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But if we pass from this general to some more particular views, -if we look at a few of the constituent elements of a scriptural piety, and examine them in the relation which they sustain to missionary undertakings, the dependence in question will be rendered still more conspicuous. But before entering upon this examination, let me briefly indicate the character of that piety, the leading features of which I wish to exhibit. I have denominated it a scriptural piety; by which I mean a state of heart in conformity with what the Bible teaches. I intend, by this language, nothing unattainable by Christians in the circumstances in which they are placed; nothing incompatible with a due attention to their appropriate duties and pursuits as connected with the present life; nothing which may not be secured by such a familiarity with the Scriptures, such a habit of prayer, and such a diligent use of other means of religious improvement, as shall not interfere at all with any necessary secular engagement. I wish also to be understood as making all reasonable allowance for those imperfections which, whether necessarily or not, do really belong to the most eminently pious and self-vigilant persons. In short, by a scriptural piety, I mean simply that general excellence of religious character of which good men, whose lives are recorded in the Bible, and in faithful religious biographies, have been the patterns. These explanations seemed to be required, to prevent a possible misconception and charge of extravagance. Such is the character of that piety, on which, by a view of some of its leading constituents, I wish to show that the successful prosecution of the missionary enterprize depends.
The first essential element of this piety to which attention is invited, is good-will to mankind. No one will doubt that this is an indispensable trait in the Christian character. It is as plainly undeniable that, in the exact proportion in which the piety of any individual is eminent, is this particular ingredient of it eminent. We shall search in vain for a person deeply imbued with the spirit of the Gospel, who is not at the same iime actuated by a feeling of good-will to all men. This love which the Christian bears to mankind, is something widely different from those benevolent impulses which belong, and frequently in a very high degree, to persons without piety. It is not to disparage these impulses, as found in men who are not Christians—it is to speak of them just as they are,—to say that they are mere instincts, given to man as appointed to live in society, and to sustain important relations to his fellow-men. They are a necessary preparation for the performance of those kindly offices which a social state demands. But, unlike the Christian feeling of good-will, they do not practically concern themselves with the well-bcing of men regarded as sinners against God, and destined to an immortal exist
Let the family circle, the surrounding neighborhood, and perhaps the nation, or, if in a few cases these benevolent impulses shall be thought to extend so far, at most the species; let these objects of regard be in a condition of tolerable comfort, so far as
the brief period of this life is concerned, and these instinctive affections will seldom ask for any thing more.
There are generally no higher interests in reference to which they will feel any solicitude. For the truth of what we here say, we make the appeal to facts. Who is the philanthropist that, without piety, has made the salvation of men, regarded as immortal and as sinners, the object of his life and labors. Where is the individual who, at the mere prompting of his benevolent instincts, has consecrated his energies to the work of persuading transgressors to be reconciled to God? Alas! such enthusiasts have been found among them only who have had the Christian feeling of good-will. No man of merely natural benevolence has ever been guilty of such extravagance.
But to show more particularly the bearing which a high degree of the feeling in question has on the successful prosecution of the missionary undertaking, let it be remarked that the Gospel, including every thing, whether of doctrine or of fact, which belongs to it, forms the one grand manifestation which God has made of his compassion to men,-a compassion which has, like all his other attributes, the largeness of infinity; and that this Gospel, accordingly, is a provision, not for our particular nation, or favored portion of individuals, but for sinners of every nation, and of the whole race. However cramped may be the language of some theological systems, it is impossible not to see that the phraseology of the New Testament, in reference to the divine compassion, is of the most extensive import. Christianity is a blessing as little intended to be monopolized by a favored few, as the light or the air. It is designed for man; and it will not have accomplished its beneficent purpose, till it has been proclaimed and offered to all men. Now, in exact accordance with this expansive benevolence which the Gospel breathes, is the feeling of good will which springs up in the soul of every one who fully embraces the Gospel and imbibes its spirit. It is a good will which perfectly sympathizes with, and bounds itself by nothing less than the liberal design for which Christianity itself is given to man. It is, consequently, a feeling which, when thus excited in due proportion to what the Gospel aims and is suited to accomplish, may well be judged of sufficient power to vanquish whatever of selfishness and indolence it may have to struggle with in the individual who cherishes it. Let us then conceive of this love to man, as actuating with its proper strength the whole Christian church. What an increase of men, what an accession of means, and what an enlargement of plans of operation, for the spread of the Gospel among heathen nations, might we not expect to witness! In relation, then, to this element of piety and good will to men, it is plain that an increase of it in the church would contribute much to the vigorous and successful prosecution of the missionary undertaking. It must consequently be the duty of all who occupy stations of influence in the Christian community, to give the widest possible prevalence to such views and feelings respecting the Gospel, as are in harmony with its true nature and design.
Another element of scriptural piety is a feeling of the odious nature of sin. There can be no question among Christians, that sin is felt to be the greatest evil by that person whose whole character is brought most fully under the influence of the evangelical doctrines. The more the infinitely amiable character of God is seen and loved, the more the purity of his law, as extending its jurisdiction over every thought and feeling, is kept in view, and the more the death of Christ, as a propitiatory sacrifice, is contemplated in its various bearings, the more foul and hateful will sin appear. The Christian, whose soul is in the state corresponding most nearly with what religion requires, can look with no indulgence upon what is wrong, either in himself or in others. He feels bimself impelled, as by an irresistible power, to do his utmost to lessen the fearful amount of wickedness which exists around him. Now let this Christian, with a mind thus illuminated, and with moral feelings thus excited in reference to the true nature of sin, be made acquainted with the condition of the whole unevangelized world. Let him be brought to contemplate the fact, that wherever the Gospel has not been carried, the supremacy which God, as the Creator and invisible Governor, rightfully claims, is virtually disowned; and that throughout the heathen. nations, in place of the devout affections which should be paid to Him, an impious homage is rendered to beings put in his stead. Let him have presented to his mind all those gross and provoking sins which are found to be the concomitants of the sin of idolatry. Let him also reflect, that however the guilt of these beings may be diminished by a certain measure of unavoidable ignorance, yet it is manifestly such as must excite the divine displeasure, and, if not removed by a pardon such as the Gospel alone makes known, must bring upon them inconceivable misery in the world to come. Will not his love of God and of holiness prompt a most earnest wish, that the moral power of that religion which can transform idolaters into devout worshippers of Jehovah, may be brought to bear upon these unevangelized nations? Will he not extend all those feelings of hatred which he bears to sin in general, to those particular and most odious forms of sin of which the heathen are guilty? Will not, indeed, his estimate of the evil of sin in general, be greatly heightened by that clear manifestation of its nature and tendency which he sees in these particular forms of sin? And will he not in this state of mind resolve, that none of those whom the blessing of God attending his labors can rescue from this state of guilt, shall be left to perish in it?
In order to evince more clearly the strength of that impulse to missionary effort which may be given by a proper sense of the odiousness of sin, I have thus far confined myself to the case of a single Christian. But it is at once seen that whatever effectiveness, as an impellent to Christian action, this feeling of the hatefulness of sin may have in the case of one religious individual, it may in like manner have in the case of every other religious indi
vidual. The feeling which one disciple is required to cherish, if (as is true of this) an essential part of the Christian character, is a feeling which it is incumbent on the whole church to cherish. And there can be no question that there is in actual connexion with the existing state of heathenism, wherever found, such an amount of guilt, such an accumulation of things loathsome in the sight of God, as, if fairly presented to the view of the whole religious community, should lead to united and vigorous measures for the removal of so great evils. If there is, then, among those bodies of Christians where the requisite knowledge of the moral state of unevangelized nations is had, a manifest deficiency of feeling and of effort in reference to the missionary cause, it can proceed from nothing else than from a defect of piety, from an inadequate impression of the evil of sin, especially as displayed among the heathen. The existence of enlarged and scriptural views of the true nature of sin is, then, an essential condition of success in the undertaking to spread the Gospel through the world. Let infidels and merely nominal Christians extenuate the vices of heathen nations as much as they will; the friends of Christianity have, and are required to apply to the regulation of their conduct, a more authoritative rule of duty than can be found elsewhere-the unerring representations of the Bible respecting the moral condition of unevangelized tribes. It is scarcely necessary to say, how exactly the scriptural delineation of the character of the heathen in ancient times, agrees with the best accredited accounts of modern pagan nations.
(To be continued.)
For the Am. Baptist Magazine. MEMOIR OF REV. JOHN RATHBONE, OF ASHFORD, CT. Memoirs of good men, especially such as have labored for God in the Gospel of his Son, are, in a peculiar sense, the property of the church. This is emphatically true of those who have been among the leaders in Israel, and who have impressed the memorials of their life and character on those schemes of Christian enterprize, which circle in their benevolent embrace all nations.
John Rathbone, the subject of this Memoir, was born in Stonington, Ct. the 26th of June, 1729. He was the son of Joshua and Mary Rathbone; and, by his mother's side, grandson of Elder Valentine Wightman, who lived in the town of Groton, and was the first settled Baptist minister of the State of Connecticut. His fame was in all the churches.* The parents of John were re
• Many of the sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons of Elder Wightman were and are Baptist ministers. His son, the Rev. Timothy Wightman, succeeded his father in the ministry, and was highly esteemed as an able and faithful minister of Jesus Christ. The Rev. John Gano Wightman, youngest son of Timothy, succeeded his father, and is pastor of the same Baptist Church at Groton to this day. Perhaps a greater nuin ber of ministers of the Gospel may be counted among the descendants of Elder Val. entine Wightman, than of any other man that has lived in North America; and no family in our beloved country has excelled them in piety and good morals.
spectable and pious members of a Baptist church in Stonington and endeavored to bring up their children in the nurture and adde monition of the Lord. At the age of ten, his interest was firsda excited respecting his character in the sight of God, as will appear from the following extracts from his diary:
“I lived until I was about eight or ten years old, without mucb thought of God or eternity. About this time, God raised up a man named Davenport, who came preaching through our land. great number went out to bear him. Many were convicted of their sins, and a goodly number converted; and, having received the love of God in their hearts, were rejoicing in God their Saviour. I attended one of those meetings, which was held in the
L open fields; for the assemblage was so numerous that no meeting. house could hold them. Many of the people were under powerful convictions; and I, poor boy, was under great concern,
because I could not get conviction. But my concern gradually wore off.”
It appears from his diary, that the Spirit of God' visited him again at the age of fifteen, but with the same lamentable results. At length, after an interval of seven years, “it pleased God," he 13 relates, “ to send sickness into the town of Canterbury, where I then lived, which carried off many of its inhabitants. It came into my family also, which alarmed me very much; and I began to 2, pray again.
For six weeks I labored under great concern of n. mind, and prayed often; until one Lord's day, I went to hear Elder S. Payne preach; and, while he was praying before sermon, my heart and soul united with him in petitioning the throne of grace for the pardon of sin, and that God would be pleased to rain down a shower of convicting and converting grace upon the assembly. During that prayer, I felt such a sense of the pardon of sin, and of the love of God in my soul, that my joy was unspeakable. My soul breathed back praises to God, and my heart and soul burned with love to God."
He subsequently speaks of suffering severe temptations, and of being oppressed with doubts respecting his conversion. He began also to be much tried about praying in his family morning and evening; but “after much exercise of mind," he proceeds, " and a severe struggle and mortification in my first attempt, I was enabled to overcome all obstacles, and had great delight in worshipping God in my family.”
At a later period, his diary informs us, his mind was severely exercised on account of his barrenness: feeling himself to be at a distance from God, and destitute of those lively exercises of faith which he once had, and now so much desired. Again, at other times, he was permitted to draw near to the throne of grace in humble contrition, being endued with a spirit of prayer; his prayers at such times seeming to him to be of God's own inditing. In these holy exercises he enjoyed much consolation, and a foretaste of those heavenly joys that are unspeakable and full of glory. About the year 1759, he removed to stonington Point, now called Stonington Borough, where, through his instrumentality, a small number of Baptist brethren and sisters were formed into a church. They