ページの画像
PDF
ePub

This course not only prevented many of the hindrances which a different style of living would present, but it arrested the attention of all who knew him, and went far towards gaining that unbounded confidence, which, it is well known, was reposed in him by all classes both of Europeans, and natives of India. Enough has been said on this digressive topic. It is simply added, that no expectation is cherished that a return will be made on the part

of modern missionaries to the details of the course indicated by the Saviour. Yet as close an approximation thereto as possible should be attempted ; and that approximation should be made visible to the most casual observer among the heathen. It may cost the beloved missionary band much additional self-denial, and they will find their life a painful one. But they who shall cheerfully have fellowship in the privations and sufferings involved in the first commission, will win a crown of higher glory than would be the result of a course less trying.

The third objection suggested in the beginning of this chapter was, that some will probably say that that function which conternplates the healing of the sick by missionaries, ceased at the time when the miraculous power by which it was effected was withheld.

To give the objection the utmost benefit of the position, we hazard nothing in admitting for argument's sake, that were there no reasons derivable from the intrinsic adaptation of such a procedure, we might consent to waive any considerations drawn from the command itself ; and at once admit that it was only intended to be a means for the use of the first missionaries.

But it is contended that, if no such plan had ever fallen from the lips of the Saviour, it possesses the most unique and philosophical elements of adaptation to the work in question, and hence commends itself to our imitation. To the proof of this it shall be our business now to present a few thoughts.

In the first place, it will be proper to notice somewhat in detail, one particular feature of the difficulty which attends missionary efforts abroad; namely, the total want on the part of the heathen, of those elements of belief, education, and of moral character that would enable them to understand and weigh the claims of Christianity. This is a point of vital importance, and should never be lost sight of when laying plans for missionary labor. Were it justly appreciated, the toiling, almost disheartened herald of the cross would have more sympathy from his brethren at home ; and it would go far toward accounting for what has been called the ill-success of christian missions.

Having reached soine heathen shore the missionary finds himself among a people who from time immemorial have been sunk to the lowest depths of moral and intellectual wretchedness ; where even the religious teachers call good evil, and evil good ; and* “ to lie, steal, cheat, deceive, commit adultery, and wallow like the swine in the filth of moral turpitude, is too trifling a thing to be named, it is only what their gods did before them.”

Where, in the language of the same author, * « disinterestedness and gratitude are ideas, to express which there are no corresponding terms in the Indian languages,

* Rev. Hollis Read, pp. 4:3, 44.

[ocr errors]

turn.

and it may be questioned whether any such ideas exist in a native's mind."

Persons educated in Christendom, generally have the rudiments of true religion in their minds, and when arguments in regard to it are presented, they can understandingly examine them. Not so with the heathen. They have no key, to unlock, whenever they will, the door of truth. It is literally true that they have eyes but cannot see. This painful fact meets the missionary at every

It pervades his entire experience of heathenism. It is found in the school-bungalow, in the private intercourse, in the public assembly. That the heathen world is preoccupied by idolatry simply, is but the lesser trouble. Could he but see the cloud of stupidity and obtuseness roll away, he would deem a great portion of his trials to be removed. There seem to be no general principles, mutually acknowledged, upon which he can meet those among whom he labors. What is virtue to the one,

is vice to the other. In addition to this, the heathen has scarcely ever seen benevolence embodied. Generally speaking this virtue has no existence in his mind, not even as an abstract theory. Even if he have refined upon heathenism generally, and cherish a fancied notion of such a virtue, he is in no ways disposed to believe that it is designed to be practised by common mortals. He has never seen the slightest appearance of it in the conduct of his priests ; and no mention of its incarnation is made in his religious books. Even the deities before whose shrine he daily bends the knee, are confessedly cruel, and selfish. Now, upon such persons the announcement of the blessed gospel has but little effect. They cannot appreciate the arguments of the preacher, so to speak, however lucid and simple those arguments may be. And, as a general thing, they will not honor his motives.

Imagine the case of a debauched, selfish, ignorant man in a christian country ; one who has been trained in the school of Atheism, or of the basest system which can be found in the land under the name of religion. Imagine him to be a caviller, and never to have been thrown into the society of better and purer spirits than himself. Try to argue with him on the subject of pure and undefiled religion-on the claims of a holy law-on the blessedness of a life of benevolence-on the joy which comes from justification by faith—and you will find him misunderstanding your plainest propositions ; and evincing a stupidity disgraceful to humanity. On these topics there seems to be a moral impossibility of convincing his understanding ; although on matters of business, and the common affairs of life he may be shrewd and discriminating. So difficult is it to convince this description of persons, that, by common consent, they are generally left to themselves; and seem to belong to that class before whom we are commanded not to “throw pearls.” In such cases, the good judge of human nature will, instead of arguing, essay to cause the individual to feel the power of a pure and benevolent example, and will be diligent in seeking occasions in which he may perform towards him acts of disinterested benevolence. This is the only class of arguments he seems capable of appreciating.

In the case now supposed, is faintly illustrated the kind of difficulties under consideration ; with this difference

however, that it is impossible for persons brought up in a christian country so completely to shut out the rays of true light as to sink them as low as the heathen. That THERE IS ONE GOD, JUST AND HOLY :--and ONE SAVIOUR, EVEN Jesus Christ: are truths admitted by almost every mind in Christendom ; and to most persons have the nature of self-evident propositions. There are those who pretend a disbelief in them, but, it may be safely affirmed that such is but pretence. Go to the vilest brothel of our cities, and look upon its guiltiest inmate—and when you stand beside the dying bed of that individual you shall hear the cry to God for mercy. In the day of her health no one would have supposed that she knew there was a God.

But now, she not only seems possessed of this elementary truth; but in the fear and trembling that seize her, evidence the most positive is given that she has a knowledge of the other fundamental doctrines of the gospel.

Follow the proud professed Atheist to his hour of dissolution ; and if he have had his birth and education in a land of gospel privileges, he will now tremble ; for, notwithstanding his vaunted disbelief, the simple truths alluded to flash upon his mind, and give the lie to his profession. Think we that he was born and nurtured in a christian land, and no idea of them have found a lodgement in his mind ? From the cradle to the grave has no voice whispered them in his ear? Did not the mother who pressed him to her bosom in his hours of childhood bid him offer the Lord's prayer ere he closed his eyes in slumber? Can he have passed thus ignorant through all the light, positive and reflected, that issues from the reli

« 前へ次へ »