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as private Christians, render good service in various ways: and, if any choose to call the whole company, with their families, Missionaries, I do not object to it. But it appears to me, that many things of a secular nature may be consistent with the character of these helpers in missions, which are not so with that of the Missionary himself.
I would by no means excite a question about the rank which Missionaries hold among the ministers of Christ: at least, it is not, as many sup pose, inferior to that of ordinary resident pastors in Christian countries. My brethren, I would earnestly desire that you should be very humble before God and man; yet, consistently with this, you may " magnify your office." The apostles themselves were the Missionaries of Christ; as their very name imports. The Saviour sent them forth to preach the gospel to all nations. Other ministers were ordained to teach and rule particular churches; but the commission of the apostles reached to the whole world: and, in this at least, they had no successors; for none were ever thus sent forth immediately by Christ himself " to make "disciples of all nations."
It appears also to me, that Timothy, Titus, Trophimus, Tychicus, and others (who seem to have been distinguished by the name evangelists,l) were Missionaries sent forth by the apostles, or by the church, or by both in perfect concord. They were assistants to the apostles, in executing their grand and extensive mission: they were sent to the places to which the apostles could not personally go, to plant new churches, or " to set in order the things "which were wanting" in the churches already planted, and from which the apostles were either driven by persecution, or called away prematurely to other services: and, in various ways, they were their helpers in the work of evangelizing the nations. Those called bishops, and elders, and deacons, (hrlinvnroi, irpEa-tursptu, Siaxooi) were stated pastors, teachers, and servants of the churches in which they resided: but the evangelists had no stated charge, at least at first; but were employed in extending, as they could, the kingdom of Christ among meni
1 Acts xxi. 8. Eph. iv. 11. 2 Tim. iv. 5.
Tradition, indeed, and ecclesiastical records, give to each of these persons, and to the apostles also, distinct bishoprics: but this does not accord to the language of scripture, or to that of any ancient writer for a long time after the close of the sacred canon. The apostles especially, when they had planted a church in any place, and had appointed over it stated pastors and rulers, generally removed to other places, to extend, in like manner, the kingdom of their beloved Redeemer: and at proper intervals they visited the churches which they had thus planted, and left under the superintendency of stated pastors; without fixing their residence in any place exclusively. St. Paul, especially, " strove to preach the gospel, not where "Christ was named."1 This was his ambition: for so the word (^Aor^a/x^o;) signifies; and a noble ambition it was! May God inspire numbers of competent persons with the same
1 Rom. xv. 20, 21.
In some respects, this accords to the office of a Missionary. He is one sent forth " to preach the "gospel where Christ is not named." He is not called "to build on another man's foundation." The Missionary goes forth to a country where Christianity is not professed. He is not, in the first instance, at least, a stated pastor, a teacher of a Christian church. He is not placed over any part of the universal Church: but he is sent forth, and willingly engages, to attempt evangelizing those who are not so much as nominal Christians; who know no more of Christianity, at most, than what serves to embitter them against it; and who are destitute of all the means of grace. "How "shall they call on him, in whom they have not "believed? and how shall they believe in him of "whom they have not heard? and how shall they "hear without a preacher? and how shall they "preach except they be sent f"1 That is, How shall men be saved by faith in Christ, if Missionaries be not sent to them ?—" Forbidding us to preach to the gentiles, that they might be saved."
A minister may go abroad as chaplain to a colony of professed Christians: but, however honourable and useful he may be in that station, our argument requires us to observe, that he is not a Missionary; unless he attempt the conversion of those among whom Christ has not been named. A Missionary may officiate as chaplain, in similar circumstances, while he is preparing for his more appropriate work; or he may, at any time, preach occasionally among professed Christians: but this is not his designation as a Missionary. And, if he settle in a situation of this kind, he does not perform the duties of a Missionary—" the work of an "evangelist" among the gentiles.
1 Rom. x. 10—14.
This should be clearly understood; that they who have devoted themselves to Christ, and engaged to his church as Missionaries, may not think that they fulfil " the vows of God which are upon "them," if they decline that special service, without a real necessity, even to become ministers of another description. Probably some of the difficulties respecting the ordination of Missionaries would be removed, if this particular were properly attended to. There are indeed many things which may render it absolutely necessary for a Missionary to suspend his missionary labours, or even finally to decline them; or it may be proper for him to remove from one sphere of action to another: but, if able, it appears to me that, unless he expressly engage only for a limited time, he is bound to continue a Missionary to the end of life. In this, as well as in other respects, " No man, "having put his hand to the plough, and looking "back, is fit for the kingdom of God."
The temptations by which a Missionary will be assaulted, to exchange his life of hardship, and privation, and peril, for a more easy, safe, and lucrative employment, are very strong; and that of becoming a minister in another line is very specious: he should, therefore, be fortified against them in the most effectual manner; and warned against listening to any suggestion of this kind.
The principal success of Missionaries, in every age, has been granted to those whosteadily resisted every temptation to decline their special service, and even the tears and importunities of Christian friends, in the decided manner of the Apostle: "The Holy Ghost witnesseth, in every city, that "bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of "these things move me: neither count I my life "dear unto myself; so that I might finish my "course with joy, and the ministry which I have "received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel "of the grace of God !—What mean ye to weep, "and to break my heart? For I am ready not to "be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for "the name of the Lord Jesus "l
The names of Eliot, and Brainerd, and Schwartz, with many others of different classes among Christians, will be remembered with honour, in this respect; while those, who after a time have, without necessity, declined the arduousjservice, are scarcely mentioned as having contributed to the evangelizing of the nations.
Perseverance in well-doing softens prejudices, gains respect, wins affection, inspires confidence, and confers influence: and influence is power, almost beyond any thing else. This influence will generally be greater, when a man perseveres in welldoing in one station, than if he move from one to another. The station however, may be such as to admit his labours to be very widely extended. The venerable Schwartz, for instance, by long and zealous labours acquired a most extensiveinfluence, which enabled him in many instances, to effect what no other man could. Yet this was not acquired in
1 Acts xx. 23,24. xxi. 12—14.