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tual assistance; we may even take occasion from those things which prevent our making one united : effort, to aim at the same object with at least equal advantage.
But let it be observed that, when the Lord intends eventually to prosper any design, he seldom , answers the first sanguine hopes of its zealous
friends. By previous delays and disappointments, he conimonly purifies our motives, renders our dependence on his power and grace more simple, and excites us to more fervent and carnest prayer and supplication. He thus leads us to compare our measures and means with the sacred scriptures, and to rectify what has not accorded to them. He gives us deeper views of our own unworthiness and insufficiency; and brings us to despair of success, except from his powerful interposition. Having thus formed us to a more proper disposition of mind, and the use of hallowed means exclusively, he begins to prosper the design, and to work for the glory of his own name. So that discouragement in the outset of a good design often gives occasion to that self-examination and study, and that melioration of our motives and means, which make way for the most important subsequent success. We should therefore neither despond, as we are very apt to do, or faint, when we are thus rebuked and disappointed ; nor should we object to evidently good designs, because of failures and discouragements : but we should try to profit by experience, and prosecute the object with greater simplicity and humility, and with persevering patience and unceasing prayer.
It has frequently been objected to vigorous mea.
sures for missions among the heathen, that we have multitudes of very wicked people at home, whose reformation we should attempt in preference: yet it may fairly be questioned whether they who start the objection are the most zealous, in using every proper means of bringing sinners to repentance and faith in Christ, in their own neighbourhood: nay, whether many of them do not, on various pretences, oppose the well-meant endeavours of others for that purpose? It will perhaps be found that the most active friends to missions are also the most diligent in promoting Christianity at home. But it may also be observed, that none in this land are entirely destitute of all means of becoming wise unto salvation, as hundreds of millions in other countries are known to be. Let us then do all we can for a revival of pure Christianity at home, and aim also to send the gospel to the dark regions of the earth. .
But some are afraid that, by sending missionaries abroad, we shall in part deprive our own country of Christian instruction. Alas! there is little reason to apprehend that any considerable number of such men, as would be likely to do effectual service at home, will engage in the work of missions : a far more zealous and courageous spirit must prevail among Christians than we have hitherto witnessed, before there be any danger on that side. But, if indeed this was the case, so far from diminishing our measure of scriptural instruction, it would exceedingly increase it: for nothing can be imagined so likely to stir up all ministers to zeal and activity ; to turn the thoughts and inclinations of pious Christians to the work of the ministry ; to
enlarge the acquaintance of multitudes with the holy scriptures, and to excite a very general attention to the gospel. I cannot doubt that well conducted and successful plans for evangelizing the heathen would prove most powerful means of more fully evangelizing Britain : and on this ground, as well as on all others, the thought and desire have for years been prominent in my mind; though I long despaired of being in any measure instrumental in so blessed a service. Indeed it is no small advantage, no inconsiderable success, arising from the zeal which has lately been shewn for missions, that it has excited a great attention to the revival of Christianity in this land : and, though every thing that man does must be found defective, yet I would indulge a hope that, both in that respect, and in the more immediate object in view, these efforts shall at length be crowned with indisputable and permanent success.. - It is well known that in times of war the military spirit, which before lay dormant, almost always rekindles and becomes general. It spreads from breast to breast, and acquires new vigour continually : insomuch that no losses, which do not materially affect population, can properly be said to lessen the number of soldiers ; for others press forward to fill up their places, the ardour increases, and at length there is some danger lest all other employments should be deserted for a military life. These indeed are scenes, deeply to be regretted, though often hitherto found unavoidable : but they may serve to illustrate our subject, and shew the tendency of our exertions.
For I apprehend that, in our spiritual warfare
likewise, the timid defensive state in which Christians have long been contented to stand, in respect of the ḥeathen world, has tended greatly to extinguish the spirit of zeal for the conversion of sinners at home: at least that zeal has greatly languished and lain dormant: but, if once the servants of God should become generally and thoroughly engaged in scriptural efforts for the conversion of the heathen, and should declare offensive war against the kingdom of the devil; depend upon it, zeal for pure Christianity in our own country and in our own hearts, will revive in proportion. This will kindle from breast to breast, the number of true Christians and faithful ministers will be multiplied ; our petty differences will be mutually borne with, if they do not disappear; we shall “ love one “ another with a pure heart fervently;” we shall pray for one another and thank God for each other ; we shall be like valiant fellow-soldiers in the same army, cordially and affectionately engaged in the same common cause, and against the same common enemy. 9
As therefore the revival of pure Christianity would exceedingly promote the cause of missions ; so wise and holy zeal for missions would reciprocally promote the revival of pure Christianity.
Having now gone through my subject, perhaps father too largely, (but my heart is earnestly engaged in the great object, which must plead my excuse,) it may be expected that I should give some account of this newly instituted Society: but here I shall be very brief and genoral. .?
We would consider ourselves as fellow-helpers. with all who attempt to propagate vital Christianity among the heathen : but we found impediments in our way, which prevented us from employing all our influence, or extending our labours so far as we desired, by concurring with any of the Societies already formed : and on this ground it was deemed more conducive to the general end, to form a separate Society, in which we hope more effectually to exert ourselves in promoting the common cause. A concurrence of circumstances, arising from external causes, from our views of the subject, and from the special line of service in which we suppose ourselves most likely to succeed, have rendered our progress hitherto but slow : but we may confidently say that we have not been inactive, though our proceedings have neither much attracted public notice, nor been of a very expensive nature.
By the report of the Committee, it will appear ..that attempts have been made to open a corres
pondence with pious clergymen all over the united kingdoms; and to obtain the assistance of their counsel and prayers ; and especially by their means to bring forth proper persons for missionaries, and to stir up a missionary spirit through the land. No doubt men may easily be found, whose ardent spirits, and predilection for uncommon adventures, dispose them for any undertaking however perilous, without their having taken time, or bestowed pains, to understand the nature of it, or to count the cost: and, when persons of this description receive religious impressions, they are ready enough, in some circumstances, to become missionaries. But this state of mind differs widely from the considerate, humble, modest, self-denied zeal and love