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You are all agreed that this is the true state of things, and in this agreement you rejoice ; but your joy is marred by the thought that the servants of your King are so few in number, as to form an army utterly inadequate to the glorious work which he has placed before them. Never, no never, since the days of the apostles, did the earth so resemble a highway as at this moment; all seas are safe to us ; and nearly all lands are open to receive us. How has this been brought about? How ! By prayer, suffering, and conflict. In the West Indies, in Africa, and in the East, our freedom has been the result of moral conflict on the part of the friends, agents, and advocates of missions,-a confict in which they have, by the help of God, worsted the oppressors of those lands, and the foes of civilization ! Who can fully estimate the greatness and importance of these victories?
With respect, then, to the creation of the missionary spirit, to the organization of Christian communities for missionary work, and to the removal of all barriers to the spread of the gospel over most of the chief territories of our globe, it is certain that, within the space of the last half century, mighty wonders have been wrought in the way of general preparation. But it may be said that the opinion which I am controverting, acknowledges the existence of “a vast machinery," and only insists that there has been an insignificant result." To this it might be replied, in general terms, that the month of June is too early a period to inquire for the “results” of the immense expenditure of March and April, in human and bestial labour, in soil and seed corn, in rent and taxation, and all that appertains to the business of husbandry. The planting of the Pilgrim colony of New England, was an affair of much toil, vast suffering, and immense expense; and he who, in the fiftieth year of its existence, should have proceeded to inquire into the results, would not have had far to go for the mate. rials of pity or of scorn, But let him repair thither at
the proper period, when the colonial field has had time to bring forth fully its first-ripe fruits, and let him mark the end! Little sagacity is required to discover that sowing precedes reaping; and we have a high authority for the application of the principle comprised in the fact, that “the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.” In reality, fifty years is a period too short even for the full commencement of the great enterprise of missions. At this moment, it is but just begun. All that even an adversary has a right to ask, is first-fruits ; but we show him that, to a considerable extent, the harvest is actually commenced. To all who honestly ask us, What have ye done? We reply, Come and see! What hath God wrought ? In all parts of the world in which we have sown, we have already received at least the first-fruits, and in many regions we have already reaped a very considerable harvest. The Lord hath nowhere left us without witnesses. You may, with all safety, even on this point, challenge a comparison with the success even of home ministrations of the gospel, under analogous, although infinitely more favourable, circumstances. You may ascertain the number of true Christian missionaries, of all denominations, now at work in the foreign field; you may calculate the aggregate amount of their period of service ; you may then determine, as far as practicable, the number of converts they have made, of hearers they have gathered, of schools they have established, of scholars they have assembled ; you may next ascertain the catalogue of school books, and of religious treatises they have composed, or translated, and printed ; and lastly, the number of translations of the sacred Scriptures which they have made; and when you have done all this, you may select an equal number of evangelical ministers from Christendom at large, all ordained within the same period, all
ordained to new stations, and the aggregate amount of whose period of service is the same as that of the missionaries, and then you may compare the former with the latter, point after point, as above specified. Let this be done, and, if the result of the process be not decidedly, prodigiously, in favour of the missionary body, my reading, observation, inquiry, and experience, have entirely misled me. But I have done with captious men, and now proceed to more important business ; and henceforth it will be necessary occasionally to address the churches of America, and those of England, apart.
Brethren of England! I have already referred to the extreme paucity of labourers ; but, before anything further be said on this head, we must discuss the previous question. If we had more competent agents, should we be able to support them ? You have been frequently told that the Directors of the London Missionary Society have been compelled to reject excellent and accomplished candidates for the work, from the want of all means for outfit, for transport, and for after sustenance, Further addition to the lights of the dark places of the earth, is therefore, at present, impossible. Without more pecuniary means, must the force then remain stationary ?
No : would that this small consolation were a thing of certainty! But the truth is, that the existing incomes of your Societies do not suffice to meet the wants of the existing stations. The amount of the deficiencies for the present year will be as much as were the annual incomes, at a time when your
fathers thought they had achieved great things. Although it may augment your fears, and aggravate your calamity, it must not be forgotten that this state of things is neither the affair of a single year, nor is it to be accounted for by the condition either of our commerce or of our agriculture. All comfort from this consideration is denied us.
The malady is chronic, and has been
coming on for a number of years, annually augmenting in force and malignity. To meet emergencies, you have, from time to time, made extraordinary efforts ; but while you laboured, the Lord blessed your labours, and the wants of the work increased with its expansion, so as to require not only the extraordinary efforts to be continued, and thereby rendered ordinary, but even to be annually increased from twenty to thirty per cent. Such are the requirements arising from the necessities created by your success.
How have those requirements been met ? There has been no such annual increase nay, the extraordinary has not been converted into ordinary contribution. Has it returned to the former ordinary scale ? Yes. Will it stop there? Would that even this poor consolation were yours! But look at the manufacturing districts of England and Scotland, the prime sources of your missionary revenue.
Is there aught in half-worked, or altogether silent machinery, aught among bankrupt merchants and manufacturers, aught among impoverished and emaciated artizans, to encourage the hope ? There is much reason to fear, that for some years to come, there will be a difficulty in steadily maintaining the Societies' incomes, even at the rate of the present year ; and certainly any substantial augmentation is not to be hoped for. What, then, is to be done ?" Yes, brethren, this is just the question. What is to be done ? Tell us! It is very obvious that all idea of further extending the Redeemer's kingdom, for the present, must be given up. “ Shall we be able to maintain our ground ?” Brethren, beware of uttering such words, or of suffering them to penetrate your ears ! They are treason! The ground must be maintained, cost what it may! The withdrawment of missionaries, the cessation of preaching, the disbanding of schools, the extinction of the little light which you have put into the hands of benighted millions who sat in thick darkness, in the region of the shadow of death !-oh, it
must not be. Better, far better, that they had not seen the faces of your missionaries! The honour of your country, of your religion, and of your heavenly Master, are all concerned, and all in peril!
Brethren of England ! It behoves you, in this awful moment, to profit by the example of the churches in America. The records of the American Board of Foreign Missions, for the last five years, form the most instructive chapter in the history of modern missions. Their annual meeting, recently held in Philadelphia, far surpassed, in point of solemnity and importance, every thing of the kind with which we are acquainted. This I affirm, after a deliberate and trembling perusal and meditation of the voluminous report of its proceedings. The “ Prudential Committee” of the Board are clearly men worthy of their work, and equal to the emergency. On that solemn occasion, they fully delivered their own souls.
It is to be hoped that the Directors of the London Missionary Society, and kindred institutions, will not have occasion to report similarly of your conduct in exciting hopes only to disappoint them. The affairs of the Board had been considerably deranged prior to 1837, but that year brought on a crisis. Their income, from the apathy of the churches, not keeping pace with the extension of their field of labour, and all expedients failing, the Board were driven by necessity to curtail all the branches of their operations ; a measure which, in its consequences, has proved most disastrous. The mischief was first felt at the foreign stations, where the intimation broke upon the ear of the agents like a thunder storm at the midnight hour! It smote them to the heart! This was a new calamity. They had never anticipated even the possibility of such a thing. Yes, it smote them to the heart. It shook their confidence in the churches; it brought both themselves and the Board into discredit with the heathen, when the latter saw them breaking up their schools