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though, when the language is written or printed,' and grammars and dictionaries may be obtained, it is less formidable than in your case. Yet it is in every instance a great discouragement, and a trial of patience, for which you must endeavour to arm your minds. How far any thing can be done (as in some places,) by an interpreter I cannot say.
2. Again, the persons to whom Missionaries are sent are wholly destitute of ideas, in very many things, peculiar to true religion. How then can they have words, as signs of ideas; or such as are suited to convey them?
Even the copious Greek language contained no words suited to the sentiments which the primitive teachers of Christianity wished to excite in the minds of their hearers: and, when any, through the teaching of the Holy Spirit accompanying their ministry, were prepared to receive evangelical instruction from them, they were under the necessity of using old words in a new meaning, somewhat connected with their general sense ; of forming new words according to the nature of the language; and of borrowing words from the Hebrew or Syriac. Humble, humility, carnal, spiritual, and many others of the terms, by which Greek words are properly translated in our Bibles, were unknown, in that sense of them, by the classical writers: and in numerous instances the meaning of New Testament words must be learned from the general use of them by the sacred writers, and not from other authors; who indeed used them, but in a far different sense. Several words also are found, which do not occur in any other Greek author in exactly the same form; though the de
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rivation is clear; and many Hebrew and Syriac words are mixed with the Greek of the New Testament.
Now, if this was the case even with the copious and highly cultivated Greek language, how must it be with the very scanty language of a people, wholly destitute of learning? This difficulty, my brethren, I have often pointed out to you; and also what appeared to me the best, if not the only, way of removing it. It will, however, require from you much patience and diligence, and the greatest exertion of your understanding, to find out words or phrases, by which to convey your meaning, even when you become masters of the language. Yet I would by no means discourage you: for I have often observed in your attempts at translating, that you have happily expressed the exact meaning of a text, in the Susoo language, so far as I could judge; and in a way which never would have occurred to me. This you must cultivate assiduously, when increasing knowledge of the language shall enable you to do it with far greater advantage.
3. The next difficulty, which I shall mention, arises from the extremely different manners, habits, and notions of the natives, in remote countries, from those of our own.
Something of this kind, it may be supposed, the apostles themselves experienced; but, as I apprehend, in a far inferior degree. The history of the Acts of the Apostles, at least, principally relates to their labours in the countries subjected to the Roman authority, by an union which induced a far greater approximation of habits and notions, than can be supposed to exist between the civilized nations of Europe, and the untutored negroes of Africa.
Many of their customs and manners will appear strange, and even disgusting to you; but perhaps you will not be aware that your customs and manners are, in general, equally disapproved by them. It is a great victory over local prejudices when Africans say, ' Your ways are good for white men: ours are good for us.' Unless, therefore, you be greatly on your guard, and learn to repress your feelings, and pray constantly to be kept from prejudice, you will be in danger of imbibing sentiments concerning them, even in respect of such things as are not directly sinful, very unfavourable to your cordiality in supporting intercourse with them for their good; and also of dropping words which may excite or strengthen prejudices or resentments against you. Even the most barbarous people think their own customs the best; and will barely tolerate you in thinking otherwise : but they can by no means endure any expressions of contempt or ridicule concerning them. Of this, my dear brethren, it is of vast importance, that you should be fully aware.
Here it will be peculiarly needful for you "to "become all things to all men;" and, as far as truth and duty will admit, to accommodate yourselves to them, with patience and meekness; bearing any expressions of self-preference in them, however absurd, with calmness and silence; and avoiding every word and action which might intimate surprise or disapprobation; except where practices or sentiments directly sinful and pernicious are concerned.
In order to this, you must, indeed, have your own minds deeply convinced that, in the sight of God, and compared with eternity, all the differences between the most polished and the most uncivilized nations as to manners and customs in which truth and duty are not immediately concerned, are matters of very little consequence. This, and this only, will enable you unaffectedly and cordially, without constant restraint, to associate with the Africans, so as to gain their respect, acquire their confidence, and win their affections.
4. It may indeed be said, that on the coast, and in the districts to which you are immediately sent, the inhabitants are accustomed to European manners, and in many cases affect to imitate them. But however this may be, you are not to consider yourselves as Missionaries to this small proportion of the population of those regions, exclusively, who are so far acquainted with Europeans. In respect of these, the difficulty last mentioned may be diminished: but hence a far more formidable and distressing difficulty arises. A few honourable examples, and some late efforts of a contrary nature, excepted, Europeans, Britons, yea, Christians so called, are principally known in Africa, for their excessive avarice, their unrelenting cruelty, their licentiousness, their base treachery and oppression.
The very ideas, European—Briton—Christian— are associated in their minds with those of unprincipled selfishness, of suspicion, and terror' Mr. Brainerd, among the Indians of North America, found that the base and treacherous usage which they had experienced from the white men occasioned a most discouraging difficulty. For a long time they could not be convinced that he came among them for any other than selfish and treacherous purposes : they counted it next to impossible that he should be, as he professed to be, a disinterested friend, who sought nothing but their good; and they long entertained the most unreasonable suspicions of his intentions. He, however, by the help of God, effectually surmounted this difficulty; and then the contrast between his conduct, and thatof his countrymen, and of the whites in general, procured him respect and affection proportioned to their former suspicions and prejudices. In the case of the poor negroes, perhaps, the difficulty may be still greater : but perseverance in the means which he used, and with which you are not unacquainted, will eventually, by the blessing of God, turn the scale in your favour also,
5. Another difficulty in your way arises from this circumstance; The persons to whom you are going are almost wholly unaccustomed to receive any kind of moral or religious instruction.
They know no sabbath, when, other employments being suspended, many, in Christian countries, assemble for religious purposes, and to receive instruction from their pastors. They have, I suppose, religious feasts: they "sit down to eat, and "to drink, and rise up to play;" and their abominable idolatries, and absurd superstitions, are probably accompanied by licentiousness and cruelty: but moral or religious instruction forms no part of the celebration; and so far is the assembling of the people on these occasions from giving Missionaries an opportunity of addressing them, that they most painfully deprive them of such opportunities.