« PreviousContinue »
THE last speaker had scarcely taken his seat, before a representative of another part of the Christian world claimed the attention of the assembly.
I am a citizen, said he, of that country where the chains of papal superstition were first sundered, and the light of the reformation broke upon the world. In my country we do not differ in our interpretation of the Saviour's command from those who have spoken; but I certainly cannot subscribe to their exalted opinions of their own nations.
I have been constrained to conclude that there was no land which possessed the same claims upon the efforts of Christians, as my own. Others may boast of wealth and navies, and commerce, and colonies. Our boast is of men and of the means by which they are prepared for the most distinguished stations and difficult labours. Look at the mental capabilities and physical endurance of my countrymen. What can exceed
their habits of intellectual drudgery, and almost starving economy
Add to this our literary eminence. How numerous are our institutions - how numberless their students-how extensive and accurate our science, and particularly our theological researches! What light have not our renowned professors shed upon the ancient languages, and the critical interpretation of the Bible.
Here then is an agency which, if brought to bear upon the world, would soon produce the change we all desire. Let the army of Him who "goes forth conquering and to conquer,” be reinforced by the host these institutions could furnish, and the conquest of the world would soon be achieved. Who so capable of enduring the trials and privations of a missionary life—who so able to conquer the numerous and difficult languages of the unevangelized nations!
But there is another consideration which enhances the demands of our own country upon our services. There are influences abroad which will inevitably enlist and wield all this moral power against the pure religion of the gospel, if the greatest efforts, are not made by the friends of truth to resist them. Rationalism and inf infidelity are popular and lamentably prevalent in our seminaries. Many of our greatest men are
wild in their speculations; and their mighty and splendid intellects draw after them in their erratic courses hundreds of our most talented youth. The doctrines of the Reformation are rejected by a large proportion of my countrymen, while the institutions of our holy religion are despised by not a few. Is there a land, then, upon which the sun shines, that promises so rich a return for Christian effort as Germany?
NATIVES of France, Holland, Switzerland, and other countries of Christendom, all felt themselves called upon to show their reasons for restricting their principal labours within their own territories. Each speaker found in the cherished land of his birth, advantages which he and his fellowcitizens imagined gave it a distinctive prominence above other parts of the world; and which, in their opinion, justified their comparative inattention to other countries.
At length a converted Chinese arose, and expressed his regret that such limited and evidently selfish operations should have been mistaken for the impartial beneficence enjoined in our Lord's command.
Who is right, inquired he, or are all right? Is the restriction which each one has made in favour of his own country, a restriction in the text, or is it not rather a limitation in the views of its interpreters? Can every country possess superior advantages to all others? If, as you all
admit, the text is to be taken in its literal import; and if, as each declares, its obvious design is to bestow the most labour where the promise of success is the greatest, then is it not evident that many of you must be mistaken in your practical conclusions? Is it not possible that all are mistaken?
Suppose that you had lived, as I have, in a country, more extensive than any of those you have mentioned, and far more populous than all of them together; would you have selected the places you now inhabit, as the appropriate spheres of your labour? If your reasoning be valid, where ought you to have exerted yourselves with so much energy as in those very empires, and kingdoms you have most neglected?
Where is the demand so urgent? We rest not our priority of claim upon any thing problematical or prospective. We present our intrinsic greatness our present condition. The empire to which I belong contains more than one-third of the entire population of the world; while its influence is so great upon the surrounding kingdoms, that if converted, the majority of mankind, we believe, would soon be brought to bow to the sceptre of Jehovah.
But does not your reasoning prove more than you are prepared to admit? According to your