Imágenes de páginas

bath, in these places, is scarcely distinguished even as a day of rest from ordinary labour; public worship is almost unknown; and children are growing up without any of the knowledge, or the discipline of a school; and consequently, without ability to read the bible, even if it should be given to them. Is it not then our duty first to provide for our own; and then, as we are able, for others? Is moral desolation, that is near to us, a smaller evil in our sight, than that which is distant? Have they a smaller claim upon our charity, and upon our exertions to bring them into the christian church, who, in our very neighbourhood, have no other knowledge of Christ, but of his name, than have the inhabitants of Africa, and of the Indies? Let it not be replied, that zeal for foreign missions does not diminish our interest in the cause of elevating the religious and moral character of christendom; that it does not divert from this course any of the streams of charity, nor appropriate labours that are wanted for moral culture at home. I am not pleading against zeal for the conversion of the heathen. No. Would to God that they were all persuaded to be followers of his Son! But let an appeal be patiently heard, for sympathy in the condition of those of our countrymen, who would be taught, but have not the means of obtaining teachers; who ask for our assistance in establishing among them the institutions of the gospel, and schools for the education of their children; and whose loud, and reiterated calls are scarcely regarded. Here is a broad field for the toil of christian duty, in which a succession even of divinely commissioned apostles would find full employment. And great would be the change produced in the character of society among us, were these dark places to be enlightened by our religion; were these barren places to be broken up, and sowed with the seed of the word of God. Thus might something, and perhaps much be done, to efface the stigma that is affixed, in the view of heathens, upon the christian character. And who, that is solicitous for the universal diffusion of our religion, can overlook, or lightly esteem, the paramount claims of associations for the accomplishment of these objects, upon his warmest regard, his most enlarged bounty, and his earnest efforts for their extension and their success?

'We have been accustomed to hear so much of the privileges that are possessed in our happy country, in our constitutional provision for the education of children, and for the maintenance of religious institutions; so long and so often has it been our boast, that wherever there is a settlement formed, there, while yet our citizens have scarce provided for them

selves a habitation, a school has been established, a church has been gathered, and the ordinances of our religion have been administered; so long have we exulted in the sentiment, that there is no American who cannot read, and write, and provide for himself in the world; that our mental vision is obscured in the mist of our national vanity. Our sensibility is deadened to the privations and the ignorance of many thousands, on whom, in their poverty, neither constitutional provisions nor laws can exert any influence for their improvement. We are as indifferent, as inert in the cause of reforming popular ignorance and popular vice among ourselves, and of extending to those who have them not, the benefits of christian institutions, as if the number demanding this charity was too inconsiderable for our notice. That we are ourselves greatly distinguished by the means we possess of religion and of education, is true; and most devoutly should we bless God for them. But let us awake to the consideration that much, very much is to be done, if we would that privileges, any thing like our own, should be possessed and enjoyed through our country. If we would indulge the boast, that every hamlet has its school, its church, and its ministry, let us first look into our plantations and hamlets, and inquire in how many of them there is no provision, either for the instruction of children, or the social worship of God. And if the inquiry should humble us, let it also stimulate us to greater exertion for their rescue from the dangers that threaten them. The united charities of all our associations for the diffusion of the knowledge of Christ, would hardly,-I believe would not,-meet the just demands upon us for missionary efforts at home.

'And, let me say one word in behalf of the poor, oppressed, and greatly injured aborigines of our country, towards whom a course of policy and conduct was so long indulged, the tendency of which was to make them as hostile to our religion, as to our countrymen; to drive them as effectually from our religion, as we have expelled them from our settlements. A tremendous account is to be rendered to God, of the injustice and cruelty with which the original owners of our soil, and their descendants, have been treated by those who have taken possession of it. Great as has been the desolation that we have extended among them by war, still greater has been that which has resulted from the vices, that were unknown among them, till they were instructed in them by those who were called Christians. And shall the remnants that still exist of the extensive tribes that once inhabited, and owned our country, be permitted to melt away, as dew before the sun; or rather, I would say, be permitted to perish miserably in ignorance, unpitied, and without any

earnest effort to bless them, by raising them from the debasement and wretchedness into which they have fallen? The time is favourable to a union of exertions in this interesting enterprise; and God will require it of us, that we are faithful to the means and opportunities which we have of prosecuting it.

'Societies for domestic missions have the peculiar claim upon christians, that their design is the accomplishment of the very object for which Jesus prayed, as above all others, the means of securing the universal triumph of his religion; and of obviating the very difficulty, of all others the greatest, in the way to the attainment of this object. The Society, whose anniversary we now celebrate, looks to the religious and moral condition of our country; and would awaken in every heart that feels it not, a christian zeal in the cause of bringing all among us to the knowledge, faith, and obedience of Christ. We would extend the knowledge and conforts of our religion to our native Indians. We would do what we can in the great cause of making our country in reality, what it is nominally, Christian. There is less indeed, much less in this design, to gratify some of the strongest passions of our nature, than in the enterprise of converting hundreds of millions from the superstition, and vice, and misery of heathenism. But, considering the state of christendom, or at least, of a great part of our own country, is there, on the whole, less that requires and promises to repay our first care, our first exertions, and our most liberal pecuniary offerings? The reproach which heathens cast upon us, judging of Christianity from what they too often see, is just. And with as much justice, could they see more of us,-could they see how little interest is excited in the cause of the conversion of those among ourselves, who know not God, and of the reformation of those who know, but live without him in the world;-with as much justice, could they see how our domestic missionary societies are patronized, and how their anniversaries are attended, might they taunt us with the proverbs, "physician, heal thyself!" "first cast out the beam out of thine own eye, and then thou mayest see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." Yes, justly might they reproach us, that we are so cold, so indolent, and so sparing in this first claim upon our zeal, and labour, and expenditure in the cause of our religion.'

It is not my intention to enlarge upon this topic, but simply to present it to the serious consideration of all who feel for the interests of religion. There is an apathy most truly astonishing on this subject, from which it is exceedingly desirable that the christian public should be roused. There is perhaps no public object of an importance by any means equal, which is so coldly

advocated and so poorly patronized. There are those who devote to it their thoughts and exertions, but they are miserably encouraged and aided by the community. This is easily seen by looking at any statement of the contributions which are made for various purposes of religious benevolence. I do not possess the means of making a detailed statement on this point, nor is it necessary. The few items I can produce will sufficiently prove, that there is a less general desire to promote the spread of the gospel amongst the destitute of our own land, than to accomplish either of the other designs of christian charity.


Receipts of the Massachusetts Domestic Missionary Society from Feb. 1, to May 10, $112.45: making about $450 a year. The annual contributions to the Evangelical Missionary Society of Massachusetts, average not more than $500.

In the month of April, the Connecticut Education Society received $92. about 1,100 a year.


The American Education Society, $953. = about 11,500 a year.

The contributions to the Society for propagating the Gospel amongst the Indians, &c. for 1821, were $757. The permanent fund, $23,356.


During April, the United Foreign Missionary Society (Conn.) received $818.93. about $9,800.

During the last year the receipts of the Massachusetts Missionary Society, were $1,656.

From April 18 to May 14, the American Board for Foreign Missions received $3,322.53, besides about $500 in boxes of clothing. Contributions to this Board amount to not far from $60,000 annually.*

What a poor place is found for home missions amidst all this splendid and bountiful expense! Is it not melancholy that christian compassion has so little thought for those who are suffering in spiritual want in our own growing land, and makes no more effort to keep off from our new settlements and old parishes the shadows of irreligion and heathenism! When we think

* In connexion with this is to be remembered that 12,000 copies of the Missionary Herald are distributed. We do not know how many are subscribed and paid for; but supposing it to be two thirds of the whole number, we here have $12,000 expended for foreign missions to be added to the above amount,

of the contrasts of zeal and money exhibited in the preceding statements, is not every one reminded of our Lord's cautionThese ought ye to have done, but not to leave the others undone. Is there not a criminal sleepiness in this matter? Especially, let me ask, is there not an imperious call upon those, who doubt the duty and deny the expediency of attempting the conversion of the distant heathen world, and who withhold their aid from that work on the plea that there is much to be done at home--to apply themselves earnestly to these domestic exertions? Is not indifference and neglect in them doubly inexcusable and shameful? Are they not bound to quicken their zeal and increase their ef forts, lest they be convicted of a gross and disgraceful inconsistency?

My only object at present is to throw out a few hints on a subject of great and pressing interest, to whose claims we are too insensible. I hope that others will be found to pursue it, and urge it with all the force and eloquence which it deserves.


Ir is a fault finding world in which we live, and it must be allowed that there is a great deal of fault to be found. That there is ample room for censure and condemnation, is not, however, an excuse for censoriousness, and harsh and hasty judgment. It is important that vice should be discountenanced and scourged by the expression of both private and public opinion, that error should be openly noticed, that folly should meet with the ridicule which it deserves, that the weak and the wicked should, in the proper manner, and at the proper time, be held up for chastisement and scorn--but this is no reason why the spirit of detraction should be tolerated, or why we should not complain when we are misrepresented and unjustly reviled.

But complaining will only show our sense of the injury, without bringing us redress; it will tell of our suffering, but will not prove it unmerited, nor command a cure. Neither can we

always justify ourselves by words, for we shall often lack the opportunity, and sometimes even the power. There is one method left, however, which is at all times in our power, which should invariably be adopted, and which cannot fail of success-we may justify ourselves by our actions. Explain our motives and our principles as we may, there are a great many people who will not, and a great many who cannot understand them, a great many who make it their pleasure, and a great many who

« AnteriorContinuar »