Billeder på siden

fruit of his labours? Is there not reason to suspect that the church, sitting under its own vine and fig tree, but after the example of its pastor, little caring for others, should have little of the presence of God in their souls and little manifestation of his blessing among them as a body? "There is that scattereth and yet increaseth, and there is that withholdeth more than is meet and it tendeth to poverty." If they concern not themselves about sending food to them that are perishing of hunger, is it to be wondered at if God command the clouds that they rain no rain upon their vineyard; and that he withholds his blessing both from their basket and their store?

[blocks in formation]

P. S. It may occur to you that the strain of this letter is at variance with what I have said in another place about a predilection for the missionary work as one of the qualifications of a proper candidate for that department of labour, inasmuch as I have now been attempting to show that various descriptions of persons otherwise qualified ought to become missionaries, while, according to the supposition we make of the state of their minds, they want this characteristic mark. But I take this predilection to be a thing which may be acquired, and acquired simply by a pious and devoted mind being directed with due attention to

the consideration of the subject. I have spoken of learning also as among the qualifications of a missionary; but learning is an acquirement, not a natural gift. They possess peculiar advantages who have made this acquirement (i. e. learning) in early life, and they stand upon vantage ground who have had their attention early turned to the missionary work, and so have betimes acquired the predilection for it, to which we have given a place among the list of qualifications. But it may happen that diligent study at a later period of life may repair the defects of a neglected education in youth. And the attention of a pious man being at length directed to the nature and obligation of missionary service among the heathen, he may acquire, though late, the preference for the work which a right hearted missionary ought to


The predilection I speak of is not a romantic enthusiastic feeling, resting upon no sufficient grounds, and for which no adequate cause can be assigned; but a sober, although warm and decided choice and preference of that which recommends itself to the enlightened and sanctified judgment as well as to the best dispositions of the renewed mind. And the work is one which may well beget such a desire to engage in it-and fully justify the choice made of it, a choice rational and laudable, and as honourable to the head as to the heart of him who forms it.

I think it quite consistent therefore to press upon a suitable person the duty of devoting himself to this cause; his not already possessing a predilection for it may be owing to want of due consideration of its claims. He may have wanted light to see it as worthy of being preferred to certain other objects of pursuit, which hitherto may have appeared to him the best and most important. But by acquiring juster and more enlightened views of duty, he may become possessed of the desire to engage in this "good work."

This view of the subject will at the same time obviate the objection, that our affections are not at our own command; and that we cannot love and hate, and choose and reject at the bidding of another. It is sufficient to repel this excuse, should it ever be urged by one who pleads the disqualification of not having a predilection for this service as a reason why he should not undertake it, to point to the numerous precepts of Scripture where men are commanded to exercise love, desire, hatred, fear, &c. This of course is to be accomplished with the help of God, and simply by setting and keeping steadily before the mind the objects suited to excite these respective affections.

Should any one possessing the requisite qualifications in point of learning, talent-and, as far as men might judge, piety, and having no reasonable ground for declining this service of Christ, still

feel no desire to engage in it-feel no predilection for it, after having the subject properly brought before him, that person, I grant you, is most undoubtedly disqualified, and ought by no means to assume a character in which he could at best but act the hypocrite.

[blocks in formation]

THE measure of success in a matter of ascertained duty ought not to be made the measure of our zeal in the performance of it. Yet who is not sensible of the general proneness to adopt this standard of measurement. Success, which is at best but an encouragement to persevere and abound more and more, is made the main spring of obedience. This is taking an ultimate effect, and turning it into a primary cause-inverting the natural process of proceeding under a sense of duty, in the hope of final success, and giving to present success the power of an impelling motive; and to the want of present success the power of a prohibition to persist farther in the performance of the duty.

Were this practical error exhibited to view in this naked form, many would disclaim it;-they would admit that they feel encouraged when their labours are successful, and discouraged when they are not: but that they make success or defeat the criterion of duty, and the spring of action they

« ForrigeFortsæt »