Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

William, that followed the Revolution, cost thirty-one millions ! The war of the Spanish succession cost forty-four millions ! The Spanish war and Austrian succession cost forty-seven millions ! The seven years' war about Novia Scotia cost one hundred and seven millions! The war with our American colonies cost one hundred and fifty-one millions ! The war of the French Revolution cost four hundred and seventy-two millions! The war against Buonaparte cost five hundred and eighty-six millions ! To these must be added the still more terrible fact, that such wars cost England, in one way or another, from four to five millions of men. Surely, my Lord Duke, we have here gold and blood enough for at least a thousand generations! Oh! what infatuation! What madness! What culpable waste! What suicidal wickedness! This enormous misgovernment has entailed a curse upon the British empire which will cleave to her through all generations. “In a country like England, there could be no debt, and no burden of taxes, if there was no war.”* War, then, horrid war, brought upon us all our burdens and all our woe! Enough of war and warriors! Let peace and love henceforth prevail till the heavens be no more!

The literary character, too, has been exhibited so long, in ways so various, and with a splendour so dazzling, and the results of its toil have so amply supplied the intellectual wants of man, that, with the millions, its necessity, its glory, and its fascination, are nearly gone by. The same remark also applies to the philosophical character. The harvest has obviously been reaped, and little now remains but the gleaning. The romance

* Edinburgh Review, vol. xiv. p. 285.

of voyaging and of travel has also passed away. In this department of scientific and philanthropic inquiry, there is little more to be done, except in Africa. The réign of fancy is now generally giving place to that of reason. Knowledge has narrowed and lowered the province of imagination, and the splendid is now less looked for than the useful. Not only are earth and ocean explored, but the boundaries of empire are generally fixed. Dreams of conquest, and of universal empire, are fled for ever. The world pants to be happy. Amelioration at home is now the watchword of nations; and civilization abroad is the great problem of philanthropy. In a word, the world is now prepared for the missionary enterprise. It is now generally confessed, among all enlightened men, that civilization is missions ; missions are civilization. By missions only can “the wilderness and the solitary place be made glad,” and the desert be brought to “rejoice and blossom as the rose.” The missionary is, therefore, by far the first of human kind. He is the great type and character of the age. Even men of the world begin to understand his object, and concede his claims. Concession bespeaks candour ; candour will lead to more inquiry ; more inquiry to full conviction; and full conviction will be followed by intense admiration and munificent support. Poets will celebrate his exploits, orators eulogize his virtue, princes will caress him, and crowned heads will show him the highest favour. The smiles of royalty will not always rest upon worthless objects.

A few more centuries, my Lord Duke, of the labours of Gospel missions, and what will be the aspect of our globe ? What will then meet the eye that surveys it ? An awakened world! An enlightened, a purified, a peaceful world! A world filled with men who fear God, honour their magistrates, and love one another! A world in which man is wholly free, and governments entirely just! A world where mind, religion, the tongue, the pen, the printing press—all are free, and not abusing their freedom! A world where God is glorified, and man is happy!

Come, then, illustrious Duke! and finish your career in a manner worthy of your character, your country, and the age in which you live! Oh! come and identify yourself with all that is wise and liberal in government, — with all that is generous and noble in humanity,– with all that tends to the peace of the earth,—and with all that makes for the furtherance of missions, the fountain of all good! On earth this will not detract from your transcendant glory; nor will you have reason to repent it in the world of spirits, for to have liberated one soul from the slavery of sin, will there be held an infinitely higher achievement than to have wrenched the sceptre of a terrible tyranny from the giant grasp of a ruthless usurper, and restored a continent of kings to their ancestral thrones !

LETTER XIV.

THI

[ocr errors]

TO THE CHURCHES OF GREAT BRITAIN, IRELAND,

AND AMERICA.

ON THE PAST HISTORY, PRESENT POSITION, AND FUTURE PROS

PECTS, OF THE MISSIONARY ENTERPRISE.

Men and 'brethren, does not the present state of Christian missions call for consideration ? Is not the aspect which the work now assumes, wholly new? Has not a point now been reached, which the most sagacious man among you never anticipated ? David represents the church as giving utterance to the following lamentation :

“ Thou hast cast off, and put us to shame ; and goest not forth with our armies. Thou makest us to turn back from the enemy; and they which hate us spoil for themselves.” According to Isaiah, she said, “We have not wrought any deliverance in the earth ; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen.” In our day, how different is the language that becomes her situation! If “the inhabitants of the world have not yet fallen,” is not the blame ours? In all lands, has not the Lord been before us, and opened up a way for our armies?

Are not the walls of almost all nations levelled with the ground ? Or are not their gates opened wide for the reception of the soldiers of Christ? Are not their inhabitants, as if ready to fall, patiently, in some cases anxiously, waiting for subjugation ? Are not men of all climes, some literally, others virtually, calling on the churches of the living God to come up and possess the land ? Yes: but she is unable. Army she has none ! All she can boast is a few faithful scattered soldiers; and yet few although they are, instead of augmenting her force, she is actually incapable of supporting it! Under these circumstances, is it not proper to pause and ponder the path by which God has led us during the last fifty years ? From the past, we may surely gain some encouragement with respect to the present, and direction concerning the future.

In taking a survey of the past history of modern Missions, we need not go further back than the memorable hour when, in Sierra Leone, the Rev. Melvill Horne composed his celebrated Letters. To his observant eye, how desolate and dreary, at that time, was the world! Greenland alone might be said to be the only heathen land in which the religion of the Son of God had for centuries gained a firm footing. While gazing on the sorrowful spectacle, the indignant spirit of that fervent writer thus broke forth, and summoned the world to testify against the church :-“Speak, ye desolate shores of Africa ; declare, ye bloody fields of Hindostan ; bear your impartial testimony, ye numerous islands of the Western and Pacific oceans !” The appeal could not be opposed. Those parts had nothing to say in praise of Christian mercy; at the hands of Christians, so called, they had received nothing but evil and wrong.

« НазадПродовжити »