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views, the practical interpretation of the text varies with the private circumstances of those who expound it. You evidently prefer one country to the rest, because you happen to belong to it. Suppose that by a frequent change of residence you had become equally interested in one-half of the countries of the world, would you not have extended your plan of beneficence to meet your partialities? Now extend it to the other half, for which some other interpreter of Christ's charge might contract the same attachments, and you will then exemplify the principle of the text. You will then adopt the only mode of benevolent operation which your Divine Teacher, by the very terms of his command, prescribes.
But I perceive the fallacy of this reasoning. It is human nature in its present weakness to magnify places in which we have a personal interest, and to overlook others.
A few shipwrecked sailors came to my country a short time ago, who gave us some account of their sufferings. Among other things they mentioned that they had been cast upon Lord North's island, and were detained there a long time. This island they informed us is known to its inhabitants by the name Toby. It is only about three-quarters of a mile long, by one-half broad. It affords scarcely any means of subsistence.
The natives live principally upon cocoanuts; at times they are reduced almost to starvation; and yet notwithstanding the sufferings they are doomed to endure on this impoverished speck in the ocean, they think and say there is no place in all the world like their own Toby.
As far as I have understood the different speakers, they all admit the paramount importance of having the world converted in the shortest possible period. It is in the mode of accomplishing this object that they cannot agree. Each one supposes that his own country ought to be first evangelized, and that then his fellow-citizens might be employed in promulgating the gospel among other nations. This preliminary work they believe to be an ample apology for not having preached the gospel to the heathen.
Now the question is, how long have such opinions been entertained? Has the practical result of this plan proved its superior wisdom? How many centuries have elapsed since the experiment was commenced? How many more will be necessary before this preparatory undertaking shall be completed? Can it be shown that all past efforts have advanced you toward the end you have had in view?
If I am rightly informed, there has been a decided increase of vital religion in some parts of
Christendom. But the change is recent; and it has occurred in those countries where the greatest interest in missions has been manifested, and since the commencement of that interest. In other important places, I understand there is much less piety now than there was two centuries ago. Is it not time then to suspect the wisdom of a plan whose practical operations and proposed result never approximate each other?
Of one thing there can be no question. If your example is universally followed, the world will never be converted. As far as your influence goes, the purposes of God must be defeated. That the object you assign for remaining at home,. the conversion of your respective countrymen, will be ultimately accomplished, is fixed in the immutable decrees of Jehovah. But the same wisdom has determined that it shall not occur until the gospel is preached to every nation.
The light of the latter day glory will not condense its rays upon any particular portion of the globe. The spirit of God will not concentrate His power on any one privileged spot. "A nation shall be born at once." "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh." So that while you refuse to preach the gospel to the heathen, you not only defer, as far as you can, the universal reign of
Christ upon earth, but you decline the richest spiritual blessings for your own countries.
To enjoy the full advantages of the millennium, your countries may probably as much need the future prayers and reciprocal aid of nations yet unconverted, as those nations require your present assistance. The safest way is to follow the literal construction of our Saviour's command. Then you will have the consciousness of knowing that the mode you adopt is not your own suggestion, but that of infinite wisdom; and that those who were divinely qualified to understand and execute this command, have set you the example.
THE next speaker was a descendant of European ancestry, though born in one of the principal cities of India. He began by saying, that he had spent several years in England and America, and that while residing in the last mentioned country he became, as he trusts, "a new creature in Christ Jesus." Since that period, said he, I have ever felt the greatest possible concern for the spiritual welfare of the millions in the land of my birth.
I can sympathize, therefore, with those who have expressed the strongest personal attachment to their respective countries, though I must confess that I dissent entirely from their views with regard to the best mode of benefiting those countries. The last speaker alluded to a topic of the greatest importance, which they have entirely overlooked, but which I have often heard elucidated by the most learned divines in the places I have visited; I mean the legitimate reaction of missions connected with the promised reward of beneficence. If I were at liberty to employ the gospel for the exclusive