Obrazy na stronie

through the world, without one faithful stated la bourer! View Asia, with her immense population! A few missionaries, sent by different societies in England and on the continent, have been, and are, zealously and ably endeavouring to evangelize the Hindoos and others; among whom the well-known highly venerable name of Schwartz is peculiarly distinguished, as employed in the work, with unwearied diligence, for half a century; and many others, of different names, are entitled to a high degree of our affection and commendation : and I doubt not but many of them will at length be revered and lamented by vast multitudes, in the same manner that the apostolical Schwartz and Gerrické now are.

No doubt there are also some (I hope far more than we know of,) resident ministers of genuine piety and zeal : yet, after all, what are these compared with their sphere of action? The vast regions of China and Japan, perhaps without a single labourer! I would speak with deference to the judgment of those who have fuller information, and should be greatly pleased to be detected in an error ; but I own, I fear, that all the faithful labourers in Asia would little more than suffice, for the adequate religious instruction of one of the largest counties in this little island.

But it is needless to enlarge: a few missionaries from this society, whose labours are very exemplary and promise great success ; some also from other societies, and with no great number of resident ministers in two or three districts; this seems the whole provision for the vast continent of Africa!

Wherever we cast our eyes on the map of the globe, or read in treatises on geography, or books of travels; the same reflection on the religious state of the inhabitants forces itself on the pious and benevolent mind, when accustomed to view each individual of our species in his relation to an eternal world!

The descendents of the European colonies in North America may be as well supplied with labourers in the harvest, as the countries from which they migrated; perhaps better : and it is a source of consolation to hear that several societies have been formed among them, for the purpose of evangelizing the remnant of the ancient inhabitants. But the check given to the missionaries in some of our West India Islands damps the joy, with which we before heard of the unwearied and successful endeavours of the Moravians, Methodists, and others, among the poor Negroes : while South America, it may well be feared, is shared almost entirely between the grossest popery and the most abject pagan idolatry!

I do not hint at these things my brethren, for your information; as many present are capable, on this subject, of rectifying my errors and instructing my ignorance : but merely, that by collecting these scattered rays of intelligence, as it were, into one focus, they may produce the greater effect in animating your exertions, increasing the ardour of your gratitude, zeal, and love, and melting your hearts into compassion for the souls of your perishing fellow creatures.

Methinks some are inwardly saying, “ The state of the world is indeed deplorable, but what can I do to improve it? I have neither strength of constitution, nor vigour of mind, nor qualifications for a missionary;' or, ‘My time of life and engagements forbid me to think of it. I contribute according to my ability to support missions; and perhaps, if an emergency required, I should deny myself in something that might be spared, in order to contribute still further: I am willing also to give a portion of my time to the managing of such matters, relative to missions, as I am competent for: and what can I do more ? '

Another may be reflecting . I have little money to bestow, or time to spare, or talent or influence. I indeed wish well to the cause; and that is almost all which I have in my power.'

While some may say, that` a good deal has already been done: several missionaries are now successfully employed, others are preparing, and others are on their voyages to the destined sphere of their exertions. As many are thus engaged as the finances of the society can support, though far from what the state of the world requires; and we must not“ despise the day of small things.” Yet, perhaps, if we could announce still greater success of our missionaries, and did proper persons offer for the work ; as far as can be judged from the past, we might expect that the public would come forward, bad as the times are, and enable us to support them also.'

Now, the admonition of our Lord, in the text, seems exactly suited to thoughts and reflections of this kind, which are often made, I doubt not, by many in this assembly: “ Pray ye, therefore, the “ Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth la

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

“ bourers into his harvest.” Not only pray for the missionaries already sent forth, or about to be sent, but earnestly entreat the Fountain of all good, to raise up and send forth a more adequate supply

III. On this part of our subject, my brethren, let us observe,

That this is more evidently and entirely the Lord's work, than any thing in the whole undertaking; and that which above all others leaves us sensibly almost incapable of attempting any thing, except as God immediately interposes. Active and zealous men may use a variety of methods for exciting the public attention to the subject, and for forming societies, and raising contributions ; and at first, while this is doing with success, some may be ready to think the grand difficulty is now removed: yet, after all, the whole may be like a well-constructed mill on a stream which has entirely failed; and all the admirable machinery is quite useless, because no water can possibly be procured.

No doubt, the faithful preaching of the gospel, and animated instructions and exhortations on the subject of missions, are proper means of calling · forth missionaries. But, as God alone can give the increase, even in the conversion of sinners ; our dependence on his omnipotent grace is still more sensibly felt, when Christians fitted for peculiarly difficult services are wanted. Even a stated pastor, if able and faithful, is a man of a peculiar turn of mind, in many respects different from other Christians ; of such a turn of mind as God bestows on some, and not on all, his people ; accord

[ocr errors]

ing to the important question in the ordination service of our church, Do you trust that you ‘are inwardly moved by the holy Ghost to take

upon you this office and ministration, to serve 'God for the promoting of his glory, and the edi' fying of his people ?'. For no one can honestly answer this question in the affirmative, who does not from his heart prefer the work of the ministry, and the glory of God in the salvation of souls, independently of outward emoluments or distinctions, to all other employments, however lucrative, creditable, or easy.

But a missionary, such a missionary as the cause requires, is in the turn of his mind more distinguished from other ministers, than they are from other Christians. He is the hero in the spiritual warfare ; he takes pleasure in labours, and hardships, and dangers, for the cause of Christ. His bowels yearn, his heart melts, over perishing sinners in distant regions, of whom he knows nothing but by report. He is prepared to leave his country, his friends, his prospects, and the comforts of civilized society, to brave seas and deserts, inhospitable and unhealthy climates : he“ puts his life “ in his hand,” and traverses the vast forests amid the howlings of savage beasts, and ventures among human beings more fierce than even lions or tigers. He longs to be permitted to live among these wretched barbarians, in their rude and hardy way, that he may, by the best and most effectual method, endeavour to soften their manners, and meliorate their character ; namely, by preaching the doctrine and copying the example of Christ. And every instance of success in the arduous attempt

[ocr errors]
« PoprzedniaDalej »