« AnteriorContinuar »
ECLECTIC ECLECTIC REVIEW,
FOR JANUARY, 1815.
Art. I. Journal of a Voyage from Okkak on the Coast of Labrador to Ungava Bay, westward of Cape Chudleigh; undertaken to explore the Coast, and visit the Esquimaux in that unknown Region, By Benjamin Kohlmeister and George Kmoch, Missionaries of the Church of the Unitas Fratrum, or United Brethren. Le Fevre, 2, Chapel-place. Seeley. 1814.
THE natural enmity of the human heart to the things of God, is a principle, which, though it find no place in the systems of our intellectual philosophers, has as wide an operation as any which they have put down in their list of categories. How is it then that Moravians, who, of all classes of Christians, have evinced the most earnest and persevering devotedness to these things, have of late become, with men of taste, the objects of tender admiration? That they should be loved and admired by the decided Christian, is not to be wondered at: but that they should be idols of a fashionable admiration, that they should be sought after and visited by secular men; that travellers of all kinds should give way to the ecstacy of sentiment, as they pass through their villages, and take a survey of their establishments and their doings; that the very sound of Moravian music, and the very sight of a Moravian burial-place, should so fill the hearts of these men with images of delight and peacefulness, as to inspire them with something like the kindlings of piety;all this is surely something new and strange, and might dispose the unthinking to suspect the truth of these unquestionable positions, that "the carnal mind is enmity against God," and that "the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of VOL. III. N. S. B
God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
But we do not imagine it difficult to give the explanation. It is surely conceivable that the actuating principle of a Moravian enterprise, may carry no sympathy whatever along with it, while many things may be done in the prosecution of this enterprise, most congenial to the taste, and the wishes, and the natural feelings of worldly men. They may not be able to enter into the ardent anxiety of the Moravians for the sulvation of human souls ; and when the principle is stripped of every accompaniment, and laid in naked and solitary exhibition before them, they may laugh at its folly, or be disgusted by its fanaticism. This, however, is the very principle on which are founded all their missionary undertakings; and it is not till after a lengthened course of operations, that it gathers those accompaniments around it, which have drawn upon the United Brethren the homage of men who shrink in repugnance and disgust from the principle itself. With the heart's desire that men should be saved, they cannot sympathize; but when these men, the objects of his earnest solicitude, live at a distance, the missionary, to carry his desire into effect, must get near them, and traversing a lengthened line on the surface of the globe, he will supply his additions or his corrections to the science of geography. When they speak in an unknown tongue, the missionary must be understood by them; and giving his patient labour to the acquirement of a new language, be furnishes another document to the student of philology. When they are signalized by habits or observances of their own, the missionary records them for the information and benefit of his successors; and our knowledge of human nature, with all its various and wonderful peculiarities, is extended. When they live in a country, the scenery and productions of which have been yet unrecorded by the pen of travellers, the missionary, not unmindful of the sanction given by our Saviour himself to an admiration of the appearances of nature, will describe them, and give a wider range to the science of natural history. If they are in the infancy of civilization, the mighty power of Christian truth will soften and reclaim them. And surely, it is not diffieult to conceive, how these and similar achievements may draw forth an acknowledgement from many, who attach no value to the principles of the Gospel, and take no interest in its progress; how the philosopher will give his testimony to the merits of these men who have made greater progress in the work of humanizing savages, than could have been done by the ordinary methods in the course of centuries, and how the interesting spectacle of Esquimaux villages and Indian schools, may, without the aid of any Gospel principle whatever, bring
out strains of tenderest admiration from tuneful poets and weeping sentimentalists.
All this is very conceivable, and it is what Moravians, at this moment, actually experience. They have been much longer in the field of Missionary enterprise, than the most active and conspicuous of their fellow labourers belonging to other societies. They have had time for the production of more gratifying results; and the finished spectacle of their orderly and peaceful establishments, strikes at once upon the eye of many an admirer, who knows not how to relish or to appreciate the principle which gives life and perpetuity to the whole exhibition.
These observations may serve to account for the mistaken principle upon which many admirers of the United Brethren give them the preference over all other missionaries. We are ready to concur in the preference, but not in the principle upon which they found it. They conceive that the Moravians make no attempt towards christianizing the Heathen, till they have gone through the long preparatory work of training them up in the arts of life, and in the various moralities and decencies of social intercourse. This is a very natural supposition ; but nothing can be more untrue. It is doing just what every superficial man is apt to do in other departments of observationmistaking the effect for the cause. They go to a missionary establishment of United Brethren among the Ileathen. They pay a visit to one of their villages, whether in Greenland, in S. Africa, or on the coast of Labrador. It is evident that the clean houses, cultivated gardens, and neat specimens of manufacture, will strike the eye much sooner than the unseen principle of this wonderful revolution in the habits of savages, will unfold itself to the discerninent of the mind. And thus it is, that in their description of all this, they reverse the actual process. They tell us that these most rational of all missionaries, begin their attempts on the Heathen by the work of civilizing them ; that they teach them to weave, to till, and to store up winter provisions, and to observe justice in their dealings with one another, and then, and not till then, do they, somehow or other, implant upon this preliminary dressing, the mysteries and peculiarities of the Christian Faith. Thus it is that these men of mere spectacle begin to philosophize on the subject, and set up the case of the Moravians as a reproach and an example to all other missionaries.
Now we venture to say that the Moravians at the outset of their conference with savages, keep at as great a distance from any instraction about the arts of weaving, and sewing, and tilling land, as the Apostle Paul did, when he went about among Greeks and Barbarians, charged with the message of salvation to all who would listen and believe. He preached
nothing but "Jesus Christ and him crucified;" and neither do they; and the faith which attends the word of their testimony, how foolish and fanatical soever it may appear in the eyes of worldly men, proves it to be the power of God and the wisdom of God unto salvation. It is another evidence of the foolishness of God being wiser than men, and the weakness of God being stronger than men. However wonderful it may be, yet such is the fact, that a savage, when spoken to on the subject of his soul, of sin, and of the Saviour, has his attention more easily compelled, and his resistance more effectually subdued, than when he is addressed upon any other subject whether of moral or economical instruction. And this is precisely the way in which Moravians have gone to work. They preached the peculiar tenets of the New Testament at the very outset. They gained converts through that Faith which cometh by hearing. These converts multiplied, and, in many instances, they have settled around them. It is true that they have had unexampled success in the business of civilizing their disciples; but it has arisen from their having stood longer on the vantage ground of the previous knowledge of Christianity with which they had furnished them, than any other missionaries; and the peace, and order, and industry, which are represented by rash and superficial observers, as the antecedents of the business, are, in fact, many consequents flowing out of the mighty influence which attends the word of their testimony.
It is well that the Moravians have risen into popular admiration. This will surely give weight to their own testimony about their own matters. And when one of their members publishes an account of the manner in which the United Brethren preach the Gospel, and carry on their missions among the Heathen, information from such a quarter will surely be looked upon as of higher authority than the rapid description of a traveller. Now such a treatise has been published by Spangenberg; and it does not appear that any preparatory civilization is now attempted by their missionaries, who have been engaged in the business for many years, and have been eminent above all others, both for their experience and their success. We shall subjoin a few extracts as being completely decisive upon this point.
The method of the brethren to bring the heathen to Christ was in the beginning of their attempts, particularly in Greenland, nearly as follows:
They proved to the heathen that there is a God, and spoke to them of his attributes and perfections. In the next place, 'they spoke upon the creation ;-how God had made man after
his own image, which, however, was soon lost by the fall. 'They then made the heathen acquainted with the laws which
God gave by his servant Moses. Hence they proved to them that they were sinners, and had deserved temporal and eternal 'punishment. And from this they drew the consequence, that 'there must be one who reconciled them to God, &c.
This method of teaching they continued for a long time, ' but without any success, for the heathen became tired of such 'discourses. If it be asked, how happened it that the brethren 'fell upon the said method, I must confess that I am apprehen'sive I was myself the cause of it. The first brethren who 'were destined for Greenland, went to Copenhagen by way of Halle, where I at that time lived. They tarried a few days 'with me, and conversed with me relative to their intentions.
Upon this, I gave them a book to read, (for I knew no better at that time,) in which a certain divine treated, among the rest, ' of the method to convince and to bring the heathen to Christ. The good man had probably never seen an heathen in all his life, much less converted any; but yet he imagined he could give directions how to set about it. The brethren followed them, but without success.
'Meanwhile, it pleased the Lord our Saviour to give the congregation at Herrnhut more insight into the word of atonement through the offering of Jesus. Nor were the brethren wanting in declaring to those in Greenland, that they must preach Jesus Christ, if they meant to produce any blessing among the heathen. Upon this, the brethren began to translate soine parts of the Gospel, especially what relates to the 'sufferings and death of Jesus, and read that to the heathen,
This gave an opportunity to speak with them farther on that 'head. Then God opened their hearts that they attended to the 'word, and it proved to them also the power of God. They ' became desirous of hearing more about it, and the fire which had been kindled in them by the Holy Ghost, spread farther and farther. And thus many were converted to God; since which time the brethren were frequently asked by the heathen, 'why they did not preach sooner to them of Jesus; that they ' had been quite tired of hearing the discourses about God, and 'the two first parents, &c.
'Above thirty years ago, when I lived in North America, I 'sometimes got the brethren that were used occasionally in the 'service of our Lord to come together, in order that I might 6 converse with them about their labours. Johannes, an Indian ' of the Mahikander nation, who had formerly been a very 'wicked man, but was now thoroughly converted, and was our 'fellow labourer in the congregation gathered from among the
heathens at that time dwelling in Chekomekah, happened to ⚫ be just then on a visit with us, and also came to our little meet