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in, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” No man having once experimentally obtained the knowledge of this old way straightway desires a new, for this plain reason, he saith, “the old is better.”
The missionary cause is a distinguishing characteristic of the gospel system of religion. No other system in the world has ever made it the indispensable duty of its votaries to disseminate its principles throughout the world, in order to ameliorate the moral condition of the human family, from a principle of pure good-will to man. Innumerable have been the machinations of worldly policy, and sordid ambition to extend territorial jurisdiction, and even in many instances under the mask of Christianity; but, it has always been done by compulsory measures—by fire and sword; such as the Gospel system disapproves and scorns. The language of the Gospel is, “ do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely.”—Luke 3, xiv. And the apostle of the Gentiles, breathing the spirit of the Gospel, says, “ though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh; for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty, through God, to the pulling down of strong holds.” All the Gospel needs, is a free course, and it will run and be glorified. St. John saw it in the emblem of “ a pure river, as clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb, on either side of which was the tree of life, whose leaves were for the healing of the nations." The Gospel is an expression of the free, unmerited, sovereign love of God, to perishing fallen man; and it has found its way only through the channel of Missions.
The Lord Jesus Christ, though, in his divine character the second person in the adorable Trinity, yet, in bis mediatorial character, condescended to undertake a mission into this sinful world. 6 God so loved the world, that, in the fulness of time, he sent forth his only Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John,” who also had imbibed the heaven-descended principle of love to God and man, and came as the harbinger of his Lord and master, to propagate the Gospel. The angels came down on the same kind errand, and announced the advent of the Saviour to the men of Judea. The apostles, who were first made to drink into the same spirit with those congenial spirits above, were then sent, first to their own, then to all the nations of the earth, with the supporting promise of the great Head of the Church—“ Lo I am with you alway, even to the end of the world." These missionaries died, for the prophets they do not live forever; but the world remaineth lying in wickedness, and the God of missions ever liveth to shed abroad his sentially to qualify, and send forth men in every age, who count not their lives dear, so that they may be found faithful and successful Embassadors for Christ.
The necessity of divine agency, and the reasonableness of human instrumentality in this august work are obvious, when we realize the inveterate nature of human depravity, and the constitution of things.
Man is fallen from innocence and rectitude, and, in his tall, has contracted blindness in his understanding, aversion in his affections, and contumacy in his will to all spiritual good; and these disordered powers, by exerting their corresponding influences in the soul, bring it into subjection, as under the actual force of a most powerful law, and constitute the fruitful source of all moral evil, as well as of those horrid superstitions practised by the Heathen nations: hence the necessity of divine agency to effect a renovation of heart; and hence, with great propriety, does the “ faithful and true Witness" declare, “ Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Though man be thus fallen, he remains a rational being, and as such, he is still a subject of moral government. The Gospel contains a rational system of divine truths; hence the propriety of reasoning with his fellow man on Gospel truths which involve the eternal salvation of the human soul, and bring life and a glorious immortality to light: therefore Paul “ reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come,” before Felix; and was accustomed to go into the synagogues of the Jews on the Sabbath day, and to reason with them out of the Scriptures, opening and alledging that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom he preached unto them, was Christ.” (Acts xvii. 2, 3. xviii. 4, 19. xxiv. 25) and thus saith the Lord to his literal Israel, “ Come, let us reason together,” (Isai. i. 18.) and Gospel worship is called a “ reasonable service,” (Rom. xii. 1.) But God hath placed this matter beyond all dispute, by enjoining it on his servants as an act of moral obligation. " Go teach all nations," said Christ to his apostles, after having produced the credentials of his Divinity, by working miracles in the face of the world, and declaring that all power in heaven and in earth was given to him. And all real missionaries of the Gospel, who are called of God, as were the apostles, reply, “ The love of Christ constraineth us," and “woe unto, us if we preach not the Gospel."
The moral, like the natural world in the beginning, lies in chaotic darkness, and God, in the dispensation of his Gospel through missionary agency, says "Let there be light,” and “ the light of the knowleilge of the glory of God, as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ, VOL. 1.
shines into human hearts;" and the effect is, men turn from dumb idols to serve Him, the only living and true God.
Ignorance of the nature of God is the corrupt fountain of all the absurdities of the Heathen worship. No worship can be acceptable to God, but that which is rendered in obedience to his will, and proceeds .from a heart rightly affected towards his government, and towards all the natural and moral attributes of the Divine nature. Nothing is more rational, and nothing is more necessary, according to the nature and fitness of things, than these words of Divine revelation. “God is a Spirit, and they who worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth.” The Heathen, by the light of nature, know there is a God, but being ignorant of his peculiar nature, “ they glorify him not as God.” Being vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart darkened, they have ever been changing the glory of the incorruptible God into images made like to corruptible man, to birds, to four footed beasts, and to creeping things.” Hence it is, that they can have no proper conception of the infinite demerit of sin, as committed against an infinitely just and holy God. Through the lapse of near 6000 years, we observe the Heathen, with all the combined resources of me: human wisdom anı strength, have not been able to set forth an altar and a sacrifice, sufficiently meritorious, to obliterate the hand quriting of ordinances that stands against sinful van, and thereby open a communication from Heaven to earth, that God might be just in dispensing pardon and all spiritual blessings. Where then, amidst this tempestuous sea of human miserics, shall we find solid rock, on which we may rationally cast the anchor of our hope, and look for deliverance? From what source draw refreshing draughts of strong consolation? And upon what justifiable grounds may men unite all their energies to ameliorate the moral condition of the Heathen, and confide in the patronage of Heaven, and an all pervading Providence! These are questions that demand the most serious attention of the evangelized world. He who can remain indifferent to them, while he professes himself a Christian, betrays not only inconsistency of character, but a sottish stupidity, foreign from that temper which the Gospel inspires; because, on their answer depend, as it respects all human determinations, the temporal and eternal prospects of millions of the human family. Whereas, he who is alive to their just importance, will act, not only consistent with the rational dignity of human nature, but will shew a proof of that love to God, and of that true philanthrophy which have ever been recognized as the distinguishing characteristics of “pure and undefiled Roligion.”
Do the infidel Philosophers of our age, those professed friends of
their mode of reasoning, men may advance with honor, and a rational prospect of success in this glorious cause? They ask for principles of analogy; the civilizing and moralizing efficiency of the Gospel among the Heathen, in every age, furnish them. We refer them to the Acts of the Apostles, and the History of the propagation of the Gospel by their faithful successors in the ministry, who have sought, not their own, but, the glory of God in the salvation of souls, for facts,- stubborn, undeniable facts, written, not Inerely with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God in fleshly tables of the heart. These furnish data, as the firmest principles of analogy; for, “do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” No. “ A good tree,” as all naturalists will acknowledge, “ cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” Hence they have adopted this rule of philosophizing, viz. “That effects of the same kind are referred to the same causes.” The uniform effects of the Gospel of Christ, from the days of the apostles to the present period, on the human mind, wherever dispensed in its purity, have been the same; that of civilizing and moralizing mankind in every department of society. But these effects are only the leaves of this tree of life, yet they are sufficient to prove that it is of Divine origin, inasmuch as it ameliorates the moral condition of the human family, The internal fruits of the Gospel are, however, more especially worthy the wisdom and power of God, and the admiration of all rational and holy beings; such as faith, which purifieth the heart, and which is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen; repentance towards God which needeth not to be repented of; and which effects a watchfulness and indignation against all sin, a vehement desire for holiness, and a zeal for the hopor of God; love, which is stronger than death, or this mortal life, or angels, or principalities, or powers, things present, or things to come, or heighth, or depth, or any other creature; peace with conscience and with God; patience under adversities, and in tribulation; meekness and humility towards God and man; pleasures and delights, which are pure and substantial; comforts and consolations, as strong as the immutability of God's counsel, and oath; deliverance from the bondage of sin, that sting of death, and from the awful forebodings of a guilty conscience; and joys which are eternal, unspeakable, and full of glory. Though these be only a few of the blessings, which, by the Gospel, are imparted to the human heart, yet, they are more than all the wisdom of this world have been able either to give, or, when given, to take from one soul: and they abundantly prove, wbat the apostle Paul is not ashamed to declare to the Romans, viz. that “ the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Rom. 1, 16). But faith, that is connected with salvation comes by hearing the Gospel preached, and a preached Gospel comes by the means of Missions; for, how shall men preach except they be sent. (Rom. X. 12—17) Thus “ the tree is known by his fruit,” and thus it becomes evident, that, after the world by wisdom knew not God, it bath pleased God in the wise economy of redemption, by, what many esteem, the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
But, notwithstanding the Gospel be thus infinitely superior to the light of nature, the former is so far from contradicting the latter on the subject of moral obligation that it establishes it. The light of nature, as it shews man his duty to God, and requires obedience, is to be regarded as a law influencing the practical judgment; and, though much obliterated by the fall, gives the Heathen intimations of important, necessary truths, which they feel after as in the dark, such as the existence of God, of moral evil, the necessity of an expiatory sacrifice, &c. which the written Law and Gospel objectively and clearly reveal. “ The Gentiles which have not the Law, do by nature the things contained in the Law, these having not the Law, are a law unto themselves.” (Rom. ii. 14.) This law is common to all mankind, and operates alike in all. Christ " came not to destroy this internal law of nature, nor the holy, just, and good Law of God, of which, this is but the vestige, but to fulfil it, as he declares, in its purity, and to print a new edition of it in the human heart, by the agency of his blessed Spirit and Gospel. Hence the apostle adds, “ Do we then make void the Law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the Law,” and “ We know that the Law is good, if a man use it lawfully.” (Rom. iii. 31.-1 Tim. i. 8.)
Plutarch, a Heathen philosopher, when the knowledge of the true God was almost extinguished in the world, could observe the glimmerings of the law of nature. "If,” says he,"you go over the earth, you may find cities without walls, letters, kings, houses, wealth, and money, devoid of theatres, and schools; but a city without temples and gods, and where there is no use of prayers, oaths, and oracles, nor sacrifices to obtain good, and avert evil, no man ever saw.” Here the law of nature suggests the universal depravity of mankind, the existence of a Supreme Being, and the necessity of active and pas. sive obedience, to obtain good and avert evil; but leaves them in the dark with respect to the infinite demerit of moral evil, to the nature of God, and by consequence to the infinite merit of that obedience, or righteousness which only can procure acceptance with God. We observe, then, the law of nature universally demands a righteousness, and the demand is just, rational, and indispensible, because it arises out of the immutable and eternal relation that exists betwixt