« ForrigeFortsæt »
comfort, there is great professed zeal for the spiritual interests of men; but at the posts of danger,-the enterprise of self-denial and hazard,- the ranks of the really militant army of Christ remain unoccupied.
This state of things obviously implies a low degree of principle even among the ministers of Christ. I do not prefer the charge of insincerity or hypocrisy ; but surely there is reason to doubt the strength and ardour of zeal when it is so generally confined to spheres of exertion which call for little sacrifice, and expose to no danger. Let me entreat my younger brethren to reflect on this, and to ponder the reasonings of the following Letters. Give the subject your serious consideration ; let it be matter of solemn prayer and selfexamination. Do not take it for granted you have no interest in it,--that your call is at home,--that you have not talents or courage for the work. Contemplate the duty of devoting yourselves to Christ in whatever field or region he may be pleased by his providence to mark out for you. Contemplate the wants and woes of the world, which is all before
you; presenting an unlimited field of labour, and the fullest excitement and occupation for your
loftiest ambition. To you it may be given to plant the standard of the cross where it has not before been reared ;-to assail and to carry fortresses still in the hands of the enemy, and long deemed impregnable ;—to achieve the conquest, not of a few individuals, but of a country ;-to break down the barriers of a nation's idolatry, and win its universal homage to Christ, and its eternal gratitude to yourselves as his instruments. IN THE WHOLE OOMPASS OF HUMAN BENEVOLENCE, THERE IS NOTHING SO GRAND, SO NOBLE, SO CHRISTIAN, SO TRULY GODLIKE-AS THE WORK OF EVANGELIZING THE HEATHEN.
ON THE CHOICE OF A MISSIONARY LIFE.
My dear Friend, DURING the years I have been a missionary, various thoughts have occurred to me touching the character, qualifications, motives, duties, trials, &c. of missionaries. I have long intended to offer you the result of my reflections on such points, but I need not say what has hitherto prevented the execution of my purpose. I might still defer it if I waited for a season of uninterrupted leisure ; but, availing myself of such “ remnants of time,” as I can seize in the course of a life of labour, I commence my observations. I shall only premise that you must be indulgent to marks of haste which you will doubtless discover in my composition; but although hastily put together, the thoughts themselves have been maturely considered, and I anticipate that in most things you
I pretend not to any new or original views, but actual engagement in missionary service has given me a deepened impression of some truths generally
admitted, yet not sufficiently weighed, and for that reason, often practically disregarded.
I shall begin with some remarks on the choice of a missionary life.
The ordinary pursuits of mankind present a definite object before the eye. The artisan, the merchant, the lawyer, the physician, the minister of religion tread a beaten path. A young man when he fixes upon any of these professions may form a pretty correct estimate of the duties connected with his choice; and, generally speaking, his prospects of emolument, respectability and comfort, are not difficult to be ascertained. There is little room for the indulgence of romantic speculation, because the matter is capable of being brought to the test of sober calculation. Every town or district may furnish him with examples of persons in the same walk of life he may have chosen, and thus he is put in possession of data for calculating what he himself will have to be and to do in becoming one of their number. But it is not so with the young man whose mind inclines to the work of a missionary. In speculating upon this subject he finds himself at once beyond the common means of judging of the duties, trials, advantages and disadvantages of the station to which he aspires. The ministry at home bears but a very imperfect analogy to the undertaking he contemplates; and there are no missionaries, and no missionary ground within the range of his observation. The accounts
transmitted from foreign countries where missions have been established, however useful and important in other respects, fall far short of the minuteness and distinctness of information which he finds necessary to enable him to realize the idea of being there and surrounded by a foreign scenery and population. But without such vivid pictures of the localities of the missionary settlement, he cannot even conceive what must be the indescribable impression of being actually removed from all the places and persons hitherto familiar to him. Hence there is much room for the indulgence of imagination, and if the mind is strongly biased in favour of the enterprize, which we may suppose, under the influence of the best motives, there will be a corresponding tendency to view every thing favourable to the undertaking with a partial eye; and on the other hand a disposition to overlook every discouraging circumstance.
For example, the pain of being removed from beloved friends and associates will be thought easily bearable ; while the hope of living in their more endeared remembrance, the anticipated pleasure of frequently receiving their friendly letters, and the means which may be enjoyed of gratifying them in return by interesting communications, will dwell upon the fancy and make a separation from friends, in such circumstances, appear almost desirable. The biased mind will in like manner take an encouraging, I may say a flattering