Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

true piety existing in full power. With the spread of this piety, those views will increase and multiply; and, when this piety shall have attained a healthful maturity and a general prevalence, those views will impart a new aspect to the business of pecuniary contribution. The celestial fire of the spirit of missions will straightway subdue and melt the hearts of our monied men, and " loose the loins" of our merchant princes, to open before the world's Messiah “ the two-leaved gates ” of their golden stores ; " and the gates will not be shut.” The power of that fire will everywhere go before him, and make the “ crooked places straight,” and “break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron;" it will sweetly constrain converted men to “ give him the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places.” The dissolving power of that celestial fire will at length release the hoarded millions of Christendom, and render them available to the cause of Christ. Men and money, missionaries and their support, like substance and shadow, will walk in company. Personal and relative fortunes will flow outwards, in torrents, for the sustenance of the armies of the cross, while the stillaugmenting mites of the accumulating myriads of the industrious classes will go on to swell the tide of their grateful munificence.

Teachers of the Christian youth of England ! in connexion with this glorious anticipation, we look most wistfully to you. Your charge is the hope of the church and of the world. Heaven bless their blooming hosts, guide their hearts into the love of Christ, and fill their generous bosoms with the pure and lofty spirit of peace, and of missions to the Gentiles! It is of the utmost moment that their minds should be early directed to that work, that they should become thoroughly acquainted with the entire subject in all its amplitude and variety of bearing, and be led rightly to appreciate the missionary character. The lamented Williams, who had deeply drunk into the spirit of Paul, has left them a solemn testimony concerning it. Although himself clothed with humility, he understood well how to “ magnify his office.” In his view, the missionary was the first of mortal men, and his functions worthy of angelic agency. He has, in the closing paragraph of his “ Enterprises,” recorded his sentiments relative to this great theme, in words suited to the exalted subject. The passage is appropriately placed in that position, as now sustaining all the weight and solemnity of a testamentary declaration. Since its appearance, the churches of Britain have had time to pause and to ponder, till the unlooked-for and sorrowful event of his death has broken the silence. Should some generous hand ever erect a monument over the recovered portion of his mangled body, that passage would form the most appropriate inscription that could be devised for his tomb. It is as follows :

“ An enterprise beneficial in so many ways, presents a universal claim; and we hope the day is fast approaching, when the merchant will not only consecrate the gains of his merchandize to its promotion, but when he will also add the facilities which commercial intercourse affords, to further the great design; when the man of science will make his discoveries subserve this godlike work; and when, not only the poor, but the rich and noble also, will feel honoured in identifying themselves with missionary operations, and in consecrating their influence, their wealth, and even their sons and their daughters, to this work. And why should not the son of a nobleman aspire to an office that an angelic spirit would deem an honour ? Why should not such become active agents in an enterprise which is to regenerate and bless our world? They aspire after military and naval glory, but here they may obtain distinctions far higher than these : here, instead of inflicting death in the acquisition of their laurels, they would scatter life, and comfort, and peace, to unborn millions. And is there more glory in spreading misery than in conveying mercy? Is it more honourable to carry the sword of war than the gospel of peace? Is it a higher dignity to bear a commission from an earthly sovereign than from the King of kings? Oh! that the minds of the noble youth of our country could be directed to this field of labour and of love, and that the soldiers of the cross were as high in the estimation of our nobility as those who bear commissions from our king. It will be a blessed day for our world, when the first nobleman's son, influenced by a spirit of piety, and constrained by the love of Christ, shall devote himself to go among the heathen, to turn them from darkness to light. But, whether such forward it or not, the work will go on ; enlargement and deliverance will come, until the earth, instead of being a theatre on which men prepare themselves by crime for eternal condemnation, shall become one universal temple to the living God, in which the children of men shall learn the anthems of the blessed above, and be made meet to unite with the spirits of the redeemed, from every nation, and people, and tongue, in celebrating the jubilee of a ransomed world!"

Such is the conclusion of the “ Missionary Enterprises ;” a conclusion full of eternal truth, and clothed with the garment of immortality. It will be enduring

as the language of England and the history of religious missions. Christian youth! is it posssible to read the passage just cited, without emotion? How noble, generous, and philanthropic, is the spirit of it! Having returned from the field of evangelical conflict, where he had bravely fought upwards of half a lifetime, he reported the mighty works which God by his hands had done among the Gentiles, and concluded the wondrous recital with these solemn declarations and interrogatories. His weighty words are strongly entitled to the deep meditation of all classes of Christians, but especially of the sons of the aristocracy, that class to whom the martyred man more particularly directed them. To the bulk even of the good, the idea of the son of a British peer going forth as a missionary is as preposterous and as ridiculous as any that can well be imagined. But men should stop, pause, and ask themselves, Why? Is it beneath the son of a peer to report what it was not beneath the Son of God to perform ? The fact which I allude to, only shows how little the public mind is yet imbued with the Spirit of God. No work is beneath the sons of our nobles, where there is the slightest chance of obtaining gold, power, or glory! Such delusions, however, will have an end. The tide of youthful vigour, which, from the higher classes of Great Britain, has for so many ages been profusely streaming into her armies and navies, and thereby diffused over the globe, for purposes of war, conquest, and the conservation of empire, shall not be thus destroyed for ever! It will one day be turned into a new channel, and spread abroad for far different and infinitely nobler objects. The unmeasured wealth and accomplished life which have hitherto been so ingloriously wasted at home, or fruitlessly, if not destructively, for mankind and themselves, consumed in foreign climes, and which, under Christian influence, had been enough to enlighten the universal family of man, will yet be consecrated to celestial service, and in divers ways employed to diffuse knowledge and happiness among all nations.

The valedictory declarations of Mr. Williams comprise great principles, which deserve to be specified, illustrated, and enforced, till thoroughly appreciated by the public mind. They ought to be pondered by all believers, but more especially by Christian youths, and by day-school teachers. It is absolutely necessary that those principles should be clearly understood and deeply felt, inasmuch as they enter vitally into the business of the world's emancipation from sin and the establishment of the kingdom of God. These principles are accordingly the basis of this book : they will be discussed in the following pages. The great question to be raised, is the comparative claims of the missionary character, and the comparative value of a life spent in the field of missions. The discussion of this question will involve the subject of moral greatness ; for I hope to establish the principle, that moral greatness is entitled to the first distinction, and that such greatness attains its highest elevation only in the missionary character. As Mr. Williams is a fit and proper representative of the missionary brotherhood, of which he formed so distinguished a member, I shall proceed, in his name, to try the question. The Martyr of Erromanga, however, is not singled out as the object of individual idolatry ; but simply as furnishing, by his tragical death, a suitable occasion, and, in his once beloved person and still admired character, an appropriate subject. Whatever

« НазадПродовжити »