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home, we can operate only in one spot at a time, and that spot may contain a smaller number of accessible and teachable beings than we have left.
But even admitting that we might have a larger sphere of exertion among the heathen, can this determine the point? Are not some places and persons far more influential than others? And is not the conversion of men to be valued rather by the effects they will produce upon the kingdom of Christ than by their mere numbers? Whitefield's favourite maxim was, “ every student's name is legion — catching him is catching thousands — blessing him, blessing many." But besides the insufficiency of the arguments which have been advanced in favour of foreign missions, there are considerations bearing upon this subject, which have been omitted.
The law of adaptation has been quite overlooked — a law which the providence of God will never allow to be infringed without injury. We find as great a variety of talent among men as there is of bodily conformation and vigour. One person appears exclusively fitted for one kind of labour, - another for an opposite. Attempt an interchange, and you render both comparatively useless. May we not conclude, then, that some persons are better adapted to stations in Christian lands than those among the heathen? These are
120 A MINISTER KEPT AT HOME BY HIS WIFE.
my principal objections to the views which have been expressed. Unless it can be shown that I am better qualified to labour in the missionary field than at home, I shall lay very little stress upon mere numbers and destitution.
ANOTHER young minister who had just left a Aourishing congregation, and expected soon to embark for Eastern Asia, was the next speaker. I am disposed to believe, said he, that the brethren who have spoken, do not really differ in sentiment on what constitutes a call to any sphere of labour. The difference results from misunderstanding
When our missionary friend speaks of numbers and destitution, it is on the express condition that other things are equal. The objections to these views all assume that other things are not equal.
Now suppose it could be shown that every important consideration, by which the divine direction to any particular sphere can be ascertained, is in favour of the foreign service, would not this question then be settled ? — would not the path of duty be clearly pointed out, at least to all who were not otherwise directed by some peculiar dispensation of Providence ? That such is the fact, I have myself no doubt. Let us examine the point.
Four items have been enumerated, as important in ascertaining the divine will respecting the sphere of our labour; either, where the others are balanced, is sufficient to turn the scale ; but where all combine, the conclusion appears to me inevitable. These are favourableness of situation for exerting an influence — adaptation to the sphere — density of population, and destitution of the means of Christian instruction.
Now the first and most important of these considerations, as has been already shown, is in favour of the foreign service. The reaction of missions upon the churches in Christian lands, added to the visible effects of missionary labour among the heathen, establishes the point. My own opinion is, that the ostensible fruits of the ministry have been more abundant in heathen than in Christian lands. This, however, for the benefit of all present, I am anxious to see fully elucidated; and as there are some members of the assembly who have no doubt instituted the comparison, I sincerely hope they will favour us with the result of their investigations.
The second item referred to, is adaptation. As far as I have been able to judge, there is a greater variety of occupation in evangelizing the heathen, than in fulfilling the ministry at home. This of course will afford a greater degree of accommodation to the varied capacities which God has distributed among his servants. If you have ability for languages, you may employ it to your entire satisfaction and with unlimited advantage. There are languages through which millions and even hundreds of millions of souls may be reached.
If this talent be deficient, you may go where the language is exceedingly simple and easy of acquisition. Or should there be no facility of this kind, there are places in India where the missionaries are labouring with great success through their own tongue.
The English is becoming very popular in the East. I confidently expect from facts which I cannot stop to mention, that it will be the language of the millennial church.
If you have the gift of eloquence, you may spend your time in preaching to the heathen, and often with much benefit, to those who speak your own language.
If you have an aptitude for teaching, there are generally as many schools as you can superintend.
you prefer sedentary employment, translation and writing will demand all your strength. If travelling best suits your health or inclinations, you can employ your time in the varied objects of itinerancy. If you can do nothing more, you