Page images
PDF
EPUB

may distribute books, or attend to those secular duties which belong to every mission, and are essential to its prosperity.

When I hear our young brethren say that they are better adapted to Christian, than to heathen lands, I conclude that they are rather assigning an excuse for not going, than a reason for staying.

The third item mentioned, is the number of souls to be saved ; and here I cannot but express my surprise at the objections which have been offered to this position. True, we do not preach to all the heathen at once ; but who for a moment can question that there is a vastly greater number of accessible and teachable souls among the heathen than in our own native lands.

The ordinary fields at home are circumscribed by the provinces of our fellow-labourers. A thousand souls is a large congregation; abroad, “ the harvest truly is plenteous; but the labourers are few."

And thus with respect to destitution, which was the last item mentioned -- there is no comparison between heathen and christian lands. Here, almost all are sufficiently enlightened to be saved ; there, all“ have need that one teach them which be the first principles of the oracles of God.” Here, the ordinances of religion are enjoyed in nearly

in many

every place — there, in the most favoured countries there are very few missionaries populous regions not one.

These are the arguments which brought my mind to a final decision with regard to missions.

I saw that it would enlarge the sphere of my usefulness; I supposed that my talents were quite as likely to be suited where there was the greatest variety of labour; and I felt that the “ambassadors for Christ” to a rebellious and ruined world, ought to discriminate between a few already informed of God's purposes, and many to whom these purposes have never been communicated.

As it regards the internal call to the work of missions, which has been referred to, I am not aware that

my

first zeal was at all connected with a bias to any particular country ; my earnest desire was to go wherever I might be the most useful.

If I have not mistaken my calling, I fear that many have mistaken theirs, for the same indications of duty apply to a large proportion of those who enter the ministry. The very purpose of God to convert the world, and the command to his servants to preach the gospel to every creature, confirm this assertion. If this command be binding, it proves that those who are bound to fulfil it, might be more useful in publishing the gospel to that numerous class of God's creatures who have never heard it ; than in repeating and enforcing it upon the few who have known it from infancy. To deny this, would be to affirm that the providence of God limits the execution of his command to christian lands; and who in his senses, would believe this?

It is my solemn conviction, and the conviction of the missionaries whom I have consulted, that the chief obstacle to missionary devotement does not lie in any mental or bodily disqualification; nor in any providential hindrances; nor in any legitimate inference from the revealed purposes and commands of God; but simply in a want of adequate zeal and self-denial. To renounce friends and country, and all the blessings of civilization ; and to spend their days amid labours and sacrifices, where nothing but an unwavering faith can sustain the soul, presents a prospect so unattractive, that multitudes readily conclude they can be useful at home, and are not called to foreign service. They overlook the high privilege of not only living to God, but of deriving their happiness directly from him. The “ hundred fold” promised to those who leave all for Christ, and the brighter assurance of the life everlasting, are not taken into the estimate.

I fear there is something extremely deficient in the spirit of the ministry. Where is the burning devotion-- the self-consuming zeal of apostolic days ? And what short of this ardour and exclusive consecration to the interests of our Redeemer's kingdom can the ministry allow ? Having first reconciled us unto himself-unto his own purposes of mercy to the world, God commits unto us the word of reconciliation. To know nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified, is the chief requisite of the ministry. And since this ministry was established for the equal benefit of the world, we have no liberty to choose our places.

But alas, many do indulge their feelings and fancies even in this sacred office. Thousands who enter the ministry, are indisposed to the sacrifices it demands. Without any sufficient reason, they refuse to devote themselves to the salvation of the heathen. I speak from experience. Ask all who have carefully counted the cost of this undertaking, and they will tell you, how great was the struggle of their souls in overcoming all reluctance.

Let those who believe the contrary explain why some go, while others who are under equal obligations, and who meet with no greater obstacles, remain. Why do the same persons, who had declined this work, yield at last to arguments which they had repeatedly heard before ; but which now for the first time penetrate their hearts? Why do so many young men, who commenced their literary career, full of missionary ardour, frequently lose all their zeal, as worldly ambition increases, and their neglected piety declines ?

Why are the most devoted and self-denying students in our institutions so much more easily persuaded to become foreign missionaries than those of an inferior grade of piety? Why are the most holy men and women in the churches the chief supporters of missions; and why are those religious communities the most interested and active in this work, where “ the spirit of Christ” most powerfully prevails? I wish no other argument in favour of the spirit of missions, than its affinity or identity with the purest, holiest exercises of the soul. I desire no other means of increasing this zeal a hundred fold, than the outpouring of God's Spirit upon our churches and institutions of learning.

Oh that all our young ministers and students were like Amaziah, who,“ willingly offered himself” to the service of the Lord; or Peter and his brethren, who “ left all” to follow Christ; or Paul, who when called to his missionary work, 66 conferred not with flesh and blood !"

Oh that the mind of that blessed Redeemer were in them, who, “though he was in the form of

« PreviousContinue »