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The thing that is most wanted is personal service. The missionary work is still, by the churches, deemed, in comparison of the ministry at home, a low service. I know I shall be told, that this is not true, that it is very much esteemed and praised. That it is very much praised is true, and it cannot be the meaning of your preacher, that he is not sufficiently praised; but praises are very easily bestowed: if the service were really esteemed by the churches and ministers, a greater number of experienced men would enter into it. If it were really thought to be preferment to become a Missionary; we should have many more candidates from men esteemed in the churches than we have. Those whom the churches look up to, are thought to do great things, if they become members of a deputation, to go abroad, and forthwith come back again; or, as to some, if they will condescend to become Directors, instead of Missionaries. And so the truth comes to be, that there are nearly as many directors as missionaries; as many generals as soldiers in this spiritual warfare. I solemnly avow the highest respect for individuals, who are directors, and for those who have been members of deputations, whilst I speak of the subject generally. The men of eminence in the churches cling to home, and now and then preach a missionary sermon, and the churches laud them for it, and they laud the churches for their liberality; and all parties devolve the actual labour, and the conflict, in foreign lands, on the inexperienced. When chaplains, and ministers, and bishops are wanted for India, with a good income, and a pension, after a limited service, you will find men of standing in the churches come forward; and you will find eminently good men, who will undertake deputations, and become superintendants for a time; but none of these will undertake the hard and everlasting duty abroad, which is expected of the Missionary; were it duly esteemed, no discomforts nor difficulties would prevent men from engaging in it; for if fear, or the love of ease, prevent men engaging in a high and honourable calling, then is the charge of coward and sluggard justly applicable. To convince, I must speak what I conceive to be plain truths.
My affirmation is, that generally the churches of this land still consider the missionary work, in comparison of the ministry at home, a low work; and I ground the affirmation on the fact, that so few men of experience and eminence engage in it : but if they who should naturally engage in it, assert that they consider it a high and honourable work, really superior to them, and that they must devolve it on the young and inexperienced; then do I say, they trifle and mock the subject, and expose it to the scorn of the enemy; and what is worse, they, by consequence, mock Him, whose the work is. I despise not the young and the inexperienced; for who was not once young and inexperienced ? nor do I affirm, that Heaven cannot by these perform the work to be effected; but I lament the apathy, and, I was going to say, selfishness of those churches that devolve the most dangerous and difficult part of their Lord's service on those that are, humanly speaking, least qualified for it, and retain the most highly gifted men at home. In this, indeed, (although not a rule to us,) it may be, the hand of God is eventually to be seen, that he may stain the pride of human glory; and manifest more illustriously the power of his Gospel, totally irrespective of the vessels which convey it to the nations.
I have spoken hitherto only of the bearers of this treasure; and I would not have them identified with the treasure itself. Some say, that “ preaching" is the great instrument of converting the nations ; of course, they must mean preaching the Gospel; but it is often so read and understood, as if the emphasis were on preaching ; whereas, I believe that the great, the only instrument, in the hands of God's Holy Spirit for regenerating the nations, is Christ's Gospel; and preaching, in the modern sense of that word, is a mere circumstance of no importance whatever. The instrument is the sublime, and awful, and soul-saving truths of the glorious Gospel of the ever-blessed God, even our Saviour Jesus Christ, conveyed to the human mind,—to the understanding and conscience, and affections,-in any way, whether by public preaching, or private conversation, or by collegiate
instruction, or in schools; whether orally, or by the press, matters not. In different places, different means are to be employed, as circumstances direct, and as human governments do, or do not interfere. And it is not wise to set up one mode of communicating divine truth against another, and to insist upon that one to the exclusion of others; but to let them all co-operate : the family, the school, the college, the press, and the pulpit are all so many different ways of conveying the truths of the Gospel to the mind; these are the mere channels through which the waters of life are conveyed; some are more easily employed in one place, and others in another. Happily in this land, they are all employed with assiduity, and great success; and it is difficult to say how much is owing to one, and how much to another. The Bible, and tracts, and schools, and colleges, and old pious books, periodical religious pamphlets, convince, and convert, and edify, and reprove, and console, perhaps in as great a degree as the pulpit. I lay stress upon this part of the subject, because these first named means are almost the only means that can be employed in some new missions. Foreigners rarely make good preachers, and books go where preachers cannot; and in different periods of the church, the enlargement of its limits, and the revival of it when dead, have been in a great degree effected by books. Paul's letters have done more for the church than all his preaching. But I am not putting down preaching, only endeavouring to put it in its right place. And I desire, that the Christian churches in this land will not despair of Eastern Asia, because Englishmen cannot run through China and Japan preaching in their cities and villages. Though this means cannot now be used to make known the Gospel, let not those means that may be used be neglected. The admirable Luther employed, in his own person, the three great channels of conveyance—the press, the college, and the pulpit. He wrote and scattered widely his pestiferous tracts (as they were called); he taught theology to the students at Wittemberg, and lie was an assiduous preacher in the town. Let the churches send forth such men as
they would find most useful at home, and they will generally be most useful abroad. Not very eccentric men, but steady, prudent, holy, zealous, humble men; and let these men employ as many of the means that have been useful here, in this land, as they can, according to the peculiarity of circumstances, wherever they may be. And let the churches at homne minister willingly to their necessities, and pray devoutly and fervently for them, and for the descent of the Holy Spirit in copious showers, to cause the seed sown to take root and bring forth abundantly.
I said, let the churches minister willingly to the necessities of their Lord's servants abroad. Whatever is done in this cause, should be done willingly, and from right principles, because it is felt to be a duty, and not as a meritorious work, nor as a charity extorted by persuasion, or importunity. Pecuniary resources are essential to foreign missions, under the existing dispensation of Divine Proridence, and pecuniary aid, or the obtaining of it, are not to be despised; but at the same time it is the least and lowest part of the whole concern; nor should it be sought by any unholy, unchristian contrivances; not by flattery, nor by appeals to the passions, the vanity, or the self-complacency of the human mind. We can never spread Christianity in the world by any unchristian trickery to obtain pecuniary resources. I am of opinion, the necessary resources will always follow the right sort of men, and the right sort of men it is not in the power of money to procure. We shall not make the nations renounce lies, vanity, and unprofitable things, but by truth, simplicity and real godliness, which is profitable for all things ;, for the life that now is, as well as for that which is to come.
I trust this audience will forgive the freedom of these remarks, as they are given, although with freedom, not with disrespect.
And finally, from the lies and vanities which so generally prevail in this apostate world, let us ever raise our hearts to the great source of all truth, and the fountain of real bliss. The cause of Christian missions is the cause of God; men are in it but feeble instruments; important,
indeed, in his hand, but utterly useless, if they affect to act independently of him. Except the Lord build the house, the spiritual temple on earth, they labour in vain that work at it. These are simple truths, which we every day repeat, and which every body acknowledges to be true, and which, practically, we every hour forget. The religious and the moral apparatas, as it is sometimes called, got up in our day, with the design of turning the nations from their lies and their vanities, although it makes a bustle and stir here, in the united kingdom, is, when separated, and sent forth in different directions to the ends of the earth, scarcely perceivable; but were it much, as it is supposed to be, all this moral machinery will be utterly useless, unless the hand of Deity guide it; unless the Divine Redeemer recognise it; unless the Holy Spirit's influences descend upon it. And here we have no occasion to be discouraged; we have reason to hope that this guidance, and recognition, and these influences will all be granted; for our endeavours are directed to what God has declared shall one day take place. We trope, with simplicity and humility, that we are workers together with him. We, the several Missionary Societies of this land, never imagine, that by our handful of generally feeble and despised Missionaries, we shall be able to change the religious and superstitious opinions of hundreds of millions of human beings, intrenched as they are with reverence for their fathers, and surrounded by the rust of antiquity, and possessing, as they do, sages, and learning, and cleverer men, than any of the Missionaries or most of their supporters; and pampered, as many of them are, by all the luxuries and delicacies of life; rich, and increased in goods, and standing in need of nothing, of a worldly nature, from us. I say, we affect not, by any power possessed by Missionaries or Missionary Societies, to re-model nations. But we are assured it is God's design, that false religions shall one day give place to true religion; that the worship of idols shall be exchanged for the worship of himself; that the spirit of delusion in the world the Lord shall consume, with the spirit of his mouth-with the blessed Gospel with which his mouth has revealed. It is not man, but