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By certain marked, nay, wholly unprecedented, features in the condition and relations of the world and the church, by which the great Head and Lord makes known his will concerning a perishing world, and Christian duty toward it, he has made it abundantly clear that he calls upon the church of the present day to furnish the entire pecuniary means requisite for the complete and immediate fulfilment of the great commission. And by the church, be it understood, we mean the church of Protestant Christendom, which alone can give mankind a pure gospel. In that wonderful twelfth lecture in Guyot's “Earth and Man,”* in which the author delineates the progress of human civilization until it becomes the Christian civilization of the Great Britain and America of this age, the church is brought face to face with this duty to the rest of the world. The voices of all the ages are made to enforce the duty. We wish it could be read just here, to prepare the better for the considerations about to be urged. It is twenty-one years since that lecture was delivered in Lowell Institute. The unprecedented features in the present condition and relations of the Protestant Church and the world, to which attention is to be called, are mainly the results of the revolutions, intellectual, moral, and social, which have occurred in those twenty-one years.
In specifying these peculiarities of the times, it may be affirmed, first in order, that we find one evidence that Christ bas made this great demand upon the church of this generation, in his opening the whole world in this quarter-century to the Gospel as in the hands of Protestant Christendom.
It is now twenty-eight years since Dr. John Harris wrote the prize essay entitled, “The Great Commission,”+ the most eloquent and stirring appeal that has been made to the modern church in behalf of missions, in which, with almost prophetic foresight, he proclaimed the dawning of a new era, and, with almost apostolic fervor, summoned God's people to the rescue of the world. At that time the more earnest Christians were gathering from month to month to pray in concert for the breaking down of the barriers interposed by the governments of the nations, Roman Catholic and heathen, to the spread of a pure gospel. These nations were then everywhere substantially closed against our Christianity, the whole force of the governments being arrayed against it, and on the side of error. The governmental obstacles interposed by the heathen nations have successively been removed, partly by internal revolution, and partly by external pressure ; parily by the peaceful advanices of commerce, and the quiet working of thought, and partly by mighty throes that have shaken the world, until the masses of Asia and Africa and the Isles of the Sea are almost as open to Protestant missionaries as the non-church-going multitudes in these so-called Christian lands. In the Papal world, on the Western Continent, from Mexico to Patagonia, and on the Eastern Continent, in Italy, Spain, Austria, and the other leading Roman Catholic nations, the religious changes which have taken place in the same period, and which have been even more marvellous than those on heathen grounds, have made them all open and inviting mission fields to Protestant Christians. No thinking man can help inquiring, what does this almost miraculous revolution in the relation of the entire world to Protestant Christendom mean? What, when viewed in connection with the united prayers of Protestant Christians all over the world directed to this very end? What, when looked upon as all compressed within the life-time of the present generation? The only answer that can be returned is, that it means that to the Protestant Church of this generation belongs the work of giving the entire world the Gospel. · The work is Christ's. He has a right to call upon his own at any time for the requisite pecuniary means. By opening the world now, he calls upon his followers to furnish the means now. They are bound to respond, and fill the treasury of their Lord now, unless they can give a valid reason for delay.
* The Earth and Man: Lectures on Comparative Physical Geography in its Relations to the History of Mankind. By Arnold Guyot. Boston: Gould & Lincoln.
+ The Great Commission; or, the Christian Church constituted and charged to convey the Gospel to the World. By the Rev. John Harris, D. D. Boston: Gould & Lincoln.
But Christ has just as evidently made this great demand upon his church of this generation, by creating and giving into her peculiar control the facilities for the speedy proclamation of the Gospel to all this open world.
Dr. John Todd, in his sermon at the opening of the Annual Meeting of the American Board for 1869, called this the propagating age of the church. First came the age for settling the Christian faith; then followed the age of union of church and state, ending with the Reformation. “To undo the past, to cut free from the state, to reform the church, to educate the human mind to think, to discover the power of the press, to create the free school and the free church-to discover and invent all the instrumentalities needed, and to find the way to every part of the globe, has been a great part of the work which has since been done." Accepting this characterization of the age as so far correct, we would fix the attention upon the fact that every one of these forward movements has reached its culmination within the present quarter-century. This is, accordingly, the day in which God has first freed a mighty host from the daily toil for bread and raiment, that they may be his messengers to the world. The almost universal application of machinery driven by natural forces to all the varied industry of Christendom, has multiplied many fold the quartity of labor, so that if need be a considerable proportion of this population can be spared without detriment to the industrial interests of society. This is the age of the universal diffusion of education in the leading Protestant nations-Prussia, Great Britain, and the United States. The common people
, have now come to furnish a great portion of the vigorous thinkers and workers in all departments of human effort and enterprise—the Hugh Millers and Faradays and Henrys, the Clays and Websters and Lincolns, the Milnes and Judsons and Spurgeons. Now for the first in modern history, most homes are no longer anfitted by want of intelligence to furnish a messenger of the cross from among their inmates. This is the age in which the church is able to make the Gospel understood in all the world. The philosophy of human speech had its origin but yesterday. The men who began the work of collection, comparison, and classification of languages have just passed away; the men to whom is intrusted the perfecting of it are now at work. The mysteries of the difficult tongues are now, for the first, easily made plain to even the ordinary intellect. This is the age of abounding energy and enterprise
-qualities requisite for the speedy evangelizing of the world. To-day Protestanism is at the lead in all the world's work of improvement and progress, and no task is, humanly speaking, too great for it to undertake and complete. For this age
to rise up, and designate, and train, and send forth the messengers to all the world, would be but a little thing in comparison with the immense material and secular work it is accomplishing. This is the age of a remarkable spirit of unity in the church at large. Large numbers who, thirty years ago, belonged, in a peculiar sense, to the church militant, are now ready to work together in peace, on the broad platform of the essential doctrines of God's word, for the world's redemption. Above all, this is the age in which, for the first time in the providence of God, the representative Protestant nations stand at all the open doors of all of the world of heathenism and Roman Catholicism. In a striking manner the way is thus made ready for them to fill the nations with missionaries. On the Western Continent, all the states from Mexico to Chili, in swinging away from Papal Europe by which they were once enslaved, gravitated toward Protestant United States, by whose example they have been led to secure civil and religious freedom. Upon Great Britain, with her position established on the west, south, and east of Africa, and her explorers traversing its vast centre, and with her lines of influence and political ascendency reaching along by India and Oceanica far out beyond Australia,-must depend the future religious destiny of these vast regions. To Protestant Christendom of this day confessedly belongs the dominion of the sea. By the recent completion of the Pacific Railway and the Suez Canal, in connection with the Indian and Pacific steamship lines and the ocean telegraph now being laid by the Great Eastern by the way of the Red Sea and Bombay to China, a new thoroughfare of traffic and thought, predominantly Protestant, girds the globe in such a way as to bring our Christianity into immediate and daily contact with all the representative Papal nations, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Austria; with all the representative Mohammedan nations, the Barbary States, the two Turkeys, Egypt, Nubia, Arabia, Persia; and with all the representative Pagan nations, Afghanistan, Beloochistan, Hindostan, Farther India, China, Japan, and the inhabitants of the almost innumerable islands of the Pacific Ocean. Every one will be ready to admit that this new route has vast significance for the commerce of the future, but the Christian cannot help seeing that it cannot have less for the church in its work; for the very steamships which must soon bear the traffic of the world along the Mediterranean, up the Nile, the Euphrates, the Indus, the Ganges, the Brahmapootra, the Irrawaddy, the Cambodia, the Yang-tse-Kiang, and the Hoang-Ho, into the very heart, nay, to the remotest bounds of all these great nations, will be ready to bear the missionaries of the church to the same regions. The man of most exalted imagination can have but an inadequate view of the vast import to the cause of Christ of this new step in the onward march of Providence. And viewed in its relation to the population of the globe, its bearings appear no less striking and important than when viewed in its relations to the nationalities. A Berlin professor estimates the total population of the globe at 1,283,000,000. Of these more than 900,000,000 are found along this great thoroughfare of the world ! Of the remaining 350,000,000, more than 200,000,000, along Northern Europe and Asia, are under the control of the Protestant and Greek churches. The less than 150,000,000 remaining inhabit the portions of America and Africa peculiarly under the moral influence of the United States and Great Britain. Let the fact be emphasized that the Protestant Church, with all its new facilities for giving the world the Gospel, now for the first stands foremost at every one of the open doors of the world. A single month will soon suffice to place a band of missionaries within the bounds of the most remote of these nations. The inquiry forces itself upon every one who gives this subject a moment's thought: What does it all mean? This almost incomprehensible increase in the facilities for propagating the Gospel among the unevangelized races and the giving of them all into the hands of tlie leading Protestant states-do not these providences point Protestant Christians to their duty ? The creation of these facilities within the memory of men still living--does it not point to present duty ? Can any one who owes allegiance to the Head of the church escape the conclusion that this lavish furnishing of facilities