Imágenes de páginas

of the commercial speculator, and the discovery of apparently inexhaustible stores of gold in our Australian dependencies inflames the cupidity of those who long to be quickly rich; the wonderful events which are taking place in China give promise of results, far more important than the overthrow of an obnoxious dynasty, or even than the gradual abolition of ancient usages, and of an exclusive system, intolerant of religious light, and adverse to all improvement. That the puny efforts of a community like ours can exert any sensible influence upon regions so vast, and changes and occurrences so momentous, it would be unreasonable to imagine; nevertheless, the thoughtful among its members will not fail to observe these signs of the times, and to be earnest in prayer, that the gracious purposes of the Lord, in calling our Church to occupy the several fields referred to, at so remarkable a juncture, may be effectually answered. The desired success may indeed be denied, or, at least, be long withheld, and the patience and faith of the Lord's servants may, in consequence, be sorely exercised; yet, though they should have cause to cxclaim with the disciples of old, “ Master, we have toiled all the night and have taken nothing ;" they will not fear to add, “nevertheless, at Thy word, we will let down the net.” And in such a spirit of active obedience and patient waiting on the Lord, the laborers to whom the foregoing remarks are more immediately applicable, appear to be performing their appointed work.

That this was the spirit, in which the first Missionary enterprises of the Brethren's Church were undertaken and conducted, is known to all our readers. The particular spheres to which they had reference, were pointed out by the Lord Himself, rather than selected by His servants. When once, however, proposed, they seemed to be peculiarly attractive; not merely because they were apparently suited to humble instruments,—to men possessed of but little learning or other external advantages, but inured to hardship, and ready to encounter privation. The true missionary or witness-spirit, had been already bestowed upon them, and in no common measure. The mercy which they had themselves experienced, they were eager to make known to others. They could not, indeed, boast of any special commission, like that received by the Apostles and disciples of the Lord from the lips of their gracious Master, to “Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature ;"—they could tell of no waking trance, like that which happened unto Peter to teach them, that none of man's fallen race, however despised or wretched, were accounted common or unclean by Him who came to save them; they could refer to no nightly vision, such as appeared unto Paul, for the transmission of the earnest cry, “Come over into Macedonia and help us,” in order that their slumbering sympathies, and dormant energies on behalf of the perishing heathen might be awakened; but they could testify to the influence exerted

upon their spirits by a simple, yet deep and abiding sense of their infinite obligations to Him, who had redeemed them by His precious blood, and to the burning desire which they felt, to make known to others, even to the most distant, ignorant, and polluted heathen, what the Lord had done for their own souls. The impulse thus given was, indeed, imparted only to individuals ; but the infant Church had the grace and the wisdom to recognise its source, and to sanction its application; and, from that time, the work of Missions has been considered as a branch, and an essential one, of the commission, which the Brethren's Unity has received from her adorable Head.

In close connexion with this subject, it may not be irrelevant to refer to an occurrence which took place in the year 1731, at the very time, when the idea of sending a missionary to the heathen was first suggested to the congregation at Herrnhut. It is related, that Leonard Dober, having been deeply impressed with the account given by the negro Antony, of the wretched condition of the poor negro slaves in the Island of St. Thomas, and of the earnest desire cherished by some of their number to hear the Gospel --formed the resolution to offer himself for the conveyance to them of these glad tidings. His mind being, however, a good deal troubled at the thought of the arduous nature of the task, and his own incompetency for its right performance, he opened the word of God for counsel and direction, when the following passage from Deut. xxxii, 47, met his eye “ For it is not a vain thing for you, because it is your life; and through this thing ye shall prolong your days.” Hereby, his faith was greatly strengthened, and his purpose confirmed to devote himself to the Missionary work. And may not the text which exerted so salutary an influence on the mind of this remarkable man, be received as a “watch-word” by the whole Brethren's Unity, having reference to her peculiar calling, as a bringer of glad tidings to the heathen ? Had it not at the time something of a prophetic character? And does it not now combine within its short compass a description of the past, a direction for the present, and a promise for the future? Has not the missionary calling, to which the Brethren's Church has devoted so large a portion of her little strength, been greatly instrumental in preserving spiritual life within her borders? And can it be doubted, that the “prolongation of her days” as a religious community, has been, in no small degree, the fruit of the continuance of her labors among the heathen ? The history of the Church, during the past 120 years, would certainly appear to form a practical commentary on the text in question, and to warrant 7 her abiding in the calling wherein she has been called ;” while she does not forget to pray for grace, “ to repent and do the first works,” whether as an evangelist at home, or as a messenger of peace abroad.

How fervent the zeal, and how restless the activity of our spiritual forefathers, for the propagation of the Gospel, during the ten years which followed the establishment of the first Mission, has often been noticed. To not a few of the efforts made at that period, success was denied by that all-wise and gracious Lord, who ordereth all things according to the counsels of His own will. The time appointed for the visitation of the respective nations was not yet come-or the work was to be committed to other servants, better fitted for its performance. Of this fact, the present state of the interesting Missions of various kindred Societies, on the continent of India, on the coast of Western Africa, in the Levant and in other parts of the East, afford cheering evidence.

Yet, though the Brethren were not permitted to take part in the cultivation of these and other fields--further than by breaking up a few of the clods, and preparing a small portion of the ground for the reception of the precious seed, afterwards cast in with a liberal hand-it is worthy of note, that, it was their privilege, in several instances, to gather some of the first fruits, and to assist in bringing them into the heavenly garner. In the list of those to whose conversion the warm but imperfect testimony of the Brethren was thus blessed--and which includes individuals of the Malabar, the Calmuck, the Turkish, the West African, the Arawack, and the Polynesian races,—will be found two youths, from the Island of Tahiti, named Oley and Mydo, who, having been brought to England, in the year 1802, were placed under the care of the Brethren, at Mirfield, in Yorkshire, and departed at that place in the autumn of the following year. In this instance, the Brethren's Church may even be said, to have “reaped, where she had not sown, and gathered, where she had not strawed.” Others labored, and she entered into their labors, and obtained the present reward. The day is, however, approaching, when they who sow, and they who reap, will rejoice together.

But we proceed to take some further notice of the Missions of our Church, which have been existing and fruit-bearing for a longer or shorter time, and with particular reference to the period now under review. To the remarks we shall venture to make on this head, we beg leave to prefix a comparative statement, exhibiting the leading statistics of the work in the years 1822 and 1852 respectively; from which it will be sufficiently evident, that, though confined for the most part within the ancient limits, so far as regards countries and races,-it was anything rather than stationary. The year 1822 is fixed upon, as being an important ecclesiastical epoch, --completing the first century of the existence of the renewed Brethren's Unity, and immediately preceding a very considerable extension of the Missionary-work in the British West Indies and in Southern Africa. There were

Missionary Converts and persons under Stations.

Laborers. instruction, of all ages. In 1822 33


33,000 “ 1852 70


70,070 Of the large number last mentioned, 20,254 were communicants, and 20,639 baptized children.

Hence it appears, that, in the course of the thirty years, which the comparative statement embraces, the number of stations and of persons in church-fellowship or under instruction, has more than doubled, while the number of labourers has increased to half as many again. Even during the short interval which has elapsed, since our last survey was taken, there is a small advance observable, under every one of the heads referred to; the stations having been 69, in the year 1850; the missionaries, 282; and the converts, 68,701.

Over this extension of the field of usefulness allotted to us as a Church, and the corresponding increase in the number of laborers engaged in its cultivation, and of the flocks committed to their charge, we may well rejoice. Yet we would rejoice with trembling, mindful not only of our own weakness and insufficiency, but likewise of the trials and difficulties to which the work continues to be exposed, and, in some quarters, to an extent previously unknown. In one portion of the field, Christ's servants are subjected to increasing hostility, and their labors to get further restriction; in another, the effects of war and civil strife are still painfully felt; in a third, the greater light diffused and the more abundant privileges enjoyed, are neither appreciated nor turned to account as they ought to be. Though tokens for good and evidences of improvement are not wanting, to cheer the spirit and to excite thankfulness to the Lord,-among which we would particularly notice the augmentation in the number of schools, and the beneficial effects already resulting from the superior education imparted,-in too many quarters, complaints are not wanting, that, because iniquity abounds, the love of many waxes cold; that growth in kuowledge is not always accompanied by growth in grace, and by increasing conformity to the mind and image of Christ; and that by some « the liberty enjoyed is used as an occasion to the flesh.” Yet, notwithstanding all these drawbacks, evincing the malice and the might of the archenemy, and the cunning craftiness wherewith he lieth in wait to deceive, to mislead, and to destroy, there is progress made, and that in the right direction. The Script'ures are more generally circulated, and their saving contents better understood,—greater decency and propriety are observable in the habits of social and domestic life,—and above all, there seems to be an increasing number of church-members, who show by their walk, that they know in whom they believe, and who manifest a determiination to give themselves to the Lord, and to serve Him in His house and family on earth.

(To be continued.)

In a former Number, (Communication No. III, published in July last), we remarked that the Brethren, at their reorganization, “ endeavored to establish a more pure and holy Church than then existed upon earth.” An effort worthy of the emulation of every christian body. The standard of holiness cannot be set too high, for although the goal of perfection may not be fully attained, still a more exalted eminence will thereby assuredly be reached. The difficulty, however, lies in the selection of a method to compass this desirable object.

Omnipotenco has certain designs to accomplish in the human race. God is a jealous God and will not suffer those designs to be frustrated with impunity. He has ordained that man shall be proved. He has given him a free will and endowed bim with reason and judgment. He has furnished him with a conscience, a silent and powerful monitor, to teach him what is good and what is bad. This gift is common to all mankind. The christian world in addition to this legacy has been supplied with a written revelation of His will, sufficient to guide man away from error into the paths of truth. Thus armed with intellect, with discernment and reason ; thus guarded with a conscience and divine revelation, and with a knowledge of good and of evil, the all-wise Creator has seen proper to entrust the creature of His formation into a world abounding with temptations to sinfulness. This order of things never has been revoked since the forbidden fruit was placed in seductive loveliness before the progenitor of the human race. It is therefore evident that God has placed man, a probationer in the world, and that he shall be subjected to trial and temptation while he sojourns upon earth. Without having passed through this ordeal, the character of man, for stability, integrity and righteousness could not be determined. Therefore any system that is calculated to counteract this law, and to preclude man from sinning, by banishing temptation from his reach, is a controversion of the intention of the Deity, is wrong in conception and must terminate in failure.

Overlooking this fundamental law, the re-organizers of the church undertook, by systematic measures, to form a society of exalted or model followers of Christ. They constructed a mould wherein to cast the mind and heart of man, and to make them assume, if possible, a perfect shape. They surrounded man with a cordon that allowed him to move only in a narrow and definitely prescribed sphere. He acquired not only his education by rigid rule and system, but he conducted his after life by the same strict principle. He was made good and religious by prescription. Every means were used to make him upright, not merely by careful, religious and moral training, but also by keeping temptations of every

« AnteriorContinuar »