without knowing him they cannot be saved." We, however, rejoice that we do not think the Scriptures warrant such a conclusion. For example, we observe, that children dying in infancy know not Christ and believe not in Christ; and, we ask, are we therefore to add, they Cannot be saved? This would follow as an inevitable consequence, if the opinions before referred to were true. We believe that Jesus Christ died for the whole race of man, and we, therefore, believe that, by virtue of his death, those who die in infancy, and who consequently were never capable of believing in Christ, or of knowing him, are, nevertheless, saved through him. The same mode of interpreting Scripture which is adopted to prove the impossibility of the salvation of any of the heathen who have never heard of Christ, would, with equal force, conclude against the possibility of the salvation of infants. We confess, that we fear, there are but very few of the adult heathen who act according to the knowledge of right and wrong which is communicated to them, and consequently we cannot but be most fearfully apprehensive as to their future condition; yet we do not believe there is any scriptural authority to affirm, that the salvation of all those to whom Christ is not made known is absolutely impossible; nor do we conceive that, admitting the possibility of the salvation of what may be designated a virtuous heathen, or of one who acts according to the best knowledge he can obtain of what is his duty, lessens in any degree the obligation to Missionary efforts for the evangelization of the heathen; nor ought we to concur in any statement respecting the state of the heathen, which, we believe, is not fully supported by evidence, not even for the purpose of exciting to increasing efforts to make known the salvation of Christ. We do not wish to be understood as affirming that the heathen who live in the violation of such knowledge of their duty, as is communicated to them, or as they by following the light which shines upon, or in them, might obtain, that they will be saved; on the contrary, we confess we know no reasonable or scriptural ground of hope concerning them; and we admit that, from the accounts we have of the heathen, it appears they generally are devoid of a conscientious regard to what they know to be their duty, and are alas, unconcerned to know the will of God their creator. All, therefore, which possibly can be done in reference to their instruction and reconciliation to God ought to be done; the church of Christ ought to multiply the number of those who, preaching the word of reconciliation, beseech and pray them in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God. Nevertheless, to us it does not appear to be consistent with either the goodness or the justice of God, nor yet with his word, to affirm that the salvation of any who have not heard the Gospel is absolutely impossible. We conceive that God has made the salvation of every man possible; that all infants, whether born of heathen or of Christian parents, will be saved; and that God will justify his procedure in condemning the wicked heathen, upon the ground that they might have been saved.—"He will judge the world in righteousness."
That heathens are in a most deplorable condition, is obvious from the accounts given by those who have visited them; and it is important that those affecting details, which are contained in well authenticated descriptions of their degraded condition, should be frequently brought under notice. Mr. Noel has given an affecting account of the state of those portions of the human family, civilized and uncivilized, which have not the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ. By reading such awful statements Christians must be made more deeply to feel for those who are yet in the dark valley of the shadow of death, and more fervently and perseveringly to pray, "Lord, send forth thy light and thy truth." We shall now lay some of those statements before our readers. Referring to the inhabitants of New Zealand it is said:—
"Their songs and conversations are vile, and the most abandoned women are not disgraced in general estimation by their profligacy. They are exceedingly given to intoxicating liquors. "The chiefs invariably calumniate each other, sickening with envy and rancour on any praise being awarded to their equals. To place the slightest reliance on the observations they make against each other would be idle; for, with the exception of the speaker and his company, they stigmatize each of their acquaintance, as the most wicked and profligate rascals under heaven, without a particle of common decency, faith, courage, or honour, to apologize for their general bad conduct." "They are clamorous and quarrelsome." "Publie and private contentions are very frequent." And when a wrong is to be avenged, they care not by what treachery they effect their purpose. "To record the various murders committed by these people against each other," says Mr. Polack, "would alone fill a volume." "Slanders, wrongs, insults, murders, superstition, the love of plunder, and other causes, lead to perpetual wars; and the cruelty and cannibalism which attend them, pass all description and belief. When an enemy is conquered, numbers of the dead and dying are devoured; prisoners are tortured to death; they revile and insult the dead bodies as though they were alive; they eat the flesh of the living prisoner, and they will sometimes drink the warm blood as it flows from his living veins; nay, with a brutality still more hardened, they will steal into the villages, in which their enemies have left their defenceless women and children, and after an indiscriminate massacre, proceed to feast upon the mangled bodies." As late as 1836, in a war between the southern tribes, there were fearful scenes. The missionary Knight, when coming to the field where a battle had been fought, saw bodies preparing for the oven, and bleeding limbs were thrust into his face. Mr. Brown saw two long lines of ovens, where sixty bodies were cooked after a battle, while a lock of hair and a potatoe, fixed on two poles, showed that part of the horrid feast which had been consecrated to the devil."
"Thus cruel to one another, they are not more tender than other heathens to their women and slaves. Polygamy here, as wherever practised, leads to much discord; different wives striving by the most malicious falsehoods, to undermine each other in the affections of the husband.. Though many of the women are pleasing, cheerful, patient, and of strong affections, yet are they subject to cruel treatment. The husband has power over the life of his wife, except as far as restrained by the fear of her relations, and if he dies she is plundered of all her goods. One young mother, when reproved by Mr. Polack for the murder of her infant, said, that it would only have lived to be ill-treated, and she wished her mother had done the same to her. Many infants are drowned, strangled, or otherwise suffocated by their mothers, so that of all the women, having several children, with whom Mr. Polack was acquainted, one fourth, he fully believed, had committed this crime, and those whom he charged with it, only burst out into a laugh." * * *
"On the 19th of January, 1824, at Wangaroa, a young slave, for speaking of some fault of her master, was cut on the cheek and back, and her thumb nearly cut off. Should a slave try to escape, any one may kill him. In the south of the island, if one slave steals from another and they quarrel, both are often put to death. Very slight offences lead to the murder of slaves, At Wakarapa, near the mouth of the Hokianga, when Anscow, an European trader, was lodging for a night in the house of a chief, a slave girl entered, about fifteen years old, who had absented herself two days without leave. Immediately the mistress ordered a ruffian to kill her: and one blow of his tomahawk on the forehead having laid her dead, a large party feasted that evening on the body, and the head was given to the children for a plaything! When Mr. Earle landed on the coast, almost the first thing which he saw was the roasted body of a slave boy; who had been just killed, because, his attention having been attracted by the ship in full sail, he had suffered the pigs to enter his master's garden. On the opposite coast, near Kororarika, he saw the roasted body of a young slave girl, who had been shot by her master for running away. In June 1831, when Mr. Polack lived near the Hokianga, Tawoa, a chief, on going out to shoot, ordered a slave to have food ready at his return; on entering the house and finding the food not ready, he killed her with a blow of his tomahawk, and then invited his friends to the feast."
Not only are the heathen who remain in a state of barbarism in circumstances of the most debasing misery, even those heathen nations which boast of civilization are in a most deplorable condition. In 'proof of this, reference may very properly be made to the Hindoos; who, notwithstanding they possess many advantages over heathen barbarians, are grossly profligate, selfish, and superstitious. The very deities to whom they pay their devotions, and to propitiate whom they inflict extreme tortures upon themselves, and to whom many of them sacrifice their lives, these, are recorded monsters of iniquity, personin