« FöregåendeFortsätt »
spreading the Gospel in opposition to another, but to justify the use of that means to which we are, in China, almost exclusively "shut up:" and I wish to evince that every means of spreading abroad in the world, the report concerning Jesus the Saviour, and making known to the children of men the salvation which is to be found in him, is in reality preaching, or proclaiming the Gospel.
An institution, where teacher and scholar, master and disciple, remain together for some years, is particularly desirable in a mission to a people wholly unacquainted with the history and doctrines of the Bible. It is extremely difficult to reach the understanding and conscience of a very ignorant person in Christendom, as some ministers have testified ;* but how much more difficult is it where the first principle of religion, viz. that a Supreme Being exists, is not recognized or known; then, as Brainerd said, “ There is no foundation to build upon.” How much the Missionary has to teach them before he can tell them any truths, that appear“ good tidings” to them! Just as our Saviour, (Luke xx. 1.) is said to have taught the people in the temple, and preached the Gospel. These were two topics; teaching man the existence and the perfections of the great Creator; and man's duty, that “God is,"--and that he rewards and punishes the children of men, is not preaching the Gospel ; this is not telling the good tidings of salvation through Christ, of mercy and forgiveness to the repenting sinner. Nor will this blessed intimation be esteemed Gospel or good news, by him who knows not God, nor feels that he is a sinner. The disciples of Confucius deny that there is any future existence of separate spirits. Death, they say, is like the extinction of a flame; it is annihilation of the living principle, and if heaven would punish man, there exists nothing after death capable of receiving punishment. Their language affords no term for God Almighty, a Being distinct from, and superior to the heavens and the earth. Their gods are all inferior to the powers of nature, and were formed or brought into existence by Heaven.
* Foster on Popular Ignorance.
But then, if so, it may be said, heaven is equivalent to God. No, the word sometimes appears to approach to the idea of a supreme Being; but when examined into, it denotes only the purer
and more subtle parts of the chaotic mass which ascended to the upper regions, leaving below the grosser parts, which form the earth and water. And yet in a confused manner, heaven and earth are described as two great powers, and man is the third, but over these, there is found no supreme God.
“ God that made the world,” is to them unknown; their language affords no established term that can apply to Him. Now, it must appear plain, even from this slight view of the subject, how little impression a passing discourse, addressed by a despised foreigner, to an ignorant and sometimes a proud and contemptuous audience must make ; and still more so, when it is remembered that the language of the foreigner is probably not very perspicuous, and his knowledge of many of the people's opinions and prejudices not very accurate. I once overheard a man, who had heard me frequently speak concerning Jesus, tell his friend, that Christianity was the same as Buddhism, and he said it with a sneer. He now, I hope, understands the subject better, after hearing me talk about the Gospel for several years. On my quitting China I left him, at his own request, a complete copy of the Sacred Scriptures, that he might read it and lay to heart the parts which he found easy.
What 1 infer from these remarks is, the desirableness of having the same persons around a Christian Teacher for a considerable period of time, that they may attain a full understanding of the Christian Religion; and that they may spread the report amongst their countrymen ; and in such cases as indicate true conversion, they may be employed entirely in disseminating the seed of the word; and thus oral instruction be united with the written word distributed amongst the people.
It appears to me that our Saviour commenced his Mission in this way. He selected twelve disciples or scholars, beside the seventy, and had them always about him to be fully instructed; and their subsequent preachings and writings were the means of radicating the Gospel in the
western world. Our dislike to the religious language of Rome, may lead some to turn away with disgust from the term, “The College of Apostles ;” but this is being offended with mere words, and that without reason. The manner in which our Saviour appeared was very similar to that of the moral philosophers of antiquity; it was similar to that of the Chinese moralist, Confucius,* who also had seventy disciples more closely attached to him: these were ambulatory schools or colleges. The pupils remained with the master till they understood his doctrines, and then they spread them by discourses, or conversations, or books. I am pointing out only a general resemblance, and not affirming that the manner was the same in every particular.
It may be affirmed that lectures given in a chapel or place of meeting, would produce the same effect as I am contending for, in a school or college. To which I answer, if the heathen would assemble regularly and constantly, as Christian societies do, a considerable part of the same effect would be produced; but by no means the whole of it. However, the heathen, who despise the foreigner and his new religion, which would turn them from the religion of their fathers, and call their attention a short time from their business or amusement, will not often attend any place of meeting; and when a few of them can be assembled, the impression is not at all equal to that made on those who are instructed all the day. We have tried both means at Malacca,
andthere is no comparison as to the degree of Christian knowledge obtained by the students, and by the labouring men who come occasionally to hear the evening lecture in the town.
Further, such an institution as that which I am now advocating, is much required for continuing a succession of well-instructed European Christian Teachers to labour in that immense field opened by the nations which use the Chinese language. I have already noticed, that a competent knowledge of some Asiatic languages, is not an easy
* It is remarkable that Confucius also had seventy or seventy-two disciples, more eminent than the rest, whose images are now worshipped 'with his.
or common attainment; I knew four Roman Catholic Missionaries who had been fourteen years in Peking, and could not read a word of Chinese; and I knew an Italian priest, who lived thirty years on the Chinese frontier, as agent for the Missions, who was still more ignorant of the language, for he could neither read nor speak it. Now, to be told by Christians at home, to go and teach, and preach, and convert the heathen, without even adverting to the laborious schooling which a man must undergo before he can either teach or preach, is often disheartening; because there appears a want of consideration and feeling for a poor Missionary's peculiar and difficult circumstances.
He has, at first, no Christian society nor Christian ordinances; and if he reads much in religious European books, to make up for these defective circumstances, his attention is withdrawn from the studies preparatory to Christian usefulness amongst the heathen; and if he does not labour hard at bis pagan studies, years will elapse before he can either teach or preach ; and death may occur before he is of any use at all to the heathen, as a Christian teacher. If, on the other hand, he does fag at the Pagan language, their history and opinions, in order to reason with them, and persuade them concerning the Gospel, he is in danger of becoming barren of religious and Christian affections. Further, he has often an extensive correspondence to keep up with Christian people at home, to write journals and official letters to societies; to keep accounts, and attend to pecuniary details; matters in which he has, probably, never been instructed. And all these things put together, viz. defective means of acquiring the language, opinions, and manners of the people he has to teach; the importunity of those who desire him to shew immediate fruits of his labour; his own anxiety to be useful; the various calls of missionary and domestic management--these all keep his mind so much on the stretch, as to affect bis health and spirits, and it may be, in some of the many deaths we have had, hastened that event. The mental labours and anxieties of Milne were extreme.
To obviate these difficulties, as well as for other purposes;
the Anglo-Chinese College is instituted. There, Missionaries may have every facility for acquiring the language, history, and philosophy of China, without any extraneous cares, till they be competent to teach and to preach Jesus Christ; and by these facilities, their health and lives be preserved, as well as their direct usefulness be greatly accelerated.
We have already remarked, that primitive Societies (or Churches, of Christians were formed on the principle of uniting teachers and disciples, not only to worship together, as some have lately affirmed, but also to be instructed in Christian knowledge; and not only, I believe, for these two ends, but also to raise up and send forth Missionaries. In May, 1823, during your Christian Festival in the metropolis, one of the speakers, (Mr. Fletcher,) whose speech I read in the Atlantic Ocean, made this remark ;
every Christian Church, in proportion as the end of its formation is accomplished, is a Missionary Society; a society established not only for its own edification, but for the enlargement of the Redeemer's kingdom." This is a sentiment which in China I have long entertained, and therefore, have been grieved, sometimes, to see the work of Missions considered by most of the churches, as a work in which they might or might not interest themselves, just as they pleased.
The church at Antioch, to which we have to-day made frequent reference, had several prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon, that was called Niger, “or the black man," and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. These taught the disciples and ministered to the Lord; and some of them, as we have seen, went on a missionary tour. It has long been my wish to form, at the Anglo-Chinese Mission House, and at the college, a central Home beyond the Ganges, for teachers and preachers; from whence some of the number may go forth occasionally on missionary tours, two and two, perhaps an European and a native disciple together; and when they have finished their tour, let them return to refresh their minds and re-establish their health, and attend to studies to fit them for new