Abbildungen der Seite

religious worship, and to enforce that prescription by pains and penalties. Certainly if the will of the Supreme were felt to be the suprenie rule to all, no mere man would dare to encroach on that prerogative. All those christian governments which have endeavored by punishments to enforce religious observances, have attempted, contrary to their Lord's will, to make his kingdom of this world. But in these enforcements, they only adopted the very principle of the heathen governments to which they succeeded, and by which they were surrounded. Thus the Romish church, after it became dominant in Rome, adopted the persecuting sentiment of the heathen government before it. This is indeed no excuse whatever, yet it shews us whence the persecuting sentiment originated.

The christian rule that “we ought to obey God rather than men," deprives every human government of supremacy over the human conscience, and it is the only religion on earth which forbids such domination. It is this which has driven persecution from the only countries where it is not now practiced. There never was an idolatrous nation which did not claim the right to persecute of course, and actually use it when convenient. In China, the command of the son of God, and the command of the

son of heaven, are contrary the one to the other, “teach all nations'". -" teach not my nation.

The Supreme Being has not been for thousands of years the object of prayer or of any worship with the people of China. The patriarchal model of government seems to have devolved the duty of public homage to this Being, entirely upon the emperor; hence the people who were released from that worship, released themselves also from the duty of learning him and of daily communion with him. In process of time, when this Suprenie Being came to be regarded as the pervading energy of nature, even this stated act of national homage ceased to be much else than the formal adoration of a metaphysical principle. Thus shorn of personality and affections, this being ceased to be, if it had even been, regarded as the living One, suited to attract and return the warmest and dear-est affections of the human heart. Hence the formal and artificial character of the national worship. But the religious wants of men demanded something more palpable than the worship of abstract principles. It is not wonderful therefore that the introduction of a foreign idolatry was welcomed in China by those who had still any heart. Nor is it surprising that by this means, God should be less thought of than before, so that the prevailing idolatry engrosses all the religious affections which yet remained. They know and they acknowledge that the objects of their worship are not God, that He forms no object of their prayer, of their joy, or of the communion of their heart.

The most striking effect of this religious system in China is on the personal character of the people. Nowhere in the world

is there exhibited so settled and so extensive an apathy on divine subjects as here. You approach a Chinese and introduce the subject of love to God, for he never begins such a topic. Speak of him as our benefactor, our friend and ruler. Do you find that his heart is ready to meet you with pleasure on this common ground? Is he delighted to dwell on it as a familiar spot, where his best affections love to linger, where his heart is at home? No, you have not waked the chord of feeling within him. Follow him, as far as we may, when the cares and the business of the day are past, to the quiet of home and the enjoyments of friendship: Does his mind naturally turn to the solaces of religion with his assembled family? Does he converse with his friends of the power and the kindness of God? We ask not for the social meeting for religious conversation and prayer, as in some other countries; but what evidence appears that religion is his delight, and the thought of God the dearest of all thoughts to his heart? The formal burning of a little gilt paper each evening, is small proof that the remembrance of the Maker is cherished by the soul which was made in his own image.

The repulsiveness of the Chinese character towards foreigners, has long been matter of history. If this narrow and selfish feeling were shown towards foreigners only, we might ascribe it as some do, to the influence of their officers and laws. But the same or nearly the same want of interest in the welfare of their own countryman, rather proves it to be a national trait, fostered by national sentiment. Occupying a most fertile soil and salutary climate, they have cut off the free interchange of kind offices with their fellow creatures, dissociated themselves from the family of men, placing themselves alike beyond the sympathies of others, and beyond commiseration in the common calamities of man. They broke the divinely established order by which God styles himself the Father of all nations all nations whom he made of one blood. They ask no aid of others, they offer no aid to them, they neither inquire for their welfare or existence. It may be said of them as of the dead :

They have no share in all that's done

Beneath the circuit of the sun. This violent disruption of the natural brotherhood of men, seenis very unlike the warm-hearted benevolence of the good man, who seeks not to separate his interests from others, but rather to identify his happiness with the enlightening of the world.

Where then is the remedy for these old and multiplied miseries? It is acknowledged as well by Chinese as others, that for 2000 years there has been a growing corruption in doctrines and morals, and not only continued but accelerating. The deep degeneracy of these luter ages prevents the hope of

[ocr errors]


No man

reform, The thing is scarcely if at all attempted, and the modern sages, it is believed would hardly desire it, if it were practicable.

We look in vain to their policy; we have no expectations from their old classical books. These books and that policy have seen their best days; they have had long and unlimited sway more than any similar system, and yet they have brought the nation to its present state.

There is not vitality and power enough in them to restore to happiness. expects help from them to reform and bless the nation. The religious apathy is too deep, and the national evils too extended to admit the hope of their removal by any human system of restoration.

Look over the world, and see whether any remedy is provided adequate to the miseries of weak and sinful men. What aid will you call? Learning and philosophy have come, but they have become atheists, and need help themselves. Idolatry has come, and brought more gods but no more aid. The koran has come, but without the sword which must water with blood the soil where Islamism is to flourish. Most deeply are we persuaded that the remedy for the wants and the sins of men in China, is the same as for us and for all the world, Jesus Christ who came into the world to save sinners. This faithful saying is worthy of all acceptation ; for we see no other sure hope for China or any other nation than in him_who brought life and immortality to light by the gospel. Every delight which we daily receive froin this heavenly source, makes us inore desirous to see them receiving the same. Very far is our feeling from exultation over the weakness and darkness of our fellow-men, while we are thus examining their religious systems. Far is it from pride, as though we were naturally a more deserving and elevated race. No, we own and we feel that if benevolent men had not brought to our fathers the gospel which had been given to them, we should now be living under religious delusions equally unprofitable with the Chinese, but more, yes more barbarous. Raised to happiness and intelligence by this means, we wish to extend the blessing to all the unhappy children of men. But oppressed by the weight of ancient customs, ground down by the extortions and caprice of their rulers, living often in fear, in poverty, and want, the Chinese needs the consolations of the gospel to cheer him in this life. And when the fears of death come upon him, the prospect of annihilation, or of a return again to life and suffering, are a poor substitute for the solid hopes of pardon through the Savior.

The expectations which we cherish of the religion of Christ, and all for which we aiin, are these. We hope it will bring back all nations to the love of one and the same God; so that every man will find in his fellow-man a common ground of friendship, and a common bond of union. By means of it also, the Bible will

become the standard of right and wrong in the whole earth; and all men living by the same rules, and studying these saine “memoirs of the Almighty,” will find the causes of mutual dissension dying away, and a common and kindly interest pervading all the members of the great family of mankind. By this also, all men will learn their equal obligation and feel gratitude alike to the same Savior, by whom they are redeemed unto God. Nor do we regard these great results as at all visionary or doubtful; for this remedy is sufficient for all, and the truth of the Bible itself is staked upon such an event, 6 all the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto Jehovah, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before him.”

arise in your

PROPHECY.*. 266 We have also a more sure word of prophecy,

whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, till the day dawn and the day-star

hearts. Peter's second epistle, i. 19. If any one thing more than another is recommendable to a missionary, who has to overcome obstacles insurmountable to human strength, it is a close attention to the divine prophecies. We are not advised to be carried away by our own visionary projects, which we may have cherished, and which have sometimes brought the study of sacred literature into great disrepute ; but we are to “ take heed to the sure word of prophecy as unto a light that shineth in a dark place.” To be illumined by this divine light when all around is darkness; to remain unshaken under all disappointments; to do the work of love after many, many years of vain labor, while the scoffer is laughing, and the infidel is sneering; these are effects which our attention to the sure word of prophecy ought to produce. When our friends at home have lost their interest in our adopted country, when the seed has long been sown on stony ground, then it is our duty to recall their thoughts to the more sure word of prophecy.

Perhaps few missions in the world have been so discouraging as the Chinese. Year aster year has elapsed without crowning the efforts which have been expended, with a corresponding success. The greater part of the laborers have sunk into the grave; others have left the service, and others returned home. Few natives have felt the saving power of the gospel. Christian books have been scattered far and wide, without producing (to mortal eyes ) an adequate effect. And now after all the labor and toil, we have not yet penetrated into this vast empire ; our stations are either on the borders, or far away in the Indian archipelago, and the present laborers are reduced to small numbers. The same antinational system which at first counteracted our efforts, is still in full force. The laws against

From a Correspondent.

a more

popery have not yet been revoked; the precious gospel, this divine gift, remains unknown to the nation; and formidable barrier than any other-Chinese apathy towards every thing which does not strike the senses, is as deep as


[ocr errors]

This is not the language of despair. Unbelievers may ask; where is the day of the Lord's coming? And we humbly answer; “it is not for you to know the times or seasons which the Father has put in his own power." Hitherto it has been the day of small things, but our labors have not been quite in vain. There are converts, schools, preachers; and there is a door opened to the Chinese empire. Let us not treat the small things, which God has hitherto done, with contempi, lest we perish together with an unbelieving world. But let us at the same time acknowledge, that as laborers we have never resisted unto blood. That noble purpose “to spend, and be spent,” that ardent desire to live and to die for the cause of God, has not taken entire possession of our whole selves. We do not indeed wish to see the names of " hundreds subscribed with their own blood,” pledging themselves to enter the lists of combatants; we want something superior and more essential, an unreserved surrender to the Savior under the deep conviction of his omnipotent love. This will teach and prompt us to preserve to the last in our endeavors to promote the salvation of our fellow-sinners. This is the great requisite in the Lord's servants. Bring also arts, sciences, and the goods of this world into this holy cause, without boasting of your sacrifices, and you are welcome.

To rush heedlessly into dangers, to put the world at defiance, will rather injure the cause than promote it ;-there is a more excellent way. When the doors of “the celestial empire” are thrown open, boldly to enter the list of missionaries, to gain the hearts of the people by kindness and longsuffering, to promote their temporal and eternal welfare by every measure in your power, without being known or registered in public journals, neglected and forgotten by friends, if possible ;-after all to be treated with contempt both by the Chinese government and common people, this is the true way of establishing the gospel in this remote part of the world. Let us not deride the supposition that China may very soon be open for missionary enterprises.

Amongst the numerous promises in Scriptures, there is one which bears directly upon China, and it is well to dwell a little upon the subject. In the twelfth verse of the 49th chapter of Isaiah, God


“Behold these shall come from far; and lo, these from the north and the west, and these from the land of Sinim. Great philologists are agreed, that Sinim was the name under which eastern Asia or China was known to the inhabitants of western Asia. Both the Arabs, Syrians, Malays, and Siamese, to this day, call it Tsin, Chin, or Shin; and

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]
« ZurückWeiter »