« НазадПродовжити »
our race, saved their money, and God hath “sent leanness into their souls.” Sad compensation! The facts which came out at the last annual meeting, are an index to their true spiritual condition. According to Dr. Armstrong, one of the secretaries, “ One third of the churches, nominally the friends of this Board, make no regular contributions to its funds; and in those churches which do contribute, one third of the members, and in some two thirds, and in others three fourths, give nothing. One half of the church members did nothing last year. Of the 300,000 members, 150,000 made no contributions." Here, as usual, it would seem that the adage, “ like priest like people,” holds good. The Hon. S. Hubbard, one of the Board, expressed a doubt, “whether half of the ministers preach on the subject of foreign missions once a year.” Dr. Armstrong also intimated that the single “state of Massachusetts, during the past year, paid in nearly one third of the whole contribution.” Brethren, who can read these statements without a mixture of grief and astonishment ? But this is not the worst : the Rev. Mr. Greene, another of the secretaries, stated a fact of the most extraordinary character, which will suffice to illustrate the marvellous apathy of the churches. His words are these : “If all the money now due from delinquent subscribers to the Missionary Herald, could at once be collected, it would pay off the debt of the Board.” What think you of this statement? What is your estimate of the spiritual condition of these people? Surely these facts do not accord with much spiritual prosperity. Oh! let us beware, lest we sink into the same condition. Let us tremble at the thought of following the American example! If we trifle as they have trifled with the
cause of God, we may look for a like recompense. The Lord of the harvest has singularly blessed the American missionaries in all their fields of labour. He has, in fact, opened for them a wide door in Palestine itself. Prior to the recent meeting, just as the secretaries were leaving Boston, the extraordinary intelligence arrived that the Druses, Mohammedans, 100,000 in number, on Mount Lebanon, had determined to become Protestant Christians. They implored the American missionaries “ to come and help them.” The missionaries did so, and now, says Dr. Anderson, “we have not money to send them, and no prospect of having it!” The same gentleman attributes this fearful state of things to the withdrawment of Divine influence. Having expatiated on the “extraordinary" encouragement received abroad, he said, “ The state of things is equally extraordinary at home. The Spirit of God is withheld from the churches here, while it is poured forth so liberally abroad; and the missionary spirit, on which every thing depends, is languishing. Even the fear of retrenchment among the missions, and re-calling of missionaries, no longer appears to excite apprehension or anxiety. The retrograde movement of 1837, was disastrous, because it familiarized the churches with the idea of curtailment, and they are no longer to be roused by the cry that the same danger has again returned.” Brethren, what instruction and warning do these facts impart! They are all the more alarming, from the analogy which the case of the American churches bears to that of the British societies, especially the London Missionary Society. The words of Mr. Secretary Greene are obviously applicable to it. “As yet,” said he, “ through all the remarks that have been made, I see no more light, than
when we commenced our session. We have the same means proposed as in 1838, 1839, and 1840. We have calls, appeals, pledges, recommendations; but we are now deeper in debt than ever, and provisions made for an increase of funds in time past, are not adequate to the present emergency." Is not this precisely the present condition of the London Missionary Society? Again, then, I ask, What is to be done? Do you say, We cannot tell? Well; but is it not very clear that there is something which we must not do? Is it not plain that, come what may, that, whatever else you do or suffer, you must not fall into the snare of the American churches connected with the Board of Foreign Missions? You must hazard all, and spend all, to enable the London and other missionary societies, if not to enlarge their respective spheres, at least to maintain them. Flinch who may, let not England flinch! In the darkest hour let England trust her God, and cleave to the cause of her Saviour! Let her not grieve the Holy Spirit, by whom she has been selected from amongst all the nations of the earth, to enjoy such mercies, work such wonders, and diffuse such benefits ! The cloud will again pass away! The sun of our prosperity and glory will again break forth, and the days of our mourning will end !
Brethren of America! Multitudes of the best people of England have long been accustomed to look to you with affection and admiration. They have often been animated when sluggish, and comforted when depressed, by the report of your zeal and liberality. It may be truly said, “they glorified God in you.” In all your joy they rejoiced, and were exceeding glad to hear, from time to time, that “the Lord was among you.” Of late
years, however, they have had great misgivings concerning some of the phenomena of your religion ; they have been uneasy at the extensive popularity among you of certain views of divine truth, and of certain methods of promoting it. They have entertained a great dread lest the end should proclaim that you had been walking with man, rather than with God. Still they loved you, and endeavoured to exercise towards you much of that charity which “hopeth all things." But now it is to be feared that their confidence in you will be shaken. They will not know what to make of you. They will be utterly unable to reconcile your domestic revivals with your missionary retrogression. The spirit of God is the spirit of missions. His high function is to extend the kingdom, and thus to advance the glory of Christ ; and all those in whom he dwells, are zealously intent on the same object. A real revival, produced by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, is always accompanied with compassion for perishing souls, whether at hand or afar off. Your apathy towards your Board is not one of those things which are of “good report." It is wholly inexplicable. We are often hearing of your great revivals, and of your entire personal consecration to works of piety and mercy; and of business being carried on simply for the cause of God. We have heard a multitude of glorious facts relative to your zeal and liberality: and these facts are most surely believed among us; indeed we cannot discredit them, for they are reported by our own messengers. But while we believe their testimony, we cannot reject that of your honoured brethren, the members and officers of your own Board. Our astonishment is increased by the facts which are so frequently adduced in praise of your condition. You have no public debt, you possess a cheap government, your taxation is a trifle, you enjoy abundance of well-paid labour, and you have no pauperism. You are deemed a happy people, the envy and admiration of all other nations. In the face of these facts, however, stands your strange apathy to the cause of foreign missions.
Brethren of America! be assured the Christian people of England love you with parental affection. They glory in you! They exult in your religious character, and in your godly rivalship of them in the work of spreading the gospel. Nor is this all; amid the discouragements of their peculiar position, at the present time, their hope under God centres wholly in you! From Ireland, the chosen abode of the man of sin, in relation to the work of missions, they have nothing to expect, but every thing to fear. As England looks towards the continent of Europe, scarce one of its nations meets her with a single ray of hope. In Europe, England alone is the land of Protestant doctrines and Christian missions. Her protestantism, however, stands in imminent peril from the elementary popery of Oxford, and from that more matured form of it which flows in endless torrents from the sister isle. An awful cloud rests on the prospects of English protestantism. It seems not improbable, that the dark and dreadful days of your illustrious forefathers may yet again, and, perhaps, at no distant day, return. The reascendancy of popery in England seems but too probable. In this event, it is likely there will be another, and a much larger body of pilgrim fathers, who will go forth and lay the foundation of new colonies, destined at length, like your own, to become great independent empires.