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Some objections noticed. Thoughts on the genius of our plan. A
peculiar difficulty which embarrasses the foreign missionary, and the adaptation of our plan to meet it.
THERE are many who will allow no great weight to the arguments in a preceding chapter, touching the identity of office in the work of the former and the latter missionary. And there may be a still larger number who will consider no part of the first commission as binding upon modern laborers among the heathen, because, as they say, there is a manisest impracticability in following to the letter the entire design. Because some of its details, to their view, are not adapted to the circumstances of this age, they unceremoniously pass by the whole, as a matter fit only for the times immediately bordering upon the days of the Saviour. And they may further say as regards healing the sick, that that function of the missionary office was obviously to cease when the miraculous power by which it was exercised was withdrawn.
With regard to the question touching the identity of office, we are willing to waive it entirely, if need be; and to ask from it no support for the plan advocated in these pages. It has been noticed principally to elicit thought.
On the second point we are inclined to be more tenacious. It cannot be admitted that because of the impracticability of travelling in heathen nations without "purse or scrip” we have liberty to disregard those portions of the design which are practicable. Nothing of truth is
hazarded by saying that, as near an approximation as may be to the exact letter of the original commission is worthy the profound and prayerful consideration of missionaries. In fact, it is no unworthy inquiry, whether we have not yet to learn that, the entire mode of procedure, in all its severe and homely details, is to be followed, before the success of the mission cause shall be at all commensurate with its desired end. The simple question thus proposed may savor of ultraism; but it is not ventured without reflection, nor without some personal acquaintance with heathenism. At all events, there should be a marked dependence upon a daily Providence for daily supplies, in all the domestic and temporal arrangements of the missionary. He may not literally be sent abroad without pecuniary resources immediately in possession ; but he must, if he would commend himself and his cause to the mass of the heathen, embody the spirit of the details alluded to. This is a point of no minor importance; and it is questionable whether it has received the attention it demands.
Those who have not been in heathen countries cannot fully appreciate the train of thought thus incidentally fallen upon, and which may be pursued a step or two further. To those who have visited the shores of heathenism, and marked with an accurate eye the facts in the premises, the matter will commend itself. Thus certain of being understood by one class of readers, a few additional remarks in this connexion may be made.
It is a fact that, in most heathen countries, so low has idolatry sunk its victims, that the temporal provision and conveniences enjoyed by the humblest missionary, are far superior to those which constitute the portion of the majority of the former. While the missionary with a noble self-denial has cheerfully given up many of the social and physical comforts of a christian community; and is contented with, in many instances, a meagre supply of his necessary requirements, he is still above want. The hand of poverty,-severe and pinching poverty-is laid on the majority of all around him, while the church of a nation is pledged for his support. The naked, the homeless, the diseased, and the orphan, wander in crowds within sight of his window; while of him it cannot be affirmed that he has no place where to lay his head ; or that he is friendless. Thanks, thanks be to God that he is not thus left, and thanks too that the church at home is permitted to share in the privilege of adding to his temporal well-being.
But while it rejoices us to know that many blessings are the portion of the missionaries' cup, it cannot be de. nied that their temporal circumstances, as compared with those of the mass of the heathen, place them in a situation of a most enviable nature. During the first three years of the missionary establishment at the Sandwich Islands, theirs was the only framed house on the Island of Oahu, excepting that occupied by the American Consul. Now, it is, of course, most freely admitted, that proper comfort and economy were consulted in the erection of the building to which reference is made ; but at the same time it is a fact that that dwelling appeared, in contrast with the fragile, comfort.uss native tenements
that consituted the village of Honolulu, like the habitation - of a proud aristocracy. Christianity is the mother of
comfort, heathenism of misery. This is as true of things temporal as of things eternal. And herein lies the difficulty under consideration. To be even decent, according to the code of enlightened civilization, is almost necessarily to elevate the individual above the generality of the heathen. It is hoped that the foregoing remarks will not be misunderstood. It is not intended by them to intimate aught against the extreme simplicity and economy which obviously characterize the arrangements at the various missionary stations in foreign lands. What has been said is merely to elicit inquiry as to the importance of embodying as nearly as may be the details of the first commission. That plan involves an unworldliness, so to speak, which could not fail of arresting the attention of the most obtuse and degraded heathen. He would notice in the external condition of the missionary who should carry it out, a willingness to be a partaker of his sufferings ; and by a law of the mind, universal and immutable-a mutual sympathy would run from heart to heart. And then would be taken from the mouth of the unprincipled European adventurer, the stale calumny which they sometimes seek to impress upon the heathen, that, the missionary makes only merchandise of his religion. Too oft, alas ! do men from christian nations thus point to the comforts and blessings which the missionary enjoys, and by all means within their power, give currency to the lie just noticed.
We may well suppose that a band of holy men, such as were the majority of the eighty-two, travelling unarmed, unattended, unprovisioned, throughout the regions of heathenism ; doing plain and palpable good; and
preaching, in childlike simplicity, the doctrines of the cross, would gain for them the hearts of all in the poorer walks of life. Their penury, their plainness of garb, and their manner of life, might not command from the great what is called respect, nor gain them admittance into their splendid dwellings; but it would make them, in a sense, one with the poor, and down-trodden. And in so far as the latter class outnumbered the former would that course be desirable.
But, probably to such a course as we have just contemplated was the distinguished Swartz greatly indebted for his influence over the heathen. There was in all his domestic arrangements the most marked simplicity, approaching very nearly to the letter of the apostolic custom. His income in the early period of his residence in India was £48 sterling per annum ; and if this sum be estimated by its ability to procure supplies at that time, it would be but about equal to £24, or one hundred and ten dollars. “Let us see,” says his friend,“ how he managed with this income. He obtained of the commanding officer, who perhaps, was ordered to furnish him with quarters, a room in an old Gentoo building, which was just large enough to hold himself and bed, and in which few could stand upright. With this apartment he was contented. A dish of rice and vegetables, dressed after the manner of the natives, was what he could always sit cheerfully down to; and a piece of dimity dyed black, and other materials of the same homely sort, sufficed him for an annual supply of clothing. Thus easily provided as to temporalities, his only care was to do the work of an evangelist.”