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has propagated itself without force amongst totally different races, and in the most distant countries, and has survived equal revolutions of thought, and opinion, and manners, and laws, amongst those who have embraced it; until then, it cannot be said that Christianity is simply like any other religion.”
The great systems of religious error which divide amongst them the whole world outside of Christendom, are thus making no organized efforts of aggression. They lie slumbering like so many enormous whales, and the keen harpoon of Christian truth shall shortly wake them up to fruitless efforts to prolong their feeble life. Even Islam, once so vigorous, now seems for the most part as sick as does its chief political support, the Turkish empire. In the meanwhile, what of intidelity, that mere negation of Christianity? It stands amidst this scene of life, and hope, and cffort, on the one hand, and of sluggish torpor on every other hand, it stands mucking, is the son of the Egyptian bondwoman stood mocking on that day when the father of the faithful made a feast for his son of promise. It lifts its skeleton arm that has no blood in it, and points its bony finger in scorn of what God is doing in the world by means of Christianity. From the metropolis of England, through all the literary world, its slanderous reproaches go forth again, and its accusations against men that have gone to live and dlie preaching to the Gentiles, are repeated to readers, many of whom do not know or have forgotten how triumphantly they were answered once and again years ago. But what is it doing, or what has it ever done for humanity? Why do its advocates never go and seek to penetrate with their flickering torches the darkness of paganism? Miserable men ! they know their light could never dissipate that darkness; it is for the gospel alone to accomplish this task. School after school of unbelievers rises up and boasts and ballles wherever Christianity has quickened the common intellect, but no one school lives long enough to convert a single nation; and never since the world began did any set of infidels organize themselves and go on laboriously and perseveringly to propagate their opinions among the ignorant and savage heathen.. And who would venture to speculate about the probable results of such missionary efforts, supposing them undertaken and persevered in? How long would infidelity take to civilize and enlighten such a group of barbarous islands in the South Seas as Christianity has regenerated in some forty years? Nay, rather let us ask, what kind of a monster would be produced by crossing paganismn with infidelity?*
*“They have ever been boastful and loud-tongued, but have done nothing; there are no great social efforts, no organizations, 110 practical projects, whether successful or futile, to which they can point. The old book-faiths' which you venture to ridicule, have been something at all events; and, in truth, I can find no other faith than what
The work, whose title we have placed at the head of this article, is a compilation, of course, in respect to the history of Portuguese discoveries in Western Africa, and of English, French, and Dutch exploits in that country; but it is an original work in respect to the present condition of its various tribes, and to the operations of Ohristian missions amongst them. The fanatical excitement of the day respecting negro slavery, we suppose, must create an interest in any work of this kind; but the one before us now has solid claims. There is something here for the naturalist, the geographer, the historian, the ethnologist, the philologist, as well as something for the Christian, who waits for the coming of his Lord's kingdom in the whole earth. The book sets before its readers, the three great divisions of Western Africa: 1. Senegainbia, with its two great rivers, the Senegal and the Gambia; 2. Northern Guinea, with its various coasts, the Sierra Leone, the Grain, the Ivory, the Goll, and the Slave Coasts, and its two military despotisms of Ashanti and Dehomi; 3. Southern Guinea, with its Pongo, Loango, Kongo, Angola, Benguela districts. We are introduced to the three great families of Western Africa which correspond to these three geographical divisions, viz. : 1. The three Mohammedan tribes of Senegambia, the Jalofs, the Mandingoes, and the Fulahs ; 2. The Nigritian fainily, getting their name from the river Niger, which runs through the country from whence they are all supposed to have coine; and subdivided into six or seven separate tribes, the Kru and the Ashanti tribes being the chief; 3. The Ethiopian or Nilotic family, so called because supposed to have descended from the ancient nations of the Nile, now spread over the whole southern half of the continent, from the Mountains of the Moon to the Cape of Good Hope, and differing as much from the other two great families as they differ from each other. The habits and customs of these various tribes of people; their social relations and condition; their agriculture and their trade ; their superstitions, their witchcraft, their demonolatry, and their capacity of improvement, are among the topics discussed in a simple and unpretending, yet clear and satisfactory manner. We have one chapter on the natural history of Western Africa, and another full of a highly interesting philological comparison
is somehow or other attached to a "book,' which has been anything influential. The Vedas, the Koran, the Old Testament Scriptures—those of the New-over how many millions have these all reigned! Whether their supremacy be right or wrong, their doctrine true or false, is another question ; but your faith, which has been book-faith, and lip-service par excellence, has done nothing that I can discover. One after another of your infidel reformers passes away, and leaves no trace behind, except a quantity of crumbling 'book faith. You have always been just on the eve of extinguishing supernatural fables, dogmas, and superstitions, and then regenerating the world! Alas! the meanest superstition that crawls, laughs at you; and, false as it may be, is still stronger than you."-Eclipse of Faith, pp. 48, 9.
between the Mandinyn, Grebo, and Mpongwe dialects; the two latter having been reduced to writing first by the author. We have also a chapter on Liberia, one on Sierra Leone, another on the Slave Trade, another on Christian Missions in Western Africa, and a concluding chapter on the necessity under God of the white man's agency in the conversion of Africa to Christianity.
We acknowledge a special interest in this book, because its author is a Southern man. John Leighton Wilson (another of the many (listinguished Wilsons), is a native of Sumter district, South Carolina, where his kindred still live and flourish. His wife is a highly respectable lady, reared in Savannah, Georgia. They dwelt eighteen years on the African coast, devoting talents, and fortune, and the vigour and prime of their life to the instruction of savage devil-worshippers in the knowledge of Christ. His health at length failing, he returnerl, and 110w occupies the position of Secretary to the Foreign Missionary Board of the Presbyterian Church in the United States. This is a position which gives a still wider scope than his former one, to all the talents of Mr. Wilson. His clear, strong judgment, his comprehensive, vigorous intellect; liis learning, his energy; his industry, his perseverance, and liis larger experience of men and of the world—of heathen men and the heathen workil--may here, even more than there, be constantly in exercise. There he was, indeed, the father of a nation, and was forming their social, intellectual, and religious character, after the new and perfect model furnished in the gospel. llere, he is the patron of various nations. IIe has an important share in directing the operation of Christianity upon the whole heathen workel. In the one true aspect of all things, their eternal aspect, his position is greater than any statesman's. It calls for, and he brings to it, it statesman's qualities of inind. We repeat it, here is a Carolinian in New York, of whom we are not ashamed. lIe sheds glory on his country as well as his name and lineage; yet he has been only a Christian missionary ! his book is only an account of a Christian mission to the degraded negroes of Africa! and he is now only directing Christian missions to various heathen or unevangelized nations !
What are the grounds upon which such an undertaking is viewed by any persons with a secret and real contempt? The spirit of the missionary and the missionary enterprise is one of selfabnegation—the same which gives to Washington all his glory. That father of his country is not reverenced by mankind for great talents, nor for great military achievements, but for unselfishness. The object of the missionary also is grand--as grand, to say the least of it, as Washington's end and object. But if neither the goodness of spirit nor the goodness of end and object which shall characterize any undertaking entitles it to honour, or shields it from contempt amongst mankind-it success be the true ground of honour and the touchstone of greatness, then we affirm that
the success also of the missionary—of the company and order of missionaries, is, and promises to be, as full and complete as was that of Washington and his associates. Their undertaking is vaster than Washington's. They have a right to occupy more time than he required.
We think one of the main grounds of that contempt which, either secretly or openly, many indulge towards Christian missions, is, that they are considered a vain and hopeless undertaking. The enterprise, is deemed quixotic,-the offspring of crazy benevolence. Tó effect the real conversion of savages to Christianity, is reckoned an impossibility. Some, indeed, go further, and set down such a conversion as not only impossible, but undesirable. “ There are things in heathen morals and manners which might edify Christian missionaries; as, for instance, the brotherly love and social harmony which exist before missionaries appear;" and as their “amiability and instinctive kindness and joyousness." “There is a genuine religious faith at the root of the practice of cannibalism and of the suttee and other pagan observances.” “The well-meaning but bigotted and conceited missionaries destroy these old graces, without introducing any virtues which can be relied on;" and “the poor creatures lose some of the best virtues they have,” by means of Christianity, and get nothing good by way of compensation.* But this is an objection to Christian missions we shall not now discuss. Taking it for granted by all our readers, that the introduction of Christianity is beneficial to any people, even for this life, we propose to meet a very general objection to Christian missions which is based upon the impossibility of their success.
We suppose all who make this objection would unite in maintaining that what the heathen need first and foremost is civilization: that civilization must, at least, precede Christianity, and open the way for it; and that a true and real reception of Christianity presupposes civilization, and its attendant blessings of education, intelligence, and refinement.
Now, the first question which we would put to any reader who entertains such ideas, is this. Do civilization and its attendant blessings indeed predispose any person or any people to receive Christianity in its real power or in its actual experience? Is not the very genius of Christianity such, according to the Scriptures, as that we are, a priori, to expect its rejection by the elevated, and its reception by the depressed! The apostle Paul says, "Not many wise, mighty, or noble, are called, but God chooses the foolish, the weak, the base.” The Founder of Christianity himself said of a people that were long under the best preparation to
* Westminster Review, for July,
receive Christianity, that “they should be thrust out,” and that others not thus prepared beforehand, should “coine from the east and west, and north and south, and sit down in the kingdom of God." lle told the most enlightened and best instructed portion of the Jews, while he preached Christianity limself on the earth, that hariots and publicans would receive it before them. The Chinese are a far more highly civilized people than the IIottentots or Greenlanders were, but Christianity has been more successful amongst the latter.
But laying out of sight this peculiarity of the gospel, we go a step further and ask the reacler to consider another question, viz. : Does civilization always or necessarily insure the moral improvement and clevation of it people? The Chinese are probably the most civilized of all the pagan nations. Is it certain that, on the whole, their moral state is better, for example, than was that of our own Inclians before the white man came? Look at the condition of the Greeks and Romans of Paul's time; they are generally considered to have been a polished, retinet, intellectual race. But would not many a simple savage tribe put them to shame, in respect to truth, and purity, and humanity? What, for example, was the condition of their temales? What, for another exainple, the laws concerning their slaves ?
But let civilization be for the heathen all that any man may choose to suppose. We ask a third question: What is the prospect of Africa, for example, obtaining this boon? Christian
issions are ridicule as quixotic, or worse; but, in their endeavours to propagate Christianity, its friends and believers are at least consistent. But the admirers of civilization as against or independent of Christianity, what are they doing to send what they admire and advocate to the heathen?
We shall be tolil in reply that civilization cannot be sent or giren. We know it. Like liberty, civilization must be the fruit of a development from within. You cannot send civilization to a people; you may bring them individually to it, as our slaves have been brought to it from Africa. You may break them up into individuals, and then plant them in the midst of it; and, there being no antagonism between them and their civilized masters, but, in fact, a union for mutual benefit-so that it is the interest of cach that the other should prosper and increase—you may, in these circumstances, civilize the barbarian, or rather, he may, in these circumstances, be developed gradually into a civilized man, the blessed influences of Christianity also meeting him on every hand. But yon cannot plant a civilized people among a barbarous people, such being a people, and striving in antagonism with each other, as rival peoples wisl inevitably strive; you cannot thus bring the two together, but, whether the contest be a bloody one or not, the savage man will feel himself doomed, and will, sooner or later,