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conflict without fear; we look forward without apprehension. But Truth dormant will not meet the present exigency. We must nse the most active and energetic means for bringing that Truth to bear upon the people. If this is properly and judiciously done, great results may be looked for.* "Thrice is he armed who hath his quarrel just." But the justice of the cause must be made known; or else the jury may decide wrongly, in sheer ignorance.
In all that we have said, we have kept in reserve, but we have not forgotten, the secret purpose of God. As of this we can know nothing, so it can be no guide, or encouragement, or ground of fear to us. All the Churches of these kingdoms have sinned, both by doing what they ought not to have done, and leaving undone what they ought to have done. If it be the Divine purpose to punish those Churches severely, we dare not complain. If it be His intent "to purge them, that they may bring forth more fruit/' we ought to be deeply thankful. Either way, as these plans and purposes must remain unknown, they cannot constitute our rule of duty. But in all that we have said, in the former part of this article, let our readers consider the proviso to be always intended, If God Pleases.
IS "THE FULNESS OF TIME" COME FOB
"When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son." Why the time so chosen was on all accounts the most appropriate, we shall probably never fully understand till we know even as we are known. But that there was a peculiar appropriateness for such an event in the condition of the Jewish nation, at that time more especially, is most manifest. Had it occurred at an earlier period, the isolating feelings which made God's people dwell alone, and not be reckoned among the nations, might have presented invincible obstacles to the dissemination of the Gospel. It would hardly have passed beyond the borders of Canaan; its cradle might have been its tomb. But "the breaker had come up," and had already broken the nation in pieces. They had been scattered in all directions. Something of the cosmopolitan spirit, which has in subsequent times been so marked a feature in the Jewish character, had already began to develop itself. In the great centres of eastern and western civilization, thronghout the scattered islands of the iEgeaD, on the busy shores of the Euxine, mnltitudes of Jews were dwelling; continual intercourse was kept up with the home of their fathers, but they were ramifying in all directions throughout the known and habitable world. While, as Gibbon feelingly deplores, "neither the violence of Antiochus nor the arts of Herod, nor the example of circumjacent nations, could ever persuade the Jews to associate with the institutions of Moses the elegant mythology of the Greeks," their own Sabbatical observances had attracted the notice of the courtiers of Augustus. The Jewish Proseuche was an institution of the times, to be found not only by the river side of Philippi, but nestling under the walls of the imperial city in the valley of Egeria, by waters sacred to the Camensa. A busy, restless, spirit actuated many; and although it was with a zeal not according to knowledge, desultory efforts at proselytism indicated a preparedness of mind for missionary effort, in marked contrast with the supercilious isolation in which the Jew had dwelt in former generations.
* A little tract, entitled, "The Que». of two cities and one division of a
tion of the Day:—the Irish Church," county; and those two cities and one
was recently published, of which the division of a county returned Ave Con
Eecord said, "This ought to be circu- servative members. Had there been
lated by thousands among the consti- time to circulate it over the whole
tuencies." It was so circulated, we kingdom, some similar results might
happened to hear, among the electors have followed in other places.
It was at such a time, and to followers gathered out from a people so far prepared, that the command was given by the Lord Jesus Christ,—" Go ye into all the world, and preash the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." With this imperial rescript, furnished to them by the Majesty of Heaven, all conventional scrnples were overborne, and most cherished prejudices, albeit reluctantly, yet finally, disappeared. Nor, if some of the Apostolic College had been inclined to construe their Master's words, "beginning at Jerusalem," as au implied command to effect the conversion of all Judaea before passing into the regions which were beyond, would it have been easy to persuade the Cilician Paul, the Cypriote Barnabas, the Lycaoniau Timothy, the devout Jews from all quarters of the world, who, in their several synagogues at Jerusalem, had heard, in their own tongues, the wonderful works of God, and had received Jesus as their Messiah, from making proclamation of what they had heard in the holy city on their return to their distant homes. From the very nature of the case, Apostolic Christianity was Missionary Christianity; with the early disciples of Christ, the cause of the Gospel and the cause of Missions were one and the same, identical in nature, animated by the same spirit, in the service of the same Lord.
It would be interesting to point out how, in later periods of the history of the Church, the progress of the Gospel has synchronized with extensions of geographical knowledge and colonization of distant lands; or, to speak more correctly, how the religions preparation of men's minds has been the precursor of such mighty events, as, for instance, at the period of our blessed Reformation. Such religious movements do not seem necessarily to stand in the relation of cause to result; but the frequent recurrence of them in such connection deserves careful notice, and might lead to profitable speculation upon the means employed by the Lord Jehovah, that "His way may be known upon earth, His saving health among all nations."
We have been prompted to this course of thought by what seems now a quaint record, which appears in the very first volume of the Christian Observer. In turning over its pages, we came upon the first notice in it, of what was then termed the " Society for Missions to Africa and the East," since universally known under its later designation of the "Church Missionary Society." As many of our readers may not be in possession of the volume, or may not recall the passage, it may be well to quote it:—" The Society," it says, " is yet in its iufancy, and has not as yet begun the establishment of any particular mission, but is paving the way for future missionary effort by printing a grammar, a vocabulary, and some religious tracts in Susoo, a language spoken throughout a considerable space of the Western Coast of Africa, but which has never before been reduced to writing." This was, in truth, a small pebble even though chosen out of the valley of Elah, a small grain of mustard seed even for the hand of faith to plant. But "The Committee rejoiced" over their publications, and hoped, and doubtless prayed, that, although there was no one, ere long somebody might be found throughout the length and breadth of England, who would study the grammar and learn the vocabulary, and distribute the tracts, so somehow making known the unsearchable riches of Christ among poor souls lying in darkness and the shadow of death. The whole stock in trade of the Society, if it would be proper so to term it, might have been placed upon the shelves of a decent-sized book-case, and its annual income, although we have not verified the fact, was probably not larger than the sum which a prosperous tradesman takes over his counter as a day's earnings, and pays into his banker's in the evening. But the "fulness of time" was not yet come; the ways were not yet open; the whole continent of Europe was desolated with sanguinary strife; the seas were swarming with vessels of war; communication, even if unimpeded, was slow and uncertain; a voyage to India or China might have been of a year's duration; all sorts of exclusive enactments and jealous restrictions impeded intercourse; the slave trade was in full vigour, and draining Africa of its life blood; large portions of the globe which are now important dependencies of our empire, and are swarmiug with our superabundant population, were then unknown, or tenanted exclusively by ferocious savages. Still the work of preparation was silently going on; mind after mind was gradually awakened to the consciousness that the behests of the Saviour were binding on His followers; the hosts who were in due season to do battle for the Lord against the mighty, were called out, and marshalled for the coming conflict. As Apostolic Christianity was Missionary Christianity; so, in its turn, Evangelical Christianity became Missionary Christianity, and the cause of the Gospel and the cause of missions were once more identified by the followers of the Lord Jesus.
Now-a-days, when Synods and Church Congresses, Archaeological and Scientific Associations, are traversing the country in all directions, and preferring claims the most conflicting and the most confusing before the attention of all classes, it is hard to realize the amount of interest created fifty years ago, when first the advocates of the Bible, and Church Missionary, and similar Evangelical Societies within and without the pale of the Church of England, began to pass through the country urging upon Christians the obligations laid upon them to disseminate God's word. Men of mark amongst their brethren devoted systematically some portion of their time and talents to this most holy of causes. Legh Richmond, Charles Simeon, Josiah Pratt, Edward Bickersteth, William Marsh, Hugh Stowell, pleaded the missionary cause with fervent energy and holy unction. Soon, missionaries who had gone forth and spied out the land to be possessed, began to return and tell, as eye witnesses, of heathen wretchedness, and of the sovereign efficacy of the Gospel as its remedy, the heralds of future and more glorious successes. By many a quiet fireside, in many a country parsonage, in sequestered village hamlets, in Sunday Schools, talk gradually sprang up of
"The cannibals that did each other eat,
Names of outlandish places became familiar as household words among multitudes of the middle and lower classes of Englishmen, places which learned men hardly knew the existence of; and sure tidings were brought to them of the extension of Christ's kingdom in regions which many had scarcely attempted to define. Shall we be wrong in ascribing some portion of that readiness with which, shortly afterwards, streams of colonists, actuated no doubt only by worldly motives, poured forth from our shores to the most outlying quarters of the world, to familiarity with such names and places imbibed almost unconsciously from missionary narratives diffused by the press and by the tongue in prosecution of a higher and holier object? If distance lends enchantment to the view of strange lands and far away homes, familiarity robs distance of its terrors, and this familiarity had been contracted by such means. With such speculations, however, we have not to do, but must pass on to some brief review of missionary progress during the past fifty years. To examine it in detail would, of course, be out of place: such information is duly chronicled in the proceedings of the various Societies which record the mighty things done by God through the agency of such men as Carey and Marshman, as Johnson and Marsden, as Williams and Ellis. The Christianity, then, must be of a very peculiar type, and very different from that of the Lord and Master whom he professes to serve, where a man, after all due abatement made for the weakness and imperfection of human agency, for undue hopes and heated fancies, for mistakes and failures such as will ever occur in the best concerted schemes and wisest counsels, can look unmoved upon what has been done for the enlightenment and salvation of fallen man during the past half century; on close scrutiny it may prove that here and there
"per leve severos Effandat junctrura ungues,"
tbat the work is not altogether faultless; but surely no man in whom the Spirit of Christ really abides, will question the nobleness of the design, or the successful execution of it in its main features. What Christ commanded to be done, has been in a measure attempted; as in the first ages of Christianity, so now again, well nigh all nations have had the Gospel proclaimed to them, though the echo of that joyful sound may in manifold instances as yet have reached hearts but faintly and indistinctly j churches have been founded, from which, as from Thessalonica of old, the word of the Lord has sounded out to the regions around, and wherein are crowds of worshippers who have turned from idols to serve the living and the true God; ferocious and bloody superstitions have been confronted and condemned, and in many instances thoroughly extinguished. Martyrs again, as in Madagascar, with their dying breath, have set their seal to their testimony to the truth as it is in Jesus. "They have been tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection; others have had trials of cruel mockings, and scourgings, yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonments." How striking is the testimony of so shrewd and intelligent an observer as the late Bishop Cotton, to the scenes which he was privileged to witness on his visit to