« AnteriorContinuar »
regions which have been desolate for ages, are to be converted into the garden of God. 2. The missionary cause is great, when considered in reference to the numbers, to which its influence is to be extended. On how small a portion of the earth, has the Sun of righteousness yet risen! Three fourths of its inhabitants, are still covered with the shadow of death. Year after year, multitudes from the nations, and kindreds, and people, are passing to the world of retribution, without even the hope of admission to the new Jerusalem; to the assembly of those who sing the praises of God and the Lamb. The friends of missions, if they regard the command of their Savior, will not rest, till they have gone into all the world, and preached the Gospel to every creature. They will not cease their labors, till the tribes of the wilderness rejoice in his salvation; till every island of the sea has received his law; “till Ethiopia shall stretch out her hands unto God,” till the myriads of Asia shall unite in ascriptions of praise to the Redeemer. Nor is one generation alone to be included in the estimate. The effects of the preaching of Paul, have extended from that day to the present. In consequence of the conversion of the Gentiles, by his labors, multitudes, in each successive age, have gone from the earth, to unite with him, in swelling the song of the redeemed in heaved. And if the nations which are now given to o, should be converted to Christianity; their children and children's children, to remote generations, would, in great numbers, we have reason to believe, be gathered to
the assembly of the blessed.
What accessions to the kingdom of glory may there hereafter be, in consequence of the instructions of those who are now striving, in heathen lands, to make known the salvation of the cross!
What other pursuit is to be compared with this great enterprize of Christian benevolence? What are the triumphs of earthly potentates, in comparison with the sway which the Prince of peace is extending, over the hearts and lives of those who receive his salvation? How far are the most splendid commercial arrangements exceeded in importance, by the plan which proposes to carry the message of divine mercy, to every corner of the earth! What are the sublimest discoveries of science, compared with the lustre of that heavenly truth, which is dispelling the darkness that now covers the nations?
3. The missionary cause will be seen to be great, if we consider the difficulties which lie in the way of its progress. To have access to the heathen, in all their dwelling places, oceans must be traversed, deserts must be penetrated; climates filled with disease and death must be visited. When the missionary arrives at his station, he finds that a long course of preparation is necessary, before he can hope to see the fruit of his labors. The fallow ground must be broken up, the field must be sown, the early and the latter rain must be received, before he can put in the sickle to the harvest. The languages of the various nations and tribes, must be learned. Into each of these, translations of the Scriptures must be made. Children and adults must be put to school, to enable But all this is merely preparatory to the great work of conversion. The conflict with ignorance, and superstition, and depravity, is only commenced. The missionary, after having exposed himself to “perils in the sea, perils in the city, and perils in the wilderness;” after having wasted his strength, in the work to which he is devoted, has occasion to mourn that so little ground is yet gained by his efforts. He finds that while he has been instrumental, in recovering one from the kingdom of darkness, thousands around him have died in their sins. A few individuals renounce their idolatry, while whole nations are prostrate before their gods of gold, and wood, and stone. The people are bound down in their superstition, by customs and habits of thinking, which have been gathering strength for ages. We may almost as well think of levelling the mountains of Asia, as hope to break down their casts, and proud distinctions of rank, which powerfully resist the humbling spirit of Christianity. The prevalent systems of philosophy, in the pagan world, are so blended with the common business of life; so brought down to the daily course of thinking, and speaking, and acting; that to oppose effectually their influence, we must change the whole face of society. But there is a more formidable enemy to be met, than absurd and profane customs, corrupt philosophical principles, and long established forms of idolatry. The idolatry of the heart is to be overcome. All the external modes of superstition, are only the outworks by which this has attempted to sortify itself. The worship of stocks and stones has come down from generation to generation, because it has ever found so welcome a reception in the human heart. When you call upon a man to renounce his idols, you make a demand upon him, which his strongest and most determined affections are prepared to resist. You may remove his ignorance. You may eradicate the prejudices of his understanding. You may even convince him, that the system of his religious tenets is a fabric of the imagination. But, visionary as it is, he will prefer it to the realities of Christianity. There needs a mightier influence, than that of instruction and warnings, arguments and intreaties. 4. But, for the supernatural aid which the urgency of the case requires, we may confidently rely on the promise of God. The missionary cause is great, in relation to the divine influence which may be expected to rest upon it. Our Savior, immediately before his ascension, said to his disciples, “All power is given unto me, in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore and teach all nations: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. All power is given unto me; go ye therefore, and teach all nations.” This is the ground on which we are warranted to believe, that missionary efforts will be crowned with success. Great as are the obstacles in the way, Omnipotence can remove them. Terrible as is the conflict with human corruption, Divine Energy can render victory certain. When the Apostles entered upon the great work of carrying the Gospel to the heathen, all opposing influonce gave way before them. They triumphed “over principalities and powers; over the rulers of the
them to read what is then brought to their hands.
darkness of this world; over spiritual wickedness in high places.” The same almighty energy which carried them forward, in this fearful warfare, will sustain the faithful missionary, in these latter days, even to the end of the world. In himself he is weak; but through the strength which is from on high, he is mighty to the battle. When trembling before the enemy, we may address him, in the language of the prophet, “Who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and forgettest the Lord thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth?” He can command to silence, before the heralds of salvation, the noise of the waves, and the tumult of the people. He can say to pestilence and war, “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” He can subdue even that which is farther from control, than tempest, or pestilence, or war; the perverse heart of Inan. The missionary may publish the tidings of peace and salvation; but the Spirit of the Lord only can remove the veil that is spread over the nations. His servants may expose the absurdity of idolatry; but he alone can cause, that “the gods which have not made the heavens and the earth, shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.” Faithful missionaries, like Paul, may be “chosen vessels to the Lord, to bear his name before Gentiles and kings.” But his Spirit alone can “cause the Gentiles to see his righteousness, and all kings, his glory.” Our faith, that the missionary cause will finally triumph, in the conversion of the world, rests upon the