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lovers of war do? but (which infinitely surpasses every other consideration) what is it that Christians do for others, compared with what Jesus Christ has done for them!
Many do not like to look at the things of others, lest an acquaintance with the real state others should compel the lookers-on to assist. Not so the ancient patriarch Job. The cause of distress which he knew not, he searched out that he might relieve it. And there are some pious people justify their apathy concerning the inhabitants of the eastern limit of Asia, by saying they perceive no opening; they see no movement. As if the dry bones were to move before they were breathed upon; as if the door were to be opened before any herald of salvation knocked at it; as if our Saviour's redeeming work, and infinitely agonizing labours for us, were subsequent to some movement towards him. By a strange perversion of what is right, men exercise their ingenuity to find out reasons, not always very specious, why they should not do their duty and care for others; rather than why they should do it and comply with the precept. In the church, as well as in the world, many of the precepts of the Bible seem to be considered a dead letter. The bitter-spirited disturbers of the peace of churches, never think that the Saviour's command, to be meek and lowly, is at all binding on them. The lovers of money forget that covetousness is idolatry; and those who could, with heaven's aid, materially assist in the propagation of the Gospel in foreign parts, seem to think that the Saviour's promise-"There is no man that hath forsaken father and mother, or brothers or sisters, or wife or children, or houses or lands, for my sake and the Gospel's, but shall receive manifold more in this life, and in the world to come life everlasting"-means, that no man shall forsake either the one or the other of these ties and good things for the Gospel's sake.
You perceive that my mind and discourse falls much into the duty of Christians to look to the things of other nations and tribes of men; but I by no means intend that we must neglect those that are near, and care only for those that are remote; though I do maintain, agreeably to the
example of Paul and Barnabas, that, when men reject the Gospel, it is right to turn away from them, and address it to others. It will not be fair either to charge me with magnifying that in which I myself happen to be engaged, as every one likes to do. My view of the matter is this, and I think it will prove what I have now asserted. I hold that the whole world is guilty before God-that there is none righteous-no, not one. I maintain that every inhabitant of Britian needs salvation as much as a West-Indian slave, or a Hindoo, or a Chinese; that the hearts of Englishmen are as much at enmity against God, previously to that change which we call conversion, as the hearts of any pagan idolater whatever. It is not here that the difference between evangelized and unevangelized lands really lies: but the difference consists in the quantum of means enjoyed in one region and in the other.
Since Augustine, the first archbishop of Canterbury, obtained a footing in this then pagan land, to what a degree have the means of Christian knowledge increased! It is not possible for your preacher to describe the difference of means enjoyed by this country, and that land from which he has returned for a season. It has taken at least ten centuries to bring you to the state of Gospel privilege in which you are this day; and it is not easy for you to look back and realize the pagan state of the Saxon heptarchy. But I have actually experienced a similar state of moral and religious degradation in yonder eastern hemisphere. The people there are not, in a physical point of view, worse off than you. Their climate is not to them generally insalubrious; they have food and raiment, and sunshine and shower, which contribute to the gladness of the animal spirits-but the Christian church protestant has not, till yesterday, taken any pains to convey to them the glad tidings of salvation. The heathen know, by history and experience, the unsubstantial and unsatisfying nature of all sublunary pursuits; of pleasure, of ambition, of riches, of honours they feel that they are sinners against conscience which accuses them, but still Satan keeps them in a dark prison; and Christians take little pains to send
them the light of Gospel liberty-they remain in darkness, and in bondage; hugging their chains; observing rites which cannot profit; cherishing hopes which must prove fallacious; and dreading evils from every source but the real one-sin against God. There are yonder, who can read Chinese, people equal in number to a fourth of the whole population of the world; and there are not there more than four efficient ministers of the reformed religion, for nearly three hundred millions of human beings. The United Kingdom of Great Britain would be better circumstanced than those regions, as to the attainment of Christian knowledge, were all religious books in the land consumed by fire; the churches and chapels demolished; the colleges and academies overthrown; and the ministers of religion annihilated: for after all this havoc and destruction, there would be, I believe, hundreds of thousands of spiritual Christians possessed of divine knowledge; and willing and able to preserve this knowledge, and to re-edify an apparently ruined Christianity in this land. Whilst yonder Satan sits enthroned, and receives the mistaken homage of millions, under the appearance of an endless variety of demon gods, heroes, and virgins, and saints, and spirits of rivers, and mountains, and hills; and the manes of parents and ancestors. And yonder, lying miracles, and false prophets; and cunning diviners, and astrologers; and ignorant, or self-deceived, or hypocritical priests; and monks, and nuns, and masses of pagan origin; and a delusive mummery of unintelligible words, every where abound. And in some cases, where the minds of the educated and thinking men revolt at these vulgar deceits of the devil, and misguided men and women, they rush from the extreme of a gross superstition to atheism and annihilation, and live with no better pursuits, and die with no higher hopes, tham the beasts that perish.
Now I know very well that there are some, I fear many, in our own land not better than these; but I likewise know that the means of being better informed, and better circumstanced, are almost universally in the power of every individual in these islands-but they will not come to Christ. However, I still give my vote for the employment
of every possible effort to compel them to come to the Saviour, and to persecute them (if they will call it so) with the remonstrances and invitations of the gospel. Still I maintain that it is not consistent with a fair representation of the case, to compare or liken Britain to yonder pagan lands; and it is a pitiable niggardliness of some pious misjudging people, who seem to regret that there are British Christians who look not entirely at their own wants; but also look at and endeavour to supply the wants of others, beyond the political limits of our own dominions. I fear these opinions will appear to some, unjustly censorious -if they be so, it is my mistake, of which I shall be happy to be convinced; and as my remarks refer to opinions which I have seen in books or heard in conversations in general society, they are not in the least degree personal. I close by saying, Oh! remember Jesus-his degradation for us; his painful life; his agony in the garden; his death upon the cross,-and remember the cause of these; in none of these did he regard his own things, but the things of others. Learn then of Jesus; let the same mind be in you, that was also in Christ Jesus: and look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
To this procedure it may be objected, that many other "peoples," and other tribes of men do not desire our aid; but if offered, are more likely to despise it than receive it. This is in many cases true, but their misconduct is not the rule of our duty. How many human beings in this country-(aye, it may be there are many in this assembly,) who neglect the great salvation wrought out by the Son of God! How many are there who, when the Almighty himself gives counsel and reproof, set at nought all his counsel, and will accept of none of his reproof? But that is their sin,-for that they are accountable. Although many may reject spiritual aid, it is not to be apprehended, if we judge by past experience, that all will: but even if all were to reject it, still Christians are bound by the command of God to use diligently the means of benefiting others; for if any man have not the benevolent spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
DELIVERED BEFORE THE LONDON MISSIONARY SOCIETY, IN SURRY CHAPEL, MAY 11, 1825.
[Fathers and Brethren!
So long ago as 1807, Jan. 31st, I embarked for a distant country, as a Messenger of the Churches, to convey to a people of a strange speech and of a hard language, the Books of Divine Revelation. From that time to the present my attention has been almost entirely devoted to that language, and to accomplish the object for which I was sent; which object, with the aid of my beloved friend and colleague, the late excellent, laborious, and indefatigable Missionary Milne, was effected. But those labours were such as altogether tended to disqualify me to appear in the place which I now occupy; to address a British audience. I remember well that a return to this land was never anticipated by me. At 5, P. M. as the sun was declining in the west, on the 26th of February of the year I have already named, when the ship in which I sailed took her final departure from the British shores, I find from my Journal that I thus wrote
"This is in all probability (but God alone knows) the closing prospect of a land I shall visit no more. O may the blessing of God rest upon it! the land that gave me birth; the land that till this hour has nourished me; the land of my fathers' sepulchres-a land I esteem most precious, because there, I trust, I was born again; and there the saints in numbers dwell. Happy land! May the light of the Gospel never be removed from thee. The prayers of a departing Missionary are ended. Amen, and Amen."
Afterwards, being removed to a far distant land, about 17,000 miles from Britain, when standing on the sea-shore, in the cool of the evening; or walking solitarily on the beach; often have I cast a wishful look across the ocean-but dared not cherish the hope of revisiting England. However, Providence has led me by a way that I knew not; and I am, by the will of