Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

"The indifference which men have evinced towards the progress of Christianity, and the jealousy which they have manifested toward missionary exertions, are intelligible only on a reference to this fact.

“What we value at a low price for ourselves, we shall be slow to transfer to others, if the execution of that transfer should demand any considerable expen diture, either of time or of substance. If we are careless of our own eternal destiny, we shall be averse to the contemplation of that destiny for others. If pardon of sin and intercourse with God form no part of our own scheme of felicity, it will form no feature in our plans of benevolence toward other men.

“The cause of Christian missions finds its unshaken support, only in the deep recesses of a penitent and converted heart. The mere gratification of communicating the arts of refinement and civilization of pouring forth at the feet of the destitute all the riches of philosophy and of letters will prove but a feeble and inconstant stimulus to exertion among an ignorant and heathen people.

“The charity which bends its steady efforts to the enlargement of the kingdom of truth, is the fruit of heavenly culture alone. It is the love of Christ, diffusing its hallowed warmth and vitality through the faculties of the renewed soul, which lights up the flame of holy and generous compassion for the never dying interests of the children of men.

“The man, who, drawing his views of religion from the book of God, has discovered that the world is in a state of spiritual disease, ignorance and ruin; and that the mercy of God has planned and executed a process of healing and recovery-the man, who, tracing his own participation in this wretchedness, has gladly fled to that remedy for its relief-the man, who has, in good earnest, carried a guilty and wounded conscience to the cross of Christ, and there felt the soothing influence of the blood of the everlasting covenant--the man who has often and often stretched his aching sight far beyond the dreary shadows of the grave, to the distaut realms of immortality and love this man it is, who is prepared to measure the worth of missionary efforts by the standard of truth-this man it is, who is prepared to admit that all interests detached from those of eternity are utterly vain and transient-this man it is, who, catching the sacred sensibility which lived and glowed, intensely and without interinission, in the bosom of the divine Savior, has no hesitation in believing that there may well be joy, even in the presence of the angels of God, over one sinner that repentech.pp. 17—20.

But it is not with indifference alone that missions have to struggle. Sometimes they are met, and in Christian countries too, by the spirit of bitter hostility. Objections of every kind are brought forward and industriously circulated. In some places the clamor is loud and the threatening violent; in others, where a sentiment in favor of evangelical exertions has gained some ground, the warfare is carried on by inuendoes and artful insinuations. Others talk of arresting the progress of the Gospel by laws, and confidently utter their opinion, that the subject demands the interference of legislatures. Such men must fancy themselves occupying an elevated ground, when they propose to stop the course of missions. Have they calculated on the quantity of power requisite for successful opposition to a causc which the Almighty Savior promised to support, even to the end of the world? When they imagine themselves able to do this, bave they ever examined the authorities by which the friends of Christianity are commanded to attempt its universal diffusion? Have they at all considered the foundation on which the hopes of the friends of missions rest, or looked at the reasoys for expecting ultimate success?

“But let us turn again to the prophetic record. That which had not been told them, shall they see; and that which they had not heard, shall they consider: that is, THE NATIONS SHALL FIX THEIR ANXIOUS ATTENTION ON THE TRUTHS DECLARED TO THEM. And let me ask, is there no symptom of the approaching reign of Christ, of this very character, now before our eyes? If the servants of God are becoming active in the cause of their adorable Lord, is no corresponding emotion manifesting itself on the part of the heathen: If the fertilizing dews are beginning to fall from heaven, are there no thirsty lands panting for the shower?

"Surely the reports from Pagan nations are of the most cheering kind. On every hand there is, more or less, a shaking of old opinions. The kingdom of Satan is dividing against itself. A sense of its weakness and of its folly pervades the minds of numbers, and the superiority of the Christian revelation is more than suspected. There is a growing appetite for knowledge, as well as a growing "impression that the religion of Christ will one day be the religion of the world. That which they had not heard, the Gentile nations are beginning often and eagerly to consider. They have found no rest-no healing-no comfortno elevation, in their own systems. For many a long year, they have sacrificed to devils, and not to God they have prayed to Baal, and not to Jehovah—and no wonder that a reply of mercy has never yet been afforded. A death-like silence settles round the idol throne, broken only by the accents of despair from those who still, as of old, cry aloud, and cut themselves, after their manner, with knives and lancets, till the blood gushes out upon them: and still it happens, as in that elder time, that mid-day is passed, and they prophecy unto the time of the evening sacrifice, and there is neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any lo regard.

*But numbers appear now prepared to admit the absurdity of their own expectations, and to shrink from the exposure of their own religious creeds. For where, in all their ceremonies or sacred books, can they find that which can sustain a sinner going down to death, or give him reasonable hope of a happier scene beyond? 1 “Again and again have the devotees of idolatry sought some asylum from the pangs of conscience, and never have they found any refuge!

"They may pass from one method of pilgrimage to another method, from one form of ablution to another form, from one species of self-torture to another species; but the wounded and immortal spirit can derive neither balm nor solace from any such vicissitudes.

“To soothe the t.brobbings of the festered part,

And stanch the bleedings of a broken heart,”. belong to Him, and to Him alone, who himself bore our griefs and carried our sorrows; and who now stands, as it were, amidst the ruins of the world, and exclaims, Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Oh! ye ambassadors of God, missionaries to perishing nations, it is your high and hallowed office, to give wings to this voice of kindness, and to bear on these gladdening sounds to the darkest regions of death and of sin.” Pp. 32–34.

“I trust it will not be unprofitable, if, in the conclusion of my discourse, I offer a few suggestions in reference to those, who are carrying into effect this high enterprise.

“Let me then, in the first place, suggest to you, in special allusion to the success of our missionary cause, the importance of conducting all our measures in a spirit of prayer.

"Every earthly interest, in truth, depends for its result on God; and He baffics or succeeds every plan which we forra. The ruce is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. But missionary efforts seem, if possible, more emphatically connected with the divine blessing. The Christian charity, which pours its liberal stream into this particular channel--the Christian feeling, which qualifies the missionary for his work-and the effects of that work on the minds of the heathen-these are gifts directly imparted by the Holy Spirit. They are exactly proportionate to the measure of his grace. To Him, therefore, should our eyes be ever directed, in the conducting of this holy cause. His are the wisdom, and the prudence, and the patience, and the activity, and the faith, which must unite their efforts in every successful mission.

[ocr errors]

“But; my brethren, there may be a secular mode of conducting a spiritual work, and there may be a sort of mechanical process, by which a solemn duty may be fulfilled. It is for us to guard against the inroads of such a secular spirit. It is for us, to come to the details of this consecrated work, with hearts awakened, by secret prayer, to humility and self-abasement and dependence upon God. It is for us, to keep steadily in view, that our brightest prospects will be overcast, and the fairest fruits of our labor blighted, uniess God shall shed continually upon them His light, and warmth, and life! It is His express command I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace, day nor night. Ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence; and give him no rest, until He establishi, and till He make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.

"In this rugged journey of life, we have each of us abundant need for unceasing prayer. Exposed to a thousand dangers, and desolate by a thousand bereavements, we have, alas! often occasion out of the depths to cry unto the Lord. But, amidst our private griefs, let us still think of the world's sorrows.

Let us contemplate immortal souls, shrouded in moral darkness, and perishing by sin. Let us contemplate a spiritual degradation, from which Christianity alone can raise; and an inward wretchedness, which Christianity alone can alleviate, Oh! let our prayers be more urgent, and less selfish. Let our supplications ofcen refer to sufferings, keener far than our earth-begotten woes; yet sufferings, which the blood of Christ streamed from the cross to heal! So shall the united prayers of the faithful reach to heaven; and return to the earth, laden with God's richest and most substantial blessings!

“2. Let us be diligent in the cultivation of personal godliness.

“We live in a day, when religion has many avowed, and I trust real friends, The schemes of Christians begin to fill a large space in the public eye; and the shaft of a profane ridicule now falls almost harmless to the ground. But such a state of things has its own dangers. It is possible to mistake zeal for pietyactivity for devotion-the machinery of beneficence, for a love which comes down from heaven. If then we would seek the blessing of God for our cause and for ourselves-if, while we are instrumental in benefitting others, we would participate in those benefits ourselves—if we would execute the will of God, in the way and with the feeling which He approves-let it be our strenuous endeavor to seek the establishment of His dominion in our own hearts. Let us, in very deed and spirit, each draw nearer daily to heaven, while laboring to do the work of heaven in the world!

"3. Let us cherish a warmer sentiment of gratitude, for the gift of the Gospiel.

“In a world of idolatry and of imposture, the lines are follen to us in pleasant places; yea, we have a goodly heritage. It would be well for us to give this truth a prominence in our contemplations. Let us Contrast our civil and religious advantages, with those of Heathen and Mahomedan nations. Let us contrast our pure and peaceful Sabbaths, with their unhallowed festivals of cruelty and superstition-our resources in sorrow, with all their unheeded sadness our consolations in death, with all their dark and cheerless agonięsour assured prospects into eternity, with their cold heart-sickening theories of the transmigration or the absorption of the soul!

"What a theme is here for gratitude! what an argument for praise! Who hath made us to differ, and what have we that we have not received? Oh let it be our care to value and to improve our mercies. May the blessing never be withdrawa! May the light never be extinguished!

“4. But, once more, in reference to this great cause, it seems to be of essential importance, that we cherish a spirit of Christian union and mutual charity.

"It has been too long the just reproach of professing Christians, that they have wasted their strength, and time, and fceling, in mutual attack and recrimination and these, generaliy, on the non-essentials of Religion. The glory of Christ and the interests of his Church, have too frequently been but the ostensible grounds of all this mournful controversy; while party-spirit and indignant selfisliness, have been its true though hidden springs. Mean time infidelity has stood by and sarcastically smiled; while genuine charity has blushed, and held down her head. Oh, it is reserved for the glory of the latter days, to merge minuter differences in those VOL. XYI.

26

1

grand questions which are the heart and life-blood of the Christian cause dear to one church as to another, because dear to God and essential to the repose of man. Then Ephraim shall not envy Judah, nor Judah vex Ephraim.

"And truly it has been pleasant, during the progress of these few last years, to watch the orient beams of this blessed unity of the spirit in the bond of peace; and to hail them as the harbingers of a brighter day.

It was the great subject of our Savior's last prayer to his father, that his disciples might be one, even as He and his Father were one: and the want of this ONENESS has hung like a mill-stone round the neck of Christendom. Fully persuaded am I, my brethren, that the glory of the church is her assimilation to Christ: and never will her usefulness and her splendor reach their meridian, until the love of a common Savior shall bind together every heart and unite every hand. Jealousy and dissension scatter her resources and palsy her exertions: but when, through the abundant out-pouring of the spirit, arm shall be linked to arm, and heart to heart, and prayer to prayer-when to love Jesus Christ, and to anticipate heaven, and to save immortal souls—when these shall be the grand terms of Christian communion, oh then what a firm and awful phalanx shall go forth from the Christian church against the powers of darkness and the enemies of man!

“Much has, of late, been accomplished toward this desirable end: but much, very much, remains yet to be accomplished. My brethren! let it be the subject of our daily prayers, and the example of our daily practice. Let the missionaries of each Christian Society drink deeply at home, of this great principle; and then enter on their hallowed work abroad, with an incessant regard to its prevalence and its growth. Let their mutual trials and their mutual joys--their mutual anxieties and their mutual successes-embracing always the same objects, endear them to each other, and fasten the feelings of brotherhood on their hearts. So shall the various converts, from the East and from the West, whom divine mercy shall, by their instrumentality, gather into the fold of Christ, be all baptized into the self-same spirit, and become possessors of a charity wide as the world and fruitful as the dews of heaven!

65. Lastly, my brethren, let us cultivate a more tender compassion for the miseries of the heathen.

“The man who lives among idolaters, and who actually beholds their degradation and their sorrow, has sometimes, if his own heart hath received mercy from God, become conscious of a sympathy, deep, and piercing, and effective. Such a sympathy dwelt in the bosom of a Swartz, a Brainerd, a Buchanan, and, though fast in time yet not last in zeal, a Martyn! These men, the love of immortal souls linked fast to human welfare. Their spirits were, indeed, stirred within them: and much had the cause of charity to mourn, when these men went down to the grave! Long shall their memory live, and widely shall their example stiinulate those, who, through the grace of God, in after time shall follow in their hallowed steps.

“But, dwelling far from the scenes of idolatry, encompassed by European comforts, blessed with the cheering ordinances of Christianity, and rejoicing in the tender and enlightened charities of Christian friendship-it is alas! very possible for us, my brethren to overlook, in a great measure, the terrible spectacle of a world a POS TATIZED FROM GOD! It is possible, even under all the admonitions and signs of the present times, and amidst the very labors of our daily benevolence, to rest contented with a very lukewarm interest in favor of the heathen. Oh, then, let us solemnly and deliberately cultivate a spirit of tenderness and compassion towards them. Let their actual situation often rest on our remembrance, and have a place in our prayers.

“Degraded, benighted, ruined-still are they our fellow-men; capable of recovery, and destined with ourselves either to death or to life! Yes, my brethren-in the words of a feeling advocate in this righteous cause,* "under the starless sky of their unbroken night, lie buried the elements of all that is great and exalted in our common nature--the materials whence the divine Illuminator can elicit sparks of heavenly fire-the instruments, which He can harmonize to the touch of holy love-the souls which He can form anew into heirs of God and immortal

* See Sermon le ore the Edinburgh Missionary Sociely, hy the Rev. Henry Grey,

ity? Oh, when once His Holy Spirit shall begin to move upon the face of those dark chaotic waters, how shall order spring out of confusion, and rays of light and glory return to us from the regions of darkness and the shadow of death."

"Toward this great and promised Era, let us lend, my brethren, our wishes and our toils. This future day lives before the view of Christ, and, ere long his faithful and eternal love will realize it, in all its brightness, before our enraptured sight! The reward of his astonishing mediation, the disclosure of his transcendent glory, shall be accomplished in the restoration of Israel, and in the salvation of mankind. Then will the mystery of mercy be fully unfolded. Then will grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life. Then will the victory over death and hell be achieved, and the desolation of time be forgotten in the gladness of eternity!

"Come then, and, added to thy many crowns,
Receive yet one as radient as the rest,
Due to thy last and most effectual work,
Thy word fulfilled, the conquest of a world." pp. 40–49.

MISCELLANEOUS.

OCCASIONAL REFLECTIONS.

I was walking just now on the margin of a mighty river, whose waves rolled in solemn silence towards the same ocean whence its springs were supplied, and in reflecting how long a period the same banks had been washed by this strcam, how uniforin was its motion, and how strong the resemblance between its appearance now and that of centur'ies past; I was forcibly reininded of the extreme tenuity of human life, the fickleness of our prospects, and the readiness, the frequency with which carthly objects change their masters, and the fragile tenure by which we hold them. Hundreds of generations have appeared and vanished from the earth since the waters began to roll in this channel; successive lord's of the soil have arisen, sported on the strcam, and boasted of their possessions; but the seats of their residence cannot now be found, and even their names are forgotten.

Aided by the silence of the evening, and the calm magnificence of nature, an impression of tender melancholy dwelt on my mind; and I willingly prolonged my ramble, that I might improve the reflections excited by the solemnities of the hour, and the majestic solitude around me. In such a scene there is a wonderful adaptation to a certain class of feelings. It is suited also to slow man his exceeding insignificance, to contrast his own puny interests and possessions with the incomprehiensible works of God. To one who is day and night immersed in the toils ef business, a few hours of total seclusion from the bustle of active life are urgently demanded for the duty of self-examination; such hours sought for and improved by a devout aspiration after the presence and blessing of God, may prove, through the induences of the Divine Spirit, as the dawn of a new condition of moral being. Although diligence be necessary, and a series of regular employment a needful preservative of morals,—yet as those having constant occupation usually plunge to immeasurable depths, and relinquish all their time to the dying enjoyments of sense, seasons of complete retirement from such labors become as useful for the health of the seul, as rest is necessary te an exhausted body,

« AnteriorContinuar »