AND now our pleasant task is ended. We have endeavoured to place before our readers a picture of Missionary work in British North America. Vast as is the territory, and small as is the number of labourers in the field, much has been accomplished; from the shores of Lake Superior on the South, to the Arctic Ocean on the North--from Hudson's Bay on the East, to the Pacific on the West, a network of Missions extends. Little communities of Christian Indians arc found here and there scattered over the continent; no longer living in heathen darkness and degradation, they are rising into the enjoyment of the comforts of civilized life. Formerly they carried the ravages of war into each other's territories; now they live in peace. Once they were addicted to every kind of cruelty; now they abound in acts of tenderness and affection. Once they were indolent; now they arc active and industrious. At one time they were lawless; now they live in subordination to authority. Once their lands were uncultivated, and yielded not their produce; now they smile with plenty. The once sullen features of the savage now beam with intelligence and joy; the hand that held the murderous weapon now grasps the Bible; the arms once stretched forth in violence are now extended in the attitude of supplication to God; the voice that uttered frantic wailings for the dead, or joined in the hideous war cry, now sings of redeeming love, and tells of joys begun on earth to be completed in heaven. The heart, once the stronghold of superstition and fear, is now inspired with hope and filled with gladness; death is no longer the object of terror; it is regarded as the passage to glory. What a triumphant proof do these things afford of the redeeming power of the Gospel, and its heavenly origin. How does it carry forward our thoughts to the time when mankind shall have become one vast brotherhood; one in heart, one in faith, one in hope, separated from each other in body, not in affection, by the rivers and mountains, oceans and seas, which lie between them. When the worship of idols shall perish and be forgotten, the hymn of praise shall be wafted to heaven on the breezes of the ocean, and rise from the solitude of the desert. Then shall the Sabbath be everywhere solemnized, and the name of Jesus everywhere adored. The commerce of the nations shall be holiness to the Lord. Sin shall be subdued, error banished. The countless millions of the world's ransomed population shall worship at the Saviour's feet; their joyful song shall rise in strains of melody. There shall be "Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, and goodwill towards men."
Yet how much remains to be done; "the fields arc white unto the harvest, but the labourers are few." It must, we think, be admitted that England has not, as a nation, been faithful to her trust. How large a debt of gratitude does she not owe to the Church Missionary Society, in having sent the Gospel to the distant lands that own her sway, and from which she draws a vast amount of wealth? And not only has the Gospel been carried to the heathen by this agency, but the means of grace have been placed within the reach of multitudes who have already gone forth, or are even now going forth, to found homes and make fortunes in the "Far West." As the Indian retreats before the advancing tide of emigration, the churches originally erected for the use of the natives have passed on to English congregations, and have become part of the church organization of the colony. The establishment of Sees, thus providing chief pastors to preside over the flocks scattered over British territory, who may direct, counsel, and aid the ministers of the Church of England, is largely due to the Church Missionary Society. But for the efforts which it has put forth, that fine territory, so soon to be peopled with our own race, would still be lying in heathen darkness: the settlers now going forth would have no church in which to worship the God of their fathers--no Christian minister to visit and console the sick and the dying; none of those privileges, alas! so little valued in our own land, and yet so sorely missed by the sons and daughters of England who, leaving behind them Christian homes, find themselves in a land where Satan still holds undisputed sway, and where the minds of their children are liable to be contaminated by intercourse with heathen servants. Is it not an inestimable blessing, Christian parents, to know that in sending forth those very dear to you, they go to a land over which the light of the Gospel has shed its cheering rays, where the sound of the church-going bell will remind them of the sacred obligations of the Sabbath? where the minister of Christ may perchance speak some word in season to one unspeakably precious to you, over whom your heart yearns, and for whose spiritual welfare you pour out supplications to God? If such are our obligations, shall we be slow to acknowledge them? or give with a niggard hand? Is it not a glorious privilege to aid in extending the kingdom of our Lord and Master? "Cast thy bread upon the waters, and thou shalt find it after many days." Perchance it may be found where least expected. Alone in a distant land, an English youth lay dying; no kind relative was near to minister tenderly to his wants, to breathe into his ear precious words of hope and consolation. The tidings of his death, under circumstances so sad and solitary, filled the hearts of loving friends with deep sorrow. How grievous was it to them to think that one so dear had passed away, with none to tell of the love of Jesus, and to soothe his dying moments with hopes of heaven; but he was not so left. Ere long, tidings reached them that one had ministered by that dying bed. The message, "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life," had fallen with sweet and soothing influence on the heart of him so soon to pass through the gate of death, and lit up his eye with a bright gleam of hope, as he beheld through the eye of faith the home prepared for all who, believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, bring the burden of their sin and guilt to "the fountain opened for sin and unclcanness." He who thus ministered the word of life by that dying bed was a little boy, once a ragged wayfarer in the streets: rescued by the hand of benevolence, trained to habits of industry, instructed in the Word of God, he was sent forth to earn an honourable living; he proved to be indeed a son of consolation; he held up Christ to his dying master, and the dawn of heaven's morning shone through the gloom of the shadow of death. Truly the bread cast upon the waters was found, and is it to be doubted that in some such manner the seed sown in the hearts of the heathen in distant lands does often return in blessing to the sower? Only in the last Great Day will it be known in how large a measure the Lord returns the blessing to the giver. Great will be the joy and wonder of the faithful steward when he shall recognize how graciously the Master whom he served has acknowledged and rewarded his service. All, even the youngest and the poorest, in whose heart glows the love of Christ, have it in their power to help in this glorious work. Think not, dear reader, it is money alone which is needed; your prayers are needed. In this way all can help: the invalid on her couch of suffering, debarred from active service, may bring down showers of blessing on the labours of the devoted men who go forth to bear the toil and heat of the day in the Master's vineyard. The little child at its mother's knee, looking up in loving confidence to its Father in heaven, and asking Him to bless those dearest to it on earth, may also ask a blessing for the little ones not yet gathered into the fold of the Good Shepherd, but who shall one day shine in the diadem of the Redeemer.
Some can give more than this--their time, or some portion of it; willing fingers may work, loving hearts may plan some device by which they may lend a helping hand, and thus manifest by deeds that they do truly love the Lord who bought them with His blood.
In a former chapter it was observed that the Mission on the Pacific Coast completes the zone of Missions with which the Church Missionary Society has now encircled the world; from Japan, in the extreme east, to the Pacific Ocean on the west, the joyful sound of the Gospel has reached. "This Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come." And in this fulfilment of our Lord's words, the loving disciple of the Master cannot fail to find a powerful incentive to increased exertion.
Have we received the Gospel into our hearts? have we felt the blessedness of guilt removed? of fear swallowed up in love? Is God our reconciled Father in Christ? Does the peace of God which passeth understanding dwell in our hearts? Is the Holy Spirit our Abiding Comforter, the Sanctifier of our hearts? Do we look for an abundant entrance into the many mansions prepared for believers, when death shall summon us hence? Do we look for a glorious resurrection, when the body, clothed in immortal beauty, shall be reunited with the seraphic spirit? Do we hope to share the eternal and blissful communion of the redeemed? Do we long to behold the Saviour in the unveiled Majesty of His person, and think with eager and earnest expectation on the bliss of yielding to Him a sinless service throughout the countless ages of eternity? And can we, knowing that the time is short, slumber on the battle-field? "Let us not sleep as do others." Unseen powers are marshalling their array; already the conflict has begun, which shall end in the glorious triumph of the Redeemer.
And blessed are they who, fighting under His banner, shall be found faithful unto the end. "Their eyes shall see the King in His beauty; they shall behold the land that is very far off." Who can form even a faint conception of the rapture which shall swell the hearts of the great multitude, which no man can number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, who shall stand before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands? For "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him."
"Where are the soldiers of the Cross,
Sworn to be faithful to their Lord?
Why do they not count all things loss,
Go boldly forth, and preach the Word?
"Lord, shalt Thou call for help in vain?
'Who will go for me?' dost Thou cry?
Oh! let me hear Thy voice again:
Tell me, my Saviour, is it I?
"Must I arise, must I gird on
The Missionary sword and shield?
Must I, the frail and fearful one,
Go forth to such a battle-field?
"Yes, I must sacrifice repose
To His command who reigns above,
And labour for the souls of those
Who have not known His dying love!
"My friends and home I leave behind,
And nature's tenderest ties are riven;
I hope a better home to find,
And friends to meet again in heaven.
"Only Thy Spirit, Lord, impart,
And let Thy presence with me go;
Then confidence shall fill my heart;
And banish fear of all below."