During all the years that I have been allowed to labor for the heathen, my mind has been led to contemplate, constantly and intensely, the obligations of Christian nations towards those who sit in darkness; obligations arising from the command of Christ, and the principles of the Gospel. And I shall, therefore, in this chapter, freely, fully, and solemnly express the sentiments which have been maturing in my mind, on the great guilt
which Christians incur in neglecting the heathen
The heathen world, as a mass, has been left to perish. And by whom? Not by the Father of mercies; he gave his Son to redeem it: not by the Saviour of sinners; look at Calvary: not by the Holy Spirit; his influences have been ever ready: not by angels; their wings have never tired when sent on errands of mercy. All that Heaven could do has been done, consistently with the all-wise arrangement of committing an important agency to the church. The church has been slothful and negligent. Each generation of Christians has in turn received the vast responsibility, neglected it in a great measure, and transmitted it to the next. The guilt of this neglect who can estimate?
That such neglect is highly criminal, the Bible everywhere testifies. It says, |If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; if thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it?| And shall not he |render to every man according to his works?| This solemn interrogation needs no comment. The obvious import is, If our fellow men are perishing, and we neglect to do what we can to save them, we are guilty of their blood. But this testimony does not stand alone. What does God say to the prophet, who should see the peril of the wicked, and neglect to save him by giving him warning? |His blood will I require at thy hand.| What does God say of the watchman of a city who should see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet? |If the sword come and take any person from among them, his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.|
But this is not only the sentiment of the Bible, but the voice of common sense.
A neighbor of mine is drowning in the river. With a little exertion I can save his life, but neglect to do it. Shall I escape the goadings of conscience and the charge of blood-guiltiness?
A house is in flames. The perishing occupants, looking from a window, implore of me to reach them a ladder. I have some little affairs of my own to attend to, and turn a deaf ear to their cry. The flames gather around them: they throw themselves from the window, and are dashed in pieces on the pavement. Who will not charge me with the loss of those lives?
To-day, a raging malady is spreading through the streets of a large city. The people are dying by hundreds. I know the cause; the fountains of the city are poisoned. From indolence, or some other cause, I neglect to give the information, and merely attend to my own safety. Who would not load me with the deepest guilt, and stamp me as the basest of murderers?
Both Scripture and common sense, then, concur in establishing the sentiment, that if our fellow men are perishing, and we neglect to do what we can to save them, we are guilty of their blood. But if this doctrine be true, its application to Christians, in the relation which they sustain to the heathen world, is irresistibly conclusive and awfully momentous. The soul shudders, and shrinks back from the fearful thought: If six hundred millions of our race are sinking to perdition, and we neglect to do what we can to save them, we shall be found accountable for their eternal agonies.
If such a charge is standing against us, we shall soon meet it. The day of judgment will soon burst upon us. Let us look, then, at the subject candidly, prayerfully, and with a desire to do our duty.
The conditions on which the charge impends are simply two: that the heathen world are sinking to perdition, and that we are neglecting to do what we can to save them. If these two points are substantiated, the overwhelming conclusion is inevitable. It becomes us, then, to look well at these points -- to examine them with faithfulness and with honesty.
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Is it true, that the heathen world are sinking to perdition? As fast as the beating of my pulse, they are passing into the world of retribution, and the inquiry is, What is the doom they meet? Do they rise to unite with angels in the songs of heaven? or sink in ceaseless and untold misery?
Certain it is, that they are not saved through faith in Christ; for |how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?| It is also clear that God, in his usual method, does not bestow the gift of repentance and eternal life where a Saviour is not known. |It pleases God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.| Those who are saved, are said to be |begotten by the word of truth| -- |born of the word of God.| As the heathen nations, therefore, are not furnished with the appointed means of salvation, it follows inevitably that, as a mass at least, they are sinking to perdition. They are the |nations which have forgotten God,| and |shall be turned into hell.|
It is unnecessary to enter into the inquiry, whether it is possible, in the nature of the case, for a heathen unacquainted with the Gospel to be saved. It is sufficient to know the FACT, that God has ordained the preaching of the Gospel as the means of saving the nations; and that there is probably no instance on record, which may not be called in question, of a heathen being converted without a knowledge of the true God and of his Son Jesus Christ.
But the consideration, solemn and conclusive, which needs no other to corroborate it or render it overwhelming, is the character of the heathen. Look at their character, as portrayed by the Apostle Paul in the first chapter to the Romans. Read the whole chapter, but especially the conclusion, where he describes the heathen as |being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, back-biters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.| This description is not understood in Christian lands, neither can it be; but missionaries to the heathen, who are eye-witnesses of what is here described, place an emphasis on every epithet, and would clothe every word in capitals.
The character of the heathen is no better now than in the days of Paul. It is worse. It is impossible that such a state of society should remain stationary. A mortal disease becomes more and more malignant, till a remedy is applied; a sinking weight hastens downwards with continually accumulating force; and mind, thrown from its balance, wanders farther and farther from reason. It is thus with the disease of sin, the downward propensities of a depraved nature, and a soul revolted from God. Besides, Satan has not been inactive in heathen lands. He has been aware that efforts would be made to save them. And night and day, year after year, and age after age, he has sought, with ceaseless toil and consummate skill, to perfect the heathen in every species of iniquity, harden their hearts to every deed of cruelty, sink them to the lowest depths of pollution and degradation, and place them at the farthest remove from the possibility of salvation. It is impossible to describe the state of degradation and unblushing sin to which the nations, for ages sinking, have sunk, and to which Satan in his undisturbed exertions for centuries has succeeded in reducing them. It is impossible to give a representation of their unrestrained passions, the abominations connected with their idol worship, or the scenes of discord, cruelty and blood, which everywhere abound. I speak of those lands where the Gospel has not been extended. Truly darkness covers such lands, and gross darkness the people. Deceit, oppression and cruelty fill every hut with woe; and impurity deluges the land like an overflowing stream. Neither can it be said, that the conduct of the heathen becomes sinless through ignorance. From observation for many years, I can assert that they have consciences -- that they feel accountable for what they do.
Will, then, God transplant the vine of Sodom, unchanged in its nature, to overrun his paradise above? Will he open the gates of his holy city, and expose the streets of its peaceful inhabitants to those whose heart is cruelty, whose visage is scarred with fightings, and whose hands are red with blood? |KNOW YE NOT, THAT THE UNRIGHTEOUS SHALL NOT ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN?| Where, then, is the hope of the unconverted heathen? If there were innocent heathen, as some men are ready to imagine in the face of God's word, and in the face of a flood of facts, then indeed they might be saved without the Gospel. But this mass of pollution, under which the earth groans, must disgorge itself into the pit of woe. We cannot evade the conclusion, painful as it is, that the millions of this world of sin are sinking to perdition.
The American churches have peculiar advantages to carry abroad the Gospel of Christ; and ability in such an enterprise is the measure of our duty. |If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.| |To whom much is given of him will much be required.| And to determine whether Christians in the United States are doing what they can to save the heathen from their awful doom, the second point of inquiry proposed, it is necessary to look at their unparalleled advantages.
It may be said then, that Christians in America are not trammeled in their efforts to do good by any governmental restrictions, or ecclesiastical establishment. The remark is trite, but no less true, that the genius of our free constitution is eminently propitious to call forth energy and enterprise. And the remark applies with no more force to worldly matters, than to the business of doing good. The religion of Christ courts no extraneous influence, and is dependent for its power on no earthly aid. Under our free government, uncontrolled, unrestrained and unsupported, it is left to exert its own free and native energy. We can plead, therefore, no arbitrary hindrance of any kind in the work of propagating the Gospel. And we can carry the Gospel, too, disconnected from any prejudicial alliance with political interests. This is the free, disencumbered, and unshackled condition in which the Gospel is permitted to have free course in our beloved land; and it is a talent put into our hands to be improved.
Again, no country possesses such advantages of education as the United States. In no land is knowledge so generally diffused throughout the different grades of society, and in no land do such facilities exist for acquiring a thorough education. Schools, colleges and seminaries, are open equally to the high and to the low, to the rich and to the poor; and only a good share of energy is required, to rise from any grade or condition of society, to eminence in general learning or professional study. The general intelligence of the community is such, that nothing but disinclination can prevent men from being acquainted with the wants of the world, and their duty to evangelize it; and the facilities for fitting themselves for the work are such, that nothing but criminal delinquency can hold back a very large army from entering the field. This is an immense advantage committed to the American churches, for propagating the religion of Christ. It is another very precious talent committed to their trust, which if they fail to improve, they treasure up guilt.
Again, the American churches possess a great advantage in the facilities so generally enjoyed for accumulating wealth. The road to comfort and to affluence is open to all; and notwithstanding all reverses, the remark, as a general one, is still true, that the prosperity of the United States -- of the whole mass of the people -- is altogether unexampled, and that enterprise is vigorous and successful. In the greatest strait, how much retrenchment has there been in the style of living? And as we look into the future we see, (God's providence favoring,) that wealth is destined to flow in upon the land like a broad and deep river. Look at the extent of territory, bounded only by two rolling oceans; and at the resources which from year to year are developed -- varied, unnumbered, and inexhaustible. If then unto whom much is given, of them will much be required, what may not God justly demand of American Christians?
Another advantage which the American church possesses, is the Spirit which has been poured out upon her from on high. God has been pleased to bless her with precious revivals. The Holy Ghost has come down frequently and with power, and gathered in multitudes of souls. What God has wrought for the American Zion has been told in all lands, and every one applies the Saviour's injunction, |Freely ye have received -- freely give.| One great reason, perhaps, why the blessings of the Spirit are not now more richly enjoyed, is the neglect of Christians to make this return, and to labor gratefully for the destitute and the dying. It was expected, and justly too, that the land of apostolic revivals would be the first to imitate the apostles in the work of saving the heathen. A failure to do this may bring a blight upon the churches, if it has not brought it upon them already.
Surely, if there is a nation on earth to whom are intrusted many talents, ours is that nation. Our ability is not small. We must come up to a high measure of Christian action, before it can be said with truth, that we are doing what we can to save our ruined race. The United States, a nation planted by God, enriched by his providence, nourished by his Holy Spirit, and brought to the strength of manhood in this solemnly momentous time of the nineteenth century, seems to have committed to her in a special manner the work of the world's conversion. Who knoweth but that she is brought to her preeminent advantages for such a time as this -- for the interesting period preceding the latter day glory; and now if she prove herself unworthy of so lofty and responsible a trust, and neglect to put forth her strength to usher in the glorious day, deliverance will break out from some other quarter, but she, like a third Babylon, may sink in the bottomless abyss. An immense responsibility rests upon us. O that God would give us grace to act worthy of our trust -- to do what we can for a dying world!
Let us inquire, then, Do we pray for the heathen as much as we ought? Were one duly impressed with the condition of perishing millions, certainly no less could be expected of him, than to fall on his knees many times a day, and to lift up his cry of earnest entreaty on their behalf. Filled with the love of Christ, and having distinctly and constantly before his mind the image of millions of immortal souls dropping into perdition, surely he could not refrain from an agony of prayer. Under such a sense of the wants and woes of our perishing race, a sense true to facts, he would have no rest.
But what prayer has actually been offered to the Lord for benighted nations? Is it not a fact, that many professed Christians do not remember the heathen once a day, and some not even once a month? Let the closet, the family altar, and the monthly concert testify. Prayer-meetings for the heathen -- how thinly attended! what spectacles of grief to Jesus, and to angels! And if that prayer only is honest which is proved to be so by a readiness to labor, give, and go, there is reason to fear that few prayers for the heathen have been such that Christ could accept them, place them in his golden censer, and present them before the throne.
Since such is the case, what wonder is it that a million and a half of Christians in the United States should be so inefficient? Inefficient, I say, for what do this million and a half of professed Christians accomplish? By their vows they are bound to be as self-denying, as spiritual and devoted, as though they were missionaries to foreign lands. If we should send abroad a million and a half of missionaries, we should expect that, under God, they would soon be the instruments of converting all nations. But what, in fact, does this vast number of professed Christians -- or in other words, of the professedly missionary band of Jesus Christ, accomplish in the narrow limits of the United States? O, there is a deplorable lack in the churches, of the deep devotion and missionary character of our ascended Saviour.
Again, Do we give as much as we ought to evangelize the heathen? It would perhaps be a liberal estimate to say, that a million and a half of professed Christians in the United States give, on an average, year by year, to save the heathen, about twenty-four cents each, or two cents a month. There are other objects, it is true, that call for contributions; but put all contributions together, and how small the amount?
The Jews were required to give to religious objects at least one-fifth of their income. One-fifth of the income of a million and a half of Christians at seven per cent., supposing them to be worth on an average five hundred dollars each, would be ten and a half millions of dollars. This is merely the income of capital of which we now speak. A fifth of the income from trade and industry would probably double the amount, and make it twenty-one millions. Is anything like this sum given by American Christians to support and propagate the religion of Jesus? What Christians have done, therefore, is by no means a measure of their ability.
To see what men can do, it is necessary to look away from Christians, to those whose ruling principle is a thirst for pleasure, for honor, and for gain. How vast a sum is expended at theatres -- on fashionable amusements and splendid decorations -- not to mention the hundreds of millions sunk by intemperance, and swallowed up in the deep dark vortex of infamous dissipation! Men are lavish of money on objects on which their hearts are set. And if the hearts of Christians were set on saving the heathen, as much as wicked men are set on their pleasures, would they, think you, be content with the present measure of their contributions?
Look, too, at what men can do who are eager in the pursuit of wealth. Under the influence of such an incentive, railroads, canals, and fortresses spring into being, and fleets bedeck the seas like the stars of the firmament. Money is not wanting when lucrative investment is the end in view. Even professed Christians can collect together heavy sums, when some great enterprise promises a profitable income. They profess, perhaps, to be accumulating money for Christ; but, alas, to what a painful extent does it fail of reaching the benevolent end proposed! Worldly men accomplish much, for their hearts are enlisted. Professed Christians, too, accomplish much in worldly projects, for their minds become engrossed. What then could they not accomplish for Christ, if their feelings were equally enlisted in his cause? They might have, in serving Christ, intellects as vigorous, muscles as strong, and this advantage in addition, a God on high who has vouchsafed to help them.
Take another view of the case. The child that is now sitting by your side in perfect health, is suddenly taken sick. Its blooming cheeks turn pale, and it lifts its languid and imploring eyes for help. You call a physician, the most skillful one you can obtain. Do you think of expense? A protracted illness swells the bill of the physician and apothecary to a heavy amount. Do you dismiss the physician, or withhold any comfort for fear of expense?
Your child recovers, and becomes a promising youth. He takes a voyage to a foreign country. The ship is driven from her course, and wrecked on some barbarous coast. Your son becomes a captive, and after long anxiety you hear that he is alive, and learn his suffering condition; and you are told that fifty dollars will procure his ransom. I will suppose you are poor, have not a dollar at command, and that the sum can be raised in no other way than by your own industry and toil. Now, I ask, how many months would expire before you would save the sum from your hard earnings, and liberate your son? But what is an Algerine dungeon? It is a heaven, compared with the condition of the heathen. In the one case, there are bodily sufferings; in the other, present wretchedness and eternal agonies.
I once fell in company with a man of moderate circumstances, with whom I used the above argument. He promptly replied, |It is true. Three years ago I thought I could barely support my family by my utmost exertions. Two years since, my darling son became deranged, and the support of him at the asylum costs me four hundred dollars a year. I find that with strict economy and vigorous exertion I can meet the expense. But if any one had said to me three years ago, that I could raise four hundred dollars a year to save a lost world, I should have regarded the remark as the height of extravagance.|
Now, I ask, ought not men to feel as much in view of the eternal and unspeakable agony of a world of souls, as a parent feels for a suffering child? God felt MORE. He loved his only Son with a most tender affection -- inconceivably more tender than any earthly parent can exercise towards a beloved child. And yet, when the Father placed before him, on the one hand the eternal ruin of men, and on the other the sufferings and death of his beloved Son, which did he choose? Let Gethsemane and Calvary answer. Can Christians then have much of the spirit of God, and not feel for the eternal agonies of untold millions, more than for the temporal sufferings of a beloved child? But if Christians felt thus, what exertion would they make -- how immense the sum they would cheerfully raise, this present year, to evangelize the heathen! Feeling thus, a few of the wealthy churches might sustain the present expenditures of all foreign operations. Yet all the American churches combined, feeling as they do now, fail to send forth a few waiting missionaries, and suffer the schools abroad to be disbanded. The truth is, in the scale of giving, the church as a body (I say nothing of individuals or of particular churches) has scarcely risen in its feeling above the freezing point. What they now contribute is a mere fraction compared with their ability.
Millions are squandered by professed Christians on a pampered appetite, in obedience to fashion, a taste for expensive building, a love of parade, and on newly-invented comforts and conveniences, of which the hardy soldiers of Jesus Christ ought ever to be ignorant.
Then, again, some who are economical in their expenditures, have little conception of what is meant by total consecration to God. There must be an entire reform in this matter. Every Christian must feel that his employment, whether it be agriculture, merchandise, medicine, law, or anything else, is of no value any farther than it is connected with the Redeemer's kingdom; that wealth is trash, and life a trifle, except as they may be used to advance the cause of Christ; and that so far as they may be used for this purpose, they are of immense value. Let every Christian feel this sentiment -- let it be deeply engraven on his heart, and how long, think you, would pecuniary means be wanting in the work of the world's salvation?
And do we go and instruct the heathen as we ought? This is indeed the main point. To pray, formally at least, is quite easy; to give, is a little more difficult; but to go, in the minds of most persons, is entirely out of the question. Satan understood human nature when he said, |All that a man hath will he give for his life.| Speak of going, and you touch the man, his skin and his bones. To go, requires that a man have such feelings as to begin to act in earnest, as men do in other matters. Men act in person, when they are deeply in earnest. In the case supposed of a sick child, does the mother simply express a desire that the child may recover? does she merely give money, and hire a nurse to take little or no care of it? No: in her own person she anticipates its every want, with the utmost attention and watchfulness. When a son is in bondage on a barbarous coast, does the father merely pray that his son may be redeemed? does he merely send money for his ransom? No: he chooses, if possible, to go in person and carry the sum, that no means may be left untried to accomplish the object he has so much at heart. Men who are deeply interested in an important matter, where there is much at stake, cannot be satisfied with sending; they choose to go themselves. This remark is true in all the enterprises and transactions of life the world over.
If then, after all, the measure of going is the true measure of interest, to what extent, I inquire, have Christians of America gone to the heathen? Alas! the number is few, very few.
Look at the proportion of ministers who go abroad. In the United States the number of preachers, of all denominations, is perhaps not far from one to a thousand souls. This is in a land already intelligent and Christian; in a land of universities, colleges, and schools; in a land of enterprise, of industry, and of free institutions, where the arts flourish, and where improvements are various and unnumbered; and more than all, in a land where more than a million and a half of the people are professed Christians, and ready to aid the ministers of Christ in various ways. On the other hand, even if missionaries from all Christendom be taken into the account, there is not more than one minister to a million of pagan souls, with almost no intelligent Christians to assist as teachers, elders, catechists, and tract distributers; no physicians, artists, and judicious legislators, to improve society and afford the means of civilized habits; no literature worthy of the name; no colleges, or even common schools of any value; no industry and enterprise, and every motive for it crushed by arbitrary and tyrannical institutions: the mind degraded and besotted, inconceivably so, and preoccupied also with the vilest superstition, the most inveterate prejudices, and the most arrogant bigotry. Who can measure the vast disproportion? What mind sufficient to balance extremes so inconceivably immense? On the one hand a minister to a thousand souls, with many helpers and a thousand auxiliary influences in his favor; on the other, one minister to a million of souls, with no helpers and no auxiliary influences, finding out an untrodden track amidst unnumbered obstacles, and penetrating with his single lamp into the dark and boundless chaos of heathenism. This is the manner in which Christendom shows that she loves her neighbor as herself; and in view of it, judge ye, whether American Christians go as much as they ought to instruct and save the benighted nations.
We said, that the number of missionaries to the heathen population is about one to a million of souls; but let not the conclusion be drawn, that every million of heathen souls has a missionary. By no means. The few hundred missionaries preach to a few hundred thousand souls. The millions and hundreds of millions of heathen, are as destitute of preaching as though a missionary had never sailed, as destitute of the Scriptures as though a Bible were never printed, and as far from salvation, I was about to say, as though Jesus Christ had never died. Men speak of operating upon the world. Such language is delusive. The present style of effort, or anything like it, can only operate on some small portions of the earth. To influence materially the wide world, Christians must awake to a style of praying, giving, and going too, of which they have as yet scarcely dreamed. The work of going into all the world and preaching the Gospel to every creature, has scarcely been undertaken in earnest. And how vain it would be to expect to make any material impression on the world, as a whole, when so small a company from all the ministers in the United States go abroad, and a less number even of lay members from the vast body of a million and a half.
The heathen are not lost because a Saviour is not provided for them. |God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.| The preaching of the cross is |the power of God and the wisdom of God| both to the Jew and the Greek. Facts show, that in every nation, however barbarous and degraded, the Gospel of Jesus has power to convert, purify, elevate and save. These facts are irresistible.
Neither are the heathen lost, because the ocean separating them is rarely passed. For the sake of gain, men can visit the most distant and sultry climes. To solve a question of science or merely to gratify curiosity, they can circumnavigate the globe, or penetrate far into the icy regions of the poles. The improvements in navigation and the extension of commerce have united the two continents in one. The Atlantic ocean no longer separates you from Africa, nor the Pacific from China. The amount of intercourse between the seekers of wealth from Christian lands and almost every heathen country, is absolutely immense.
Why then are the heathen left to perish? There is a lack of earnestness in the church in the work of the world's conversion. What does the present earnestness of the church amount to? They contribute on an average two cents a month each, and they find that the pittance of money will more than suffice for the small number of men: and then the cry is |More money than men.| A few men are obtained and then the pittance of money fails, and |More men than money| is the cry. A year or two afterwards the supply of men is gone, and the cry again is reversed. As if, in repairing the wastes of the New-York fire, the citizens collect together a small quantity of brick, and then find they have more brick than workmen. So they employ a few more men, and then find they have more men than brick. Was this the rate at which the ravages of the great fire were so soon repaired? Was this the measure of their engagedness in rebuilding the city?
Some derangement takes place in the Erie Canal: a lock fails, an aqueduct gives way, or a bank caves in. Is business stopped on the canal till the next season, because the times are hard, and it is difficult to obtain money to make repairs? Some derangement takes place in a railroad: is travelling postponed till next year? But in the work of doing good, the reverse of times is regarded as a sufficient excuse to detain missionaries, disband schools, and take other retrograde steps. We coolly block our wheels, lie still, and postpone our efforts for the world's conversion till more favorable times. Men are earnest in worldly matters: in digging a canal, in laying a railroad, or in repairing a city; but in God's work -- the work of saving the nations -- their efforts are so weak that one is at loss to know which is most prominent, the folly, or the enormous guilt.
Is it not a fact, that in our efforts for the heathen we come so far short of our ability, that God cannot consistently add his blessing. Can it be that the service rendered by the church as a body is acceptable to God? It is not according to that she hath -- it forms an immense and inconceivable contrast to that measure of effort which lies fully within her power. Is it not, then, as though an imperfect sacrifice were offered to the Lord -- a lamb full of blemish? If the church were weak, and it were really beyond her ability to do more than she does at present, then God would accomplish great victories by the feeble means. He can save by few as well as by many. He would make the |worm Jacob to thresh mountains.| But since God has blessed the American church with numbers, and with great and peculiar advantages, he requires of her efforts that accord with her ability. The poor widow's mites accomplish much; but the wealthy man's mites, or the wealthy nation's thousands, when she is fully able to give millions; and her very few sons, when it would even benefit her to spare a host of her ablest men; what shall we say of such an offering? The reason why God blesses the efforts of the American church may be, that there are some widows, and some others too who do what they can -- who honestly come up to the measure of their ability. For the sake of these God may add his blessing, just as for the sake of ten righteous men he would have spared Sodom. But no very great and conspicuous blessing can be expected to attend the labors of missionaries, such as the conversion of China, or of Africa, till the church begins to pray, give and go, according to her ability; till she begins to come up to the extent of her powers in her efforts to save the heathen. Then, when she renders according to that she hath, her service will be accepted; it will be a sweet savor before God; his throne of love will come near the tabernacle of his saints, and the noise of his chariot soon be heard among the ranks of the enemy. The church then, with Christ at their head, shall go on rapidly from conquering to conquer, till all nations, tongues and people, shall bow the knee before him. As soon as the church shall put forth all her strength so as to render an acceptable service to God, it is of little consequence whether she be weak or strong, few or many, the blessing will descend; the mountains will break forth into singing, and the trees shall clap their hands for joy; God will come, take up his abode with the saints, and verify all that is expressed by |the latter day glory.|
It is plain, then, not only that Christians come far short of doing what they can to save the heathen, but that if they would come up to the measure of their duty they might, under God, rescue the dying nations from their impending doom. If they would engage in earnest, pray with fervency and faith, and prove their zeal by giving and by going, then the providence of God would not leave a bolt or a bar in their way, except what might be necessary to test their perseverance. Let every ambassador of Christ, and every Christian too, possess the unreserved consecration of Paul, and manifest that burning zeal which carried him, as on the wings of an angel, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; let every redeemed sinner, minister or layman, stand ready, not merely to contribute of his substance, but to traverse with cheerful step the burning plains of Africa or the icy mountains of Greenland: then the darkness that now envelopes the earth would soon be dispelled, the torch of Revelation be carried to the most distant lands, and its light be made to penetrate the most gloomy abodes of men; the radiance of heavenly truth would be poured around the dying bed of every pagan, intelligence now in to us from every quarter, not only of individuals, but of nations converted to God, and the shout of triumph would soon be heard, |The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of our Lord.|
It seems to be true, therefore, that the heathen are sinking to perdition; and true, also, that we might, under God, be the means of saving them. Shall we not then be found accountable for their eternal agonies? O Christian, pause and look at this thought! Look at it deliberately, for we shall be obliged to do so at the judgment day. No one can plead exemption from it, unless he does what he can to save the heathen. O my soul, how much blood, how much weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, will stand at thy account in the day of judgment!
I appeal to each one of you, examine yourselves in the light of this truth. Call up your prayers, your contributions, and your personal efforts. Compare what you have done with what Jesus did for you. I entreat you, open your ears, and hearts too, to the groans of a dying world. Listen to the notes which, like the noise of seven thunders, peal after peal, are rolling in upon your shores.
|Hark! what mean those lamentations,
Rolling sadly through the sky?
'Tis the cry of heathen nations,
'Come and help us, or we die!'
|Hear the heathen's sad complaining,
Christians! hear their dying cry;
And, the love of Christ constraining,
Haste to help them, ere they die!|
Yes, reader, haste to help them. Confer not with flesh and blood. Meet all vain excuses with a deaf ear and a determined spirit. Let pity move you, the love of Christ constrain you, and a sense of responsibility urge you, to take that precious Gospel on which your hopes rely, and to carry it, without delay, to the perishing nations.