صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

tional responses and attention in God's house, are a source of the greatest satisfaction and encouragement."*

Who can tell the result which might be produced from hearing of the conduct of the inhabitants of the Island of Bananas, who “have to this day (August 15, 1847) successfully withstood the establishment of any liquor-vendor among them, so

that none

can be had for money in the whole island;" + or, how far the regularity with which the despised Africans in Free-Town attend the celebration of the Holy Communion may provoke our careless fellowcountrymen to acknowledge that they have neglected their Saviour's dying commands, and to confess that, in so-doing, they have sinned?

But why should these things be put conditionally? The most blessed effects have resulted from the use of the means of which we speak. We rejoice in the belief, that in the last great day, many a native of this favoured shore shall give glory to God, whilst he confesses that, instrumentally, he owes his present bliss to the reflex influence of Christian Missions to heathen lands. Yes, even in the midst of the enjoyments of heaven itself, we believe, that many shall delight in recounting the way in which the love of God was first manifested to their dark souls; and one shall tell, how he owes his all, to circumstances such as I have

Forty-eighth Annual Report of the Church Missionary Society, p. clxvii. + Ibid. p.

lvii.

narrated; and another, how his heart was moved within him, when he heard of the depth of misery and degradation into which idolatry had plunged its wretched votaries; and another that it was the patience and self-denying zeal of those who preached among the heathen the “unsearchable riches of Christ," which convinced him that there was a reality, and a substance in the Gospel, of which till then he had never dreamed.

Did space permit, it were no hard task to show by many examples, that these are no fanciful or baseless anticipations. I shall confine myself to one instance of the kind, which I will relate, as nearly as possible, in the words of a friend who himself personally acquainted with the facts. “ At a village a few miles off, there lives a blacksmith, who was once a professed infidel, and who seldom, if ever, entered a place of worship. On the occasion of a Missionary sermon being preached, he was induced, from mere curiosity, to go to hear the strange preacher and the strange sermon ;' he afterwards expressed himself thus, 'I then saw and felt that I must turn myself right round;' that is, he was persuaded to take the opposite road from that along which he had been travelling before. The same day, he began to cry for mercy, and he has given good evidence from that period to the present, a space of about thirteen years, that he has become in very deed, a new creature.Numberless are the instances of this kind, which even in this world have come to light, where the most blessed effects even of an occasional meeting or sermon have rested upon the souls of some of those who have been present; but if full proof were made of a systematic plan such as is here contemplated, who will dare to predict the extent or the fulness of the blessing that would follow? Alas, that so few are in a position to solve the question from their own experience!

But there are many other ways in which the cultivation of the Missionary spirit may prove useful to our people. I will assume that you have, for some time, systematically followed the plan I am recommending, and that your flock have become familiar with the general aspect of the Missionary field. The whole of your pastoral intercourse with your people will be affected by it. Suppose, for instance, that in speaking to a congregation so instructed, you wish to produce some of “the evidences” of the truth of the religion we profess, and to prove the Divine authorship of Holy Writ: what more appropriate, or striking fact can you adduce—what more telling argument can you strike out, than the universal applicability of the words which the Bible speaks; the perfection of the picture which it sets forth of the character of man, as displayed not in one place only, but in many, nay, in every region of the earth, by men of every colour, and differing as much in other respects as in geographical position, and external circumstances ?

Or again, if a self-righteous man meet you with the common answer, “I have never done any man harm;" with what power may you show him that he is a murderer, that God requires the blood of many among the heathen at his hand, for he had the means of sending to them the blessed Gospel, for lack of which they are undone, but he would not. By such an argument well might he be constrained to cry out, “God be merciful to me a sinner!

In a word, make but the trial, and you will find the principles and details of Missionary work pregnant with the aptest illustrations of all the leading doctrines of the Gospel; thus there shall be given you a personal reward for all your trouble, in the facility with which your own addresses are arranged; and a still higher cause for gratitude, from the way in which your exertions are appreciated by your people, and in the effects produced upon them.

But let us take a wider view, and see what the spread of a Missionary spirit has actually done for our whole land ? Incalculable are the blessings it has brought upon the nation. The home influence of Missionary work has helped (if it has not done more) to bring forward and to mature a vast majority of the plans, now in operation, for ameliorating the condition, temporal as well as spiritual, of the great masses of our long-neglected fellow-countrymen; and has been the means of assisting (I had almost used a stronger word) to soften many of the prejudices which once proved a powerful hindrance to the diffusion of religious light amongst ourselves.

This point is so important, that I will venture

to illustrate it at some length. Take the history of the last fifty years.

At the end of the last century the long-dormant Missionary spirit awoke from its slumbers, and the leading spirits of the age * began to proclaim that something ought to be done for the heathen. Up to that time, and for more than ten years of the present century, the spread of Christianity was dreaded, and therefore impeded in every way, by most of those who were in situations of power and influence. The policy pursued with regard to the Indian empire, affords a just index to the state of Natimal feeling at the time. After a long and arduous struggle, the Missionary was permitted to enter India ; and it was found that to elevate the native mind, morally and religiously, was not the suicidal act that had been supposed. From that time our care for our Indian fellow-subjects has been growing and increasing, until we now see three Indian bishoprics established, with the hope of others being added, and religious institutions of every description growing and increasing with an equal rapidity. But the important point is, to observe the course of events at home during the same period.

Let us take first the subject of Education, as

* If a list of those to whom this description is applicable, were to be drawn up-arranged in the order pointed out by the value of the services they have rendered to mankind, and the influence they have exerted upon their contemporaries and successors,-politicians, and soldiers, men of letters, and men of science, must all give place to the immortal names of those who aroused their country to listen to the claims of the beathen world,

« السابقةمتابعة »