Page images
PDF
EPUB

over.

same spirit, planted within the breast of each and of every man the same mental economy; and, since the original formation of our first great parent, all have undergone the same degeneracy and are universally smitten with the same moral disease-so that the Gospel, whether in the house of our next door neighbour or among the farthest wilds and on the most distant confines of humanity, meets with the same adaptations, the same sense of guilt, the same apprehensions of a coming judgment, the same felt need of a Saviour, in a word the same fears and feelings and principles, which, similarly called forth by the Spirit of God, will give the very same response and the very same reception to the truths of Christianity all the world

We must not wonder at the uniformity in the result-seeing that the same doctrine meets with the same consciences every where. There is no difference in the objective truth, when we preach the same doctrine to every creature under heaven ; and no such difference in the subjective minds on which we operate, as to make the reception of Christianity an event that might take place in one country and be impossible in another. In a word, there are the same minds and the same consciences in both; and there is the same instrumentality brought to bear on both—even the one and unchangeable doctrine of the New Testament. And there is the same agent for giving effect to that instrumentality-even the Spirit of God in whose demonstration and by whose power it is, that the truth is made palpable and efficient. So that by preaching alike in all countries the same

truth, even the truth as it is in Jesus; and by praying alike for the same blessing, even for an illumination from on high-this truth is made manifest to consciences every where: or, in other words, the Gospel of Christ may be carried with acceptance to all tribes and nations and languages.

22. It is thus that the philosophy of missions might be vindicated. It is an axiom in philosophy that we should look for a like effect from like causes-a like manufacture from like materials. In the work of conversion the materials on which we operate is the same, whether at home or in India--the identical human nature, that is characteristic not of tribe or of nation, but is characteristic of the species. The instrument by which we operate is the same-the identical doctrine of the Bible, the identical message from heaven to all the people that be upon the earth. The power which gives the instrumentits efficacy is the same even that Spirit who bloweth where he listeth, and who with but the Bible to pioneer his way, disowns all the distinctions of savage or civilized life and all the barriers of geography. In the prosecution of this cause, we transfer to other lands the

very machinery which is at work in our own parishes. We translate the sacred volume and circulate it amongst them. We send school-masters who might teach them to read this vernacular Bible. We send ministers who expound it. We knock at the door of heaven's sanctuary, that a virtue may descend from on high, and God may add the grace of His Spirit to the testimony of His word. We cannot overthrow the sufficiency of this process, but by an argument that would nullify all the christianizing processes of our own land.

We cannot put down this cause without passing sentence of extinction on the religious light of all Christendom, We cannot rightfully charge the work of missionaries beyond this limit with fanaticism or folly, without fastening the brand of these very imputations on the work of ministers within. If no Christianity can be formed there without the

power of working present miracles, or the power of evincing to the belief of savages the reality of past miracles—then no Christianity can be formed here throughout the mass and great majority of our own population. But if Christianity can be formed here by the simple power of truth upon the conscience, this is the principle which opens the world to the enterprize of missionaries. Whereever there is a human being there is a conscience; and on this ground alone, the message of salvation might circulate around the globe, and be carried with acceptance through all its nations and tribes and families

23. When the first missionaries went to Greenland, we may be sure that they had the ignorance of a most raw and unfurnished population to contend with. They thought they would go systematically to work—and before presenting them with the christian message in the terms of the message, that they would give them some preparatory ideas on natural religion. For this purpose they expatiated in formal demonstration on the existence and unity and the attributes and the law of God. The Greenlanders did not comprehend them; and the

missionaries were mortified to find, that, after years of labour, they had not gained a single proselyte to the truth. On this they resolved to change their measures-and, as a last desperate experiment, they gave up all their preparatory instructions, and made one great and decisive step onward to the peculiar doctrines, and these too couched in the peculiar phraseology of the Gospel. When simply told in scripture words of sin and of the Saviour, the effect was instantaneous. There was something in the hearts of these unlettered men, which responded to the views and tidings of the New Testament. The demonstrations of natural religion fell fruitless and unintelligible upon their ear; but they felt the burden of sin and of death ; and pleasant to their souls was the preacher's voice, when it told that unto them a Saviour was born. They live on the very outskirts of populationand beyond them there is nothing seen but a wilderness of snow, and nothing heard but the angry howling of the elements. that the enterprize is chimerical now, that a christian people have been formed in a country so unpromising, that the limits of the visible church have been pushed forward to the limits of human existence, and the tidings of good will to men have been carried with acceptance to the very last and outermost of the species?

24. The discovery that was made by the Moravians was converted by them into a principle which they carried round the globe; and which ever since has been the fertile source of their marvellous success in the work of evangelizing the

Who will say heathen. They now learned that it was impossible to antedate the message of the Gospel in any land, and they availed themselves of this Greenland experience in all their subsequent operations among the Esquimaux of Labrador, among the Indians of North America, among the negroes of the Danish and the Dutch and the British colonies, and lastly among the Hottentots of South Africa. As the effect of their peculiar yet powerful moral regimen, villages have arisen in the wilderness; and we now behold men of before untamed and savage nature, as if by the touch of miracle, completely because radically transformed_living in gentleness together, and tutored in the arts and the decencies of a civilized people. Many there are, who nauseate the peculiar evangelism which lies at the root of this great moral and spiritual change, yet are forced to admire the beauteous efflorescence which proceeds from it just as there are many who can eye with delight the graces of a cultivated landscape, yet have no taste for the operations of the husbandry which called it into being. Certain it is that Moravians have become the objects of a popular and sentimental admiration among men, who could not tolerate the methodistical flavour as they may term it, of a Moravian Report-a thing just as possible, as that they might feel a most exquisite relish for their music along with a thorough distaste for their hymns. The fruit and the flower are both pleasing to the eye of Nature, with many to whom the culture is offensive, and who could not look upon it without the revolt of Nature's enmity to the truth as it is

« PreviousContinue »