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IV. The next principle which was received by a very large majority as a scriptural rule of conduct, was “that all Christians are under obligations to co-operate to the extent of their ability in giving the gospel to the nations." Among other passages of Scripture which were quoted as inculcating the duty of all Christians to engage in works of benevolence, 1 Peter, iv. chapter, 10th and 11th verses, was particularly mentioned. “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God; if any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth, that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”
It is this obligation, said a physician who had renounced a lucrative practice, and consecrated his professional talents to the work of missions, it is this obligation which compelled me to abandon home, and friends, and worldly emoluments, and prospective ease, and unite myself with the small band who have embarked in this holy calling. Others of my profession had made the sacrifice, and the more I examined the duty, the less could I avail myself of that species of logic, which always makes an exception in the individual who employs it. I confess I had never thought of the salvation of the heathen as a matter of personal duty, before it was presented in this light by a missionary friend. I had taken the vow of eternal consecration to the Saviour. I had sworn, in the presence of God, and angels, and men, that his love should control my heart, and his glory be the end of my life; but never had I seen the incongruity of making the acquisition of worldly treasure the grand object of my plans and pursuits. The idea of going where I could do the most good, instead of where I could amass the most wealth, was at first a startling proposition. It was more novel, however, than preposterous ; for I very soon saw that the chief end I had proposed in my practice, had no importance compared with the one for which I was now invited to employ my talents.
My friends united in dissuading me from what they designated such evident infatuation. They described in glowing language their need of my professional services - the favour which I had secured among them the costliness of
education, and the folly of throwing it away upon the
ignorant heathen. They dwelt upon the good I might accomplish by administering to the souls as well as the bodies of my patients. They reminded me of the providence which had given me so advantageous a situation; and closed with the admission, that a sphere so inferior to my laudable aspirations might claim the services of less favoured men than myself. At first I felt disposed to attach all importance to these objections; but the more deeply and prayerfully I pondered the subject, the less weighty did all such considerations appear. Indeed, I soon discovered that these were the suggestions of a worldly spirit - a spirit which neither regarded the glory of the Saviour, nor desired the happiness of those for whom he died ; and I could not but weep, while I reprimanded that false interest in my welfare, which considered me as an ephemera, and my Redeemer's promised dominion as a dream.
What good I might accomplish by remaining, appeared now as merely incidental — to do good was my sole object, if I went.
The more I informed myself on the history of missions, the more fully was I convinced of the prodigious influence attached to my profession, and the necessity of having well educated physicians connected with every station. It appeared to me, that I should enjoy advantages for enlightening the ignorant, which even the ordained missionary could not command. I might be accome plishing the work of instruction, at the same time that I was pursuing my other vocation. My gratuitous labours, as a physician, would attract numbers, and win their hearts. While administering to the body, I could communicate instruction to their minds. I knew that it did not require a theological education, to teach the heathen the way of salvation. If I could impart my own knowledge, or the limited information of any babe in Christ, the great desideratum would be gained. If, when brought within the bonds of the everlasting covenant, they required a farther education, my brethren could perform this duty.
Every view of the condition of the heathen and the obligations of Christians, appeared to enhance the importance of missionary exertion, and to demand more imperatively the trifling service I could render this cause. I was deeply penetrated with a sense of the stern and cruel penuriousness of the Christian world. Scarcely anything had been attempted to rescue the heathen from eternal misery. Even now, after all that has been said and written on this point, how pitiful is the number of missionaries, compared with the magnitude of their work. These considerations brought my mind to a deliberate conclusion. I determined
to go. I went; and I desire to declare to the world, that, however much I have been disposed to question the propriety of other plans, and the purity of other motives, neither the principle, nor the purpose, which conducted my steps to the heathen, has caused a moment's regret. I thank God for the privilege of having brought to the minds of so many, who were perishing in ignorance, that knowledge which maketh wise unto salvation. I have not been disappointed. The work has exceeded my expectations. Its present reward is ample, and I hope to devote my latest energies to its promotion.
Since my own attention has been directed to the conversion of the heathen, I have often looked with indescribable emotion at the apathy of others. Where are the young men who leave the medical halls by hundreds every year? Many of them have enrolled their names among the followers of Christ. They have taken the sacramental oath of unreserv. ed devotion to the interests of His kingdom. And yet how do they pay their vows ? What course do they pursue ? Numbers of them can obtain no situation, and live in comparative idleness. Others are more favoured; but it is through the defeated aims and disappointed hopes of many who were struggling for the same places. A large class, who are established in practice, can