« PreviousContinue »
religious knowledge, resulting from an acquaintance with Missionary intelligence, is a fuller knowledge of our privileges and our duty. Until we know the characters and wants of the poor heathen, we cannot properly estimate our own blessings, or the obligations we are under to send to them relief. It is when we behold them presented before us by the faithful pen of the Missionary, in all the darkness and wretchedness of their present condition, and the infinitely deeper darkness which is brooding over their prospects for eternity, that our consciences are aroused to a sense of obligation, and we come to feel that we have duties to perform respecting them with which we cannot longer dispense.
3. An attention to Missionary intelligence is fitted to call into lively and vigorous exercise every Christian grace.This is a just conclusion from what has been already said; since growth in knowledge among real Christians, to whom every attainment is ultimately sanctified, necessarily implies growth in grace. But the point under consideration is capable of being illustrated, otherwise than by mere inference. What Christian can witness the strong representations frequently made in the pages of a Missionary journal of the native depravity of our race, and the depth of moral turpitude to which we are capable of descending, without feeling his benevolence excited, and the pride of his heart wounded and humbled? Or who can contemplate the wonders of power and mercy which God is continually performing in respect to such depraved, debased creatures, in bringing them to the knowledge and enjoyment of the gospel, without the liveliest emotions of admiration and gratitude, and the sincerest praise? Or who can reflect on the evidence thus furnished of the faithfulness of the Su
preme Being that he remembers all his promises, and will speedily accomplish them, and not feel inclined to look up to him with increased affection, confidence, and joy? The accounts also which are furnished of the liberality, fidelity, and zeal of the recently established Churches among the heathen, are fitted more than any thing to reprove the slumbers of christians at home, and excite them to new and greater efforts in the service of their Lord.
4. By an acquaintance with facts relative to Missions, every plausible objection to the Missionary cause may be removed.-The most charitable conclusion respecting those objections which are commonly urged against Missions is, that they are the result of ignorance. Persons do not make themselves acquainted with plain matter of fact pertaining to the subject; and of course unreasonable objections are conceived and retained. But all objections of this nature would instantly vanish, on a candid and careful perusal of Missionary intelligence. The objections, for instance, that the heathen are as safe and happy with their religion as we are with ours-that the principal object of Missionaries in their excursions is personal ease and aggrandizement-that the funds contributed for their support are wickedly squandered—and that their labors among the heathen are attended with no success ;-objections like these could no more subsist with a full knowledge of facts such as are daily published, than the darkness of midnight could subsist under the burning beams of a meridian sun. The most effectual method of dealing with honest minds, and removing their objections to the cause of Missions, is to continue publishing the
truth, and to make them acquainted so far as possible with Missionary intelligence.
5. A careful attention to this species of intelligence excites an interest, and promotes an enlightened zeal, in favor of Missions.-The reason why so many persons, and among them some of hopeful piety, feel no more interested in the cause of Missions, is, they know very little about it. They may have heard remarks on the subject of Missions, and may have heard as much against them, as for them; but of the plainest facts, those which have been often published, they remain in almost total ignorance. This ignorance is, to be sure, inexcusable. When the light is shining all around them, they ought to see it. They ought to become acquainted with facts relative to the advancement of the Redeemer's kingdom; and whenever they do this, they will unavoidably feel an interest on the subject of Missions. This work is so obviously good, so palpably benevolent, that no person of common candor or humanity can become acquainted with it, and not feel an interest excited in its favor. And as his acquaintance with it is continued and increased, the interest he takes in it will be increased. It will grow and rise just in proportion to his knowledge. And ere he is aware (i. e. if he has a good heart) he will find it has kindled into engagedness and zeal, and that he is now not only a friend, but a warm advocate and supporter, of the Missionary cause. His heart, his hands, his.. tongue, his pen, are all enlisted in its favor. He watches with interest its various movements, rejoices in its success, and is prepared to participate in its ultimate triumphs.-The proper mode of producing this desirable state of feeling in respect to Missions, is to scatter the light of truth and of facts; and there
is, I am persuaded, light enough on the subject, which either has been or may be scattered, to excite a lively interest, and a glowing zeal, in every pious heart.
6. A careful attention to Missionary intelligence affords great and constant encouragement in the Missionary work.-A person might feel deeply interested in this work-he might be a zealous advocate and supporter of it; and yet, were he ignorant of the facts which from time to time have been published respecting it, he would be in great danger of becoming wearied and discouraged. The work he would see was great; he might think himself almost alone in it; and he would probably relinquish it under the desponding impression that it never could be accomplished. A proper acquaintance with Missionary intelligence is an effectual security against such despondency, and affords the friends of Missions great and constant encouragement to persevere. In attending to this, they discover, that although the work is great, they are not alone in it. ands of Israel are all united with them. thousands and ten thousands in different parts of the globe, whose hearts and hands are resolutely engaged to carry it forward, and bring it to the desired result. And they discover farther, that the united efforts of the friends of Missions are crowned with
great and signal success. Much has been already done; a deep impression has been made on the kingdom of darkness; the throne of superstition, in some regions, is completely overturned; in others, it is tottering on its bloody base; and nothing is wanting but persevering effort and prayer, united with the promised blessing of heaven, in order to the moral renovation of the world. In view of these animating
facts, the hands of the friends of Missions are strengthened, and their hearts encouraged, and they ' devote themselves to the cause they have espoused with renewed diligence, devotion, and zeal.
7. An acquaintance with Missionary intelligence excites to prayer for the success of Missions, and fits us to pray with understanding as well as fervor. Prayer is an expression of our desires to God; and the power of prayer is ever in proportion to the ardor of these desires. But it is impossible to excite and sustain an ardor of holy desire in respect to Missions, except by a knowledge of facts in relation to the subject. And an acquaintance with facts is requisite to our praying with understanding, as well as with fervor. If we were requested to intercede for a friend in affliction, we should wish to know the circumstances of his affliction. Or if we were to offer prayers for any desirable object, we should wish to know the facts respecting it. So when we pray for the success of Missions; in order that our prayers may be appropriate, and may flow forth from an enlightened mind and a fervent heart; it is necessary that we keep up an acquaintance with Missionary Intelligence. Otherwise, we shall be liable to ask, we know not what, and our prayers must of necessity be formal and ineffectual.
8. An acquaintance with Missionary intelligence excites to an enlightened and well directed liberality, in our contributions for the support of Missions. True liberality is very different from a lavish and wasteful disposition. The liberal man may entertain a high sense of the value of property; but he is willing to bestow it, so far as it is his duty, whenever he is made acquainted with great and worthy objects. To bestow it upon objects with which he was unacə