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God has seen fit to reward their toils, and faith, and patience, specially in the South Sea Islands, with the most animating success. Nations have been born unto God, as it were, in a day. They have thrown their idols to the moles and the bats. They have literally burned them in the fire, and become the professed disciples of that Saviour, of whom they were once entirely ignorant.
The efforts of the United Brethren too have been, in many places, peculiarly blessed. In short, we run no hazard in asserting, that the gospel has been as successful among the heathen, in proportion to the number of teachers employed, as in Christian countries; with the exception of a small portion of Christian countries, it has undoubtedly been more so.
There is then no real cause of discouragement from the want of success. God may put our faith and patience to the trial, by the delay of the wished for conversion of the heathen; (so he has dealt with his children in former and latter days;) but we have good reason to believe, that we shall ultimately see our missionary labours crowned with success. "Be not weary in well doing; in due time we shall reap, if we faint not."
A second discouragement is, that some employed as missionaries are of sickly habits; and some have quitted the service of the Society, either by engagements in a different connection, or by return to this country.
. But are not preachers every where exposed to sickness and death? And is there not the same objection to employing them at all, as there is to sending them to the heathen? The proportion who are sickly, or who have died among the heathen, is not greater than elsewhere.
As to the other sources of discouragement; I feel the delicacy of the subject, and wish to touch it in such a manner as to wound no feelings, or give any just cause of offence. In the infant state of our mission, it is no doubt an unhappiness, that those who have left our communion for another, did not come earlier and under different circumstances to that conviction of mind, which has directed their course; because the difficulties created by such an occurrence, would have then been all spared. Those however, who can view this subject with that Christian enlargement of feeling, which is gradually taking place, will indulge the hope and make at the throne of grace the earnest request, that the brethren who have left our communion, may be a blessing to the heathen in the communion with which they are now connected.
In regard to the abandonment of the object, in one case; some sympathy for decaying health, and embarrassing circumstances may be considered as justly due.
The friends of Foreign Missions in our country do wish, with all their hearts, that neither of these events had taken place: not because they are warm with sectarian zeal, or because they think that no possible case can occur, in which the adandonment of a mission is lawful; but because, in the infant state of such a great undertaking, occurrences of this nature operate by way of discouragement, upon the minds of many who are friendly to the missionary cause. Yet, when duly examined, it will be found, that our missions have experienced less of such difficulties, than almost any other. All human concerns and undertakings are liable to difficulties of this kind; and if we are to be discouraged by them, we may at once sit down, in despair of ever accomplishing any important object.
3dly. There is another source of discouragement or inquietude to some, from the apprehension that the public will soon become weary of so much effort in the missionary cause, and gradually desert it.
But the nature of the object, and the spirit which prompts to pursue it, forbid desponding fears of such a kind. The missionary cause has flourished in Great Britain, three times as long as here; it has been tried with the most disastrous events; yet it has not failed. It is gaining strength every year, and bids fair to hold out while the sun and moon shall endure.
If the object were of a worldly nature, or prompted by the spirit of selfishness, I grant there would be reason for the fear in question. But as it is an object which dwells on the heart of everlasting love, the failure of it is not to be expected. He who has lighted up in the breast of his followers the flame which burned in primitive Christians, will not suffer it to be extinguished, while there is a nation or a family on earth, who are involved in Pagan or Mohammedan darkness.
Enough of objections and discouragements. In the view of a heart expanding with the godlike benevolence of the gospel, they do not amount to the dust in the balance. It were easy now to turn to the other side of the question, and take a view of the motives and encouragements, which are offered, to pursue the great work of sending abroad the knowledge of a Saviour. But, in this delightful task, I have already been anticipated by so many, whose hearts are warm and whose hands are strong in the cause of Christian love, that it would be unnecessary repetition to dwell upon the sub' ject.
I will only suggest then; 1st, that the command of the Saviour renders the duty of endeavours to spread the knowledge of the gospel among all nations, imperious. There exists the same reason why we should obey it, as why the apostles should.
2. The precious promises, which God has made-to his church, can be fulfilled in this way, and only in this way. There certainly is a multitude of promises, in the Old Testament and in the New, that the visible kingdom of Christ on earth shall extend over all nations. How shall all nations be converted to the Christian faith, without they hear the gospel; and how shall they hear, without preachers? The accomplishment of the divine promises is inseparably connected with missionary labours; and the duty of men to labour for the accomplishment of that which God lias promised, is plain and certain.
Besides; the fact that he has promised the universal extension of the Redeemer's kingdom, renders it certain that this will take place; and consequently, that the labours of his faithful servants to promote this end will not, cannot, be in vain.
3. The actual enjoyment that accompanies benevolent efforts, furnishes a great excitement to persevere in sending the gospel to the heathen. God is supremely happy because he is supremely good and benevolent; and in just such proportion as we imbibe the holy spirit of love, we must become happy. There is an exalted satisfaction, a divine pleasure in doing good; and specially doing that which is, and must be Avholly gratuitous; for then we imitate most nearly the divine beneficence. My friends, who are engaged in the great work of supporting missions, will you not bear me witness, that the pleasure you receive from it far more than repays you for all your toils and charities?
Lastly; there is a reward laid up in heaven, for those who love and strive to promote the cause of Christ. "Inasmuch as ye did it unto the least of one of these, ye did it unto me." For the success of our efforts, we are not answerable; nor will the reward in heaven be proportioned to this. The efforts themselves are never lost, as it regards our own present or future happiness, whether they accomplish the object desired, or fail of its accomplishment.
Such are some of the prominent motives, which urge us not to be weary in well doing, as it respects the object in question. May I now be permitted, after having endeavoured to remove objections and discouragements, and briefly to suggest motives and excitements to missionary efforts, to pursue the exhortation of the apostle, and apply it to three classes of persons who are before me.
I would address myself, first, to those who are peculiarly entrusted with managing the great concerns of Foreign Missions.
Fathers and Brethren, " be not weary in well doing." The public at large do not, and cannot know but a small part of your labours, anxieties and cares, for the missionary cause. These, added to all the other duties of life to which your respective stations call you, render your burden, at times, almost insupportable. But, my Christian friends, you will permit me to exhort you, not to be weary in well doing. The cause is the most important in which men can be engaged. The public eye is fixed