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Sandwich Islands, and also among our Cherokees and Choctaws; and he will never be disposed again to bring forward this objection. But this leads me to the consideration of one of the most plausible objections ever made against Christian missions: which is, that it is impossible to communicate the sublime truths of our holy religion to men in a savage state, or to bring them under the influence of its moral precepts. It was confidently asserted by philosophers, and reiterated by reverend theological professors, that civilization must precede Christianity. These opinions, during the last century, were so often inculcated, and so confidently repeated, that many persons well-disposed to the diffusion of the light of the gospel, received them as undoubted axioms. But how civilization was to commence and be carried on, no one undertook to explain. None appeared to possess zeal enough to go among the savage tribes to civilize them ; and thus, as far as these sentiments prevailed, all missionary effort was paralyzed, and a cloud of discouragement cast over every prospect of seeing the heathen brought into a better condition. It was well, however, that all Christians did not fall under the influence of this philosophical delusion : some continued to believe, that the only effectual means of civilizing barbarous nations was, to send them the gospel; and, acting on this principle, they braved the ridicule and contempt of the wise men of this world, and zealously engaged in the glorious work of evangelizing the nations;—a work which, we believe, will never be arrested, until the desired end is fully accomplished. . By mere reasoning, this class of objections could never have been so answered, as to convince those by whom they were made : but God, in his providence, has, by a series of facts, as gratifying as they are wondersul, silenced for ever, as we would humbly hope, these philosophical dogmas, which stood in the way of the progress of the gospel. And it was so ordered, as if on purpose to refute these prevalent opinions, that the first remarkable success in Protestant missions should take place among the most savage and degraded tribes of the human family. The Greenlanders, the African negroes, the Caffres, the Hottentots, the Boshmen, and the wandering aborigines of America, furnished the first trophies of missionary exertion. And to these were soon added, the inhabitants of the islands of the South Sea, and of the Pacific. Certainly, no people more remote from civilization existed in the world, than some of those who have, by missionary labours, been converted to Christianity. And, however uncandid men may depreciate the work, and affect to believe that nothing has been done; yet, in the view of the wonderful reformation wrought, and the extraordinary exaltation of the character, not of a few individuals, but of whole tribes and nations, the friends of missions have just grounds for mutual congratulation and triumph. The problem is now solved, and it is by incontrovertible facts decided, that the gospel is capable of producing its genuine effects on the most barbarous, as well as the most refined, of the human species; and that it possesses the power of civilizing men the most savage. Indeed, if it were not so, the heathen never could be converted to Christianity without a miracle ; for we know of no other means than the gospel by which savage serocity can be subdued. and Pagan igno
rance enlightened. And if we could communicate the arts and refinements of civilized life to savages, it is not evident that this would at all prepare and dispose them for the reception of the gospel. When the most refined and civilized nations throw away all regard for religion, they become, as the history of our own age attests, the most ferocious of all mankind. Genuine civilization must commence with reformation of heart; and nothing but true religion is capable of producing this effect. Another objection, nearly allied to the above, and proceeding from the same quarter, was, that the enterprise was impracticable, by reason of the obstacles which stand in the way of success. The idea of converting the world to Christianity, has been ridiculed as weak and fanatical. To the philosophic eye of men of reason, there seemed to be no proportion between the means and the end proposed to be accomplished. That a few zealots, unsupported by civil authority, and unpatronised by the learned and the powerful, should think of revolutionizing the religion of the nations of the earth, all of whom are wedded to their own systems of worship, and Inany of whom by reason of their caste and prejudices are almost inaccessible, was viewed with ineffable contempt, by men who looked no farther than to second causes. And, indeed, if the missionary enterprise be contemplated, merely on the principles on which human calculations of success are usually made, the opinions of such objectors do not appear so very unreasonable. If the special aid of Almighty God might not be hoped for, then the prospect of accomplishing so great an object, by means so feeble and inadequate, would be discouraging enough. But if there be truth in Holy Writ, the conversion of the world is an event decreed in the counsels of heaven; and there is every reason to believe, that it will be brought about by human instrumentality. And it accords with the known methods of divine administration, in the establishment and advancement of the church, that instruments and means are often selected which appear contemptible in the eyes of the world: and frequently, from small beginnings, the most glorious events are made to follow. Of the truth of this remark, the original propagation of the gospel is a sufficient illustration. But the best answer which can be given to this objection, is, as before, to point to the facts, and to say, SEE what God HATH wrought ! Behold the wonderful progress of the gospel, in a short time ; and where the obstacles were as great as any that exist elsewhere. Contemplate the strange spectacle of whole nations casting away their idols, and princes and people, the aged and the young, sitting down at the feet of the missionaries, to be instructed in the things which relate to their salvation. I am aware, indeed, that some persons in our country have been pleased publicly to represent the missionary enterprise to be a failure. They have gloried, as if the wisdom of their predictions was now verified; and as if, indeed, nothing had been accomplished. Now, I know not what these men would consider a successful missionary operation; but, if the effects produced by the exertions of missionaries in South Africa, in Tahiti and the neighbouring isles, in the Sandwich Islands, in many parts of India, and among the tribes of our own continent, can be believed to he events of no importance, then it mav he supposed, that if the world should be converted—if the Jews should be brought in with the fulness of the gentile nations—these incredulous, or rather, uncandid persons, would not believe that any thing was yet effected. With such prejudices we do not contend : they are too inveterate and deep-rooted to be shaken by argument. The facts are before the world; let every one judge of them as he pleases; but, in the mean time, the great and glorious work is advancing and spreading, in spite of the prejudice and envy of men. And what is doing in the missionary cause, I doubt not, will, in the eyes of posterity, be viewed as far more important and glorious, than the most considerable political events of our times. Then it will be admitted, that Hall, and Newell, and Mills, and Judson, and Parsons, and Fisk, and Kingsbury, and Stewart, and King, and Bingham, with their faithful coadjutors, did not labor altogether in vain. No; when the envy and prejudice of the present generation shall have died, the memory of these men will be blessed; and the simple narrative of their indefatigable labors and patient sufferings, will be read with interest and gratitude, in the four quarters of the world, and in the most distant corners of the earth; and that, too, when the names of the enemies of missions shall rot in complete oblivion. The next objection to combined and vigorous missionary efforts, which I shall notice, is, that the time is not yet come—the time for the conversion of the nations unto God; and that, until God's appointed time shall arrive, although some partial effects may be produced, yet no general or great success will attend missionary efforts, however wisely they may be planned, or vigorously executed. If we were certain that this objection rested on the ground of truth, it would indeed discourage our hearts; but would not alter our duty, or remove the obligation of the Saviour's command, to “preach the gospel to every creature;” for, neither the purposes of God, nor his predictions, are made the rule by which we are bound to regulate our conduct. What God requires of us is, to obey his commandments; the effects which may be produced by our exertions, belong to him, and he will regulate them according to his own good pleasure, and according to his faithful promises. But this objection may be sounded, either on the prophecies, or on the present aspects of Providence. Now, in regard to the first, it may be observed, that the church will probably wait long before she begins her efforts, if she suspend them until an agreement shall take place among expositors, respecting the times and seasons predicted in Scripture. Prophecies are seldom capable of a precise interpretation until they are fulfilled. We also know, that learned men, who have devoted themselves to the study of prophecy, have been egregiously deceived in their most confident predictions of the course of future events. And for ourselves, we believe, “that secret things belong to God, but those which are revealed to us and our children;” and that the “times and the seasons” are among the things which “the Father hath kept in his own power.” But considering the objection, as it relates to the present aspects of Providence, we are disposed to maintain that it is destitute of a shadow of foundation. On the contrarv, we are persuaded. that almost everv thing in the existing state of the world, proclaims aloud to Christians, in a voice not to be misunderstood, that the door of access to the gentiles is now opened, and that they are required to enter into the fields, which are already white, to the harvest. The facilities of propagating the gospel in foreign countries, are multiplied far beyond any conception which our forefathers could have entertained on the subject. Formerly, by reason of the imperfection of naval architecture, the want of astronomical instruments, and the defect of skill in navigation, it was considered a prodigious thing for any one to circumnavigate our globe;—an event, in our days, of the most common occurrence. Not many centuries ago, the art of printing did not exist; all books were produced by the alow process of writing every letter with the hand; and, long since this wonderful art was invented, the ability to multiply copies of the Scriptures, and other books, was extremely limited; but recently, by the improvements of the press, and the application of steam, and other mechanical powers, books can be multiplied almost at will ; and at prices far below those at which they could be afforded, previous to the commencement of the present century. The facility of acquiring foreign languages is also greatly increased in our times. More literary men travel in lands once little visited, and a greater number of those who remain at home, apply themselves to the study of various languages; by which means, teachers of foreign tongues are greatly multiplied as well as the necessary apparatus of grammars and lexicons. To all which, it may be added, that the intercourse between parts of the earth widely separated, is much more frequent and intimate, than in preceding ages; so that now, there is scarcely an inhabited country or island on the globe, which is not visited by our hardy and enterprising seamen. Missionaries, at present, find no difficulty in reaching the place of their destination. A voyage around the Cape of Good Hope, or Cape Horn, is not, in our day, considered too arduous for tender females. But there is another weighty consideration which shows that the time for missionary exertion is come ; and that is, the fact, that scarcely an effort has been made, by any society, in our day, which has proved abortive. Almost ill denominations of Protestants have engaged in this good work, and all appear to be successful. But I have already had occasion to refer to the success of missionary exertions, and will not now dwell upon the subject. The only other objection to foreign missions which I think it necessary to lotice, is, that by the prosecution of this enterprise, we injure the churches at lome, and neglect to supply with the means of grace, the vast and increasing »opulation in our new settlements; and that, by our exertions to send the !ospel to the heathen, we exhaust those funds, which are requisite for the suc‘essful operation of our benevolent institutions; and, also, take away from our destitute churches, some of our best men, whose services at home can ery illy be dispensed with. More prominence is given to this objection in he statement, than to the others; because, while they spoke the language of nfidelity, or prejudice, or at best, philosophy, this speaks the language of pious eal; and, no doubt, has often proceeded from the mouths of those who were incerely attached to the cause of God. And if the effects of foreign missions were, indeed, such as is here supposed, it would behoove us to pause, and consider our ways, if not to retrace our steps. But I appeal again to facts, and on these we are willing to rest our cause. We say, then, that if the prosecution of foreign missions has actually lessened the resources, or diminished the zeal and vigor of our churches at home, we will cease to urge the subject any longer upon your attention. But how stands the fact? I appeal, now, especially to those who, like myself, are advanced in years. My brethren, has any thing occurred within your remembrance which has given so great a spring to vital piety, in the churches, as the enterprise of sending missionaries to the heathen 2 Has it not been the means of enlarging the views, and elevating the aims of Christians, in regard to the duty of promoting pious and benevolent objects of every kind ' When, before, has so much been done to diffuse religious knowledge, and to extend the means of instruction to the poor and destitute 7 And who are they who most abound in acts of beneficence towards these objects? Are they not those very persons who are most zealous and liberal in the support of foreign missions? The fact is, that a new and holy impulse has been given to the Christian church, in consequence of this enterprise; and already the churches have been more than repaid for all their sacrifices and contributions for this cause. The waves which have by this means been put in motion, still go forward, with increasing swell, and we cannot anticipate what will be the full effect.
And as to the loss of men, I say, they are not lost—not lost to the American churches. The disinterested and noble act of forsaking their native land and all their affectionate friends for ever, does more good to the church than a lifetime of common labor. It teaches the whole religious community, that Christianity has not lost its original power by the lapse of ages. It casts a dark shade upon the groveling pursuits of this world, and has a mighty tendency to lift the soul up to God. The departure of a few devoted missionaries does not diminish the number of faithful pastors, or laborers, in the home mission;–it increases them manyfold. Many a pious youth is led to devote himself to the service of the Lord, in the gospel of his Son, in imitation of the foreign missionaries; and many a youthful heart has received its first permanent religious impressions, from perusing the accounts of the labours of these faithful men. And for myself, I cannot doubt, that the published journals of the missionaries have done us more good, than the labours of their lives would have done, had they continued at home. I hope none will think that I disparage the labors of pastors and home missionaries: this is far from my purpose. They too are engaged in a good work—in the same work;but their labors are rendered more useful by the existence of foreign missions. The standard of their motives, in entering on and prosecuting their work, has been elevated, by the self-denial of the foreign missionary; so that, they all begin to feel more and more, that they are called to forsake all for Christ; to consecrate every faculty to Christ; and to determine to know nothing but Christ, and him crucified; and to glory in nothing but the cross of Christ.