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The plan of sending out missionaries to the slaves separately, if carried into effect, would be likely to be attended with great opposition from that part of the masters who are unfriendly to religion, and of consequence to prevent the easy access which every pious minister should have to the slaves of his congregation.
If the country could be provided with a sufficient number of pious ministers, they would be the most unobjectionable, and, on the whole, the most useful preachers to slaves. As no master, but one decidedly hostile to all religion, would object to any religious instruction which such an one might offer. In the want, however, of a sufficient number of seuled ministers, the better way would be, in sending missionaries to the south, to make no stir about sending them to the slaves at all, but to send them out as perfectly unlimited missionaries, with an understanding that they were to pay a particular and prudent regard to the slaves. Indeed a northern missionary to slaves, might alarm even the best people at the south ; and it would be very strange, if, in the exercise of un guarded zeal, he did not do a serious mischief. It should be one principle with him, to make his communications by permission, and if possible, in the presence of the masters. Fact docs not seem to justify, altogether, the recommendation of your correspondent to having separate churches for slaves; since great numbers do in fact belong, as communicants, to the different churches throughout the south. The black communicants are often more numerous than the whites, and the line of distinction between the two, at the celebration of the Lord's Supper, is much less distinctly drawn than in most churches at the norib.
The recommendation of your correspondent to inculcate obedience, is doubtless consistent with scripture, and it is not inconsistent with a due regard to the slaves; for in their present state, their emancipation could not be more fatal to the whites than it would be to their own best interests.
The spiritual interests of our slave population deserve, if on the one hand, as the above remarks suggest, our prudent, they do as certainly deserve our constant and zealous attention. Whatever may be the difficulties which a consideration of the subject may suggest, it is not required by prudence, that we arrest our feelings of compassion, but that we daily endeavour to discover the course in which compassion, and wisdom, and prudence, may proceed together.
REVIEW. FOREIGN Missions. A Sermon, preached May 9th, 1819, at the
Anniversary of the United Foreign Missionary Society, in the Garden-street Church, New-York, by EDWARD D. Griffin, D.D. Published by request, 1819. pp. 27.
It is much io be regretted, that so small a circulation is giver to those single Sermons, which, like the one before us, are eminently calculated to be useful. They are left to lumber the warcroom of the printing office, and the shelves of the booksellers, while hundreds require the very information and impulse which they are well fitted to afford. There exists a prejudice against publications of this sort which we think very unreasonable, but which has not been wholly without cause. There prevailed some years ago, the miserable practise (which has not wholly gone into its deserved desuetude,) of publishing almost every occasional sermon as a compliment to the preacher.--A wretched compliment it was indeed. Whenever a publication was thus brought forward, which was capable of affording to the public neither pleasure nor profit; and to the author, no other credit than that of having his name upon the titlepage of a book which was never to be read, and to mingle in the general heap of printed rubbish.
Thus Sermons have fallen into disrepute, and few purchasers are found for the best writings of the kind, except those who are immediately connected with ihe preacher or the occasion. From this fact, again it occurs that the price must be disproportionably high, in order that the few copies sold may defray the expenses of publication the very plan to prevent an extensive circulation.
Admitting thus, in their full force, the reasons which have tended to prevent the circulation of single sermons, we are still disposed to assert, that an unreasonable prejudice prevails. It is unreasonable, because it totally disregards the intrinsic merit which many of them possess, and confines their influence to a very narrow circle, when often the subject is of momentous and general importance. It is unreasonable, for though some sermons of litile merit may still issue from the
press, it prevents, in many instances, the publication of those wiich meet the exigencies of the times, and thus confines the best labours, and even the results of years of experience and reflection, to the audience before whom the discourse is delivered.
As to the nature of a sermon, there is surely nothing in it which should prevent its having, through the press, a ready access to the public mind. A clergyman can hardly (except for the very prejudice under consideration) adopt a better mode of presenting to the public the important productions of his pen. À sermon befits his sacred office. It has been composed in the serious retirement of his study, and under a weighty sense of his obligations as a minister of Jesus, and it has been wrought and consecrated with many a prayer. Why should prejudice check its progress and prevent its usefulness ? Let it have its course, correcting as it passes from mind to mind, the current error, awakening the slumbering feelings, and impelling a reluctant community to the discharge of their duty towards God and their fellow-men.
These remarks we think no unsuitable introduction to the ex.
cellent sermon before us; for the limited circulation of which, no reason can be given, except the very prejudice we have been noticing, and on account of which, whatever may be their merits, according to the common phrase, “Sermons never sell.”
We despair, indeed, at this late day, of persuading many to purchase the one now under consideration, though we are sure none would repent the purchase. We will, however, at least enrich our own pages, by making such extracts as seem to us to he best adapted to convince the wavering, and encourage the friends of Foreign Missions to enter upon, and persevere in a work so glorious as sending the gospel to the heathen.
Our author's text, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, "contains the command of the ascending Saviour," and, as he justly remarks, “it needs no comment; it carries on its face the obligations” of all, to "engage with all their beart in the great work of evangelizing the heathen, and plainly points” us “ to the duty of becoming the advocates “ of the cause of Foreign Missions."
“ After all the wonders which seven and twenty years have disclosed, perhaps here and there an individual may be found who is still hanging to the old objections against foreign missions. Let me find the man who has thus thrown himself between the Pagan world and salvation.
You object to missions among the heathen : how then are five hundred millions of your brethren to be christianized without the gospel ? It is inscribed on the foundations of Zion, that ‘faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.' For the scripture saith,—Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed ? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard ? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach except they be sent ?' Dream not that the heathen are to be converted in some unknown way without the gospel. Missionaries must go forth, bearing the word and ordinances of God. In this way alone the gospel was extended in the apostolic age.
It has never advanced a single step without these means; it never will. After all the care which God has taken to give to the world a written revelation and a gospel ministry, and to honour these as his own appointed means, he will not work miracles to discredit what he himself has instituted. He will not bring on the millennium in a way to cast contempt upon his word and ordinances, and to darken that period with the error that these institutions are of no importance. He will slay the enmity of the heathen by no other weapon than, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.?
“Do you magnify the dificulties of the attempt, and say, “If the Lord would make windows in heaven,' success might be possible ? I know the difficulties are great, much too great for human strength to overcome. The sottish ignorance, the inveterate prejudices, the long established habits of sin, the power of superstition, the paramount influence of false guides, and above all the dominion of the carnal heart, create obstacles which no intrinsic power of men or means can surmount. The unaided ministry of an angel could pot avail. If we have nothing to rely on but our own strength, we must indeed resign the heathen to absolute despair. But is the case altogether different from what we find at home? Whiat pious minister assails the carnal heart of the most amiable and best instructed youth in his own strengih? Who has power to raise the baptized dead? But when we look to the arm of God, success even among the heathen is possible. Has it not already been attained ? By what means was the church extended in the apostolic age? By what means was one field of divine wonders laid down from India to Spain, from Scythia to Ethiopia ? Was it not by the blessing of God upon missions among the heathen ? And what have we seen in modern times ? Have you never read of the labours of the Moravians ? Have you never heard of the success of the Danish mission on the Coromandel coast? or of the Baptist mission in northern India ? or of the mission of the London Society among the Hottentots of Africa ? or of the wouders in the southern islands, where a nation has been born in a day? By ancient charter the heathen are given to Christ for an inheritance, and as eternal truth abides they shall be his, and his through the instrumentality of faithful missionaries. The times are hastening on. I already seem to catch the songs of new-born thousands in the eastern breeze, and hear them echoed from the western hills and the southern Andes. This earth shall present one vast altar, and all the space between it and heaven shall be filled with the incense of praise."-pp. 4–7.
“But you say, “The time is not come that the Lord's house should be built; the time has not come to send the gospel to the heathen.'" To this remark Dr. G. answers, “ The time has come;" and he then proceeds to illustrate and enforce the truth of this position. We have not space to follow him through the train of reasoning upon this general point, but must pass on to its more particular application to us.
“ But you say, the time has not come for us to send the gospel to the heathen, because there are so many destitute among ourselves. In meeting you on this ground, I declare myself the friend of domestic missions. Let these noble charities proceed. Let them be carried forward with redoubled and ten-fold vigour; but let us not under this pretence stop our ears at the cry of the heathen. Against this conclusion I enter my solemn protest, and support it by the following arguments.
“ First, do you in your heart believe that it is the will of God that every neighbourhood in Christian countries should be supplied before a single messenger is sent to the heathen? Will you thus condemn the zeal of an Elliot, a Carey, and a Vanderkemp, which the God of heaven has owned, and which the universal church have applauded? But such is not the will of God. It is his settled purpose, as plaiuly expressed in his predictions, that an entrance should be made on preaching the gospel • to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,' before the fall of Babylon, and therefore before the degenerated half of the Christian world is purged of its great apostacy.”—p. 9.
“ Secondly, if you wish to see the gospel spread through the world, is it wise to confine your labours to a few favoured spots until those spots can receive no more ? Ilow would you do in other matters? If you wished to burn over an extensive plain, would you place all your fire in a single
spot, or would you kindle it in different places and leave it to run from many centres ? If you wished to propagate some rare seed through a country, would you cast it all into a single field, or would you scatter it in small parcels through the land ? Let the gospel as soon as possible be planted at proper distances through the earth, and spread from a thousand centres until the circles meet.
“ Thirdly, it is a maxim founded on the nature of man, on the principles of divive government, and on actual experience, that the more you do for the heathen the more will be done at home. When the public are roused by these noble examples, or warmed in these animating efforts, they will more naturally think of the destitute among themselves. When once their selfish stupor is broken, every object within their reach will feel the benign effect. You may calculate the same from the blessing of God." While you obediently care for other nations, he will care for yours and you. While you thus seem to pass by your own people for the Redeemer's sake, your people shall be saved. • Whosoever will save his life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.' • He that watereth shall be watered also himself.' All this is fully supported by experience. When the Indian mission and that to the south seas were attempted in England more than twenty years ago, a loud cry was made that the charity of the country was exhausted upon strangers, while the pagans at home were neglected. But what has been the result? The friends of missions have had an opportunity to make the triumphant appeal, that since they entered on that generous course, more has been done for the destitute at home than had been attempted for centuries before. By domestic missions, by Bible and tract societies, and Sunday schools, an amount of instruction has been carried to the poor, altogether without a parallel in that country. If therefore my principal object was to promote domestic missions and the holiness of the churches, I would urge you to send the gospel to the heathen.
“ But there is another view to be taken of this subject. I wish to see a spirit of foreign missions prevail because this will indicate a higher pulse of religion in the country. With very little sanctification we may pursue the ordinary round of duties at home. A thousand considerations of a private and personal nature may impel us to build up the church among our own people. Every head of a sect may wish to see his own kingdom extended by domestic missions. Leading men of every denomination may be zealous to enlarge their own church. But to go beyond all these considerations, and labour for an interest which can bring nothing to ourselves; to feel enough for man stript of every extrinsic circumstance, to find him out in distant regions, and to extend to him the most exalted of all charities; this requires something more.”—pp. 10–12.
We must pass over many interesting and instructive pages of this able sermon, and now take leave of our author with the fol. lowing extracts :
“ A simultaneous conviction seems to have taken possession of the government of the United States, some of the state governments, and many of the churches, that the time has come to make one great effort to bring the Indians to a participation of all the blessings which we enjoy. One fact has broken upon them all, that this work must be done soon or it will be for ever too late. We have got away their lands and spoiled their hunting grounds, and they must be speedily brought to till the soil or perish. This, how