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tion of your
and been studious to compare your abstract speculations with the practical operations of the mission field. Frequently have I been gratified in observing with what exactness the deductions of reason have been verified by the test of experience. Matters are, in many respects, altered and improved since the publica
Hints," and it cannot be doubted that they have materially contributed to that improvement. When you wrote that piece, the work of missions was, in many quarters, but just begun; and much that you desiderated, there had not been time to produce. Of this, indeed, you were fully aware. But the following passage, although true to the letter at the period when it was written, can no longer be taken as a correct description of the state of things.—“. Two great, though indirect, means have been mentioned for spreading Christianity-Colonizing, and the introduction of the Arts. It is surprising how little Missionaries have availed themselves of the last. With the exception of some Moravian settlements, no instances, till very lately, could be pointed out to an infidel, of what missions had done for the temporal good of mankind. Can we be surprised, then, if men of thought, but whose thoughts are confined to the present world, should despise missionaries, who, instead of reclaiming barbarians to civilized habits, have sunk down to the outward condition of the people to whom they are preaching? And certainly the accusation of indolence is naturally brought forward against missionaries, who will not make the moderate exertions requisite to procure the comforts of life for themselves and those around them. This reproach, however, is gradually wearing off; and missions, though not with any very enlightened and enlarged plan, are gradually introducing the simpler productions and arts among their converts. Till more exertion of this kind takes place, it is almost hopeless to expect that Missionaries, or the Directors. of Missions, will do
much to procure such information as would attract the attention of men, who, without being Christians, are well-informed, and benevolent too, as far as kind wishes and kind speeches go, and who take an interest in whatever furthers the temporal welfare of humanity without impairing their own. Between Christians and those who are called philosophers, a great and impassable gulf seems fixed; while the first are interested in nothing but what concerns the next world, and the second neither care for nor believe in any thing but the world of to-day,' as the Mahometans speak. It is rather singular, however, that those who are looking to the future and the invisible, are the men of action ; and that those, whose only world is the present, have never advanced one step beyond professions of philanthropy, nor nade the least effort to introduce the improvements of philosophy into the greatest and uncivilized portion of the world. Still it is to be regretted, that Christians will not show them what Christian be. nevolence can do for the comforts and embellishments even of this transitory life, and thus there might be some common feeling between two parties, who might gain much by mutual intercourse. The missionaries, instead of filling their journals with the experiences of particular converts, which have often more connexion with the state of the body than the soul, might be gaining experience themselves of the climate and the country, the modes of thinking, and the prevalent superstitious notions of the people by whom they are surrounded.”
During the last twenty years—the period elapsed since you penned the foregoing passage—much has been done to correct the errors and supply the defects referred to. Proofs of this might be derived from every part of the missionary field, and from every section of the missionary church ; but my purpose only requires
it to be shown, that much, in this way, has been done, in Polynesia, by the labours of Mr. Williams and his brethren. It is not easy to conceive of any thing, within the power of a missionary to perform, that has not been either achieved or attempted, for the earthly good of the islanders.
The arts are at once a cause and an effect of civilization ; their existence implies the antecedent existence of society ; and society is cemented by sympathy. But sympathy may arise from different, nay, from opposite sources. The highest order of society, however, demands for its cement a sympathy founded on humanity. Now humanity is not a quality of savage nature ; it has every where to be created. Here, then, the missionary commences his operations ; and the success which attends them in producing that humanity, demonstrates the infinite superiority of gospel truth to philosophic dogmata. The speedy and almost utter loss of this gentle quality was among the earliest indications of the fall of man. Hesiod, the father of Poetry
-for it is probable that he was the contemporary of Homer, and somewhat earlier-has poured forth a stream of most pathetic reflection upon this subject. Having set forth the state of man under the golden, silver, and brazen ages, he reaches the iron age, in which man was bereft of the last remains of his humanity. Hesiod was among the primeval poets what Isaiah was among the Jewish prophets, with this difference, that Hesiod sung of an age of bliss and glory that was past, and Isaiah of such an age to come. Hesiod is immeasurably more entitled to the epithet divine than Homer. He was the poet of religion, peace, morality, and the arts; Homer was the bard of desolation and blood ; and hence he has ever been the idol of man, while Hesiod has been all but forgotten. Hesiod thus bewails the depravity of man, at the close of the heroic
age, and, with a sagacity almost prophetic, foretells the result of the principles which then began to be mnanifested :
“O! would I had my hours of life began
Before this fifth, this sinful race of man;
WORKS AND DAYS. Book I.
It were not easy to improve this striking picture, the exact truth of which is proved by its universal correspondence with the state of fallen nature. The inhumanity which is thus diffused among mankind, is the
mother element of all social evil. The best poets of every age, since the days of Hesiod, have borne testimony to its prevalence, and denounced it. How striking and tender is the address of the sage Ulysses to the fierce Achilles, whom he reminds of his father's last words !
“ My child! with strength, with glory and success,
Thine arms may Juno and Minerva bless!
HOMER, Book IX. Of all the Roman poets, none had a keener perception of the evil which we deplore than Juvenal. The following vigorous passage presents man in a two-fold light,-first, in a state of unsophisticated nature, and then as hardened into a more than brutal insensibility :
Compassion proper to mankind appears,