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THE FIELD IS THE WORLD.-Matt. xiii. 38.
Philosophers have speculated much concerning a process of sensation, which has commonly been denominated the emotion of sublimity. Aware that, like any other simple feeling, it must be incapable of definition, they have seldom attempted to define it; but, content with remarking the occasions on which it is excited, have told us that it arises, in general, from the contemplation of whatever is vast in nature, splendid in intellect, or lofty in morals. Or, to express the same idea somewhat raried, in the language of a critic of antiquity, “ that alone is truly sublime, of which the conception is vast, the effect irresistible, and the remembrance scarcely, if ever, to be erased.”
It is cheering to observe that, amidst so much that is debasing, there is still something that is ennobling in the character of man. But whilst the general assertion is true, that he is awake to all that is sublime in nature, and much that is sublime in morals, there is reason to believe that there is a single class of objects, whose contemplation thrills all heaven with rapture, at which he can gaze unmelted and unmoved. The pen of inspiration has recorded, that the cross of Christ, whose mysteries the angels desire to look into, was, to the tasteful and erudite Greek, foolishness. And we fear that cases very analogous to this may be witnessed at the present day. But why should it be so? Why should so vast a dissimilarity of moral taste exist between seraphs who bow before the throne, and men who dwell upon the footstool? Why is it that the man, whose soul swells with ecstacy whilst viewing the innumerable suns of midnight, feels no emotion of sublimity when thinking of their Creator? Why is it that an enterprise of patriotism presents itself to his imagination beaming with celestial beauty, whilst the MORAL DIGNITY OF THE MISSIONARY ENTERPRISE. 3 enterprise of redeeming love is without form or comeliness? Why should the noblest undertaking of mercy, if it only combine among its essential elements the distinctive principles of the Gospel, become at once stale, flat, and unprofitable? When there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, why is it that the enterprise of proclaiming peace on earth and good-will to man, fraught, as it would seem, with more than angelic benignity, should, to many of our fellow-men, appear worthy of nothing better than neglect or obloquy?
The reason for all this we shall not now attempt to assign; but shall proceed to show, that this very Missionary cause combines within itself the elements of all that is sublime in human purpose; nay, combines them in a loftier perfection than any other enterprise which was ever linked with the destinies of man; and in prosecuting it, we shall direct your attention to the grandeur of the object, the arduousness of its execution, and the nature of the means on which we rely for success.
1.- The Grandeur of the OBJECT. In the most enlarged sense of terms, The Field is the World. Our design is radically to affect the temporal and eternal interests of the whole race of man.
We have surveyed this field statistically, and find, that of the eight hundred millions who inhabit our globe, but two hundred millions have any knowledge of the religion of Jesus Christ. Of these, allowing that one-half are his real disciples, there still remain seven of the eight hundred millions to whom the Gospel must be sent.
We have considered these beings as immortal, and candidates for an eternity of happiness or misery. And we cannot avoid the belief that they are exposed to eternal misery. Here, you will observe, the question with us is not, whether a heathen, unlearned in the Gospel, can be saved. If he be saved, he must possess holiness of heart; for without holiness no man shall see the Lord. And where shall we find holy heathen ? Where is there the vestige of purity of heart among unevangelized nations? It is in vain to talk about the innocence of these children of nature. It is in vain to tell us of their graceful mythology. Their gods are such as lust makes welcome. of their very religious services it is a shame to speak. To settle the question concerning their future destiny, it would only seem necessary !o ask. What would be the character of that future state, in
which those principles of heart, which the whole history of the heathen world developes, were suffered to operate in their unrestrained malignity?
No! solemn as is the thought, we do believe, that, dying in their present state, they will be exposed to all that is awful in the wrath of Almighty God. And we do believe that God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Our object is to convey to those who are perishing, the news of this salvation. It is to furnish every family on the face of the whole earth with the word of God, written in its own language; and to send to every neighbourhood a preacher of the cross of Christ. Our design will not be completed until
“ One song employs all nations, and all cry,
• Worthy the Lamb, for he was slain us.'
II.-Tue MISSIONARY UNDERTAKING IS ARDUOUS ENOUGH
TO CALL INTO ACTION THE NOBLEST ENERGIES OF Man. Its arduousness is explained in one word, our field is the World. Our object is to effect an entire moral revolution in the whole human race. Its arduousness then results of necessity from its magnitude.
I need not say to those acquainted with the nature of the human mind, that a large moral mass is not easily and permanently affected. A little leaven does not soon leaven the whole lump. To produce a change even of speculative opinion upon a single nation, is an undertaking not easily accomplished. In the case before us, not a nation, but a world, is to be regenerated: therefore, the change which we would effect is far from being merely speculative. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Nothing short of this new creation will answer our purpose. We go forth, not to persuade men to turn from one idol 10 another, but to turn universally from idols, to serve the living God. We call upon those who are earthly, sensual, and devilish, to set their affections on things above. We go forth exhorting men to forsake every cherished lust, and present themselves a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God. And this mighty moral revolution is to be effected not in a family, a tribe, or a nation ; but in a world which lieth in wickedness.
We have to operate upon a race, divided into different nations, speaking a thousand different languages, under every different form of government, from absolute inertness to unbridled tyranny, and inhabiting every district of country, salubrious or deadly, from the equator to the poles. To all these nations must the Gospel be sent; into all these languages must the Bible be translated; to all these climes, salubrious or deadly, must the missionary penetrate; and under all these forms of government, mild or despotic, must he preach Christ, and him crucified.
Besides, we shall frequently interfere with the more sordid interests of men; and we expect them to increase the difficulties of our undertaking, If we can turn the heathen to God, many a source of unholy traffic will be dried up, and many a convenience of unhallowed gratification taken away. And hence we may expect, that the traffickers in human flesh, the disciples of mammon, and the devotees of pleasure, will be against us.
From the heathen themselves we have the blackest darkness of ignorance to dispel. We have to assault systems venerable for their antiquity, and interwoven with every thing that is proud in a nation's history. Abore all, we have to oppose the depravity of the human heart, grown still more inveterate by ages of continuance in unrestrained iniquity. In a word, we go forth to urge upon a world dead in trespasses and sins, a thorough renewal of heart, and a universal reformation of practice.
Brief as is this view of the difficulties which surround us, and our limits will not allow us to state them more in detail, you see that our undertaking is, as we said, arduous enough to task, to the uttermost, the noblest energies of man.
Let us considerIII.-The MeanS BY WHICH This Moral RevoLUTION IS
TO BE EFFECTED.
It is, in a word, by the preaching of Jesus Christ, and him crucified. It is by going forth, and telling the lost children
that God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son to die for them; and by all the eloquence of such an appeal, to entreat them, for Christ's sake, to be reconciled unto God. This is the lever by which, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the moral universe is to be raised, and a sinful world regenerated. And consider the commanding simplicity of this means, devised by Omniscience to effect a purpose so glorious. This world is to be restored to more than it lost by the fall, by the simple annunciation of the love of God in Christ Jesus. Here we behold means apparently the weakest, employed to effect the most magnificent of purposes. And how plainly does this bespeak the agency of the omnipotent God! The means which effect his greatest purposes in the kingdom of nature, are simple and unostentatious; while those which man employs are complicated and tumultuous. How many intellects are tasked, how many hands are wearied, how many arts exhausted, in preparing for the event of a single battle ; and how great is the tumult of the moment of decision! In all this, man only imitates the inferior agents of nature. The autumnal tempest, whose sphere of action is limited to a little spot upon our little world, comes forth attended by the roar of thunder and the flash of lightning; while the attraction of gravitation, that stupendous force which binds together the mighty masses of the material universe, acts silently. In the sub. limest of natural transactions, the greatest result is ascribed to the simplest of causes. He spake, and it was done : he commanded, and it stood fast.
Contemplate the benevolence of these means. In practice, the precepts of the Gospel may be summed up in the single command, “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself.” We expect to teach one man obedience to this command, and that he will feel obliged to teach his neighbour, who will feel obliged to teach others, who are again to become teachers, until the whole world shall be peopled with one family of brethren. Animosity is to be done away, by inculcating universally the obligation of love. In this manner we expect to teach rulers justice, and subjects submission; to open the heart of the miser, and unloose the grasp of the oppressor. It is thus we expect the time to be hastened onward, when men shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; when nation shall no more lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
With this process, contrast the means by which men, on the principles of this world, effect a melioration in the condition of their species. Their almost universal agent is threatened or inflicted misery; and, from the nature of the case, it cannot be otherwise. Without altering the disposition of the heart, they only attempt to control its exercise. And they must control it, by showing their