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race-the vigorous, onward, manly, rushing population of your own growing West. They are not the fallen and indolent masses of the old world, now on the down-hill of decline, or already hopeless and upmanned at the bottom. They are not that rudeness which contemns improvement; not the barbarians of the North-Goths or Visigoths come to despoil the refinement of imperial Rome, and trample her glories in the dust. If they were, you would have more prospect of good in attempting to Christianize them than in attempting to regenerate the moveless mass of the older nations. But they are the enterprise of New England-the warm blood of affectionate Ireland-the granite character of classic, mindful discriminating Scotland. Such men are good for something.. Convert them to Christ and they will be your best helpers, and stand with you, shoulder by shoulder, in pushing on the triumphs of the conquering gospel, lf, as men, they are better than the effeminacy the debasement, the indolence of the old world, they would also be better as Christians, and strike with a mightier arm when mustered among 11NO 1
- The sacramental host of God's elect.” How much this idea should have influence in directing your charities we cannot tell. It certainly should have influence in eliciting them. We leave it to your own judgment, as you act on the rule to do that which you think will do most good when God has left you to your own discretion. Your most efficient helpers will be found among such people as you aid this morning. If you need help, if you cannot do all you would for the kingdom of God, convert the West ! Once evangelized, its character, piety and wealth will double your means of good.
There may be something in this idea not very pleasant. We confess there seems to be. But we are not afraid to preach it, or afraid to have you consider it. We trust it can be weighed can. didly and prayerfully. It may seem unpleasant to us to pass by any that are peculiarly degraded and miserable, for a single yeai, and direct our aims at all on the principle of giving the gospel to men who, when they have got it, will do most to give the gospel to others. But what can we do? We have not the means to do every thing at once. We want aid. Are we not to act somewhat on the principle of taking that course which shall evangelize the world the soonest ? and therefore does not pity towards the degraded millions of another hemisphere require of us to lend a strong hand first to our own West, that the West may help us to gave them?
We know souls may be equally precious. And we would not, if we could help it, overlook, for a single hour, the most degraded mortal to be found among the indolent and vicious and unmanned humanity of the heathen world. We know the Saviour had compassion, and we are to have compassion upon the most worthless. But for doing good to this world of souls, we cannot but think it a very different thing to convert an independent yeoman on the banks of the Mississippi from what it would be to convert a Hottentot on the sands of Africa, or a half-mindless Hindoo on the banks of the Ganges or the Berhampooter. The one is a different man from the other. Converted, he will be a different Christian. In character and circumstances there is al. most a measureless distance between them. Save the Hottentot, save the Hindoo; but neglect not to call into the army of God the character and the coming means of the West, Give what force to the idea your own judgment assigns to it. We present it, as we do all the other ideas of this serinon, only to invite you to think for yourselves.
But if, in order to convert the West, you must do less at the present time for distant people, let not prejudice, or folly or remance, or fanaticism make you hesitate. If in order to evangelize your own growing and mighty West, you must needs do it, call back your Missionaries from Asia or Africa. Sooner let the decrepitude and sluggishness of those half-mindless people remain unevangelized, than suffer the giant energies of the race in your own land to remain 80. Asia canot help or hurt you. Towa can -Oregon can: so can Texas, Minesota, New Mexico, and California. The race in these new regions will be giants. Convert them and they will stand in the front rank of your army, to subdue the world to Christ. Leave them without conversion and their unequalled energy and skill, and indomitable fortitude and perseverance, wielded yet by some unholy ambiton or pride or avarice or sensuality, will do more to roll on the car of evil than a thousand-fold as many people could do who resemble the dwindled and dwarfish races of India. Those degraded and spell. bound races cannot hurt you. They have not the talents to do it. They lack energy, intellect, genius. They are stereotyped to indolence and effeminacy. Convert them, they will be stereo. typed still: they will wear much of the old image as men, if even they have the image of God as Christians. They will be only a kind of half-way Christians; and generation after generation of them will go down to the grave before they will be elevated to the level of your own Anglo-Saxon blood--if, indeed they ever shall reach it. The West is the most important region you can find.
5. As you attempt to push the triumphs of the gospel among the heathen, commonly it costs very much of study and time and labor to break down the systems of falsehood. You must break down before you can build up. The people are not vacant of religion, and waiting for it. They have one. It is endeared to them, and fastened upon them by a thousand familiar forms and usages, interwoven with all their feelings, and all their government, all their ordinary habits of life, and all their hopes, and extending through the whole frame-work of both society and character. False religions, hallowed by their antiquity-revered as the gift
of departed ancestors-supported by government and custom falling in with the influence of native and nurtured depravity : these false religions must be shown to be false before the Christian Missionary can have access to the heathen mind. Through this thick rubbish he must work his way. It is laborious and difficult work. It costs much time and labor. You cannot expect him to accomplish so much, as if half of his life and more than half of his energies had not to be expended in breaking down a system, which blocks up the avenue to the heathen's heart.
There is not a destitute place on the globe where the people are so ripe to receive the gospel and ready to profit by it as in the Home Mission field of our country. It is not a region of idolatry. The people are not prejudiced against Christianity.They do not regard as an enemy or with suspicion the minister of God you send to them. They hail his approach. They cling to him, ready to share with him the last crust. So much is this the case that a Missionary cannot tear himself from them. And it is very certain, that there is no class of gospel Ministers in the world, who work so hard, and live so poor, and suffer so much, as your Home Missionaries. The people have little to give to support them, but they will not let them go ; and those men who love Christ cannot bear to leave his children when they plead with tears—"stay, stay with us, and teach us the way to heaven.”
Millions in your own country are at this moment as ready to receive the gospel as the most of the heathen can be brought to be, after years of labor and thousands of expense. The way is ready. There is no heathen system to break down. You are invited to go in and possess the land. However much we may admire that Christian heroism which will be staggered at no difficulties which will undertake a work for God's love, and the love of souls, the more readily because it is arduous, we cannot tell on what principle those who are the most ready to receive the gospel and profit by it should be the most neglected. Paul did not act on this principle. To the objecting and prejudiced Jews he said, " lo we lurn to the Gentiles.”
If we neglect for a little while the now open field of our coun. try, obstacles to gospel salvation will be built up there, more dreadful perhaps than the obstacles of heathenism. Papacy, as a religion for men, is a worn out system in Europe. It has little hope of living there much longer, except by the ungodly device of being linked with national governments. It will try hard to entrench itself in the West. It is trying. Let it once set up its dominion of blindness and bigotry there, and that field will be open to receive the gospel of truth no longer ! The obstacles of Papacy will be as bad as the obstacles of heathenism! Is it right to leave a region so ready for spiritual religion exposed to such a withering curse ?
And if we want any proof of the open and ripe condition of our Home Mission field, we may find it in the history of pasl suc. cesses,—a history now filling out, every day, in letters of living light.
In the churches aided by the General Assembly's Board of Missions there were received according to the Reports, on the profession of their faith, In the year ending May, 1837, 1,680 persons.
1848, 2,000 There were received, therefore,
23,152 " in twelve years. On an average 1,929 every year for twelve years.
There were received on tbe profession of their faith, into the churches aided by the American Home Missionary Society,
There were received, therefore,
61,366 16 in eighteen years. On an average 3,409 persons every year, for eighteen years.
We have presented these numbers in order to show you not only the extent but the uniformity of the Divine blessing.
Your own mission field is ripe for the gospel. Your missionaries are not called upon so much to clear away the rubbish, as to build np the temple of God. If it is right for you to work first, where you can do most good, you ought to send forth more labor. ers into this field, already whitened for the harvest of the kingdom:
6. A wise man will look ahead. When we are consulting for
Honable and thens Themes for chion
the church we ought to consult for its security and continuance If one place is more safe than another, that fact ought to have some influence upon our counsels. It would be folly lo plant churches in a region where there was no probability that they would be secure from violence and destruction, and at the same time neglect regions presenting every prospect for their continu. ance. We wish to plant churches where ihey shall last. We cannot well afford to fling away labor and the lives of men.
Now, on this ground let your mind form a comparison betwixt the field abroad and the field at home. ari There is scarcely a foreign country wherein your missionaries and your mission churches have any security for being undis. turbed. The national government may crush them. Unhappily the governments of this world have had little regard for the church, except when they could wield its influences. They have been very fond indeed, of employing the church as an instrument for furthering their own purposes and policy ever since before the time of Henry the Eighth. Princes have been tenacious of the title (“ Fidei Defensor”), " Defender of the Faith,” stamped still upon some of their coin, as if they had as much and as unques. tionable sovereignty over the church, as they had over the cure rency. And they have been but too successful in stamping their image upon both. They have wanted both for the same purposes, They have employed them for the same. We can very well endure Cæsar's image and superscription upon the gold and silver, but we prefer not to see it upon the church. While we would ren. der unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, we desire the privilege to render unto God the things that are God's. But princes have claimed and still claim to be the “head of the church," in their respective nations. And wbat they have done, and what security they have left us for the peace and safety of the churches planted in their empires, history tells us but too plainly.
As you aim to comprehend and weigh the force of this idea you will recollect things like the following. You will remember that the Emperor Alexander crushed the Russian Bible Society wben it suited bis deep and dark policy to do so. He was afraid of the Word of God. You will remember that your first foreign missionaries were forbidden, for a time, to land in India. You will remember that the Nestorian government has recently ex. pelled your missionaries, and killed some of their own people wbo favored the kind of religion you aimed to plant among their moun. tains. You will remember the recent butcheries on account of religion which have stained with Christian blood the island of Madagascar. You will remember how centuries of persecution in old Spain, (for example,) extinguished almost the last gleam of Cbristian light in that beautiful, but misgoverned land. You will remember how the Huguenots of France and the Covenanters of Scotland were hunted by dragoons, and butchered by the thousand, because they would not renounce conscience and the Bible,