Abbildungen der Seite

and then you may hope that they will hear and understand when you unfold the sublime principles of the Gospel *.' .“ Plausible and popular as this objection is, it is equally unsupported by reason, by Scripture, or by fact.

" If the gospel cannot succeed among the Indians, for example, the obstacle must be either in their understandings, or in their manner of life.

66 The former opinion supposes a wider difference between the understanding of the man of the woods and the man of the city than what does, in fact, take place. The human mind is not, in any country, below the reach of discipline and religious instruction. The American Indian, the Pacific Islander, and the African Negro, are shrewd men, whose intellectual capacity will not suffer in comparison with the uneducated classes of people on the continent of Europe t. Why should it, since it is culture, and that alone, which destroys the level of abilities naturally cqual ? Surely the Indian, whose necessities compel him not only to hunt and fish for his subsistence, but to be, in a great measure, his own artificer, as well as the guardian of his private and public right, must be superior, in point of general understanding, to those vast bodies of Europcans whose intelligence the division of labour has confined to a detached article of manufacture, or to the merely servile operations of agricul. ture. Indeed, all the national transactions with the Indians shew them to possess great acuteness, and no small share of what learning cannot bestow, - common sense. How seldom will yon find (I do not say among the vulgar, but among the polished orders of society) better specimens of well-formed ideas, and of genuine eloquence, than are frequent in the Indian talks ! : “If, on the other hand, their manner of life be considered as presenting the decisive obstacle, this opinion supposes it much more difficult to alter outward habits than inward principles, Christians will not dispute that the gospel can and does transform both the heart and the character; yet it is thought unable to overcome a propension to wandering from place to plače. The plain meaning of the objection, therefore, is this : That some means, more powerful than the gospel, must be applied to civilize the Indians, and prepare them for its reception; for if it be admitted that the gospel can civilize as well as save, the objection falls at once to the ground. But if its power to civilize be denied, whilst its power to save is admitted, it becomes the objectors to shiew the reason of this distinction ; and also what those more effectual means of civilization are. Be they what they may, since the gospel is excluded, they must be merely human ; and then the principle of the objection turns : out to be this:- That the wisdom of man is better adapted to civilize the Indians than the wisdom of God !

* Dr. Hardy's (of Edinburgh) Sermon before the Society, in Scotland, for Propagating Religious Knowledge, p. 14. 't Ibid. p. 15,

“Further : The objection supposes that savages are to be civilized without any religious aid ; -for whatever arguments prove the utility, in this matter, of religion at all, conclude, with tenfold energy, in favour of the religion of Christ. But to neglect the religious principle, would be to neglect the most potent auxiliary which can be employed in managing human nature, and to act in the spirit of that wise philosophy which would erect Civil Society upon the basis of Atheism.

“ It would swell this note into a dissertation, to state the various considerations which militate against the idea of civiliz. ing the Indians before we attempt to christianize them. But granting this for a moment to be necessary, Who shall effect it? Philosophers ? Merchants? Politicians ? If we wait for them, the sun will expend his last light, and the business be unfinished. The Indians have had intercourse with the whites, in the concerns of trade and policy, nearly two hundred years, and most of them are as wild as ever. To put off evangelical missions to them, till, in the ordinary course of things, they become civilized, is, therefore, equivalent to putting them off for ever.

“2. If the opinion, That the gospel can succeed only among civilized people, receives little countenance from reason, it receives less from Scripture.

“ No such restriction of its influence is contemplated in prophecy. Its universal reception is the subject of numberless predictions ; but they contain not a hint that the want of civi. lization shall be such a bar to its progress as is commonly imagined. On the contrary, it is expressly declared, that the most roying and untutored tribes shall rejoice in Messiah's sal. vation, even while they retain their unpolished characters and manners. “Sing unto the Lord a new song! Let the wilder. ness and the cities therefore lift up their voice, - the villages * that Kedar doth inhabit! Let the inhabitants of the rock sing ! Let them shout from the tops of the mountains +!" Beyond all controversy, the general sense of the prophet, in the words of that elegant scholar Bishop Lowth, is, ihat the most un. cultivated countries, and the most rude and uncivilized people, shall confess and celebrate, with thanksgiving, the blessing of the knowledge of God, graciously imparted to them I.' And he particularizes, as an example, those wild Arabs, who, in every point of comparison, were as inaccessible to the gospel as the American Indians.

“No such restriction was thought of by the apostle Paul : he was a debtor not more to the Greeks than to the barbarians ş. He maintains that, in the body of Christ, there is neither Greek nor Jew, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor frce :'-- a position which evidently assumes, that barbarians or Scythians might be Chrisa tians no less than Jews or Greeks, bondmen or free.

+ Isaiah xlii. 10, 11. I Translation of Isaiah, Notes, p. 198, 4to. Rom. i. 14. Col. iii. Il, “ No such restriction is to be found in the commission which the Lord Jesus hath left his church. Thus it runs : " Go and teach all nations ; — go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature;” manifestly every human creature, for such only are objects of the gospel salvation. Not a syllable about civilization. And unless it can be proved that Indians and other savages are neither nations nor human creatures, or, if they are, that they are in no part of the world, the prejudice we are combating must be abandoned, as in direct opposition to the will and the commandment of Christ.

* Or tents.

“ Such a restriction, moreover, effaces the chief character and glory of the gospel, viz. that “ it is the power of God to salvation.” Were it, what many take it to be, a system of mere moral suasion, of cool, philosophic argument, the case would be different, and the prejudice just. Indians and Hottentots are, indeed, rather rough materials for a religion .cantly styled 'rational. But whoever knows any thing of real Christianity, knows, that the conversion of a sinner is the exclusive work of

Jehovah the Spirit. It is this principle, and this alone, which makes the preaching of the word to men “dead in trespasses and sins,” a reasonable service. Now, to say that the gospel cannot succeed among a people not previously civilized, is to say, either that it is not the power of God, or that there are some things too hard for Omnipotence! .:

“ 3. This opinion, dissonant from reason and Scripture, is also contrary to fact. .

66 Was the world universally civilized when Christianity was promulgated ? or did it prosper only in civilized countries ? What were the ancient Getulæ, in Africa ? the Sarmatians and Scythians, in Europe ? If we can credit history, they were as remote from civilization as the American Indians. Yet, ainong these, and other nations equally uncultivated and savage, had the gospel, in the time of Tertullian, established its reignt. And in Britain it penetrated into those places which Roman arts and arms had never been able to reach .

“This general assertion might be amplified in an interesting detail, and might receive additional force from the sanctions of modern history. But either would protract, to an immoderate, length, a note already too long. We may, however, ask, Why the gospel should be unequal to the effects which it formerly produced, and of which its friends made their just and unanswerable boast ? Let us fairly risk the experiment, whether the cross of Christ has lost its influence on barbarian minds. Instead of waiting till civilization fit our Indian neighbours for the gospel, let us try whether the gospel will not be the most + Tertull. adversus Judæos, cap. vii. opp. p. 139, Ed. Rigaltii.

Inaccessu Romanis loca. Id. ib. A number of testimonies to the same facts are collected in that learned work of Grotius, De erilai: keligionis Christianx', opy. tom. io. p. 46, 47, fol. Lond. 1679.

successful means of civilizing them. The grace of the Lord Jesus will do what philosophy and the arts will never do, — tame the wild heart, and there is no doubt of a corresponding alteration in the conduct. One Christian institution alone, the holy Sabbath, will go farther to civilize them in a year than all human expedients in a century. Driven continually before an extending frontier, --- their manners debauched by the commerce of unprincipled whites,-their number diminishing by war and by vice,--the only alternative which seems to be offered them is, Conversion or Extermination."


On a summer's evening, as Corylus was looking on the descending sun, he was led to reflect on the termination of his own life: "O! that I could sink into my grave with the same composure as the light of the world has left my country !" He sat down and reclined his head on his hands; fatigued by the labours of the day, he fell asleep, and dreamed that he met with his deceased brother in his father's house, who announced to him his speedy departure from time to eternity. "I have obtained,” said he, - permission from God to make your bed in your sickness, to assuage the anguish of death, -- to lead you through the dark valley, and introduce you into the presence of God; for I have often heard you say, there is no one returned to tell the sad tale, -- what dying is.” Corylus then asked his brother what dying was. “I am not authorized to say,” he replied, " what it is; but I am commissioned to be your guide and comfort in your afliction. Remember that I am your brother; you never doubted my affection towards you ; I remain the same; have full power from God to minister to you every possible comfort that wisdom can dictate or kindness perform : I have suffered, and can, therefore, sympathize ; I have died, and know what dying means." Corylus was comforted; he waited for the summons; but, looking round on his family, his aflections were wounded, and the tumult of his heart awoke him from bis slumbers. He arose, and wished his dream realized ; wlier, putling his hand into his pocket, and taking out his Bible, he read, “ For both he that sanctifieth, and they that are sanctified, are all one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them Brethren, saying, "I will declare thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thec.” Yes, he said, my brotlier has died indceti, and is alive again. I have trust in the merits of his cross; I have hoped in the prevalence of his intercession; and I will rely on the veracity of his promises, and the perpetuity of his affection. Who can separate me from the love of Christ?- not even death. " Yra, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil," &c.



Regenera of God alps. It is ac calculated

Some general remarks having been made in a former essay*, on the Efficacy of Grace, it is the design of this paper to investigate that important subject, as it is illustrated in extraordinary conversions. Conversion is a figurative term ; and, in its generally acknowledged acceptation, supposes an essential change in the state and character of its subjects; it is, therefore, adopted, on the present occasion, as synonimous with Believing, Regeneration, and Effectual Calling. Conversion is the work of God ; - of God alone; and this work he often accomplishes in extraordinary ways. It is accomplished under such circumstances as are pre-eminently calculated to excite attention, admiration, surprize, and astonishment. As in the government of the world he is sometimes pleascd to dispense with the established laws of naturr, -- So, in the dispensations of grace, he displays the sovereignty of his good pleasure, by sometimes departing from the usual course of his procedure in the salvation of souls.

To confirm the truth of this remark, let us, in the first place, attend to local circumstances. Let us go in the spirit of meditation to the dark places of the earth, where vice and violence long defied and baslled every attempt to introduce the means of salvation ; and which seemed as if wholly abandoned of God to perish by the tyranny of the destroyer. In such places we have seen the prey taken from the mighty ; --- We have beheld the glorious triumplis of God our Redeemer, in the deliverance of captive sinners from their galling yoke, and in bringing them to enjoy the transcendent blessedness of spiritwal liberty. By some great and unexpected event, or by some, peculiar conjunction of circumstances, a wide and effectual door has been opened for the preaching of the truth; and, by that truil, the strongest holds of siu have surrendered to his victorious arir, who was manifested to destroy the works of darkness. The carlier days of the gospel dispensation, and every subsequent period of it, afford some illustrative evidence of the omnipotence of Jesus over all that is hostile to his mediatorial government; and the innumerable trophies already erected by his omnipotent : hand, will be contemplatod, with joyful anticipation of his universal reign, by all who are devoted to the promulgation of his gospel,

When the gospel thus makes its way to those parts of a country where the God of this work Iras maintained an undisturbed authority, we are generally presented with some singular

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »