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THE PROTO- MARTYR.
SEVERAL centuries ago, the idea of driving out of Jerusalem its infidel inhabitants was suggested to a mad ecclesiastic. A shorn and bigoted monk of Picardy who had performed many a journey to that fallen city ; who had been mocked and derided there as a follower of the Nazarene ; whose heart burned beneath the wrongs and indignities which had been so freely heaped upon the head of himself and his countrymen, determined to arouse a storm which should send its lightnings to gleam along the streets, and roll its deep thunder to shake the hills which in speechless majesty stand around the city of God.
Pope Martin II. entered into his daring scheme, convened a council of bishops and priests, and gave the sanction of the church to the wild enterprise. This council Peter addressed, and with all the eloquence of a man inspired by a mighty project,
depicted the wrongs and grievances of those who yearly sought, for holy purposes, the sepulchre wherein the Saviour of man reposed after his crucifixion. He was successful in inspiring the people with his own wild enthusiasm. All Europe flew to arms; all ranks and conditions in life united in the pious work; youthful vigor and hoary weakness stood side by side; the cross was worn upon the shoulder, and carried on banners; the watchword “ Deus Vult,” burst from ten thousand lips; and the armies of Christendom precipitated themselves upon the holy land, with the awful war-cry,“ God wills it," echoing from rank to rank.
In later times a mightier, nobler enterprise was originated, and the great system of American Missions commenced. The object was a grand one, and awfully important. It contemplated not the subjection of a narrow kingdom alone, but the complete overthrow of the dark empire of sin ; not the elevation of a human king, an earthly monarch, but the enthronement of an insulted God, as the supreme object of human worship; not the possession of the damp, cold sepulchre in which Jesus reposed after his melancholy death, but the erection of his cross on every hill-side, by every sea-shore, in vale and glen, in city and in solitude. It was a noble design; one full of grandeur and glory, as far surpassing the crusade of Peter the Hermit, as the noonday sun surpasses the dim star
of evening. Its purpose was to obliterate the awful record of human sin; flash the rays of a divine illumination across a world of darkness; and send the electric thrill of a holy life throughout a universe of death.
At first, the missionary enterprise was looked upon as foolish and Utopian. Good men regarded it as utterly impracticable, and bad men condemned and denounced it as selfish and mercenary. The Christian church had not listened to the wail of a dying world, as it echoed over land and ocean, and sounded along our shores; she had not realized the great fact that every darkened tribe constitutes a part of the universal brotherhood of man; her heart had not been touched by the spirit of the great commission, “ Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."
But the sun which ushered in the present century dawned upon a missionary age, and a missionary church. The tide of time had floated man down to a region of light, and the high and holy obligations which rest upon the ransomed of God are being recognized. The question is now asked with deep and serious earnestness,
“Shall we whose souls are lighted
By wisdom from on high,
The lamp of life deny?"
And the answer has been given. The church has felt, realized, and entered into her obligation. By the cross she has stood, her heart beating with kindly sympathy, her cheeks bathed in tears, and her lips vocal with prayer. The Macedonian cry has been heard, and from every nave, and alcove, and aisle, and altar of the great temple of Christianity has
“Waft, waft, ye winds, the story,
And you, ye waters, roll,
Light spreads from pole to pole.”
In the early part of the year 1808, four young men, members of the Divinity School at Andover, became impressed with the importance of a mission to the heathen world. They first looked on the subject at a distance, saw its dim and shadowy outlines, prayed that their visions of a converted world might be realized, and wondered who would go forth the first heralds of salvation. Ere long the impression came that they were the men, and in two years the impression had deepened into a solemn conviction, and they had determined on a life of labor, tears and sacrifice.
In 1810, they made known their plans to an association of Congregational ministers, assembled in Bradford. Although that body of holy men had many fears and some doubts concerning the success of the enterprise, no attempt was made to dampen
the ardor of the young brethren who were resolved to undertake the vast work. Many of the aged men composing that association, thought they could discern in the fervor and zeal of these young apostles of missions, the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. However many were their fears and doubts, they dared not, as they loved the cross, place a single obstacle in the way of the accomplishment of such a lofty purpose ; and when the question was asked by the sceptic, “ Who is sufficient for these things ?” the awful response, “The sufficiency is of God,” came
This movement on the part of Messrs. Judson, Newell, Nott, and Mills, originated the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions - an organization which has its mission stations in almost every part of the world, and which is expending annually the sum of two hundred thousand dollars for the conversion of the heathen. The first missionaries sent out were those above named, who, with one other, were ordained to the work in the Tabernacle Church, in Salem, on the 6th of February, 1812. The ordination scene is said to have been one of peculiar solemnity. The spectacle was an unusual one, and a vast crowd collected together. The spacious church, though filled to overflowing with excitated and interested people, was as silent as the chamber of death, as instructions were given to the young men who were to bid adieu to home and country. On the 19th of February, a cold, severe day, the brig Cara