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is, therefore, about the reduction, not the increase, of our agency. This has become the vital question, the only means of salvation to our Societies.
We are now at a stand. Our path is crossed by an impassable barrier. It is doubtful, indeed, whether, for a century to come, we shall be able to advance much further.
Brethren, these things demonstrate that there must be something wrong. Is not the work of modern missions far too much a money matter? Is it not too dependent on filthy lucre, which is always the chief basis of man's operations, but never of the operations of God ? Money, indeed, and much money, is indispensable to the work ; but is it not far less necessary than our plan supposes and requires ? What, then, is to be done ? This— this must be done: establish colleges rather than missions. Create efficient seminaries for the instruction and preparation of native evangelists and pastors.
This must be done, or there is an end of all just expectation that the earth shall ever be filled with the knowledge of God. The Serampore missionaries, full forty years ago, set forth some profound as well as practical views on this subject. The perspicacious and prophetic mind of Mr. Douglas, of Cavers, also, at a later period, descried the necessity of the academic plan, and the certain failure of that which has been hitherto relied upon. The “Prudential Committee” of the American Board, at the recent annual meeting, submitted a dissertation“
on the importance of raising up a native ministry among the heathen nations.” The report likewise says, “ It is not a little remarkable that the same system has contemporaneously attracted the attention of Missionary Societies in various parts of the world.” What is remarkable in this ? It is the simple result of the discovery of the impossibility of advancing much further in the present path. If they had not thought of this,
it had been remarkable. It is the dictate of common sense, and was long ago recommended by sound philosophy.
As with life assurance, so with religious societies the true and safe principle of conducting them was not at first thoroughly understood. In both cases it has been discovered by degrees. The case of the Missionary Societies is now precisely what that of the Bible Society was last year. In a moment of benevolence, that institution departed from the rule of previous prudence, and sold two small books at considerably less than the prime cost. The demand was great, and in a brief space the Society lost nearly half its free income. On making the alarming discovery, it promptly and wisely stopped. It has since made arrangements by which it can sell books at the same price without a farthing of loss ; and the consequence is, that it is able to sell such books without limit, since each purchaser pays the cost price of what he receives. Were the entire human race to purchase, and thus to pay, no more free contributions would be required, than the moderate expense necessary to work the establishment. Now the time is come for the adoption of this principle in missionary operations. It is in missionary as in military enterprises ; the more distant the seat of war is from the country whence the armaments proceed, the greater the cost of the onflict. India, for instance, is distant from England fifteen thousand miles, a voyage of about five months. On this point, the missionary Ward has left this testimony : “ The expense attending missions, at such a distance, is very great, and must exceedingly limit the extent of these exertions. To prepare, to equip, and to land each missionary, costs the British public not less than six hundred pounds ; and to maintain him there, a considerable annual sum ; so that charitable funds, where the numbers to be
taught amount to so many millions, can do but little, except in making a commencement.”* This witness is true. Your condition verifies his testimony. Would that this wise man's counsel had been taken and acted upon, before it was absolutely forced upon the Missionary Societies of Europe and America!
The military principle of seizing the commanding posts of a country ought to be the study of your Societies. It is really surprising how the bulk of the Directors of such Societies have so erred,—how much they have talked,—and how little they have thought and inquired! It is pleasing, however, to find them at length awakening from their dream. The recent annual meeting of the American Missionary Society will be an era in the history of this great enterprise. There was more bold, deep, and original thinking at that Assembly, than was ever uttered on a like occasion. The paper of the Secretary, Dr. Armstrong, calling upon the most able and learned men of the country to go forth to the field, presented a grand conception. What scope the work of missions gives for the highest powers! The mastery of heathen languages and literature, the writing and translation of works on education and Christianity, the creation of schools, the institution of colleges, and the rendering of the Scriptures into the native tongue; this is employment sufficient for the first abilities. The submission of the “inquiry whether the men who preside over our colleges, and theological seminaries, are not the men who should go forth as missionaries, to plant the institutions of religion on heathen ground ?" was a master stroke.
We have now experience sufficient to direct us for a century to come ; and it is high time to revise the whole of our system. It is extremely important, that in missions, as in the evil work of war, lines of opera
* Ward's Letters, pp. 146, 147.
tion should rest upon common centres.
The importance of this view, which philosophy taught to Mr. Douglas,* has been fully corroborated by one of the ablest missionaries of the east, Mr. Buyers, of Benares.t It seems a point of conscience with all Societies, like rival merchants in the same market, to pitch their tents all in the same fields of labour. Four or five denorninational flags must needs all wave in the same city, or in the same isle! This is bad in principle, and worse in policy. A territorial division would be a thing of boundless utility as well as of immense economy. But leaving this, let me suggest that no time should be lost by the London Missionary Society, in the formation of a central college in Polynesia, which ought to have been claimed and cultivated by that Society. A second college may be formed in the West Indies, for central Africa, which might be claimed and cultivated by the Baptists. A third college might be established at the Cape of Good Hope, under the auspices of the Methodists, to whom the whole of South Africa might be surrendered ; and with it might be associated Madagascar. A fourth college might be established in the Indian Islands, under European control, adjacent to China, and largely peopled by Chinese, in which might be prepared a body of competent missionaries for such islands, and for China, when the door shall be opened. Four more colleges might be established in British India, by the Baptist, the Church, the London, and the Church of Scotland Missionary Societies, and the country divided among them accordingly. The difficulties which would occur, and the temporary loss which would arise from an attempt now to effect some such division and re-distribution may be considerable ; but ultimately the gain would be an ample coinpensation. There is no probability, however, that this will ever be done, or even attempted. The next thing, * Hints, p. 37.
+ Letters, v. vi.
therefore, is, as far as practicable, under the circumstances, to work out the academic and the self-supporting principle. For these purposes the present revenues of the Societies are perhaps sufficient. “ It is vain to think that India will ever be evangelized by Europeans. All they can do is only to plant the first churches. Our great object ought, therefore, to be, as soon as possible, to raise several large churches in the most influential places, which may serve as nurseries for native ministers and missionaries !*
Brethren of England and America ! let us be of good courage. The work is fairly begun ; much is already accomplished. Experience will correct error, and supply what is wanting, and success will tend to its own in
Growing purity will prove growing power. More spirituality will be attended by more prosperity. Let us betake ourselves in good earnest to our part of the undertaking. Let our hearts, our houses, and our home education be much more missionary. Let all sorts of juvenile literature be thoroughly baptized with the spirit of missions, and diffused among the young. Let all possible methods, both regular and occasional, be devised and adopted, for interesting the youthful mind. It were easy, and it was once my design, to specify more fully the chief of these methods, but they will readily occur to such as are really anxious to employ them. It is much to be desired that the whole question of missions should from time to time be brought and kept before the public mind, till Christians be made clearly to see the matchless glory of the enterprise-deeply to feel the duty, and duly to estimate the honour and privilege of promoting it. When once this comes to pass, the work will go steadily on; there will be prayer as well as labour for the great object, and prosperity will attend our way. The mighty undertaking is to be achieved by means, not by
* Buyers, p. 47.