« ForrigeFortsæt »
fitted to be ministers of the New Testament by gifts as well as by graces, know and confess the inadequacy of all "might and power" without "the Spirit," as much as they who are afraid of suiting the means to the end. The truth is that the power requisite to convert a sinner from the error of his ways, is so infinitely beyond all the power of human agency-that the most excellent means and the worst possible are nearly on a level; with this difference however, that they who use the former honour the command of God, while the latter hesitate to obey, lest fit means should prove too efficacious, and so eclipse the glory of the work of the Spirit; or even accomplish the work altogether without the interposition of his agency. It is easy to see which of these schemes ascribes more glory to God-whether that which consistently employs proper instruments at his command, leaving him to vindicate his own honour, and make it appear that the success depends not upon the means but upon Him who blesses them; or that which pretends to be so morbidly jealous for the display of the divine power of the Spirit in converting sinners, as to employ instruments qualified for the work assigned them, by the rule of contraries—a scheme which savours much of the imbecility of understanding they so much admire.
*2 Cor. iii. 6. "Who hath ɛkaνwσɛν fitted us for being ministers," &c.
If men go forth in this holy cause with a proud reliance on their own wisdom and excellency of speech, God will confound them before their enemies, and humble them till they acknowledge that it is not for man to glory in his presence; but it is possible that there may be the most heartabasing conviction and confession that to God belongs all the praise, even when the instrument has been highly qualified and most wisely adapted for the service assigned it. Such instruments were Martyn and Milne, and many more who rest from their labours, and whose works follow them. such instruments are many who are still labouring with manifest tokens of the divine approbation; and who will say that the cause would be better served by men less highly qualified, or that it deserves not and demands not the best talents, and the most extensive learning, and the warmest piety, and the purest zeal the Christian world can furnish?
The man who is himself learned, and yet decries the advantages of learning to a minister or a missionary, only proves that learning cannot supply the want of common sense; but the illiterate man who contends that learning is little worth, is evidently in the predicament of speaking evil of that which he knows not; and should he assume the office of an instructor, perhaps he might not deserve a better character than those who desired to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor whereof they affirm."
But if scripture is to be quoted in defence of doing nothing, or doing nothing to purpose-in defence of lukewarmness in the cause of God, or of principles which would soon paralyse every right effort to promote it; I will quote scripture also, and ask what is the import and bearing of that remarkable saying, "the children of this world are, in their generation, wiser than the children of light?" The answer is this-the children of this world exercise a prudent forecasting care in the management of their concerns. Their undertakings are planned wisely, and conducted judiciously. They take an enlightened view of what is before them-foresee evils-secure advantages-select proper means-neglect nothing conducive to success-make provision against future necessitiesrise early and sit up late, and eat the bread of carefulness;" and for all this they are commended. Yea, an unjust steward is commended for his wise and crafty policy in making to himself friends against the time of his approaching need of them. But what is the lesson the children of light are to learn from this parable? Not to imitate the works of the unjust-but to imitate their wisdom-to shew, in the management of their spiritual concerns, equal address, and intelligence, and zeal. It is as if the divine Teacher had said-a man of this world, unjust, but wise and prudent in his secular business, is more to be commended than the spiritual man who acts as a fool in all
that relates to his own salvation and that of others.
O it is fearful to think that in the day of judgment many an unjust steward, who made himself friends of the mammon of unrighteousness-many a pharisee who compassed sea and land to make one proselyte—many a merchant man, who, seeking the goodly pearls of time, visited in the spirit of commercial enterprise every quarter of the world-shall rise up and condemn the unwise conduct, and mistaken policy of the professed children of light.
I will just add, before closing this letter, that I believe some who talk lightly of the qualifications required in a missionary to the heathen, are not aware of the conclusions to which their hypothesis leads; but if it proceed not in the tacit assumption that God prefers weak instruments that his power may be more conspicuously displayed—and involve not the consequences of tempting God, and giving the enemy occasion to triumph, I have utterly mistaken the matter.
ON THE QUANTITY OF MEANS EMPLOYED.
My dear Friend,
I AM impelled to take up once more the subject which occupied the greater part of my last letter; but in a view sufficiently distinct from the former, I hope to screen me from the imputation of giving you a bare repetition of the same sentiments.
I endeavoured to combat the notion, that for the conversion of the heathen world able men are not required that little stress should be laid upon the kind and quality of means employed, since the grand effect is to be produced by the power of God.
It is my purpose now to expose a similar error as to the QUANTITY of means. "No matter,” say some, "though the means we employ be inadequate in extent, as well as humble in quality, according to human reckoning; our handful of plain unpretending missionaries will be sufficient for the accomplishment of the whole undertaking if the hand of God be with them; and it may be confidently hoped, that he will take occasion from the circumstance of their weakness to manifest his