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position to circumstances, and with such presumptuous neglect of prudence in the devising, and skill in the use of means, that it was quite impossible that they should not fail. They have failed at great cost, leaving behind them no benefit except as they serve for beacons against a similar rashness in future. They have left another consequence of a different character. They have left on many good minds an impression that the general object is chimerical, instead of merely, that the occasions and means had been ill selected.
On the other hand, my friends, we must not expect too much. Of course we will not say that we must see a nation already Christian, before we will attempt to christianize it. Those whom we would convert to the faith, must of necessity be no better than unbelievers in it; and among the unbelieving nations circumstanced the most favourably possible for the attempt, we must expect to find tenacious error and obstinate sin, strong repulsion of the mind and alienation of the heart from truth. In the view of so great an object, we must consent to act, and act vigorously, on reasons to hope for success, which fall far short of certainty. Faith,--and cheerful faith,-must be the principle of such action. As soon as certainty appears that the object which we contemplate will be attained, the work is done, and we may spare our labour. The favourable circumstances, which from the necessity of the case must content and encourage us, for they are the best to be had before conversion,--are, an opportunity to gain a hearing;—some degree of interest, if it can be found in the subject we would propose, enough to secure it a consideration;--and some capacity to understand and weigh an argument. Even much less than this may be sufficient to encourage to such labours. In great enterprizes, as in private concerns, when opportunities are not to be found, there is sometimes such a thing as making them. The Moravians found the polar savages in one of the lowest of recorded human conditions. They sat themselves down patiently to exhibit to them in their own example the benefits of social and Christian life, and thus inspire first a prepossession favourable to their faith; and now they have their reward. Nor is the great moral depravity of a heathen nation,--without consideration of other circumstances, by any
means to be taken as conclusive against the feasibility of attempts to christianize it. By far the most gratifying recent fruit of missionary labour is seen in a group of islands of the Pacific ocean, where the moral abandonment that existed thirty years ago would pass for incredible, if it were not authenticated beyond all question.
But when we say, that we will not lend ourselves to this attempt because the force of circumstances is against it, we imply that when we shall see the force of circumstances in action the other way, we are ready to embrace the opportunity; and this is as it should be. Now it has come to pass at this day, that in the capital of a very populous, rich, and enlightened idolatrous nation, great attention has been drawn to the leading questions of religion. A large and rapidly increasing number of persons of learning, rank and wealth have renounced idolatry; are using the great influence of their standing to bring it into discredit among their countrymen; and are meanwhile inquiring for some better foundation for themselves. Some such, it is of natives that I speak, --have associated themselves in an organized body with a few European Christians, actually to maintain the institutions of Christianity. They have made most liberal contributions, which they are ready to increase, and taken other steps towards the erection of a house of Christian worship, and the permanent support of a Christian teacher; and the amount of their interest in the enterprize may be partly estimated from the fact, that they,—Hindoos by birth and education,being but few in number, have solicited from the multitude of those Christians who may be supposed to sympathize with them in Europe and America together, a sum three times as great as has been given by three individuals of themselves alone,and only equal to what they pledge themselves, with the aid of some European friends, to give, for the establishment of permanent Christian instruction to them and their countrymen. One of these individuals, the most remarkable man who has appeared in his nation for centuries, and probably to be ranked in the intellectual world below no man of this day, continues to recommend the religion of Christ by his powerful writings, and to hold it up conspicuously to view, from the eminence where his extraordinary qualities have placed
him. He supports at his own charge, a college, and an elementary school, for youths of his own nation, for both of which he desires that systematick Christian instruction may be provided, and maintains a printing press from which have issued various publications by himself and others, having the same object. And the enterprize is favoured by a perfect liberty to preach and publish ; a state of general information; a spirit of excited enquiry; and the countenance of persons of the highest rank, in a country where rank has an influence altogether unparalleled elsewhere.
V. These facts, I cannot but confess, strike my mind forcibly as being of a very remarkable character. I have adduced them,—and I might add to them,--with a view to substantiate one exception to the idea that there is no preparation for the reception of Christianity into heathen countries, in the existing state of society and sentiment. In the case, to which we have adverted, I cannot help thinking that that there is a very peculiar degree of preparation. If such an invitation from leading members of a heathen community, with the attending circumstances, is not proof of such preparation, what proof of preparation do we ever look to see? These facts have an equal bearing on a fifth objection, which is made, that the doctrines and worship of Unitarian Christianity are too simple to meet a favourable reception among idolaters; that those forms of Christianity which deal more in mystery and pomp would be more to their taste, and far more likely to impress them. Now the truth is, that, in the case to which I have referred, not a few of these forms had been faithfully tried before, and they never came to stand on nearly so advantageous ground, as the simple form objected to has already taken, almost by its own unaided force. The zealous bodies of English dissenters who have been many years strenuously labouring in the capital of Bengal, have never numbered among their coadjutors a single native of wealth or learning, while no less than three such are members of the small committee which directs the operations I have spoken of, to say nothing of several others of whose co-operation they have substantial pledges. And such persons testify with one voice,--in speech and in writing,-together and apart,-that what is called orthodox Christianity appears to them liable to
similar objections to those urged against their own native theology; and that it is only in the simpler and more generous form of Christian faith opposed to this, that they perceive sufficient advantages over their native system, to recommend a change. It is Unitarian Christianity they say, it could have been no other,--which has thus won their affections, and engaged their support. While thousands are thus liberally offered by enlightened natives for the ministration of a purer doctrine, but one individual of all the missionaries, of the different sects called orthodox, derives a very small and precarious part of his support, from his native hearers; and of the hearers of such missionaries we are further assured, that there are those who leave their instructers with a decided bias to Unitarian opinions, imbibed, contrary to the wishes of their teachers, from the Christian scriptures which have been put into their hands.
As to the case under our notice, these facts seem to me decisive of the question, whether primitive Christianity with all its elevation and simplicity, is able to put forth a greater converting power, than any form of its corruptions, with all their varieties of unintelligibleness and show. And it does appear to me, notwithstanding all that has been said to the contrary, that this might most reasonably have been anticipated. As long as men are willing to confine their religious faith to the region of the imagination, the superstitions of the idolatry in which they were educated are as suitable to satisfy them as any; and these have the further advantage of being recommended by habit, by convenience, by the veneration of their earlier years,-in short, by all the forces with which long cherished opinion grapples itself to the mind. When they change their faith, it is altogether most likely to be for one of a different character. The ground of imagination and mystery has been preoccupied. They will change their faith because they see good reasons; and they will change it for one, the proof of which admits of being strictly made out, for one capable of being explained, and so of being maintained and enforced by argument. They will covet little a pompous ceremonial in the new faith to which their attention is turned; for they have already tried the effects of this, and experienced them to be unsatisfactory. It will be
much more the wants of the heart, for which they will demand provision; and these will be best met by that religion, which from its simplicity and distinctness they can best understand and realize and feel. For such reasons, it does seem to me, that,--wedded as idolaters are to pomp, as long as they adhere to their idolatry,—the moment they begin to think of renouncing it, their taste is for something better; that--occupied as they are with erratick fancies, as long as an implicit superstitious belief possesses them,--as soon as that is shaken, they have a relish for truth,---for something solid, that may be grasped, and handled, and leaned upon. And therefore I am persuaded that the intelligible doctrine and simple worship of Unitarian Christians are, on account of these characteristicks the best fitted and most likely, other things being equal, to make their way into heathen countries. I have spoken of idolaters only. As to Mohammedan and Jew, we all of us know that with them the doctrine of a plural Godhead has always been the impassable stumbling block.
VI. Lastly; objections are raised, having reference to the expenditure, demanded by the enterprize of which we speak.
1. As far as these are founded on past misapplications, and consequent waste, of the resources of charity on such objects, they were virtually answered when we considered, under the fourth head, those indications of probable success, which ought to be regarded as encouragements to effort. The fact that large sums have been squandered in ill-conceived, illtimed, and ill-digested operations, goes not a step towards proving that what admits of being used with different advantages, in a different application, and so to a different result, would not be well bestowed. Without some opening in providence, disclosing a prospect of success, expenditure should not be made, if to never so large extent it had been advantageously made before; and with such encouragement, it is not to be withholden, merely because, without the favour of advantageous circumstances, it had before been liberally given to no purpose. Different opportunities recommend themselves on different grounds, and because the unpromising has prospered ill, it does not follow that the promising is not to be tried.
2. Again, as to exceptionable means, to which recourse has in