Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

barbarous, selfish, or inhuman; which, by unveiling futurity, clothes morality with the sanction of a divine law, and harmonizes utility and virtue in every combination of events, and in every stage of existence; a religion which, by affording the most just and sublime conceptions of the Deity, and of the moral relations of man, has given birth at once to the loftiest speculation and the most child-like humility, uniting the inhabitants of the globe into one family, and in the bonds of a common salvation. It is this religion which, rising upon us like a finer sun, has quickened moral vegetation, and replenished Europe with talents, virtues, and exploits which, in spite of its physical disadvantages, have rendered it a paradise, the delight and wonder of the world. An attempt to propagate this religion among the natives of Hindostan may perhaps be stigmatized as visionary and romantic ; but to enter the lists of controversy with those who would deny it to be great and noble would be a degradation to reason.

On these principles the cause of missions has recently been sustained in parliament, and the propriety and expedience of attempting the propagation of Christianity in India demonstrated by arguments and considerations suited to the meridian of such assenıblies. We feel ourselves highly indebted to those distinguished senators who exerted their eloquence on that occasion, and have no hesitation in asserting that a more wise and magnanimous measure was never adopted by an enlightened legislature than that of facilitating the communication of Christian knowledge to the subjects of our Eastern empire. As a political measure, nothing more unexceptionable or beneficial can be conceived. It is not in this light, however, we would wish you to regard your present undertaking. What may satisfy the views of a statesman ought not to satisfy a Christian minister. It is the business of the former to project for this world ; of the latter for eternity. The former proposes to improve the advantages and to mitigate the evils of life; the latter, the conquest of death and the achievement of immortality. They proceed in the same direction, it is true, as far as they go; but the one proceeds infinitely farther than the other.

In the views of the most enlightened statesmen, compared to those

It is impossible to read the strictures of the Edinburgh Review on Missions, in an article which appeared under that title, without surprise and indignation that such sentiments cuild find admission in a work which possesses such just claims to literary meril. The anonymous writer of the article alluded to, with the levity of a buffoon, joined to a heart of iron and a face of brass, has more than insinuated that the Christionity attempted to be promoted in India by t'ic missionaries at Serampore would, were it adopted, prove a serious injury to the natives, and that they are much happier and more virtuous under their present institutions. The system of religion, be it remena bered, which these men have attempted to introduce, and which this Christian reviewer loads with abuse, is precisely the same in its doctrinal articles with that of the Church of England, to which be has subscribed, er animo no doubt, his unfeigned assent and consent. It may be hoped, that at a time when the Church of England is evincing a spirit of moderation and forhearance, and can boast of so many prelates and dignitaries distinguished for their prety and learning, no clergyman for the future will be allowed to degrade himself in a similar manner without the most indignant rebuke. It may possibly gratify certain spirits to see the dissenters and Methodists vilified and abused; but they will do well to remember, that the indulgence of a profane and scoffing lumnour must be ulumately injurious, not only to Christianity, but to any Christian community whatever; and that to slab religion through the sides of fanaticism is a stale artifice of infidels, by which the simplest can no longer be deceived. I sincerely hope the conductors of the Edinburgh Review have long been ashamed of the article in question. When I compare the intellectual power displayed in some articles of that publication with the extreme ignorance of religion evinced in others, I know not how beller to characterize it than in the language of Virgil, speaking of Polyphemus,

“Monstrum horrendum, informe, ingens, cui lumen ademptum."

of a Christian minister, there is a littleness and limitation which is not to be imputed in one case as a moral imperfection, nor in the other as a personal merit; the difference arising purely from the disparity in the subjects upon which they respectively speculate. Should you be asked, on your arrival in India, as it is very probable you will, what there is in Christianity which renders it so inestimable in your eyes, that you judged it fit to undertake so long, dangerous, and expensive a voyage for the purpose of imparting it,-you will answer, without hesitation, it is the power of God to salvation ; nor will any view. of it short of this, or the inculcation of it for any inferior

purpose, enable it to produce even those moralizing and civilizing effects it is so powerfully adapted to accomplish. Christianity will civilize, it is true, but it is only when it is allowed to develop the energies by which it sanctities. Christianity will inconceivably ameliorate the present condition of being,—who doubts it? Its universal prevalence, not in the name, but in reality, will convert this world into a semi-paradisiacal state ; but it is only while it is permitted to prepare its inhabitants for a better. Let her be urged to forget her celestial origin and destiny, to forget that she came from God, and returns to God; and whether she is employed by the artful and enterprising, as the instrument of establishing a spiritual empire and dominion over mankind, or by the philanthropist as the means of promoting their civilization and improvement, she resents the foul indignity, claps her wings and takes her flight, leaving nothing but a base and sanctimonious hypocrisy in her room.

Preach it then, my dear brother, with a constant recollection that such is its character and aim. Preach it with a perpetual view to eternity, and with the simplicity and affection with which you would address your dearest friends, were they assembled round your dying bed. While others are ambitious to form the citizen of earth, be it yours to train him for heaven; to raise up the temple of God from among the ancient desolations; to contribute your part towards the formation and perfection of that eternal society which will flourish in inviolable purity and order, when all human associations shall be dissolved, and the princes of this world shall come to naught. In the pursuit of these objects, let it be your ambition to tread in the footsteps of a Brainerd and a Schwartz; I may add, of your excellent relative, with whom we are happy in perceiving you to possess a congeniality of character, not less than an affinity of blood.

But should you succeed beyond your utmost hope, expect not to escape the ridicule of the ungodly or the censure of the world; but be content to sustain that sort of reputation, and run that sort of career invariably allotted to the Christian missionary ; where, agreeable to the experience of St. Paul, obscurity and notoriety, admiration and scorn, sorrows and consolations, attachments the most tender and opposition the most violent, are interchangeably mingled.

But whatever be the sentiments of the world, respecting which you will indulge no excessive solicitude, your name will be precious in India, your memory dear to multitudes, who will reverence in you the instrument of their eternal salvation; and how much more satisfaction

will accrue from the consciousness of this, than from the loudest human applause, your own reflections will determine. At that awful moment when you are called to bid a final adieu to the world, and 10 look into eternity,—when the hopes, fears, and agitations which sublunary objects shall have occasioned will subside like a feverish dream, or a vision of the night, the certainty of belonging to the number of the saved will be the only consolation ; and when to this is joined the conviction of having contributed to enlarge that number, your joy will be full. You will be conscious of having conferred a benefit on your fellow-creatures, you know not precisely what, but of such a nature that it will require all the illumination of eternity to measure its dimensions and ascertain its value. Having followed Christ in the regeneration, in the preparatory labours accompanying the renovation of mankind, you will rise to an elevated station in a world where the scantiest portion is a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, and a conspicuous place will be assigned you in that unchanging firmament where those who have turned many to righteousness shall shine as the stars for ever and ever.

But it is time I should close this address, which has already been extended much further than was at first designed. On the necessity of maintaining an exemplary purity of conduct little or nothing has been said, because such is our confidence in your character that we deemed admonition of this kind superfluous. As you are, however, still in the body, and will be exposed to numerous temptations, you will feel the propriety of being jealous over yourself with a godly jealousy, and exerting a continual care and vigilance, lest, in the awful language of the apostle, after preaching to others, you yourself should be a castaway. I need not remind you, that as the society under whose auspices you are proceeding to India have on no occasion employed a missionary in whom they reposed more confidence, or of whom they formed more raised expectations, if you should become vain, worldly, sensual, indolent, and consequently useless, ours will not be an ordinary disappointment; we shall have fallen from a great hope. You will be sensible of the indispensable necessity of not interfering with the politics of India, nor of giving the smallest ground of umbrage and distrust to the constituted authorities, to whom it will be your duty not less than your interest to pay on all occasions, in return for the protection they will yield, the most respectful deference.

Let me also recommend you to listen to the advice, and be guided by the suggestions, as far as your conscience will permit, of your fathers in the mission, and of Dr. Carey in particular, whose wisdom and experience, to say nothing of his relationship to you, entitle him to reverential attention. You are now about to be removed from us, who it is probable shall see your face no more; but you will not be removed from the communion of saints, which no seas can divide, no distance impair, in which we shall often meet at a throne of grace, whence fervent prayers will ascend to the Father of mercies that he may keep you under his holy protection, and cause the richest of his blessings to descend on the head of him who was separate from his brethren.

A SERMON,

OCCASIONED BY

THE DEATH OF HER LATE ROYAL HIGHNESS

THE

PRINCESS CHARLOTTE OF WALES.

PREACHED AT

HERVEY LANE, LEICESTER,

November 6, 1817.

Vol. 1.-M

« AnteriorContinuar »