AN APPEAL IN BEHALF OF MISSIONS: ADDRESSED TO EPISCOPALIANS.
PREACHED BEFORE THE
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN MISSIONARY SOCIETY
PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCH
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
IN ST. JAMES' CHURCH, PHILADELPHIA,
ON TUESDAY, MAY 12, 1829.
BY ALONZO POTTER,
RECTOR OF ST. PAUL'S CHURCH, BOSTON.
PUBLISHED AT THE REQUEST OF THE BOARD.
IT is due to the subject, as well as to the author, to state that this Discourse was undertaken at a very short notice, and was written on the eve and during the intervals of a journey prosecuted for the benefit of health. Under such circumstances, it had certainly been withheld from the public, were it not that at present the cause for which it pleads, seems to have claims paramount to any of a personal or private character.
PRESS OF PUTNAM & HUNT.
41, Washington Street.
ROMANS, 1. 15.
I AM A DEBTOR BOTH TO THE GREEKS AND TO THE BARBARIANS--
BOTH TO THE WISE AND TO THE UNWISE.
To preach the gospel then, is, in the ethics of Paul, but to pay a debt. It is not in his view a gratuity--the bestowment of which, implies merit, while the withholding of it would be scarcely, if at all, a sin. [See Appendix A.] It is a debt. Its obligation is not less imperative than that of the ordinary duties of justice. No human law, 'tis true, can exactly define or enforce this obligation. Its discharge may and must be left to the dictates of individual discretion. When its claims conflict with those of common equity, they may, and of course should give way. But still its authority is not on these accounts the less perfect or the less binding. With the Apostle to love one's neighbor as himself--to do him good as he has opportunity--to impart to him therefore, if he have it not, the richest of all blessings--the blessing of the gospel--[3/4] this we say, is, in the estimation of St. Paul, a duty, for the omission of which, there can be at the bar of God no conceivable excuse.
But who is this neighbour? To whom was this debt of the Apostle due? The text answers, To the Greeks and to the Barbarians. In the vocabulary of the Greeks, Barbarian, you know, was the name of all foreigners--so that to be a debtor to the Greeks and Barbarians, was to be a debtor to the whole world--or rather, since the Apostle speaks here as a Jew, to the whole Pagan world. Having committed unto him the Apostleship of the uncircumcision, sent forth by his once persecuted but now adored Master on the first mission to the Gentiles, he beholds in each of these Gentiles a creditor. They are sitting in darkness, and in the shadow of death. To his keeping is confided the instrument which is to open their eyes, and turn them from darkness to light from the power of satan unto God. Were he to prove unfaithful to a charge so momentous, wo must betide him. A necessity is laid upon him; he must preach the gospel. And under the pressure of this conviction, how does he go forth! With what heroism--with what self devotion! Though bonds and afflictions await him in every city; though his course is one of weariness, and painfulness--of watchings and hunger--of great and manifold perils, yet nowise daunted, he presses onward with a perseverance which nothing but the chains [4/5] of the imperial Caesar can arrest,--with an intensity of ardour which nothing but the hand of death can extinguish.
But who is this Paul? In what capacity does he here speak? As a private man? nay, but as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ! As acting under a special commission? nay, but as acting under that commission--the warrant of all ministerial authority--to preach the gospel to every creature! As engaged in a work which is since complete? nay, but as engaged in one which shall be complete only when the kingdoms of this world shall have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ! This Paul, this Apostle to the Gentiles, this servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, my friends, he speaks in the name--as the representative of the Christian church! The obligation which he here owns is her obligation. To preach repentance and the remission of sins among all nations--to labour for the extension of his faith, "as much as in him is," to the full extent of his ability--to do this now while he has time, while he has strength, while he has opportunity, this is the duty which in behalf of the church of God--in behalf of its every individual member he admits, and for our instruction permanently records.
Brethren, are we Christians? Are we ministers? Are we successors of the Apostle; or partakers with him of the same grace? Have we this gospel in our hands? Are there round us millions who have it not? To them we are debtors! This precious [5/6] treasure must not be left to corrode with rust--to canker under the curse of inactivity! It must not be hoarded up as means merely of personal improvement, or personal gratification! It is not our own! It is God's! we are but its almoners. The gospel is a trust confided to us not for our edification only, but for the conversion of the world. The Pagan is entitled to it no less than we. This Pagan--look down upon him as we may, has rights. His advocates need not appear here as humble suppliants. They need not intreat as a boon what he may demand as a debt. As a child of God, as one for whom Christ died, as a being for whose instruction and salvation the gospel was published, he has to this gospel an equitable title--a title authenticated by God himself--a title recognised this moment at his bar--a title therefore to which we do well to give heed. Has it been hitherto grievously disregarded? For centuries have we slumbered over this enterprise of evangelising the world? Are there now grovelling in dark and ruinous superstition three fourths of our race and in the efforts just commencing for their recovery, are not Episcopalians bearing their proper, their proportional part. Let them arise--as men of taste--as men of feeling--aboveall as Christian men let them arise and give to those efforts their prayers, their counsel, and their substance.
I. We say, as men of taste. As such men they owe their admiration--and if need be their patronage to whatever is splendid in intellect [6/7] or lofty in morals. To no object which can fill the mind with great and glorious conceptions--should they be indifferent. But where shall they find an object which in these respects can compare with the one before us. Let them collect the most illustrious examples of the moral sublime. Let them tell of the Grecian hero and his three hundreds, rearing themselves as the last barrier of their country's liberty. Let them tell of our own honoured Patriot, girding himself up to a great and holy enterprise, forgetting all considerations of self, and offering on the altar of the public weal, his fortune and his life! Let them tell of that constellation of British Philanthropists, of a Clarkson and a Howard, of a Sharpe and a Wilberforce, setting themselves apart to the service of injured humanity, and laboring even unto death for the reparation of its wrongs--and then beside all these, let them place the holy and harmless Jesus--let them place the Son of God disrobing himself of the splendours of divinity, and submitting unto death even the death of the cross. Let them think of Paul putting from him all the honours and immunities of the Jewish Sanhedrim, counting not his life dear unto himself, but becoming the willing victim of persecution and scorn. Let them think of the modern missionary bidding adieu to kinsfolk and friends, turning with the heart-rending assurance that they shall see his face no more, and going out, not knowing whither, for the instruction and renovation of degraded man. Is it disinterested [7/8] magnanimity for which you look? it is here! Is it an enterprise to task the best and noblest energies of the soul? it is here! Is it an object of transcendent dignity and importance? it is here! The soul is the object for which Christ, and Paul, and their heroic successors through all time are willing to labour and if need be to die. The soul which must live forever--the soul which has faculties that can fit it for the society of cherubim, or the fellowship of devils--this is the subject of their toils. And whose soul--that of one man? Those of one family--of one tribe--of one nation--No! but of the whole world. To dissipate from the face of the earth those endless diversities--to hush those eternal discords which separate man from his fellowman--to extend from heart to heart, and from clime to clime, a golden chain of concord and love--to fasten this chain to the very throne of God, and make it the medium of praises from beneath, and of blessings from above--to roll away from the mountains and the vallies those clouds of spiritual night, and lay over all the earth the brightness of millenial day--Yes! to convert the wide world into one great altar--and have
"One song employ all nations and all cry,
Worthy the lamb, for he was slain for us--
The dwellers in the vales and on the rocks,
Shout to each other, and the mountain tops
From distant mountains catch the flying joy;
Till nation after nation taught the strain,
Earth rolls the rapturous hozanna round,"
[8/9] to bring on this day we say foretold by Prophets, and certified by God himself, is the aim of the missionary enterprise; and who, what man of taste shall say, that to this cause he is no debtor; that he does not owe it his respect; if need be, his liberal support!
II. But on the man of feeling, this cause has higher claims. If he can look without himself; if he can think of something nobler than the indulgence of mere taste; if in one word he has a heart that can feel for others' woe; then let him look at the Pagan. We may talk, my friends, as we will of the untutored simplicity of savage life; we may weave graceful pictures of innocent children of nature, free from guile, exempted from sordid passions, and leading lives of reckless enjoyment. But we err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the facts. Paul looked at the Gentiles of his age, as well at the uncivilized hordes of the north, as at the cultivated and enlightened cities of the south; and of all alike he avers that they lie in wickedness, and therefore in wo. He affirms of them collectively, that they are "without natural affection," "malicious, implacable, unmerciful," "full of covetousness, deceit, and fraud;" "given up to vile affections." And whoever now looks closely at their moral condition, knows that to it may be literally and circumstantially applied the description of the inspired penman. [* See Appendix B.] Abominations, of which it is a shame even to speak; vices and crimes, of which in christian [9/10] lands, the bare thought occasions a thrill of horror--these are interwoven in the individual habits, and incorporated with the most sacred rites of all idolaters. Whatever among us is regarded as constituting especially the ornament and happiness of life; whatever we cling to as most dear among the charities of the domestic circle, or whatever we prize as most valuable among the sympathies, and reciprocities of christian neighbourhood--with them these are unknown. Now, is it the gospel alone that can purge away these abominations? Is it the gospel alone that can tame the passions, and purify the practice of poor degraded human nature? Wherever it is planted, will it do as it has ever done; abolish cruelty and licentiousness; establish integrity, industry, and beneficence; diffuse the charities of social life, and introduce those unnamed and unnumbered delights which make so dear the thoughts of family and home? And have we this gospel in our keeping? Are we able to bear our part, and that a prominent part, in spreading it through the world? Who then shall say that it is not our duty?--Yes, we are debtors. To the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; to the wise and to the unwise; as much as in us is, we owe, we should be ready to send the gospel.
Yonder is a Pagan village! Forget that some hundred, or thousand miles separate it from your door. Imagine it near you, and willing to be instructed, go and explore its condition. There are mothers who seem bereft of fraternal tenderness; [10/11] there are fathers who seem to care not for the offspring who are bone of their bone. Infants are buried alive, or cast to crocodiles, by her who bare them; while the sick and the aged are deserted and left to languish and die unpitied and alone. Feuds and animosities, jealousies and strife, are perpetuated from generation to generation; and even on his dying bed, the old man is heard charging his children never to rest till they have shed the blood of his unrequited foe. Men are armed, each against his neighbor, and his neighbor against him; while fraud and deceit, falsehood and calumny, treachery and revenge, embitter all the relations of social life! Draw near to that helpless parent. He has reached his last hour. Weary of the charge, his own offspring have left him by the road side, like a useless thing. Hungry and thirsty his soul fainteth in him. He cries for succor; but no ear will listen, no hand will relieve. The traveller passes by on the other side. The stripling, as he goes along, mocks at his groans. The crowd of ruffian children gather round to cover him with dust, or pelt him with stones. He calls on death! It comes! But alas! some dark foreboding, some fearful looking for of--he knows not what--bids him shrink back. He trembles; he hesitates; and then plunging into the dark, unfathomed abyss of eternity, is seen no more--Now would you give nothing? I ask the most cold hearted man in this assembly--would you give nothing to rescue this being--this village from their degradation? Would you give nothing to infuse into [11/12] the hearts of these cruel parents, the tender, the self-denying affections of a Christian mother? Would you give nothing to warm the bosoms of these unnatural youth with the prompt humanity, the generous piety of a Christian child? Would you give nothing to enfranchise these intellects, so debased and enslaved, and shed upon them the light and power of Christian truth? Where is the man--let him appear and answer--where is the man who dare confess that such objects have no claim? who dare admit that he is ready to fold his hands and look on, while immortal beings sink down to the level of the stye, and wipe from their dishonored brows all traces of manhood: and with faculties which might make them useful, and happy, and great, live lives more brutal, and die deaths more wretched than the beasts of the field?
III. But, my friends, claims yet more sacred have these Pagans upon us. We are Christians. We look on the heathen, not only as men, but as immortal men. We remember that life is a scene of probation; that here are formed characters with which we enter and spend eternity: and that as these characters shall be holy or unholy, so must our ultimate condition be happy or wretched. And with this fact before us, we cannot but tremble, when we think of the ultimate condition of the Heathen. God forbid that we should shut them out from all access to his mercy. We doubt not, that in every nation, he that feareth God and worketh righteousness, will be accepted of him. But where, [12/13] we ask, are Pagans who fear God and work righteousness? Yes; estimating them only by the dim and imperfect light under which they live; comparing their conduct with what they know, or might know of moral duty; comparing their daily actions with the dictates of that inward monitor, whose thoughts meanwhile excuse or else accuse; where, we say, are pious Pagans? Observation, experience, the concurring voice, not of missionaries merely, but of unprejudiced travellers, and of travellers inveterately hostile to missions,--these proclaim that there are almost none. [* See Appendix C.] These proclaim that of almost all idolaters, it may be said in the language of St. Paul, that while they know God, they glorify him not as God; that they like not to retain God in their knowledge; that though knowing the divine judgment, that they who commit such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them! And if such be their moral state; if such are the affections and habitudes with which they enter the eternal world; and if in that world we have reason to believe that the predominant passions of the heart are left to operate without restraint, then what, I ask, must be their prospects? Paul hesitates not to pronounce of the Heathen of his time, that they were children of wrath, without hope in the world! [* Eph. ii. 3, 12--"men deserving wrath"--See also Rom. iii. 9, compared with iii. 19, i. 18, 32, ii. 12.] And who that sees his anxiety to give them the gospel; [13/14] who that reads his expressions of compassion as he pronounces them far off--gone out of the way, alienated from the life of God; who that sees how his soul is pressed and straightened till he could finish the work of his ascended Master--and above all who that looks on the mission of this Master himself; who that sees him who was in the form of God becoming of no reputation, and assuming the form of a servant and made in the likeness of men, can doubt that the exigency was great--that the peril of those whom He came to seek and to save, was indeed imminent and awful!
Here then is the Pagan's claim. His soul is depraved; and dreadful as is the thought, he does seem to be treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath! He stretches out to you his imploring hands, and as he sinks deeper and deeper in the abyss of ruin, his cries come up into your ears. And will you do nothing for his help? No matter whether he is near or remote--no matter whether his ruin is consummating on the banks of the Delaware or on the banks of the Hindus. God hath made of one blood all nations of men; and in his sight, a thousand or ten thousand miles is as one mile. Whoever needs your aid; in whosoever behalf appeal is made to your bounty, he is your neighbor. Remember then--I speak to each individual--there is one Pagan soul; a soul which must live forever; a soul for which your Saviour bled; a soul which can feel and suffer and enjoy as well as you, there is one such soul that depends for salvation [14/15] on you and on you alone. After all that benevolence has done, or during the present age can do, millions will still remain unenlightened--Select one of these, and reflect that for you it is to say whether that soul shall receive the offers of redeeming mercy! You can humble as may be your station, scanty as may be your means,--You, by your prayers, your example and your bounty, can create an influence, which, going forth in the multiplied forms of Bibles and Tracts, and Schools and Missionaries, shall constitute a moral impulse sufficient,--I am conscious of no exaggeration when I say it,--sufficient to bear at least one soul triumphant into the joy of its Lord! But restrain those prayers; refuse this bounty; co-operate not in this cause; speak and act perhaps against it, and thus palsy the energies of others, and that soul is lost. You cannot delegate its conversion to another. You cannot bequeath it to posterity. It has no protracted existence; it is contemporary with yourself; with you it will descend into the tomb; for you therefore--O that the Holy Spirit would write this truth on your inmost hearts--for you, whose are the means of its salvation, and without whose remisness it shall not be lost--for you, it is to say, whether at the last day there shall be upon your heads the guilt of its blood, or the glory of its redemption!
Wish you my friends for other arguments? They are at hand. Others there are, and yet more imperious. You are Christians. As such, you hold yourselves bound to make reparation for wrongs [15/16] done by you to any other! On this ground, what do you not owe to Idolaters? What for centuries have you been doing in Pagan lands but contracting a long and fearful list of arrears? The influence which Christendom has sent over those lands--what is it? Her merchant ships, her vessels of war, her soldiers and her traders, what have they done for Pagan morals and Pagan happiness? Ah, let history answer! Let her answer in terms which ought to wring from us bitter tears. Let her tell of the refinements of civilized vice, engrafted on the rank luxuriance of savage corruption! Let her tell of burning tides of intemperance rolled across our western wilds, sweeping generation after generation to the tomb, and about to extinguish the race of Aborigines forever! Let her tell of debauchery and disease, carried by Christian ships to the Islands of the Pacific, and annihilating, in less than half a century, two thirds of their whole population! And that endless series of wrongs and retaliations, of external wars and internal dissentions--of frauds and oppressions, commenced by the avarice and perpetuated by the intrigues of Christian traders--let these rise up before us, as they one day will before God, a swift--terrible witness! For these wrongs, my brethren, may they not claim recompense? What, I ask, on the ground of simple reparation--what think you in his sight, who is no respecter of persons--what think you at his bar, who heareth the groanings of the prisoner [16/17] and the sighing of the oppressed, is not due from Christian nations, to these victims of their rapacity! Oh that you could hear their cries, as they now go up before the Lord of Sabaoth! Oh, that you could hear Africa tell of her children carried captive; of her sons set up for sale in Christian shambles; of her tribes embroiled in interminable quarrels, and her once simple people now tutored in all the hellish arts of cruelty and rapine! Oh, that you could hear India recount the story of Christian conquests, and Christian oppression; of Christian avarice fomenting her bloodiest rites, or looking upon them with cold and heartless indifference! Oh, that you could stand by some aged chief of your own native tribes, and see him point with flashing eye, and agitated hand, to the sepulchres of his fathers, and hear him tell of territories wrested from them by Christian violence; of nations, once mighty, now dwindling away, under the desolating influence of Christian cupidity! And oh, above all, that as you hear this fearful array of charges, you could also hear that no other remuneration can be given, no other remuneration is asked, than the gospel; than that you who have so long been conspiring to rob these nations of their people and their substance, should now give them back what is but their own; even the light of revelation; the blest charities of Christian civilization, and the glorious consolations of an immortal hope. Yes, brethren, this cause is the cause of justice; this debt, is the debt of Christendom; and shame to the land--shame to the heart, that would evade it!
 And who would evade it! Who, because we happen to be the stronger, would tell these hapless nations to go back to their idols, and brood there over these unexpiated wrongs! Or who will say that the time for their illumination has not come; that they are not yet prepared to receive or to comprehend the gospel! that they must wait! And is this so? What! when God himself declares that the fullness of time has come; when he decided eighteen hundred years ago, that the world was ripe for the glad tidings of redemption, shall we profess ourselves wiser than him! Now that such improvements have been made in the arts and sciences; now that facilities for extending the knowledge, and securing the reception of the Bible have been so multiplied; now that the art of printing enables us to flood the world with the words of eternal life; now that navigation is opening to us new and unexplored regions, and almost annihilating the distance which divides them from us; now that the human mind seems stirred by some mighty impulse, and instead of being wedded to old systems of government or religion, looks abroad and talks of coming change--is this no time? The Apostles in face of the Roman power, in defiance of an idolatry more inveterate than the world ever saw; destitute of numbers, or talent, or influence; aided only by the gift of tongues, and the power of miracles, could go forth, and in 300 years win the whole civilized world to Christ! And shall we, with the power of acquiring all tongues; with the record of those same [18/19] miracles to authenticate (which was all that the miracles themselves could do,) the divinity of our commission; assisted, too, by so many, and such peculiar advantages--shall we stand, and parley, and say it is not time! [* See Appendix D.] Not time! when Paganism seems smitten with infirmity, and tottering under the imbecility of old age! [* See Appendix E.] Not time! when the people of the saints of the Most High, seem going forth in serious earnest, to take possession of the kingdom and dominion and greatness of the kingdom under the whole Heaven! Not time! when on every side we have proof positive, and occular, of the practicability, and the success of their enterprise! when the notes of Christian praise are heard from the cliffs of the north, and the isles of the south; from the shores of the east, and the wilderness of the west; when whole villages of Asia are seen subverting their idol temples, and tribes of Africa are heard calling out for "good men and good books;" when the power and efficacy of Christian truth are witnessed in the renovated lives and happy deaths of many a Pagan Disciple [* See Appendix F.] when from the dying lips of a Karaimoku, a Keopuolani, a Catherine Brown, there are heard almost at this moment, the accents of Christian peace and hope; is this not a time? When in God's name will be the time? Are we to wait till more generations shall have descended into eternity? Are we to wait till God, wearied with our sloth, shall work some miracle to reproach our unbelief, and supersede our labours? [19/20] Are we to wait, till in literal truth, an angel of Heaven shall come forth; come to perform our duty; come to publish in our stead, the everlasting gospel unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation and kindred, and tongue and people! Shall we? No! while we have opportunity, let us do good--let us do good unto all men. Now is the time, the accepted time! Ships are freighting for every idolatrous land; access is opening to every wandering and benighted horde--they wait, perhaps they long for our arrival; time presses--eternity is at hand; and soon we who can give, and they who might have received, shall stand together at the judgment seat of Christ. Yea, brethren, the time is come; the set time to have mercy upon the Heathen.
Say not that we forget the wants of our own country, of our own church. We forget them not. We know that they are great; that, if you will, they are paramount. We see them pressing up for relief from every quarter. We forget not, that an eventful moral experiment--an experiment involving not only our national destiny, but the destiny perhaps of other nations, is here in progress; that among us there has been committed, for the first time, to private benevolence, the task of christianizing a great and evergrowing people. We do not overlook the difficulty of this task, nor deny that it has hitherto been grossly neglected! We often compare the extension of population with the extension of religious means; and contemplate the appalling fact, that the latter is greatly outstripped by the [20/21] former! In one word, that since the formation of our government the cause of Christianity has really declined among us; that so great is the disparity between its advance and the advance of population, that it has lost more than one third of its entire relative strength; that at this moment, and in this land, the asylum of conscience and the ark of civil freedom, there are destitute of the means of grace, not less than 4,000,000 of souls, on whose virtue depend alike the welfare and the being of our republic; and, that at this rate, but sixty years need elapse before two thirds of our whole population will be found living without Christian instruction and dying without Christian hope! These are facts which we do not deny; which we plainly see; and as we see them, we confess that our hearts do tremble for our country--for the ark of God! [* See Appendix H.]
But what then? Because our brethren after the flesh have claims, does it follow that the Pagan has none? Because one creditor is pressing, must the rights of another be forgotten? Paul was a debtor to the Greeks; but did he on that account forget that to the Barbarians, he was a debtor also? Our countrymen are suffering a famine of the word of God; but does that diminish the necessities of the Heathen? Still they frequent the altars of a cruel superstition; still to the number of 500,000,000, they pine under a bondage direr than was that of Egypt; a bondage too, from which we alone can rescue them! Who then shall say, "there are wants at home--I can send nothing abroad."--[21/22] Let the one be done; but let not the other be left undone. Pour the radiance of the gospel on the dark places of your Republic; but remembering that without its borders there are places yet more dark; remembering that it was for their illumination also, that this gospel was confided to your care; on them also, let that radiance be poured. Nor wait ere you do this, to see its last triumphs at home! Before then, centuries may elapse. Imitate rather the example of the Apostles. Go first to the lost sheep of the house of Israel: and when they have received the invitation of Mercy, then, whether they hear or whether they forbear, hasten onwards. If, like the chosen people of old they put it from them; if they listen to it only with dull and insensate hearts, then turn ye to the Gentiles. Leave behind you Bibles to instruct, ministers to exhort; and your charity having thus begun at home, let it continue and increase, and advance. Its efforts are to be bounded only by your ability--by the spiritual exigencies of mankind. The field is the world. Youmay not gather in a full harvest from one part of this field when the seed is not even sown in another! It must whiten together unto the harvest.--You may not introduce the millenium into one nation, when in another the slightest preparation for it has not been made! The intercourse subsisting between them, must forever forbid this.--If you would indeed accelerate the approach of that blest era, you must do as did the first Missionaries of the cross. Having planted the church in one [22/23] place, you must hasten to another. Having made a lodgment in the enemies' country, you must plant at favorable points your fortresses, and leave them to complete the conquest! Your labours must be extended, and extended, and extended, till missionary stations shall twinkle as radiant points over all the expanse of Pagan darkness. Then may you look for the second advent of the Sun of righteousness. From these stations shall emanate a light waxing brighter and brighter. Fed by Christian zeal and fanned by Christian prayers, they shall burn with an intenser heat; they shall diffuse a more resplendent lustre, until at length the millenial day shall dawn, and over all the earth at once, shall the glory of the Lord arise.
Brethren, did we not pity the Heathen--did we consider only the weal of the church at home, we should still do this! It is not to be denied that the wants of this church, pressing though they be, are unsupplied. It is not to be denied that Episcopalians, with wealth enough, and talent enough, and I trust, liberality enough, still leave their Zion to languish and mourn. And why is this? Why, but because the spirit of Christian beneficence has not been duly awakened? Why, but because the hearts of our men of wealth have not been opened and enlarged? Why, but because our youth and our matrons have not been taught the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said--it is more blessed to give than to receive?--But how shall this lesson be taught? How shall the understandings of our people [23/24] be roused to a perception of the greatness of this emergency? How shall their hearts be touched with an adequate sense of its claims, and their hands opened to supply them? My friends, had you a selfish child; a child, whose sensibilities seemed extinct or locked in torpid and death-like slumber, you would be at no loss for an expedient to awaken them! You would take that child to some spot where there was the most affecting exhibition of suffering: suffering in which was combined all that is best fitted to move a young and thoughtless heart. The spectacle which you would select would be one in which the nature of the suffering was evident; its causes most intelligible and the means of its relief most palpable. You would bid him look on the heart-rending detail, and you would feel that if one spark of humanity, of benevolence, slumbered in his bosom, it must be kindled there. Do the same in the case before you. Take these minds, so heedless of the spiritual wants of their own countrymen, and open before them the wants of the Pagan! Show them man's condition when forsaken of all pure religion and left to grovel in absolute polytheism. Show them his intellect degraded; his heart embruted; his life the prey of fierce and tormenting passions, and his death a scene of unbroken darkness and dismay! Think you not that they will feel?--Then show them the gospel entering this den of darkness and pollution! Show them how beneath its influence the intellect is ennobled; the heart purified; woman reinstated in her rightful rank; [24/25] and the domestic circle made to bud and bloom with all the charities of life; and think you not that their estimate of this gospel will rise? Think you not that an irresistible impulse to dispense to these benighted and distant lands, blessings so glorious, will seize their hearts? And when it has seized them; when this impulse has taken full possession of the soul, think you that it will be directed only to distant lands? While brooding over the sufferings of the Idolator, shall these hearts look with cold--with reluctant eye on the necessities of kinsmen and friends? Believe it who can!
In calling then, upon my friends, my fellow-churchmen, to come forth and enlist in this enterprise, I appeal not merely to their love of Christ; I appeal not merely to their love of those for whom Christ died. I appeal to their love of self; to their love of their own church. Do they venerate that Zion, within whose pale their lines have fallen? Do they daily pray to Heaven that prosperity may be within her palaces? Would they labour and toil to make her the joy and praise of the whole earth? Let them supplicate--let them excite--let them foster the spirit of missions! Duty apart; if they look not with peculiar sympathy upon its objects; if they doubt whether the gospel enjoins it; if they regard as more important, the extension of their religion at home; still, I say, let them cherish the spirit of missions! It is the power which shall give impulse and momentum to this domestic religion. The bread which they cast upon the waters shall not go forth simply to bless other lands. [25/26] Ere long it shall return, infusing life and energy into the very vitals of their church. Never was there a greater error, than to suppose that this spirit is hostile to the domestic interests of our Zion. Hostile, my friends? is not charity twice blessed? Does it not bless them who give, as well as them who take? Is it not said, that to them who lend to the Lord, it shall be repaid even in this life, an hundred fold? And suppose we, that this promise extends not to this great charity? No; send forth our missionaries; levy contributions on every, the feeblest of our churches; excite them to feel; let their prayers and alms ascend in one cloud before the throne; and if there be truth, I say not in the Bible; but if there be truth in the nature of man, there shall come back a shower of blessings to fertilize and make glad this city of our God.
When--fathers, brethren; when shall we awake to this momentous truth? Denominations around us recognise it, and the effect is seen in their rapid extension; their consolidating strength. The effect is seen in their fraternal zeal; their concentrated action; their noble and generous benefactions. When then, shall we emulate their example? When shall this church of our affections; this church with her primitive institutions; her sublime and pathetic Liturgy; her simple, but majestic ceremonies, rise and gird herself with strength, and go forth conquering and to conquer? When shall she feel in all its emphasis that the vows of God are upon her; that it behooves her to come behind in no enterprise of love; [26/27] and that in those movements now making, for the renovation of the world, her place is in the very van. Yes, the day--Lord, let it come quickly; the day when she shall shake herself from the dust, and renew her strength as eagles, and run and not be weary; when her sons with hearts knit together as the heart of one man, shall gather round the standard of the cross, and going forth to the ends of the earth, shall convey thither peace as a river, and the glory of redemption as a flowing stream; when, I ask, shall that day arrive? Let it but come; let us but once see its light; and if we mistake not, there are signs of its approach--let us but once behold its glory: and we do believe that this glory is not distant,--Let us but once gaze upon its brightness; and if we misinterpret not the events of this day, [*The board had just closed an annual meeting, distinguished by uncommon zeal and unanimity.] it is just bursting upon us--and then--Lord, let thy servants depart in peace; for their eyes will have seen thy salvation!
To those who have not maturely considered the claims of Foreign Missions, the author would respectfully submit the following facts and observations. They are not new, but as they illustrate certain positions taken in the Discourse, he would ask for them a candid and devout examination.
An unfortunate distinction is often made between doing justice and doing good, as if the obligation of the one were peremptory, and that of the other optional; as if it were necessary to be honest, but a matter of free choice whether we should be charitable. It is true, that "a man should be just before he is generous," for the obvious reason, that he has no right to be generous with what is not his own. But if by this adage it is meant that to be just is sufficient, and that to be generous is a matter of supererogation, nothing can be more unfounded. These two classes of duty have ultimately the same basis, the will of God. If he commands us to "render to all their due," so does he command us to be "kind one to another;" and no one, therefore, who admits that God has a right to dictate, can doubt that according to his ability he is bound to "do good to all men as he has opportunity."
B. The social and moral condition of Pagans.
A gentleman, resident for several years in India, informs me that within half a mile of his own dwelling, he could, at almost any moment, have found living exemplifications of all the crimes [28/29] enumerated, Rom. i. 21-32, iii. 10-20. And to the same effect is the testimony of all impartial observers.
Says Governor Holwell, for some time Governor General of India, and no friend of christianizing its population, "the Gentoos, in general, are as dangerous and wicked a people as any race of people in the known world, if not eminently more so, especially the common run of Brahmins. We can truly aver, that during almost five years that we presided in the judicial cutcherry Court of Calcutta, never any murder or other atrocious crime was committed, but it was proved in the end that a Brahmin was at the bottom of it."
Says Lord Clive, also at one time Governor of India; "The inhabitants of this country, we know by long experience, have no attachment to any obligation."--See Chr. Observer, Vol. XI. p. 263.
Says Lord Teignmouth, speaking of the same people, "Individuals have little sense of honour, and the nation is wholly void of public virtue. To lie, steal, plunder, ravish or murder, are not deemed sufficient crimes to merit expulsion from society."--See Parliamentary Proceedings against Mr. Hastings, Appendix to Vol. II.
Says Sir James Mackintosh, in a charge which he made to the Grand Jury of Bombay, in 1803, "If I had not come to India, I could not have credited the depravity which I find to be prevalent among the natives"--and in the report of a case tried before him at the same place, where it appeared that a female witness had been detected in committing perjury, it is stated, that being asked whether she did not deem such an offence to be extremely enormous, she answered, that "she understood that the English so regarded it, but that it was thought nothing of in her country."--See Asiatic Register for 1805.
Says the Abbe Dubois, an enemy to Missions, "sincere mutual friendship is rarely to be found in Hindoo families,"--"Women are regarded as slaves, and treated on all occasions with severity and contempt. Parental authority is but little respected,"--"Hindoo children fear their father while they are young, from dread of being beaten--but from their tenderest years they use bad language to their mother, and strike her, even without any apprehension, and when they are grown up, the father himself is no longer respected. As they grow up, incontinence and its attendant vices increase with them; indeed the greater part of their institutions, religious and civil, appear to be contrived for the very purpose of nourishing and stimulating the lowest passions of our nature. The stories of the dissolute life of their gods, the abominable allusions which many of their daily practices always recall, their public and private monuments, on which nothing is ever represented but the most wanton obscenity; their religious rites, in which [29/30] prostitutes act the principal parts; all these causes, and others that might be named, necessarily introduce among the Hindoos the utmost dissoluteness of manners."--See Dubois "Description, &c." Vol. I. p. 209, 265-6, 206-7.
"It is nothing uncommon," says the same author, "to see a man taking vengeance for an offence offered many years before to his father, or his grandfather." "The feelings of pity, as far as respects the sufferings of others, never enter into his heart, (a Brahmin's)--He will see an unhappy being perish on the road, or even at his own gate, if he belong to another caste, and will not stir to give him a drop of water, though it were to save his life.—See Dubois, Vol. I. p. 264-274.
For the estimation in which woman is held, even by their sacred books, read the following, as laid down in The Institutions of Menu. "Women," he says, "possess six qualities--first, an inordinate desire for finery--second, immoderate lust--third, violent anger--fourth, deep resentment--fifth, malignant envy--sixth, irregular, vicious conduct." Bernier, one of the earlier travellers in India, affirms, (and his accounts are corroborated by modern writers,) that at the suttees or immolations of women on the funeral pile of their husbands, of which there are now not less than ten thousand cases annually, the widow, instead of devoting herself voluntarily, as is often said, is goaded to it by the dread of scorn and misery; that if on approaching the pile, she wishes to withdraw the consent she has given, she is not allowed to do so; that she is often actually bound down upon the pile, and that in other cases, Brahmins may be seen forcing her to ascend it, and pushing her into the mass of flame with long poles, while her agonizing shrieks are drowned by the noise of drums, and the savage shouts of the surrounding multitude. He adds too, that these sacrifices are made with none of the solemnity which we might expect to accompany a religious rite. Indecent mirth and levity, are its constant accompaniments, and the nearest relations of the sufferer--the very sort, who with his own hand kindles the pits, are seen talking with gaiety and unconcern.--See Voyages de Bernier, also Chris. Obs. Vol. XII p. 422, 491.
We may be allowed to quote one or two remarks from Bishop Heber. "The religion of the Hindoos," says he, "is indeed a horrible one, far more so than I had conceived; it gives them no moral precepts; it encourages them in vice by the style of its ceremonies, and the character given of its deities; and by the institutions of caste, it hardens their hearts against each other to a degree which is often most revolting. A traveller falls down sick in the streets of a village, (I am mentioning a fact which happened ten days ago,) nobody knows what caste he is of, therefore, nobody goes near him lest they should become polluted; he wastes to death before the eyes of a whole community, unless the jackalls [30/31] take courage from his helpless state to finish him a little sooner; and perhaps, as happened in the case to which I allude, the children are allowed to pelt him with stones and mud. The man of whom I am speaking, was found in this state, and taken care of by a passing European; but if he had died, his skeleton would have lain in the streets till the vultures carried it away; or the magistrates ordered it to be thrown into the river. A friend of mine, some months ago, found a miserable wretch, a groom, out of employ, who had crept, sick of a dysentery, into his court yard. He had there remained in a corner on the pavement, two days and nights; perhaps twenty servants had been eating their meals daily, within six yards of him, yet none had relieved him, none had so much as carried him into the shelter of one of the outhouses, nor had any taken the trouble to tell their master. When reproved for this, their answer was, "He was not our kinsman;" "Whose business was it?" "How did we know that the sahib would like to be troubled?" Again he says, "The magistrates and lawyers all agree, that in no country are lying and perjury so common and so little regarded. Notwithstanding the apparent mildness of their manners, the criminal calendar is generally filled with gang-robberies, &c. &c. and the number of children who are decoyed aside and murdered for the sake of their ornaments, Lord Amherst assures me is dreadful. Besides this, in one province, "pride, poverty, and avarice, are in league to destroy the greater part of the female infants. It is a disgrace for a noble family to have a daughter unmarried, and still worse to marry her to a person of inferior birth, while they have neither the means nor the inclination to pay such portions as a person of their own rank would expect to receive from them! On the other hand, the sacrifice of a child, is believed, surely, with truth, to be acceptable to the "evil powers;" and the fact is certain, that though the highborn Rajpoots have many sons, very few daughters are ever found in their palaces." "Through the influence of Major Walker, many infants were spared, but since his time, things have gone on very much in the old train; and the answer made by the chiefs to any remonstrances of the British officers is, "Pay our daughters' marriage portion and they shall live." Yet these very men, rather than strike a cow, would submit to the cruellest martyrdom. Never may my dear wife and daughters forget how much their sex is indebted to Christianity!" "Still," he says, in another place, "of the natural disposition of the Hindoo, I see abundant reason to think highly. All that is bad about them appears to arise either from the defective motives which their religion supplies, or the wicked actions which it records of their gods, or encourages in their own practice. Yet it is strange to see, though, this is generally allowed, how slow men are to admit the advantage or necessity [31/32] of propagating Christianity among them.--See Heber's Travels, Vol. 1. p. 236--Vol. 2. p. 69, 235, 240.
2. Of the Sandwich Islands, (and to the Society Islands the same remarks would have applied,) Mr. Stewart, the intelligent and accomplished Missionary writes, "Scarce a day passes in which we are not most painfully reminded that we dwell among the habitations of cruelty. We have been much grieved this evening by seeing the attendants of the young prince stoning a lunatic on the beach. It is the customary way of treating such objects throughout the Islands, and the manner in which they here, usually, terminate a wretched existence. Kaikioeva sent a messenger to reprove them, and bid them desist from their inhuman sport, not, however, till by the barbarous practice, the poor creature was much bruised and lamed. The afflicted and the deformed of every class are objects of ridicule and contempt, if not, as in this case, of persecution. The helpless and dependent, whether from age or sickness, are often cast from the habitations of their relatives and friends, to languish and to die unattended and unpitied. An instance recently came to our knowledge, in which a poor wretch thus perished within sight of our dwelling, after having lain uncovered for days and nights in the open air, most of the time pleading in vain to his family, still within the hearing of his voice, for a drink of water. And when he was dead, his body, instead of being buried, was merely drawn so far into the rushes, as to prevent the offence that would have arisen from the corpse, and left a prey to the dogs who prowl through the district in the night!
But the truth of the Apostle's description of the heathen, that they are without natural affection, implacable, and unmerciful, is found most fully here in the prevalence of the abhorrent and tremendous crime of infanticide. We have the clearest proof, that in those parts of the Islands where the influence of the Mission has not yet extended, two thirds of the infants born, perish by the hands of their own parents before attaining the first or second year of their age. The very period, when the infant of a christian mother is to her the object of intense solicitude, and of the deepest anxiety--in times of sickness, suffering, and distress, times at which the affections of the parental bosom are brought into the most painful exercise, are those when the mother here, feels that in her child she has a care and a trouble which she will not endure; and instead of searching into the causes of its sorrow or attempting to alleviate its pains, she stifles its cries a moment with her hand--hurries it into a grave already prepared for it, and tramples to a level the earth, under which the offspring of her bosom is struggling in the agonies of death! As I see, and hear, and learn all the abominations and cruelties of a heathen land, my soul often [32/33] melts within me, and I cannot but think how little a majority of the inhabitants of Christian countries are aware of the extent of their obligations to the gospel, for many of the domestic and social blessings they prize most dearly. Happy indeed is the people whose God is the Lord!
And again, "The whole race are subject, from ignorance and superstition, to a bondage of terror. Not only do the eclipse and the earthquake, the bursting of a thunderbolt, and the eruptions of a volcano, fill them with apprehension and dismay; but to them, the darkness of the night is the covert of demons going about "seeking what they may devour;" and the least unusual sound that breaks upon its silence, is interpreted into the prowlings of spirits ready to destroy. As the wind has sighed through the tops of the cocoa-nut tree in the silence of the night, or the sounds of the surf breaking on the reef have bellowed along the shore, I have seen fears gathering on the faces of the natives of our household, while with troubled and inquisitive look and half suppressed breath, they have exclaimed, "a god--an evil god"--and the simple and plaintive notes of an Eolian harp, fixed in the window of the Mission house at Oahu, had such an effect on the mind of an Islander belonging to the establishment, although the cause of the sounds had been explained to him, that it was necessary to remove the instrument, because he could not sleep!
"Jan. 16, 1824.--Last night there was a beautiful and almost total eclipse of the moon. We had just retired to rest, when an alarm was given by the natives. Loud and lamentable wailings were heard in various directions, while the half suppressed and plaintive murmurings of those who with hurried footsteps passed to and fro, gave indications of something new and melancholy. Hearing a voice in our yard, I inquired the cause of the agitation, and was answered, that "the people thought the king was dead, because the moon was dark." Considerable numbers had gathered round our fence; we heard nothing but the exclamations, "the moon is sick, very sick,"--"an evil moon--evil indeed,"--"the gods are eating the moon,"--uttered in tones of deep anxiety and distress. All agreed in considering it an omen of great calamity to the nation. The king had died at sea, or would soon die--or the prince, princess, one of the queens," (polygamy was universal) "or some member of the royal family would soon die--for the moon had formerly appeared just so before the death of several great chiefs! The whole circumstance forcibly brought to mind the appropriate and prophetic lines,
"They dread thy glittering tokens Lord,
When signs in heaven appear;
But they shall learn thy holy word,
And love as well as fear."
[See Stewart's Journal, p. 184, 197--Also Turnbull's "Voyage round the World in the years 1800, 1, 2, 3 & 4."]
 3. Of the Aborigines of our own continent, Dr. Rush declares on the authority of such travellers as Charlevoix, Henneper, Carver, &c. that uncleanness, treachery, cruelty, and drunkenness, are almost universal among them.--See Rush's Essays, p. 257.
To the same effect are the following testimonies of a late writer, who enjoyed the most ample opportunities of learning their customs. As traits common to the Western Indians, he mentions among others, that,--"As persons of either sex approach the state of superannuation, the respect of their family and acquaintance is withdrawn from them, and they are finally regarded as useless burdens upon the community, and subjected to the uncensured pranks and ridicule of the young. When the aged become helpless on a march, and the transporting of them is attended with difficulty, they are abandoned to their fate." Again, "Falsehood and fraud are extremely common among them; and as to stealing, they even pray that they may be made expert in it; boast of their success in it when recounting their exploits, and expect to be rewarded for it in a future world. The general idea among them is, that he who is brave and who provides for his family and friends, though he steal, and murder to effect it, is a good man. Giving the name of enemies to those they wish to injure, justifies them in every act, even of the most enormous kind. They are generally friends or enemies as they view it for their interest. For instance, if to-day you give them presents, they are your friends; but if they think they can procure more, and discover any prospect of escaping with impunity, they will to-morrow plunder and murder you." And again, "Their reluctance to forgive an injury, is proverbial. Injuries are revenged by the injured, and blood for blood is always demanded if the deceased has friends who dare to retaliate upon the destroyer. Their desire of revenge is not always extinguished with the life of the offended individual, but sometime descends as an inheritance to his posterity, and quarrels are settled long after the parties immediately concerned have become extinct.--See James' Account of Major Long's Expedition, Vol. I. pp. 257, 238, 240, 155, 288, 317--Vol. II p. 371.
C. (See p. 13.) Spiritual condition of Pagans.
The evidence here alluded to is incidental rather than direct. In addition to what is detailed in the preceding note, the following facts may be mentioned:--Travellers give us no account of individual Pagans who are pious, while their pictures of the mass are pictures of frightful depravity!--Gentlemen with whom I have conversed, and who have resided in some cases for years in [34/35] heathen countries, concur with a single exception, in asserting that they have known no idolater who could be considered, strictly conscientious. In the case which is referred to as an exception, the gentleman had known one such individual, and but one.--Mr. Ward, so many years a missionary in India, declares, (Letters, p. 37) "Amidst a pretty large acquaintance with the heathen in India, I have never seen one man who appeared to fear God and work righteousness." And the researches of modern missionaries throughout the world are said to have discovered not more than five or six! We conclude then, that while every nation may have its Nathaniel or Cornelius, these are but exceptions; and that of Pagans generally, it may be said, that they are wilfully depraved, and obstinately impenitent.
We say wilfully depraved--forwe deem it idle to suppose that the heathen have no sense of moral obligation, and therefore incur no guilt by disregarding it. How is it, if they have no sense of moral obligation, that they have established rules of duty, and that when these rules are violated to their personal detriment, they are so quick to perceive and resent the injury? How is it, that Paul can say of the Gentiles, that "having not the law they are a law unto themselves,"--and that "the invisible things of God, even his eternal power and Godhead, from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, so that they are without excuse! Yes, the Pagan's guilt, is wilful, and hence, his prospects, unless enlightened by the gospel, are "without hope." And can it be, that for men in such a condition we have no bowels of compassion--that we will make no effort for their relief--And yet do we profess and call ourselves Christians! "Nowwhile Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred within him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry!"
D. Aggressions committed by Christian nations on the rights and happiness of Pagans.
This subject is too familiar to need illustration--A single case may be given as a specimen:--"When Capt. Cook visited the (Sandwich) Islands," says an able writer, "he found them unusually productive. Every description of food which they yielded was brought to the ships, by order of the chiefs, with a profusion which excited his continued surprise. During a .period, of three months, the crews of both ships ate and wasted as much food as they wished, they salted great quantities for their subsequent voyage, and it was not all consumed when they arrived in Europe."
"The whole group also seemed exceedingly well peopled. Tauai, that which was first discovered, is only thirty-three miles long, [35/36] and twenty-eight broad, containing about five hundred and twenty square miles, and yet he computes its inhabitants at thirty thousand. From the data which he assumed, this would not seem to have been above the truth.
"The dispositions of the natives towards strangers, were in general peaceful and inoffensive. The affray in which Captain Cook was killed, deserves scarcely to be mentioned as an exception to this remark. It was the result of a momentary excitement, under very considerable provocations, and might have happened in any harbour of Christendom.
"With regard to their moral character, not so much can be said. Infanticide was not considered as a crime. Human sacrifices were very common. Before the commencement of a war, at the sickness or death of a chief, and we know not on how many other occasions, from one to ten victims were sacrificed. "Every appearance induced the Commodore to believe that this inhuman practice was very general here. [* Cook's Voyages, 8 vo. vol. 2d, p. 142.]
"In all that respects the domestic relations, their moral character was as deplorable as can well be imagined. The connubial tie was dissolved at pleasure, if indeed any thing deserving of that name existed. Marriages between persons of the nearest blood relation are still common.
" Taumu-arii or king Tamoru, as he is commonly called, and his son, were both, and at the same time, husbands to one of the widows of Tameha-meha. Captain Cook remarks of the females, that "they could scarcely be prevented from coming on board, and they were less reserved than any women we had ever seen.
"Such was the moral condition of these savages, when they were first visited by about one hundred and eighty individuals, of a Christian nation. It surely is not impertinent or unreasonable to inquire what was the result of this visit, and what benefits were conferred upon these unenlightened but hospitable heathen, by the representatives of the most intelligent and virtuous people in Christendom. What efforts were made to do away the horrid rites of human sacrifices? What was done to check the licentiousness which every where prevailed? What was said to teach them that their religious notions were absurd and abominable? In what arts of civilization were they instructed? In a word, in what single respect were they made wiser, or happier, or better, by the residence, during three or four months, of so many men, so much, at least in intellectual cultivation, their acknowledged superiors?
 "The present age will not wonder, but we hope that an age is coming which will not only wonder, but weep to hear, that to all these questions the answer is nothing, absolutely nothing. So far from attempting to do away human sacrifices, Captain Cook himself was present, once at least, during this ceremony, quietly looking on. Instead of teaching them a better religion, he suffered them to offer him solemn, and as far as they knew, divine homage, thus giving his highest sanction to their abominable rites. In the place of inculcating purity, there is no reason to doubt, that the whole crews were surrendered up to a license as debasing and shameless as that of the savages themselves. In fine, we look in vain throughout the whole of Captain Cook's narrative, for the remotest indication that, either by officer or by crew, a single mechanical art was taught to the healthy, or a single medicine exhibited to the sick. Nay, not only was this not done; we have no manner of evidence that it was ever thought of. All that these Christians did, was to go and look on.
"We have seen what the first Europeans did not do for the Sandwich Islands. If it be asked, what they actually did for them, truth compels us to answer, that, setting aside the efforts which missionaries have made for their benefit, it has rarely, in the history of our species, occurred, that one man has been the means of entailing upon a numerous and unoffending people, so grievous and aggravated a curse, as was entailed by Captain Cook, upon these very Islanders. A part of this mischief was the direct consequence of his visit; the rest, the indirect result of his discovery.
"We have mentioned the universal licentiousness of the crews of the discovery ships. The consequence of this licentiousness, was the introduction of a disease among the natives, the peculiar shame of civilization, which, with its train of horrid concomitants, has ever since been sending them by hundreds to the grave, and with which thousands are at this moment languishing in almost every island in the group.
"This was the effect of a single visit. But Captain Cook pointed out their location to the world, and they soon became to ships traversing the North Pacific, a place of general resort for undergoing repair, for obtaining water and other refreshments. As many as one hundred vessels, in a single year, have entered the harbour of Honoruru. The effects of this intercourse we will now briefly consider.
"To go into particulars, will not however be necessary. We have already alluded to the licentious manners of the natives. We have only to consider that these islands are separated by a voyage of twelve thousand and eighty miles from the civilized world; that there the restraints of society had not the shadow of [37/38] existence; that every one who went there, was bound by a sort of professional obligation to keep the secrets of his associates; and also let us remember what are the habits of our seamen in our own ports, under all the restraints of society, and every one may form for himself a tolerably accurate estimate of what was, for many years the standard of their morality. They were a public brothel for every vessel that floated on the bosom of the Pacific. They were the resort of men, whose vice was too flagrant to be endured by respectable connexions in a civilized land. They had become a nuisance to the world. Virtue, which had successfully resisted the allurements of vice in Great Britain and America, here generally yielded to the torrent of overwhelming debauchery.
The taste for ardent spirits was early introduced, and both sedulously and successfully cherished. The chiefs became universally intemperate, and when intoxicated, were in the habit of giving away to the most shocking excesses. The reason of this was twofold. In the first place, when once a love for intoxicating liquor has been created, it may be sold for almost any price; and secondly, it has been found by the experience of many an Indian treaty, that when savages engage in traffic with civilized men, alcohol is an all-prevalent promoter of those bargains, in which the "reciprocity is all on one side." But the Islanders were not left to the uncertainty of supply from abroad. A few of the patriots from Botany Bay, having learnt that there was one country on the face of the earth where law need not be dreaded, found the means of escaping thither, and taught these savages the art of distillation.
"The effects of all this may be very easily conceived. Poverty and infanticide and incurable and infectious disease, made fearful havoc among the people. The Island of Tau-ai was computed by Captain Cook to contain thirty thousand inhabitants; now it does not number more than ten thousand. It is probably that a diminution in something like the same proportion, has taken place in the other Islands. Kaahumanu, the present regent, declared it as her opinion, that the population of the Islands had diminished three fourths since Captain Cook's visit. The people were affirmed by Captain Cook to be neat and cleanly in their habitations; now they are, by the acknowledgement of all, most deplorably filthy. When first visited their food of every kind was in amazing abundance; now, articles of provision are sold at a price so high as to be a cause of general complaint; so high, indeed, that the missionaries themselves, have frequently been obliged to subsist for a considerable time together, on salt beef and pork, brought from America, and sea biscuit two or three years old, because they did not feel themselves at liberty to purchase fresh provisions and vegetables at the price demanded by the chiefs."--See Amer. Quar. Rev. No. VI. Art. 3.
E. F. G. The present an era peculiarly propitious to Missions.
Peculiarly propitious, because--
1. The facilities for extending them, were at no former period so great:--"Should any be disposed," says a distinguished writer, to insist that our advantages for evangelizing the world, are not to be compared with those of the apostolic age, let them reverse the scene, and roll back the wheels of time, and obliterate the improvements in science and commerce and arts, which now facilitate the spread of the Gospel. Let them throw into darkness all the known portions of the earth, which was then unknown. Let them throw into distance the propinquity of nations; and exchange their rapid intercourse for cheerless, insulated existence. Let the magnetic power be forgotten, and the timid navigator creep along the coasts of the Mediterranean, and tremble and cling to the shore when he looks out upon the loud waves of the Atlantic. Inspire idolatry with the vigor of meridian manhood, and arm in its defence, and against Christianity, all the civilization, and science, and mental power of the world. Give back to the implacable Jew his inveterate unbelief, and his vantage ground, and disposition to oppose Christianity in every place of his dispersion, from Jerusalem to every extremity of the Roman Empire. Blot out the means of extending knowledge, and exerting influence upon the human mind. Destroy the Lancasterian system of instruction, and throw back the mass of men into a state of unreading, unreflecting ignorance. Blot out libraries, and tracts; abolish Bible and Education and Tract and Missionary Societies; and send the nations for knowledge to parchment, and the slow and limited productions of the pen. Let all the improvements in civil government be obliterated, and the world be driven from the happy arts of self government to the guardianship of dungeons and chains. Let liberty of conscience expire, and the church, now emancipated and walking forth in her unsullied loveliness, return to the guidance of secular policy, and the perversions and corruptions of an unholy priesthood. And now reduce the 200,000,000 of nominal, and the 10,000,000 of real Christians, spread over the earth, to 500 disciples, and to twelve Apostles, assembled, for fear of the Jews, in an upper chamber, to enjoy the blessings of a secret prayer-meeting; and give them the power of miracles, and the gift of tongues, and send them out into all the earth to preach the Gospel to every creature!"
2. Because idolatry was never more feeble:--Thereligion of the Romans, with which the Apostles had to contend, was strongly imbedded in the passions, prospects, and general influence of [39/40] the government and nobility. The noble might be at once a Priest, and an incumbent of the highest civil offices. This circumstance, together with the numbers, the accurate subordination, and the immense political influence of the Hierarchy, gave it a consideration in the eyes of the state altogether unparalleled, and arrayed, in its support, an amount of secular power, unknown in any other instance.
Now compare with this, the idolatry at present existing; an idolatry to which the votaries seem attached by few, if any ties of interest, and which in many instances, they are found willing to relinquish the moment that fashion or caprice suggests. Witness, for example, the Society and Sandwich Islands. Witness Africa, where entire tribes are requesting Christian missionaries to be sent among them; (see Afric. Repos.) Witness even the south of India, where, notwithstanding all that has been said of the impossibility of converting Hindoos, whole villages are seen renouncing idolatry, and assembling on the Lord's day for Christian worship; witness, indeed, the whole history of Hindostan. "Its Mahommedan Conquerors," says Mr. Douglass, "have left behind them abundant traces of the possibility of changing the faith of Hindoos." And farther, "Their religion has frequently changed, without any foreign impulsion. The early worship of the elements, has yielded to the complexity of the Brahminical Polytheism. Polytheism, for a time, seemed to bend under the pantheism of the Buddhists, and then by a new revolution, regained its former ascendancy; even within that Polytheism itself rival sects are ever rising and decaying; and the slightest acquaintance either with the present or past state of the Hindoos, may show that the human mind with them has not changed its character, or lost its desire of change, and that if it is prone to error, it is also prone to novelty. See "the Advance of Society in Knowledge and Religion," pp. 257-260.
3. Because experiment has indicated the means, and given pledge of the certainty of success:--It is sometimes said, and with an air of triumph, that modern missions have failed--that nothing has been done. To this we might reply, that even had no converts to Christianity been made, it would not follow that nothing has been done. In every enterprise, time must be consumed in acquiring knowledge and experience, in ascertaining the difficulties to be encountered, and the best means of operation; and it will not be denied that in this respect at least, the missionary efforts of the last forty years have been useful. But have they been useful in no other respects? Has nothing as yet been done for the temporal, or spiritual welfare of Pagans? Have no converts been made? Let the reader consider the following facts; and then let him answer whether the enterprise of modern missions is a failure.
 Missionaries have made valuable accessions to geography, and natural science. Says the Geographical Society of Paris, (See American Quarterly Review, No. 6, p. 357.) "The minute account which the missionaries to the Sandwich Islands have published, respecting this grand phenomena, (the crater) the streams of lava, and the charges which have taken place, and also respecting the customs and traditions of the people, are equally new and interesting, and demand the acknowledgement of all who desire the advancement of geographical science."
They have reduced to system and provided with alphabets and written characters, the languages of several barbarous tribes.
They have translated, and are now translating the scriptures into about one hundred different Heathen languages.
They have collected into schools, and are now instructing in Literature and Religion, at least 190,000 Pagan children.
They have been the means of circulating in Heathen lands, more than two millions of Bibles, and several millions of tracts.
They have abolished human sacrifices, infanticide, polygamy, and their attendant vices and crimes, in numerous and extensive districts.
They have been the means of inducing, at least 300,000 persons to renounce idolatry, and adopt the usages of Christian, and civilized society.
They have admitted to Christian communion, at least 25,000 who profess to be sincere disciples of the Saviour.
They have been permitted to witness during the last moments of many of their converts, the most consoling evidence of piety.
H. Condition and prospects of Christianity in the United States.
In comparing the state of Religion at different periods, it will be understood, that we advert mainly to the provisions made for maintaining its public ministrations. In the confidence that there is no collision between the interests of domestic and foreign missions, and that what aids the one, will ultimately tend to aid the other, we submit the following particulars in confirmation of the statements made, p. 21
In 1768, the population of Massachusetts, was 200,000; that of all the United Colonies, about 2,225,000. In Massachusetts, (having one eighth of the whole population) there were 340 ministers of the gospel of different denominations, making, if we suppose other colonies as well supplied, 2,720 for the whole, i. e. one minister to about every 800 souls; but as this supposition is evidently erroneous, we will suppose the number of the clergy else where, in proportion to the population, to be to that in Massachusetts, [41/42] as 3 to 4; and then we have 2,040 for the whole, or one to something like 1,100 persons.
Now compare this state of things with what obtains at present. We have at this moment a population of about 12,800,000; and according to the latest returns, less than 8000 labouring ministers, or one minister to more than 1600 souls; so that the provisions for Christian instruction, are now to what they were in 1768, in the ratio of 11 to 16, or 2 to 3, indicating an actual decrease of one third--Farther, it is commonly reckoned that in the aggregate, one minister is equal to the care of not more than 1000 souls. At this rate, there are 4,800,000 people in the United States, totally destitute of ministers; and when we consider that in some places the clergy are more numerous than the above ratio would require, we shall see ample reason to conclude that the destitute amount to at least 5,000,000.
What would be the state of things half a century hence, were this decline to continue, we need not say! We are aware that for the few last years, the efforts of American Christians have been more proportioned to the wants of their country. But even now what are they? On referring to the latest returns, we find that in 1828, not more than 260 men were admitted to the sacred office,--of whom 112 were required to supply vacancies which had been occasioned during the same year, by death and otherwise,--leaving only 148 to supply the demand created by the increase of population. But this increase was at the rate of 1000 per day, or 365,000 for the whole year; so that 217,000, or three fifths of the whole have been left without any provisions for their moral religious instruction! What a fact for the contemplation of the Christian and the Patriot! (see Mein and Fleming's Ann. Reg. for 1768. Also, the very elaborate and valuable statistical Tables in Quar. Jour. of the Amer. Ed. Soc. Nos. 3, 4, 7, 8.)
I. Reflex action of Foreign upon Domestic Missions.
Among Episcopalians, there is at present no objection to foreign missions so common as that which may have been suggested by the preceding note. "If the wants of your own country are so great, why go abroad?" "Is it right to give to foreign lands what is so much needed by your own?" "Have not your fellow citizens, stronger claims than Pagans?" Now if these objections have force it must be upon the supposition that what is given to foreign missions, is so much abstracted from domestic missions. But we deny this. We venture to affirm, that instead of decreasing, such contributions actually tend to increase the fund for domestic purposes. [42/43] Would not reason intimate that sympathies which are alive to spiritual distress afar off, cannot be indifferent to that which is near? Would it not intimate still further, that in these distant distresses, there are means of arousing Christian sympathy, stronger than in any that exists at home? And should we not therefore conclude that with zeal for foreign missions will always be coupled zeal for domestic, and that without such zeal the cause in all its branches will be likely to languish? But what says experience! She presents us in the first place with the broad fact that those religious denominations most engaged in foreign missions, are the very denominations who give most liberally to objects of a domestic nature! She presents us with a second fact, not less decisive, viz. that these denominations never began to make such benefactions to objects at home, till after they had embarked in missions abroad! And again of individuals, she declares that there is no instance on record of one who has given munificently to these missions, who has not given with equal a greater munificence to the support and extension of Christianity in his own country! Instead then of assuming that these enterprises are at variance, why not rather assume that the one is the efficient auxiliary, if not in some cases the moving spring of the other!
But even were the fact otherwise; were it true that what is given to one object is at the expense of the other; it is plain that it need not be so. There is wealth enough among American Christians for both! To elicit contributions sufficient for all the purposes of domestic, as well as foreign missions, nothing is needed, but that we should feel more strongly that all the gold and silver are the Lord's; and here of course the question recurs whether to awaken such feelings, the prosecution of foreign missions is not a powerful--nay the most powerful auxiliary!
However we go farther, and maintain that whatever be the result, though it were inevitable that by supporting missionaries among the Heathen, less would be given for supporting them at home, we should not esteem it on that account wrong! We do not now insist upon the absolute tenor of that commission "to preach the gospel to every creature"--werest the question upon general considerations. In our private charities we practice upon the principle of distribution; we do not bestow all our alms on one object; we deem it greater mercy to relieve the urgent necessities of many than to supply the less pressing, though more numerous wants of a few. We deem this course best calculated too, to strengthen the benevolent principle in our own breast. Now why not apply the same rule to the charities of the church? Why exhaust her beneficence on a few, when so many are perishing for lack of knowledge? Why not to a certain extent, admit all to a share in her bounty? In our own land, there are surely none so [43/44] necessitous as the Heathen, and none therefore who will reap so material benefit from a given act of benevolence. While doing good then, especially to those of the household of faith, because they are especially dependent upon us; let us not forget that if we would relieve the greatest amount of misery, and kindle in our hearts the most fervid benevolence, we must also do good "to all men;" imitating Him who came and preached peace to them that were afar off, as well as to them that were nigh!