Imágenes de páginas

western world. Our dislike to the religious language of Rome, may lead some to turn away with disgust from the term, “The College of Apostles;” but this is being offended with mere words, and that without reason. The manner in which our Saviour appeared was very similar to that of the moral philosophers of antiquity; it was similar to that of the Chinese moralist, Confucius,” who also had seventy disciples more closely attached to him: these were ambulatory schools or colleges. The pupils remained with the master till they understood his doctrines, and then they spread them by discourses, or conversations, or books. I am pointing out only a general resemblance, and not affirming that the manner was the same in every particular. It may be affirmed, that lectures given in a chapel or place of meeting, would produce the same effect as I am contending for, in a school or college. To which I answer, if the heathen would assemble regularly and constantly, as Christian societies do, a considerable part of the same effect would be produced; but by no means the whole of it. However, the heathen, who despise the foreigner and his new religion, which would turn them from the religion of their fathers, and call their attention a short time from their business or amusement, will not often attend any place of meeting; and when a few of them can be assembled, the impression is not at all equal to that made on those who are instructed all the day. We have tried both means at Malacca, andthere is no comparison as to the degree of Christian knowledge obtained by the students, and by the labouring men who come occasionally to hear the evening lecture in the town. Further, such an institution as that which I am now advocating, is much required for continuing a succession of well-instructed European Christian Teachers to labour in that immense field opened by the nations which use the Chinese language. I have already noticed, that a competent knowledge of some Asiatic languages, is not an easy or common attainment; I knew four Roman Catholic Missionaries who had been fourteen years in Peking, and could not read a word of Chinese; and I knew an Italian priest, who lived thirty years on the Chinese frontier, as agent for the Missions, who was still more ignorant of the language, for he could neither read nor speak it. Now, to be told by Christians at home, to go and teach, and preach, and convert the heathen, without even adverting to the laborious schooling which a man must undergo before he can either teach or preach, is often disheartening; because there appears a want of consideration and feeling for a poor Missionary’s peculiar and difficult circumstances. He has, at first, no Christian society nor Christian ordinances; and if he reads much in religious European books, to make up for these defective circumstances, his attention is withdrawn from the studies preparatory to Christian usefulness amongst the heathen; and if he does not labour hard at his pagan studies, years will elapse before he can either teach or preach; and death may occur before he is of any use at all to the heathen, as a Christian teacher. If, on the other hand, he does fag at the Pagan language, their history and opinions, in order to reason with them, and persuade them concerning the Gospel, he is in danger of becoming barren of religious and Christian affections. Further, he has often an extensive correspondence to keep up with Christian people at home, to write journals and official letters to societies; to keep accounts, and attend to pecuniary details; matters in which he has, probably, never been instructed. And all these things put together, viz. defective means of acquiring the language, opinions, and manners of the people he has to teach; the importunity of those who desire him to shew immediate fruits of his labour; his own anxiety to be useful; the various calls of missionary and domestic management—these all keep his mind so much on the stretch, as to affect his health and spirits, and it may be, in some of the many deaths we have had, hastened that event. The mental labours and anxieties of Milne were extreme. To obviate these difficulties, as well as for other purposes, the Anglo-Chinese College is instituted. There, Missionaries may have every facility for acquiring the language, history, and philosophy of China, without any extraneous cares, till they be competent to teach and to preach Jesus Christ; and by these facilities, their health and lives be preserved, as well as their direct usefulness be greatly accelerated. We have already remarked, that primitive Societies (or Churches) of Christians were formed on the principle of uniting teachers and disciples, not only to worship together, as some have lately affirmed, but also to be instructed in Christian knowledge; and not only, I believe, for these two ends, but also to raise up and send forth Missionaries. In May, 1823, during your Christian Festival in the metropolis, one of the speakers, (Mr. Fletcher,) whose speech I read in the Atlantic Ocean, made this remark; “every Christian Church, in proportion as the end of its formation is accomplished, is a Missionary Society; a society established not only for its own edification, but for the enlargement of the Redeemer's kingdom.” This is a sentiment which in China I have long entertained, and therefore, have been grieved, sometimes, to see the work of Missions considered by most of the churches, as a work in which they might or might not interest themselves, just as they pleased. The church at Antioch, to which we have to-day made frequent reference, had several prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon, that was called Niger, “or the black man,” and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. These taught the disciples and ministered to the Lord; and some of them, as we have seen, went on a missionary tour. It has long been my wish to form, at the Anglo-Chinese Mission House, and at the college, a central Home beyond the Ganges, for teachers and preachers; from whence some of the number may go forth occasionally on missionary tours, two and two, perhaps an European and a native disciple together; and when they have finished their tour, let them return to refresh their minds and re-establish their health, and attend to studies to fit them for new

* It is remarkable that Confucius also had seventy or seventy-two disciples, more eminent than the rest, whose images are now worshipped with his.

[ocr errors]

stations, as they may be discovered or present themselves. Even now, qualified teachers are much wanted to write books for the idolatrous heathen, for the catechumens, for converts, and for native preachers. In the first century of the Christian era, not only did Providence employ the preaching of the Apostles and disciples, but also their writings; the memoirs of Jesus, and the letters of the Apostles, for the instruction of believers and the spread of the Gospel. And history informs us, that the Christians had not only schools for children, but also “academies” erected in several large cities, in which persons of riper years, especially such as aspired to be public teachers, were instructed in different branches, both of human learning and of sacred erudition. St. John erected, it is said, a school of this kind at Ephesus; and one of the same nature was founded by Polycarp at Smyrna; and the Catechetical School formed at Alexandria, is supposed to have been erected by St. Mark. There were also at Rome, Antioch, Caesarea, Edessa, and in several other places, schools of the same nature, though not all of equal reputation.* The writings of well-educated and studious men have, in every age, been a very principal means employed by Providence to preserve and extend the true religion. During the first and second centuries, it is beyond all doubt that the pious diligence and zeal with which many learned and pious men recommended the Sacred Writings, and spread them abroad in translations, contributed much to the success and propagation of the Christian doctrine. And when Christians were calumniated and misrepresented by Pagan writers, “Those who, by their apologetic writings in favour of the Christians, destroyed the poisonous influence of detraction, rendered no doubt, signal service to the doctrine of Christ. Nor were the writings of such as combated with success the ancient heretics without their use, especially in the early periods of the church.” + Many of those whom Providence has made most eminently useful, were persons who, like Paul, received the benefit of early instruction under some good teacher. A long list of names might be selected from history, were it necessary, and these would prove that colleges, and books, and preachers, have not hindered each other; but have all co-operated, under the divine blessing, for the furtherance of the Gospel. Jerom of Prague travelled into England for the sake of his studies, and he carried hence the books of Wickliffe, and promoted, with the labours of Huss, the reformation in Bohemia; some youths of Bohemia, who studied at Oxford, also carried home religious truth. Luther's judgment was, that the written word of God, laid open and rightly explained to the people (either orally or by printed expositions) is the most powerful engine for the destruction of the kingdom of Satan. The divine blessing attended his labours, and the circulation of judicious expositions of various parts of the Scriptures. Aleander burnt Luther's books, but that increased men's curiosity to read them, and Luther re-published them with additional arguments, and in more correct composition. Luther recommended to the churches in Saxony the study of the Latin tongue, that there might be men capable of instructing foreign nations,” by which he seems to have meant the other nations of Europe. The London Missionary Society, at the suggestion of the late Dr. Milne, in January, 1823, resolved to employ means to obtain correct versions of the Sacred Scriptures into the languages of Cochinchina, Japan, and Siam. The two first of these are closely allied to the Chinese language, which is, indeed, read by educated Cochinchinese and Japanese; I therefore beg to recommend the study of the Chinese language, and desire the countenance of Christians to the Anglo-Chinese College, that there may be men capable of conveying Christian instruction to these foreign nations. The Society's Missionaries, by the very liberal aid of the Bible Society, have already made and printed a translation of the whole Bible into the Chinese language; but one of the

* Mosheim, Vol. I. p. 119. # Ibid. Vol. I. p. 151.

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »