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RIGHT HAND OF FELLOWSHIP,
BY THE REV. NOAH PORTER,
rllTOE OF THI CHURCH OF CHEIST Xlf IARMIKGT01C, COS.
Among the early transactions of the Church, that was not the least interesting, in which "James, Cephas and John, perceiving the grace which had been given to Paul, gave to him and Barnabas, the right hands of fellowship, that they should go unto the heathen, while themselves remained as Apostles of the circumcision." This, no doubt, was intended as an expression of their mingled confidence and affection; as a token that though they were to be locally separated, they would still be spiritually united, and as a pledge that they would sacredly preserve their union, by a common devotion of themselves to the service of the Redeemer, by a mutual remembrance of each other in their prayers, and by such reciprocations of aid, as the wants of the one might require, and the ability of the other would afford.
Such fellowship exists between all the people of God. Though separated from each other by the space of half the world's circumference, they all have access, by the "One Spirit, through the One Mediator," to the "One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in them all." Though distinguished by different languages, colors, civil jurisdictions and ecclesiastical usages, they all belong to one body, are animated by one Spirit, and by that Spirit are devoted to one glorious cause; the cause for which the material Universe was made; for -which the Son of God was made flesh and became obedient unto the death of the cross, and is exalted Lord of all; for which the Spirit of holiness is promised and sent; for which angels are commissioned as ministering spirits; and for which prophets, apostles, and all the holy and excellent men who have ever adorned the world, Ijave prayed and toiled, and suffered,—the glory of GoAin the redemption of the Church. In this cause they all with one heart and one soul are employed. In this fellowship they greatly rejoice. They find their highest felicity in being "workers together with God," and give united thanks to his name, that while he is neither w orshipped nor served by men's hands as though he needed any tiling of them, he is pleased to prosecute his designs of mercy in such a manner that his people may co-operate with him in the accomplishment of them.
In what nation, and by what means soever, they can promote these designs, they consider it their privilege to be employed. But "to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ," and more especially to preach them among the heathen, the chief of the Apostles, after the fullest experience of the. privations, toils, and sufferings of the work, considered an expression of grace to him, which next to that of his conversion, demanded his admiring gratitude.
And now, Beloved Brethren, perceiving, as we think, this grace to be given by the Lord Jesus to you, in the name of the ecclesiastical council before which we stand, 1 give you the right hand of fellowship, that you should go to the heathen.
Brother Thurston, receive this right hand as a token of our fellowship with you in the ministry of the Gospel.—
Brother Bingham, I present to you the same token and pledge of mutual affection in this great and good work.—
In contemplating the untried sacrifices, hardships, and perils of your mission, your hope and consolation mustiest on the all-sufficient grace of him who has said, "Tjjlam with you." Yet it will be cheering for you to know, that your fellowship with the multitude of your Brethren, whom you arc about to leave, will not cease. When the shores of your beloved country shsiil sink for the last time beneath your horizon, it will be consoling to consider the prayers of the many thousands of our Israel as ascending to that God, who commandeth the winds and the seas and they obey him, for your protection and guidance upon the bosom of the deep. When from the midst of heart sickening seems of idolatry, revolving Sabbaths sh"a|J turn your eager thoughts to the multitude of your brethren, who are going up to the house of the living God, or commemorating together the love of the crucified Savior, it will be a supporting consideration, that not only mention is made of you in our prayers, but the God and Savior whom tee worship, will be present with you, to receive, at the same time, your praises and supplications.
Beloved Brethren, we will make the cause to which you are consecrated our own. We will consider ourselves pledged, according to the grace given to us, to co-operate with you in extending the Gospel of salvation to those who dwell in the islands of the sea. We will not cease to make mention of you, and of the object of your mission, in our prayers; nor will we consider aught that we possess, so far as it shall seem to us to be required for this object, as being our own. We will esteem it our duty and privilege, as it is yours, "whether we live to live unto the Lord, or whether we die, to die unto the Lord." And may the Lord grant unto you and us, that when the labors of our mortal course shall be closed, we may together receive from him the blessed sentence of approbation: "Well done, good and faithful servants, enter into the joy of your Lord."
From the Prudential Committee of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to the Rev. Hiram Bingham and the Rev. Asa Thurston,—Messrs. Daniel Chamberlain, Thomas Iiolman, Samuel "whitney, Samuel Ruggles and Klisha I<oomis,— John Honoore, Thomas Hopoo and William Tennooe,—Members of the Mission to the Sandwich Islands.
Dearly Beloved In The Lord,
The present is a moment of deep interest to you, and to us all. You are now on the point,—Ihc most of you of leaving your country and your kindred and your fathers' houses, and committing yourselves, under Providence, to the winds and the waves, for conveyance to far distant Islands of the sea, there to spend the remainder of your days;— land the rest,—of bidding a final adieu to this favoured land in which they were strangers, but in which they have been blessed with a new and celestial birth, and returning to those same—their native Isles, where their kindred dwell,—but where the shadow of death still broods, and, where they know not what unanticipated and untried^ scenes await them.
It is for no private end—for no earthly object—that you go. It is wholly for the good of others, and for the glor^ of God our Saviour.
In those Islands, are many thousands of immortal beings, for whom the Redeemer died; but who know him not, and are perishing for lack of knowledge. It is bis gracious pleasure, and his high command, that bis Gospel should b« preached to them; that they may be turned from darkness unto light, be baptised in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and taught to observ e all things whatsoever be hath commanded,—for their salvation, and for his everlasting honour and praise.
To this high and holy service, you are solemnly designated; to this arduous and momentous work, you are b^Mceforth to bold yourselves sacredly devoted. You go to v'n Sandwich Islands, as The Messengers Of The Churches, And The Glory Of Christ;—and expressly and solely for the purpose of doing what you can, in your respective stations and spheres, towards bringing your long lost fellow beings there, into a full participation of th« privileges and blessings, which the Maker and Redeemer of the world, in the plenitude of his goodness, has provided lor all who receive, and obey his Gospel.
It is with reference to this great cnterprize, that yon are now to receive some general Instructions. If the principles are not new to you, they are at least such, as cannot be too often reiterated, or too strongly enforced.
The points of especial and essential importance to all Missionaries, and all persons engaged in the missionary work, arc Jour:—Devoteuness To Christ,—SubordiNation TO RIGHTFUL DIRECTION, UNITY ONE WITH
ANOTHER, AND BENEVOLENCE TOWARDS THE OBJECTS
OF THEIR MISSION.
1. Devotedness To Christ. This indeed, is every where the vital principle of the Christian character. To the Missionary, an eminent degree of it is essential. ( If the Christian is devoted to Christ, the Christian minister is more especially devoted, and the Christian Missionary to the Heathen, most especially. This is the general aj)prehension and sentimcnt;4the supposed process in becoming a missionary; the profession, the condition, the visi