Imágenes de páginas

ert themselves for the good of perishing sinners around them, nor for those in the region and shadow med of death. The objection is a mere pretext to evade present duty, and the consequent sacrifice of money, time, and convenience.

2. Another reason which some give for not joining in missionary exertions is, that the time for the calling in of the Gentiles is not come. God knows his own purposes, and the time when he will fulfil them. Our duty is not to inquire after the time when any purpose is to be completed, that then we may labour and exert ourselves; but our duty is to inquire what doth the Lord now require of us? What have we to do? Is there work in which we must be eniployed ? He has put a talent in each of our hands, and commands us to improve it. The end of our creation is his glory,andour happiness consists in promoting that glory. Of course, we ought to exert ourselves to glorify him in soul and body. One essential part of this glorification of God, is advancing his kingdom in the world. On this broad foundation, Chris. tians are bound to encourage missionary exertions. The principle of the objection would warrant ministers of the Gospel to omit dealing with sinners, till they knew the time of love was come, in which such sinners were to be made heirs of life. But as the re.' vealed will of God regulates the conduct of ministers in the discharge of their commission, so that same will must regulate the conduct of Christians in re. ference to the Heathen. The question for us to de. termine is not, whether God's time to favour the Heathen has arrived ? But, are there among the Heathen, souls perishing for lack of knowledge? Do they need the Gospel ? Can they be saved without a knowledge of Christ ? As there is no other name given under heaven amongst men, whereby we can be saved than the name of Christ, it is the imperious duty of all who profess that name, to spread the

VOL. IV.-No. VII. 3 A

knowledge of it among those who know it not. Our brethren in heathen lands are passing down into the land of silence in quick succession, without hope. Can we communicate hope to them, or not? If we can, if we possess the word of life, which alone can direct them as well as us, shall we not-must we not, send it to them? Whatever our opinions may be about the set time in God's purpose to favour Zion, our duty to promote her interests, and to extend her borders, is always binding upon us. However dark the providences of God may be ; however great the difficulties in the way, we must still, as the children of Israel were directed to do, go forward. The true secret of this objection, as well as the first, is an indisposition to suffer any loss or inconvenience for the sake of the Gospel. In a word, the reason why men do not engage in missionary exertions, where the object has been placed truly before them, is, in plain language, a fear of trouble and expense. What a plea is this when exhibited in its true colours ! How little do these persons feel of the love of Christ constraining them! How much does the conduct of men in common affairs to accumulate property; or of infidels to propagate their principles, put these nominal Christians to the shame! Their conduct is a reproach to the Christian name.

3. Another objection, of a different description, and therefore not justly classed with the two already noticed, is, “ that the minds of the heathen are not prepared to receive the truths of Revelation without the previous assistance of civilization.” The persons who make this objection are disposed to lend their aid in any form to promote the Redeemer's interest. It is, therefore, not an objection to the missionary cause, but to the manner in which the interests of that cause, among the heathen, is attempted

to be promoted. On this subject we shall merely · make some general remarks,


To these’revelations therefore men are indebted for the fundamental principles of civilization. Hence we find the first Societies were not savage, as many writers on Society maintain, but strictly civilized. It was only by departing from the truths revealed to them, that they became savage.

The traces of civilization which exist among hea. thens, are owing to the remains of traditionary knowledge derived from original revelation which they enjoy. On these remains, the mental faculties can exert themselves, so as to produce new information, and thus improve the social state. When the in. formation, whether direct or traditionary, which is derived from 'revelation is disregarded, the social state becomes barbarous. . ,

If these remarks are correct, it will follow, that the principles which constitute the foundation of civiliza. tion, are originally revealed; or, in other words, part of the Scriptures. Some of these principles are still imperfectly known among heathens, and afford a good foundation on which new information may be built. Whether these principles be more or less perfectly known, it appears unquestionable, that if we must separate civilization and christianization, the latter must precede the former. There can be no civilization without the Scriptures. But if the revelation of God necessarily produces civilization; if it has done this in the case of our ancestors, the question arises, whether we ought not to combine the two in our exertions among the heathen? Why riced we separate the effects of revelation, from that revelation ? Why can we not instruct the heathen in both together? This is the plan which the London Missionary Society, and other British Institutions Hy have adopted : and this appears to be the proper plan. In this way, we take with us all the effects of Christianity, as well as the first principles which have produced these effects.

On this subject, then, the two classes of Christians, those who think the heathen should first be civilized, and those who think they should first be christianized, may unite without any difficulty. They may combine their efforts, and with the Gospel send out teachers of the useful arts, which the principles of revelation have originated.

With their exertions united, they will find the work difficult--difficult, indeed, beyond the conception of those who have not contemplated the subject with attention. . One of these difficulties which lie in the way of missionary exertions is, the manner in which the heathen live. They are rovers of the wilderness accustomed to no settled mode of living. How shall they be collected together, so as regularly to hear the Gospel ? This can be effected only by patience; by following them in their wanderings; submitting to the inconveniences of such a life, and by faith and prayer, leaving the issue with God. This difficulty is not, however, so great in relation to the Pagans in this country on our borders with whom we have intercourse, as others. Such, for instance, are iniquity in trade, the introduction of spirituous liquors among them, and the general manner in which men called Christians live amongst them. In each of these respects, formidable barriers against the conversion of our Indians present themselves to our view. Their frankness is abused, and advantage taken of their ig. norance. Their morals are wilfully corrupted, and the worst examples are exhibited to them. They naturally reason, that if Christianity does not prevent its advocates from such misconduct, it will not, or cannot, profit them.

With all these difficulties, Christians ought not to despair. The cause is God's, and their duty is to persevere in this work of faith and labour of love. To en

« AnteriorContinuar »