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we should be under no obligation to obey him which is not now upon us. The proof of this is whatever demonstrates that Christianity was meant to be a permanent institute. The command to christianize mankind is a part of Christianity, as much so as the law of brotherly love, or the ordinance requiring the celebration of the death of Christ. To submit to the gospel is to make this command a rule of conduct. It is in the Christian's code, and why is he not as firmly bound by it, as by the precept, "Let brotherly love continue;" or by any other statute which the gospel enjoins? Indeed there is proof special and peculiar that this command was not given to the first disciples, except as including their successors. This proof exists in the annexed promise of our Lord, that he himself would be with them through successive generations till the end of the world, a promise which admitted of no fulfilment, and was unintelligible, on the supposition that the first disciples alone were in his intention.
Now why is not this a reason for advancing in the missionary work, which with every Christian should be as determinative and controlling as the forces which keep the orbs of heaven in their eternal circuit round the sun. It surely should have had this influence on the first christians, and why on them only? We cannot all be foreign missionaries; but we all can either go, or send, or aid in sending others; and what we are now solemnly insisting upon is, that whatever can be done herein, by every member of the church, is required to be done, under the sanction of law, by the Almighty Sovereign himself. It is our testimony, in the name of Christ, that no disciple of his is left at liberty in this matter; that he is bound by his oath of allegiance; that necessity is laid upon him; that he may no more cease from doing what he can in the work of missions than from his daily prayers, or from revering the name of Christ, or believing in him as the Savior of the world.
III. It should be a motive to increased progress that hitherto, almost from the beginning, the Missionary Law has been, in respect of actual observance by the church, so nearly as an obsolete and dead letter. It has not been expunged but with exceptions, serving only to render the general fact more astonishing, it has had no exemplification as a part of commanded and scriptural piety. It has not been so with the other laws of Christianity. Imperfectly as they have been kept, not one of them has by the general and allowed and unlamented disregard of the church, been deposed from their rank and authority as laws, binding on the conscience under the sanction of Divine majesty and power. No; this has been the peculiar fate of the one command to evangelize the world. The first disciples were almost impatient to obey this command; they were for a time laid under a restraint. As soon as that restraint was removed they devoted themselves and their substance to the propagation of Christianity, and their subsequent life was in unbroken harmony with this noble beginning. They ceased not to look upon their Mas
ter's last great charge as embodying his sovereign will, and his eternal majesty. They never consulted together as to whether it was expedient to undertake to fulfil it. They never inquired whether its fulfilment was practicable, but implicitly bowed before it, as revealing the pleasure, and pledging the supporting grace of their Lord. But how few have, in this respect, imitated these loyal disciples? During all the following centuries the church at large lay almost as in the sleep of death, as to a sense of obligation to carry the message of redeeming love to the nations of the world. Individuals there were, great and singular spirits, who felt themselves bound by this precept. At different times also, organized exertions were made, more or less extensively, to spread nominal Christianity in some countries; but let the page of history be turned to, which records of the general church at any period after the first, the merging of her will into that of her King and Head, in regard to this one matter of christianizing mankind, or any just acknowledgment of his prerogative as Lawgiver and Ruler herein. It might be edifying, if there were time, to give the evidence on this point, directly and at length, from the annals of Christian Missions, so called. But the fact is no less certain than the church's continued existence. Never, since the primitive era, has she given indication that she felt herself under the sanction of any authority to evangelize the nations of the earth, while by twenty millions a-year, during eighteen centuries, they have been passing to their eternal destiny, strangers to the influence of God's recovering grace. And shall not the faithlessness of so many ages, with the countless and endless enormities which it has entailed, admonish us not to pause quite yet in our begun career of evangelism, but rather do what in us lies to retrieve the past by augmented haste in our movements?
IV. We should think only of quickening our progress, when we consider how slow has been our course since we began, and what little advance we have made. When for the time, now about half a century, the energies of the whole church should have been enlisted on the largest scale of operation, and the work nearly or quite done, O how partial and languid have been our movements! We have done but little beyond launching forth in this enterprise: we have hardly spread our sails to the wind.
Slow and inconsiderable, however, as has been our advance, compared to what it should have been, we would not speak disparagingly of that which has been done. The difference in itself, is not small, between the present and forty years ago, in regard to Missionary operations. It deserves our fervent thanksgivings, that evangelismnot worldly policy and martial power, under the cloak of religion, aiming chiefly at temporal aggrandisement and nominal submissionbut the pure and primitive missionary spirit, seeking simply to save the souls of men,-is now employing 1500 missionaries at 1200 central stations, assisted by 5000 native and other salaried agents, at an
expense of two and a half millions of dollars a year.* The missions of the Protestant Church, in its various branches, during the last forty or fifty years, are doubtless more considerable, in their direct and indirect relations to the worlds' salvation, than those of the foregoing ten or fifteen centuries. It is only, however, a contrast with the past that excites our joy. When we look again upon the vast field of human shame and woe that lies outspread in every direction, to the remotest bounds of the earth, and think of our obligations and privileges, and of the church's thousand years sleep over the very concern of her existence, no feelings seem appropriate but those of astonishment and grief, that the scale of our missionary proceedings should be so small. If we compare it with that of our Home operations, inadequate as that is, the inequality appears enormous. What the Protestant Church gives for the evangelization of the world is less than a tenth-yea, if we do not misreckon, than the fifth of a tenth of what she expends on herself. Out of her 80,000 ministers, but 1500 are foreign missionaries. Without determining precisely the proportion of resources which should be employed abroad, the following considerations throw light enough on this subject to stir the whole church to her centre, with the spirit of reform: First, that she is not more under law to care for her own well-being, than she is to evangelize the world. Secondly, that the unevangelised portion of mankind is at least five times as large as the other portion; and thirdly, that in propagating Christianity, the Apostle's rule should be followed as essentially equitable and Christian, "To whom he was not spoken of they shall see, and they that have not heard shall understand." We do not undertake to give with precision the results of a just application of these facts, but we do affirm with heaviness and sorrow of heart, that it is not charitable-no, it is neither merciful nor just on the part of the church, that of a race all equally and infinitely needing the gospel, and equally entitled to it by the grace and commandment of God, they should allow one-fifth the privilege of hearing the joyful sound all their life-time, while the rest, through sixty generations, should be left in total ignorance of the fact that a Savior has visited the world. There is in this inequality a guilt which should fill the church with the profoundest grief.— It tramples upon the great foundation law of God's empire: it makes void the Almighty Redeemer's last and most imperative charge; it shows indifference to his honor; and what wonder, that while the consequence to the world has been its continued and progressive ruin, the church should have been enduring an incessant struggle for existence, and should be compelled to acknowledge the survival of her exposures and conflicts as the greatest of wonders.
But the whole truth has not been told. It is not the disproportionate allotment of the Church's actual expenditures and ministry, that
These statistics are from Dr. Harris, who appears to have taken much care to make them correct.
measures her indebtedness. She would be incalculably at fault, if of these, she divided to the Heathen all that would fall to them. For these collectively are immensely deficient. Then would she be found as a faithful steward in this matter, if the expenditures for all purposes were as generous, and the ministry as able and as large, as the interest and honor of Christ demand; and further, if her private members were all duly engaged in the work of human salvation; and if now the Heathen should have their full share here is the standard by which the Church should judge herself, as to her arrears to the world. Who can estimate the amount ? Shall we discharge it, shall we not be adding to it incalculably and continually, if we not do proceed upon a broader scale of operations than that with which we have been heretofore content?
V. The tokens of the Divine complacency in the missions of these times are most inspiriting motives to progress in them. These are embraced, in the condition in which the Church has been advancing since our missions began, in the success of these missions, and in the signs of the times as promising greater success.
1. From the time we began our missionary work, the state of our churches has, on the whole, been one of progressive prosperity. The entrance on that work was the dawn of a good day which has been growing brighter and brighter, and which, if we falter not in our undertaking, will, doubtless, continue to shine more and more, until its light shall become seven fold, as the light of seven days. This favorable and advancing change is the result of no hidden instrumentality; but, manifestly, of the blessing of God on the missionary undertaking. This movement originated other kindred and subservient ones, as the necessary means of its accomplishment, and while all have been conspiring together to forward the general design, they have been as life to the dead to those who have been under their influence. The connection of good agencies here is easily traced. The resolution being once seriously taken to give mankind the gospel, the necessity was soon felt for the translation and diffusion of the scriptures, for the increase and improvement of the ministry, for the multiplication and distribution of religious books; and as its accomplishment advanced, particular evils called for their own means of reform and while the vast foreign sphere opened more and more to view, with all its crying demands for the gospel, the conviction became deeper and deeper as to the necessity of giving increased attention to the interests of Home, the source, under God, of supplies to the Heathen. In the mean time every thing tended to impart a sense of dependence on God, and to cherish the spirit of prayer, for the effusion of the Divine influence. The result was, that a system of benevolent agencies arose, which has distinguished the age above all that have preceded it, since the primitive triumphs of Christianity.
Various incidental benefits have followed. Christians of different
sects meeting often together for prayer and consultation, in reference to plans and measures connected with the cause of human salvation, have, under the power of that paramount and common object, forgotten their party names and interests; and thus the evils of sectarianism have been gradually disappearing, and Christian union advancing; insomuch, that the time seems rapidly approaching when denominational peculiarities among the evangelical sects, will be indeed, but as the differences among members of the same family, or regiments of the same loyal and united army.-Again, there has been a remarkable revival of Biblical study and learning, as it might have been expected there would be, when the enterprise was undertaken, of publishing the scriptures, in the various languages of the earth. There has also been an improvement in the science of theology, the result of its being pursued under practical influences, and in its relations to practical effect. In the same way the general pulpit has been improved; and, likewise, by regular consequence the general piety of the Church. And to crown all, outpourings of the Holy Spirit have been granted in increasing power, and also with increasing frequency, until revivals of religion, scarcely inferior to those of the apostolic period, have become especially in our land, ordinary and every day occurrences, to which scoffers and gainsayers, have almost become weary of making opposition.
It is difficult to appreciate the change which has taken place. There is, we know, a great difference of impression in regard to it. That there are some things in it to be deplored, perhaps no one will deny. But viewing it in all its aspects, it appears to us, both in itself and especially in its promise, entitled to our grateful and adoring admiration. We doubt if any one has an adequate sense of its importance, or can have, until the existing state of things shall become historical and be surveyed as lying in the past, connected with antecedent times and with the just results of its own influences and events. If by pausing in the work of missions we should ultimately throw the Church back to where she was before, then would it be seen, whether an advance had been made or not. Who can think we should not sustain a mighty and irreparable loss, and deserve for our inconstancy the indignation of God and man.
2. But we note the Divine pleasure in our work in the success which has attended it, as well as in the prosperity of the Church. Our success is disparaged by comparing it with that of the primitive days; but this comparison should not be made without also comparing the primitive times and the present, in regard both to their respective measures of the missionary spirit, and to their means and facilities of evangelization. If in Christ's first little flock, there was a greater amount of the proper kind of power than can now be collected out of the one hundred and fifty millions of Protestant christendom, why should it be thought that our success will bear no proportion to theirs, unless its absolute quantity be equal? What if among the early disci