Page images
PDF
EPUB

moting true religion, and the salvation of souls, in their respective charges or congregations. The general object of Missionaries is the same: their particular object is, the salvation of Gentiles, Mohammedans, and Jews; or of those who do not bear the Christian name : and to this, even the useful exercise of their ministry among professed Christians must be subordinated. Others garrison, as it were, the towns and cities already in our hands, and defend our country from invaders. These go abroad, as voluntarily engaging to invade the enemy's territories, and to venture, and spend, and lay down their lives, in attempting to wrest them from him : and their only stated charge must be, superintending the conquests which God shall enable them to make ; that is, visiting or presiding over the churches which they have planted.

Genuine Missionaries, therefore, are the heroes of the church militant; and are entitled to every degree of affectionate, grateful, and respectful attention from all their brethren, both while they are with us and ever after, which may consist with their retaining those habits of self-denial, and patience in enduring hardship, which are as indispensably required in them, as in those who man our fleets and fight our battles.

No one, however liberal in contributing to the funds from which Missionaries are supported, or active in helping forward the cause, or superior in age and station, or talents, or learning, has any reason to look down on true Missionaries as his inferiors; or to consider himself as their benefactor: for they are the most liberal benefactors to our societies, to whom all who love the cause of Christ are most deeply indebted. Others give their money or their time; but the Missionaries give themselves : they devote their lives, and prepare to spend them, or lay them down, in the cause ; foregoing all prospect of gain or indulgence, and ready to submit to privations and sufferings to promote it. “For his name's sake they went forth, taking “nothing of the gentiles. We, therefore, ought “ to receive such, that we might be fellow-helpers “ to the truth."! I trust, my dear brethren, that you know to whom all the glory is due ; and are ready to say, “Not I, but the grace of God that is (6 with me:” otherwise the honourable distinction would not belong to you.

II. We proceed to the peculiar difficulties, which Missionaries at present must encounter: with some respect to the local circumstances of that situation, to which you, my brethren, are now called.

Under this head, I do not mean to dwell on the hardships and dangers to which Missionaries are exposed from a variety of causes. Many of these are too obvious to need insisting on: others, of a more special nature, have been treated on by men acquainted with the country and climate; and far more distinct and full information may be obtained from others, than I am competent to give : as, likewise, concerning the best methods of guarding against, or surmounting them.

Indeed, one principal thing, in this respect, that requires notice is, in what manner the Society, or Committee, and other friends in England, can best counteract the effects of climate, and other dangers

[ocr errors]

3 John 5-8

to which their Missionaries and families are exposed ; and to this, no doubt, the greatest attention is due, and is and will be paid. A genuine and able Missionary is the Society's most valuable treasure: he is procured with great difficulty, and generally prepared at considerable expense. The death or incapacitating sickness of any one of them is, besides the general loss to the church and to mankind, a heavier loss to the Society than that of a large portion of their funds, and far more irreparable. The will of God in this respect, as in all others, should be silently and reverently submitted to: but every prudent means should be used, every arrangement made, and every expense readily incurred, to prevent Missionaries from being exposed more than the nature of the service necessarily requires ; and the judgment of the most competent persons should be taken, on the best methods in these respects to be adopted. The soldier must be exposed to danger, but the wise and humane commander is careful of the lives of his men, in proportion as they are ready to risk them when necessary. If the Missionaries die, the instruments by which alone we can work are gone; and we can produce no effect, we can do nothing, however large our funds may be.

This digression from our subject will, I hope, be favourably received, as immediately connected with our grand object—the success of the Society in the conversion of the heathen, to the glory of God our Saviour. I trust, my dear brethren, your minds are fully made up to difficulties of this kind : leaving it unreservedly to those concerned, to make such arrangements respecting you as may best

rivation is clear ; and many Hebrew and Syriac words are mixed with the Greek of the New Testament.

. Now, if this was the case even with the copious and highly cultivated Greek language, how must it be with the very scanty language of a people, wholly destitute of learning ? This difficulty, my brethren, I have often pointed out to you; and also what appeared to me the best, if not the only, way of removing it. It will, however, require from you much patience and diligence, and the greatest exertion of your understanding, to find out words or phrases, by which to convey your meaning, even when you become masters of the language. Yet I would by no means discourage you : for I have often observed in your attempts at translating, that you have happily expressed the exact meaning of a text, in the Susoo language, so far as I could judge ; and in a way which never would have occurred to me. This you must cultivate assiduously, when increasing knowledge of the language shall enable you to do it with far greater advantage.

3. The next difficulty, which I shall mention, arises from the extremely different manners, habits, and notions of the natives, in remote countries, from those of our own.

Something of this kind, it may be supposed, the apostles themselves experienced ; but, as I apprehend, in a far inferior degree. The history of the Acts of the Apostles, at least, principally relates to their labours in the countries subjected to the Roman authority, by an union which induced a far greater approximation of habits and notions, than can be supposed to exist between the civilizėd na

tions of Europe, and the 'untutored negroes of Africa.

Many of their customs and manners will appear strange, and even disgusting to you ; but perhaps you will not be aware that your customs and manners are, in general, equally disapproved by them. It is a great victory over local prejudices when Africans

say, * Your ways are good for white men: ours are good for us.' Unless, therefore, you be greatly on your guard, and learn to repress your feelings, and pray constantly to be kept from prejudice, you will be in danger of imbibing sentiments concerning them, even in respect of such things as are not directly sinful, very unfavourable to your cordiality in supporting intercourse with them for their good; and also of dropping words which may excite or strengthen prejudices or reséntments against you. Even the most barbarous people think their own customs the best ; and will barely tolerate you in thinking otherwise : but they can by no means endure any expressions of contempt or ridicule concerning them. Of this, my dear brethren, it is of vast importance, that you should be fully aware.

Here it will be peculiarly needful for you “ become all things to all men;" and, as far as truth and duty will admit, to accommodate yourselves to them, with patience and meekness; bearing any expressions of self-preference in them, however absurd, with calmness and silence; and avoiding every word and action which might intimate surprise or disapprobation ; except where practices or sentiments directly sinful and pernicious are concerned.

to

« PreviousContinue »