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permitted to gratify their wishes, or prevented from going, such persons will be richly remunerated not only for, but by this very intention. If the providence of God should interpose an obstacle to their missionary career, they will prove the most ardent and active labourers at home. Many of the most useful men in the churches have been providentially hindered from going to the heathen.
And then, I concur in the opinion that there is no danger of allowing the heathen too many missionaries. I believe it almost impossible to grant them their appointed allowance of the means of grace. The number of ministers who would be prevented from engaging in this work by the obstacles which have been enumerated, must necessarily be great. Besides, in forming a due estimate of this subject, we must consider things as they are, and not as they ought to be. A large majority who would come within the sound of the call to a missionary life,” will still remain at home. Some of these have never had a sense of their obligations to the heathen, overpower their convictions of duty in retaining the stations which they already occupy. Others are impressed with the great importance of missions, but believe themselves unequal to its toils and trials. A few distrust the measure of their piety, and are thus restrained. So that a very large proportion will continue in their respective countries, however great the company which may leave them. Is it not evident, then, according to the conclusion already drawn, that those who cannot assign the most undoubted grounds of exemption from this duty, ought to become foreign missionaries? I am aware there is no position which will be more controverted than this. It will naturally be opposed by as many as it opposes. But how else personal obligation -- the command of Christ and the interests of his king. dom are to be harmonized, I cannot conceive? How else the world is to be converted, who can divine ?
I would always attach the greatest importance to a native agency. This must be our chief dependence for the conversion of the world. We can only commence this arduous undertaking; they must carry it forward. But that
agency must be created, and it will demand the utmost energies of the church to accomplish this work - a hundred fold more than has been bestowed upon the heathen up to the present time.
The principles which should govern Christians in disseminating the gospel, were resumed as the subject of the day.
III. The third truth admitted by the assembly is, that if any distinction in dispensing the blessings of Christianity be allowed in favour of the kindred and countries of those to whom the gospel has been committed, it cannot at farthest exceed that made by Christ in behalf of the Jews — the only distinction which was made in administering the gospel to the world.
The principal speaker was a converted Jew. There is in this rule, said he, either a latitude of meaning or an indefiniteness of expression, with which I must confess I am not entirely satisfied. I am not ignorant, however, of the difficulties which invest the subject; neither am I prepared to offer an amendment. Of one truth there can be no question. The most suspicious and jealous spectators, nay, the most determined opposers of foreign missions, can ask no more than is here conceded to them.
It must be admitted by all, that the Apostles were under precisely the same obligations to their countrymen as bind each member of this convention to his. Every duty and predilection and interest which others plead in favour of remaining at home, belonged with equal force to them. And besides these, there were national peculiarities which were calculated to operate powerfully on their minds, and which at present exist among no other people. The Jews were taught from infancy to believe that, compared with themselves, all other nations were but so many herds of inferior animals. The number of the Apostles, too, was very limited. The proportion of Christian ministers to the people was by no means equal to the same class of men in protestant Europe or in America. So that they might have added to the reasons usually assigned by the converted Gentile nations an argument for remaining at home, which nearly equals the whole sum of those reasons.
But none of these considerations prompted the Messiah to make an exception in favour of my nation. This exception was founded upon his relationship to the Jews, and not that of the Apostles. For twenty centuries they had been his peculiar people. "You only have I known," said God, “ of all the nations of the earth."
He selected them out of the mass of mankind, made them the depositaries of his truth and grace; established a covenant with them ; instituted a system of holy ceremonies for them ; selected his distinguished messengers from among them ; and sent his son to become one of them according to the flesh.
Such were the peculiar reasons for which the Saviour commanded the Apostles to begin at Jerusalem.
I have stated that I was not pleased with the latitude of construction which this rule of action allows; - it converts the exception into the rule.
But even if we make this concession to those who wish to restrict the gospel to their own countries, or who deny to others more than the merest pittance of its blessings, what have they gained? Admitting what can hardly be claimed that to them apply the same reasons for favouring their respective countries, which we have seen, belonged only to the Jews, how far would they be at liberty to withhold the gospel from the heathen? Did the Apostles confine their benevolent efforts to Judea, or did those who left the precincts of their native land devote their lives to their scattered brethren? They were commanded to "begin at Jerusalem ;" to “go first to the lost sheep of