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perish! “Immediately,---immediately," said Paul, “I conferred not with flesh and blood.” He asked not, ---Will they listen to me? He returned not to Jerusalem, to ask counsel of the Apostles whether it was best for him to make the attempt; but at once he went into Arabia and returned again to Damascus.
2. I remark again, that the spirit of missions is a spirit of unconditional dedication to the service of Christ.
Paul conferred not with flesh and blood. He took no counsel, as we have seen, with those who were apostles before him,—who might, perhaps, have suggested to him the propriety, of one so recently converted and so late a persecutor, of introducing himself very cautiously as a servant of Christ, and an advocate of his doctrine. Much less did he confer with his former associates, the Priests and Pharisees, who would have upbraided him with his apostacy, and threatened him with the exemplary vengeance of the Sanhedrim. Least of all did he consult with his personal relations, his mother and brothers and friends-who might have overwhelmed him with their tears of horrid regret, and melted away the firmness of his purpose by the warmth of their unfeigned sorrow. Paul made no stipulations. He had no mental reservations. He asked no excuse—no delay. And precisely such must be the spirit of every Christian who would efficiently subserve the interests of Christ's kingdom. Like Samuel, he must submit himself, saying, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.” Like Israel at Carmel he must exclaim, “ The Lord he is God--ALL that the Lord hath spoken, that will we do.” He must feel the force of the rebuke which Jesus Christ gave to the man who said, “ Let me first go and bury my father.” “ Let the dead bury their dead, follow thou
3. But I have run insensibly into another attribute of the spirit of missions—it is the totality of its dedication : its self sacrificing, all sacrificing nature.
It reserves nothing—ABSOLUTELY NOTHING from this holy consecration. Time, talents, power, property, ease, friends, home, comforts, all are laid at the feet of Christ.
This was eminently the case with the apostle to the Gentiles. On the altar of this devotion he laid his fame, which would have been more immediately promoted by continuing to sit at the feet of Gamaliel, and directly succeeding to the place of the chief Rabbi. ·
Here, he sacrificed those brilliant talents which would have gained him renown on earth in any ordinary walk of life.
Here, he devoted his time, without interruption, from the day that he left the house of his blindness to the day of his death. Here, he offered up home and friends as a sacrifice, and became a stranger to his mother's children, and an accursed exile from his father's home.
Here, he compromitted the ease and comfort which he would have enjoyed as an honored Rabbin, and gave himself up to labors almost superhuman, and to perils almost alarming and frightful and to sufferings almost beyond the power of man to bear. And on this altar, too, he sacrificed his life, in the same bloody tragedy of persecution at Rome. All this he did and suffered, that he might preach Christ among the heathen, “and make known to them who were without God and without hope in the world, that only name given under heaven among men whereby we can be saved.”
And this, dear brethren, is the only true spirit of piety or of missions in any age of the world. If it was appropriate for Paul, a recent and partially enlightened convert from Judaism-then surely, it must be so for those who have “ from a child known the scriptures, and for many years professed to feel its power and obey its monitions. If it was appropriate and not extravagant in the age of Paul, when the group of heathen nations was comparatively small-how much more is it so now, when their number amounts almost to millions upon millions, multiplied !
II. Let us now direct our attention to the inquiry, Does this spirit exist in its true character in the churches ?
It will be conceded that this inquiry involves some difficulty and delicacy. To impute or infer wrong in individual cases, without a full knowledge of all the circumstances, would be doing manifest injustice. To ascribe to the inefficiency or sinful inaction of man, that which was prevented or retarded by the purpose and providence of God, would be to reproach a creature for not accomplishing an impossibility, and perhaps, too, reproaching the great Ruler of the world for the tardiness of his operations. But our discussion will not proceed on any dim and doubtful references to the inscrutable purposes of God, or the possible agency of men; but on the known and ordinary calculations respecting the manifestations of character, and the results of human effort. On these premises we may approximate a just conclusion, by considering,
1. The number of Christian ministers as compared with the number of Christian men engaged in other professions and avocations.
That all Christians are not bound to be ministers or missionaries, does not require an argument to prove. Even in aggressive war, there must be some to abide by the staff, as well as some to go forth to the battle. All Christian men are not qualified by nature, though they were by grace, to be leaders of the “sacramental host." Every one cannot enjoy those advantages of intellectual culture which are ordinarily necessary as a qualification to preach the gospel. But with all these necessary exceptions, the question still recurs; is a just proportion of Christian men devoted to the business of propagating the faith of Christ? Here we must inquire-What is the just proportion, and then what is the fact ? As to the first of these inquiries, we have a very peculiar and divine solution. In the Jewish economy, one tribe out of twelve-and by ordinary calculation, one man out of twelve was devoted to the service of religion. Now, abate the due proportion of priests to all the Levites by another ratio of one twelfth, or even one twentieth, and then there might be one priest to every two hundred and forty men, or four hundred and eighty souls of the Jewish population ; and that alone for the domestic service. Or, think on the divine claim for which the tribe of Levi was a substitute, viz: that the first born son of every family in all their tribes should belong to the Lord. Ah, brethren, is there any such proportionate consecration to the peculiar service of the kingdom of Christ among Christians of our day in any of the churches? The most accurate statistics that we have been permitted to see, do not give to our domestic service a minister of any Christian name to a thousand of our population : and of the ministers of all denominations, taking one third as the proportion of men to women in the churches; only one in forty of all who profess Jesus Christ have given themselves to the service of the ministry both at home and abroad.
2. We may aid and correct our judgment on this subject by a comparison of the number of ministers who remain at home and who go abroad. Our calculation here on such imperfect statistics as we could reach, is as follows: among evangelical denominations, taken all together, not over one in ten. Among the Moravians, Methodists and Baptists, it may be somewhat more; among the Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Independents, somewhat less. The number of disabled, diverted and unemployed ministers is nearly as great as that of missionaries. And does this proportion, my brethren, indicate the true spirit of missions? While the number of heathen and irreligious people is to that of nominal Christians nearly as six to one, and the number of Evangelical Christians to the rest of the world, as only one to twenty-five or thirty-does the spirit of missions move on the mass when there is but one minister out of forty Christians, and one missionary to ten ministers.” Oh, how different from this state of things it must be, before the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the hills and all nations shall flow unto it?
3. I may propose another test of the prevalence of the spirit of missions. It is the amount of money spent by christians for the propagation of the religion of Christ, as compared either with what the world spends on favorite objects, or what christians themselves spend on important concerns.
Could we carry out this calculation with precision, many singular facts would be disclosed. But I may only say that the expense of the late Chinese war is greater than the expense of all christendom, in attempting to evangelize the world; the expense of maintaining one ship on our African station, is greater than all the United States are incurring for the conversion of the world.
The expense arising from the consumption of tea, tobacco, rum, or wine, severally, is greater than the expense of the whole christian world in giving the gospel to the heathen. Oh, if there were a spiritin the church to pay for the progress of religion as there is in the world to pay for ambition—for luxury, soon would the missionary treasury run over with abundance.
But judge further, by the comparative expense christians themselves incur for the cause of Christ. It is calculated that the Jews gave one third—some judge one half of all their income for the service of religion. What do the churches and individual christians of our churches give? I suppose in a church of one hundred male members, in a city, including many wealthy men, it is not extravagant to calculate that, on an average, their annual income is $2000 each, or $200,000 a year. Would it not be deemed liberal if that church should give $2000 per annum for missions ? But that amounts to but one hundredth part of the general income. Does this indicate the true spirit of missions ?
Or see yonder a christian parent. He is blessed with an ample income. He does not hesitate a moment to spend $500 a year, on the education of his son or daughter : but if he has given $50 or $100 to missions, he feels that he has honored his profession and been quite generous to the cause. Oh, brethren, is the spirit of missions such as it was in Paul, in the bosom of this rich brother ?
4. But in the absence of all precise rules of judgment, we might approach near to a just conclusion, by considering what has been already accomplished on the missionary field. By the zeal and selfdenial--the missionary character and labors of the apostles, with the power of the Holy Ghost accompanying ---they spread abroad the knowledge of Christ
, through a great portion of the known world, in a few years, notwithstanding the immense difficulties of travelling and transmission. It is now nearly a half century since the revival of the missionary spirit in the evangelical churches, and what has been accomplished? We gratefully record that goodly foundations have been laid---valuable materials have been gathered---but the watertable has been scarcely put up of the magnificent temple in which all nations are to worship God in spirit and in truth.
On the wide waste of heathenism, here and there, a fountain has been opened an oasis has begun to bloom and spread-a tent, as of way-faring men, has been pitched; but they are so widely distant from each other, that storms of faithlessness and fear often terrribly blow between, and nearly darken all hope of the future. In the night of ages, which so long lay on the nations, a light has been kindled on a Bethel here and a Pisgah there ; but they are so few and far between, that no ray from either, meets and mingles on the still, dark, and gloomy interspace. Ah, could this be the state of things if the true spirit of missions was rife in the churches ? Would not thousands have risen in the spirit of Norbal de Nobilibus, or Xavier-of Hans Egede or Fred. Schwartz ? Would not all Christendom have become a vast propaganda, into whose treasury the royal legacies of the rich, and humble gifts of the poor, would have fallen together ?Would not now the voice of Christian praise have resounded from Astoria to the Horn-from Good Hope to the pillars of Herculesthence to Spilslingen—from the Naze over the Humalagruy to Comorin, and among all the islands of the sea ? O, my brethren, we have heard of this spirit, we have seen it, in some individual examples, flash like a beautiful meteor across the horizon; but we are yet waiting to see it stand, like the king of day, on high meridian, filling all the sphere of human life with light, and warmth, and joy, and praise.
III. Our next inquiry is, Whose duty and privilege is it to possess this missionary spirit ?
This inquiry may be thought identical with another, similar in its terms, but far different in its answer, viz: Whose duty is it to engage in the missionary work—to leave country, home and friends, and to preach Christ to the heathen ?
This latter is an exceedingly difficult question, when it is referred to any given individual. So many local and personal circumstances may enter into a judgment respecting personal duty, that the most single minded individual, and the most practised adviser, may be at fault in decision. But as to the general indications, they seem to be plainly like the following:
1. Aptness for acquisition and instruction. Much is to be learned of the languages and habits of life and thought of the heathen, and much is to be insinuated into the minds of the natives by the power and working of the grace of God; which no one, who is not blest with natural aptitude for the work, may hope to compass till he dies.
2. Mental culture and discipline are necessary, for the same reason.
3. Supposed talent ought to be tried to a certain extent. An entire novice ought in general not to engage in this, nor ought such an one to be chosen for this most difficult and responsible work.
4. But ardent, unquestionable piety, is an indispensable indication of duty. Let no one dream of the missionary work whose heart does not heave with the love of Christ, and almost break for the longing it has for the salvation of souls. Like Paul, the habitual state of the missionary soul should be, “ Wo is me, if I preach not the gospel.” Wo is me, if I leave these poor heathen to perish without every practicable effort on my part to save them from death.
5. Providential direction is a prime indication. If God remarkably open the way-raise up friends to aid the necessary preparation-turn my attention often to the subject-constantly touch my heart with pity and desire for the heathen--and when I am ready, open a field for my labor-how can I then doubt the will of heaven as to my destination, and the work I am to do.
But must the spirit of missions be restricted to those who are called to go forth to preach, or to be helpers of those who do preach ? By NO MEANS.. Is religion one thing to the missionary, and another thing to the minister or christian at home? Is the Savior more dear to him who is called to grapple with difficulties among the heathen, than he should be to him who serves Him in quietness and peace in his native land ? I trow not. The christian at home is bound to pity and love the souls that are perishing for lack of vision, precisely as much as the