« IndietroContinua »
In reviewing the progress of that Work, in which the Society has now for so many years been engaged, the Committee avow their conviction, that the means, which have hitherto been put forth, have been followed by results fully equal in importance and extent to those just and reasonable expectations which are warranted by the Word of God. A contrary opinion has been maintained by some, who, having indulged sanguine expectations, are disappointed at their not being realized; and has been strengthened by the statements of others, who, though resident abroad, have, either from their limited means of information, or from other causes, been incompetent judges in the matter. In reference to this class of persons, the Madras Committee remark, that “it is a general, but very erroneous opinion, that because persons live in a country, or in a particular place, they therefore know what is doing by Missionaries in those parts. But, to constitute Individuals competent authorities on these points, it is necessary that they should have had the means of INForMING THEMSELves—that they should have made their inquiries from those who were capable of giving them correct information—and that they themselves should have been diligent and unprejudiced in their researches after truth.”
In this remark, made by their friends at Madras, the Committee entirely concur: and would further observe, that, while some Christian men, from the circumstances adverted to, may not be fully informed of Missionary Proceedings, the natural man, as he cannot discern the things of the Spirit of God, is incapable of forming a sound judgment of the progress of that Kingdom, which, as it is not of this world, is necessarily above his comprehension.
That the Society has, by the blessing of God, met with abundant encouragement in the prosecution of its labours, there is the most satisfactory evidence: and, if the proficiency of Children under education— if the acquisition, by ignorant Heathens, of a knowledge of the letter of God's Word—if an increasing respect to the Messengers of Salvation, and an increasing attention to the truths which they deliver— if a gradual improvement in the Heathen Character, in places where the genial influence of Christianity is felt, though its doctrines be not yet received—may be deemed sufficient evidence of success, not only the rising Converts of Southern India, but the o Inhabitants of New Zealand, supply unequivocal proof.
In that higher success, to which, in subordination to the will and glory of Jehovah, the Society aspires— the calling out of the world the scattered sheep of Christ, and conducting them into His fold—there are many occasions of gratitude to the Exalted Head of the Church, who has condescended to use our unworthy efforts for the advancement of His own glory. The measure of blessing vouchsafed may not possibly have equalled the anticipations of those, who, ere the seed was scarcely sown, were looking for the harvest; or who, on something like a principle of arithmetical calculation, have expected success in exact proportion to the means which have been used. But the Work, be it remembered, is exclusively God's. He carries it on in His own way, by instruments of His own appointment, and at times of His own selection; and they, whom He employs, are responsible for faithfulness to the trust reposed in them, not for the success or failure of their proceedings. Let this be borne in mind o those who are disposed to estimate a Society by the extent of its means, or the number of its Converts: and let those who reverence the command, who trust in the promise, and know the power of God, go on in their course, labouring according to their means, that the Lord Jesus Christ may be preached in the glory of His Person, and in the fulness of His Work; assured, that their labours shall not be in vain in the Lord; but that He will employ them in the degree in which He sees fit, in gathering together His sheep, and to the glory of His own Name.
(See Page 71.)
INSTRUCTIONs of THE committee to THE REv.s AMUEL GoBAT, AND THE REv. CHRISTIAN Kugler: DELivered october 17, 1828.
Although the Committee are not, on the present occasion, addressing Instructions to you on first quitting this country in prosecution of a Mission to Abyssinia, nor yet welcoming you on a return from that land; yet they deem it expedient to avail themselves of the opportunity afforded by your visit hither, to collect together in one view the principal topics which a somewhat more enlarged acquaintance with the subject of the Abyssinian Mission has furnished.
I. The Committee would, in the first place, advert to those circumstances which have, during the past three years, contributed to augment the facilities of prosecuting your holy enterprise.
The journey performed by your Missionary Brother, the Rev. Samuel Gobat, and yourself, in Syria, your stay in Jerusalem among the few Abyssinians collected in that city, and your residence in Egypt, have given you both a familiarity with the habits of the East, which is highly advantageous to you. You have, at the same time, been cultivating, with that diligence and success, which the Committee anticipated from you, and with the aid of frequent intercourse with Natives, the vernacular languages of those regions—the Arabic, and the Amharic. Much may yet remain to be done in these particulars, before perfect fluency in speaking, and quickness in apprehending the sentences of others, be attained: but the first difficulties are completely surmounted, and you will now, with rapidly-increasing facility, become intimate with the inhabitants of Eastern Africa in their own language.
It is by a painful course of instruction that both of you have learned one very important lesson; namely, that natural strength of body or constitution is no adequate guarantee against the assaults of climate, and the influence of labour, fatigue, and anxiety, in a strange land. Both you and Mr. Gobat have suffered severely; one of you with disease of the precious organ of sight; the other, with sickness nigh unto death. While the consideration of these sufferings excites a lively and tender sympathy in the hearts of all your friends, they cannot but hope that your lives have been thus far preserved, in order that you may, with more practical attentiveness than commonly is the portion of beginners, hold on your Missio. nary course, in scenes where comfort,
accommodation, and help are rare; ,
and hardship, inconvenience, and carelessness of valuable life are common. You will never have occasion to regret early illnesses, should they have been the means of teaching you, during a lengthened life, to exercise a wise economy of health. Your increased acquaintance with medicine, Mr. Kugler, is an advantage of which the Committee are very sensible: it will give you, as it already has done, in the East, opportunities of intercourse, and an influence of a certain kind, such as can in no other way be obtained, and such as may, if wisely used, prove greatly subservient to your Missionary Undertakings. To your joint communications, sent from Egypt, through Malta, is in a considerable measure to be attributed the increased activity which has been displayed by the British and Foreign Bible Society, in that laborious and difficult work, the carrying of the Amharic Scriptures L
through the Press. You will now have the satisfaction—one of the highest and purest pleasures that can be enjoyed by a Missionary—of bearing to the Natives, copies of the chief part of the New Testament, never before seen in that country in the vernacular tongue.
To this, by seizing the favourable opportunity while near to the only Abyssinian Press in active operation in the world, you have added the advantage of compiling and printing an Amharic Spelling Book: the use of which will be to form Schools where scarcely any existed hitherto; and extend, with the Divine Blessing, the means of reading the Holy Scriptures, which are now for the first time prepared for them.
II. But the Committee would now proceed to state their views concerning the future course to be adopted by yourself and Mr. Gobat. It is their wish, that you should return direct to Egypt, with as little delay as possible. Having joined Mr. Gobat, it will then be the subject of your united conversations, inquiries, reflections, and prayers, how you may best press forward, together, to the immediate vicinity of Abyssinia, and, as soon as practicable, enter the country. When this essential point is gained, and not till then, they will feel, in strictness of speech, that the Abyssinian Mission is begun. To distribute, and obtain remarks upon, the Ethiopic and Amharic Scriptures, furnished to you by the British and Foreign Bible Society, will obviously be one of your first and leading objects. From the information before the Committee, it appears probable, that the province of Tigre, and not that of Amhara, will be the station where you may with most advantage fix yourselves, in the first instance. It is the first in respect of geographical position, and the nearest for purposes of communication with the countries which you leave; and, in point of influence in Abyssinia, there
appears to be ground for supposing that it is the most powerful. Should these circumstances be found, on trial, to be matters of real advantage, the Committee would then wish that you should aim, if possible, at settling down somewhere in that province : nor would they at all encourage in you a desire of change of place, however interesting it might be to push forward your journeys to the ancient Capital of Gondar, or to the most distant recesses of the Nile. To these regions, should you find it good to remain in Tigré, be satisfied for the present with sending the printed Amharic Scriptures; and do not too soon yield to the imagination that you are not to stay in Tigre, if you do not quickly see some fruit of your labours. There is much preliminary and new work to be done in this province. The cultivation of its hitherto unfixed language will lead you to aiin at the Translation of some portion of the Scriptures for that Country. For example, the Committee would delight to hear, that. through your instrumentality, the Gospel of St. Luke, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Epistle to the Romans, were translated into Tigré, and copies forwarded to Malta, or London, prepared for the Press. This would be indeed seed-corn; and were your lives to be spent on no more extensive a work than this, it would be an ample service; this your labour would not be in vain in the Lord. But we indulge the hope, that the Great Head of the Church, who for several years has been gradually opening more widely the door of entrance to Abyssinia, and who has thus far favoured you in all your preliminary preparations, may have it in His purposes, to make you a signal blessing to that country. The simplest, humblest, and most patient course, on your parts, will be that which will most encourage Christians at home to believe, that God is prospering, and that He will prosper you. With the Bible in your hands, you will preach constantly; not indeed as we