« IndietroContinua »
ble success, arising from the zeal which has lately been shewn for missions; that it has excited a great attention to the revival of Christianity in this land: and though every thing that man does must be found defective; yet I would indulge a hope, that both in that respect, and in the more immediate object in view, these efforts shall at length be crowned witii indisputable and permanent success.
It is well known, that in times of war, the military spirit, which before lay dormant almost always rekindles and becomes general. It spreads from breast to breast, and acquires new vigour continually: insomuch, that no losses, which do not materially affect population, can properly be said to lessen the number Of soldiers; for, others press forward to fill up their places, the ardour increases, and at length there is some danger lest all other employments should be deserted for a military life. These indeed are scenes deeply to be regretted, though often hitherto found unavoidable: but they may serve to illustrate our subject, and shew the tendency of our exertions.
For I apprehend, that in our spiritual warfare, likewise, the timid defensive state, in which christians have long been contented to stand, in respect of the gentile world has tended gready to extinguish the spirit of zeal for the conversion of sinners at borne; at least it has greatly languished and lain dormant: but if once the servants of God should become, generally and thoroughly engaged in scriptural efforts for the conversion of the heathen, and should declare offensive war against the kingdom of the devil; depend upon itj, zeal for pure Christianity in our own country and in our Own hearts, will revive in proportion. This will kindle from breast to breast; the number of true christians and faithful ministers will be multiplied; our petty differences will be mutually born with, if they do not disappear; we shall "love one another "with a pure heart fervently;" we shall prav for one another and thank God for each other; we shall l>e like valiant fellow-soldiers in the same armv, cordially and effectionately engaged in the same common cause, and against the same common enemy.
As therefore, the revival of pure Christianity would exceedingly promote the cause of missions; so, wise and holy zeal for missions would reciprocally promote the revival of pure christianity.
Having now gone through my subject, perhaps rather too largely; (but my heart is earnestly engaged by the great object, which must plead my excuse,) it H*ay be expected that I should give some account 06 this newly instituted society: but here I shall be very brief and general.
We would consider ourselves as fellow-helpers with all, who attempt to propagate vital Christianity among the heathen: but we found impediments in our way, which prevented us from employing all our influence, or extending our labours so far as we desired, by concurring with any of the Societies already formed: and on this ground it was deemed more conducive to the general end, to form a separate Society, in which we hope more effectually to exert ourselves in promoting the common cause. A concurrence of circumstances, arising from external causes, from our views of the subject, and from the special line of service in which we suppose ourselves most likely to succeed, have rendered our progress hitherto but slow: but we may confidently say, that we have not been inactive, though our proceedings have neither much attracted publick notice, nor been of a very expensive nature.
By the report of the Committee, it will appear that attempts have been made to open a correspondence with pious clergymen all over the united kingdoms; and to obtain tlie assistance of their counsel and prayers; and especially by their means to bring forth proper persons for missionaries, and to stir up a missionary spirit through the land. No doubt men may easily be found, whose ardent spirits, and predilection for uncommon adventures, dispose them for any undertaking however perilous, without having taken time, or bestowed pains, to understand the nature of it, or to count the cost: and when persons of this description receive religious impressions, they are ready enough, in some circumstances to become missionaries. But this state of mind diflcrs widely from the considerate, humble, modest, self-denied zeal and love, of one rendered willing, by divine grace, to renounce ali earthly comforts and prospects, and to labour amidst hardships and perils, with undaunted courage, unwearied patience, and steady perseverance, among pagans, in some remote and obscure part of the world.
This is the genuine missionary spirit, which, in ordinary circumstances, must be called forth, by the use of proper means, and tlie blessing of God upon them; *nd when we consider the immense field to be cultivated, it must appear that every thing, which tends to excite this spirit where Christianity is now known, forms a most important part of the general plan for evangelizing the heathen in future ages, in concurrence with our endeavours to attempt whatever we can, for the benefit of the present generation. And though the Society has not hitherto engaged any missionaries; they are not without hopes of being able shortly to do it: and they cannot doubt but at length God will hear their most earnest prayers, and send forth "labourers into his harvest."
It will appear, also, that various attempts are either actually making or in contemplation, for translating the Scriptures, or parts of them, or short compendiums of Christianity, into the languages of the heathen, in order to circulate them in several countries; as preparatory to missions; and in other ways to render the press subservient to the grand design.
It is also purposed to educate native Africans, and to instruct them carefully in our holy religion; in order at length to employ them as schoolmasters, among their countrymen. The avidity, with which the Africans embrace opportunities of learning the elements of science is fully ascertained; and it is hoped, that gratuitous instruction of this kind will open a way for the gospel among them; and that African schoolmasters may concur with British missionaries, and become perhaps missionaries themselves in process of time; and such missionaries, as will not so much as be incommoded by a climate, which is exceedingly trying to European constitutions.
This is not the whole of the designs already formed by the committee; which as matured in any good measure will be made known: when it is hoped, that objections started against some particulars in their pkm, will be satisfactorily obviated.—They have well weighed the extreme difficulty of the undertaking; and have endeavoured to get their minds armed against dismay and discouragement: but they would use all prudent means for preventing any waste of the sums* advanced by the public liberality, and still more, any needless risk of the health or lives of those zealous men, who engage in missions; and who are apt to disregard their own lives, in proportion as they long after the salvation of souls: as prudent and able generals are always careful not to expose their most valiant soldiers to needless danger.
But so far from giving up the design, as some have
supposed, they are more and more deeply impressed
with the sense of its vast importance, and more fully
determined, by the help of God, to persevere in it to
the uttermost. I shall only add, my brethren, that
whether you can, or cannot, afford us any pecuniary
assistance; we eamesdy entreat you, to aid us with
your daily prayers and supplications, to that God,
who alone can give wisdom, inspire zeal and love, and
keep us cordially united in humility and simplicity;
who alone can raise us up helpers and instruments,
open doors, remove mountains, and give success: as
< is our decided opinion, that they who most prav
ir us, are the best benefactors to the institution, and
-^ die most effectual means of rendering it successful.