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ON THE MEANS TO BE USED IN RAISING UP
My dear friend,
IT must have struck you in perusing certain books, which profess to give a general view of the doctrines and duties of revelation, how little the missionary character of christianity has been brought forward. Indeed, so obscure a place does this subject hold in some systems of divinity, whole duties of man, &c. books, otherwise sound, judicious, and comprehensive, that a reader might peruse the whole, and scarcely be able to tell if the duty to propagate the gospel was not wholly left out of the system. The duty of praying for the coming of the kingdom of God, is of course introduced in the exposition of the Lord's prayer, and the duty of love to God and man naturally embraces every object, which is a proper expression of love; and among the rest, the promotion of the divine glory, and the welfare of our fellow-creatures, by disseminating the truth of God. But this is treated as a subordinate topic, while doubtful questions and strifes of words occupy many pages, and call forth all the zeal of the authors.
But if some writers have made too little of this point, perhaps you may think that I have made too much—that I have spoken in too unqualified terms on several topics connected with the spread of christianity-such as the obligation resting upon properly qualified christians (nil obstante) to become missionaries to the heathen-the quantity of exertion and sacrifice to be made by christians, in order to fulfil the command of Christ, &c. But I think the advocate of such a cause need not feel much uneasiness, although he may have neglected to qualify in every particular his representations. They whom it concerns will supply his deficiency, and practically make sufficient abatement of the demands. There is no danger of too many well qualified candidates offering themselves, in consequence of any such calls upon them. There is unhappily no cause of alarm at present, lest the christian world should err in the of excess in
contributing to the missionary cause.
On the contrary, if experience and observation may be at all regarded, there is ground to conclude that such statements of the case as have been made in these letters, supposing them to be sounded in the ears of the very men to whom the strictures apply, would, in a great majority of instances, leave them in a very complacent frame of mind, as to what they had been doing in this cause, and what they should in future do.
Still, however, some might hear, and consider,
and repent, and in the spirit of Zaccheus give fourfold for what they had kept back from the cause of God, and henceforth be its devoted and consistent friends and supporters.
It is not by one stroke of the battering ram the walls of a besieged fortress are made to fall; but a repetition of strokes may at length make a breach. These letters are but a few strokes at various points of the wall of the castle of Indolence; and if perseveringly followed up by heavier and more skilful blows from engines of greater power, the effect will doubtless at last be produced.
In this view every missionary sermon, every missionary meeting, every missionary publication, does something towards its accomplishment. And O it will be a glorious state of the church, when every christian in every church, prompted by the mercies which he has received of the Lord, and knowing the terrors of the Lord which hang over a sinful world, shall be earnestly asking, "Lord, what wouldst thou have ME to do?" and ready to do whatever the answer communicated by "the wisdom" that is "profitable to direct," shall point out.
If so, let means be used generally and systematically, to rouse the attention of christians to this subject more than has ever yet been done. Let me suggest
1. That all ministers and pastors of churches
bring the subject fully and frequently before their people. Let them shew the missionary character of the New Testament dispensation. Let them urge the duty of every one who has received the truth, to communicate it in some way or other. It is the duty of all to give their prayers and influence-it is the duty of some to give their money and time-it is the duty of some to give themselves to the cause by actual service.
Has any christian minister hitherto neglected so to urge the claims of the heathen upon the consciences of those over whom he is an overseer? Let him candidly own his error, and immediately begin practically to amend it. It is matter of common remark, that a congregation acquires in a great degree the views and disposition of the minister. If he is of an inactive, contracted spirit, caring little, at least in the way of exertion, for what is beyond his immediate sphere, this will, generally speaking, be the character of his people also. If a minister seldom or never leads the attention of
*The Jews were not commanded to go into all the world and preach the law of Moses, to proselyte every people to the observance of the rites of Judaism. But if they had received such a command, and neglected to fulfil it, how should we have descanted upon this as one more to be added to the black catalogue of the sins of that people? But the Jew might have retorted upon the Christian, and say, "Who art thou that judgest? for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things."
his hearers to the wants of others, it is no wonder if they as seldom think of them, and do nothing to help them. But can this be considered a right christian spirit?
Let us suppose in the first and best age of christianity, a church planted by the apostles, enjoying the stated ministry of the gospel, and walking in the ordinances and commandments of the Lord. They have been called out of darkness into marvellous light; but many around them are in that darkness still. These christians, however, enjoy their ordinances, from week to week, from year to year; but none of them go forth to tell their heathen neighbours what a Saviour they have found-to what hopes they are begotten again— from what a death they have been delivered—and to represent the need of these blessings to every sinner. Does it not strike you as something very incongruous, to suppose that a primitive church should be so indifferent about the spread of the gospel? Indeed they could not have been described in the terms I have quoted-" walking in all the ordinances and commandments of the Lord BLAMELESS," if such was their character; for in that case they were neglecting at least one commandment.
2. That all christians, whether ministers or others, who have proper views and feelings on this subject, form the distinct purpose of doing every thing in their power, according to their several