BEARINGS OF MODERN COMMERCE
Progress of Modern Missions
BISHOPS, CLERGY AND LAITY,
BOARD OF MISSIONS
PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCH
TRINITY CHURCH, NEW HAVEN
ON WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19, 1839.
BY REV. JOHN S. STONE, D. D.
IN the delivery of the following Sermon, several paragraphs were omitted on account of its more than ordinary length; and, in preparing it for the press, a few short sentences have been added, while a few others have been slightly modified; without, however, substantially affecting the sense of what was delivered. The body of the Sermon is presented without alteration.
The view taken of the subject is not, perhaps, a very common one; and it may be thought that the writer has dwelt too exclusively on the evils of modern commerce. But, when it is considered that he includes, in the term commerce, the whole system of intercourse by trade between man and man, whether by land or by sea; and especially when it is remembered that his object led him to view exclusively one side of the subject, to show the direct evils, and not the indirect good, which may have resulted from the operations of modern commerce; it is believed that no objection against the course pursued can, on this ground, be sustained.
 Should there be any points in the Sermon, to which the reader is not prepared at once to assent, it is hoped he will find satisfactory illustrations in the notes, which have been added by way of Appendix. These notes might have easily been extended to the bulk of an ordinary volume. They have been made as few and as concise as the nature of the case seemed to admit.
Boston, Aug. 24, 1839
ISAIAH lx. 9.
"SURELY THE ISLES SHALL WAIT FOR ME, AND THE SHIPS OF TARSHISH FIRST, TO BRING THY SONS FROM FAR THEIR SILVER AND THEIR GOLD WITH THEM, UNTO THE NAME OF THE LORD THY GOD, AND TO THE HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL, BECAUSE HE HATH GLORIFIED THEE."
THIS is a passage in one of the most glowing of all the prophetic descriptions of the ultimately universal spread of the Gospel through our world. It is from a prophesy, which foreshows, not only that every land shall be subjected to Christ, but also that "the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto him." In this great work of winning the world, commerce, it seems, is to take a conspicuous part. While "the isles" wait for Christ, "the ships of Tarshish" are to be "first" in bringing the sons of Zion from far, with their silver and their gold as an offering unto "the name of the Lord their God," and as consecrated means in the hands of Him, who hath steadfastly purposed to "glorify the house of his glory."
Among all the means used in converting the human race to Christ, commerce, no doubt, is to be one of the most important. Three fifths of the earth's surface are covered with waters: while the remaining fifths lie in the shape of two vast continents, and of innumerable isles,--the abodes of men, and the depositories of those treasures which God has given for the use of men. Between these, the great deep is a broad highway; and commerce, with her ships, the only system of intercommunication. Without commerce, neither science, nor art, neither civilization nor religion, [5/6] could spread beyond the boundaries of the land of their birth. All other agencies, not purely spiritual, are, when left to themselves, local. Commerce has the only created arm that can reach round the globe.
This, then, is the grand agent, which God has prepared for himself; and which he purposes to use in the work of gathering in the nations to Christ, and in collecting the gold and the silver, the redundant means, which that work demands. The connection of commerce with the spread of the Gospel, is, therefore, a thought full of interest. To its development, so far as the nature of the occasion, and the special object in view will admit, I now invite your attention. I restrict myself to the bearings of modern commerce on the progress of modern Missions; and, even in this view, shall find more than can be adequately surveyed in the short time allotted to our examination.
I. By modern commerce, I mean that, which has overspread the earth since the invention of the mariner's compass, and the consequent discovery, in 1492, of a new world; as distinguished from that ancient commerce, which, having no trusty guide, crept only along the shores, and explored only the inlets and interior waters of the old continent. This modern commerce is now the mightiest body of human power, that can be found in action on our world. From an unskilled infant, with little or nothing of experience, it has grown to a colossal giant, as dexterous in its skill, as it is resistless in its power. In the discovery and application of steam, it has impressed into its service nearly all the agencies of nature; and it wields them with all the certainty of science, and with all the efficiency of experience. With this subtle power it outstrips the wind upon the ocean, and almost copes in speed with the eagle on the land. With this viewless and resistless agent, it has opened the bowels of the earth, and penetrated the solitudes of the wilderness; and, in the results of agriculture, manufactures and mining, has made ancient lands pay new tribute to the main, and new regions unlock their before hidden treasures to its grasp.
I spread the definition of modern commerce over these operations on land, not because the text has special reference [6/7] to so broad a system, but because from the beginning, the system has been actuated by one spirit; because the whole body of the great business world has but one soul; and because commerce in her ships is but the grand carrier for commerce on her wheels.
This, then, is the commerce of which I speak; that which has been growing up in the world for the last 350 years. It is this, the bearings of which on modern missions we are now to examine; on modern missions as distinguished from ancient; as springing up at the same time, and operating through the same period, with that commerce, by which they have been affected.
This commerce, the word of God justifies us in believing, is at least a part of that, which is to be instrumental in the divine work of evangelizing mankind, in bringing all her Sons into the Church of Christ, and in furnishing for the Lord the silver and the gold, the mere human means, which his enterprise of mercy requires. Has this commerce thus far done the work, for which it has been raised up? Has it yet been God's handmaid in gathering the nations to Christ, or in carrying to them that Gospel of salvation, which teaches man to love the Lord his God with all his heart, and his neighbor as himself; to recompense to no man evil for evil, but rather to overcome evil with good; that Gospel, which is truth, and justice, and temperance--which is purity, and love, and peace, and which is intended to make earth like heaven, and man like God? Has commerce yet taken her destined part in doing this her destined work? For an answer, let us take as brief a survey as possible of her doings.
II. I begin by premising one thing. It is undoubtedly true that modern commerce has been the occasion of a great extension of the arts of civilization, and of the blessings of true religion. Within the last half century especially, her ships have wafted the true missionary of the Cross with the true Gospel of Christ, and with the elements of true Christian civilization, to almost every part of the earth. And in almost numberless ways, through the channels, which she [7/8] has opened, almost numberless blessings have been spread over the world. Walls of separation have been broken down; nations have been brought closer together; and the bonds of one universal brotherhood have begun to be woven around the one great family of man. But, then, all this has been but an incident to the system, not its main object, nor yet its main result. It has not grown out of the spirit and tendency of commerce, but has come to pass in spite of that spirit and tendency. Commerce has spread these blessings, just as war has spread them. The object of war is not to civilize and christianize, but to conquer and subdue. But, then, in its shock, refined nations sometimes mix with barbarous; and thus, even though in letters of blood, teach them lessons of a thousand things, which before they knew not. So it has been with commerce. The blessings, which she has carried, were not in her heart. They only followed unbidden in her train. They went, not by her, but with her, and often in spite of her. While, therefore, we must not be unmindful of the good, of which she has been the occasion, this good must not be suffered to blind us to her real character, and to her own proper works. To proceed, then, in our proposed examination.
Unfortunately, modern commerce awoke at a time when Christianity had been sleeping for a thousand years in the growing, thickening darkness of a spiritual night; a night, which, as usual, grew darker and darker till the very break of day. Amongst the monstrous things engendered in that night of darkness, was the grand usurpation of the papacy, by which it arrogated to itself the prerogative of Almighty God. "The Pope," to use the language of the historian Robertson, "as the vicar and representative of Jesus Christ, was supposed to have a right of dominion over all the kingdoms of the earth." Nor was this an unexercised right. For, immediately after the discovery of the new world, a mere "Italian priest boldly presumed to give away God's earth, as if he sate God's acknowledged vice-gerent. Splitting this mighty planet into two imaginary halves, he handed one to the Spanish, and the other to the Portuguese [8/9] monarch;" [* Howitt's Colonization and Christianity, p. 21; a work, to which the writer acknowledges his obligation for much information on the subject of this discourse.] thus pretending to convey to each a right to all the countries within their assigned limits, which they might discover, not already occupied by any Christian nation. And who were the people to whom this monstrous grant was made? A part of the millions of that old world which for thousands of years had been growing more and more dense in population, more and more dense in superstition, more and more dense in the vices and diseases of old and corrupt institutions. Lust of power, and lust of gold, having fed to fatness on the men and the wealth of Europe and of Asia, stood eager for new victims and new gratification, when this great western world was thrown open by the hand of discovery to the knowledge of mankind. And what was the character of this freshly discovered world? It was a paradise, swarming with untold millions of simple inhabitants, beautiful, confiding and noble in their simplicity. It was a vast storehouse, full of the natural wealth of silver and gold, and of the natural beauties and luxuries of a most bountiful soil.
1. Awakening at such a period, in view of such a prize, and with such a training at home, modern commerce became in her very first movements, and has ever since continued, a colonizing spirit. Her ships have visited the new-discovered world, not to communicate, in exchange for honestly acquired wealth, knowledge and civilization, peace and love, but to pour in colonies of foreigners; to take possession of whole countries in the name of an arrogant and distant usurper; and, under pretence of planting the cross, and of spreading a religion, of which they knew nothing but the name, to grasp at the whole incalculable mass of the treasures of the richest portion of the earth.
2. Under these circumstances, too, modern commerce soon became, and has ever since continued, a war-waging spirit. Having first, by cruel, exacting, and murderous measures, by [9/10] deceit and treachery, roused the simple natives of the West Indies to resistance, it opened on them those baying mouths of death, its musketry and its cannon, and drove wars of extermination through their beautiful isles; wasting whole races before the deep-skilled prowess of tyrants, wearing the Christian name, and marching under the banner of the cross, the ensign of the Prince of peace.
3. Nor is this all. Under the influences which reigned over its origin, modern commerce speedily became, and has ever since continued, a slave-making spirit. The hitherto gentle and unworked natives, doomed to bleed in war, to toil in the mines, and to sweat in the sugar factories of Hispaniola, vanished like the morning dew. Then, in the womb of modern commerce, begotten by the lust of gold, was first conceived an idea, which has since been the parent of the deepest wrongs and miseries, which this earth has ever suffered--the idea of filling the places made vacant by the vanishing of one race, with slaves, captured and dragged thither from another; the idea of making poor, sable Africa, the chained menial to do the work, and bear the frowns, and waste away under the reign of Christian avarice, indolence and tyranny.
4. And would to God there were nothing further on this catalogue of ills. But there is. The system which thus began its work, went on to do it with unaltered mind. Modern commerce early became, and has ever since continued, a corrupting spirit. What it could not wholly effect by treachery and war, exaction and oppression, it thoroughly accomplished by corruption. It corrupted the bodies and the minds of the once beautiful and healthy, the comparatively pure and innocent aborigines of every land which it visited, by the systematic introduction and supply of intoxicating liquors, and by the reckless dissemination of the dark vices and deadly diseases of a misnamed civilization. In the former, it opened on them the burning waters of a river of death; and, in the latter, poured through the veins of both their bodies and their souls, the creeping poisons of a physical and amoral pestilence. Not content with deluging the most beautiful realms with those vices and diseases, [10/11] which are naturally communicated by the contact of depraved lust with unsuspecting innocence, it opened the very prisons and poor-houses of the old world, and vomited forth upon the new, colonies of the vile and the licentious, of the thieves and the assassins, with which the dark and corrupt bosom of so called Christian Europe teemed.
5. What was thus begun by the Spaniards in the West Indies, has been continued by every commercial nation in every portion of the aboriginal and pagan world, through the movements of an essentially colonizing, war-waging, slave-making, and corrupting commerce, whetting into fury its deep lust of gold, at the sight of boundless treasures not its own, and,--under the delusive idea of spreading a Christianity which it did not comprehend, and a civilization which it did not possess,--conquering, enslaving and wasting the fairest and the richest lands on earth.
6. Moreover, what was thus begun by commerce under the direction of Papal governments, was continued by commerce under the direction of Protestant governments. Reformed in its doctrines, Christianity did not become reformed in its whole spirit. The effects of a thousand years of error and corruption, could, with comparative ease, be expunged from the creed of the Church. But they have lingered deeply and long in the hearts of men. The Papal doctrine that "the heathen were given to believers as a possession," became protestantized; and the robber's principle, that "one outrage being committed, a second, or a series of outrages must be perpetrated to prevent punishment and secure the booty," has operated, if in a different way, yet quite as strongly, in the policy of the British East India Company, as it did in that of the Spanish conquest of Mexico. [* See Note A in the Appendix.] So far as the system of commercial aggrandizement is concerned, irrespectively, of course, of many individuals engaged in it, but one spirit has actuated the whole, from its conception to its present maturity, under Papal and under Protestant auspices; and this spirit, in the words of a writer already quoted, has been "a fiery, rabid, quenchless lust of gold;" a passion, which, while it lives at home, is [11/12] decently attired, and moderately restrained; but which, when it goes abroad, and stands in sight of the gold and the diamond mine, in sight of the rice-field, and the canebrake, in sight of the spicery and every other product of a prodigal earth, strips itself to nakedness, and, in its uncovered deformity, breaks every bond by which mankind are united, and, with unchecked rapine and violence, deceives, robs, oppresses and murders, without remorse; and all this while boasting of its civilization, and professing to bring to poor, benighted, barbarous heathen, a religion from heaven--the religion of the Gospel of peace and love, of truth and equity! [* See Note B, in the Appendix.]
7. To give a history of all this would, of course, be impossible within the limits of a sermon. It would be to take you through the long horrors of those scenes, amidst which the Spaniards conquered, wasted and depopulated the beautiful West Indies, the mighty Empire of Mexico, the dominions of the mysterious Incas of golden Peru, and the fair fields of wide-spreading, silvery Paraguay;--of those scenes, amidst which the Portuguese wrought the same enormities throughout that land of the diamond mine, the broad Brazil, and on the rich isles and peninsulas of Eastern India; of those scenes, amidst which the Protestant Dutch became successors in the East to the realms and to the spirit of their Portuguese predecessors, and enacted, with deepening barbarity, the tragedy, which those predecessors had opened among the peaceful and gentle Hindoos; of those scenes, amidst which the commerce of Britain, humane, noble Christian Britain, introduced and carried forward its system of territorial acquisition in Bengal and throughout all Hindostan, in New-Holland, and through the myriad isles of the smiling Pacific, filling the most extensive and populous regions with some of the bloodiest and most devastating curses ever felt, poured out, too, by the hand of a people, who boast of being the most polished and christianized on earth; of those scenes, amidst which the French run a shorter but scarcely less tragic race of competition with their commercial [12/13] rivals in Canada, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Guiana, some of the West India Islands, and parts of the East Indian and African Coasts; of those scenes, amidst which the Dutch and their successors, the English, in South Africa, have proved themselves more barbarous an hundred fold, than the so called barbarian Hottentots, Caffres and Bushmen, whom they have hunted, murdered, and exterminated; and finally, of those scenes nearer home, amidst which the combined and successive cruelties of the French, the English and the inhabitants of our own United States, have, for two hundred years, by treachery and the sword, by disseminated intemperance and disease, been weakening, wasting and blotting out the thousand tribes of one of the once finest races of men that God ever formed,--the aborigines of our own North America!
Think not, respected auditors, that all this would be leading you through scenes of imagination, the regions of mere poetry. Alas! they are regions too seriously, too sadly real; scenes, in which a sterner hand than that of imagination has been, and still is, doing its work! Sober history has written bloody facts all over her wide page, as the chronicler of the movements of modern commerce. Were I to give you the particulars of what I have exhibited merely in outline, you would only wonder at the feebleness of the sketch, and perhaps be thankful that a weak hand has not been able to torture you with a picture to the life, of what nations, professedly Christian, have been doing in the dark and distant realms of our world. It is sufficiently mournful to look over the page of ancient history, and read the acts of ancient heroes, conquerors, and enslavers of mankind; the Pharaohs and the Nebuchadnezzars, the Alexanders and the Caesars of the East; of their wars, their burnings, and their tortures; of their vices, their crimes, and their nameless abominations;--how they filled the earth with misery, and made mankind drunk with its bitter mixture! But it is more mournful to look over that freshly written page, at which I have pointed. Modern commerce, during the 350 years of her reign, has furnished for herself the materials of a darker, bloodier history than that which has been written of the tyrants of the [13/14] earth during the whole 4000 years of ante-christian barbarism! This commercial spirit has had a wider field on which to act, and more powerful enginery to put in action; and she has filled her field to fulness, and moved her enginery to the utmost of its power. The ancients conquered, but they did not exterminate; they enslaved, but they did not corrupt; they burned cities, but they did not annihilate races. The finishing up of the extremes of wickedness, barbarity and pollution seems to have been left for nations calling themselves civilized, boasting of their humanity, and professing to spread, or at least to believe, the religion of the Cross, the Gospel of the Prince of Peace;--a religion of love and good-will, of truth and purity.
To show that the agents of modern commerce have not, even yet, done working up the dark picture of their atrocities, I need only refer you, my hearers, to what has just been passing in the East, in the efforts of British merchants to introduce and extend into all-populous China that awful curse, the opium trade. If missionaries, by the help of coasting-vessels, attempt to introduce into that vast empire the Word of life; men at home grow at once exceedingly conscientious, and cry out against the effort, as an interference with the religious institutions of the land. But they make no scruple in illicitly introducing there the drug of death, and that, in the face of the most solemnly proclaimed prohibitions of the emperor and his government. I do not suppose they would feel any special pleasure in murdering, outright, the three hundred millions of China; yet, for the sake of abstracting the immense wealth of the country, they would not hesitate to do what is worse, to besot both their bodies and their souls with a poison, which, in its work of human destruction, has no compeer, save in that perhaps peerless agent of Satan,--Alcohol! [* See Note C, in the Appendix.]
III. Let us now look at the effect of all this upon modern missions, upon the spread of the Gospel during the same 350 years, which we have been surveying.
 When Commerce, with her newly invented mariner's compass in her hand, went forth to the discovery of a new world, peopled with before unknown races of men, simple and guileless, generous and trusting; what a precious, what a glorious opportunity was presented for carrying to them the blessings of real civilization, of useful knowledge and of pure religion; and thus, for pouring the very soul of a heaven-descended christianity into the minds, into the social state, and into the political and religious institutions of those, who looked up to the newly arrived with feelings of veneration, as to beings of a superior order! How was this opportunity improved? By holding out, at first, a wooden cross, as the symbol of an unexplained Gospel, and calling on the wondering multitudes to bow down and worship; and then, in their bowed-down posture, loading them with every form and with every extreme of intolerable wrong. Instead of christianizing, the process exterminated. In the West Indies, the whole native population became speedily extinct, the ten millions of that almost unearthly race, the gentle Charibs, vanished, like a morning mist before their oppressors. They bled in war; they wasted away in the mines;--they toiled to death in the sugar-mills; they were torn in pieces by trained squadrons of ferocious dogs; and they pined and died in the dens and caves, whither they had fled from the foot of their civilized persecutors; until, at length, their native lands held not in life a single remaining trace of their once beautiful forms. They had disappeared from the earth; and, as their spirits vanished, they went full of execrations upon the very name of that Christianity, which should have been the instrument of both their temporal and their eternal salvation.
In Mexico and Peru, history records that the Spanish sword drank the blood of FORTY MILLIONS of their sons. The whole Indian race in Newfoundland is extinct. Entire tribes in South Africa, and in North America, are no more. While, in numerous lands and islands, great races of aboriginal and pagan men are wasting away to weakness and nothingness before the relentless approach of a power bearing the ensign of life, but doing the work of death!
 And even where this power has not exterminated, it has wrought evils of a perhaps darker character. It has actually rendered the living savage more savage, and the living heathen more heathen [* See Note D, in the Appendix.] than ever. It has made, not Christianity, for of this little or nothing has been carried by the agents of this power--but the name of Christianity, an offence and a loathing to the whole pagan world. Through all the realms of heathenism, it has made that name synonymous with hypocrisy and deceit, cunning and fraud, oppression and cruelty, avarice and extortion, pollution and crime. In this state of things, let the true missionary of the cross approach, and offer the genuine religion of the Gospel as a light from heaven, and as the only means of purity and of salvation to benighted man; and with what answer is he met? "Go home: and convert your own countrymen; cleanse your own seamen; regenerate the agents of your death-dealing commerce, and thus show that your religion is the boasted blessing which you represent. Then come to us and we will listen to your instructions, and examine the claims of the Gospel which you bring."
We hear often of failures in the foreign missionary work; of the treasures of benevolence lavished in vain, and of the lives of the benevolent thrown away for nought. And these things, when they happen, are trumpeted abroad with a note of triumph, as though there were, even here at home, a spirit which exulted in the failures, and stood gloating at the prospect of utter defeat to the movements of Christianity. But whence these failures? From the inadequacy of the means employed? From the misdirection of Christian effort? From the indomitable character of savage and of pagan vices and superstitions? No, not from any one, or from all of these causes together. Proofs of this assertion will come in their proper place. But Christian missions fail, when they do fail, because they cannot penetrate where modern commerce has not been, because, as soon as the faithful missionary of the cross has begun to succeed in [16/17] turning the miserable heathen from his idols, and in cleansing them from their pollutions, modern commerce, with its heart still lusting for gold, and fearful of losing its prey, rushes in, and, with its four great maces, war, slavery, intemperance and disease, beats to the earth the work of heavenly benevolence, and knocks in head the new-born hopes of regenerated tribes!
A most remarkable instance of this interference is, at this moment, presented in the case of those numerous and beautiful islands in the Southern Pacific, which have been visited and blessed by the faithful missionaries of Christian England and America, and which may be considered as, in an encouraging sense, already civilized. These islands are spread in various directions from the great insular continent, New-Holland, the seat of that monster evil, the penal colony of the British government, its Botany Bay, the vile home of its transported, convict felons. By this fatal neighborhood, and the mischievous commerce, of which it is the centre, all these triumphs of the Gospel amongst the islands are put in jeopardy. To use the language of a recent writer in England, [* Howitt.] "All this springing civilization, this young Christianity, this scene of beauty and peace, are endangered. The founders of a new and happier state, the pioneers and artificers of civilization, stand aghast at the ruin that threatens their labors, that threatens the welfare, nay, the very existence, of the simple islanders, amongst whom they have wrought such miracles of love and order. And whence arises this danger? Whence comes this threatened ruin.?" * * * * * * "The savages of Europe, the most heartless and merciless race, that ever inhabited the earth--a race, for the range and continuance of its atrocities, without a parallel in this world, and, it may be safely believed, in any other, are busy in the South Sea Islands. A roving clan of sailors and runaway convicts have revived, once more the crimes and character of the old bucaniers. They go from island to island, diffusing gin, debauchery, loathsome diseases and murder, as [17/18] freely as if they were the greatest blessings that Europe had to bestow. They are the restless and triumphant apostles of misery and destruction; and such are their achievements, that it is declared, unless government interpose some check to their progress, they will as completely annihilate the islanders, as the Charibs were annihilated in the West Indies." * * * * "What a shocking thing is this that when Christianity has been professed in Europe for 1800 years, it is from Europe that the most dreadful corruption of morals, and the most dismal defiance of every sound principle come! If Christianity, despised and counterfeited by its ancient professors, flies to some remote corner of the globe, and there unfolds to simple, admiring eyes, her blessings and her charms, out from Europe rush hordes of lawless savages to chase her thence, and level to the dust the dwellings, and the very being of her votaries." All this has been corroborated by sober investigation before members of that august body, the British Parliament.
IV. But, let us turn to more cheering views. In this picture of darkness, all is not dark. Facts and reasonings, full of light, remain to be exhibited; and the Christian's spirit finds a blessed relief in passing out from what is so shocking to moral sentiment, and in giving itself up to the contemplation of what is more congenial with christian hope.
I remark, then, that, much as modern commerce has done to make the savage more savage, and the heathen more heathen, to make the name of Christianity a loathing, and that of civilization synonymous with a CURSE,--all this may be undone, and the aborigines and the pagan still reconciled to the Gospel, if governments, merchant companies, and trading men, will but learn justice, truth and mercy in their dealings, and leave unobstructed Christianity to do her own proper work. Even the dismal past holds an ample store of facts in proof of this position.
While the Spaniards and Portuguese in Paraguay and Brazil were doing their dark work of conquest and of plunder, the Jesuit missionaries introduced themselves among the natives; and, though they carried with them a deeply corrupted christianity, yet, carrying also, for once at least, [18/19] the true spirit of love, and peace, and simple confidence in God, they wrought wonders of mercy among the untaught children of the new world. The Jesuit became the Indian's friend. Multitudes flocked to their teaching; and their numerous reductions, or settlements, became, amidst the wide moral waste around, scenes of smiling peace and beauty; blessed with the arts of life, and, so far as christianity was understood, with the fruits of religion;--scenes, which might have continued smiling to this day, had not the greedy colonists, hungering for gold, and reluctant to lose their prey, poured in upon them with murderous fury, broke up their settlements, scattered the works of the missionaries to the winds, and made the memory of them like the fragments of a beautiful, but cruelly broken dream!
What was the effect, in this country, when Roger Williams and William Penn, on whom perhaps too much praise was not bestowed, when they were called two of "the most perfect christian statesmen that ever breathed," throwing themselves in simple faith on the providence of God, on the power of his Gospel, and on the truth and generosity of savage hearts, went forward to the settlement of their colonies in the spirit of honest purchase, good faith and affectionate confidence? Did they meet with treachery, cruelty, incapacity for civilization, and a stubborn rejection of the Gospel? No. They were looked up to as godlike benefactors; they conciliated the confidence and affection of the aborigines; they won the fidelity of hearts, that never wavered from their faith; and they put in movement that work of civilization and of conversion to christianity, which, had it not been, as in all other cases, broken up by the cupidity, cruelty and faithlessness of neighbor colonists, professing their creed, but not exhibiting their spirit, would have left among us christianized and ennobled specimens of a now vanished race; a race, with whom we should then have been proud to hold the alliances of refined and elevated life.
What was the effect in South Africa, when, after Dutch and English barbarity had almost exterminated what we have been prone to consider the most degraded of human beings--the Hottentot race--a few of them, abandoning [19/20] their own country to their oppressors, were allowed to choose a new spot in the wilderness, and there, almost without agricultural implements, to try, under the direction of the faithful, sympathising Christian missionary, the experiment of taking care of themselves; unaided, as they were, to furnish their families with sustenance, and to maintain their settlement against the incursions of the hostile savage from the wild? What was the effect? Why, in a few years' time, spent in digging roots with their fingers, fashioning rude implements of husbandry for themselves, and defending their households with little more than the good right arms which God had given them, they became a comparatively flourishing agricultural people, with schools, and a church, and temperance societies; at peace and in love among themselves, respected and joined in alliance by the once hostile Caffre, rejoicing in the bright hopes of the Gospel, and presenting a specimen of our nature which put to shame the character of those European oppressors, whose tender mercies had merely suffered them thus to conquer for themselves a name and a place among men!
And what has been the effect of more recent missionary effort among the untutored and once cannibal natives of the South Sea Islands? It has been almost to bring back the age of miracles; and unless commerce, with her already begun trade in alcohol and disease, hatchets and murdering knives, should again succeed in arresting the triumphs of the Gospel, and in pouring darkness over the light of that new born Christianity, it will be to make those myriad isles smile as rejoicingly, under the full radiance of heavenly day, as they do amidst the beams of nature's sun, and the bounties of nature's God.
But perhaps the most signal instance of the triumphs of the Gospel over all the obstacles which modern commerce has thrown in its way, has been exhibited among the Griquas of South Africa. These were a peculiar race, the offspring of European colonists and Hottentot women; driven as outcasts from their guilty progenitors, and left, unportioned, to a wild, wandering, marauding life, till they became really the most wretched and filthy of the human [20/21] race, "abandoned to witchcraft, drunkenness, licentiousness, and all the consequences which arise from the unchecked growth of such vices." But the missionary came. Patient and heavenly in his spirit, he followed them for five years in their wanderings, till, at length, they were "reduced to a settled and agricultural life;" "brought to live in the most perfect harmony" with those whom they had delighted to murder, and enabled to engage in a profitable and improving traffic with the colonists. Well, then, might the author who records this, exclaim, "Let our profound statesmen, who go on from generation to generation, fighting and maintaining armies, * * * look at this, and see how infinitely simple men, with but one principle of action to guide them,--Christianity,--outdo them in their own profession! They are your missionaries, after all the boast and pride of statesmanship, who have ever yet hit upon the only true and sound policy, even in a worldly point of view; who, when profound statesmen have turned men into miserable and exasperated savages, are obliged to go and again turn them from savages to men; who, when these wise statesmen have spent their country's money by millions, and shed" their fellow creatures' "blood by oceans, and find only troubles and frontier wars, and frightful, fire-blackened deserts growing around, go, and by a smile and a shake of the hand restore peace, and replace these deserts with gardens and green fields, and hamlets of cheerful people."
No, my hearers, Christian missions do not fail because the Gospel wants power to conquer, or because the missionary wants knowledge how to act, or because the pagan wants susceptibility to heavenly truth. These missions have often succeeded in spite of all the vices and corruption of a most degraded condition; and, what is more, in spite of all the adverse influence which a destroying commerce has exerted in opposition to their movements. And if those who direct commerce, would leave Christianity unobstructed, to do her own proper work, if they would place truth, justice and mercy, at the basis of their system, these missions would generally succeed. The mistakes and indiscretions of here and there a movement, would hardly be felt amidst the [21/22] onward impulses and vigorous actings of all-conquering Christianity. The success of missions, under all past discouragements, is an hundred fold more than enough to justify all past expenditure, whether of money or of lives, and amply sufficient to sustain and encourage us under any future labors and sacrifices, which the work may require. The spirit of the Gospel, its spirit of love, peace and purity, is, when fairly presented, in action, as well as in word, alluring to the poor, unblessed savage and pagan. It is God's own power, fashioned for the very purpose of winning the hearts of his creatures. It is a calumny both upon Him, and upon the nature, which he has given them, to suppose that the Indian and the heathen have not the sympathies and the wants of men, and that they would not see and acknowledge the heavenly origin of the Gospel, if they could once behold it in all its beauty and power, in the lives, as well as in the words, of those, who call themselves Christians. There are, it is true, in the condition of the heathen, obstacles to the spread of the Gospel almost inconceivable in their magnitude. Still, on examination, it will be found that the Gospel never has failed, and it may hence be inferred that it never will fail, in bringing the nations to Christ, except as its failure has been, or may be traced, directly or indirectly, to the shocking inconsistencies of those, who boast its privileges. [* See Note E, in the Appendix.] It spreads encouragingly even against these inconsistencies. What, then, will be its progress when this obstacle shall be removed? Triumphant. Give it unobstructed way, or leave nothing but the obstacle of paganism itself, and it will be glorified. It will heave off from the whole unchristianized world the hatred and the scorn, which our past impurities, falsehoods and barbarities have excited, and make that world glad to receive the visits of love and of life from heaven, and from the ambassadors of heaven.
V. Is, then, this glorious possibility never to exist, save in the baseless visions of Christian hope? Not so, my hearers. Commerce has a different destiny before her. My text has [22/23] yet to receive, at least in great part, its fulfilment. The isles have long waited for God's law without fully receiving it; and the ships of Tarshish have been long gathering the silver and the gold of the earth, but not largely, to the Lord. God has glorified his Zion in the conception of his purposes, but not yet in the full execution of those purposes. He has a work of wonder yet to perform before our eyes. This work is, to convert modern commerce; to sanctify it for Himself; and to make it his own great and glorious instrument in giving his law permanently to the isles, in gathering his sons to Christ from far distant realms, in bringing the silver and the gold to the Lord, and in thus effecting fully the divine purpose of glorifying his Church.
And this work, christian brethren, will be done. We may not doubt its accomplishment. Why has that great colossal system of commerce, which we have surveyed, been suffered to grow up and attain its present maturity? In an age, when science with her discoveries, and art with her inventions, have brought almost all the powerful agents in nature into their service, and constructed machinery for working up nearly all the products of the earth, nay, the very crust of the earth itself, into some sort of fabric, or article for the use of man; in such an age, why have we seen this vast system of commerce arise and stand up,--the grand carrier for the human race? Stimulated by a thirst for gain, men have long since learned to build floating bridges across the ocean; and now they have learned to construct iron rivers across continents; that they may, with mightily accelerated movements, gather the riches of all lands and of all seas; and then, with keen intelligence of price current, distribute them through all channels and all markets. Commerce has thus become a Colossus, indeed; her feet resting on broad continent and on distant isle, her left hand holding a lighthouse for the world, and her right busy with all the moveable things of the earth. Why is this? Why has God suffered such a power to arise? That it may always stand to scourge his creatures, and, to the end of time, scatter misery and ruin through the world? Is it his purpose, that this power, moved by consummate skill, and sustained by ample means, [23/24] shall permanently amass the wealth of the earth into the coffers of a few, while it leaves the innumerable many poor, oppressed, broken in heart and hopeless of good? This were a solemn libel both on his wisdom and on his goodness. No. This grand system has before it another destiny. Raised up under the sublime energies of mighty man,--mighty though sinful,--like man himself, it is to be converted to God. "The love of money" has heretofore been mainly serving itself. Hereafter it will be converted and made to serve the Lord. Science and art have got ready, with their implements, to distribute all the products of the earth to her ever multiplying millions. The ways of distribution have been opened across sea and land. And now, over this whole body of agencies, God is to spread his own power, that it may do His own work, and scatter,--not curses, but blessings;--not death, but life. It is a body of agencies, which, when sanctified, will be wonderfully fitted to do His work; and that it is to be thus sanctified, furnishes the only explanation why it has been suffered to have origin and existence.
VI. I go farther, brethren. This great work, the conversion to God of modern commerce, is now in progress; and the eye of christian observation may easily discern and trace the steps, which it is taking.
Why has modern commerce fallen mainly into the hands of two of the most Christian nations on earth; of two nations, most active in support of Christian missions; of two nations, which, in the irrepressibly enterprising and colonizing genius of their kindred races, command the world, and are fast spreading themselves over the world; Great Britain and the United States? Why, but that God is beginning his work of converting this commerce to himself, and thus of bringing over the earth the brightest day of glory that ever shone? Confirmatory of this view there are other considerations.
The worst evils, which commerce, in her unsanctified state, has disseminated, are war, slavery, intemperance and disease. Why, then, just as this commerce has reached to something like its maturity, and accumulated a power capable of moving the world, have we seen these two great [24/25] Christian nations stirred and wrought up, internally, with deep, steadily growing and resistless efforts to disseminate the spirit and the principles of peace; to wipe out the blot of slavery from the earth; to quench the fires of all-devouring intemperance; and to wash clean from their pollutions those hitherto despised and neglected circumnavigators of the world,--our seamen? Had God designed the conversion of commerce, He could not, so far as we can perceive, have raised up a cluster of measures, more appropriate to His purpose than those, to the working of which, I have now pointed. What, then, must be our inference, when we see these measures really put in action, at the very time, and in the very places, where they are most needed; when we see mighty instrumentalities, embodying the common sentiment of the wise and good, pointed, like heaven's artillery, against the thickest host of the evils, which modern commerce has bred, and pouring in upon that host a power, which is every year becoming more and more resistless? What, but that God is actually doing his great work; that He is turning this commerce to himself, and preparing to make her His handmaid, in carrying the blessings of salvation to all mankind?
Again; England is, questionless, empress over the august realm of moral sentiment in this world. Why, then, in her Parliament, and among her people, has the strong spirit of investigation started up, with an eye that looks through the very soul of commercial abuses, and with an arm that makes that whole system of abuses tremble? Why has the voice of that spirit summoned into his presence native princes from Africa, officers of government, and missionary agents, from the extremes of British colonization, and from them collected facts, which have at length torn off the veil from the Moloch of commercial avarice and lust of power, and poured in a terrible light upon the dark and deep and wide-spread wretchedness, into which that Moloch has so long been treading the aboriginal and pagan nations of the earth? Why, as the consequence, in the opening of the China trade, has an effort been made to cripple that mammoth monopoly, the East India Company, and thus to break the right arm of [25/26] that power, which has been crushing and debasing the hundred millions of British India? Why, as a still further consequence, have we seen at least the shadowing forth of more humane counsels, in commercial and colonial policy, throughout British India, in South Africa, among the South Sea Islands, and wherever English colonies have been planted? And finally, why do we find, through the whole period, which has been witnessing these ameliorations, an increasing number of individual merchants, both in England and in the United States, unassociated with chartered companies, and moved by the growing forces of Christian feeling in the world, among the noblest men that walk our earth--why do we find these men voluntarily espousing, in their commercial operations, the principles of Christian truth, justice, mercy and purity; forswearing the gains of unholy traffic; refusing to export death and corruption among the smiling paradises of the Pacific, and into those wide continental realms, within whose bosom God has hidden so much of the natural wealth of our planet? Why have all these cheering facts been thrown upon our observation? Is the spirit of investigation in the British Parliament, and among the British people, to be again put to sleep? Is the light, which that spirit has already elicited and thrown over the horrors of the past, to be once more darkened? And is commerce thus to revert again to her unwatched, unopposed career of oppression, extortion, corruption and ruin; and once more to walk securely forth upon her broad ways of death and desolation? Never! Opposition to the work of reformation will come in all its shapes, and with all its power; commercial gold, and commercial intrigue, will exhaust their resources for the defeat of that work, and thus tedious delays [* See Note F, in the Appendix.] may be forced upon the cause of struggling, but reviving humanity. Yet all, at last, must prove in vain! An eye has been awakened, which cannot be put to sleep. A light has been struck up, which can never be darkened. Commerce, in the hands of Christian nations, can never go back and become what she has been. The awful discrepancy [26/27] between our Christian boasts and professions, and our unchristian practices and influences, has been made too appallingly apparent ever to be forgotten. Investigation will go forward; light will increase; the good effects of justice and mercy, peace and purity, as exhibited in particular cases, will become more and more apparent and influential; the empire of corrected moral sentiment will spread from England over Christendom; and, at length, the whole vast system of evil will be broken up; the work of the Lord will be accomplished; and commerce, converted, at last, to his purposes, will go forth over the world--the great, high-minister of His mercies to mankind!
VII. Look a moment, then, at the blessings of a sanctified commerce, even to the temporal lot of men.
The system, as it has operated in the past, depopulates. After gathering up what it can of the gold and other wealth of the lands, which it has discovered, it leaves those lands a waste--peopled with a thin, imbruted and most miserable race; and then, having taken their riches home to the bosoms of once noble nations in the old world, deposits them there to corrupt the heart, weaken the sinews, eat out the soul, and debase the whole spirit of those nations. Of this result, proofs are found wherever commerce has trod, whether in Asia, in Africa, or in America. The most conspicuous of these proofs, however, may be seen by looking over the wide and once happy Pampas of South America, and over those degenerate nations of peninsular Europe, by whom that southern world was laid waste.
But the system, as it will work in the future, when it shall have been regenerated, will ennoble and enrich whomsoever it affects. Elevating knowledge and heavenly religion, the sentiments of a pure and peaceful, a just and a loving Gospel, will be exchanged, as well as articles of traffic, for the surplus wealth of golden, or of spicy lands. The hundreds of millions of aboriginal and of pagan man, will be raised out of their scorn and ignorance of the Gospel, into its light and its love; and, thus elevated, will take their stand among the regenerated tribes of the Lord's anointed king; and the honestly acquired treasures, which shall have been gathered, [27/28] while they leave still smiling and flourishing realms behind, will go, not to canker in the heart, and corrupt the character of elder domains, not to lie heaped in the hands of a few, while the many pine in penury, but to circulate among all, enrich all, and minister to the moral and intellectual elevation and improvement of all. Then the isles shall no longer wait in vain for God's law. The ships of Tarshish shall indeed bring his sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the Lord their God; and the Holy One of Israel shall be seen fully glorifying the house of his glory, the Zion that he loves.
VIII. This happy, this glorious period is coming upon the earth. Amidst the evil tidings, and the heaving convulsions of our own days, we still live in the light, which marks, by no faint traces, the dawning of that period. Blessed be God we see its approach, and we labor amidst the influences, which are accelerating its movement. It becomes us, therefore, seriously to inquire what, in view of all these things, is the duty of nominally Christian countries, especially of the professed Church of Christ? On this point, however, though amazingly important, I am admonished to be brief.
What, then, is the state of the whole case before us? Simply this. Nominally Christian nations have, by the iniquitous operations of their commercial system, plundered, debased and wasted the aboriginal and heathen races of our earth. Multitudes of the lordly estates and the lordly mansions, which spread forth their beauties, and glitter in their ornaments, on English soil, and under English skies, and vast amounts of the funds, which are continually coming over to this country from England and from Holland, for investment in our productive stocks and public works, are but parts of the immense wealth, which has been most unrighteously drawn from robbed, despoiled, depopulated India, and those numerous other lands, on which, for centuries past, modern commerce has been doing her dark deeds, till she has made their inhabitants loathe the very names of Christianity and civilization, as synonymous with all that is deceitful, impure and relentless. Such being the plain, unvarnished state of [28/29] facts, it is now but the simple dictate of common justice, that we, the whole mass surnamed Christian, should repent of our works, cleanse our hearts from avarice and worldliness, take our unjustly acquired gold in our hands, go on our knees before the wronged and ruined heathen, confess to them our numberless and immeasurable sins; and then, in our charities and labors above measure, give them a long and living example of the real justice, purity and love of that Gospel, which we have taught them to disbelieve and to scorn; seek, by ages of self-humiliation and social equity, to efface the sense of those injuries, which we have inflicted, and thus carry them some small, though late remuneration, for the giant extortions, and the long-lived sufferings, in which those injuries have consisted. We have heaped on them the curses, we should now go and carry them the blessings, of civilization.
In this great work of Christian repentance, and Christian justice, the Church should take a special part. Heretofore, colonization has been in the hands of the agents of commerce. Hereafter the Church ought to colonize. Not merely in the person of here and there a self-devoted missionary, but in whole hosts of her best blood and her best hearts, she should put herself into the ships, and gather the silver and the gold, not to gratify the lusts of pleasure and of power, but to consecrate them to the service of the Lord; and should place, wherever the isles, or the continents, are waiting for the law, companies of Christ's faithful servants, to teach, by precept and by example, the living way to happiness and heaven. Even the Church has had, indirectly, her share in the treasures, which have been wrung from the poor heathen. The Church, therefore, should help to pay them back in something better than gold--in the treasures of life eternal. To effect this, she should be busy at home as well as abroad. She should labor and pray for the spread of temperance, that our land may be no longer a fountain, sending forth burning waters to consume the savage and the idolater. She should throw herself into the seaman's cause, that they may soon cease to carry disease [* See Note G, in the Appendix.] and death [29/30] into the lands which they visit. And she should make herself heard, however silently, yet powerfully, in the ear of governments; that they may become ashamed of the atrocities, which, for 350 years, they have been perpetrating; and, in the counsels of true, universal peace and freedom, learn henceforth to deal justly and mercifully with mankind.
The obligations of the Church to missionary labor--to be at one and at all times, and wherever a place for labor may be found, whether at home or abroad, a missionary body--these obligations I have ever deemed among the simplest deductions from the spirit and the principles of her faith, and from the bearings of the civilized on the uncivilized portions of our race.
If Paul felt himself "a debtor both to the Greeks and to the barbarians," what, I pray, has the Church now become to the whole unchristianized world? A debtor indeed; involved in a debt, which she will never have done paying till the last of an unconverted race shall, under her leading, have come home to God. When we call on her members for their silver and their gold, ay, for their whole bodies and souls, we do not call on them for charity; we call on them to aid in the payment of a simple debt; a debt which we most righteously owe; a debt, which, until it is paid, will leave us as a body under the burthens of uncleansed, unaneled guilt. The effect of Christian colonization has been to exterminate whole races of men; to put to the sword unnumbered millions of other races, and to set the whole surviving world of heathenism in just hate of the vast misnamed mass of Christian men. And now, unless the Church, which has had so large a share in these evils, or their gains, arise and give back to the mighty, injured tribes, a recompense in the true peace and blessings of the Gospel, how can God suffer her members to live on his earth? To me it seems that the particular Church, which will not engage in sending the Gospel to the heathen, has the doom of God's decree, written in the eternal records of his ways, against it, that it shall perish! The denomination, which perseveringly holds back from this work of debt-paying, must be cast out. It cannot live. Its very spirit, and [30/31] the measures, which that spirit dictates, will, even at home, shut it out from quickening, life-sustaining influences. It will die. It will become a reservoir for the refuse of a once covetous world; and then, with that world, it will perish.
Brethren, I have not time to refer, in conclusion, to the particular movements of our own denomination--to the extending missionary operations and prospects of this Zion of our affections. On this point, I can merely refer you to our current missionary publications. I cannot close, however, without the addition of one further thought in connection with the great topic, which has been reviewed.
Probably, in the survey, through which the colonizing measures of the last three centuries have been made to pass, the question has suggested itself to the attentive mind, how came the fearfully covetous, extortionate and oppressive spirit, which this survey has aimed to expose--how came it in the bosom of the Church of Christ? Did he breathe it there; or is his Gospel its parent? No. It came from old, covetous, persecuting heathenism itself. Avarice is the natural growth of the human heart. But, avarice, coupled with so much of false philosophy, with so much of false morals in the maxims of trade, and with so much of ingenious and relentless cruelty, as we have seen in action, though all, in one sense, the growth of our sinful nature, yet needed peculiar circumstances for the fostering of its growth. Those circumstances it did not find, under the Gospel, even during the reign of papal darkness. That is, the spirit did not originate in that reign. Popery received it from heathenism at the time when the latter, after having persecuted genuine Christianity into consideration and into prosperity, seemed disposed, under the auspices of the first Constantine, to turn and pour itself, en masse, into the Church: and when, consequently, Christianity began to change into a kind of baptized paganism, and Christian doctrine to be mixed up with the falsehoods of pagan philosophy. Yes, the spirit which we have exposed came from the heart of ancient heathenism. It is the fruit of that old form of rebellion against God, which took its shape in the abominations of idolatry. Read the first chapter of Romans, and you will [31/32] find its pedigree. "Because men did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind," and to all the awful consequences of their sin. For four thousand years, that reprobate mind, bowing down to idols in the offering of an unclean worship, possessed and ruled the bodies of men with almost undivided sway. When Christ came to dispossess it, it resisted in an awful struggle, during which, it almost wrested back from Messiah his early conquests. And even when he made a sort of second advent at the Protestant reformation, so strong was the hold, which this spirit of evil had upon men, that it was carried down even into the bosom of the Reformed Church. There it has ever since been at work. Shielded by its old code of false morals, and combining itself with the intense energies, begotten amidst the light of the reformation, and thus becoming a mightier engine of mischief than ever, it has acted back, with tremendous effect, on the very seat of its ancient parentage, on the realms of old and wide-spread heathenism. Thus God has made pristine rebellion chastise itself; and, from our hands, most terrible has the chastisement proved. Heathenism, at first, sought to destroy true Christianity. At last, through the channel of a corrupt Christianity--a Christianity which it had itself corrupted--it has almost literally destroyed itself!
And now what is to be the end of the matter? This. God's purposes seem ripening into accomplishment. The system of horrors, which, under the auspices of commerce, has reigned since 1492, appears to be breaking up. The Christian world is waking to a view of the criminal part, which it has had in the guilt of a long series of centuries and the whole Church of Christ is doing, or preparing to do, her great work of repentance and of justice, before those whom she has wronged. This work, however slow at present, she will, by God's grace, carry on to completion. And then, as a sharp sickle, fitted for the hand of the Lord, she will sweep over the whitened field, reap the harvest of a willing world, and bring home great glory to that God of salvation, who alone doeth wondrous things.
IN adverting to the transition of commerce from the direction of Papal to that of Protestant governments, the writer is, of course, aware of the fact, that Protestant colonists and commercial companies have not generally been so open and direct in their wars and massacres and treacheries, for the destruction of the natives, as were their Papal predecessors. Still, even in these respects, Protestants will, in many instances, compare, with a melancholy truth, with Papists; while, in general, their cruelties have been, if more refined, not less oppressive, and have evinced all the unrelenting avarice, which, ever since a new world was discovered, seems to have raged in the great heart of commerce.
In relation to the policy of the British East India Company, it is emphatically true that they have carried on their system of territorial acquisition, and the plunder of the wealth of the Indies, not by direct wars for conquest, and by open massacres for extermination, but by stately negotiation and commercial craft. They have plundered under the forms of law; but then their plunder has been none the less ruinous to its victims; nor has it always been free from scenes of awful bloodshed.
To show that I have not spoken too severely of the British East India Company, in this matter, I must beg leave to trouble the reader with a somewhat long extract.
"What, then," inquires Howitt, in the work already quoted, "is this system of torture, by which the possessions of Indian princes have been wrung from them? It is this: the skilful application of the process by which cunning men create debtors, and then force them at once to submit to their most exorbitant demands. From the moment that the English felt they had the power in India to "divide and conquer," they adopted the plan of doing it rather by plausible manoeuvres than by a bold avowal of their designs, and a [33/34] more honest plea of the right of conquest--the ancient doctrine of the strong--which they began to perceive was not quite so much in esteem as formerly. Had they said at once, these Mohamedan princes are arbitrary, cruel and perfidious--we will depose them and assume the government ourselves--we pretend to no other authority for our act than our ability to do it, and no other excuse for our conduct than our determination to redress the evils of the people; that would have been a candid behavior. It would have been so far in accordance with the ancient doctrine of nations, that little would have been thought of it; and though as Christians we should not have applauded the "doing of evil that good might come of it;" yet, had the promised benefit to more than eighty millions of people followed, that glorious penance would have gone far, in the most scrupulous mind, to have justified the crime of usurpation. But the mischief has been, that while the exactions and extortions on the people have been continued, and in many cases exaggerated, the means of usurpation have been those glozing and hypocritical arts, which are more dangerous from their subtlety than naked violence, and more detestable, because wearing the face, and using the language of friendship and justice. A fatal friendship, indeed, has that of the English been to all those princes that were allured by it. It has pulled them every one from their thrones, or has left them there, the contemptible puppets of a power that works its arbitrary will through them. But, friendship, or enmity, the result has been the same to them. If they resisted alliance with the encroaching English, they were soon charged with evil intentions, fallen upon and conquered; if they acquiesced in the proffered alliance, they soon became ensnared in those webs of diplomacy, from which they never escaped without the loss of all honor and hereditary dominion--of everything, indeed, but the lot of prisoners, where they had been kings. The first step in the English friendship with the native princes, has generally been to assist them against their neighbors with troops, or to locate troops with them to protect them from aggression. For these services such enormous recompense was stipulated for, that the unwary princes, entrapped by their fears of their native foes, rather than of their pretended friends, soon found that they were utterly unable to discharge them. Dreadful exactions were made on their subjects, but in vain. Whole provinces, or the revenues of them, were soon obliged to be made over to their grasping friends; but they did not suffice for their demands. In order to pay them their debts, or their interest, the princes were obliged to borrow large sums at an extravagant rate. These sums were eagerly advanced by the English in their private and individual capacities, and security again taken on lands or revenues. At every step the unhappy princes became more and more embarrassed, and [34/35] as the embarrassment increased, the claims of the company became proportionably pressing. In the technical phraseology of money lenders, "the screw was then turned," till there was no longer any enduring it. The unfortunate princes felt themselves, instead of being relieved by their artful friends, actually introduced by them, into
"Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace
And rest can never dwell; hope never comes
That comes to all; but torture without end
To escape it, there became no alternative but to throw themselves entirely upon the mercy of their inexorable creditors, or to break out into armed resistance. In the one case, they found themselves speedily stripped of every vestige of their power--their revenues and management of their territories given over to these creditors, which still never were enough to liquidate their monstrous and growing demands; so that the next proposition was, that they should entirely cede their territories and become pensioners on their usurpers. In the other case, they were at once declared perfidious and swindling--no faith was to be kept with them--they were assaulted by the irresistible arms of their oppressors, and inevitably destroyed or deposed.
If they sought aid from another state, that became a fortunate plea to attack that state too; and the English were not contented to chastise the state thus aiding its ancient neighbor; it was deemed quite sufficient ground to seize and subjugate it also. There was no province that was for a moment safe from this most convenient system of policy, which feared public opinion sufficiently to seek arguments to make a case before it, but resolved still to seize, by hook or by crook, all it coveted. It did not suffice that a province merely refused an alliance; if the proper time was deemed to be arrived for its seizure, some plea of danger or suspicion was set up against it. It was called good policy not to wait for an attack, but to charge it with hostile designs; though not a hostile indication was given, it was assailed with all the forces in the empire. Those princes, that were once subjected to the British power, or the British friendship, were set up or pulled down, just as it suited their pleasure. If necessary, the most odious stigmas were fixed on them to get rid of them; they were declared weak, dissolute, or illegitimate. If a prince, or princess, was suspected of having wealth, some villainous scheme was hatched to plunder him or her of it. For more than a century this shocking system was in operation, every day growing more daring in its action, and more wide in its extent. Power both gave security, and augmented audacity; for, [35/36] every British subject who was not belonging to the company, and therefore interested in its operations, was rigidly excluded from the country, and none could, therefore, complain of the evil deeds that were done under the sun. It is almost incredible that so abominable an influence could be for a century exercised over a great realm, by British subjects, many of whom were, in all other respects, worthy and most honorable men; and, what is more, that it could be sanctioned by the British Parliament, and admired by the British nation. But we have yet the proofs to adduce, and unfortunately they are only too abundant and conclusive." (Howitt's Colonization and Christianity, pp. 211-215, London ed. 1838.)
We must here close the extract, because the cited proofs of the author's assertions would too greatly swell our already extended note. Suffice it to say, that they expose a series of acts, which, for cupidity, perfidy, and even bloody cruelty, may well challenge comparison with the events of some of the worst days of Papal atrocity in South America. The miserable fate of Suraja Dowla, the Subadhar of Bengal; of his bribed and traitorous successor, Meer Jaffier Khan; of Meer Causim, son-in-law of the latter; of the Great Mogul himself; of the nabobs of Arcot and Oude; of the Rajah of Benares; of the noble hearted Rohillas, and their interesting country; of those unfortunately wealthy females, "The Begums," at Lucknow; and of Tippoo Sultaun, son and successor to the terrible Hyder Ali; the fate of these, under the operations, among others, of Lord Clive, of the notorious Warren Hastings, and of the high-handed Marquis of Wellesley, demonstrated a capability for skilful baseness, and for hard-hearted oppression, of which it wrings the soul of feeling to read.
As the result of this long-continued system of robbery under the forms of law, and sometimes without the forms of law, the British East India Company became successively masters, or, in some way, dictators of Bengal, of Arcot, of Delhi, of Oude, of Mysore, of Travancore, of Benares, of Tanjore, of the country of the Mahrattas, and finally of the whole vast Indian Peninsula; seldom touching the people themselves with a direct hand, yet indirectly grinding them to the earth by the merciless exactions upon them, to which they diplomatically forced the puppet rulers of the people!
Here, also, the writer is aware of the fact, that while the Papists professed to colonize for the sake of spreading Christianity, carrying the cross in one hand, and the sword in the other, pretending to [36/37] seek the conversion of the natives, but in reality seeking only their gold and their silver, their diamonds and their spicery; Protestants never made any such professions, never pretended to colonize for the sake of spreading the Gospel, but went simply as commercial bodies, for the purposes of ordinary traffic, and of territorial acquisition. This, however, affects not the argument of the discourse. If Protestant governments and companies did not colonize avowedly for the spread of the Gospel, still they colonized as professedly Christian governments and companies. Their ships and agents went from known Christian lands; and they became, in the presence of the heathen and the aborigines, the principal representatives of Christianity and of the spirit, which this religion was supposed to cherish. Their covetous and wicked practices, therefore, had the same effect in prejudicing the natives against Christianity, and thus in obstructing the spread of the Gospel, as they would have had, if Protestants, like Papists, had colonized professedly as missionaries, or for the avowed purpose of converting the natives. For, those who were Protestant missionaries, were obliged to go side by side with commercial enterprises, and were thus forced to contend, in their endeavors to Christianize the heathen, with all the awful influences of commercial unrighteousness, and the corruption, which it carried in its train. Wherever they went, they found the native mind preoccupied with prejudices against the religion, which they brought, and could seldom, without the greatest difficulty, obtain a candid hearing for their instructions. The simple natives, utterly ignorant of the power of real Christianity to change the heart, and utterly incapable of appreciating the real difference between the missionaries and the agents of commerce, could always point, with such logic as nature taught them, to the miseries and extortions under which they were borne down to the earth, and say; "If these are the effects of your boasted religion from heaven, we want it not. That, which we already have, teaches a better morality, and has, therefore, for us, the superior claim." They said it, and ages only of living demonstration could prove the fallacy of their reasoning.
Hear what a recent missionary traveller in the East says of the opium trade.
"The greatest blot on foreigners at Canton, though not on all, is the opium trade. That men of correct moral sensibilities, and enlightened minds, should be so blinded by custom, or desire of gain, [37/38] as to engage in this business, is amazing. A smuggler in Canton is no more honorable than a smuggler on any other coast; in some respects less so. There is less chivalry, hardihood, fatigue, exposure and inducement, than in the case of a poor man, who braves both the war of elements and legal penalty, to obtain subsistence for his family. Here, among a peaceable, and perhaps timid people, they incur no personal hazards, and set at defiance edicts and officers. No other smuggling introduces an article so deadly and demoralizing. The victims of it meet the smuggler's eyes, and are among the patients resorting to the hospital he helps to support. So well do they know the moral and physical effects of opium, that not one of them ventures on the habit of using it himself.
"In this, as in other cases, magnitude gives dignity and sanction to the operation. No other smuggling is on so grand a scale. The annual sale amounts to a sum equal to the entire revenue of the United States, and to the whole value of teas exported to England and America! At this very time, though efforts so extraordinary and persevering have been put forth by the Chinese government, to stop this infernal traffic, there are twenty-four opium ships on the coast. We have little reason to wonder at the reluctance of China to extend her intercourse with foreigners. Nearly the whole of such intercourse brings upon her, pestilence, poverty, crime and disturbance.
"No person can describe the horrors of the opium trade. The drug is produced by compulsion, accompanied with miseries to the cultivators as great as slaves endure in any part of the earth. The prices paid to the producer scarcely sustain life, and are many per cent less than the article produces in China. The whole process of carrying and vending is an enormous infringement of the laws of nations, and such as would immediately produce a declaration of war by any European power--the grandest and grossest smuggling trade on the globe! The influence of the drug on China is more awful and extensive than that of rum in any country, and worse to its victims than any outward slavery. That the government of British India should be the prime abettors of this abominable traffic, is one of the grand wonders of the nineteenth century. The proud escutcheon of the nation, which declaims against the slave trade, is thus made to wear a blot broader and darker than any other in the Christian world." (Malcolm's Travels, vol. II. pp. 159, 160.)
And yet, hear with what coolness commercial men can speculate on the probable effects of the threatened stoppage of this trade. The following is from a recent number of the New-York Journal of Commerce:
"Trade with China.--The last advices from Canton justify the [38/39] belief that the importation of opium into that country is nearly at an end. As friends to human happiness, we cannot but rejoice at the prospect of such a result. For there is reason to believe, that the whole family of intoxicating liquors, in the worst days of their prevalence in this country, never produced so extensive and disastrous effects, even in proportion to the population, as the use of opium has done in China.
"But, looking at the subject merely as commercial men, we are bound to say, that the exclusion of 'black mud' from China is a misfortune. If the government of that country should be able to enforce its edicts, which prohibit the importation of the drug, it will create disaster and ruin in British India; and not only so, but will revolutionize our own trade with the Celestial Empire. For a number of years past, most of our Canton ships have made their voyages direct, carrying out, perhaps, some domestic goods and other commodities, but relying mainly, and always as a last resort, upon bills of Exchange on England, for the purchase of their homeward cargoes. These bills of exchange were chiefly the product of opium. From 1830 to 1833 inclusive, the average value of opium exported from British India to China, was $12,000,000 per annum; and we presume it has since increased rather than diminished. In the same years the average exports of cotton from India to China, amounted to only about $5,000,000 per annum. These two articles constituted nearly the whole exports. The average annual imports into China during this period, from all parts of the British empire, were about $21,500,000; of which, as stated above, $12,000,000 consisted of opium.
"Supposing the ratio to have continued the same since 1833, it is obvious, that in case of the suppression of the opium trade, a great amount of specie must be sent to China from some quarter, as in former years. The wants of China for foreign commodities, except opium, do not equal, by several millions per annum, the wants of the rest of the world for the teas, silks, &c. of China. The difference must be supplied in specie. This will cause the American trade with that country to revert more into its former channels. Instead of a direct trade, by means chiefly of bills on London, our ships will more of them go, in the first instance, to South America, Batavia, Manilla, &c., and there exchange the cargoes, which they carried out from this country for specie, will take the latter to Canton, and with it purchase the cargo which they seek. True, we send a few domestic cottons to Canton, but they amounted last year to only $532,697, and our whole exports to China were only $1,698,433; while our imports were $4,764,536. Excess of imports over exports, $3,066,103. This difference must have been made up of bills of exchange, or of specie, &c., obtained from other countries by what [39/40] is called the indirect trade. From the United States itself, very little specie has been shipped to China since 1827; the amount in no year equaling half a million dollars, except in 1835, when it reached $1,390,832. From 1821 to 1827 inclusive, the average was more than three and a half millions per annum.
"We have made the above statement, not for the information of persons engaged in the China trade, (for they must have already anticipated the effects of the exclusion of the opium from China, upon our intercourse with that country,) but for the sake of others, who may not be aware of the importance of the movement in a commercial, or even in a financial point of view. We do not imagine, however, that a great amount of specie will be exported to China from this country; it will chiefly come from other countries, by means of the indirect trade."
We know not a case more strongly in point, as an illustration of the spirit of modern commerce, than that furnished in the above extract. As philanthropists, men can mourn over the blighting effects of a trade, which introduces among hundreds of millions of beings, poverty, disease, misery, moral debasement and death. And yet, as members of a board of directors, sitting in the Chamber of Commerce, they can coolly pronounce the stoppage of that trade a misfortune! The opium trade must not be stopped, because it would derange the commercial system of exchanges, forcing merchants to pay for their teas in gold and silver, instead of bills of exchange, procured by the sale of opium. The continuance of the opium trade is worse in its effects than wholesale murder to the three hundred millions of China; yet it must be continued, because its stoppage would reduce to poverty a few rich men in England and America, or at least compel them to make longer voyages, and wait for slower returns, in their swelling commercial gains!
Such has ever been the spirit of modern commerce. It has no soul but the love of money; and for the sake of this, can coolly fatten on the wretchedness and the ruin of an uncivilized, or a half-civilized world.
The trade in opium is now threatened with annihilation. But, if commercial gold and commercial artifice do not yet prove an overmatch for an awakened and indignant government, weeping over the deep miseries of its subjects, it will be the first time that they have ever proved too powerless for their aim.
Never were the savages of this country so savage as at this moment, if we may consider moral debasement and insusceptibility to [40/41] the influences of the Gospel, as proofs of savagism. The iniquitous commerce of our government and trading companies with the aboriginal tribes of this continent, would, were not the spirit of Christianity exhaustless in its perseverance and the versatility of its power for good, speedily renew the scenes of the West Indies and of South America, by either exterminating the native race, or rendering them incapable of elevation by even the genial influence of the Gospel.
As to the heathen of the eastern world, the British East India Company have, for years, been supporting a system, which discourages Christianity, and favors both Mohamedanism and idolatry. Under this system, the worship of old, and almost forgotten temples has been revived, and their disgusting and filthy superstitions made to flourish again; while Christian soldiers have been compelled, though against their consciences, to fire honors over the abominations, and Christian revenues been lavished on the ornaments of idols, and in supporting the prostitutes of their temples!
"It is notorious," says the Appendix to the celebrated Madras Memorial against the connexion of the East India Company's government with the idolatries of India, "that, at this hour, the pagodas and their idolatrous rites are, under British rule, officially superintended with an efficiency and care, descending to minute particulars, which they never received even under the Hindoo government."
The pamphlet in which this extract is contained, was printed in London, 1838, by a late resident in India, and is composed mostly of official documents, proving, beyond a question, the connexion of the East India Company's government with the idolatrous and superstitious customs and rites of the natives of India; and a more revolting disclosure was never made of the meanness of commercial avarice, and want of all conscience and all principle, in bowing the soul to wickedness through a love of gain. The late measures of the company are a virtual forcing of Christianity into the worship of idols, for the sake of money; and were it not that the memorialists against this awful sacrilege have a Christian world, and the Christian's God, before whom they may lay their case and hope to be heard, we might soon see the greatest power under any Christian government, decreeing that idolatry within its realms shall be perpetual, and that its foul incense shall be kept smoking by Christian revenues.
Crawford, "a distinguished British writer," as quoted by Malcolm, in his late travels in India, says, "that with the exception of the [41/42] obstacles, which the impolicy of Europeans themselves has created against the propagation of their religion, there exist no others." "In every country of the East, Christianity has been introduced to the people along with the invariable and odious associates of unprincipled ambition and commercial rapacity." (Crawford's Indian Archipelago, Vol. II. Book 6. Chap. 4.) "Hence," says Malcolm, "their expulsion from Japan, China, Tonquin, Cochin-China, and Camboja, and the precarious footing of missionaries in Siam, Burmah and other places." Mr. M. adds the following from La Loubier, Du Royaume do Siam, tom. 1: "It must be confessed that, if the beauty of Christianity has not convinced Orientals, it is principally by reason of the bad opinion, which the avarice, treachery, invasions and tyranny of the Portuguese and some other Christians in the Indies, have implanted in them." He might have added; This bad opinion, implanted by the barbarities of the Papal Portuguese, has been fostered and fixed by the equal barbarities of their Protestant Dutch successors, and is still perpetuated by the no less censurable conduct of the British themselves; the great, unchanged, and, as to magnitude, solitary mountain barrier against what would otherwise have proved the rapid conquests of a life-giving Gospel.
For an illustration of these "delays," see the pamphlet, before referred to, by a resident in India, demonstrating the connexion of the East India Company's government with the idolatries of India. This pamphlet is rare in this country. The writer is indebted for it, to the kindness of a valued friend and laymen in the Church, who has also been a resident in India, and to whom he is glad to acknowledge himself indebted for some valuable criticisms on the foregoing discourse. The Court of Directors of the East India Company, in 1833, forwarded from England a despatch to their Governor General at Calcutta, ordering the discontinuance of the whole System of governmental connexion with idolatry. And yet that Governor General, in council, has found means not only to delay the execution of that order, but even to procure a virtual counter order, by which the whole system of abominations is continued, to the burning grief of many Christian hearts, and to the burning disgrace of the British name. Under this system, Christian officers of government are forced, either to do honor to a foul idolatry, or to resign their places, and ruin their prospects for life. The connexion against which they protest, however, is too adulterous in the sight of God [42/43] to last long. Christian Britain is indignant at its continuance, and heathen Britain must, ere long, return to her fidelity to the Cross.
On the subject of the diseases introduced by modern commerce among the aboriginal population of the earth, much might be said. One of these diseases is that awful scourge, the small-pox, which has already, since the first landing of the Pilgrims in Plymouth, swept off whole tribes of the natives of this great continent. But, dreadful as these ravages have been, they are mild, compared with those which have been committed by another disease. The first number of the Hawaiian Spectator contains an article on "The decrease of Population" in the islands of the Pacific, in which the writer shows that the population of the Sandwich Islands alone, has dwindled, in the space of sixty years, from 400,000 to 110,000; and that this astonishing decrease has been effected by two great causes, alcohol and LICENTIOUSNESS. This writer also remarks, that "the countless aboriginal tribes of North and South America, the whole central and Southern Africa, the hordes of Northern Asia, the islanders of the Indian Ocean, and of the Indian Archipelago, and the unknown myriads of New-Holland, are all involved, more or less, in this question;" the question, viz. "What are the causes of the depopulation of the Sandwich Islands?"
After noticing various causes, which had retarded the growth of population in those islands, and showing that, though they retarded that growth, yet they did not diminish the population itself; he adduces, as the real causes of the diminution, the two above specified. The following is what he says of the latter:
"But alcohol, fatal as have been its effects, has acted but a subordinate part in the work of death. It has murdered its thousands, indeed, but LICENTIOUSNESS has slain its hundreds of thousands. These islands, like others in the Pacific, were inhabited, at the time of their discovery, by a people of loose and licentious manners, but free from disease. This trait in their character formed the magazine of combustibles, to which the match only needed to be applied, and the conflagration followed. But, to speak without a figure, their previous looseness of morals formed a ready conductor for the disease, which was introduced by the first ship that touched there; and, from the account given by the natives themselves, the consequences were incalculably more dreadful than had been feared by Captain Cook and his associates. The deadly virus had a wide and rapid circulation throughout the blood, the bones and the [43/44] sinews of the whole nation; and left, in its course, a train of wretchedness and misery, which the very pen blushes to record. In the lapse of a few years, a dreadful mortality, heightened, if not induced, by their unholy intercourse, swept away one half of the population, leaving the dead unburied, for want of those who were able to perform the rites of sepulture." (Hawaiian Spectator, No. I. p. 61.)