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small society of Christians, called Moravians, seem to have made benevolent efforts for the rest of the nations, pretty much the business of their lives ;*. but the more spiritual and most devoted Christians of other Protestant Churches, have as yet done scarcely any thing beyond the limits of their respective civil governments.
I am very well aware of the difficulty of doing good to a fellow-creature, whose heart is under the influence of Satan, the great enemy of man; whose heart is itself enmity against God, and who does not love his neighbour, but himself only. I am not ignorant of the difficulties which the selfishness, and the animosities of ambitious Rulers of nations; and the avarice, and lust, and irregularities of foreign visitors, have created and thrown in the way of benevolent efforts for the rest of mankind. And difficulties also arising from things not criminal, as distance of place, insalubrious climates, differences of language, and of all the habitudes of life.
The difficulties are, indeed, many—they are not denied; but it is maintained, that they are not insurmountable; that duty is generally difficult, and not to be neglected because difficult. Difficulties, moreover, give way before sincerity and perseverance in the use of means. Heaven's blessing, and Heaven's help, are sent down on men who attempt honestly and humbly to perform a duty. And it should be observed, that benevolent efforts are so rare in the world, people cannot be all at once convinced that professions of benevolent design are sincere. When the late Dr. Milne, a Missionary to the Chinese, first opened gratuitous schools for Chinese youths, the parents suspected he had some bad design, cloaked over with the pretext of benevolence, and they hesitated to allow their children to attend and receive instruction; but patient perseverance, and the non-appearance of any malevolent tendency, gradually convinced them that the design was good, and that the foreign missionary was really a benevolent man; and they now
* Although the writer considers the brethren amiable and useful, and worthy of sympathy and aid; he yet thinks their discipline not fitted for general adoption.
send their children with confidence, and from the villages come and solicit the establishment of new schools. The human understanding is, indeed, very much blinded, and the human heart is very hard; but still the light of truth can be, though dimly, distinguished and ascertained, and kindness can soften, and grace can melt the heart. The truth is, benevolence has so rarely led men to foreign climes from the nations of Christendom, that the rest of the nations have a right to be suspicious of them; but the real Christians have no good reason to infer, that because avarice, ambition, and other crimes that might be named, are unwelcome visitors in pagan lands, that, therefore, unfeigned benevolence will, when really ascertained, be likewise unwelcome. However, it will require time to enable the nations to see and test the reality of professed benevolence. But,
There is another view of the subject which must be taken, and which makes Christian Missions binding on the churches, whatever the difficulties may be, or whatever the reception given them may be. According to divine revela tion, the whole world of human beings is guilty before God, and justly subject to a penalty greater than human language can describe. From the Court of Heaven, a pardon is proclaimed to every one that confesses his guilt and renounces his crimes. Of the way that this pardon has been procured, it is not now necessary to speak. The Divine Redeemer came from heaven and proclaimed this pardon to the nation of the Jews, and left a standing order to all who accepted of it themselves, to proclaim it to others. If I be asked why he did not himself visit every land, and proclaim the good tidings ?-I confess my ignorance; I do not know why Heaven chooses to make one man the medium of temporal and spiritual good to another; but I do know that such questions, proceeding from a weak and wicked creature, and disputing the goodness and justice of God, indicate a presumptuous and impious spirit. The commandments of a father are not to be disobeyed and neglected, because an infant child cannot discern their fitness. Much less, may the commandments of the eternal
and all-wise God be neglected and disobeyed, till a creature but of yesterday, and who knows nothing, shall be satisfied concerning their fitness.
The societies or churches of those who have themselves accepted Heaven's pardon, are bound, by the Saviour's command, to proclaim it to every human being to whom they can obtain access. It does not remain with them to reason about the probability of other guilty rebels receiving it. For that they are not answerable; but they are answerable for the presumption of repressing it, or for neglecting to promulgate it, because there are difficulties attending the performance of their duty.
And what shall we think of their tender mercies, if it were left to their pleasure, whether to tell of Heaven's pardon to a dying fellow-criminal or not, when it shall be known that they could do it and would not? However, I appeal not to the compassion of Christians, in reference to the rest of the nations, but ground my appeal on its being an indispensable duty to send forth heralds of salvation throughout the earth, a duty which no church can innocently omit.
As it would be an absurd proposal for every Christian man or woman, or every family, to quit their country and their home, and go forth to distant parts of our own empire, or to foreign nations, to preach Christ's Gospel; the circumstances of the case suggest the necessity of cooperation, and of an organized system for carrying into effect the duty binding on the churches. A few must give their personal services, and if they have fortunes, devote these also, and go forth, making the Gospel without charge, either to the heathen or to the churches. Some have done so, would that there were many more.
And others have pursued their lawful secular callings, and thereby have been enabled to do the work of evangelists gratuitously; but there are faithful men and women, who neither have property nor occupation, by which they can maintain themselves whilst engaged in the Missionary work, and to supply the wants of these, the churches at home are bound to contribute, according as the Almighty, in the course of his
gracious and righteous Providence, may have enabled them. And each Christian must determine for him or herself in the sight of God, to what extent they shall contribute; I know of no earthly authority that has any right to interfere, or to dictate on this subject. God loveth a cheerful giver to his cause, and I may add, without presumption, that no gift proceeding from vanity, or ostentation, or obtained by importunity or flattery, or that does not proceed from a principle of obedience, and gratitude, and love to God is likely to be acceptable. Who is it that giveth strength to the strong, and wealth to the rich? They that serve God, and they that contribute to his cause in the world, do but give to him of his own, and we dare not praise them and flatter them, if they did give a hundred fold more than they commonly do. And in as much as the sacrifice of those Christians, who remain at home and contribute of their property, is so small, compared with those who give their personal services in foreign parts, the Christians at home ought to lend their aid without solicitation, and rejoice to find opportunities of co-operating with those who actually labour abroad. As the duty is not laid on any individual, by express revelation from Heaven, but falls on the churches in their collective capacity, all ought to feel it; for we are all equally related to our fellow men in remote parts, and are all under equal obligations to our Divine Redeemer. The idea of obligation between Missionaries and Christian contributors, I put entirely out of the case; for they should all serve the Lord Christ, and be anxious to fulfil their duty to their neighbour; but if I were to admit the notion of reciprocal obligation, I would be inclined to say, that there is most on the side of Christian contributors, who are indebted to the men who enable them, by personal services, to aid Christ's cause in the world. However, I will not dwell on such a theme as this.
The nations which have not yet received the religion of Jesus, are very numerous, and their state and circumstances very various; and therefore, the means employed to convey to them divine truth, should be appropriate, and accommodated to their particular circumstances.
The great object of Christian Missions, is to proclaim the mercy of God to guilty creatures-i.e. to preach Christ's Gospel, and with it, the whole of revealed religion:- it is to convey divine truth, as revealed in the Sacred Scriptures, to the human mind. Now, the means of doing this are not all equally applicable in all cases; but yet some means may be used in
every In the united kingdom, where Christianity has long been introduced, and where the people generally receive the fundamental truths of the existence of one great Supreme God, the creator, preserver, and final judge of men, and where Christian teachers can convey instruction in their mother tongue, public preaching is a very efficient means of conveying divine truth to the human mind.
But, in a newly occupied region, where Christianity is unknown, and where there are no admitted truths on which to build a superstructure of reproof, advice, or consolation; and where the teacher is a foreign Missionary, and speaks but imperfectly the language of the people to be instructed; this practice of public preaching does not apply so well. Schools and conversations are more appropriate means; or some institution of a collegiate nature, where native students may be kept for years together, and receive daily instruction in Christian principles, that they may subsequently go forth and teach their own people, whose opinions and prejudices, and errors, and vices, they are more familiarly acquainted with, and can speak more pointedly to, than most foreign missionaries ever can.
And there are some nations in which the governments will not allow the public preaching of foreigners, and where more private means of conveying the Gospel to men's understandings and hearts must be employed.
Further, in countries where letters are known and books abound, and where there exists a taste for reading, the press is a most efficient means of proclaiming the Gospel; but it is one which does not apply to unlettered and ignorant tribes of men. To China, Japan, Corea, Loo-choo, and Cochinchina, in all of which places the Chinese language is read, translations of the Sacred Scriptures, and the