Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

labours is attested by Lord Sligo, is that of your heathen favourite Cicero. In the dedication of your treatise on Natural Theology to Earl Spencer, speaking of the death of Romilly, you thus set forth the opinions of the Roman orator : “Ever since the time I followed him to the grave, I question if either of us has read, without meditating upon the irreparable loss we and all men then sustained, the words of the an. cient philosopher best imbued with religious opinions :

- Proficiscor enim non ad eos solum viros de quibus ante dixi, sed etiam ad Catonem meum, quo nemo vir melior natus est, nemo pietate præstantior,'" &c.—opin. ions at utter variance with the word of God. Alas! my Lord, the “ melior natus est” comprises a doctrine and a principle which have no place in the volume of Inspiration. How different is the language of Paul ! For the “præstantior pietate” of your Roman worthies, he would substitute, Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds and four-footed beasts, and creeping things, who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever ; who, knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” Cicero's “præstantior pietate" is the exact counterpart of Paul's “ wholly given to idolatry.” Hundreds and thousands of negro boys and girls, by the Scriptures of truth, have become possessors of a wisdom and a worth infinitely surpassing all that the best men of the best days of Greece and Rome could boast.

My Lord, your error respecting the message has led to a corresponding error with regard to the messengers : and hence arise your utterly defective conceptions, both of the missionary.character and of the missionary

enterprise-conceptions so unlike yourself, upon all other subjects, and so unworthy of the mighty theme. The difference between the missionaries and the clergy, of whom Lord Sligo speaks, results from the difference of their religious systems ; for, as are their respective systems, so are their own hearts, habits, and characters. This it was which rendered the one the friends and companions of the planter, and the other, of the slave ;-which led those to addict themselves to carnal pleasure, and these to preaching and prayer. The power of the missionary arises from the things which he believes respecting the love of God, the death of Christ, and the Eternal Spirit. These, my Lord, are the weapons of his warfare, by which, in a brief space, he breaks down strongholds of darkness and superstition which have stood thousands of years, and on which this world's vain philosophy could have made no impression. Pity it is that such men as your lordship do not condescend to examine the facts of the gospel record, and the facts of the history of its propagation! The latter is the medium through which the missionary character and enterprise ought to be con-. templated ; for there is no other method by which jus-, tice can be done to either the men or their work. The want of a correct apprehension of those facts, accounts for the imperfection and meagerness of your lordship's views ; for you always speak of the missionary simply as related to the West India Islands, and appear to think of him merely as a patient, painstaking, and conscientious schoolmaster—as an efficient sabbath and day-school teacher! Nothing seems far-, ther from your lordship's thoughts than the idea that both his mission and his message are of divine origin ; that he is really the servant of Christ, and under his immediate protection and patronage ; that he is attended by a special divine power which operates on the minds of those that hear him, quickening their torpor,

enlightening their darkness, convincing their understandings, bending their wills, renovating their hearts, and moulding their characters by the knowledge and belief of Scripture truths. These, my Lord, are facts ; and, as a disciple of Bacon, you can test them by the Inductive Logic. As causes, do they, or do they not, account for the effects ? The book itself which supplies the facts and doctrines, abundantly testifies to the invariable results which the knowledge and belief of them will produce in the hearts of men, whether Scythian or barbarian, bond or free. The missionary, in every part of the world, tests the book by experiment, and the result is uniformly the same--the message is always "the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes."

But, my Lord, let us come at once to the source of all your lordship's misunderstandings relative to the work of missions,—wrong views concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. The facts of his Divinity, Incarnation, Vicarious Sacrifice, Resurrection, Ascension, and Me. diatorial Reign, lie at the foundation of the Christian Mission. The enterprise is carried on under the express sanction and authority of the Son of God. Jesus Christ, immediately before his ascension to heaven, thus addressed his assembled disciples:-" All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth ; go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,-teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you,--and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Having uttered these words, he added, in reference to their qualification, “ Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Glost is come upon you ; and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth ;-and when he had spoken these things, while they beheld,

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

he was taken up; and a cloud received hiin out of their sight.”

Such, my Lord, is the basis of the system in behalf of which I am anxious to enlist your powers and sympathies. There appertain to it a grandeur, a magnificence, a philanthropy, which are calculated to attract and interest a mind like yours. Your literature will enable you to pronounce at once upon the utter insig. nificance of all projects of human illumination as compared with this of Jesus Christ. His divinity, his atonement, the Divine Personality and agency of the Holy Spirit, the Apostolic miracles, and the doctrine of Regeneration,-- these, wholly apart, who can adequately estimate the vastness and glory of the Christian mission, considered simply as a scheme of education? It contemplates nothing short of the complete instruction and subjection to moral rule of the entire human race throughout all the isles and continents of our globe ! The Founder of the Christian Mission hath thus commanded :-“ Go, and teach all nations”—" Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.” Oh, my Lord, what benevolence is here ! How immense the magnitude of this conception! Who can hear it without feelings of indescribable emotion? I will not degrade the stupendous theme by attempts at comparing it with aught that patriotism, philosophy, or philanthropy has ever dreamed of, for the good of man. kind. No, my Lord, the universe of God supplies no materials for adequate comparison ! The mighty scheme, as a mere system of intellectual and moral culture and social government, stands forth in immeasurable and incomparable greatness, and in peerless glory. It will one day be the wonder of earth, as it is now of heaven. If this scheme, my Lord, is not subJime, where is sublimity to be found ? And its sublimity is equalled only by its benevolence. Though I decline, yet your lordship may compare Jesus Christ,

in the character of a teacher and the founder of an order of teachers, with all whom history has transmitted to us. The exercise will be salutary. The honest inquirer will rise from it, filled with shame and astonishment at the world's injustice and infatuation! How comes it, my Lord, that the most gifted spirits of our race are so apathetic on this transcendent subject ? How is it that they can see so much to admire in Socrates groping in thick darkness amid the scarcely visi. ble light of the glow-worm, while they can discover nothing to attract in Jesus Christ clothed in the cloudless splendours of the noon-day sun ? How is it that poets and orators kindle into rapture at small exhibitions of benevolence, connected with the physical welfare of our species, while they are unmoved, or only moved with sentiments of scorn, at the wonderful provision of the gospel for the moral and intellectual necessities of all mankind, and for their happiness in the life that now is, and in that which is to come ? How glowing is Burke's picture of Howard ! The orator describes the philanthropist as visiting “all Europe to dive into the depths of dungeons ; to plunge into the infection of hospitals; to survey the mansions of sorrow and pain ; to take the gauge and dimensions of misery, depression, and contempt; to remember the forgotten ; to attend to the neglected ; to visit the forsaken ;

to compare and collate the distresses of all men in all countries. His plan is original, and it is as full of genius as it is of humanity. It is a voyage of discovery, a circumnavigation of charity ; and already the benefit of his labour is felt more or less in every country.

My Lord, this eulogium is merited ; and although the rhetorician has made the most of his subject, I would not detract from the fame of Howard. Compared with the herd of common philanthropists, he was · great, superlatively great ; but there the "collation".

« НазадПродовжити »