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it forsaketh the affection to the loadstone, and, like a good patriot, moveth to the earth, which is the region and country of massy bodies; so may we go forward and see that water and massy bodies move to the centre of the earth; but rather than to suffer a divulsion in the continuance of nature, they will move upwards from the centre of the earth, forsaking their duty to the earth, in regard of their duty to the world.—But it may be truly affirmed, that there never was any philosophy, religion, or other discipline, which did so plainly and highly exalt the good that is communicative, and depress the good which is private and particular, as the holy (Christian) faith; well declaring, that it was the same God that gave the Christian law to men, who gave those Jaws of nature to inanimate creatures that we spake of before."—(BACON.) 3.—“ Christianity never expects that men will, of their own accord, originate that movement by which they are to come in contact with the faith of the Gospel; and therefore, instead of waiting till they shall move towards the Gospel, it has been provided from the first that the Gospel shall move towards them. "It is no where supposed that the demand for Christianity is spontaneously, and, in the first instance, to arise among those who are not Christians; but it is laid upon those who are Christians, to go abroad, and, if possible, to awaken out of their spiritual lethargy those who are fast asleep in that worldliness which they love, and from which, without some external application; there is no rational prospect of ever arousing them.”—(Chalmers.) 4.-" The Lord Christ, having ascended up far above all heavens, gave some Apostles, some Prophets, some Evangelists, and some Pastors and Teachers."-" God hath set in the church gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities of tongues," &c.—(ST. PAUL.) Prophets may denote such as possessed the word of knowledge as well as the gift of prophecy."-(BOOTHROYD.)
6. The office of Apostles is acknowledged, on all hands, long since to have terminated.
“Of Prophets it is only necessary to observe, that their office must terminate, of course, when inspiration terminates.
Evangelists are universally acknowledged to have been extraordinary officers, and to have ceased in a very early period of the church. There remain then only Pastors and Teachers-but the same person was Pastor and Teacher.
"We are (thus) come to one class of permanent Ecclesiastical officers, viz. that which is known by the word Pastors."—(DWIGHT.) 7. Thus it is that some men get rid of a variety of officers, i. e. of a diversity of Labourers and Helpers in the church, in order to suit their own local wants, or their modern systems, by assuming and exaggerating the "extraordinary" character and circumstances of the primitive church; just as some others in our day get rid of primitive doctrines and duties on the same plea."(MORRISON.)
8.-" All our long conversation on the subject of religion ended in nothing. My friend was convinced he was right; and all the texts I produced were, according to him, applicable only to the times of the Apostles."-(MARTYN.)
9.—“ Evangelists:-Under this name they are to be understood whom the Apostles used as their attendants, in performing their office; because they were not sufficient for every thing. Of this kind were Timothy, Titus, Silvanus, Apollos, whom Paul joined with himself in the inscription of the epistles, yet so as to call himself alone an Apostle : this office, therefore, was only temporary."-(BEZA.) The opinion of this venerable Reformer, in the last clause, seems not well founded. The office of " Evangelists," in the primitive times, was in most respects similar to that of Missionaries in subsequent times. They were preachers of the Gospel without full apostolical authority and without any stated charge; going among the heathen to found churches, visiting the churches already planted, &c. -When zeal for propagating the Gospel subsided, this office sunk into disuse; and thus, for ages, the heathen have been in a great measure neglected: and it seems to have been one GRAND DEFECT at the Reformation, that no part of the funds, which had been appropriated to religious purposes, was reserved for the special object of supporting Evangelists to the heathen world.-The office of Evangelist must revive along with the spirit of evangelizing the nations."—(SCOTT.)
10.-"Those employed in preaching the Gospel to those who had
not yet received it, the Scripture calls Evangelists."-(HAMMOND.) 11.-" The motives that ought to determine a man to dedicate himself to the ministering in the church, are a zeal for promoting the glory of God, for raising the honour of the Christian religion, for the making it to be better understood, and more submitted to. He that loves it, and feels the excellency of it in himself, that has a due sense of God's goodness in it to mankind, and that is entirely possessed with that, will feel a zeal within himself, for communicating that to others; that so the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent, may be more universally glorified and served by his creatures. And when to this he has added a concern for the souls of men, a tenderness for them, a zeal to rescue them from endless misery, and a desire to put them in the way to everlasting happiness; and from these motives, feels in himself a desire to dedicate his life and labours to those ends; and in order to them, studies to understand the Scriptures, and more particularly the New Testament, that from thence he may form a true notion of this holy religion, and so be an able minister of it: this man, and this only man, so moved and so qualified, can in truth, and with a good conscience, answer, that he trusts he is inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost."-(BISHOP BURNET.)
To conquer still; peace hath her victories
(MILTON, May 1682, on a proposal for the
"Heretofore, in the first Evangelic times, (and it were happy for Christendom if it were so again,) Ministers of the Gospel were by nothing else distinguished from other Christians, but by their spiritual knowledge and SANCTITY of life."
1. THERE are some professing Christians, of whom we have recently heard, who still argue that Christian Missions should be deferred, till the Almighty shall be pleased to grant miraculous powers to the men who shall be sent to heathen nations. But the communication of Christian knowledge to a fellow creature, is within the compass of man's ordinary powers; and therefore the reason for desiring miraculous gifts does not appear. The earth, by culture, accompanied by heaven's showers and sunshine, brings forth grain for the sustenance of man ; and therefore no one asks for a miraculous production of the earth's fruits. The knowledge of Christian principles, like other knowledge, may be communicated by human industry; and when watered by heavenly influences from God's Holy Spirit, be made productive of holiness and virtue. We therefore deem it impious to be idle, and pretend to wait for miraculous powers.
2. Some advocates for Missions contend, that a renunciation of all assistance from regularly organized bodies of Christians, of a pecuniary nature, is essential to the character of a modern Missionary; and till such devotees can be obtained, the Churches must be contented to wait and pray, &c. That men who can prosecute a Mission to teach Christianity to unenlightened nations, free of all charge to the Churches, or the Heathen, are perfectly justified in so doing, there can be no doubt. But it is denied that the Churches should inactively wait, and only pray for Providence to raise up such persons. persons. We argue this on
the principle, that, to neglect human means, which God has put in our power, for the effecting of any good, and to pray that heaven may be pleased to effectuate that good without means, is impious hypocrisy and mockery. Man has no right to look for extraordinary help from Heaven, till he has "exhausted human efforts." In a devout spirit of humble dependence on God, first, Tsin jin leih, "exertto-the-utmost man's strength," and then it is justifiable to cast one's-self on the Almighty arm for extraordinary aid, if God be pleased to grant it.
The rational spirit of Christian Protestantism always does this now in all cases; as for instance, in the midst of tempests and shipwrecks, instead of remaining motionless, as some do, under a belief of Mahommedan fatalism, or cursing and beating their gods or saints, as do imageworshippers, of Pagan or of Christian name, British seamen never abandon the use of means.
The principle that it is man's duty to use all just means in his power, for the promotion of spiritual as well as temporal good, before he expects or prays for extraordinary interpositions of Providence, is but now being applied to Christian Missions. There has been, since the late revival of Missionary zeal, too much looking for "super-human” agents; men that should not require instruction; men without human passions, and above human wants and human infirmities; and there has been too much anticipation that Providence would interfere extraordinarily or miraculously, ere ever man had put forth the strength and energy already entrusted to him.
In a spirit of devoteeism all the Christian self-tormentors, the monks of Alet, who made a merit of stinging their hands with nettles, and the flagellantes, who scourged themselves with whips, are far outdone by the self-torturing devotees of India, and other parts of the world. Austerities may excite admiration from the ignorant, and serve the purpose of self-righteous, self-deifying mortals; but they communicate no knowledge; they lead not men to God and to the Saviour; they have been in every age of the world assumed as a cloak for secret impiety and licentiousness,
or have been the lamentable vagaries of weak and mistaken minds. I know I now tread on dangerous ground, and the opposite extreme has not been less ruinous to all that is estimable and good in the character of man. But I advocate not either extreme. Prosperity I know is dangerous as well as adversity, and self-indulgence is a more frequent vice than an excess of self-mortification. Still there is a medium line of moral rectitude and Christian wisdom, equally remote from each extreme, and it is for that medium I now contend.
Having put the case negatively, I will now state it positively. I think some theorists on the Missionary character, have worked it up to an utterly unattainable degree of ideal perfection. I choose a simpler and more practicable view.
3. A messenger of the Churches should then, I conceive, generally speaking, possess the same qualifications as a Minister of religion at home. Whilst the enemies of Missions ask for miraculous powers, some of the professed friends have maintained that an absence of all talent and acquirement does not disqualify a person; and that any body who has piety, will do for a Missionary, but not for a Minister. If a difference be argued for, I think the higher qualifications are required for the Missionary work.*
* I have heard it suggested among Protestant Dissenters, that their weakest Ministers, who can be of little service in Europe, are very proper for Missionaries." (And I have heard the same sentiment expressed by Missionary Directors, in 1825.) "Under shelter of the opinion that men of the best talents should be kept at home, we shall give too much encouragement to that self-complacency which cleaves to such men, and grant them a dismission from the service, which they will be glad to avail themselves of. But I cannot believe those Gentlemen think soberly of themselves, as they ought to do, who suppose they are too great, or too considerable to engage in Missions." (Up to the present time I have still heard it maintained, that the most highly gifted and best instructed Ministers of religion ought to be retained at home, and take the advice given to King David, "Thou art better than ten thousand of us; therefore now it is better that thou succour us out of the city.")
"As a man of no learning myself, I cannot but feel it a little contemptuous for me and my poor brethren, to be shoved with so much good