« PreviousContinue »
volume a notice is given of a proposed series of this description.
IX. PREACHING TO THE HEATHEN. The Command.-The great commission of the Missionary is to “ Preach the Gospel to every creature."
The foolishness of preaching" is the chief instrumentality appointed by God for the conversion of mankind. Preaching must not be limited to the delivery of a set and formal discourse from some text of Scripture to a congregation. It has been well defined to be the oral utterance of the Gospel in public or private."
“ Christ often preached sitting by the sea-side, and sometimes upon a mountain. Philip prrached to the eunuch of Ethiopia, while seated with him in a chariot; Peter preached to Cornelius and his kinsmen in a private dwelling-house ; Paul and Silas to the jailor and his household in the middle of the night; Paul disputed, or more properly, preached daily in the School of Tyraunus; and so may the Missionary at the present day preach whenever and wherever he can find even one to hear
Pre-eminence of Preaching.-More than a century ago, Schultze, the Tranquebar Missionary, thus pointed out the superiority of preaching :
Vivá voce preaching, the testimony of a living man, has a great advantage over the private reading of books everywhere, but more particularly ainong these heathen of the East Indies. Amongst thousands there may be perhaps one that can read, and many of those who can read are so stupid and indifferent that they will not take the trouble of understanding and applying to themselves what they read; which proves satisfactorily, that when God gives an opportunity, it is of the greatest importance for a Missionary to go out himself anongst the heathen, and make known the Gospel to them by word of mouth. The first Missionaries, Ziegenbalg and Grundler, have left us a good ex
Rep. J. Herrick.
ample in this. It is true that the proverb says, 'vox scripta manet,' and that what has been written can be read again and often repeated; but this is only to be understood of things which have already been put before us in a lively way by speech and which we like to reconsider, in order to bring back the pleasure which we felt on fir:t heariny them. I he living voice always has something particularly ei livening and awakeniny, but more especially in those words which have proceeded from the holy mouth of Gol, and which have still the same power as when he first pronounced them."*
Danger of being turned aside.--Many persons in England think that the following verse by Watts expresses the feelings of the heathen with regard to the Gospel:
“How glad the heathen would have been
Or Jesus and his Gospel known.' A little consideration, however, will show that the real case is very different. The natural heart everywhere is enmity against God. With few exceptions, the people prefer their present systems to Christianity. “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means, and my people love to have it so."
The Rev. H. Malcom thus points out the effect sometimes produced upon a Missionary =
“Of all parts of his work direct preaching looks most attractive to the Missionary on leaving home, and becomes in general most repulsive in the field. This is the grand object of those who design to devote themselves to foreign service. To sit beneath some friendly shade, imparting to heathen the words of eternal life is their beau ideal, their enrapturing anticipation, their expected reward, for leaving friends and home. But when they approach the reality, they find the romance of this hope turned into the substantial material for disgust, weariness, and despair.
* History of the Tranquebar Mission, pp. 138,9.
" Sophisms, absurdities, false reasonings, extreme ignorance, malicious opposition, unworthy suspicions and inveterate prejudices, must be perpetually encountered. These are rendered still more formidable, for the first few years, for want of a proficiency in the language, and a knowledge of the national religion and literature. To teach schools, to study, to translate, to survey new fields, &c., have none of these disagreeable concomitants, and are not so totally at variance with previous habits and feelings. They have the charm, too, of promising evident and immediate fruit, and of seeming to prepare the way for silccessors.
“ Thus the highest self-denial required of a Missionary is in that very part of his work where he thought he should want none. He is unprepared for the demand, and in too many cases is turned aside to collateral pursuits.”
In some few instances where a division of labour can take place with advantage, a Missionary may devote himself to teaching or translating; but the direct preaching of the Gospel is, in general, the great work of the Missionary. Though trying sometimes to flesh and blood to set about it, few duties afford greater pleasure on after reflection.
How to Begin.-A good introduction is of great consequence. The modes adopted by some Missionaries of much experience may be quoted. The Rev. I. Stubbins of Orissa, says:
“We almost invariably commence our preaching opportunity by singing a page or so of any of our poetical tracts, the object of which is to attract a congregation; and having collected a few hearers, the speaker commences his address on any subject which may appear most adapted to his audience, sometimes taking as a text a passage from the poem he has been singing, sometimes a native stanza, sometimes a striking portion of scripture, sometimes the remark of a bystander which he may have overheard, sometimes an incident which he may have seen, an observation he may have heard his
thither. Sometimes be may begin by addressing a few friendly enquiries to any given
* Thus Paul introduced his Address at Athens.
individual in the congregation, and founding his address upon some of the answers which
be given. “ Sometimes it produces an admirable effect to commence with a solemn and impressive subject. I have occasionally preached on the shortness of human life and the immortality of the soul, till I have seen several in tears. This address I commonly commence with a sort of quotation, shewing that at the longest we shall soon die, all die, that according to their own works, ' death sits on -every one and is continually devouring,' or according to another of their stanzas, “Human life is as a drop of water, standing tremulously on a lotus leaf;' that “ death is God's messenger to summon man into the divine presence.
You may conceal yourselves from the messengers that man may send: you may excite their pity; you may bribe them; you may overpower them and make your escape ; but where will you conceal yourself from this messenger? Hide yourselves in the deepest jungle or the deepest cave, he will find you out; flee to foreign shores or brave the trackless deep; go where you will, he will find you out : the tearful entreaties and agonizing wail of wives, children, and friends, excite not his pity, he turns a deaf ear to them all – your silver, your gold, your costly decorations : all, all that you esteem valuable, he despises and tramples beneath his feet. Your youth, your strength, your banded leagues are but as straws before the whirlwind. What will you do? See, he is coming now, he is hastening to your village, is entering it now, is approaching your door, and so on.
The Rev. A. F. Lacroix adopted a similar course :
“ We begin by making a few inquiries into the circumstances of the people, their trailes, prospect of harvest, and other topics of this description, in which we are sure they will be interested. After thus entering into conversation, we gradually draw their attention to more important matters, leading thein to rise from things temporal to things spiritual ; and in this manner we have an opportunity of declaring the way of salvation fully to an attentive and interested audience. Experience has shewn. that this is the best way to obtain a fair hearing of the Gospel. If, on the contrary, we were to begin by attacking the superstitions of the Natives, or abruptly to declare the mysteries of re
* Calcutta Missionary Conference, pp. 55, 57.
demption, we should be sure to excite their prejudices against us, or at least fill them with stupid wonderment
the strange things we told them. The fact is, that in order to speak with effect to these poor benighted idolaters, they must be led to the subject_gently and gradually, and in the simplest manner possible. To accomplish this, a thorough acquaintance not only with the language of the country is required, but also an intimate knowledge of Native habits and feelings."
When the audience is of a somewhat higher character than simple villagers, a plan occasionally pursued by the Rev. W. Smith, Benares, will be found advantageous
“ I tell them that I know very well they look upon us as officious intruders—that our very appearance among them as religious teachers is an insult to their understanding, to the wisdom of their forefathers, and to the religion which they profess; and that as we shew so little respect to their religion, so we seem to them to hold up, in a senseless way, our own to contempt and insult, bawking it about as we do in the bazars, to the acceptance of every cooly. And that it does appear the very extreme of folly, for us upstart English to offer our borrowed religion to the acceptance of a people so ancient, so learned, so religious as the Hindus, whose holy, and, as they say, inspired sages were studying aud teaching the deep things of wisdom and theology, ages before our forefathers were naked wanderers in their native jungles. Now, I say, I can well understand how you should feel angry and offended at our presuming to stand up in your cities to teach you what, as you think, you are so much better able to teach us.
But still you should consider the matter coolly, and not let your passions get the better of your reason—you who make such great pretensions to reason and knowledge. You see we are not bad men, and you see we are not mad men either, nor yet very ignorant men. You know, or ought to know, that we are not paid by Government for what we do, and that our pay is not large, that it can scarcely be suspected we do work so unpleasant to the flesh merely for that. And you
And you know, or might know, if you would examine, that whether we be mistaken or not in our aim, our
* Memoirs, p. 314.