« ForrigeFortsæt »
tage to all concerned. * A longer season devoted to preparation I think advisable, not merely that missionaries might be sent out better furnished with human learning, and with greater stores of general knowledge, but that they might have more time to prepare their hearts for the work, and have all those feelings, and views, and impressions of their great undertaking, which they should be taught to cherish, more deepened and matured.While their tutors and patrons would have better means of getting an intimate knowledge of the men they have taken under their care, be better able to direct them in their studies, and be at last qualified with more judgment to arrange the appointment of these young missionaries to fields of labor suited to their peculiar talents and characters.
I am, &c.
DIFFICULTIES ARISING FROM DIVERSITY OF TEMPER AMONG MISSIONARIES.
My dear Friend,
In pursuance of the subject of former letters I have now to submit to you a few more thoughts that have occurred on taking a practical view of missionary undertakings.
*Not applicable to missionaries sent from the United States, who generally spend two or three years in a theological seminary, after completing a collegiate course of education. American missionaries to the heathen, are as well educated, takenas a class of men, as the pastors of churches in any district of our country.-Am. Ed.
Missionaries, associated together in the honorable and arduous work of evangelizing the heathen, have a strong, a sacred bond of union; and this bond, it might be supposed, could in no case be in danger of being broken. Those who have made accurate observations on human nature, however, will not find it difficult to believe that even missionaries may "fall out by the way ;" and that much wisdom and grace are necessary to preserve, in all its integrity and beauty, the golden chain of love which constitutes a missionary bond. That there have been and are so many edifying instances of this cordial union and co-operation, is not to be regarded as matter of course, but to be ascribed to the influence of that elevated Christian principle, and that spirit of consecration to the advancement of the common cause, which make those who occupy the same field of labor smother every germ of dissension, and have taught each to look, not upon his own things, but the things of others.
When a number of individuals are brought together, previously unacquainted with each other; perhaps natives of different countries, of different tastes, habits, and natural tempers; and differing not less it may be in point of learning and talent; do not these diversities form so many points of resistance to a close and cordial union? They have now to act together in a great and responsible work, in which each has an undoubted right to judge for himself. It will therefore soon be discovered that there is among them in many things, a difference of judgment. Some surpass others in natural and acquired endowments-some will be more active and forward, others more passive and yielding-some fond of study, others more inclined to business and bustle-some with a talent for
managing, and others ever jealous of their brother's superiority. It is more than can be expected that in all things they should think alike. The same subject will appear in very different lights to different minds; and now is discovered the difficulty of acting in harmonious oneness of spirit. Even supposing passion and selfishness to have no place among them, how can they possibly avoid occasions of offence? Pursue what plan they may, they must sometimes act in opposition to the views and impressions of duty of some individual of their number. Not to mention peculiarities of natural disposition found in some of the best of men, which render it impossible for others to live and act with them, but on the terms of submitting to endure much from them, and habitually exercising forbearance towards them. To maintain all the warmth and cordiality of Christian feeling towards one another, among the members of a society so constituted, requires no small share of grace. The peculiarity of their situation greatly increases the difficulty. Nothing in a Christian country is exactly parallel to it. At home, ministers and private Christians, when they combine their energies for the promotion of any common object, can select such individuals as possess congenial minds, and all other requisites for harmonious co-operation. Thus similarity of taste and temper attract men to each other, and they lend mutual assistance, and mutually contribute to each other's pleasure and progress in their various objects of pursuit. And when in any case such societies of men, or any individual connected with them, may find it difficult, or uncomfortable, or unprofitable, to continue together, the fraternity breaks up, or the individual withdraws. But not so mission
aries. They have no power of choosing. grand object, it is true, has drawn them together; but be the object of human pursuit what it may, there must be accordances of character in other points, as well as the main one, in order to their hopefully and harmoniously working together; and of such accordances there may be a deficiency in a band of missionaries brought together, we would not say accidentally, but with little or no regard to the fitting of one character to another, so as to form a compact heart-cemented body. Now in the possible case of the members of a missionary settlement, proving by experience that they are ill assorted together, they cannot, like a religious or literary association at home, dissolve their connection with each other at pleasure, or at any rate, with little loss to themselves or others;they cannot break up and re-model the establishment with more congenial materials. They cannot separate; scarcely can an individual even withdraw, without involving the mission in confusion, perhaps occasioning its utter ruin, and exposing the sacred cause with which they are identified to irreparable injury.
There is then no situation in which Christians can possibly be placed, where they stand more in need of being imbued with the spirit of the apostolical exhortation, "to be of the same mind one towards another-to esteem each other highly in love for their works' sake, and to be at peace among themselves." And perhaps there are few situations where the maintenance of this spirit is more difficult than when, unfortunately, difference of judgment, in matters of duty, and contrariety of disposition and habits in common life, exist in a missionary settlement. But if the duty be diffi
cult, the motives to the exercise of forbearance, forgiveness, and love, are, in the case of missionaries, very strong. They have their hearts and hands engaged in the work of the Lord. They have vowed the consecration of their all to it; and to merge every interest and every feeling in the one grand design of promoting the kingdom of their Saviour among men. They are, or ought to be, so absorbed by this, as to leave no room for reflection upon their personal interests; habitually reckoning themselves nothing; and contented to be accounted nothing by others. Possessed of this spirit, a missionary will bear and forbear much; but if destitute of it, his own comfort, and that of his associates, will be perpetually marred. In the course of the daily intercourse of the brethren, much will occur to try the power and patience of faith. If that intercourse be conducted in the spirit of love, sweetened by amiable and Christian condescension-" in honor preferring one another," they will truly be fellow-helpers. But if they give way to their own spirit, and suffer unholy feelings to embitter their necessary and unavoidable intercourse, the great end of their being associated together, so far as mutual assistance and comfort are concerned, is defeated-and their living together is rendered the more irksome, because they know they cannot separate, except perhaps at an expense to the cause they have espoused, which they may not think it their duty to incur.
I have dwelt more particularly upon these representations of the subject, in order to give the greater emphasis to the cautions and warnings I would address to intended missionaries, as to the spirit they must prepare to cultivate towards the