Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

generally aware of : as where the work is going on silently and progressively, there is not much said about it. Multitudes of Negroes in the West Indies have felt the power of the word of God, and tasted the blessedness of that freedom which only Christ can bestow. In South Africa, many have believed the Gospel, at the different stations among the Hottentots and Caffres. In the South Sea Islands, it is well known how much has been accomplished. Even in India there has not been a want of success. In the southern part of it, there are many Christian congregations where the good work is going on; and persons of every caste in other parts have received the truth.

But important as the conversion of individuals is, it is perhaps more important, that a lodgement has been made in various quarters, by the Christian army, the operation of which is likely to go on, and to increase, for a long period of time. The South Seas may fairly be considered as taken possession of, and the work of the Gospel, and the progress of civilization would, I have no doubt, go on, though all European aid were withdrawn. That aid, however, it would be very undesirable and improper to withhold at present. The establishment of such a depot as Seran re, in India, is of miglity consequence, though nothing else should have been done. The Bishop's College, at Calcutta, the Institution established at Malacca, by Dr. Morison, the translation of the Scriptures into the languages of the East, the education of youth, particularly of the females-are all likely to operate in the course of time mach more powerfully than they have yet done. They are creating a Christian literature, a Christian language, and a Christian population all over the East. They are silently undermining the very tirone of idolatry. The chain of the castes, the power of the Brahmins, the worship of the Ganges and Inggernant, the influence of Confucias, ani Fo itself, will fall before means the ope.

are

ration of which is difficult to resist, because they silently and unobtrusively working their way.

When it is considered that at the commencement of these exertions, little was known of many parts of the world where the Gospel is now in some measure established—that the East was in a great measure sealed up—that the work itself to the bulk of the Christian Church was novel—what God has wrought, ought to excite the profoundest gratitude and thankfulness. Mistakes have been committed, experience has been bought at considerable expense, trials of principle and of perseverance have occurred; but I repeat it, the success has been in full proportion to the means employed. It is true, that a few hundred thousaud pounds have been contributed, and a few hundred individuals have been sent forth; but compared with the devotedness of primitive believers, and with the actual resources of the Christian church at present, all that has been done is unworthy to be mentioned. We are yet but in the infancy of exertion for the salvation of the world; and when we bring all God's tythe into the storehouse, we cannot doubt, but that he will open the windows of heaven and pour us out a blessing, which there shall not be room enough to receive.

Some important illustration of the subject of this Note, though it refers chiefly to the operations of one society, will be found in two able Discourses :-One by the Rev. John Griffin, entitled —“A Retrospect of the Proceedings of the London Missionary Society ;" the other by the Rev. John Angell James, entitled-“ Missionary Prospects." Both were delivered on the same day, at the opening of the Mission College, Hoxton, October 10, 1828.

Note [Y] page 96:

In the propagation of Christianity, I attach great importance to the energetic employment of the simple, but powerful instrument, which God has commanded us to use the preaching of the Gospel. I use this expression in its commonest acceptation-for the plain and faithful address of the message of reconciliation to the hearts and consciences of men. It is unquestionably this that our Lord intends in the commission which he gave to his apostles; and to the deliverance of this testimony in all its simplicity and power, the apostles evidently attached the highest importance.

We are in continual danger of mixing up this testimony with the wisdom of human words, and of endeavouring to recommend it by the ingenuity of our reasonings, or the eloquence of our illustrations. The effect of it is but rarely tried, as God's own testimony to man; and yet it will be found, in a great proportion of instances, that those who are brought to the knowledge of Christ, have been impressed by some declaration of scripture, and not so much by the argument which enforced it. Whatever may be said for the mode of preaching generally employed in this country, sermons in the technical sense of the word, must be very unsuitable in the first instance, among heathens. Conversations, and short and animated statements of the grand facts of Christianity are likely to produce a much greater effect.

While decidedly the friend of schools and colleges, and every plan which may be conducive to the improvement of our species, I confess, at the same time, that I regret when the time and attention of those who are sent out to preach the Gospel to the heathen, are greatly diverted from their proper business to such objects. When the preaching of Christ is considered rather as an appendage to other things,

than as the primary employment. When it is assumed, we can do little for the present race, but must rest our chief hopes on the rising generation ; I think we unconsciously betray our want of confidence in God's great instrument for the salvation of the world, and adopt the views of men who do not look at Christianity in the light in which we ourselves regard it. It is quite uatural for them to think we can do nothing with the inveterate prejudices of the heathen; and that therefore we must prepare them gradually for the change we hope to effect. But these prejudices and vices are not more powerfully opposed to the Gospel, than were those of the Greeks and Romans, and other idolaters, among whom the apostles effected their mighty triumphs, by the mere preaching of Christ crucified.

It may be alleged that our circumstances are different from theirs, as they possessed miraculous powers, which we do not. Admitting this to be the case, it seems very evident, that whatever advantage the apostles possessed by their miraculous gifts, they never ascribe to the exercise of those gifts the conversion of one individual. The process which they invariably pursued in this work, is the simplest imaginable, and one as completely in our power as it was in theirs. In opposition, in fact, to the idea of converting men by their miracles, and to shew to what they ascribed it, they say, “ For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom : but we preach Christ crucified, but unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” 1 Cor. i. 22——21.

It is worthy of observation, that Christ gave bis apostles no directions about the employment of any other means for the promotion of his kingdom, than those which have been referred to. I do not say that it follows we ought to do nothing but literally comply with his injunction to preach the

Gospel; but I contend it is implied, that this is the chief and grand object which ought to occupy the attention of his people in the direct work of propagating Christianity. Let it be fairly and fully tried before it is taken for granted, that something else must be done, and that a whole generation must pass into eternity before we can do any thing of much importance for their salvation.

Note [Z]. p. 102.

I do not know a more important subject to which the attention of Christians can be called at present, than the qualifications of the agents employed in propagating the Gospel. I have used strong language in the discourse, not with a design to reflect on the conduct of any body, or of any individuals engaged in the good work of evangelization; but with a view, if possible, to raise the standard of qualification for the future, and to excite the attention of my brethren to this important subject. It is a fact, that in not a few instances, the work of God has been grievously hindered and injured by the unsuitableness of the persons engaged in it. It must therefore be of importance to guard against such failures as far as possible. It is easier to point out the evil than to suggest the remedy; but as a knowledge of the disease is a step to the discovery of the cure, a little on that subject may not be unprofitable.

Men fail in the ministry of Christianity from three causeswant of piety, want of talents, and want of wisdom. A deficiency in any of these respects sufficiently accounts for an individual's inefficiency in the work, or for his actually defeating the object of his appointment at a particular post.

When I speak of want of piety, I do not mean an entire destitution of religious principle, but such a low degree of

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »