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if any thing, more than a change of denomination. The greatest and best work, and the most worthy of the name of conversion, of which I have read, is that which has taken place by the labours of the Anglo-Americans among the natives. They have, indeed, wrought wonders. Mr. Elliot, the first minister who engaged in this work, went over to New-England in 1632; and, being warmed with a holy zeal for converting the natives, learned their language, and preached to them in it. He also, with great labour, translated the Bible, and some English treatises, into the same language. God made him eminently useful for the turning of these poor Heathens to himself. He settled a number of Christian churches, and ordained elders over them, from among themselves. After a life of unremitted-labour in this important undertaking, he died in a good old age, and has ever since been known, both among the English and the natives, by the name of The Apostle of the American Indians.
Nor were these converts like many of those in the East, who professed they knew not what, and, in a little time, went off again as fast as they came: the generality of them understood and felt what they professed, and persevered to the end of their lives. Mr. Elliot's example stimulated many others: some in his lifetime, and others after his death, laboured much, and were blessed to the conversion of thousands among the Indians. The names and labours of Bourn, Fitch, Mayhew, Pierson, Gookin, Thatcher, Rawson, Treat, Tupper, Cotton, Walter, Sargeant, Davenport, Park, Horton, Brainerd and Edwards, are remembered with joy and gratitude in those benighted regions of the earth. Query, Were ever any such effects as these wrought by preaching Socinian doctrines ?
Great things have been done among the Heathen, of late years, by the Moravians. About the year 1733, they sent Missionaries to Greenland-a most inhospitable country indeed, but containing about ten thousand inhabitants, all enveloped in Pagan darkness. After the labour of several years apparently in vain, success attended their efforts; and, in the course of twenty or thirty years, about seven hundred Heathens are said to have been baptized,
and to have lived the life of Christians.* They have done great good also in the most northern parts of North-America, among the Esquimaux; and still more among the Negroes in the West India islands; where at the close of 1788, upwards of thirteen thousand of those poor, injured, and degraded people, were formed into Christian societies. The views of Moravians, it is true, are different from ours in several particulars, especially in matters relating to church government and discipline: but they appear to possess a great deal of godly simplicity; and as to the doctrines which they inculcate, they are mostly, what we esteem evangelical. The doctrine of atonement by the death of Christ, in particular, forms the great subject of their ministry. The first person in Greenland who appeared willing to receive the gospel, was an old man who came to the missionaries for instruction. "We told him," say they "as well as we could, of the creation of man, and the intent thereof-of the fall and corruption of nature-of the redemption effected by Christ-of the resurrection of all men, and eternal happiness or damnation." They inform us, afterwards, that the doctrine of the cross, or "the Creator's taking upon him human nature, and dying for our sins," was the most powerful means of impressing the minds of the Heathen, and of turning their hearts to God. "On this account," they add, "we determined, like Paul; to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified."
Now consider, brethren, were there ever any such effects as the above wrought by the Socinian doctrine? If there were, let them be brought to light. Nay, let a single instance be produced of a Socinian teacher having so much virtue or benevolence in him, as to make the the attempt; so much virtue or benevolence, as to venture among a race of barbarians, merely with a view to their conversion.
But we have unbelievers at home: and Dr. Priestley persuaded of the tendency of his principles to convert, has lately made some experiments upon them, as being within his reach. He has done well. There is nothing like experiment in religion as well as in philosophy. As to what tendency his sentiments would have upon Heathens and Mahometans, provided a free intercourse could be *See Crantz's History of Greenland.
obtained, it is all conjecture. The best way to know their efficacy, is by trial; and trial has been made. Dr. Priestley has addressed Letters to a Philosophical Unbeliever, and Letters to the Jews. Whether this seed will spring up, it is true, we must not yet decide. Some little time after he had published, however, he himself acknowledged, "I do not know that my book has converted a single unbeliever."* Perhaps, he might say the same still :. and that, not only of his Letters to a Philosophical Unbeliever, but of those to the Jews.
If the opinion of the Jews may, in any degree, be collected from the answer of their champion, Mr. David Levi, so far are they from being convinced of the truth of Christianity by Dr. Priestley's writings, that they suspect whether he himself be a Chris"Your doctrine," says Mr. Levi, "is so opposite to what I always understood to be the principles of Christianity, that I must ingeniously confess I am greatly puzzled to reconcile your principles to the attempt. What! a writer that asserts that the miraculous conception of Jesus does not appear to him to be sufficiently authenticated, and that the original Gospel of St. Matthew did not contain it, set up for a defender of Christianity against the Jews, is such an inconsistency as I did not expect to meet with in a philosopher, whose sole pursuit has been in search of truth! You are pleased to declare, in plain terms, that you do not believe in the miraculous conception of Jesus, and that you are of opinion that he was the legitimate son of Joseph. After such assertions as these, how you can be entitled to the appellation of a Christian,' in the strict sense of the word, is to me really incomprehensible. If I am not greatly mistaken, I verily believe that the honour of Jesus, or the propagation of Christianity, are things of little moment in your serious thoughts, notwithstanding all your boasted sincerity." To say nothing of the opinion of the Jews concerning what is Christianity having all the weight that is usually attributed to the judgment of impartial by-standers, the above quotations afford but little reason to hope for their conversion to Christianity by Socinian doctrines.
* Letters to Mr. Hammen.
+ Mr. David Levi's Letters to Dr. Priestley.
But still, it may be said, We know not what is to come. True: but this we know, that if any considerable fruit arise from the Addresses above referred to, it is yet to come; and not from these Addresses only, but I am inclined to think, from any thing that has been attempted by Socinians for the conversion of unbelievers.
Is it not a fact, that Socinian principles render men indifferent to this great object, and even induce them to treat it with contempt ? The Monthly Reviewers, in reviewing Mr. Carey's late publication on this subject, infer from bis acknowledgements of the baneful influence of wicked Europeans in their intercourse with Heathens, and the great corruptions among the various denominations of professing Christians, that, if so, "far better is the light of nature, as communicated by their Creator, than any light that our officiousness disposes us to carry to them ’ "* By Europeans who have communicated their vices to Heathens; Mr. Carey undoubtedly meant, not those ministers of the gospel, or those serious Christians, who have gone among them for their good; but navigators merchants and adventurers, whose sole object was to enrich themselves: and, though he acknowledges a great deal of degeneracy and corruption, to have infected the Christian world, yet the qualifications which he requires in a missionary might have secured his proposal from censure, and doubtless would have done so, had not the Reviewers been disposed to throw cold water upon every such undertaking. If, indeed, there be none to be found among professing Christians, except such who, by their intercourse with Heathens, would only render their state worse than it was before, let the design be given up: but if otherwise, the objection is of no force.
The Reviewers will acknowledge, that great corruptions have attended the civil government of Europe, not excepting that of our own country; and that we are constantly engaged in dissensions on the subject: yet I have no doubt but they could find certain individuals who, if they were placed in the midst of an uncivilized people, would be capable of affording them substantial assistance— would teach them to establish good laws, good order, and equal
* Monthly Review, for Dec. 1792, p. 447.
liberty. Nor would they think of concluding, because European conquerors and courtiers, knowing no higher motive than self-interest, instead of meliorating the condition of uncivilized nations, have injured it, that therefore it was vain for any European to think of doing otherwise. Neither would they regard the sneers of the enemies of civil liberty and equity, who might deride them as a little flock of conceited politicians, or, at best, of inexperienced philanthropists, whose plans might amuse in the closet, but would not bear in real life. Why is it that we are to be sceptical and inactive in nothing but religion?
Had Mr. Carey, after the example of Dr. Priestley, proposed that his own denomination only should open an intercourse with Heathens, the Reviewers would have accused him of illibebarality; and now, when he proposes that "other denominations should engage separately in promoting missions," this, it is said, would be "spreading our religious dissensions over the globe." How, then, are these gentlemen to be pleased? By sitting still, it should seem, and persuading ourselves that it is impossible to find out what is true religion; or, if not, that it is but of little importance to disseminate it. But why is it, I again ask, that we are to be sceptical and inactive in nothing but religion? The result is this: Socinianism, so far from being friendly to the conversion of unbelievers, is neither adapted to the end, nor favourable to the means -to those means, however, by which it has pleased God to save them that believe.
I am, &c.