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into the origin and identity of the human race, or that which examines the constitution and functions of the mind, or that which explores the monuments of antiquity, or that which searches the wide field of profane history, has long since published its declinature to serve in the cause of infidelity. Earth has no truer sons of science than the very men who bear the Christian name. Lieutenant Maury, one of the first scholars of the age, observes: "I have always found in my scientific studies, that when I could get the Bible to say any thing upon the subject, it afforded me a firm foundation to stand upon, and another round in the ladder by which I could safely ascend." The consistency of the Bible with science, yea, its positive aid within certain well-defined limits, give it a position and prospect of the highest order and grandest character. It silences the most formidable battery that humanity can employ against the system. Scholarship need not disown itself to bow at this altar. We hence conclude, that infidelity has not power enough of any description to pluck up the Gospel tree, which, first planted as a grain of mustard seed, is now spreading its branches over the world. Infidelity has no missionary character, no enthusiasm to inspire it, no organization to give it solidity of form, and no terms or principles of unity to concentrate force. I have no fear that Christianity will ever lose its grasp upon human nature from this cause.
The case as now presented to the vision of hope, surely merits a note of praise. The Gospel being what it is in the end proposed, and having descended from the throne of God, suggests its own strong presumption of success, even if no heavenly oracle had marked its path on the map of the future. The prophetic promise takes up this presumption and reduces it to a certainty. The inherent force of victory which belongs to the system, shows that what the oracle utters, is not too much for reason to credit. For eighteen centuries its power of life has been thoroughly tested; persecution has done its worst; opposing religious systems have fought against it, and fallen before it; in the mysterious providence of God, corrupting agencies have been permitted to try their strength; infidelity, sometimes learned, and always hostile, anxious for a combat, and determined upon victory, has ransacked earth for the weapons of attack, marching and counter-marching in all directions; and yet here is the religion of the Son of God, here its Bible, here its Church, here its Sabbath, here its ministry of the word, here its disciples, here its evidences, here the literature to which it has given birth, here its schools of the prophets, here its Divine Spirit, here its means of life and progress, laying the foundation for an induction as rigid and sober as any that a Bacon or a Newton ever applied to the material system—an induction, moreover, in happy coïncidence with what needs not the induction to be credible. Can that be a false conclusion which has so many signs of being the true one?
Say not, in reply to this argument, that faith in the final triumph of Christianity is a mere whim of its friends. We resent the allegation as an insult to their intelligence. Say not that missionary effort is simply a pious gymnasium to give the zeal of the Church an opportunity to air itself, and profit by the exercise. While we concede the subjective profit, we maintain that the object to be gained, is no dream of human fancy. Say not that the progress has hitherto been too slow, for in respect to moral causes operating in so wide a sphere, man is not competent to decide beforehand what is really slow or really fast. Often what seems to be the tardiness of Providence is really its greatest speed. The actual momentum of events towards a given point, is a question for omniscience to settle. Above all, say not that the world is moving in the backward direction; he who thus talks, has not the soberness of a philosopher or the genius of a true poet, or the faith of a Christian. The world never did move backward; and it never will, while God sits upon the throne. The orbit of moral causation may be a very large one; still progress is, ever has been, and until the end of all things ever will be, the general law of Christian history. The progress of which we speak thus confidently, should not be confounded with the development theory, which, if it mean any thing, either implies or positively asserts, that the Gospel as it came from God in the apostolic age, has been gradually growing into a more perfect form of either truth or statement than that in which it was originally given. God's plan in the bestowment of a revelation did indeed observe the law of progress, stretching over a period of some four thousand years, and gradually increasing both the clearness and quantity of light; yet, when that revelation was complete, as was the fact at the terminus of the apostolic age, there was, as we suppose, no farther opportunity for this kind of progress. What then remained, was to apply the system to human nature, and not to modify or improve it, or even state it in better words than those of the Bible. There were no new facts to be added, no new doctrines, principles, or promises. The thing was to stand as God had left it, not as a crude and imperfect germ, but as a full-grown system in itself, challenging the faith of coming ages. Hence development in the outer, and not in the interior spheres of Christianity, is the only progress that we mean to assert; and this we do assert with a very hearty conviction of its truth.
V. I have perhaps already detained you too long; yet I can not pause without dwelling for a moment upon the corroborating and inspiring FACTS that salute our hopes in the PRESENT AGE. Where are we in this latter half of the nineteenth century? Just where preceding causes have placed us; and, I may add, where posterity will look back to admire the wonders of Providence, and if we do our duty, to bless the God of heaven for our labors. We have
a great trust from the past to keep, and to convey to the future. The enterprise of Modern Missions, in its birth and progress up to the present moment, lies within the lifetime of some who hear me. Those who can look back to the state of the world, both Pagan and Christian, as they saw it and thought of it fifty years ago, need not be told that a most remarkable change has been wrought in this brief period. Could the fathers who wept, and prayed, and hoped, and died at the commencement of this century, be now recalled to the scenes of earth, they would look with a rapture of delight upon what, by reason of its familiarity, may perhaps excite but little emotion in our minds. We are living in the midst of events that will hereafter be decked in the robes of historic grandeur, and that too, not merely in respect to our material improvements, but more especially in respect to the aggressions of Christianity upon the abodes of human darkness. To the man, if such there be, who says that nothing has been done, or that what has been done, creates but a feeble promise for the future, I am inclined to reply by asking him whether he knows what the facts really are, of which he speaks so slightly? What, my hearers, are the facts?
Is it nothing, that a commencement, serious and earnest, and in the fear of God, has been made? Is it nothing, that, since this commencement, a regular and rapidly increasing progress has been secured? Is it nothing, that the Church has been aroused to ⚫ consider, at least to some extent, the claims of her God and Saviour as well as those of a lost world, upon her benevolent effort? Is it nothing, that her sons and her daughters and her worldly substance have been nobly laid upon the altar of Christian Missions? Is it nothing, that twenty-four Home Missionary organizations, thirtytwo Foreign, and ninety-one Bible and Tract Societies, making an aggregate of one hundred and forty-seven large associations of Christian men, all seeking to spread the Gospel throughout the world, have unfurled their banners to the breeze; and are at this moment laboring with their men and their means to carry the religion of Christ to every part of the habitable earth? Is it nothing, that Protestant Christians are now annually spending for this purpose nearly seven millions of dollars? Is it nothing, that one thousand three hundred and sixty-nine missionaries, about four hundred of them being from this country, aided by nine hundred and thirty-four assistant missionaries, and two thousand seven hundred and thirty-seven native helpers, are now at work upon the foreign field? Is it nothing, that two hundred and eleven thousand three hundred and eightynine communicants now adorn the gates of Zion in the regions of Pagan night, besides hundreds and thousands of others who are sleeping in Jesus, and singing in heaven? Is it nothing, that the nominal converts from heathenism at the present moment exceed a million and a half of human beings? Is it nothing, that an entire nation of Pagans-I allude to the people of the Sandwich Islands
-has become as really Christian as we are? Is it nothing, that missionary stations, and in many instances missionary churches are now to be found in almost every part of the heathen world? Is it nothing to have explored the earth, to have become acquainted with the languages, religions, manners, and customs of the benighted nations, to have reduced many of their languages to the written form, to have commenced the process of giving them a Christian literature, to have established schools among them for the education of the young, in short, to have set up the initial elements of a permanent and established power for their final conversion? Is it nothing to have gathered a very large and useful experience both at home and abroad, as to the best manner of doing this work? Is it nothing, that, in the good providence of God, the causes of resistance and difficulty have greatly lessened, while the facilities for action and progress have been as greatly increased? Is it nothing, that the hostile religions of earth are evidently on the decline? Is it nothing, that the Turk begins to inquire for the truth, that he may read the Bible, and become a Christian under the very eye of the Sultan, without working a forfeiture of his life? Is it nothing, that the dead forms of Armenian and Nestorian faith are being penetrated with a new life? Is it nothing, that the wandering Jew, the suffering fugitive of every clime, is forgetting his prejudices, and seeking his Messiah in the person of the historic Jesus? Is it nothing, that the Christian nations, especially those from whom we may reasonably expect the most, are rapidly asserting their intellectual and social mastery over the rest of mankind? Is it nothing, that even the Man of Sin gives unequivocal signs of old age? Is it nothing, that the mental and moral power which must determine the fate of this world, is now held by Christian hands?
I know where I stand, and to whom I am speaking. I am addressing a Christian audience; and would ask, whether the facts of which I have given the merest hint, and which, I may add, are mostly the creation of the last fifty years, are to be set down to the account of nothing? You will not thus read the signs of the times. You will not thus expound either the ways or the ends of Providence. Blot out all these facts, and let the world be what it was, and as it was, at the beginning of this century; and even then we should hope, because the God of heaven bids us to hope; and shall we cease to hope when this same God covers the missionary firmament with the visible signs of his presence? Can we not accept all that his providence produces; and look cheerfully forward to that happy day, when all past providences shall culminate in one? Is it wild enthusiasm to observe facts, and then draw the conclusion to which they manifestly lead, especially when inspiration puts its seal upon the inference? We surely need no new causes in kind, no return to the age of miracles, no departure from the laws of Gospel progression, which are not only taught in the word
of God, but have been tested for the last eighteen hundred years; I say, we do not need this in order to make the final triumph of Christianity a rational object of human hope. The existing dispensation moving forward from its present point, accumulating the ineans of action, intensifying the energy of that action, incorporating into its own bosom the total force of all natural and providential laws, and above all, favored with the presence and gracious power of God-the dispensation which says, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature," and which also says, "And lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world;" this, as we think, is the dispensation in connection with which the heathen will be given to God's Son for an inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for a possession. It is the dispensation of Christian labor, the one that we are now called to use, the one that has been in use for centuries, the one that will yet fill the earth with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
These, my hearers, have been, and in some respects still are very dark days. A great commercial disaster has swept over the land, and fortunes have faded in an hour. Men have not known what to do; they have trodden the walks of business with anxious hearts; their skill has failed them, and in instances not a few, their wearied and exhausted natures have sunk into the griefs of despair. Blessed then be the God of heaven, that in this missionary work there are no panics, no suspended payments, no rapacious creditors, and no heart-broken debtors. Faith here makes a clear sky. Here you may place your investments with perfect safety. The work will carry with it all that is consecrated to it. Your funds here deposited, will come back in the rich rewards of an approv ing conscience, and a smiling heaven. Your children on this altar will be a burnt-offering unto the Lord. Your zeal, your plans, your prayers for this cause will connect your lives with an immortality of blessing. Go forward, then, ye sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty! By all that is sacred in a divine command-by all that is tender in the Saviour's love-by all that is affecting in the condition and wants of the world-by all the resources with which Heaven has honored your pilgrimage-by the precious memories of missionaries whose ashes are slumbering on Pagan soilby the animating hopes that reach far into the future-by all the motives that can be addressed to a Christian mind, we say to you, GO FORWARD. Onward, ye soldiers of the cross, to the conflict and the crown! The eyes of future ages are looking down upon you! All heaven is observing! Though you may fall ere the shout of victory shall rend these earthly skies, still the very banner you now carry, will be floating in the breeze when a world redeemed shall stand waiting for the coming of our Lord. Go forward, and be as immortal as the cause you sever.