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thing more humane than human nature ever attains to, without Christianity. Were Greece and Rome civilized before they were christianized ? It is the universal opinion that they were. But did their civilization elevate them even to pure deism, as it is called, and drive away their dumb idols ! I believe there is no evidence that it did ; nor has civilization done so in India or China; ncr does past experience authorize the hope that civilization will ever overthrow idolatry, or turn men from Satan and demons, and lying vanities, and foolish superstitions, to the living and true God. It is idle in some advocates of Missions, and others. not altogether hostile to them, to cry out, “ First civilize, and then christianize; for civilization may, and does exist without Christianity;" it has existed, and does at this day exist, with the most gross and vulgar idolatry. It is revealed religion alone, whether as in the Jewish dispensation, or under the Christian system, or that partly derived from both, viz. Mahomedanism, that has ever overthrown idolatry. Art, and science, and civilization, never have, by themselves, turned men from superstitious idolatry to the worship of God. Not to refer to the overthrow of idolatry in the ancient European pagan world, which was effected by Christianity; the existing case of the uncivi. lized, illiterate, South Sea Islands, having cast their idols to the moles and the bats, whilst civilized China, with all its ancient and modern literature, retains them, is very strongly in point to prove our doctrine. In China, there is not a street, nor a shop, nor a palace, nor a bovel, nor a college, nor a poor fisherman's boat, that has not an idol; a carved image of wood, or a porcelain goddess, or a molten divinity of clay, or a literary god of bronze, or a stone idol cut by the mason, or a rude unfashioned piece of rock. The literary disciples of Confucius, who doubt the existence of demons, and who deny a future state in which the human spirit either enjoys or suffers, still kneel down to the image of their master, or worship a scroll with the shadow of a man, and so seem, however paradoxical it may appear, a sort of idolatrous atheists; but to the most High God, who
created the universe, the Lord of heaven and earth,-so partial is the exception, it may safely be affirmed, no altar is erected in China or in Corea, in Japan or Cochinchina. And together with their false gods, there goes along an immense host of superstitious usages, and vain conceits, and false hopes, and false fears; and to support the one, and to allay the other, an innumerable multitude of things that cannot profit, are invented and practised. The minute detail of these fooleries may amuse curiosity, but cannot be of any material use. It is a condition of human nature to be deeply lamented, and the more that man is restored to the knowledge and the image of God, the more he will lament it. Men who possess the Christian soul of Paul, will feel their spirits stirred in them, when they behold cities and nations wholly given to idolatry; but the mere man of this world, or the well-educated and scientific sceptic, in India or China, sees nothing to lament in it; nor, to remove this idolatry, or elevate the condition of the human soul, does he consider an object worthy of his attention or care.
For it is not the idolaters alone who inherit from their fathers lies, vanity, and opinions which cannot profit; these are often found even after idolatry has been thrown aside. False opinions concerning the Divine Being and his moral government assume, by the influence of the spirit of delusion, an endless variety of forms, which, if left to themselves, become, in every succeeding generation, more rivetted in the human mind, by the veneration which we are taught to have for our fathers. That we should follow our fathers, is a doctrine sometimes inculcated by Christian advocates; but when transported to the Missionary in Pagan lands, where it is also inculcated, it makes directly against his Christianity.
“ You conceited young man," said an aged Chinese father, to his now Christian son, “ do you think yourself wiser than your father, and wiser than the emperor, and all the mandarins? Begone, thou fool, and adhere to the religion of thy fathers, who were wiser and more ancient, and
had more sages sprung up amongst them in this thy native and heaven-favoured land, than all the Europeans from whence this new religion came."
The young man, however, who was situated, in respect of Judea, at the ends of the earth, was convinced that his father, and his father's fathers, had for many centuries inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit, and he remained firm to his Christianity, and was kind to his aged father, and contributed to the old man's comfort and ease, mourning only for the hardness of his heart, that would not, whilst advocating the rights of a father on earth, submit to our Almighty Father in heaven. The prophesy of our text was fulfilled, as it had been in millions of instances before, and as it will continue to be till the end of time. For, as we observed in the second place, it is certain, because,
II. God has said it-or as the scripture phrase is, He hath promised it. The nations shall abandon their dumb idols, their lies, vanities, and useless superstitions. This prophesy has been gradually fulfilling in every age since Jeremiah lived. Nations the most powerful, and amongst the most ancient, have relinquished their beloved idols, and abandoned their priests and their sorcerers, and the religion of their fathers; and why may not those that yet remain idolatrous be hereafter converted ? Has the Gospel lost its power is the Lord's arm shortened, that he cannot save? Cannot the Holy Spirit of God quicken those that are dead in trespasses and sins ? These questions we put to the Christians. To the sceptic, we maintain that the nature of man is substantially the same all over the world; and since revealed religion has produced certain effects, wherever it has been made fully known, it is fair to expect similar effects from it in future. But to the Christian, we adhere to the ground given us in our text; the divine promise.
By the mouth of his holy prophet here, and by various prophets in other parts of the Sacred Pages, we are assured
the Gentiles shall come from the ends of the earth, and renounce their idols, which their fathers had worshipped, and the lies and the vanities to which they had devoted themselves. Men may bring forward, in proud array, a thousand difficulties, and scare us with tales of Indian caste, and Asiatic unchangeableness, and magnify a million-fold, the real difficulties. The Christian knows that God is almighty, and possesses infinite resources; and human beings all round the world are his creatures, and his word is faithful and true, and never has, nor ever will fail of being accomplished; and therefore the nations shall come from the ends of the earth, and abandon their idols. The Lord God omnipotent reigneth, and his kingdom ruleth over all. His almighty power can change the hearts of kings and rulers, can level mountains and raise vallies; can make all his mountains a way, and cause his high ways to be exalted. And then willing converts shall come from far; and lo! these from the north and from the west, and those from « the land of Sinim,” which last name some interpret of Sina, or China.
But if the Almighty has promised the consummation you anticipate, (says an objector,) no doubt he will himself accomplish it; he does not require man's help. We know well that Heaven can, by a miracle, convert the nations, and it will never be done till he does effect it in a miraculous manner.'
To this we answer, that if by a "miraculous manner," be intended a change of sentiment and heart, effected without divine truth being conveyed to the understanding and conscience; we deny that such has heretofore been the proceeding of Divine Providence, and therefore it is not to be expected in time future. And we affirm, that in time past, individuals and nations have been turned from their lying vanities, by the truths of Christ's Gospel, addressed in various ways to the understanding and affections of men; and that there is a standing order given by the Redeemer, to continue such means, till all the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord Jesus Christ. We
argue, that the intimation of Heaven's final intention, is a reason why Christian churches should use means; for God is pleased, in the general government of the world, both physical and moral, to use means to effect the thing finally intended. If Heaven had not revealed that the nations should abandon, at some period, the lies and vanities of their fathers; the language of adversaries, who affirm, that Heaven is pleased with all the various forms of idolworship, and that the uncalled for interference of the busy Christian zealots, is a nuisance in the earth, would have had a specious appearance of truth. And certainly there would be little encouragement to use means to effect a change, which, perhaps, Heaven never intended should take place. But as the matter now stands, we know God designs, that eventually the Gentiles from the ends of the earth shall come to him, and shall say-Surely our father's have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit. Shall man make gods ? they shall be astonished at the absurdity, and reject the idols with scorn and abhorrence, in spite of prejudice and caste, and the ancient veneration of their sires. Let the Christian churches, therefore, use diligently scriptural means to convey Christ's Gospel to the Gentiles, even to the ends of the earth.
III. Now, as the church is the human agent in this great work, and must employ the means we were to speak of in the third place, I will give my sentiments concerning it. The church of our Lord Jesus Christ is one to him, and he knows every member of it; but to the human eye, it is made up of many parts. And in this church, this ecclesia, or assembly, as visible to the human eye, there are, it is to be feared, many persons not true members of it; and who can be distinguished, certainly, only by the divine eye of our Redeemer, who is the Head, the President, (if I may so speak,) of this assembly or church. Like a field of corn, it contains good grain, and here and there, mixed among the good grain, some noxious or useless weeds, which the discerning eye of the husbandman can easily distinguish. It is not expedient, whilst growing up, to separate them,