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What accessions to the kingdom of glory may there hereafter be, in consequence of the instructions of those who are now striving, in heathen lands, to make known the salvation of the cross!
What other pursuit is to be compared with this great enterprize of Christian benevolence? What are the triumphs of earthly potentates, in comparison with the sway which the Prince of peace is extending, over the hearts and lives of those who receive his salvation: How far are the most splendid commercial arrangements exceeded in importance, by the plan which proposes to carry the message of divine mercy, to every corner of the earth! What are the sublimest discoveries of science, compared with the lustre of that heavenly truth, which is dispelling the darkness that now covers the nations?
3. The missionary cause will be seen to be great, if we consider the difficulties which lie in the way of its progress. To have access to the heathen, in all their dwelling places, oceans must be traversed, deserts must be penetrated; climates filled with disease and death must be visited. When the missionary arrives at his station, he finds that a long course of preparation is necessary, before he can hope to see the fruit of his labors. The fallow ground must be broken up, the field must be sown, the early and the latter rain must be received, before he can put in the sickle to the harvest. The languages of the various nations and tribes, must be learned. Into each of these, translations of the Scriptures must be made. Children and adults must be put to school, to enable them to read what is then brought to their hands.
But all this is merely preparatory to the great work of conversion. The conflict with ignorance, and superstition, and depravity, is only commenced. The missionary, after having exposed himself to "perils in the sea, perils in the city, and perils in the wilderness;" after having wasted his strength, in the work to which he is devoted, has occasion to mourn that so little ground is yet gained by his efforts. He finds that while he has been instrumental, in recovering one from the kingdom of darkness, thousands around him have died in their sins. A few individuals renounce their idolatry, while whole nations are prostrate before their gods of gold, and wood, and stone. The people are bound down in their superstition, by customs and habits of thinking, which bave been gathering strength for ages. We may almost as well think of levelling the mountains of Asia, as hope to break down their casts, and proud distinctions of rank, which powerfully resist the humbling spirit of Christianity. The prevalent systems of philosophy, in the pagan world, are so blended with the common business of life; so brought down to the daily course of thinking, and speaking, and acting; that to oppose effectually their influence, we must change the whole face of society.
But there is a more formidable enemy to be met, than absurd and profane customs, corrupt philosophical principles, and long established forms of idolatry The idolatry of the heart is to be overcome. All the external modes of superstition, are only the outworks by which this has attempted to fortify itself. The worship of stocks and stones has come down from
generation to generation, because it has ever found so welcome a reception in the human heart. When you call upon a man to renounce his idols, you make a demand upon him, which his strongest and most determined affections are prepared to resist. You may remove his ignorance. You may eradicate the prejudices of his understanding. You may even convince
0, that the system of his religious tenets is a fabric of the imagination. But, visionary as it is, he will prefer it to the realities of Christianity. There needs a mightier influence, than that of instruction and warnings, arguments and intreaties.
4. But, for the supernatural aid which the urgency of the case requires, we may confidently rely on the promise of God. The missionary cause is great, in relation to the divine influence which may be expected to rest upon it. Our Savior, immediately before his ascension, said to his disciples, “All power is given unto me, in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore and teach all nations: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. All power is given unto me; go ye therefore, and teach all nations." This is the ground on which we are warranted to believe, that missionary efforts will be crowned with success. Great as are the obstacles in the way, Omnipotence can remove them. Terrible as is the conflict with human corruption, Divine Energy can render victory certain.
When the Apostles entered upon the great work of carrying the Gospel to the heathen, all opposing influence gave way before them. They triumphed "over principalities and powers; over the rulers of the
darkness of this world; over spiritual wickedness in high places.” The same almighty energy which carried them forward, in this fearful warfare, will sustain the faithful missionary, in these latter days, even to the end of the world. In himself he is weak; but through the strength which is from on high, he is mighty to the battle. When trembling before the enemy, we may address him, in the language of the prophet, “Who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and forgettest the Lord thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth?" He can command to silence, before the heralds of salvation, the noise of the waves, and the tumult of the people. He can say to pestilence and war, “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.”. He can subdue even that which is farther from control, than tempest, or pestilence, or war; the perverse heart of man.
The missionary.may publish the tidings of peace and salvation; but the Spirit of the Lord only can remove the veil that is spread over the nations. His servants may expose the absurdity of idolatry; but he alone can cause, that "the gods which have not made the heavens and the earth, shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens."
Faithful missionaries, like Paul, may be "chosen vessels to the Lord, to bear his name before Gentiles and kings.” But his Spirit alone can "cause the Gentiles to see his righteousness, and all kings, his glory.". Our faith, that the missionary cause will finally triumph, in the conversion of the world, rests upon the
predictions of his word. “I saw, in the night visions," says Daniel, “one like the Son of Man, come with the clouds of heaven; and there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom; that all people, nations, and languages should serve him. All the ends of the world, shall remember, and turn unto the Lord. All the kindreds of the nations, shall worship before him. The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord. Righteousness and praise shall spring forth, before all nations; for the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it."
5. The missionary cause is great, in the system of means which are necessary to carry its purpose into effect. Though the conversion of the world must be the work of the Spirit of God, yet it will not be accomplished, without human instrumentality. The moral kingdom of God, as well as his government of the material world, is a kingdom of means. And the preparation of means, is, in most instances, proportioned to the importance and dignity of the purpose to be effected. When a world is to be recovered, from the desolations of ages; when six hundred millions are to be converted to Christianity; how powerful must be the combination of instruments and efforts!
We are not to suppose, that a nation is brought into the kingdom of Christ, because we have stationed half a dozen missionaries, in one of its cities or villages; as navigators claim for their sovereign, a newly discovered country, by landing on the coast, and erecting a standard. While your teachers are zealous and active, within the little circle of their labors; the vast regions around them, are beyond the reach of their voice. The great mass of the population may never