Billeder på siden

of God the gospel should be preached to every creature; and that, though they might err in the selection of instruments, or in the choice of spheres of action, God would regard with approbation the effort to promote his glory, and sooner or later smile upon it with success. Success, come when it might, however, they never alleged as the proper ground of their engaging in the work. They knew that it was the prerogative of God alone to give it in answer to prayer, and in connexion with effort, while it was their duty in faith and patience to wait for it.

[ocr errors]

I grant that if success in such a cause were indefinitely delayed, it would lead to some important considerations. It would induce suspicions as to the nature of the work attempted; as to the construction put upon the revelation of the will of God; and, finally, as to the divine origin and design of christianity itself. For if any part of the communication from heaven be clearer than another, it is the intimation, that the blessings of the gospel, as they are adapted to all, so they are destined by God to be enjoyed by all, the nations of the earth. If therefore all attempts to propagate the gospel should fail, it would follow either that we are incapable of understanding its revelation, or

that something of a very mysterious nature belongs to the designs of God respecting it.

So far from being under the necessity of looking at the subject in this light, we have been furnished with evidence of the most satisfactory kind, that the experiment has succeeded to the full extent, if not of the wishes, at least of the expectations of those who have tried it; that in every instance where the attempt has been judiciously made by proper instruments, and sufficiently persevered in, success to a greater or less extent has taken place; and that on the whole, the results have been so satisfactory, as to present a complete answer to every objection, and the fullest encouragement to proceed.

I am aware that the opinion now expressed is not in entire accordance with the views of all who think and write on missionary subjects. I have just cast my eye on the following paragraph :

"It cannot but be a question to every mind-why is it that with such large and varied means our success is so trifling? Why is it that while so many societies are at work, and so much money expended, the results bear no adequate proportion to the cost and labour? The fact is notorious, both at home and abroad. We labour in vain, and spend our

strength almost for nought; at least, all are ready to acknowledge that our success is not commensurate to our means, and that a vast machinery is employed to produce an insignificant result. It would be wrong to be satisfied with such a state of things. The error doubtless attaches to us. We are not straitened in God but in ourselves. cumstances, we are bound to suspect our motives and principles. Were we co-workers with Godwere we labouring in the spirit of our Master, it would be a mockery to suppose our present success the adequate result of our labours."*

In such cir

I entirely dissent from the writer of this paragraph, in the view which he takes of the result of missionary labours. The statement, I conceive, to be unfounded in fact, to arise from an inadequate view of the operations which are at present going on, and to be as injurious and discouraging in its tendency, as it is incorrect in its assumption. I am unconscious of having any disposition to exaggerate the success which has attended the labours of christian missionaries, or to form an extravagant idea of that success; but when it is spoken of as nothing, and as bearing no proportion to the cost and labour bestowed; and is maintained that all this is notorious, both at home and abroad ;—

*New Baptist Miscellany for October, 1829, p. 422.

it is proper to refuse assent to such sweeping


There is such a thing as being impatient of labour, or of waiting for its results; of entertaining too magnificent ideas of the amount of our own doings; and of assuming the attitude of menace and reproach, because every thing is not according to our mind. It is possible too to forget, that when a gigantic superstructure is to be raised, a platform or foundation of proportionate extent must be laid. It seems to be expected by many, that the cupola should be rising into view, before there has been time to accomplish the work underground. It is overlooked, that a very large portion of the work which has been done by missionary societies and missionaries, during the last thirty or forty years, has been chiefly preparatory in its nature. Much labour has been employed to overcome difficulties and obstacles which stood in the way of the work at home, or of its introduction into various countries abroad. The efforts required to subdue positive hostility to missionary undertakings have been great, and required much wisdom and perseverance. To have succeeded thus far in commanding public confidence and approbation, is alone of vast moment to the future interests of the work. It is but within a

few years that the cause has acquired the appearance of magnitude, or that the operations have been conducted on a scale at all worthy of it, or of the persons who espouse it. Yet we are already told that our success is nothing, compared with our means.

Many of our most valuable and efficient missionaries have been employed rather as píoneers, than as regular soldiers; their time and talents have been chiefly devoted to the compilation of grammars and dictionaries of new and difficult languages; to the translation of the Scriptures, and of other valuable works, into those languages; to the forming of systems, and conducting seminaries and schools for education; in short, to the construction of a vast apparatus of means for attack and defence, which may be more extensively and effectually employed by others than by themselves. What has absorbed the chief part of the time, strength, and talents of the Baptist Missionaries at Serampore?-translations, dictionaries, schools, and school books. The same remark will apply to many of the Missionaries belonging to the London Missionary Society, in India, China, and the Chinese Archipelago. In Madagascar, in the Mediterranean, and in Siberia, a great part of their employment has been of


« ForrigeFortsæt »