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188 EVIDENCES 01 CHRISTIANITY. \
them. Probably, the men who accompanied Paul, and wh» witnessed the miraculous circumstances attending his conversion, were not, after a short time much affected by them; and, probably, if even now the heavens should again open, and an Almighty voice should proclaim That 'Christianity is not a cunningly-devised fable,' a little while hence men would almos^ forget that such an event had ever taken place.—Fatal insensibility! They will not regard, till too late, ' the things that make for their everlasting peace.' They are left, however, without excuse for it: when God speaks to them by the most sensible manifestations of his power, they hear him not,' neither would they hear though one should rise from the dead/
Bristol Academy. .■ J- G.
ENCOURAGEMENT TO JNFITE PERSONS TO HEAR THE GOSPEL.
.;-.. Among a variety of instances of Conversion which have come under my observation, permit me to mention the following:—-'Mr. Tye, of the Barracks at Woolwich, who died lately, had been in many bloody battles, and seen many of his acquaintanqes fall by his side; but,notwithstanding, continued an enemy to God and to the way of holiness. , Having, as a Clothier, accumulated considerable property at Woolwich, it was customary with him to employ his men in working or* the Lord's Day, even though they had been idle the greater part of the week. Mrs. Tye, whom he married in America, during the American war, and whose maiden name was Evans> having been all along piously inclined, was grieved at his conduct; but could never prevail on him to go to any place of worship: his usual reply being " Bless me, cannot you let me alone! What do I care for your places of worship? Nobody hinders your going!"
Having, for several years, had a pew in the Rev. Mr.Blythe's Meeting, where several of the officers and others of the Artillery generally attend, Mis. Tye prevailed on her husband one day to promise to accompany her thither; and managed matters so that he kept his promise. The consequence-was, that from that day forward, he became pious aud exemplary; nor ever after would permit his men to work on Sunday. He afterwards became an Elder of the Church j looked up to Mr. Blythe as his spiritual father; and being fond of church-music, encouraged it, and had prayer-meetings in his house. Before his death, he gave, evident signs of being a child of God. Though she had no children by him, he blessed the day he first saw his wife; and, with his dying.breath, thanked her that she had persevered so long in advising him to be religious. His last words were, " Farewell, my dear Jane. Jesus is all my desire! I am going to a happier country. Do not weep, — we shall soon meet again to part no more."
St. Martin's Lane. James Hall. >
A LETTER TO A MINISTER,
Reverend and dear Sir,— After the conversation which passed at our late interview, you will be expecting to hear from me on the subject of the Missionary Society. Your candour allowed that you had paid but little attention to it, and that you had never heard so much in favour of missions as from my lips. It was your request that I would write you, that you might give it a fuller consideration, and also shew the letter to your friends. With pleasure I comply, and hope the result will be your zealous and unwearied patronage thro* life.
The magnitude of the object which the Missionary Society has in view, gives it a claim to the support of every disciple of Christ. It seeks nothing less than the conversion of all the nations of the earth; and whjle there is one destitute of the gospel, its full design is not attained.
Consider, my dear friend, the spiritual condition of mankind: it is more deplorable than words can express. 1 might say, that in the most favoured countries on earth, the mass of the people are ignorant and irreligious. In other Protestant lands, the purity of the Christian doctrine is exchanged for Socinianism and Infidelity. The darkness, superstition, and vice which reign in every Roman Catholic country, are truly dreadful; and the Greek church is in a still more depioiaul<j condition ; — but to pass by these, and to cai: jour attention, to the rest of the inhabitants of the earth, reflect tiiat nearly oae-third part of the human race is overspr ad with Manemetan delusion, and knows nothing ol Jesus Js the saviour of sinners, that name alone given under Heaven by which any can be saved ;—and far more than another third is piunged in gross idolatry, and ignorant of the living and true God ;—and where God is not known, what can there be but ignorance, , wretchedness, and misery?
Should not Christians pity this immense portion of the family of Adam, consisting of at least six hundred millions of immortal souls? To deliver them from this deplorable state, is the object of the Missionary Society; the irteaus is that of
190 MISSIONARY EXERTIONS.
God's own appointment, — by preaching of the everlasting gospel. In this respect, a Missionary Society is the first of all societies: it can plead divine authority in express terms, for sending persons into all she world to preach the gospel to everycreature; and is, therefore, entitled to the precedence of every other in the esteem of the disciples of Christ.
The diffusion of the sacred Scriptures throughout the world is a glorious design, and what every zealous preacher among the Heathen keeps in view; but Missionary Societies are necessary to give it the full effect. In how many hundreds of parish-churches in England has the Bible been jead from year to year, with little apparent efficacy ! — but no sooner does an evangelical minister enter the pulpit and preach the gospel, than the Bible appears a different book: it is read, it is felt, it now makes the people wise unto salvation. Much more will this be the case among Heathen nations, which stand in still greater need of a preacher, to enable them to understand what they read.
• Missionary Societies have most immediately in view thfe accomplishment of the grand plan of salvation,—to fill the earth with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. They are seeking to carry it into execution, and should, therefore, have the co-operation of all*who say in their prayers 'Thy will be done on earth, as it is done in Heaven;' for they are performing what is the second duty of the Christian church: the first is, The advancement of religion within its pale; the next is, The conversion of the world.'
The Missionary Society for winch I plead, with these objects in view, has a claim to your attention and patronage for what it has done during the fifteen years of its existence. It can sa)% That never a society in the Protestant world did so much in the same space of time. It has numerous labourers in the Lord's harvest, and they have stations in all the four quarters of the globe. They have taken possession of some of the most important fields on the face of the-earth, both among civilized and barbarous nations. In China, that world of souls in itself, two missionaries are preparing to preach the gospel. Two, we hope, are entered into the Birman empire; .Five are labouring in Hindostan; and several in Ceylon. Barbarians, at the same time, have not been overlooked; and the Society has felt itself to be a debtor to them. The islands of the South Seas have heard the gospel, and many of the inhabitants understand the way of salvation through Christ. South Africa has missionaries among different tribes, from the neighbourhood of the Atlantic to the shores of the Indian ocean. Those too of its sable children, who have been torn from their native land, and dragged into slavery in the continent and islands of America, have there heard, from our missionaries, the joyful souad of the gospel of Christ.
If.the characters of tke missionaries of this Society be enquired into, it may with confidence be said, that though we have been disappointed with regard to some few, the most have conducted themselves in a manner becoming that character and office. Among these, we can reckon a class of truly superior men :— a Vanderkemp, a Cran, a Desgranges, a Loveless, a Morrison, a Read, an Anderson, to name no more, are men whom no society that ever existed need blush to own as its missionaries, to carry the gospel of Christ to the Heathen.
Of the success of the Society, it may be said, that it is, all things considered, equal to what there was reason to expect. Its operations, at first, must resemble those of the husbandman, who is sent to cultivate an American wilderness. The trees must be cut down, the underwood removed, root and branch: it must be ploughed, or digged, as the soil requires: nor till after all this toil can the seed be sown; and then he must wait for many months before the harvest arrives. Similar to this must be the labour of the missionary in the most important Heathen fields, when a language entirely new, which is to be learned; and if in six or seven years the first fruits only of the harvest are reaped, there is reason not; to. complain, but to rejoice. In places where the Heathen can either, from having learned the language of the missionary, or, by the help of an interpreter, understand his speech, success may be expected more speedily to attend his preaching. This has happily been the result; for the labours of our missionaries in Africa and America, have been followed with as great success as the most sanguine, if judicious, had reason to expect. If I should say that more than two hundred, probably three hundred, had been converted, I should not overrate lie number; and, from such a beginning, there is ground to.hope, as missions advance, for a tenfold increase.
Its exertions for the salvation of the Heathen, the Society wishes to continue and to enlarge. The stations which the mi&sionaries now occupy, it is anxious to retain, and, where it is necessary, to strengthen them more and more. IN or is this the whole of the plan: it is desirous to enter upon new fields, and to scatter its preachers over a larger portion of the unenlightened world.
But all these things, however excellent," and however earnestly desired, depend for their accomplishment on the support of Christian friends. The Society has cause both lor gratitude and for complaint. Many disciples of Christ have displayed at once their liberality and their zeal, by contributing their aid ; — but too great a number have kept back from rendering their help. The prejudices of sonic still prevent them from coming forward; and there is as great reason to «omplain of the indifference of others, whom nothing has been able to rouse to co-operation. Societies too, formed
192 MISSIONARY EXERTIONS.
since ours, for other benevolent and pious purposes, have turned aside a part of the funds which used to be poured into our treasury.
Deeply concerned for the salvation of the Heathen, we find it necessary, on these accounts, to plead in their behalf. You have been late in coming forward to our assistance; but I hope you will now, by your zealous exertions, compensate for past neglect. Let us have all your influence thrown into the missionary scale. The weight of your character will lead hundreds to follow your example. Give us your cordial sup-, port; your congregation will, I aril confident, espouse the cause with pleasure, and assist us with their contributions. The many respectable individuals in your society, we wish and hope to see in the list of annual subscribers; and it is our earnest desire, that you will exhort all the young people in affluent circumstances to patronize the cause of missions. During the fifteen years since the institution of the Society, many of our aged venerable friends have entered into rest: if the young do not come up in their places, we are undone.
Consider, my dear Sir, the peculiar circumstances in which we stand. Some other societies are patronized by the world, and supported by fashion; but it is from Christians alone that we can expect support. If, for want of support, the cause should fail, how displeasing must it be to the Redeemer of souls, — and how dreadful the consequences to the Christian church! What reason is there to fear that the Spirit may withdraw from such congregations as have no pity on a perishing world! The subject is now in broad day before mens' eyes, and if compassion for the Heathen be not felt, the sin is inconceivably great.
Permit me to ask, When you appear before the Lord Jesus at your departure out of this world, what would be your feelings if he should say,' You professed to be a minister of my gospel: you knew that I am the Saviour of the world: you was told that the Heathen were perishing for lack of knowledge, and you was invited to assist in sending missionaries to preach the gospel to them; but you refused, and you discouraged your congregation from assisting in the work. Was this your love to your Friend, who shed his blood for your redemption? Was this your compassion to the perishing souls of miserable Heathens?'
But I am fully persuaded that, from this time, both you and your congregation will be free from such a reproach;,—nor will you ever have cause to look back with grief on the day when you first stood forward as the friend of the Missionary Society. You will feel the happy effects in the direction, given to the thoughts, and conversation, and active exertions pf your flock ; — in the blessing communicated to your owa