ページの画像
PDF
ePub

be addressed; to another, let different appropriate motives be presented ; until thousands who love the Saviour, and who otherwise would spend their lives in more circumscribed scenes of toil, shall be led seriously to examine their individual duty in reference to missionary service.

CHAPTER II.

Necessity for new modifications, growing out of the great obstacles

in the way of the world's evangelization.

In the preceding chapter the attention was directed to some arguments which may show the desirableness of new modes of missionary labor. The reasons therein noticed, have reference, mainly, to the influence we desire to exert over those in the church whom we wish should become missionaries.

Let us now notice some thoughts in support of the general proposition, of a nature different from those already considered.

May it not be asserted, that the almost appalling obstacles in the way of the conversion of the heathen will render necessary, or at least desirable, different plans of evangelical labor?

The point involved in this question has been lamentably overlooked, even by the most intelligent Christians. Indeed, it may be fairly questioned, whether the most experienced members of our mission Boards fully understand the difficulties alluded to. A very exact knowledge of many general and particular facts possessed by them; and as much as can be communicated by correspondence and oral communication, they may know; but, after all, let them dwell among the heathen, and become acquainted with the lights and shadows of their wretched lives, and they will find their knowledge

3

may be

of heathen character and condition to have been much more limited than they supposed.

The Rev. Howard Malcom, who is now in India, on a tour of observation for the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions, thus writes from Maulmein, to the Board at Boston: “Every day developes something which, as a Board we could not know. The brethren here have become much impressed with the utility of an office like mine, that some of them have proposed that I remain in the East, passing always from station to station.”

The wisdom of the British Foreign Missionary Society, in electing to one of its Secretaryships, the Rev. Mr. Ellis, long a resident at the Society Islands, cannot be too much admired. Indeed, there should be in every missionary board some one individual at least, who had been familiar with heathenism by personal observation. The importance of this is paramount, and must be attended to, if full success is hoped as the result of foreign efforts. There may be a great difficulty-almost an impossibility to procure such persons—but if it can be done

nly by sending men on purpose to acquire the knowledge and experience desired, it had better be attempted.

It is impossible, utterly impossible, for the most gifted writer to convey a correct view of the sad realities that stand in this connexion. The inner temple of heathenism must be personally entered, and its foulness seen in order to be appreciated.

But were it possible for the missionary to convey to his friends at home a faithful portraiture of the forins of wickedness and degradation that surround him, he would not do it. His character for veracity might be jeoparded. He would, also, be deterred by the loathsome indelicacy of the facts themselves, and might justly fear that the Church would retire disheartened from the work. He instinctively shrinks from the disclosure of that which has often well nigh discouraged hiin, and which he had but faintly appreciated before his residence among a nation of idolaters. It is, no doubt, a digressive remark, but those who experimentally understand the length and breadth and height and depth of the subject under review, hardly know which to admire most, the timely appearance of the recent work of Rev. Hollis Read;* the fidelity and vividness of his picture of pagan life; or the nerve which led him to make his pages public. He may have the satisfaction of knowing that many hearts respond with gratitude to this particular work which he has performed; and that it has led some (perhaps many) to the throne of grace for help in this time of the missionaries' need.

To return from this digression. It is to be feared that the Church has not enough confidence in the promise of the risen Saviour, to look, unappalled, at the difficulties of the case.

has been hinted, this consideration leads the foreign missionary, in his communications with home, rather to dwell upon those features of his work that would encourage, than upon those of a different description. He remembers how his own heart sickened within him, when he acquired a more intimate knowledge of heathen character; and he is tempted to keep back part of his experience, lest he should be abandoned by his friends, or recalled to home fields of labor, where less of discourageinent would meet him.

*“The Christian Brahmun, etc. etc. by Rev. Hollis Read, American Missionary to India.”

An additional motive that leads to the predominance of the encouraging in his communications, is, that his bosom burns with increased desire that the church should send out more laborers into the field, where his own efforts seem to him to be-and, in fact, are, so entirely inadequate to the necessities of the case. It becomes perfectly natural then, that he should try to induce his brethren at home to join him in his labors, by presenting all that would be likely to encourage them. This does not necessarily imply the slightest dereliction of honesty or fairness, but it is a sort of natural refraction of the rays of light which strike the mental vision, consequent upon the bias of the hopes and wishes of the individual.

It may be further said, that he is so much accustomed to obstacles and disappointed hope, that if God now and then cheer him by the conversion of a soul, or by unexpectedly opening a sealed door, his mind is apt to dwell almost exclusively upon this delightful token of the divine favor ; and it at once becomes the burden of biscommunications. This is all perfectly natural ; and it is not only excusable, but right. 'Tis indeed a signal miracle of grace that leads a filthy, benighted idolater to become a joyful follower of the Lamb! No wonder the missionary dwells upon such a theme.

One instance only of conversion, proves that the gospel has power to save even those, among whom his labors seemed to have been wasted. To see it triumpla against the strong antagonist force of caste, custom, priestcraft, and licentiousness, in addition to the common features of moral depravity, adds new joy to his bosom ; and like the way-worn mariner when his eye catches a glimpse of the friendly beacon in the hour of despond

« 前へ次へ »