Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

3

orderly, and sometimes puts us to do one work sooner than another. Both works may be equally good, but both may not be equally ours. Duty, wisdom, gospel, all demand of us to find our own. That must be finst done, and done alone, if we have ability to do no other. “If any man provide not for his own, and specially for his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." On this principle, those in our own land, destilute of the gospel, become our own and our first work.

The father of a family must provide for his own, because they are bis, and because if he does not, nobody else will. If he neglects that, for the purpose of providing for others whom he may pity, he has utterly mistaken his duty. He may talk what he will, of the expansive and unselfish spirit of the gospel, but he ought to know that it is expansive by order and righteousness and proportion, and not by the dictates of caprice, by pride, or romance, or the dreams of an infidel socialism. The unevangelized souls of our wide West are connected with us by blood, by nation, by all that belongs to civil government, science, arts, and the common interests of " life, liberty, and the pursuit of happi. ness.” If we would provide for the perpetuity of our beloved Republic it becomes us to provide for their intelligence and virtue.

Republicanism, freedom, cannot last long in our country, if ignorance, superstition and vice are permitted to sway the destinies of our empire. That intelligence and virtue needful for the perpetuity of our valued institutions and happiness, never can be secured by anything but the gospel, and the gospel in its Protestant purity. Lord Brougham was right, boih honest and right, when he said in the British Parliament, that for whatever of freedom England enjoyed under her present institutions, she was indebted for it to the influence of the Puritans, They were the men who withstood the onsets of tyranny. They were men fit to be the guardians of ihe ark of liberty, because ihey were men of God. Mustered on the high places of the field, they carried their Bibles in their knapsacks. They were men of conscience and prayer. And surely we are as much indebted to their firm. ness and virtue, as that noble lord maintained England was. We want their piety in the West—their intelligence, virtue, and firm

We want more Missionaries of the gospel there. If we do not aid that growing and needy population, nobody else will. They depend on us. Neither Scotland nor England will send thom Missionaries. It is not so with the foreign heathen. England looks on China, not always to butcher her citizens in unrighteous war waged to compel the reception of her pernicious opium, nor always to extort, in robbery, millions of money at the cannon's mouth! There is another class of men in England. There is piety there ; and that piety is embarked throughout the British Empire, to do something for evangelizing the nations.-But it does not send Missionaries to our rising and destitute setllements. That is our own work. If it is not done, the sin lies

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

nese.

no

at our own door. We cannot divide the blame with any one else. The conversion of the world is the common duty of Christendomand it is wrong for us to think that since the policy-(to use worse word)-since the policy of Great Britain ever since the 161h century, has been drawing her wealth from the Indies, the piety of Great Britain may justly and largely be called upon, to evangelize at least the millions under her own empire ?

[ocr errors]

We say, then, on this principle of doing our own work, the people of this land ought to mete out their liberality to the Home Mission cause. The cause is our own. The cry of want along the lakes, that sweeps over the prairies, and now echoes from the sides of the Rocky Mountains, and the shores of the Pacific, reaches no ears but ours. Shall we neglect our own work ? shall brothers and children ask us to send them the gospel, and ask in vain?

2. There is such a thing as attempting too much at once.Wisdom will not only look at her work, but at her powers for doing it. A wise farmer will work no more land than he can work well. A wise merchant never extends his business beyond his ability to see to it. A wise mechanic does not underlake a burdred jobs when he knows he can finish but ten. This principle properly comes into action on the matter before us. The liberality of the good may be so extended and diffused, may spread over so wide a space and undertake so much at once, as to diminish its efficacy. By that unwise procedure, attempts, operations, the whole work may be flung into such a condition, as to be utterly unprepar. ed for those exigencies which will arise, and such a condition as to lose much of what has been gained, and thus render benevolence and its labors to some extent in vain. We have had something of this. We had it, when schools among the heathen established at Do small expense of labor, money and suffering, were compelled to be disbanded, and the half-taught children were Aung back into the arms of a cruel heathenism. It ought not to have been s0.The benevolence of this so favored nation ought to have responded fully to the demands of the occasion. But what we are saying is, that our sentiments of compassion ought not to destroy our prudence. It is better to do less and do it well, than to attempt 100 much at once, and fail in all of it. And that spot, certainly, where our effort should be so concentrated as not to fail through the weakness of too wide diffusion, is to be found in our own country. Let minds accustomed to the carefulness of thinking carry out this idea.

3. The object of all these benevolent enterprises is the same.-We serve Christ. We aim to build up the kingdom of God-to save souls. We have not so much ability in this work as want. We could print more Bibles, more tracts, educate and send out more ministers of the gospel, if we had more pecuniary means to do it.-(We could not, indeed, bestow Divine

but

grace,

1

we

-blessed be bis name, Jesus Christ bestows it ; and after these refreshings of his dews on Zion, young men are found in our churches, too few of whom are brought into this ministry.)—The church could do more to evangelize the world, if she had more means. Where shall she get it ?-1 know “the silver and the gold are the Lord's ;" but he does not bestow them upon idleness nor make his bounty render useless our wisdom. And the additional aid the church needs for her work, in money and men, she must look for, not alone in the additional piety and liberality of her members, but in the help of those whom her piety and prayers shall reclaim. As the gospel extends over new fields, and new churches are raised up, these churches will add their benevolence and their efforts to your own, and thus help on the work of the kingdom of God.

Now, where shall we look for the most and the speediest of this help that we want ? Shall we look for it, from the down-irodden hordes of oppressed India converted to God ? Shall we expect it from indolent Africa ? Will it come from prejudiced China speedily ?-or the converted isles of the ocean ?-or from classic and christianized Greece ? No, no ! Best, quickest, most, we may expect it from those very spots in our own country, for whose struggling and infant churches we solicit your benevolence this morning. We point you to the WEST,- the young, vigorous, mighty, but now destitute West. There is your aid. Only evangelize her children ; and in a little while-before this genera. tion are gone off the stage,—the West shall bring up her richofferings, and lay them side by side with yours on the altar of God. She will have the means. Look at the opulence already seen in such places aa Buffalo and Detroit, and Chicago and Columbus, and Cincinnati, her infant Queen City. Look at her soil. Look at her commerce on the lakes, and pouring along her hundred mighty and majestic rivers. Her sons are no down-trodden viclims of oppression. They are no mind'ess and effeminate hordes of a degenerated and degenerating country. They are born free. Your own blood flows in their veins. Their country has all the elements of wealth and greatness.

Struggling now with their difficulties, they will come up a race of active, industrious and vigorous men; and if converted to Christ, they will be the most efficient and most liberal helpers you can look for, in giving the gospel to all the world. They have commenced already to aid you. Two hundred and sixty-four churches in Western New York, once aided in their infancy by the Home Missionary Society, have already given more than seventy two thousand dollars to send missionaries to the more destituie beyond them. They have joined you with both money and men, to send the gospel also to foreign lands. The first church in the city of Utica was a Home Mission church. lis first minister, still alive, was aided by the Hampshire Missionary Society of Massachusetts. Now, that great congregation, in that great and rich and growing city, pays back such principal and such interest into the treasury of benevolence, as you will look for in vain, from the Missionary churches of Africa or Asia. Just so, of a hundred other churches. We want your benevolence to make it just so, till your evange. lized population has passed the gorges of the Rocky Mountains, and chanted the song of redemption down to the shores of the Pacific. You can make it so if you will. At this very moment, the showers of Divine grace are descending upon your Home Mission churches ; and after they have passed the few years of their feen bleness and iofancy, they will furnish you the most efficient aid you can look for from man. In the WEST lies your best help for converting the world.

4. We have inadvertently encroached upon an idea which we had intended for a fourth and separate consideration. We intended to mention, not only the resources of the West, but the character of the people. But—no matter. Take them together. They are both remarkable. There is no such rich region elsewhere in the whole world, from which you can expect such plentiful and such speedy returns, for what you shall do for it in sending the gospel. There is no such excellence in common character anywhere else, from whose aid and influence and vigor, when touched by the grace of God, you can expect such furtherance for the gospel. Convert the West, if you would convert the WORLD!

When you are contemplating this idea, it cannot escape your consideration that there is such a thing as national character ; and that your efforts to do good-Christian good in the worldmay be vain or effectual, not entirely on account of their own nature, but under the control of other circumstances ; especially, the character of the men you attempt to christianize. Retrograding people or nations are less hopeful subjects of attempted good, tban ihuse in infancy or progr968,

Scholars and historians will see much force in this idea. In the old age and degeneracy of nations, there is a coming decrepitude of mind, of energy, of genius, of all which constitutes worth and character in nations. Man is a different being then. His very blood seems tainted. If mind is not perished, it is devoted to trifling, and not to utility.-If genius lives, it is exercised for little else, than the purposes of luxury and indolence. Rome, Egypt, all Asia are examples. Hopeless, then, almost hopeless is any attempt to help man in his decline ; and arrest the downward progress of a nation, which had reached its summit, and commenced ihe downward and dreadful march of degeneracy! The strife to aid Greece-poetic, classic, beauteous, chivalrous Greece-a strife vain, or almost vain, is an apt and mournful example. There is a stage where mind seems to lose its elasticity and independence and genius and decision. Heart has lost its greatness. Themistocles would be ashamed to own as a descendant or a Greek, the low, cunning, time-serving, false-hearted being that now sips the streams of Cephissus. Fabius and Cato, the Gracchi would blush to be named in the same breath with the modern Italian. Gone is the original greatness, the mental dignity of Egypt, Greece, and Rome! Their moral sublimity of character has perished! The Egyptian gazes on the Pyramids without an emotion! The Greek feeds his sheep around the Athenian acropolis, with only the relics of his ancient nation left in his soul,-enough to sigh after the departed glory, but not enough to imitate or emulate the perished greatness which he boasts as having dignified the blood of his ancestors. The cunning and treacherous Italian moves over the tombs of Etruria, and the more modern sepulchers of Senators, Patricians, and Emperors, of poats, orators, and statesmer, without the manliness to attempt to rise to the dignity of the dust he treads on. History lacks example of the resurrection of a nation once gone down to the tomb of its glory. Other races come in upon its soil, perhaps-plant their stundards—commence their upward work-catch something of the inspirations of greatness from the grandeur and glory and refinement of the very temples and tombs which they despoil; and rise to a commendable manliness, on the ashes of departed glory. This is common. But the down-hill course of blood is never arrested. Such is history. Its tale may be sad, but its lesson is deeply instructive.

Now most of the subjects of Foreign Mission effort are just such men. They are worse than their ancestors. They are degenerated or degenerating people. They are not on the rise, but on the decline ; if indeed they have not become already as debased as sin can make them. At any rate, there is no advancement among them. If they are not sinking, they certainly are not improving. Centuries have rolled over them, and they have continued the same, or gone down deeper into the abysses of ignorance, superstition, and mental littleness and inactivity. They propose to themselves nothing. Every man among them expects to live and die in the same misery and degradation as his fathers have lived and died before him. Hence, not only the improving power of hope is gone, (which always tends to human advancement,) but genius itself is extinguished. It originates nothing. It only copies at best. You may find among them talents, but they are only perverted and misapplied talents. You may find art,

unning, treachery, falsehood; but you look in vain for any thing that tends upwards. What mind they have is applied to the worst objects in the worst modes- not merely as beings of conscier.ce, but as beings of intellect and social existence : it is devoted under the narrow influences of an indolent and supreme selfishness: Their heart has lost every high and generous feeling: Conscience with them, is almost nothing but fear. And thus all their character and tendencies and habits are embarked to resist every one of the influences not only of spiritual religion, but of ordinary manliness. We pity them-pray for them-ask you aid them know that the gospel can elevate and save them. But in more earnest accents we ask you to aid a more promising

« FöregåendeFortsätt »