« ÎnapoiContinuați »
great generosity and meritorious benevolence, sinks down to the level of simple duty; and if we examine ourselves by the precept of Christ's second commandment, we shall, I fear, find ourselves as much deficient as we before did in reference to the first and great commandment. Yes! who can say that he has loved his God with all his heart, and soul, and strength; and his neighbour as himself? I believe that no merely human being could in truth say so, since the day that Adam sinned. But let us not therefore think that the first and second commandments, which we have this day considered, are not the rule of our duty. The non-attainment of the highest degrees of piety and virtue does not furnish an excuse for us, but must be considered as our sin, and should lead us to the Saviour. Would we but ourselves begin to love God and love our neighbour, as Heaven has directed; and did all who approve of the principle use rational means to diffuse it, what a comparative paradise might this earth of ours still be.
According to the principles taught by our Saviour Jesus Christ, those persons greatly err who place religion, or true piety, in the back ground. To love God is the first, the great, the greatest commandment: to love our neighbour is, indeed, like it; but it must rank second. True morality is necessarily founded on true religion; but to sink religion, and consider morality disconnected with ië, is to put down what Jesus taught, and to elevate to a higher place our own notions of the due importance and right order of things.
Our first great duty, as individuals, is to get and to cherish scriptural ideas of the Divine Being; for he has, in the sacred Scriptures, revealed himself to men. And having attained right views of the divine character, we must reverence, obey, and submit to him. Good morals will follow. Make the tree good, and the fruit will be good. A pure spring will send forth pure streams. Pious and virtuous principles will ensure pious and virtuous conduct. This procedure is what enlightened self-love dictates;
and if we must love our neighbour as ourselves, it becomes our duty to employ every innocent and virtuous means within our
power to diffuse the same knowledge, principles, and conduct amongst our neighbours.
I think they greatly err, who suppose that active, zealous benevolence, and beneficence, are all very well and very praise-worthy; but still, as long as one is harmless, the omission of active, zealous benevolence is not to be censured, and will not be blamed nor punished by heaven at the last, the final judgment. Ah ! remember how the Saviour represents that awful day :-“Depart from me, ye cursed.”—And why? I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was sick and in prison, and ye visited me not. They reply, with confidence and arrogance, “ Lord, we never saw thee.” Well, true!-but, inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these (my people, your neighbours), ye did it not to me. I never knew ye. “Depart from me.” And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous, who are described not only as the just, but rather as the benevolent, shall go into life eternal.
I mean not now to insinuate that a man may not innocently withhold his aid from some plans and pursuits which other people think benevolent; every man must judge for himself as to the channel of his benevolence. These remarks will only apply to those who are generally indifferent to the welfare of their fellow-creatures.
Whilst I plead the cause of the natives here, I do not forget our native land, and our immediate relatives, and our poor kindred ; and, some of us can say-our own children. No! let all these have their share of our regard, but let us not limit our regards by the circle of our kindred.
I must confess I think it a fault in European Christians, to speak with but little feeling of kindness and consideration for those we denominate “ the Natives." Things, however, are improving, and there are many exceptions to this censure; but still I doubt if we have come up to the soberly interpreted meaning of the divine command, to love them as ourselves. There is a way of putting down all such grave ideas, by a little levity and ridicule: but the
subject is too serious for that inode of dismissing it; it involves eternal consequences.
In comparison of the impious and the selfish man, who recognises not, nor submits to any heavenly Father ; and who, from the selfishness of his heart, feels not at any time as a friend or brother-in comparison, I say, of this man, how happy is he who loves God, and who loves his neighbour, or who is pious and benevolent. When he looks up to heaven, he is permitted to address the supreme Sovereign of the universe, the ever-merciful and the everblessed God, the Almighty, as his Father; and when he looks around him in the world, he sees no human being for whom he has not cherished the kindest feelings, and whose good he has not only desired, but promoted to the utmost
of his power.
But till man be renewed in the spirit of his mindwhilst the mind is what the Scriptures denominate carnal it is “enmity against God;" and St. Paul describes unregenerated men as "haters of God.” “I know you," said Jesus, to some of those around him," that ye have not the love of God in you.” This state of the heart is shewn by a distaste of serious subjects, which have a reference to God, and to the Saviour, and redemption. This distaste is often shewn by those who yet preserve attention to the proprieties of life, and who are prudent in their worldly affairs, as well as those who allow themselves to be profane and profligate. But how can we live quietly in a state of mind that is inimical to the great and good God, and the ever-merciful Saviour. The love of God and of Christ should constrain us to cherish love and dutiful affection in return; and, I say it with reverence, should induce us to be “ workers together with God,” in his plans of mercy to, our guilty race. Alas ! how many in the world still seem to be “given over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled (as the apostle says) with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity, whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to pa
rents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful, who knowing the judgment of God, that they that commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” Now seeing the holy law is as our Saviour stated it, and the fact is as the apostle has described, can we wonder at the afflicted condition of the world? And how difficult is it to exercise either indi. vidual benevolence to, or a benevolent government over wicked men. Duty is seldom easy, and than these no duty is more difficult. But although difficult, duty must not be relinquished. A heaven-derived principle of love to God, and love to our neighbour, will sustain the mind under very strenuous and long-continued efforts to be and to do good. And may such a principle be implanted in every breast here present; and in forming this new settlement, may no consideration induce the adoption of regulations in the remotest degree unfavourable to virtue, or that can be construed into giving a license or countenance to vice. May Christians, by example and by persuasion, endeavour to lead others to know and love God, and to love each other; still allowing perfect liberty of conscience, and of conscientious religious usage and worship, (even to Mohammedans and Pagans ;) but gross and open
immorality has no rights,* should not be recognized, nor meet with any support, nor furnished with any pretexts, lest ye be“ partakers of other men's sins."
* Said in reference to vices licensed for the sake of the revenue. Pagan China will not license gaming, nor opium-houses. When reasoned with, in the European manner, that to make vice expensive, is the way to diminish it, they reply–No father can license vice in his house to his children, but must prohibit it altogether.
DELIVERED ON BOARD THE WATERLOO, IN THE CHINA SEA, ON SUNDAY,
DECEMBER 14, 1823.
[Dr. Morrison having served the Hon. East India
Company in China, in the capacity of Chinese Secretary and Translator to the Select Committee, about fifteen years, received, in consideration of his services, their permission to visit England for two seasons, to recruit his health and see his friends, took a passage on board the Waterloo, Captain Alsager.
On the 9th of December, 1823, the Waterloo quitted the shores of China; and, after touching at the Cape, and St. Helena, reached soundings on the British coast exactly on the hundredth day of being at sea.
A thunder storm of considerable severity off the Cape, and a “ fiery south-easter” on entering Table Bay, were the only cases of imminent danger that occurred. For passengers, the China ships, with a cargo of tea, are universally allowed to be the most pleasant and comfortable vessels that sail the ocean. Although extremely liable to the usual complaint occasioned by the giddy motion of boats and ships, Dr. Morrison was generally able to read and write ; and composed, whilst on board ship, a “ Domestic Memoir,” for the perusal of his kindred ; a Schoolbook, concerning China, consisting of “ Ten Conversations between a Father and his Children ;" * and also a few discourses, of which the following is one.
When the weather permits, in the Company's ships, church is built,” as the sailors term it, by arranging handspikes for seats on the quarter deck; a flag is laid on the capstan, for a desk, and the Captain, or some person in his stead, reads prayers on Sundays.
Captain Alsager requested Dr. Morrison to officiate as chaplain, and allowed him to add a short sermon, addressed to the officers and men. The following discourse was the first, and was preached after being five days out, in the China Sea.]
* Since published in London, under the title of “ Cuina, a Dialogue, &c. By an Anglo-Chinese.'