« ForrigeFortsæt »
OBJECTIONS TO ENGAGING IN MISSIONARY SERVICE.
My dear Friend,
AN admired author of a former age says, "We set up our own opinions in religion and philosophy as the tests of orthodoxy and truth, and we are prone to judge every practice of other men either a duty or a crime, which we think would be a crime or a duty in us, although their circumstances are vastly different from our own." There are innumerable examples of the truth of this observation: but it is sometimes made use of as affording an easy way of getting rid of a troublesome argument. I have no doubt that many, were these letters to meet their eye, would think they might sweep away half of the practical conclusions of them by a forced application of it. "The writer," they would say, "sees every object through the medium of a prejudice in favour of missions. He would break up the whole frame of society; he would prove that half the ministers and private christians in the world should immediately become missionaries; he would have men to dissolve all the
relations of civil life-break the ties and trample on the feelings of duty, love, and friendship; and care not though every other concern were neglected or abandoned if only his favourite work were carried on."-But to all this, and much more in the same strain, that I can imagine might be uttered by a disaffected heart, or even by a well meaning, though ill-informed friend of christianity, as sufficient to put down all I have said without being at the trouble to prove any one of my statements or inferences to be erroneous-to all this an answer might easily be found.
I shall not however tire you with a lengthened reply to this anticipated objection; but I would just say, before concluding that that must be wrong which would disturb the present constitution of christian society, and compel many to adopt another standard of action than they have been accustomed to measure themselves by ;-I say, before concluding that that must be wrong which draws such conclusions after it, it is first necessary to prove that the existing state of things in the christian world is right—is just what it should be.
But besides, it is obvious to reason that the language I have put into the objector's mouth is overstrained and false by any application to the doctrine of these letters; and it is needless to say more upon it at present-only be it remembered that it is not my work I am advocating. It is not any rule of my devising I would have men go by.
I appeal "to the law and to the testimony," in which there is no obscurity in what relates to the obligation to propagate the gospel of Christ. If I speak not according to this word, let whatever I have presumed to say go for nothing-but if I have spoken the truth let them see to it who yet find fault.
At any rate, if I have attempted to bring home the command of Christ to the "business and bosoms" of some men to whom it has been thought hitherto but indirectly to apply, so far am I from apprehending that any will go beyond the line of sober duty in consequence of these suggestions, supposing them to be published-my fear is, that many, without laying the matter properly to heart, will continue to go on in their accustomed road, neither proving that my deductions are wrong, nor practically owning that they are right.
In matters of mere speculation, or in matters of practice that fall in with the current of men's corrupt inclinations, pensées outrés may do harm. But when the question is practical, and the conduct to which it leads is directly opposed to all worldly and selfish ends, there is little danger of the strenuous inculcation of duty producing bad effects; -except in the way the Saviour himself says his own coming would operate: "I came not to send peace but a sword, for I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against
her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man's foes shall be they of his own household." And may it not be considered rather a presumptive argument that my views are in perfect accordance with the design and tendency of the pure gospel of Christ, since the effects may be thus similar. I can easily conceive of the outcry of relatives and friends, religious and irreligious, against the enthusiast who should break away from respectable connexions, perhaps from a scene of apparent usefulness-perhaps at the risk of the loss of all things, that he might preach among the gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and still more if he should by word as well as by example endeavour to persuade many others also, who are wasting life to little purpose, so far as doing good to the souls of men is concerned, that they should listen to the call of the heathen to come and help them. I can conceive of many arguments derived from every source but the right one-the word of God-employed to show this enthusiast that it is his duty to remain at home himself, and let others remain at home too. Ought not a young man to be suffered to stay till he has buried his father? and if in the mean time he marries a wife, does not this excuse him wholly from engaging in any such service? It may be so, or it may not, according to circumstances; but to all such individuals as may be opposed in the way of DUTY by friends or
enemies, I would merely suggest, that instead of being careful to answer their accusers in that matter, they should seriously ponder the words which follow in immediate connection with those above quoted: "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he that taketh not his cross and followeth after me is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”
While we urge the duty of many able and devoted men leaving their home and friends and labours in the midst of a christian people, in order to bear the name of Christ to the uncalled gentiles, there is unhappily one argument that cannot as yet with any propriety be used in opposition to itnamely, that there is a due proportion of foreign labourers already gone or preparing to go. Yet some people are either so uncandid, or so hostile, or so ignorant, that they really throw out hints to this effect, and they think their argument is very plausible, if not irrefragable, when they suggest that the missionaries already sent out, if they act wisely, and teach teachers," instead of wasting their strength in teaching scholars, may soon raise up so many coadjutors from among the heathen that they shall have no need of any further reinforcements from home.
The attention of the friends of missions has