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ready to publish it to the ends of the earth. A missionary spirit has been awakened in our colleges and theological schools, which promises incalculable good to the church and the world. In these nurseries of Zion, numbers of holy, self-denying, devoted young men are now preparing to go far hence unto the Gentiles, and are only waiting for the indications of divine providence, and the increased liberality of American Christians, to send them forth. Such are some of the facilities which American Christians possess for sending the Gospel to the heathen—facilities which, we hesitate not to affirm, are not enjoyed, to an equal extent, by any nation on the globe. And do not these advantages impose correspondent obligations? To whom much is given, of them much will be required. Freely we have received—freely should we give.
I. Gratitude demands it. Surely American Christians have peculiar and abundant cause for gratitude. “Our cup runneth over.” “We are prevented with the blessings of goodness.” It may be said of us as of ancient Israel, “He hath not dealt so with any nation.” Cold and insensible must that heart be, which can be unaffected by the contemplation of the rich and innumerable blessings we enjoy, and which does not burn with a desire to do something, however unproportioned to the vast debt we owe, to manifest a sense of obligation to our bountiful and unwearied Benefactor. It is true, we cannot give in the same proportion as we have received, but we should aim, in the spirit of the text, to imitate the great Giver in the freeness of his bounty. And how can we better express our gratitude to him, than by an unreserved consecration of ourselves and all that we have to his service—by disinterested and liberal efforts to promote the diffusion of that holy religion, to whose benign and salutary influences we are indebted for all the blessings we enjoy P
II. Patriotism demands that, as we have freely received, we should freely give. Do we love our country P Do we rejoice in her prosperity ? Do we desire that she may be “a name, and a praise, and a glory?” How can we better testify our appreciation of her free institutions, than by laboring to plant them in other lands P For, where the Gospel goes in its purity and power, there will follow in its train the blessings of civilization, liberty, and good government. And, although it will not be the object of the devoted missionary to interfere, in any way, with civil government, but to confine himself exclusively to his appropriate work of preaching the Gospel, yet who can deny, or who would wish it otherwise, that his influence, when honorably obtained, through the success of his labors, will, in a greater or less degree, be felt in the relations of civil life; and, coming himself from a land of freedom, he will naturally spread around him an atmosphere of liberty. The patriot, then, with no higher motive than the love of his country’s free institutions, should unite in sending the Gospel to the heathen. But especially will the Christian patriot feel the force of the obligation, for, in his view, the salvation of his country depends upon it. Let me not be thought extravagant when I make this declaration. The salvation of our country demands, that, as we have freely received, we should freely give.
We have dwelt on the unexampled prosperity of the country; and what bosom has not glowed with patriotic fervor in contemplating our unparalleled advantages—our rapidly extending population—our increasing wealth—our abounding plenty! But, while we rejoice in our national prosperity, have we not reason to “rejoice with trembling?” Prosperity, alike in nations and individuals, has always been considered a condition of peculiar danger. What Christian patriot has not trembled for his country, when he has reflected on the danger to which she is exposed by her unprecedented prosperity—on the worldliness which it naturally generates—on the dissipation and vice which it produces—on the forgetfulness of God and eternity which it so frequently creates ? How important is it that some safety valve should be provided for this excess of prosperity And where shall we find one so favorable—so desirable, as in the spirit of benevolence which distinguishes the missionary enterprise 2 If part of the wealth, which now flows in upon us on every side, and which threatens to inundate the land with luxury and vice, were devoted to the blessed cause of spreading the Gospel among the heathen, we should be relieved of much of our anxiety for the moral purity of our rising country. With what different feelings should we regard those in our community who are diligent and eager in the pursuit of wealth, if we had reason to believe that they were laboring for Christ; that they were active in their worldly business—not for their own selfish indulgencies—not to amass unwieldy fortunes to leave to their heirs, but to aid in diffusing the knowledge of a Saviour's name among the nations of the earth? We rejoice to know that there are such disinterested,
devoted men in our land, men who labor to increase in wealth, that they may be better able to advance the cause of the Redeemer in the world. May their number be greatly increased Then will our nation's prosperity, instead of being the occasion of deep anxiety to the Christian patriot, be regarded with unmingled satisfaction. Then shall we rejoice in every successful scheme to increase our country’s wealth and to enlarge her influence, when we know that objects, other than those of selfish aggrandizement and personal indulgence, engage the attention of the rich and the influential. Then will enterprise and benevolence go hand in hand. Improvement in virtue will keep pace with improvement in art; and, while under the smile of a gracious providence, we bask in the sunshine of national prosperity, “the wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for us, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.”
III. The wants of a guilty, dying world, demand that, as we have freely received, we should freely give.
Notwithstanding we have reached the nineteenth century of the Christian era, it is still comparatively true that the whole world lieth in wickedness. Hundreds of millions of our race are living without God and without Christ in the world. “Darkness still covers the earth, and gross darkness the people.” Until the last half century the spirit of missions was scarcely known in the Christian church. During that period societies have been formed by different denominations of Christians, and missionaries have been sent forth to propagate the Gospel among the
heathen ; and here and there, in the wide waste of the regions of paganism, we see a bright and verdant spot, where the Gospel has been planted, which, while it gladdens the eye of Christian benevolence, only serves to make the surrounding darkness more visible. The commencement of the missionary enterprise, however, has served to convince us of its practicability, and of the immensely valuable benefits to the souls of men, to be derived from its prosecution. New fields are continually opening for the introduction of the Gospel, and there never was a time when the prospect of success was more apparent and encouraging. Still, however, the great work of evangelizing the world remains to be accomplished; and in this blessed and glorious undertaking, the eyes of a regenerated Christendom are fixed upon the American Church. She is expected to do her duty! Freely has she received of the great Head of the Church. He has given her power, not indeed to work miracles, but to send out her thousands of devoted young men, whom God has prepared by the influences of his Holy Spirit, to preach, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Freely should she exert this power. Freely should she give her sons and her daughters, and with them her prayers, her influence, and her wealth, for the propagation of that Gospel to which she is so deeply indebted for her enviable distinction in the Christian world. The dawn of Christianity, like the dawn of the morning, arose in the east. There the star of Bethlehem guided the wise men to the manger that contained the light of life, and the hope of the world. But God, in his providence, is now directing the eyes of men to the west, for the revivification of his truth, and the facilities to send back to the eastern hemisphere the light