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into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature,' is not yet all fulfilled. To whom is left the unfulfilled remainder? To whom but to ourselves? If the gospel has not yet been preached to every creature, whose duty is it to bear the word to those who have not heard it? Is not the duty ours? Are not we disciples of Jesus? Do not we partake of the blessings of his religion, and shall we not be incited by gratitude to impart them? And though we have no miraculous powers to assist us, we have the powers of reasoning and persuasion, and with a religion like ours to inspire them, they cannot be exerted altogether unprofitably. Human nature is every where the same, and men cannot forever refuse what is obviously for their interest and happiness to accept.
If it is our duty to diffuse christianity and its blessings, wherever they are not enjoyed, the next inquiry is, what measures are to be pursued in the performance of this duty. Are we to march abroad among the heathen, without making ourselves acquainted with their manners and habits of thinking, and without consulting our own wants at home? No. But the best way of becoming intimate with their peculiarities, is to study them on the spot of their growth; and, as to our own wants, if we should wait for the conversion of all our countrymen, before we endeavoured to bring any others to the faith, we should probably wait forever. And this I say, without meaning to deny that domestic missions may, on the whole, take precedence in importance, of foreign ones. It is quite true, that on this subject we should be considerate and circumspect, and should exercise our reason as carefully as we should on any other subject of great moment and difficulty.
In considering what ought to be done, reference should be had to what has already been attempted. Experience should here, as every where, be one of our most respected monitors. All the attempts which have hitherto been prosecuted to evangelize the heathen, have been undertaken by those, with whose peculiar views of the christian system I have no sympathy. These views have, as I think, led them into considerable errors, and prevented their making much definite progress in their work. Nevertheless, before I notice these errors, and lest I should be suspected of unworthy motives in doing so, I would take the opportunity of paying my sincere tribute of admiration to the zeal and constancy, which have distinguished the modem missionaries to the heathen. I declare then, that there is something which warms myfeelings like a genial fire, in the sight of men, aye, and women too, forsaking family and home; committing themselves to the broad ocean; throwing themselves into the midst of a strange country, an idolatrous people, and perhaps an unhealthy climate; setting up their humble altar in the very shadow of some huge and worshipped image; suffering all things, enduring all things, disease, imprisonment, insults, and worse than all, neglect, contemptuous neglect; but still maintaining their stand, and refusing to despair, because they came to save souls. Here is something that I can respect. I believe not as they do, that every soul which they fail to convert, is doomed to everlasting misery; I believe not a number of doctrines which they inculcate as indispensable; but, fixed as I am in my own opinions, and ready as I am to avow and defend them, I do not rank myself, nor do I wish to be ranked, among those who coldly condemn all missionary undertakings, as visionary and fanatical; and who, while sitting comfortably at home in the enjoyment of all the ministrations of ease and pleasure, can laugh at those, who, for duty's sake, and in their Master's cause, turn from them all, and sacrifice them all. And if hereafter other hands should conduct, in other, and through God's blessing, in better and more successful ways, the work in which they have been toiling; let it never be forgotten, that they were the pioneers who boldly advanced into the wilderness, and made known its difficulties, if they did not overcome them; acting with a martyr's courage, if not with a prophet's discernment, and serving as guides and beacons even in their wanderings and failures.
Thus having spoken freely in their praise, let me be permitted to speak with equal freedom of what I conceive to be some of their errors. The principal one appears to be, that they are altogether too technical. Conversion, under their management, is a systematic affair, to be effected in a precise manner, according to scholastic rules, and wearing a regular, businesslike aspect. They are too sparing in considerations of universal morality, and too bountiful in phrases of mystical and indefinite meaning. They hedge themselves about with the peculiar notions, which they have transplanted from some theological seminary; and those whom they wish to attract, they of course repel. They begin, as they have been used to do in their' if.
sermons at home, with the doctrine of total depravity. Instead of representing to a native the horrors and evil consequences of the licentiousness and idolatry of his countrymen, they talk to him of his lost state by nature, in consequence of the fall of the first man. They then proceed to lay open to him, that for this guilt, the strict justice of the Supreme Being required an atoning sacrifice, which was made by the only Son of God, who was equal in glory with him, and of the same essence, and who, by submitting to death, appeased the wrath of his Father. Faith in the Son, and in his atonement, they then declare to be the only way of escape from the effects of Adam's transgression; and the native is required to profess this faith, and rely on the merits of Christ, and be baptized.
By those who ought to know, it has been stated, that not a single well informed and educated native of India has yet been made a christian by this process. The fact should excite no wonder. The process consists of a series of technical propositions, which can hardly be supposed to address themselves very forcibly to the understanding, because they are for the most part unintelligible; and these are supported by loose quotations from the Bible, for which the native cannot be supposed to entertain much reverence, for he has not been brought up to reverence it, nor to regard it as of divine authority.
But these errors do not operate so adversely in some places as in others. The islander of the South Seas is less forward with his doubts, objections, arguments and cavils, than the learned Bramin of Hindostan. This cause, and others have operated to render the mission to the Sandwich Islands eminently successful. And should we repine at that success? Heaven forbid! We should rejoice at it. When we read that the inhabitants of those islands have to a very great extent been induced to relinquish their idolatry, their brutal excesses, their barbarous practices; that they have wholly abandoned the horrid custom of human sacrifices; that they have been taught to read and write, and induced to enter with spirit into some of the arts and habits of civilized life, we should rejoice; these are subjects of rejoicing. It is of very little comparative consequence what supposed doctrines of christianity they are taught, so long as they are induced to obey its moral laws, and cultivate its heavenly temper in their heart?. So far from undervaluing, or in any way opposing this particular mission, I should be sorry if it were to languish, and if an urgent call were made on the christian public to support it, under any untoward or threatening circumstances, there are few causes to which J would sooner contribute my feeble exertions.
And yet, though I do not regard the preaching of the doctrines of orthodoxy as much of a hindrance in that part of the world, I do not certainly regard it as a help. It has been of little importance either way; the mission having been successfully advanced by causes with which it had no concern. But in other parts of the world, in India, for instance, I look upon it as a serious detriment. The natives there, or at any rate the higher orders of them, are imbued with various knowledge, acute, and skilled in the arts of disputation. To them the doctrines of trinity and atonement are far from acceptable, for they do not comprehend their value, and they consider them as too similar to that mystic theology of their own nation, which many of them in their hearts despise. Without the countenance of these orders, or individuals belonging to them, no success is to be expected; for the distinction of ranks is carried to such a lamentable excess, that the lower castes are the mere dust on which the others tread, and their opinions are of no importance; indeed they would hardly dare to think, without the approbation of their superiors.
It is impossible to say, exactly, what course ought in all points to be pursued in the attempt of christianizing India. But I think it undeniable, that it should be far more simple, practical and rational, than that which has hitherto been tried. The superior morality of the gospel should chiefly be insisted on; the great doctrines of the unity of God, his perfections and his providence, should be placed in contrast with the absurd features of polytheism; and the purifying precepts of Jesus with the solemn contradictions of philosophy and the degrading maxims of the world.
An opportunity has lately been offered to those who have long wished to see christianity thus preached in India, by a call for assistance and cooperation from some of similar sentiments there, seconded by the wishes of that distinguished native, Rammohun Roy, and a few of his countrymen. A way is thus laid open for the introduction of simple christianily, of unitarian christianity, into those immense and populous regions. Great immediate success is not to be looked for; but much may be accomplished by perseverance and good judgment; and I rejoice that those of liberal opinions are now enabled to come forward, and heartily unite in the great work of foreign improvement.
I do not venture to foretell, that this opportunity will be embraced by so many, that any effectual aid will be rendered from this part of the world. I can only hope and pray that it will. If after all our efforts, our work should fail, I trust we shall bear the disappointment with equanimity; if it should succeed, I trust that we shall never be seduced to follow a bad example, and forget the meekness of christians, by indulging an unseemly triumph over those who now exalt their horn and speak scornfully of our people; I trust that we shall imitate, as well as praise 'the spirit of the simple, unpretending, noiseless Moravians.' Yours, &c.
More'* Royal Rule for Readers.
[Extract from the Preface General to a Collection of several Philosophical Writings of Dr. Henry More, 2d Edition, 1662, being part 'of certain Advertisements for the more profitable perusing*his Books.']
If any expect or desire any general instruction or preparation for the more profitably perusing of these my writings, I must profess that I can give none which is peculiar to them, but what will fit all writings that are writ with freedom and reason. And this one Royal Rule I would recommend for all, Not to judge of the truth of any proposition till we have a settled and determinate apprehension of the terms thereof. Which law though it be so necessary and indispensable, yet is there none so frequently broken as it; the effect whereof is, those many heaps of voluminous writings and inept oppositions and controversies that fill the world. Which were impossible to be, if men had not got a habit of fluttering mere words against one
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