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haps our time may not then be unprofitably employed, if a few minutes should be occupied in considering those objections and discouragements with regard to Foreign Missions, which are most important, and which have a tendency to make the friends of this object weary in well doing. And
1. It has been objected by some, and even by some who sustain high offices in the Church of God, that the command to go and preach the gospel to every creature, was binding merely upon the apostles, to whom it was addressed; and is not so upon Christians of the present day.
As Christians commonly deduce the obligation of sending abroad the gospel from this command, it is interesting to know, whether they can be justified in thus interpreting the scripture.
I grant the command was addressed to the apostles only, in the first instance. But then the very nature of the command shews, that it was not designed to be limited to them. How could twelve men, (rather only eleven, for Judas was dead,) go and preach the gospel to every creature; i. e., to all the nations, and families of the earth? The thing was impossible ; and the command therefore was never designed to limit this duty to them. The command prescribed a general duty, a duty interwoven with the very nature of Chris tian benevolence, and binding on all Christians, so long as any part of the earth remains unenlightened by the gospel. It is a very plain rule of construing any code of laws, human or divine, that as long as the reason of the law exists, so long the law itself, unless formally repealed, must exist. The same reason most evidently exists, at the present hour, of sending the gospel to the
heathen, as urged the apostles to go and preach to all nations. The nations were then perishing in ignorance and wickedness; so are they now : they then needed the light of the gospel; so do they now : the gospel was then the power of God unto salvation; and so it still is. Benevolence then demanded an effort to render happy, men in a miserable and perishing condition; it requires no less, at the present hour.
When Christians, therefore, deduce their obligation to send missionaries to the heathen from the command in question, they do that which can be justified, upon the plainest and most reasonable principles of interpreting the scriptures.
Let me add to the considerations already suggested, that more powerful reasons now exist to urge upon Christians obedience to this command, than existed in the time of the apostles. The followers of Jesus are now numerous ; learned; rich; possessed of great influence in the scale of nations; and can use a multitude of means to spread the gospel which were inaccessible to the apostolic age. How can they be excused then, for neglecting this duty ?
It has been objected
2. That the heathen do not need the gospel; that they are already as moral and happy as Christian na. tions ; and have as good ground to expect future happiness.
It is a pleasant circumstance, that this objection is not frequent in our country; at least, among those who profess any regard to the Christian religion : yet as it does exist, it may be proper not to pass it altogether unnoticed.
The subject, which this objection brings to view,
has been, of late, so amply and frequently discussed, specially in recent English publications, that I shall only suggest a few brief hints, by way of reviewing it, and then proceed in my discourse.
I will freely acknowledge to the objector, that there are as bad, nay worse men in Christian countries, than in heathen. They are equally profligate ; and much more expert in accomplishing wicked designs. But are these men Christians; or only those who disgrace the Christian name, and call down the displeasure of heaven, upon the nations to whom they belong? When this question is answered, the whole difficulty is solved.
Yes; there are those in Christian countries, who delight in crimes, and the infliction of misery upon others; there are those who delight in war and blood; who thirst with more than a tiger's appetite for human victims : but Christianity does not own these ; they are sons of Belial; rebels against the God of heaven; despisers of the Saviour ;-—and are advancing to the eternal pit, with a guilt of far deeper hue than that of Sodom and Gomorrha, or even of Capernaum and Bethsaida.
Take away all these, and then compare the heathen, as to morality, or as to happiness. Compare the followers of Brahma and Mohammed, with the real disciples of Jesus ! Compare them in their most holy things the sacred rites of their religion. Juggernaut will tell you how to estimate the Hindoos; and the Alcoran will tell you, what you are to expect from the followers of Mohammed. Impurity and blood is written on the banners of Brahma, through all the East: and impurity and blood is inscribed on the banners of the
Mussulmen too, in Asia and Africa. The Koran teaches the devotee to expect a heaven, whose chief ingredient is impurity; and blood has followed the track of the crescent, ever since it was first displayed by Mohammed.
Look too at the heathen and Mohammedan countries, and tell me what is the condition of the poorer, the labouring, and more numerous class of society in them all ? What can be the condition of those who have security of neither liberty, property, nor life? Where is compassion to the poor? Walk in the suburbs of Canton, of the temple of Juggernaut, of Constantinople—and see thousands of miserable wretches, every year, absolutely perishing with hunger and nakedness, while not a single hand is moved, or heart touched for them. Pass then into Europe and America, and see the Lazarettos, the hospitals, the alms-houses, which bless every petty hamlet that you find. Consider the immense amount of taxes paid by the public, and the still greater amount of private contributions, for the support, and comfort, and education of the poor and unfortunate. Look at the administration of justice in Christian countries; contemplate the means of instruction, the colleges and schools that exist ; consider the progress of all the arts and sciences, which contribute to enoble and adorn, as well as to render comfortable and affluent, societies of men: and before you finish the comparison, look on the thousands of Christians, who are devoting their time, their talents, their property, to the sole object of promoting the happiness of their fellow creatures. Then say, if you have hardihood enough to say, that heathen countries are as moral and happy as Christian ?
I do not deny, that there may be personal happiness, in some degree, in heathen countries; or that individuals may be found, who are in current language moral. The cause which I advocate, needs not any such extravagance to support it, as would be involved in such a denial. But then, how few are they of whom this can be truly said! One half the human race, (the female part,) are, in all heathen and Mohammedan countries, degraded to the last degree, and considered and treated merely as the veriest slaves, whose sole business it is to subserve the passions and interests of their masters. It is one of the glories of Christianity, that it has raised the female sex, to that exalted rank in human society which they deserve; and it is ingratitude of a high character, in those of them who forget this. Justice however obliges me to say, that as yet, there are many, very many more warm friends to the cause of Christianity among them, than among the other sex.
It cannot be said, in answer to the view I have taken of heathen and Mohammedan countries, that I have given only the character of those, who are apostates from the religion of Brahma, and Mohammed. The gods of India, and of the whole heathen world, almost without exception, are of the very basest character, which the imagination can form; and as religion always consists in a resemblance of the worshipper to his god, a heathen devotee, of necessity is a bad man. Of Mohammed it may be said truly, that he has given us many sublime views of the Deity, in the Koran; but he drew them from the scriptures, which he professed to regard as a revelation from God. Yet the morality of Mohammed is what consummate hypocrisy may practise; and the heaven he taught his followers to expect, is what the highest sensualist may be assured of obtain