« ZurückWeiter »
tory of christianization since the days of the apostles tends to prove that wherever the faith of the gospel arises in the mind, it is rooted and has its deep foundation in the workings of that moral nature which is common to all the species. And so it is that these Moravians tell us how they began the topic of sin, and of the Saviour, at the very outset of their converse, even with the very rudest of nature's wanderers, and they find a conscience in them which responds as readily to their sayings, and which loses the pre-occupations and prejudices which obstruct their efficacy, as in the lettered Mahometan, or the demi-civilized Hindoo. It is true they also attempt, as all other missionaries do, to insinuate among them the arts and industry of Europe from the very beginning of their enterprise, and the two educations of religion and humanity go on contemporarily. It may in some instances be difficult to assign what the precedency is in the order of time, but as to the precedency in the order of nature, or in the order of cause and effect, there is no difficulty. It is not the process of civilization which makes way for the Christianity, it is the christianity makes way for the civili-ture yet completed for the enraptured zation. This is the strict philosophy traveller to gaze upon, and at which of the process; Christianity does not he may kindle perhaps into strains wait for civilization, it is civilization of sweetest poesy. So meagre, so that waits, and follows with attend- utterly superficial, and ignorant, are ant footsteps on Christianity. In a the conceptions of those who, when word, the message of GOD to man they would exalt the Moravians, might be delivered immediately to all do it at the expense of the nakedmen; it is a message alike to the ness of all other missionaries. They "barbarian and the Greek." And exhibit the mere finery of sentihere too, as in every thing else, there mental criticism, without the depth is the fullest harmony between the of Christian principle, without the declaration of the gospel itself, and substance and the depth of philothe findings of experience. sophic observation.
a great portion of British society, there is such a demand and veneration for Moravians, there is still so strong a remainder of dislike, and even of derision for all other missionaries. The reason is simply this, the Moravians are the oldest of all our modern Protestant missionaries, and they have had time to work up a more conspicuous result as the evidence of their labours. They also went through the very ordeal of contempt and of bitter calumny,which the missionaries have still to undergo, and which they must continue to endure, so long as the Christianity of the attempt stands out so nakedly to the eye of worldly observers, and the mantle of civilization is not yet sufficiently thickened cover it from their view. We doubt there is a rawness which is now most comfortably and most completely softened away in the older establishments of the Moravians. The one is just as solid and deeply founded as the other, in the sacredness of the enterprise which led to it, but there is not yet that secondary luxuriance which catches the eye, and calls forth the homage of sentimentalism. The honeysuckle has not yet fully grown at each cottage door, nor is the pic
This will explain, I hope, that very prevalent misconception, in virtue of which it is, that while in the West Indies, and more especially through
I consider it necessary before I conclude to give you just one instance more, in justice to the usefulness and the efforts of another society, not com
posed of Moravians, I mean the Lon- | physics (for I am supposing this to be a company of philosophers and savans)-well, had they proceeded thus far, and furnished with the best and fitted lessons for man in the infancy of understanding brought their well weighed processes to bear on them had they got pupils from among all their families, and in twenty years wrought a change more marvellous than twenty centuries rolling over the heads of many tribes and many nations of our world have been able to accomplish-in a word, had they transformed this horde of cannibals into a lettered and humanized peasantry, and from the cruelties of their desolating superstition turned them to the peaceful charities of this world, and to the rejoicing hopes of another-had they been further enabled to grace the whole of this exhibition by such pleasing and picturesque accompaniment as those of newly formed villages, and cultivated gardens, and prosperous industry, and the whole customs of industrious and well-regulated life— and all this on the part of a people, who but a few years ago were prowling in nakedness, and who with fierce and untamed spirits could assemble in delighted multitudes around the altar of a
don Missionary Society. Let me just say a few words on what is still considered to be the most illustrious of all achievements. Had the members of some school of philosophers by dint of a skilful and laborious analysis, become profoundly conversant with the mysteries of the human spirit, had they speculated with accuracy and effect not merely on the progress of the individual mind, from its first rude and barren elements to the highest finished being of its moral and intellectual cultivation, but also on the progress of the collective mind in society: 30 as to trace all the continuous footsteps by which the transition is made from savage to civilized life-had they on the principle of a new system devised a plan of tuition, and instituted a method of discipline and formed a book of elementary doctrine and scholarship, in virtue of which they held themselves prepared for a grand philanthropic experiment on some remote remnant of barbarians, yet in the primitive ignorance of nature had they been enabled so to interest the public in their scheme as to be upheld by them in all the cost of a beneficial expedition, then set forth on the wide ocean of adventure till they reached a far distant shore that was peopled by the most degraded tribes of idolaters, where all the arts and habits, and decencies of Europe were unknown, and where hideous misshapen sculpture bespoke a paganism of the most revolting character-had they in these circumstances offered parley with the natives, and gained their confidence, and won such an ascendency as that they could assemble and detain them at pleasure, for the purposes of education, and furnished, as they were, by an enlightened scheme of meta
human sacrifice - an achievement so wondrous as this would have blazoned forth on the world as one of the noblest triumphs of philosophy; it would have filled and delighted the whole of our literary republic, and her academies would have vied with each other in heaping their orders and honorary titles on the men who had found out that specific charm by which to reclaim savages to the walks of humanity, and to quicken a hundred fold the march of improvement of our species.
Now it is not very many years ago
since such an enterprise was set on foot by the members of a certain college, though not a college literature. They carried out with them a certain book of instruction though not one philosopher had to do with the composition of it, and they made the very attempt which we have now been supposing on a territory removed by some thousands of miles from the outskirts of civilization, and through a severe ordeal of ridicule and of reserve did they ply their assiduous task, and have now brought their experiment to its termination; and whatever the steps of their process may have been there is many an eye witness who can speak to the result of it. The island of Otaheite, | in spite of the conflicting testimonies and accounts of more recent voyagers, overborne at length by the last and most authentic testimony which has appeared, the island of Otaheite which teemed with the worst abominations of savage passions and savage cruelty, was the selected arena on which they tried the virtue of their peculiar specific; and whatever the rationale of its operations may have been, there is no doubt as to the certainty of the operation itself. These savages have been humanized, these rude and hideous characteristics of the savage state have all disappeared. A nation of gross and grovelling idolaters has become a nation of rational and kindred and companionable men; and furnished now as they are with a written language, and having access by authorship and correspondence to other minds and other countries than their own, does the light of Christendom now shine full upon their territory, and it is indeed a wondrous transformation, to look at their now modest attire, on their now sweet and comfortable habitations, on their village schools, on their well ordered
families, on their infantine literature, on their new formed alphabet, and their boyhood just taught and practised, like our own, in the various branches of scholarship; and what perhaps poetry, though apart from religion, would most gladly seize on of all, the holiness of her sabbath morn and the chime of its worship bell now breaking for the first time on the ear of the delighted mariner who hovers on its shore, and recognised by him as a sound that was before unheard throughout the whole of that vast Pacific, in the solitude of whose mighty waters this island had lain buried and unknown for so many ages. All this has undoubtedly been done, but then a few gospel missionaries had the doing of it, and they tell us that the whole charm and power of this marvellous transformation are to be found in the Bible and in its cabalistic orthodoxy. And they tell moreover of prayers, and outpourings, and mystic influences from on high, which all the science of all our universities cannot lead us to comprehend, or in any way to sympathize with. And thus, as the compound effect of this whole exhibition on men's spirits, are there a credulity and a contempt, and at the same time an astonishment at a great moral phenomenon the truth of which is forced upon them by the evidence of their senses, and withal, we fear a full determination to nauseate with all their might, that peculiar evangelism which has been the instrument of this most gigantic stride which was ever made by barbarism on its road to civilization and virtue. And thus upon them do we perceive, perhaps the most striking illustrations that can be given, of the same men, "GOD worketh a work in their days, they will in no wise believe though a man declared it unto them." But
though they will not believe, they will be made to behold, and though forced to contemplate it, will be beholding with despisers, who wonder and perish.
Speaking of this Otaheite, you will remember that in exposition of the evidence, I spoke of the Spirit of GOD giving effect, as it were, to the evidence, and we look on the example already quoted as a verification of this. We are old enough to recollect (and I am sure that some here present must be old enough to recollect) the high flown spirit of adventure on which the first mission to Otaheite was undertaken; and with what eclat the missionary vessel went forth on her voyage, and the flags and ensigns of victory were already streaming in the gale, and with what eloquence were pictured forth all the chances, if not all the certainties of success. We doubt not that many were dazzled into an earthly confidence whether they looked at the complete equipment of all the human securities that were so abundantly provided for the accomplishment of this great undertaking, and how that was dispelled-or that the elements of nature did carry it in safety to the shore, and how that was dispelled also or that the elements of the
moral world taught by humble experience that for these, too, he must be enquired of after. And a cloud of disgrace and distress hung for years over the enterprise, and the spirit which worketh in the children of disobedience stood its ground among the natives, and more woful still, the spirit of apostacy made ravage among the missionaries themselves; and well can we remember the derision and the triumph of infidels upon the misgiving of this sanguine speculation. We doubt not that many were effectually taught in the arts of patience and prayer by this fatherly correction, and led to look from the visible apparatus to the unseen guide and mover of it, and that there was a fuller ascent of importunities to heaven, and a louder knocking than before at the door of the upper sanctuary; and certain it is that, after a season of severe but salutary chastisement, an influence, far too sudden and diffusive to be interpreted by any ordinary cause, came down on the land; and by a miracle, as if it had been newly summoned from the deep, do we now uphold it a land of genial dwelling places; the quiet and lovely home of a Christianized nation.
KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL.
THE natural inability of most men to judge exactly of things, makes it very difficult for them to discern the real good and evil of what comes before them, to consider and weigh circumstances, to scatter and look through the mists of error, and so separate appearances from reality. For the greater part of mankind is but slow and dull of apprehension; and therefore in many cases under a necessity of seeing with other men's eyes, and judging with other men's understandings. To which their want of judging or discerning abilities, we may add also their want of leisure and opportunity to apply their minds to such a serious and attent consideration, as may let them into a full discovery of the true goodness and evil of things, which are qualities which seldom display themselves to the first view: There must be leisure and retirement, solitude and a sequestration of man's self from the noise and toil of the world; for truth scorns to be seen by eyes too much fixed upon inferior objects. It lies too
deep to be fetched up with the plough, and too close to be beaten out with the hammer. It dwells not in shops or workhouses: nor till the late age was it ever known, that any one served seven years to a smith or a tailor, that he might at the end thereof, proceed master of any other arts, but such as those trades taught him: and much less that he should commence doctor or divine from the shopboard, or the anvil; or from whistling to a team, come to preach to a congregation. These were the peculiar, extraordinary privileges of the late blessed times of light and inspiration: otherwise nature will still hold on its old course, never doing any thing which is considerable without the assistance of its two great helps-art and industry. But above all, the knowledge of what is good and what is evil, what ought and what ought not to be done in the several offices and relations of life, is a thing too large to be compassed, and too hard to be mastered, without brains and study, parts, and contemplation.
THE EYE OF CONSCIENCE.
THAT the eye of conscience may be always quick and lively, let constant use be sure to keep it constantly open, and thereby ready and prepared to admit and let in those heavenly beams which are always streaming forth from GOD upon minds fitted to receive them. And to this purpose let a man fly from every thing which may leave either a foulness or a bias upon it; let him dread every gross act of sin; for one great stab may as certainly and speedily destroy life as forty lesser wounds. Let him carry a jealous eye over every growing habit of sin; let him keep aloof from all commerce and fellowship with any vitious and base affection, especially from all
sensuality; let him keep himself untouched with the hellish, unhallowed heats of lust and the noisome steams and exhalations of intemperance; let him bear himself above that sordid and low thing, that utter contradiction to all greatness of mind-covetousness: let him disenslave himself from the pelf of the world, from that "amor sceleratus habendi ;" lastly, let him learn so to look upon the honours, the pomp, and greatness of the world, as to look through them. Fools indeed are apt to be blown up by them and to sacrifice all for them: sometimes venturing their heads only to get a feather in their caps.
Extracted from Dr. South.