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those things which pertain to this life? You who have always breathed the air of a pure and generous freedom, are unable to do so ; but your honoured fathers who sleep in the dust, and who, in the days of their flesh, trembled at the tyrant's rod, were they to arise from their sepulchres, they could state the case of bondage and freedom. They could detail the horrors of arbitrary government where life, property, and personal freedom are in constant peril, and at the utter mercy of the whim, avarice, passion, revenge, or ambition of an individual who is, ofttimes, according to the prophet, “ the basest of men.
Oh, happy England! how changed her condition since the period when she groaned under the despots of the Norman line, who subverted her Saxon constitution and destroyed her liberties! In those dreadful days, the will of the prince was the law of the people. Take the forest laws of those times as an illustration of the misery of the country. Castration, the loss of the eyes, the amputation of the hands and feet, were the penalties for killing a hare! The house of Stuart would fain have walked in the paths of our Norman tyrants. James the First frankly informs his parliament, that he and his ancestors were the gracious source of all the people's privileges, and that “as to dispute what God may do, is blasphemy, so is it sedition in subjects to dispute what a king may do in the height of his power.” This is the pure and genuine diction of despotism! It is, nevertheless, most revolting to the feelings of freeborn Englishmen. Yet time was, when the guardians and expositors of our laws were so lost in subservience to power, that when Richard II., impatient of the fetters of certain acts, asked the assembled judges, whether he could not annul them, the ready answer was, The king is above the law." From such a principle the transition is easy to another, viz. “ The king is the law;" and this will conduct us at once to the paliny
days of true despotic glory- the days of Nebuchadnezzar, whose dreadful sway is thus described by Daniel : “ All people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him ; whom he would he slew, and whom he would he kept alive ; whom he would he set up, and whom he would he cast down." Such was once the government of England, now the chosen abode of legal freedom. Our lovely sovereign is as much bound by the laws as the humblest cottager in the empire. The prince, the peer, and the peasant, are on a perfect level in the presence of the law. Every British subject is equally protected with regard to life, liberty, and property.
The entire people dwell within the common sanctuary of legal protection. None are excepted, none are privileged. The law is supreme. To this divine fellowship of freedom, the Missionaries of Christ are introducing the nations of Polynesia. I say the Missionaries are doing this thing. Those isles were visited by the students of science in search of facts, by the conductors of commerce in search of gain, and by the voluptuous in quest of pleasure the object of all these men was to find good, not to impart it.
It was reserved for the Missionary of the Cross, not merely to visit, but to become a resident on the islands, and to sacrifice all that the world holds dear in order to promote the people's welfare. He took with him the fundamental element of British freedom, the gospel of Christ, and the results are such as we have set forth.
Oye philosophers and philanthropists, ye friends of the slave, of barbarous tribes and fettered nations, come and learn the sure method of accomplishing your object! So long as you despise the gospel and deride its missionaries, you utterly deceive yourselves, and set aside the only instruments by which the aspect of our world can ever be transformed, and clothed in moral beauty. In vain you expect it from war, science, commerce, or legislation. That the instrument appointed
of God is the gospel of Christ, is established by the facts of this chapter. The true Christian missionary, once safely landed on the most benighted shore, will sooner or later prove “a light to lighten the Gentiles” who people it,-a little leaven which will ultimately leaven the whole of the surrounding region. Despotism, with its attendant evils, always flees in the end, before pure Christianity. They cannot long co-exist ; and tyrants know it! To them the missionary, with his New Testament and his types, is more terrible than an army with banners! This fact explains the conduct of all despots, both of past and of present times, towards these lights of the world. The friends of missions in England can look to the West Indies, and trace every particle of the marvellous change which has been effected in the lot of its once afflicted children to the labours of its missionaries. Yes, one of the most glorious chapters in the future history of freedom will be composed of facts which relate to the sorrowful isles of the west. Ask the now rejoicing inhabitants of those lands whether the instrument of their deliverance was the soldier or the missionary. Ask them ; they know their friends! Again, we point to Africa, the land of murder and blood, the mart of human flesh for the fiends of Europe and America ! There we point to trophies of freedom erected by the hands of the missionary, which are a sure pledge of deliverance for the whole population of that ravaged Continent! O tell me what the genius of war has done for Africa, and I will set forth the feats accomplished by the genius of missions! Inquire of the Hottentot and of the Caffre, whom they love, whom they trust, and whom they consider their best, their only friend—whether the missionary or the military band? When the names of warriors are forgotten in Africa, or remembered only to be execrated, those of Vanderkemp, Philip, Moffat, and others, will live from age to age engraved in the heart
of ransomed nations! Again, survey the empire of the East ; request the understanding among the millions of Hindostan to state the amount of their debt to the muskets and the cannon of the military establishments of England, and at the same time to record the extent of their obligation to her Bible and Missionary Societies. Inquire of them whether there is one substantial blessing connected with British rule which may not be distinctly traced to the influence of British missions. We abide by the result of the investigation !
O ye orators and philosophers, who make the civilization of the species your dream ! look to Christian missionaries, if ye want to see the men who will realize it; you may deck the theme with the praises of your unsubstantial eloquence ! but these are the men who are to accomplish the business! They are now risking every earthly comfort of existence in the cause ; while you sit in silken security, and pour upon their holy undertaking the cruelty of your scorn."*
* Chalmers' Sermon before the Dundee Missionary Society, in 1812.
To James Douglas, Esq., of Cavers.
Sir, it is now about twenty years since the appearance
“ Hints on Missions," and since that time you have favoured the public with your work on
“ The advancement of Society in Knowledge and Religion;" and with the article 6 Missions,” in the Encyclopædia Britannica. For these publications the Christian world is deeply your debtor, and its guiding spirits are not insensible to the obligation. It deserves remark that, while you are one of the very few great landowners in Britain entirely devoted to literature, you are the only layman of your class who has stood forth as the bold and unwearied advocate, both of home and foreign missions, While your compeers are inflamed with the spirit of a low ambition, or are the slaves of still worse passions, the comprehensive and philosophic spirit with which God has endowed you, felicitates itself in the exalted region of contemplation, whence you descend from time to time to communicate to the occupants of a lower and a busier sphere the practical result of your high inquiries. May the life so laudably devoted be prolonged to a good old age, that you may witness the realization of many of those prophetic views with which your productions abound !
I have read most, if not all, that you have written ;