« AnteriorContinuar »
liable to be endangered by the billows of the deep, or even when striking against a shoal, and from the recent progress of invention, it is not unlikely that contrivances may be suggested for impelling them across the ocean with a greater degree of velocity, than has hitherto been attained, and which may enable them to glide, with more safety, through the foaming billows. Locomotive engines, by land, may be brought to a still greater degree of perfection; and even balloons may be constructed with apparatus adequate to conduct them, in any direction through the regions of the atmosphere. Agricultural instruments may be contrived for facilitating rural operations and the cultivation of the soil; and new inventions brought to light for the quick performance of all kinds of labor, so that the laboring classes 'may, ere long, have abundant leisure for the enjoyment of the bounties of the Creator, and for storing their minds with all kinds of knowledge both human and divine. Our knowledge of the powers of nature, and of the functions of the animal system, may be so increased, as to enable us to prevent diseases of every description; and instruments or contrivances of various kinds
be invented to ward off those disasters, and fatal effects which now so frequently flow from the operations of lightning, noxious gases, storms, and tempests, and other agents in the system of nature, which have so frequently been the cause of many accidents and calamities.
Now, it might easily be shown, that all such improvements in science and art, are intimately connected with religion, and have a bearing upon the happiness of man, and upon the propagation, and the universal establishment of Christianity throughout the world. But, without money, such improvements cannot be effected. Many persons of genius, who have hit upon useful inventions, have been obliged to drop the prosecution of their plans, when they were nearly ripe for execution, for want of pecuniary means to carry them into effect. And, in numerous instances, when a model, or small machine has been constructed to illustrate the operation of a certain principle or theory, the want of money
or patronage, has prevented its being exhibited on a large scale, so as to demonstrate its practical utility ; and all the labor, anxiety, and expense previously incurred, have been wasted to no purpose.* But if avarice were transformed into generosity, and generosity directed to patronise and assist schemes which are praise-worthy, and of practical utility, many useful contrivances, which are now in embryo, might soon be brought to perfection, and rendered subservient to the good of mankind.
Those who are possessed of wealth, have it not only in their power to patronise persevering genius, but to establish lectures on science, and every branch of use ful knowledge; to build lecture-rooms, to provide apparatus, to erect observatories, to found museums in towns, villages, and all parts of the country; and, in proportion as science is extended, and the number of rational inquirers and experimenters, is increased, may we expect, that new facts will be elicited from the system of nature, and new inventions brought to light for the improvement of the social state of mankind. The sums wasted in extravagance and luxury, in gambling, horse-racing, and hounding, or hoarded for the purpose of gratifying a covetous propensity, might, when applied in this way, draw forth the latent sparks of ge
* A scientific gentleman, of very limited income, had, for several years, devoted a considerable portion of his time to experiments, tending to prove, that a beautiful and permanent light may be obtained from electricity, and has already exhibited an apparatus and experiments on a small scale, which prove, that the object intended is likely to be effected, could funds be procured to encourage the ingenious and persevering inventor, and enable him to go forward with his experiments on a larger scale. A nobleman in the neighborhood, distinguished for his
liberal politics,” lately paid a visit to the inventor, and was gratified in' witnessing some of the experiments. He told him to persevere, and if the plan succeeded, as was expected, he would have his mansion illuminated by this electrical light. But although he must have known that the inventor's income was extremely limited, and that he must have denied himself most of the comforts of life, from having laid out so much expense in conducting his experiments, he never thought of saying to him, “ I'll give you a hundred guineas to enable you to perfect your invention, and to bring it forth for the good of mankind;" although he could well afford it, and has doubtless, spent ten times that sum for a worse purpose. Such, however, is the conduct of avarice, combined with indifference to the promotion of the good of society.
nius and prove a powerful stimulus to inventions and enterprises, which might contribute to the advancement of society, and to the counteraction both of physical and moral evil.
5. The progress of Christianity through the world would be rapidly promoted, were the inordinate love of wealth thoroughly subdued.
It is evident, from the general tenor of the scrip- . tures, and particularly from the writings of the prophets, that the blessings of salvation are intended to be enjoyed by all the nations of the world. " It is a light thing, (saith God, when addressing Messiah,) that thou shouldst be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel, I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation to the ends of the earth.” Hence, it was among the last instructions that Christ delivered to the apostles, and to all their successors in their name: “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature ; and lo, I am with you alway even to the end of the world." Notwithstanding the lapse of 1800 years since this commission was given to the followers of the Redeemer, it has only been very partially fulfilled. Darkness still covers the greater part of the earth and gross darkness the people. The greater portion of the vast continents of Asia and Africa, a great proportion of America, and even of the southern parts of Europe ; almost the whole of Australasia, the immense islands of Borneo, Sumatra, Madagascar, the Kuriles, Japan, and hundreds of other islands, inhabited by millions of human beings, still lie within the confines of Pagan darkness, where scarcely a ray of Divine light has yet penetrated “to guide” their benighted inhabitants in the way of peace." Even in those nations where the religion of Jesus is known and established, the inhabitants are not yet half-christianized, and multitudes * are perishing for lack of knowledge," even where the sound of the gospel is heard, and its
light shining around them, for want of proper instruction to arouse their attention.
To fulfil the commission of Christ, and to bring into effect the purposes of God in the conversion of the nations, will therefore require vast and long continued exertions. If our future movements be as slow, and our energies as feeble as they have been for 300 years past, we could not expect to behold the glory of the millennium, till after the lapse of two thousand years. Yet it is in our power, as agents under the guidance of the Divine spirit, to hasten the approach of the blissful era, within little more than half a century, if we, at this moment, arouse ourselves from apathy and spirit. ual slumber, and bring forth all the treasures at our command to carry forward the enterprise. But without wealth, and that, too, to a vast amount, nothing of any great importance can be achieved. If the principle of covetousness shall still hold possession of the soul, as it has done for ages past, and if even Christians will entrammel themselves in the cords of avarice, and refuse to come forward with that noble generosity which becomes their character, and lay down their · wealth “ at the feet” of the messengers of salvation, as was done on the day of Pentecost, our hopes of the speedy conversion of the world will be miserably, disappointed.
What is all that has been done hitherto, in propagating the gospel, compared with what might have been done, had we learned the true application of riches; had we been deeply impressed with the importance of such enterprises, and acted in the character of devoted servants of the Redeemer," who count all things but loss," in comparison of the interests of his kingdom? All that has hitherto been raised for missionary purposes within the last two years, and it is chiefly within this period that such enterprises have been in operation) is little more than two or three millions of pounds, when at least five times such a sum might have been raised every year, had we been animated with any thing like the spirit and the holy zeal of the primitive Christians. This is evident from what has been
stated in the preceding chapter. Were thousands of Christians, on whom God has bestowed property and riches, to consecrate—not the whole of their estates, as was done at the period alluded 'to-but. only the onehalf, what immense sums for rearing the spiritual temple, might speedily be raised! And such sums are almost indispensably requisite. We have a work of immense extent and importance to accomplish. We require thousands, and ten thousands of preachers, missionaries, catechists, linguists, translators, schools masters, lecturers, and other laborers, to be trained for their respective departments of sacred labor. We require them to be more thoroughly traired than they have ever yet been for the services to which they are devoted. It is not enough that a missionary, of any description, be a man of piety, though this qualification is essentially requisite. He should, if possible, be a man of universal knowledge, having his mind richly imbued with all the information he can acquire on sacred and civil history, mythology, science and art, and the system of nature, in all its departments; for he will find abundant scope for all his acquirements, wherever he may labor in the heathen world, and particularly, among those tribes that have made certain advances towards a state of civilization. From such sources, he must occasionally draw his illustrations of Divine subjects, and his proofs of the facts and doctrines of revelation; and endeavor to make general knowledge on every useful subject, go hand in hand with his expositions of the Christian system. In particular, he should be thoroughly acquainted, both with the theory and practice, of the most efficient modes of intellectual and moral instruction, to which I lately alluded; in order that he may seize on the first opportunities of imbuing the minds of the young with general knowledge, and with the facts and principles of religion. I am fully convinced that far more converts will be made from among the heathen, by the early and judicious instruction of the young, than by preaching to the adult population, though both plans should be attended to, and go hand in hand. By arranging a judicious system of