Billeder på siden

yearly sending out more labourers to the American vineyard. But I cannot be detained longer by the contemplation of these brighter scenes, and here and there a spot of light and moral fertility. I turn to the black and dreary shades of all the chief portions of the rest of the globe, and see that "darkness covers the earth, and gross darkness the people." And seeing this I cannot question the propriety of inviting others to consider it; but if they should be unwilling to do so, what must be done? would it be wrong" to use sharpness?" I have no desire for such an office, nor must any thing I have said be construed as if I had usurped it; I leave it to those who can fill it with a better grace.

I am, &c.




My dear Friend,

MISSIONS to the heathen are either deserving of more general and decided support from all classes of the christian community, both in the way of furnishing men and money, than they have hitherto obtained-or they are not. If they are not deserving of greatly enlarged encouragement, the subject, as treated in these letters, has been unduly magnified. Enthusiasm has exaggerated the proportions of that part of the spiritual temple not yet built, and truth refuses to sanction the misrepresentation.

But if christian missions are deserving of so much more liberal support and universal countenance, how is it that they have not received it?

Among other causes, I am sorry to particularize one which has been pressed upon my notice by the perusal of the sermon of the late Dr. Buchanan, preached before the Church (of England) Missionary Society, in 1810. When I allude to this

author also, as I have done to several others in the course of this correspondence, for the purpose of reprehending sentiments expressed by them, perhaps you may think I have become a very captious reader and judge of what other men write. But I shall not be deterred by the fear of any such imputation, from plainly shewing you my opinion; and especially when I see cause to differ from writers who are highly and justly respected, and whose names carry with them an authority sufficient to give weight and currency to every sentiment they choose to publish. I could have descanted with more ease, and with far greater pleasure, upon the excellencies to be found in the authors I have referred to; but what is good, speaks for itself; what I would therefore attempt is, to prevent the bad which I conceive to be mixed with it, from passing unsuspected because found in connexion with much that is unexceptionable.

What I refer to at present, as one cause of the small measure of attention and respect paid to the subject of missions, especially by christians of superior rank, wealth, and learning, is the idea that it is an undertaking to be carried on chiefly by persons in the lower walks of life; and that men of that class are the most proper to be employed as missionaries. Hence there is a character of meanness and vulgarity thrown over the whole affair; and a man of superior station, or of a high character for learning, is taught to feel himself degraded

by any immediate contact with Missionary Societies or their agents. I know that many most distinguished characters, both at home and abroad, have shewn themselves to be above this prejudice, (for a most absurd prejudice assuredly it is,) but I confess myself somewhat surprised to find Dr. Buchanan abetting this false sentiment, or at least compromising the truth, in such a passage as the following" If you look around, you may observe that few of the rich or learned of any society of christians, however small, and however zealous to diffuse christianity, are disposed to go forth as missionaries; and it is true, that if the rich and learned did go, they could not assimilate with the poor and ignorant among the heathen, so easily as their brethren of inferior station. They could not so easily suit with their poverty, nor tolerate their ignorance."

The fact here stated, that "few of the rich and learned are disposed to go forth as missionaries," is indisputable, nor am I disposed to question that they must make greater sacrifices were they to go. But if I mistake not the meaning of this quotation, taken in connection with the passage that immediately follows it, the "rich and learned" have to thank Dr. Buchanan for giving them in the first place, a dispensation altogether from actual engagement in missionary service; and in the second place, such of them as are so disposed may extend the dispensation to exertions at home also,

in such a cause, pleading that they do not find it easier "to assimilate with the poor and ignorant mass of christians at home, than with the same descriptions of heathens abroad; and, therefore, keep aloof from their associations-meetings, and, in short, from all social connection with them, for the purpose of spreading the gospel.

Is not this sentiment exceedingly calculated to lower the tone of devotion to the cause, among all the best and most learned and able of the christian part of the population, to say nothing of its injurious influence upon men already disposed to pour contempt upon the whole subject, as the vain projects of vain and low minds. No one likes to be classed with the poor, and ignorant, and vulgar; and say what you will of the humble and sober estimate christianity teaches us to make of our circumstances and acquirements, there is nothing either in the letter or spirit of its precepts on this subject, that inculcates it upon an individual who chooses a sphere of usefulness that requires him to "associate with the poverty, and tolerate the ignorance of the heathen," to submit because he has made such a choice, (and that to the manifest prejudice of the cause,) to be reckoned a man of "inferior station"-neither respectable for his learning nor for the rank he holds among his countrymen. Let but the notice spread among the heathen, that the teacher sent to them is a man of no account in the place he came from;

« ForrigeFortsæt »