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"they feed them, not by constraint, but willingly, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind." More than this is necessary to the perfection of the missionary character. Strong desires must swell the bosom, not only for the conversion of the world by some means, but for a personal share in the requisite labors and conflicts. His eyes will be open on the difficulties of the undertaking? but with holy Paul he will be ready to "endure all things for the elect's sake, that they may obtain salvation." What if his motives be misunderstood and misrepresented—what if his character be not elevated to a height that the shafts of malice and envy can never reach—what if the force of his arguments and the pathos of his exhortations be not always felt—and what if all his doubts and disquietudes do not quit him the moment he treads on heathen ground,—still he says, "let me know the fellowship of Jesus' sufferings, if thereby I may save any for whom he died." Yes! in full view of trials more numerous, more complicated, more appalling than can ever be realized by a stated pastor, and with no rewards in prospect but such as are spiritual and eternal, he possesses a deep and fervent desire to engage in the work; and "being affectionately desirous" of all who are ignorant of Christ, he is "willing to impart to them not the gospel of God only, but his own soul also."
2. They should possess strong faith in God. His promises are their sole dependence. Without habitual attention to the indications of his Providence, and much prayer for the illuminations of the Holy Spirit to accompany the study of the Scriptures, no man can be prepared to labor with comfort and success on pagan ground. What else can inspire the necessary humility? It is the highest honor conferred on mortal men, to be permitted to declare the unsearchable riches of Christ—an honor too high for the frailty of our nature to support, but for the awful responsibilities with which God has connected it, and the arduous duties it involves. How shall these responsibilities be felt, and these duties discharged, without a humble reliance on that grace, which is communicated only in answer to the prayers of strong faith. A great degree of boldness is often necessary in the missionary character; and though in many instances it is a native quality that requires only to be sanctified, yet in other instances scarcely a trace of it is to be found in the natural character, and as much of it as may be acquired, results from the confidence cherished in the promises of God. When the missionary can say, "the Lord is my light and salvation; the strength of my life," he may also say, "of whom shall I be afraid?" "Though an host encamp against me, I will not fear, though war arise against me, in God will I be confident." Samuel dared to say unto Saul, "thou hast done wickedly." Nathan feared not to tell David, "thou art the man." Elijah knew that Ahab sought his life, but boldly declared to him, "thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the Lord;" and need I repeat to you the bold reproofs of John the Baptist to Herod—of Peter and John to the council, or of Paul and Barnabas to the contradicting and blaspheming Jews in Pesidia? But for their strong faith in God. these holy men had not ventured to reprove kings, nor dared the fury of an unprincipled and blood thirsty multitude.
And what but confidence in God, unsubdued by difficulties or discouragements, could have carried forward the timid Brainerd through so many heartrending scenes of guilt and wretchedness as he was compelled to witness at Kaunaumeek and the Forks of the Delaware. Or, what but the firmest conviction of the gracious purposes of God toward the most forlorn of the human race, could have inspired the Mayhews or Elliot with resolution enough to break up the idolatrous and bloody feasts of the savages— to give them hytnns of praise to Jesus for their warsongs-—to brave the authority of the sachems, and the still more powerful influence of the powaws—to reduce their unwritten and uncouth language to form and rule, and then translate the Scriptures for their use. And what but the strongest faith in God could have armed the retiring Swartz with courage to enter the camp of the blood thirsty Hyder Ally, on an embassy that no other person dared to undertake—or with self denial and patience enough to go into the midst of the thieving tribes of collaries, where no traveller for ages had been safe—and having in his hand no other weapon but that of heavenly temper,—-the doctrine of "Christ and him crucified," compelling them to abandon their vices, cultivate their lands, and adopt the Bible as their code of laws? But, thousands of instances are on record, where a siugle missionary, putting his trust in the Lord, has fearlessly ventured into the heart of Satan's kingdom,—collected many precious trophies of grace, and returned in safety with his spoils to share the triumphs of Immanuel.
3. Perhaps to other evidences of a divine call to this employment, I ought to add, the possession of a strong and improved mind. Such evidence at least existed in the case of Saul and Barnabas. I would not be understood to say that ordinary or even inferior powers, under the influence of ardent love and strong faith, may not fill up some departments of missionary labor with great advantage;—much less that any portion of talent can supersede the necessity of spiritual qualifications. But the difficulties already enumerated as opposing the progress of truth in heathen countries; and the necessity of furnishing correct and numerous translations of the Holy Scriptures, clearly evince the importance, not only of much patient study, but of a mind originally fitted for large acquisitions, and well furnished with those principles of natural and metaphysical science, that cannot safely be overlooked in the defence of divine truth against the philosophical errors, that enter essentially into every system of pagan faith.
It is a fact, not to be mentioned without gratitude to God, that a large proportion of the ordained missionaries, at present employed among the heathen, are among the most learned as well as the most humble men of this generation. Having superior talents, hearts glowing with love to the millions for whom they labor—strong faith in the promises and providences of God—a cheerful resignation to life or death, in the field they have chosen, it cannot be a question whether they are called by the Holy Spirit—nor whether they are rearing a temple to the glory of Jehovah—composed of lively stones—on a foundation broad as the world, from which ten thousand thousand voices shall pour forth this song unto the Lord —"he hath become our salvation, for he hath triumphed gloriously. Who is like unto thee, O Lord, amongst the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?"
Thus I have endeavored to direct your attention to the true character of those missionary labors, which are so loudly called for at this day—and to point out some of those evidences, which ought to be exhibited by missionaries, in proof that they are called by the Holy Ghost.
And now permit me to say—there is not an individual in this assembly, who has not a deep interest in the subject. Are you a man—ignorant of that "joy of grief," excited by believing views of the Lamb of God? Then indeed you may not feel for perishing nations;—but remember, the time is coming—unless your insensibility yield to the constraining love of Christ—when those heathens will rise up in judgment and condemn you,—and when the fact that you can contemplate all the movements now made toward their conversion with indifference, will fill you with everlasting confusion. Are you a Christian? Then you have surrendered yourself to the Lord in an everlasting covenant, and are no longer your own. You rejoice that the King of Zion has already girded his sword on his thigh, and rides forth prosperously in the cause of truth, meekness and righteousness. You will not only shout hosanna, but cast your gar