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And are not his conclusions vitiated by the evident indifference with which he treats the matter? We would no more waver in our faith respecting missions on account of the objections raised by such a pococurante, than Mr Madden would have suffered his opinions on the plague to be disturbed by the dogmas of the Mollah, who prescribed oil of wax for inflam
mation on the liver..
2. In the next place, it is very clear, that our author is not only indifferent, but pretty strongly prejudiced. There are intelligible tokens scattered through the book that the hakkim's judgment was apt to be a good deal warped upon matters in which he was not perfectly au fait. The depth of his theological attainments may be gathered from his gravely representing Presbyterians and Calvinists as conflicting sects, and his orthodoxy from his carefully distinguishing the doctrine of the Trinity, as an abstruse dogma of the church, from what he calls the doctrines of Christianity. Any reader may satisfy himself by glancing through the book, that Mr Madden was extremely prone to change his opinions upon most matters, but especially the character of individuals, as often as he changed his society and local habitation. In the dark picture which he gives above of the odium theologium existing on the part of eastern missionaries towards the unconverted, he excepts three individuals, and why? Because he had just been in their society. Well, follow him from Egypt into Syria, where he is entertained by the American missionaries, "whose hospitality all strangers have reason to acknowledge," and you will see this hospitality work wonders. You will learn with surprise that the intemperate zealots, who had commenced at the wrong end," and by dint of reviling false doctrines come to hate those who believed in them, are only "frustrated in their benevolent intentions by the prejudices of the natives, and the bigotry of the Turkish rulers."
3. With respect to the old standing censure of evangelical missions as beginning at the wrong end, and reversing the natural order of civilization and conversion, we are not disposed to come over arguments so hackneyed, and meet objections so repeatedly exploded. We shall say nothing, therefore, about the matter upon general grounds. The few words which we mean to add, have reference exclusively to Mr Madden's own statements. We need scarcely say, that he has evidently no idea of a supernatural efficiency in Christianity to change and elevate the intellectual as well as the moral character; to
enlarge the understanding while it purifies the heart. With this contracted notion of the power of true religion, it is not surprising that he looks upon the efforts of the missionary as lost labour. To those who coincide with him in sentiment, his arguments must doubtless be conclusive. But with such the friends of missions have no community of views. They believe that, without a divine influence, no means will be available, but that as it pleases God to work by means, it is our duty to employ those which he has designated, however inefficient in appearance, and however unsuccessful in their first results.
But to turn the tables, we do seriously say, that the perusal of this book has strengthened our belief in the insufficiency of the method of conversion which its author recommends. We have sometimes been disposed to think, that if the rule of civilization first, conversion afterwards, were applicable any where, it might be so among Mohammedans, whose contempt for Christians appears conquerable only by a strong conviction of their own inferiority in learning and the arts. Mr Madden has disabused us, by showing that the Moslem world, regarded as a whole, is impervious to all extraneous influences, nerved by human strength. The Turk while he cringes at the feet of the physician, still hates him as a "cafir" and contemns him as a "dog." Immoveably fixed in the belief, of fatalism, he fears no change for the worse, and desires none for the better; when forced to acknowledge the advantages enjoyed by Christendom in knowledge and refinement, he consoles himself by thinking on the day when "the infidel shall be down on his couch of fire, and drink rivers of hot water." This dogged resignation to all evils, whether curable or not, has never been more vividly portrayed than in the book before us. And does Mr Madden really believe, that upon such materials the mere love of knowledge and desire for intellectual and social enjoyment can be brought to act? What we value and admire in civilized society, has no charms but for those who are nurtured in its bosom. To borrow Mr Madden's own lively but exaggerated language, in the Turk's eyes, English science is but witchcraft, English liberty licentiousness, English modesty indecorum, English genius penknife-making! Where then are the implements with which we are to work? By what strange process shall the Mussulman be brought to regard as blessings, and implore as benefactions, what he learns from his childhood to laugh at and abhor? Before he can be taught to value civi
lization, he must be civilized himself; and civilized, we do not hesitate to say, by the influence of the gospel. Is it asked what are our means for achieving this great conquest? We reply, the very same which the infidel derides. God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things of the world to confound the mighty. There will no doubt be a rivalry and a fierce struggle between these two plans for the conversion of the world. But we have no fear for the event; for we know, and are persuaded, that the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God stronger than men.
THE CLAIMS OF FOREIGN MISSIONS.
If the church of Christ had been in any adequate measure pure in her spirit, and faithful to her trust, as the depository of the gospel for mankind, then the history of the church would have been the history of missions.
But on the contrary, the history of the church is in a principal degree the record of its corruptions in doctrine and in life: and when we would trace on from its rise to the present time, the pure stream of Christianity, instead of the "river of God," we find in many ages only a scanty brook, well nigh lost amidst the rubbish and dilapidations through which it wends its way.
The apostles of Christ defined with their own hands the present frontier-line of foreign missions; and what has since been done for the conversion of the world, has been the result more of natural causes, than of the spirit of missions. What they achieved in a few years, under divine influence, by heroic enterprise, was ignobly left by after ages to the work of time, and to the indirect influences only of Christianity.
Indeed, for several centuries before the days of Luther, the church itself was missionary ground. The religion of Christ lay expiring on its own altar, the victim of its professed votaries and friends. And when at the ever memorable reformation, the spirit of life from God entered into her, and she again stood upon her feet," the servants of Christ found Pa
ganism within the very recesses of the sanctuary. They had but little leisure for the cultivation of a foreign field, who were absorbed in purging out abominations from the very temple of God itself. Their hands were busied in breaking down the idols from the holy places, in casting out those that made merchandise of the truth, in overturning the tables of the money-changers, and in restoring to its purity the worship of God. And then, alas! almost before the work of reform had been sufficiently extended to give numbers and strength to Christianity, the spirit of contention and of schism arose; the progress of the holy cause was arrested by the fatal divisions of its friends; and the reformed church.
"To party gave up, what was meant for mankind.”
The revival in latter days of the spirit of missions in Protestant Christendom, is a great epoch in the history of the church and of the world. We have no doubt that future generations, passing by the fading glories of this world, will regard this as the most brilliant characteristic of the age in which we live: and if we are faithful to God and man, it may become the first in a series of progressive movements, which, with the divine blessing, shall issue in the conversion of the world.
But if we would take the proper impression of the subject, and gird ourselves fully for the great and solemn service we have to perform, then must we esteem the work of missions for the conversion of the world as but just begun. For though, compared with the spirit and labours of some other ages, much is doing now for this noblest of causes, yet, compared with the vast extent of unreclaimed heathenism, with the bountiful compass of the divine command, or with what we can and ought to do, our achievements are matter much more of humiliation than of mutual congratulation.
The great body of professed Christians is not at all interested in foreign missions; even the ministers of reconciliation, as an order, are not roused or in action on this subject. The whole force of our missionaries abroad, if distributively given, would scarcely afford a pastor for a nation; and the points of their impression on almost a world of heathens, break at distant intervals on the view like
66 Sunny islets on a stormy sea,
These affecting and awful facts acquire an interest still more intense, as we descend from a general to a particular applica
tion. Thus, for example, the missionary spirit and efforts of the age are almost restricted to the British and American Protestant churches. But the British churches greatly exceed our own in this labour of love; among the American churches, those of New England do almost all that is attempted in our country; and the Presbyterian church, to which we belong, (not to mention others), can scarcely be called an agent at all in the foreign field.*
In view of these things we have thought it imperative on us at this time to address American, and especially Presbyterian, Christians in behalf of this injured cause.
Every appeal on such a subject should begin with a reference to the authority of God. But here the command is so full and clear, so frequently appealed to, and so familiar, (see Matt. xxviii. 18, 20. Mark xvi. 14, 20. Luke xxiv. 44, 52. Acts i. 3, 10.) that we need rather to be incited to regard it, than reasoned with in evidence of its obligation. It is important, however, in passing, to remark that the divine command to give the gospel to every creature, as it is a standing law, so it is a discriminating test of our fidelity and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. "If ye love me, keep my commandments," is his own affecting standard of Christian character. And how can we love him if we violate this last, this great command? To this he set the seal of his blood in death. To this he added the sanction of divine authority and power when he arose from the dead. In this all other commandments centre. The service it enjoins is in the direct line of the operation of providence, the work of redemption, and the glory of God. To this are appended the overwhelming conditions of heaven and hell; the decisive alternative of redemption or ruin: and when he ascended to the skies, he appointed obedience to his command as the standing token of his people's love.
In fine, however our Lord may have borne with the ignor
It has been found on examination that out of $107,000 received last year, by that noble organization, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, only about $6000 was received from the Presbyterian churches west and south of New York, and including that state, only about $21,000 out of New England, while in New England about $86,000 were obtained. And what is true of our missionary money, is also true of our missionary men. We have scarcely been represented as a branch of the church of Christ in the foreign field, until within a very few years past.