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of serious instruction, as well as of grateful and encouraging import, that religion at home has prospered very much in proportion to the interest which has been felt in the cause of missions. And certain it is, that revivals of religion have never been more numerous and powerful, and our churches have never, on the whole, been in a more vigorous and flourishing state, than since the spirit of missions began to pervade the Christian community, and to wake up thought and feeling in behalf of the spiritually destitute, whether at home or abroad. Has not the experience of our churches, I ask, during the last thirty or forty years, been in happy accordance with the inspired declaration, “ They that water, shall also themselves be watered; they that sow plentifully, shall also reap plentifully ” ?
But let us notice a few facts. Look back to the period of the organization of this Board. I need not stop here to remind you of the many great benevolent societies, of various names and of different denominations, that have since been organized, all, I think, quickened into being and aided in their plans of operation by the example of this Board of Missions. Think of what this Board was when it first rose into being, and of what it is now; think of its four ordained missionaries then, now multiplied to 134; and the whole number of its laborers in foreign lands, including assistant female missionaries, native teachers and preachers, physicians, and others, rising to 492; think of its one station then, now multiplied to 93, in various and widely distant parts of the heathen world—each having several preaching stations around and belonging to it-centres of heavenly light and influence to the surrounding regions of darkness; think of its versions of the Scriptures and other books into twenty-three languages and dialects of the heathen world, and of the fifteen printing establishments connected with its missions, with fonts of type and preparations to print in thirty-two different languages; think of its seventy-three churches, embracing 24,824 members; of its seven seminaries for educating native preachers and teachers, having 487 pupils, and its 31 boarding-schools, with 1,387 pupils, making in all 1,874 boarding scholars; and of its 602 free schools with 29,171 pupils, raising the whole number of youth, in a course of Christian education, to 31,015; think how, when it commenced its work, it was without funds, and all was to be begun ; now its income is over 260,000 dollars; while the light of large experience and bright hope shines on its path; how, for several years, it was accustomed to meet in a private room for the transaction of its annual business ; now, the largest edifice is not sufficient to accommodate those who attend the sacred convocations, to hear of its success, and unite in its services and counsels; think of all this in relation to the future, especially in regard to the circulation of the Scriptures, the instruction of the young, and the raising up of native missionaries, together with the countless silent, yet powerful influences that emanate from Christian missions, all operating to plant the seeds of future civilization, to elevate, purify, and bless the state of society where they exist ;put all these things together, and view them in their results in eternity, countless multitudes of immortal beings raised from the degradation and miseries of sin to immortal life and blessedness in heaven,
,—then say, whether the cost has been too great for the good realized, and whether there is not in the effects of our missions, in the fruits actually gathered from them, the most encouraging evidence that “the Lord hath hitherto helped us” in this great and blessed work.
The view thus presented is of course very general, a mere outline, and must therefore fail of giving any thing like an adequate idea of the good, of various kinds, which has been accomplished through the instrumentality of our missions. Could we descend to particulars, review the history of each mission, and call up the thousand incidental blessings, which, in consequence of missionary effort, have fallen upon individuals and families and communities, diffusing intelligence, purity, comfort, freedom, and hope, where before naught was seen but ignorance, debasement, oppression, and despair, there is not a Christian here, I am sure, who would not exult, with grateful joy, at the sight, and bind himself with new interest and devotion to a cause so manifestly approved and blessed of God.
5. There is another most interesting topic on which I might easily enlarge ; it is the increasing facilities and continually brightening prospects which God is holding out to cheer and help us on in this great and good work. But I must dismiss it with a passing word. The spirit of missions is the spirit of Christ. It brought him into our world on the great errand of its salvation. He breathed it into by his
his apostles, when, at his ascension, he gave them command to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. And the measure of it which has been shed down upon the church in these latter days, is but the pledge of a more plentiful effusion-the precursor of a brighter and more blessed day, soon to rise upon the world. What God has begun, and has hitherto so signally helped forward
he will not forsake, but will bear on the work thus commenced to triumphant success over all the earth. The machinery, if I may so call it, by which this dark and miserable world is to be raised to holiness and God, is already in operation. “ Its many wheels are beginning to revolve, and a complicated, widely-extended movement, continually accelerated by fresh impulses, is bearing along the world from its wintry and torpid position, and bringing it under the influence of serener heavens and an awakening spring. All the genial powers of nature and grace, of science and art, are being unlocked, and the better feelings that have long slumbered in the breast of man, are rising into life and activity.” Viewed in the light of God's word and providence, the future presents brighter visions, and holds out more animating motives to engage and quicken us in the great work of giving the gospel to the whole world, than were ever afforded to any who have lived before us. It is the work to which God is especially calling the whole church at this day; and blessed are they, who, encouraged and strengthened by his help, engage, at his call, in the holy enterprise of filling this world with the knowledge and glory of his great name.
And now, brethren and friends, what lessons, in review of our subject, may we gather up to be impressed upon our minds?
1. The first which suggests itself, and which, I doubt not, you have anticipated, is a lesson of gratitude to the great Lord of missions. How different the situation in which we meet this evening, from that occupied by the founders of this Board, thirtysix years ago! Its friends were then few; its destined field of labor unknown and unexplored ; its funds yet to be collected ; the spirit of missions yet to be roused, if not created, in the public mind; nay, the whole great work was to be begun, and that without experience, and in the face of great indifference, unbelief and opposition.
How surprising the alteration since that day! The accessible field of missions vastly enlarged, including well nigh the whole world ; the spirit of missions widely diffused and increasingly active ; large experience gathered from being exercised in the work; the helping hand of God attending our efforts in the most encouraging manner, and brighter prospects continually opening before us ;-we meet here to transact the annual business of the Board, cheered on in our great enterprise by the co-operation and prayers of hundreds of thousands of warm-hearted and devoted friends of the missionary cause. Surely, here is matter of gratitude, if aught on earth should inspire gratitude.
Some, who have embarked in this enterprise, may feel disappointed that no more has been done. But such, I am sure, have never duly counted the cost of the undertaking. In the warmth of their feelings,