Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

appropriate to the object of our meeting, is temples of the Chinese do not present the contained in Zechariah iv. 6, 7: “Not by same disgusting scenes that are to be found might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, in some other lands; still the thing itself saith the Lord of Hosts. Who art thou, O stands out in the most painful prominence. great mountain ? before Zerubbabel thou -If you would have any distinct conception shalt become a plain.” There are two dis- of the social and moral abominations that tinct topics to which, on an occasion like prevail amongst them, just read again the the present, I would briefly call your atten- first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. tion. The first is, The difficulties attaching There you have a picture from the pencil to our enterprize. Our object is vast and of Inspiration of the debased character of stupendous: there is no doubt, however, if society in those highly civilized nationswe look to the Book of God, that it will be Greece and Rome: suppose every line of accomplished, and we, therefore, address that picture to have become darker and ourselves to it. If we conferred with flesh deeper through an increasing degeneracy and blood, if we sat in the schools of philo- of 1,800 years, and you will be enabled to sophy, or were engaged in the prosecution realize the present condition of the Chinese. of politics and science, we should deem the How shall these be transformed into the object to be fanatical and extravagant. We temples of the Holy Spirit? How shall the look forward to nothing less than the con- pure beam of Gospel-light penetrate an atversion of the whole land of China to the mosphere so gross, so feculent, and foul? Saviour. It is not our wish to make China There is only one other characteristic of as Europe, or even as our own beloved the Chinese, as a people, to which I shall country. The kingdom of God exists, advert specifically, - that is, their conceit indeed, in the midst of us; but how many

and arrogance.

The war, between their millions there are of the inhabitants of our country and our own, has taught them a country who continue aliens from it, and lesson of their own weakness which they strangers to its choicest blessings ! Such is will not speedily forget; but many years the condition of our land after having en- must elapse before they are brought not to joyed for so long a period unequalled Chris- think of themselves more highly than they tian privileges; yet we confidently expect ought to think, even as regards the arts and that the hundreds of millions of China will pursuits of this life. Therefore we may one day become holy to the Lord, and will well wonder, when the Chinese shall be recognise our own agency in the production found sitting, as little children, at the feet of that result

of Jesus, and receiving with meekness the The attainment of our object, great as it engrafted Word. So much for the characis, is to be pursued by an order of means ter of the people among whom we are to adapted to secure specific ends. The cha- labour. Such are the materials we have to racter of the Chinese is to be changed remould and to re-form. Difficult as the through the power of divine truth, and that work is, we address ourselves to it with truth is to be brought in contact with their confidence, knowing that the Gospel is the minds by the labours of the Missionary. wisdom of God and the power of God to While I sometimes endeavour to take in salvation to the Jew and the Gentile, to this way a discriminating survey of the the Englishman and the Chinese. Chinese Mission, my heart is overpowered It must be borne in mind, however, that by the vastness of our project, and becomes the Gospel has to be presented to the Chimore and more ready to fail within me. I nese through the medium of a language see, indeed, some elements of character singularly difficult to be acquired. We must among the people that would lead us to ex- not have any men for China who are not pect a great turning of them to the Lord.

prepared to devote their whole lifetime to But there are other elements that repel the it; for years not a few must elapse before rising expectation, and send us in more ear- they can acquire a thorough knowledge of miest prayer to the Throne of divine power the tongue. It will not suffice for a Misand grace. There is among the people a sionary to be able to speak with some freespiritual apathy, which is most distressing. dom on common topics, and to write an or

– True it is that their own systems have dinary composition: he must acquire an little hold upon their minds; yet one is con- ability to speak and write like a native. The stantly tempted to explain that fact by re- Bible is the sword of the Spirit in the lanferring it to the earthliness of their nature. guage of the people to whom it is sent, as Men are prone everywhere to cleave to the it is the sword of the Spirit at home. Three dust; but of all men the Chinese are the versions of the entire Scriptures have been most absorbed in those things that perish already completed by Morrison, Marshman, in the using

and Gutzlaff, and å thorough revision of There is, again, a sensuality amongst the these is now going on by one who has been people which is most disheartening. This is in the field long enough to engage in it. an invariable adjunct of idolatry. The One other circumstance deserves atten

tion when we are attempting to estimate the the Plenipotentiary of our Sovereign had difficulties of the Chinese Mission. Rome had introduced into the second treaty which is there, strong and active; the adherents he formed with the Chinese,-an article of Popery are reckoned by hundreds of which was in nowise designed to subserve thousands; and the altered relations to the progress of the Gospel,- it was stipu. China since the peace of 1842, and the sub- lated that the subjects of the Crown of sequent Edict of Toleration which was issued Great Britain should have an equal right to in 1844, have infused new life into all their all the privileges that might be conceded proceedings. As many Missionaries (if not by the Emperor of China to the subjects of more) have been added to China, during other nations. Thus the blind were led in the past five years, of the various orders of a way they knew not, and all the rights the Roman Catholics, as of all the Protes- that became the property of the Roman tant Societies of England and America to- Catholic Missionaries, belonged to the gether. I have no sympathy with that spu- agents of the different Protestant Societies rious liberality which would regard Popery of England. To what influence, but that as only a somewhat corrupted system of of the Spirit of God, should we ascribe the Christianity: it is the mystery of iniquity, largeness of heart with which the Emperor the abomination that maketh desolate, the of China repealed all the penal statutes enperversion of the Gospel of Christ, and, in acted by his predecessors against the proits spread and growth among the Chinese, fessors of Christianity ? Surely this came we shall have this, in addition to all other from the Lord of Hosts, who is excellent in difficulties that oppose our one great object counsel, and wonderful in working. A great -the conversion of the people by leading and effectual door has been opened to us. them to the truth as it is in Jesus.

We have entered it, and the Word of the We cannot, however, allow ourselves to Lord has had free course, despite all oppobe discouraged-great as the mountain is, sition. it will become a plain : “ Not by might, Viewing our difficulties and encouragenor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the ments, what is the amount and manner of Lord of Hosts." This, the second point to action which the occasion demands of us? which our notice is directed ly the oracle What does it require from the churches of of the prophet, “We believe, therefore do our country, and especially from the LonWe speak,” giving vent, that is, not only to don Missionary Society? What a calling, the overflowing conviction of our hearts, brethren, is ours, to be the ministers of but feeling assured that the word of the salvation to the tens of millions of these Gospel shall not become void. The Father people, that through our mercy they likereignetb, the Saviour governeth, the scheme wise may obtain mercy. The noblest amof Providence is one—all its events are bition is to win souls. The triumphs of bending to one end- the lines of divine successful politicians are worthless compurpose and action are converging to one pared with the glory of a minister who is point: they must meet, ere long; and then instrumental in saving souls; and the joy shall be realised that condition of the earth, of the Missionary is the same thing, but in which it shall be filled with the glory of greater in degree. If I had the whole conGod.

stituency of the London Missionary Society The more closely we examine the series before me this evening, I would say to of transactions which have resulted in giv- them-Discharge your calling as the sering us our present position in China, the vice demands to be discharged. You have more are we compelled to pause at every selected your posts in China; make them successive stage, and to say, “ This is the strong and complete. Look out among finger of God." First, there was the peace you men whom the Directors may appoint of 1842. Its object was simply and solely to this office. In the name of China, we the interests of commerce; and, as such, ask you to send forth more labourers into the individual on whom devolved, in Pro- its plenteous harvest; and, in the name of vidence, the honour to conclude it, scrupled the Directors, I entreat you to furnish the not to tell us, that, if the movements of means. It has been said, that they are your Missionaries interfered with its work- indifferent to the claims of China. I have ings, he would deport them from the coun- been about, north and south, among the try altogether. 'I'hen came the Edict of Churches, pleading for China ; and I state Toleration, which was applied for by the the truth when I say, that I have nowhere Ambassador of France, solely with a view found such anxiety for the establishment to the advantage of the Roman Catholics. and prosecution of the Chinese Mission as It was, moreover, worded so ambiguously, at the Board of Directors. They sympathongh undesignedly, I believe, on the part thise with our brethren who are this evenof the Chinese Statesman who drew it up, ing to be commended, in this vast assembly, that its provisions might have been mono- to the grace of God, for the work to which polised by Rome; but in an article which we trust He has called them. One of their first feelings, when they find themselves in tinations of the Missionaries, said- If we China, will be,“ What are we among so rightly consider the circumstances under many ?” I would hope, that, by the time which we now meet in this place, they are these brethren arrive in China, there will calculated to awaken in our hearts mingled be news from the churches, telling them feelings of sorrowand of joy-of deep sorrow, that there are others ready to depart thither that we are assembled together, for the first to strengthen them in their difficult under- time in our lives, to witness the departure taking. But perhaps there are men here of five Protestant Missionaries to the vast to-night who will go,-men who are young Empire of China. Would to God that in the ministry and students for it,- men of these scenes had been familiar in our foreducation, energy, and talent. I commend

mer years ! But with thankfulness and joy the subject to your attentive and prayerful ought we to meet, on this occasion, to see consideration. You should weigh the dif- our brethren giving themselves to this ficulties and the encouragements. This service under circumstances so favourable, only will I say, that on the face of the and promises so auspicious. Our five Misglobe there is not found a field so vast in sionary Friends, who are now going forth, which you can spend and be spent in the are destined to two important stations in service of our Lord: there is no sphere so the Empire of China-one, indeed, British great, and that will afford an equal develop- Territory-the Island of Hong-Kong; and ment for all the powers of mind with which the other the vast commercial City of Christ may have endowed you. Is it hard Shanghae, where facilities for preaching to leave kindred and country? You are the Gospel and teaching the people are the servants of Him who came from the superabundant. Our brethren are about to heights of glory to our earth. Do you take different important departments of shrink from the fatigues and toils you must Missionary labour. They are all to be undertake ? Oh, think of those words in employed as teachers of the Gospel of Gethsemane, “ Father, if it be possible let Christ'; but some of them are more espethis cup pass from me." Oh, that the Spirit cially and exclusively destined to the work of the Lord of Hosts would move upon the of the ministry. One of their number is Churches of this country, and bless our appointed to a service, in some respects labours abroad, according to the desires of even more momentous than that of preachour hearts!

ing the Gospel, when we consider the vast I cannot help wishing at this moment importance which must be attached to the that the time of my embarkation for China labours of the Press, among the hundreds was as near at hand as yours, but I shall of millions to whom the living voice of follow you at no distant time. With one or British Teachers can never extend. In two I have already been associated there, relation to that friend, the remarks of Dr. and I shall be most happy to resume our Legge must indeed afford strong enconlabours together. Brethren, I congratulate ragement. you all! I thank God that he has counted Our brother, who is appointed to the sayou faithful, and called you unto the work perintendence of the Missionary Press, espe. of this ministration. The enterprise to cially in printing the revised edition of the which we are pledged is indeed difficult Chinese Bible, is a man marked by the and arduous. But faithful is He who has Providence of God for this peculiar service. promised. As we live near to God, we Moved by an impulse, which he could not shall be strong in him, and in the power of well understand, about three years ago, his might. May he uphold you! I pray employed as he then was in useful secular for you. I ask all our friends here to pray pursuits, he engaged for the first time in for you, that, be our course in China longer the study of the strange symbolic charac. or shorter, brightened with success or filled ters of the Chinese Language, and with with disappointment, there may be nothing scarcely more than two hours a day from in it which shall cause the Churches of this that time to the present at his command, land to be ashamed of us as their Missiona- without the help of any living teacher, and ries and Representatives to the heathen, with a very limited amount of aid as to Oh, that the inscription over our dust, in books, he has acquired the extraordinary whatever place each of us may find a grave, power of reading a Chinese page; so that may be, "He was a Missionary faithful to my friend, Dr, Legge, when he first ascerthe Lord !" Amen.

tained this truth, was delighted above mea. The Rev. J. SHERMAN then commended

sure at that triumph of diligence and perthe Missionaries and the cause of China to

severance, by which our brother has fitted himself, under God's Providence, for the

peculiar department to which he is called. The Rev. J. WADDINGTON gave out the This should encourage those young, and 113th hymn.

enterprizing, and devoted minds, who, lookThe Rev. A. TIDMAN, in stating the des- ing towards China, feel that the language

God in prayer.

is a great mountain, yet that nothing is im-
possible when God gives the power.
* Two of our brethren are going forth to
sustain the genius of Christianity by works
of mercy, and, after the example of our
great Master, to teach the Gospel, and to
heal the sick. We have had the most de-
lightful proof that, by the means of men
well versed in surgery and medicine, an
access is secured to the Chinese mind and
to the Chinese house ; and we are thankful
this night to find men of science and skill

-men who could have acquired their for-
tune by industry and application in our own
land-willing to forfeit all secular advan-
tages, and to go forth just with a bare mea-
sure of support, that they may devote their
talents and christian influence to the ser-
vice of Christ among the Gentiles.

I have deemed it right, at the request of my brethren, briefly to state these few facts, that you may feel a deeper interest in our friends, that you may know the men whom you are sending forth, and the work to which they are appointed. It will now be for one of our brethren, in the name of the rest-one who has enjoyed distinguished advantages, first in his native country, and subsequently in Cheshunt College - to give you a few words of christian salutation, and say farewell!

Rev. WILLIAM MUIRHEAD then spoke as follows:- Christian Friends, - Ere we take our leave of our native shores to go to the far-distant land of China, it has been deemed proper that we should lay before you, in brief detail, a few of our 'motives and inducements in adopting this course, Constrained by the love of Christ, and rejoicing, we trust, in the experience and hope of his great salvation, we are this evening gladly willing to act in accordance with his last command. Our resolution as Christian Missionaries to China is, to show sympathy and concern for its perishing millions; and we are animated by the single motive of proclaiming there the Gospel of Christ. We rejoiced in the opening of that vast empire for the purposes of general in tercourse. We admit the propriety of trading with them in articles of commerce, and of acquainting them with European science, literature, and art; but we are disposed to look at a higher end, as the ultimate design of the Providence of God in opening to us that vast and populous region: we conceive it to be altogether with the view of employing christian efforts to promote the glory of Christ and the good of our fellow-men, Our resolution, as Christian Missionaries to China, is to labour in the faith that God has a seed there to serve him, and that we have been called in his providence and grace to that labour. I need not dwell on the first of these topics—the very manner in

which the redeemed are spoken of intimates that the assembly at length to appear before the Lord, as triumphs of his grace, shall be composed of individuals out of “all kindreds and nations, and people and tongues." Yea, we believe there is a specific statement and promise in the Word of God in relation to China.

Finally, before we listen to the affectionate charge which our venerated Father in the Ministry is about to give us, let me say that our resolution as Christian Missionaries to China, is to go in bumble reliance on the divine presence and blessing, and earnestly soliciting your importunate and fervent prayers to God to prosper us in our work. We are deeply impressed, indeed, by the enumeration of the difficulties with which we shall have to contend. They are so great that no human power can overcome them, and we are well nigh overwhelmed with the prospect. It is only in the promises and encouragements of the Word of God that we find the slightest relief. While we go forward in the fulfilment of the last command of our blessed Lord, “Go ye forth into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature,” we are animated by the gracious promise annexed, “Lo! I am with you always, even to the end of the world.-My grace is sufficient for thee; I will perfect my strength in thy weakness.” And now, dear Christian Friends! bidding you all a long, long fare. well, we desire that you will fally bear in mind the relation in which we stand to you, as the members of Christ; we go forward as your representatives and your messengers, if it please the Lord that our feet shall tread the land of Sinim, to circulate the precious tidings of redeeming love. We go because Christ and his Church have commanded us; and we earnestly desire that you will make us the burden of your prayers at the throne of grace. Once more, farewell! till we meet either in this world, or that which is to come farewell!

The Rev. Dr. LEIFCHILD then addressed the Missionaries, and said,- As one of the early friends of the London Missionary Society, I feel a particular interest in reference to China. I was a fellow-student with the first Missionary whom you sent forth to the Celestial Empire. Robert Morrison was a student at the same time with myself in the Hoxton Academy. He was a man just fitted for the work to which he devoted himself, of great physical energy, and remarkable aptitude for learning languages, full of zeal and ardent piety. I well remember his parting address to us from these words of the Apostle : “ Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your

prayers to God for me." Yes! Robert Mor

sponsibility thrown upon us by this unesrisun, whose name must ever be interwoven pected opening, and especially upon our with China as the introducer of the Sacred Society, whom God has delighted to honour Scriptures into the language of that coun- by making it the pioneer in the enterprise. try, and as laying the grand basis for all But, alas! how little has hitherto been future efforts for its evangelization,-- was done! We have as yet but ten Missionaries the first link in that chain to which another there; and these dear brethren will make and another has been added, without ever but fifteen, whereas there ought to be at having been broken, which unites China in least 100. Some have blamed the Directors the closest bonds with the London Mission- for this, as if they could have kindled a ary Society. How wonderful, as you have spirit in the country necessary to meet the heard to-night, is the present state of China, demands. What more could they have when compared with the period to which I done than to state the case, urge the appeal, have adverted.

and apply the funds, as fast as they were We ought frequently to contrast these obtained, to the operations of the Society in periods, in order to recognize the extraor- that direction? This they have done; are dinary movements of Providence, and the doing; as this night witnesses. We who great work which, as a consequence, is now blame them,-what have we done? The before us.

We have done so already this failure is with us, as we have been told tonight, and we ought to do so again and night with great plainness, and great fideagain. Who can fail to recollect how that lity, but with great truth. Perhaps, howimmense portion of the globe, for 3,000 ever, one cause might be found in the years, had been shut out from the light of numerous other things which have recently the True Religion, and the intercourse of been pressing on our attention, and enforcEuropean Society, though not from the light ing their claims; together with the deep of science, literature, and social order. It interest excited in the affairs of Tahiti. We was like a distinct and different world by cannot do all things at once; but, thank itself; and long after Morrison went, and God! though not progressing so fast as we some Missionaries had joined him, it re- could wish, we are advancing surely. Too mained in the same isolated and exclusive much haste, by sending improper persons, condition. But we all know the patience, might injure us. The brethren before us and prudence, and untiring perseverance,

are the men, God bas found them out; with which he laboured to accomplish his God bas prepared them; and to God be the great work,—the translation of the Scrip- praise! Go forth, dear brethren, with faith tures, and other religious books, into the and hope; go forth, brethren and sisters in language of that country; and how he rose Christ, carrying with you the sympathy and to a post of honour, and to universal esteem. prayers of this great congregation. We

But we have lived to see, as if by magic, a will familiarise your names to us. We will total alteration take place in the state of watch for the tidings of your arrival, and that country:

The temple of Janus has the accounts of your labours; we will strive been shut, the gates of commerce have to raise funds for all your necessary supbeen thrown open, and prejudice against plies; and still more, endeavour to reinforce foreigners, accumulating for ages, has sud- your ranks, when your work presses heavily denly melted away, like the thick dews of upon you. Assure yourselves that this the East, under the powerful beams of the scene will never be forgotten by any one san; and more-as you have heard to-night present at it, nor yourselves, as bearing in -God has moved that one mind, wbich it so prominent a part. Oceans may roll guides the movements of 360,000,000 of between us, but our thoughts will often human minds, to turn round, and invite the meet at this spot, and our prayers unitedly light of revealed truth, and bid it welcome, ascend to the throne of the Heavenly forbidding all obstacles to its progress by the Mercy. The Morrisons and Milnes, who opposition of the natives, and affording have ascended there, may know of what is equal liberty and protection to all its pro- now taking place; and over the ascent of fessed advocates. *Oh! if Morrison could whose spirit to them will they watch with have foreseen this, how would his heart so much eagerness as over yours? Yes, we have bounded for joy! “It is the Lord's enlist in our work the sympathies of both work, and it is marvellous in our eyes!” worlds. Politicians find their ends accom. If this astounding event, and the extraor- plished in the present world; but, where dinary prospect it presents before us, of the theirs terminate, ours only begin; and will progress of Christianity in our world, fail go on till they shall be celebrated in the to impress human minds with devout gra- never-ending songs of blissful saints and titude and admiration, they must be stupidly angels. blind. “It is the Lord's work, and it is This has been a most refreshing meeting. marvellous in our eyes."

The Directors and Officers of the Society We have heard to-night of the vast re- must be animated by it-it shows them the

« FöregåendeFortsätt »