Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ing the Gospel to the Indians—that they are happier and better off without it. With regard to the latter class—those who have never been among the Indians—they are deceived by the misre. presentations of others, or by their own dreams of the simplicity and happiness of what they consider the “natural state of man.' As they know nothing about the matter, it is not worth while to lose a moment in refuting their romantic and absurd ideas. But as to the former class, viz. those who have been much with the Indians, and who yet believe they are better off without civilization and Christianity, I have a word or two to say. I have uni. formly found that this class, which is composed of wen who are universally ignorant of the true nature of the Christian religion, may be divided into three subdivisions. 1. Those who think that the fact, that the poor Indians prefer their own state to that of civilization, is conclusive proof that they are really in a better condition than they would be, if civilized. These gentlemen would be opposed, of course, to every effort to enlighten mankind in any way. They must believe that the world is at present, except. ing a few political evils, doing about as well as can be desired. They have no standard at all of excellence in human condition. Knowledge, and science, and the arts, and literature, and taste and refinement, and the innumerable blessings of civilized life, are nothing at all in the estimation of these gentlemen. And to instruct any ignorant person, (who is contented with his ignorance) is to do him an injury, to make him less happy, although it may be the means of elevating him in the scale of human dignity, and affording him increasing and refined pleasure commensurate with his expanding faculties and enlarged desires! 2. Those who know that increased knowledge and advantages bring with them increased accountability, and having a morbid sensibility on that subject, as it affects their own case-being conscious that they do not live up to their advantages—they think that ignorance is a happy state of total or comparative exemption fronı responsibility. These men do not consider that increased light brings with it not only increased responsibility, but also increased ability, if we are not wanting to ourselves, of meeting, happily, that responsibility. 3. Those who have been guilty of living in an unlawful manner among the Indians--who have indulged in sensual lusts, or who have defrauded the ignorant Indians in dealing; and who, as is commonly the case with abandoned men, try to persuade themselves that all others are as bad as themselves-it should be no subject of marvel that such men think the Indians are as virtuous and as happy, if not more so, than the whites; and verily, they are probably better than such white Christians as these men! I have no doubt that the Indians are really more virtuous, or rather less vile and abominable in their lives, than the mass of white men

who go among them to trade with them, and who too often rejoice to find, that they are beyond the Sabbath, and beyond the inspection and surveillance of that hundred-eyed Argus-public opinion. Some of these men dread the instruction and Christianization of the Indians, because it would pour a flood of light upon their dark deeds, and break up forever their unrighteous traffic.

“But I rejoice that the subject of civilizing the Indians, is arousing the attention of the Christian public. Missionaries are labouring with much success among the Cherokees, Choctaws, and Chickasaws--and their efforts among the Osages, Creeks, and some other tribes are not without encouraging success: and as the government is now about to try the experiment of collecting several tribes on the west of Arkansas Territory and the State of Missouri, what benevolent heart does not wish, that there may be one day, a happy community of civilized Indians, sharing in all the blessings of our government?”.

The next fourteen chapters contain a geographical, statistical, and historical description of the Various States and territories which lie in the Valley. We find under each of these, an outline of its constitution and government; its soil, productions, facilities for commerce, cities and towns; education in colleges and schools, public lands, besides historical notices and general remarks upon various topics of interest. Of these chapters, we can only say that they are among the most interesting in the book, and we recommend them to the perusal of every one who thinks of looking to the West as a home. The closing chapters of the volume contain an account of the steamboats of the western rivers; advice to emigrants, and notices of the routes to be travelled; and a full account of the religious sects and literary institutions. On this last subject, we are happy to find that there are in the Valley of the Mississippi, not far from thirty colleges, many of which are well endowed, and in successful operation ; five or six theological seminaries, and many other institutions of a lower grade, for the education of youth.

Of the religious denominations of the west, the author gives us as satisfactory an account as could be expected, from the known difficulty of obtaining information of this kind. The general distribution which he has made of the population, according to their profession or supposed preference, assigns 800,000 to the Methodist church, 700,000 to the Baptist, 550,000 to the Presbyterian, 500,000 to the Papal, 50,000 to the Episcopal, 100,000 to the Cumberland Presbyterian, and 100,000 to various other smaller sects, leaving about a million and a half who may be safely reckoned to be under no religious influence whatever.

With the efforts made to advance the cause of true religion in the Valley of the Mississippi, our readers are acquainted, but let them bear in mind the facts above stated, that more than one half of its growing population is either uninfluenced by the Gospel, or deluded by false and fatal views spread abroad by errorists almost without number; and can they think that all has been done that should be, for the exertion of a pure moral influence over that region?

We would not willingly join in giving undue prominence to any particular field of effort, nor obscure the claims of others or of other nations upon our churches, but we cannot refrain from calling, again and again, the attention of American Christians to the scene presented to their eye beyond the mountains.

There lies a country vast in extent, of almost unexampled fertility, of delightful climate, of abundant mineral resources, of peculiar facilities for commerce, opening the fairest prospects of success to adventurers of every clime, already peopled with upwards of four millions, and increasing hourly and rapidly. There, beyond all reasonable doubt, will be, twenty years hence, a population of fifteen millions, with cities, rivalling in size and beauty, New York, and Philadelphia, and Baltimore, with literary institutions of their own; with a public sentiment of their own, and with manufactures and a commerce of their own; there will be, before twenty years, the balance of power in our confederacy; and there a moral influence of incalculable extent.

And now, who can forbear inquiring with deep concern, “ what is to be the character of these coming generations” Shall they grow up in beauty and order before the eye? Shall knowledge, and patriotism, and piety, adorn and elevate them; and as they advance in physical strength, shall they make a corresponding progress in every thing pure and lovely in the sight of God and man? And as from every stream that rolls along their vallies, the earth shall pour forth its exuberance to the astonishment of the world, shall sacred influence, springing from every city, and town, and hamlet, unite in spreading their benign effects throughout the earth? Shall the God of heaven be honoured, and thousands and millions

crowd his gates, bringing their songs and their thanksgivings before his throne?

Or, on the other hand, shall that country, left to corrupt and degrade itself, gradually break away from the restraints of the Gospel; the Sabbath be dishonoured, and the ordinances of God despised, infidelity abound, Romanism defile the sanctuaries of Jehovah, the Sunday-school decline, and every benevolent institution fail, and that vast population be left to exert its immeasurable energies, without the controlling influence of intelligence and virtue, first to destroy themselves, and then to roll back on us a torrent of every thing that is evil?

To this inquiry, we answer, that if the American Church shall do its duty, shall foster every good institution in that land, shall supply them with a devoted and pious ministry, aid in the establishment of Sunday-schools, spread abroad in every way sound religious knowledge, and do it now, we may, under the blessing of God, hope for the best, we may see our fondest wishes surpassed. But, should we sit down satisfied with what has already been attempted ; leave our brethren to struggle single handed, and unsustained, for the supply of the necessary means of grace to the hundreds of thousands now destitute, and the daily extending settlements of the West, we shall live, we fear, to see the Valley of the Mississippi the strong hold of Popery; a prey to every fanatical teacher; wasted by infidelity, and DESERTED OF THE LORD!

Who can endure this thought? What Christian, professing to possess the same feelings that characterized his Master, in his life and death, can look on, while the decision of such results are pending, and forbear to inquire, " Lord, what wilt thou have me to do," that thy kingdom may triumph? Daily are the anxious inquiries heard among us from the West, “ Will none come over to help in the great work to which we have put our hands? Are there no more labourers to be had for the waste places of Zion among us? No more active laymen, ready to lay aside the ease of wealth, and the enjoyments of eastern privileges, and come hither to work for Christ?" We rejoice that many are answering these questions in the affirmative; and we would sincerely pray, that every individual, who, after examination, concludes it not to be his duty to go to the Heathen, may inquire whether

VOL. IV. No. IV.-4C

he be not called by the present indications of Divine Provi. dence, as regards the West, to engage in building up the walls of Jerusalem in the Valley of the Mississippi.

ART. VII.—HEBREW GRAMMAR.

Grammatik der hebræischen Sprache des A. T. in roll

stændiger Kürze, neu bearbeitet von Georg Heinrich August Ewald, a. 0. Professor zu Gættingen. Leipzig, 8vo. pp. xvi. and 304.

We are among the number of those who attach very great importance to that class of philological works called elementary. The mere entrance into any language worthy of attention, and particularly one so important as the Hebrew, deserves all the pains which can be given to it by the pioneers of literature. While we would be thankful, therefore, for what is done already, we desire to see more, much more, accomplished. First impressions are, in no case, more important than in this, and in application to no enterprise can it be said with more emphatic truth,

Dimidium facti qui cæpit habet. We attribute much of the dislike for critical investigation, which disgraces our educated clergy, to the durable impressions left upon their minds by the first coup-d’æil of the languages of Scripture. Such of our readers as are acquainted with the elder Christian writers upon oriental

grammar, need not be told what sort of a coup-d'ail their works, for the most part, are likely to present. With some conspicuous exceptions, they are marred by two great faults; great, we mean, in reference to their effect upon the learner's taste and fancy. The first is an overstrained attempt to reduce the phenomena of eastern languages to the technical forms of Greek and Latin grammar. The other is a total want of taste, if not a fondness for repulsive barbarisms, in their terminology. These, in themselves, may be little things, but their effects are great, as may be seen in the history of Hebrew learning since the revival of letters. During the former portion of that period, this branch of learning was confined, almost ex

« AnteriorContinuar »