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ing. How can such a morality and the expectation of such a heaven, purify the soul ?
In regard to the assertion, that the heathen have as much right to expect future happiness as Christians, much might be said. I shall comprize in a few words, what the present occasion permits me to say.
I admit the possibility of salvation to a heathen. The apostle seems to me to intimate this, when he says, that those “ who sin without law, shall be judged without law;" and “ if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?” But then, as no man is perfect, either heathen or Christian, so none can be saved but through the Mediator.
Still, admitting the possibility, and even the actual existence of cases, where the heathen are saved is there any probability that they are numerous ? Do the lives of the heathen, in general, exhibit evidence that they are led by the Spirit of God ? Far from it very far from it. Nothing can be more correct indeed, than the picture which the apostle has drawn of them, in the first chapter of his epistle to the Romans. They do then need the gospel to reform them; they need it to civilize them; they need it to comfort them; they need it to prepare them for glory.
Besides all this; if the objection be well founded, it was equally so in the days of the apostles ; and the injunction upon them to preach to the heathen, was just as needless as it is now.
A third objection alleges, that the age of miracles being past, and the heathen being so numerous, and so obstinately attached to their superstitions, there can be no rational hope of success, from preaching the gospel
But this objection proves too much. If the gospel cannot be preached to the heathen, with any hope of success because the age of miracles is past, then it can be rationally preached no where else ; for sinners under the light of the gospel are not less difficult to be converted than the heathen. On such a subject, history may speak. And I ask the objector to look at Caffraria—at Greenland-at Hindoostan; to read the histories of Eliot, Brainard, Schwartz, Vanderkemp, Kicherer, and many others. It cannot be denied that the gospel has power to subdue the most inveterate prejudices, and to enlighten the darkest minds. It cannot be denied that Christian missionaries to the heathen have had as great success, as the same number of ministers have had in Europe and America.
Besides; what were the nations of Europe, now called Christian, some ages ago ?-A horde of the most rude and barbarous savages; the devotees of Woden, and Thor, and other gods of similar character. What civilized them ? How were they christianized ? Not by miracles; the age of miracles had long passed. They were civilized and christianized by the gospel ; preached too in an age, when very much of its essential glory was obscured, by the ignorance and superstition of its ministers. Why may not heathen now be christianized by the same gospel, exhibited in its effulgence? They may; they are ; skepticism cannot deny it; enmity to the cross and the glory of the Saviour cannot conceal it.
If miracles, moreover, are necessary to propagate the Christian religion among the heathen, when are they
to take place ? Produce the passage of scripture, which promises a renewal of the age of miracles to the church. The revelation of God is completed; the Christian religion is established. Its increase is to be effected, like all other great and good objects, by strenuous efforts, followed with the blessing of God.
A fourth, and somewhat common objection to foreign missions is, that we have heathen enough to be converted at home; why should we then send abroad to convert them?
The fact I am constrained to admit. Ah yes! We have indeed, within the very echo of that gospel which is proclaimed from Sabbath to Sabbath, thousands who know not God, and obey not the gospel : thousands, who are hastening to the judgment seat of Christ, with the accumulated guilt of having rejected an offered Saviour, and done despite to the Spirit of his grace ;
thousands too, who do not even know the elementary principles of the Christian religion. A heavy load of guilt lies upon
Christians for all this, it must be granted. Far greater exertions than have yet been made, duty, -imperious duty, requires them to make ; and the day is dawning already, which will enlighten this dark spot. Sabbath schools, charity chapels, and domestic missionary societies are begininng the work of Christian benevolence, and of God. A thousand blessings descend upon them! May all hearts be warmed-may all hands be employed in their behalf ; and the grace of God render their efforts effectual, to the salvation of many perishing sinners!
But, is Christian benevolence of such a nature as to be circumscribed here? Can it not expand, until it reaches the distant shores of Asia and Africa, and the wilds of our western forests ? If a beggar comes to the door of a rich man and presents an importunate request for aid, which he is able to grant; shall the poor perishing wretch, who lies at some distance from his house, and cannot come to ask for charity, be wholly neglected ? Forbid it heaven! Spirit of holy love which dwelt in the bosoms of the apostles and martyrs, forbid it!
Yes; we have something to spare for the perishing heathen too. We can tell some of them, that Jesus died for them; we can offer consolation to some guilty wretches, who are perishing in despair ; and tell them that the blood of the Lamb of God taketh away the sins of the world. We can bid the eyes that are closing in everlasting darkness, look to Calvary and see eternal day.
Who has been impoverished by foreign missions ? Whose bread has been withheld, or whose water has failed? And are the men, whose hearts are so warmed with benevolence, as to send the tidings of salvation to the most distant heathen, the men who are to be unfeeling and illiberal towards those around them, who are perishing ? Such are not the laws of our nature; it is not so in practice. I court the investigation; who are among the most conspicuous for domestic liberalities ? Are they not the warmest patrons of foreign missions too? I make the appeal to fact; and facts are better, on such a subject, than all the theories which can be formed.
In regard to the objections, which I have hitherto discussed, some of them are made by persons, who evidently have little or no regard to Christianity, and are indifferent whether it is any where preached, or not.
Others are suggested by persons of a more sober character, and who have imbibed some unhappy prejudices against the cause of foreign missions. There are besides these, some discouragements, which have a tendency to operate on the minds of those, who are real friends to the cause in question. The nature of my design requires me not to pass these over in silence.
I shall speak only of the discouragements which respect the foreign missions of our own country.
The first and greatest, at present, is the want of
We admit, that hitherto, no success of a peculiarly encouraging nature, has attended our efforts abroad. But then, justice requires that several considerations should be here suggested.
It is but a short time, since the business of foreign missions commenced. Our young men, who have devoted themselves to this work, have scarcely had time to become acquainted with the languages of the countries where they are.
Their difficulties, in respect to quiet residence, have been many. They have hardly begun to acquire personal influence and regard among strangers. It is but very recently, that they have begun with stammering tongue, as one of them describes it, to proclaim the news of salvation. It would be unreasonable to be
weary of well doing towards them, until they have had a more thorough opportunity to accomplish the object of their mission.
In the mean time, for our encouragement let us turn our views, for a moment, to the London mission to the South Sea Islands, and the Baptist mission to India. More than twenty years passed, before either of them was crowned with any distinguished success.