« FöregåendeFortsätt »
ON CHRISTIAN MISSIONS.
“ Indeed, so completely is the scene changed, that the Captain of a vessel, who had known them when in a state of Pagan superstition, happening to enter one of their harbours on a Sabbath-day, concluded that the whole population of the Island was destroyed, as no canoes put off from the shore; nor were there any natives to be seen on the beach to welcome his arrival.”
ON CHRISTIAN MISSIONS.
“ O ye orators and philosophers, who make the civilization of the species your dream! look to Christian Missionaries if you want to see the men who realize it. You may deck the theme with the praises of your unsubstantial eloquence : but these are the men who are to accomplish the business! They are now risking every earthly comfort of existence in the cause: while you sit in silken security, and pour upon their holy undertaking the cruelty of your scorn.'
I have often had occasion to observe, that characters which are essentially different from each other, have often some qualities of affinity, which bring them together in closest union. They walk in contrary paths, but eventually come to that point where they meet; and notwithstanding the repugnance they may feel to an intimate association in all the windings and doublings of their speculative belief, yet when they come into contact, they breathe the same spirit, and display the same moral dispositions. Hence the avowed sceptic, and the Ultra-Calvinist, denominated, in the current language of the Christian church, the Antinomian, are sometimes seen in most intimate fellowship with each other; and though a superficial observer may often wonder, how men, who are as antipodes to each other, can derive any mental gratification from social intercourse; yet if we analize their character we shall perceive, that in some of its prominent features they betray a strong family likeness. The sceptic, it is true, rejects, as fabulous, that revelation of mercy
which the Antinomian embraces 'as divine, and pours ineffable contempt on those mysterious doctrines, on which he meditates with joy unspeakable ; but then they both agree in speaking lightly of sin—in setting aside the authority of the supreme Legislatorthey both avow that a personal meetness for the enjoyment of the heavenly state is not only unattainable, but chimerical; and when the moral condition of man is the subject of discussion, they will resolve it into the decree of fate, which renders any change, however desirable,
absolutely impracticable. And though the sceptic treats with indecent levity the scriptural representations of future misery, which the Antinomian admits to be infallibly čertain; yet they both oppose, as far as their influence extends, the efforts which the wise and the good are making to convey a knowledge of the way of salvation to the perishing inhabitants of a dying world. The sceptic is the open and avowed enemy of Christianity, who points the shock of his battery against her bulwarks in the open plain, and under the broad day-light of public observation; while the Antinomian is the secret yet malignant foe, who has gained an entrance within her fortresses, where he sows the seed of dissension amongst her ranks—carries on a system of internal warfare—and under the pretence of keeping the faith pure, imbues it with his own proud and misanthrophic spirit, till it disdains to pity the contrite, or relieve the outcast and forlorn.
I was informed by my friend, Mr. Llewellin, that Mr. Gordon, who has been several times introduced to the notice of my readers, had thrown off that external respect which he once paid to the public institutions of religion, and boldly avowed himself an infidel. He sometimes, on a Sabbath evening, attended a place of worship merely to pass away dull time, or to form some new acquaintance; and it was on one of these occasions he was first introduced to Mr. Newton. Mr. Newton was the son of an eminent Solicitor in the city, who had occupied a very prominent station in the religious world for many years, but whose mind unhappily had been deeply tinctured with the Antinomian spirit of the aġe. That the son should imbibe the spirit of his father may be considered as perfectly natural; but in him there was no holy principle to soften its asperity, or to check its violence; and being fond of debate, and of a warm mental temperature, he would often exhibit it, in its native form and character. These two young men of the same age, and the same rank in life, were now become almost inseparable companions; and though Mr. Llewellin would have receded altogether from their society, if he had followed the bent of his inclination, yet as he possessed great influence over them, he kept up a friendly intercourse, that he might avail himself of the opportunity which this sometimes afforded him of doing them some moral good.
They had accompanied us on the preceding Sabbath evening to a chapel in the city), where we heard the Rev. Mr. preach a most excellent sermon from the following words—“ And he said unto them, Go
into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Mark xvi. 15, 16. After a few introductory observations, he advanced three propositions from his text, which he supported with considerable effect:
I. Christianity is admirably adapted to become a universal religion,
II. It is the duty of all, cordially to co-operate in its universal propagation.
III. Those who receive it shall be saved ; but those who reject it shall perish.
After the service was over we separated, without making any allusion to the sermon; but in the course of the ensuing week, when Mr. Gordon and his friend spent an evening with us, our conversation turned on it.
“I think,” said Mr. Gordon,“ we had a very good sermon the other evening, and one calculated to make all you believers very zealous in the propagation of the Gospel ; but I must confess that I was rather surprized, that he should wish to press the Deist into the service of Christian Missions."
Mr. Newton. “Yes, Sir, and so was I. You Deists ought not to join Christians in conducting the ark of our faith from one nation to another, as that honour belongs exclusively to us; and if I may be allowed to give an opinion, I think that too many display more zeal in this cause than they do knowledge.”
Mr. Lleweliin. “Mr. said, if my memory does not deceive me, that if Deists wish to propagate their own sentiments, they cannot do it more effectually, than by assisting in the propagation of the Gospel, as deism is a tare which grows only in the field where the seed of truth has been previously sown. Can a Deist who possesses the common feelings of humanity, look on the degradation and the miseries of the poor deluded heathen; without wishing to see that system of idolatry
subverted, which enjoins such horrid rites and obscene ceremonies, as we know they practise. But if he consult the page of history he will learn, that the power of reason, of which he boasts, has never been equal to the task of weakening the powers of superstition and idolatry, much less of destroying them. In Greece, where philosophy shone brightest, the people worshipped 30,000 deities, while Jehovah, the Creator of the universe, was the unknown God; and in modern times, India furnishes an instance of a similar kind. Only by the Gospel were the Pagan altars overturned, either in Greece or Rome. Hence a sensible Deist, as an intelligent writer remarks, conscious of the insufficiency of reason to promote his designs, must be a friend to the spreading of the Gospel in Pagan nations; as the experience of all ages has proved, that the Scriptures alone have conveyed the idea of one God to the human mind, and cleared
the gloom of superstition and idolatry. Idolatry with its rites being overthrown, and the idea of one God generally established, then is the time for the Deist with his false philosophy to work, to persuade mankind that this knowledge of the true God is the offspring of the light of nature alone, and that Revelation is of no use. not till after God had revealed his existence, character, and will to man, that philosophy taught him first to pervert, and then to reject Revelation, persuading him he could be wise enough, and regulate his own conduct without it.”
Mr. Gordon. “I know you good people are in the habit of ascribing some most astonishing powers to Christianity, when her doctrines and precepts are fairly and fully exhibited; and ever and anon remind us of its splendid triumphs over the idolatry of Greece and Rome; and though I feel no disposition to attempt to pluck from her brow the laurels she won, when glowing with all the energy and passion of youth ; yet you must confess, that she displays no mighty capabilities in modern times. She talks, it is true, of making new conquests, when it is well known that she cannot keep her present territory without calling in the aid of the civil magistrate, to imprison her potent adversaries; and though she has organized different societies, which have sent forth their agents, yet what spoils has she taken from the