Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση





MARCH, 1835.



It is a principle of christian faith, that the gospel is yet to be propagated through the world, and is every where to exert its purest and most effectual influences. All who pray in the name of Jesus Christ, and as he hath taught them to pray, must needs put it in tbeir daily prayers, that his kingdoin may come universally, and that the mountain of the Lord's house may be established in the tops of the mountains, and exalted above the hills, and all nations flow to it and be saved. To the coming of that bright era, the eyes of the ransomed host of God are directed with hope and longing, like the expectation of those who, through a dark and weary watch, are waiting for the morning. Come,-come the golden age of peace, and light, and love,the age when idolatry, with its foul and bloody orgies, and superstition, with its maddening incantations and its besotting follies, and despotism, with its rod of iron and its chains, and priestly domination, with its heavier ferters for the soul, shall have been swept away before the march of truth; and the earth, renewed in more than pristine beauty, decked with all the ornaments of human industry and art, and crowded with an enlightened, peaceful, happy population, shall reflect the smiles and resound with the praises of its Maker.

It is no part of our design, at present, to defend this point of our faith against the objections and cavils of infidelity. Taking it for granted, that on this point none of our readers have any material difficulties, we shall aim rather at the removal of a practical unbelief, which, by putting off to a great, indefinite distance in the future, the period of the universal triumph of christianity, operates to weaken the motive to effort, which, at the present day, that doctrine presents to all enlightened christians. Our wish is to show, that the field of the world is white to the harvest,--that the facilities to effort, and the encouragements to great effort, for the speedy VOL. VII.


conversion of all nations, which are peculiar to these times, are such as ought to call forth the utmost energy of every disciple of Christ, in the great work of spreading the knowledge of the Savior through the world. The question is, Are efforts for the speedy conversion of the world, chimerical? Is it practicable, within any limited period of time, to send the knowledge of the gospel to all the habitations of mankind? Ought we, individually and unitedly, and with all our strength, to address ourselves to the work of subduing the world for Christ, and in the expectation of a speedy success?

First let us direct our attention, for a moment, to the political aspect of the world. What encouragements do we find in this quarter? What indications of the power of a providence, that is arranging the condition and mutual relations of all the kingdoms of this world, with reference to the universal triumph of the kingdom of Immanuel ?

1. The majority of the human race is at present either nominally christian, or subject to the governments of nominally christian nations. Fifty years ago, it was far otherwise ; but now, of the seven hundred and thirty-seven millions, which, according to the best estimates, make up the population of the globe, about three hundred and eighty-eight millions are either nominally christian, or subject to nominally christian governments.*

2. The Mohammedan and popish powers, which once constituted the greatest external obstacle to the progress of the religion of the bible, are declining. The great Mohammedan empire in India has become entirely extinct; and a British governor-general in Calcutta, sways the scepter of the Great Mogul. The great and dreaded empire of the Turks, whose crescent has hung so long with baleful aspect over the fairest regions of the world, blighting the scenes of all that is sacred in history, is already dismembered, iinpoverished, half-revolutionized, and, like some wounded monster, exhausted and faint, is staggering to its fall. What a change has taken place in this respect within the last halfcentury! At the same time, a similar change has been going forward, weakening and destroying that power, which, by the force of priestcraft, has tyrannized for ages over most of the nations of christendom, and which, wherever it has had the power, has never been surpassed even by Mohammedanism, in the malignity with which

This estimate varies somewhat from the one which computes the subjects of the Chinese empire at three hundred and sixty-two millions; but as so litilo is known definitely respecting the population of some of the Asiatic portions of the globe, we prefer to retain the calculations of M. Balbi. (See Quarterly Register, vol. iii. pp. 25, 26.] Malte Brun's estimate of the world's population, is only six hundred and forty-two millions. The force of the argument will remain the same, whether we estimate the whole population of the globe as above given, or at the higher number of eight or pine hundred millions.

it has persecuted every thing that dared to question its supremacy. A few years ago, and, though the pope had begun to lose his former power, thoughi kings no longer held bis stirrups, or waited barefoot at his gate, he had a throne, a power, a revenue,

which will never be his again. With the exception only of Great Britain and Prussia, all the great thrones of christendom were occupied by his minions and tributaries. France was bis, politically speaking. Austria was his. Italy was bis, peculiarly. Portugal, with all the wealth of dependent Brazil, was his. Spain too, with the gold of Mexico and the silver of Peru, was his. Russia was hardly known, except as a vast, unformed, barbarous power, just beyond the pale of civilization. But how is it now? France, with her power and wealth, is no longer tributary to Rome. Spain and Portugal have lost their dependent provinces,-have almost ceased to be of account in the balance of power, and are now interesting in a political view only, as they are the theater of a conflict, which seems likely to terminate in ridding both kingdoms of the priestcraft which has eaten out their strength, and degraded and debased their character. The Italian states, impoverished and decayed, are also in an unquiet and revolutionary condition. Of all the great pillars of the papal throne, Austria only remains. Russia, that never owned subjection to the pontiff, that never knew an inquisition, or a St. Bartholomew's day, is overshadowing the north, and stretching towards the south, and, wherever its eagles fly, is still reducing the barbarous hordes of its subjects to order, and slowly, but steadily, adding tribe after tribe of Tartars and Cossacks to the realms of civilization.

3. Governments are becoming more liberal. Religious freedom has long been the boast of England; yet what progress has recently been made even there, towards making that freedom complete? A few years ago, since the commencement of the present century, a mighty struggle was necessary in parliament, to secure for British christians the privilege of teaching the gospel to the heathen of British India. In one way or another, similar changes are taking place in all civilized countries. We see such a change going forward even in Turkey, where we should have least expected it. Those governments which are inflexible on the point of religious freedom, are too inflexible on other points, and, ono after another, are revolutionized. Among those governments which bave been created or molded by the revolutionary spirit of the age, there is no common feature more characteristic, than their indifference to the religious opinions of their subjects.

Let it not be supposed, that we speak of these things as indications of the actual progress of religion in the world. These political changes have no importance in the eye of the christian, except as they remove out of the way, old obstacles to effort. It is in

this aspect only, that we refer to them. The conquests which annexed the millions of India to the British empire, were not the conquests of the cross; but the consequence is, that those millions may now be approached by christian teachers, and may be supplied with the bible, as soon as christians are ready to give it to them. The fall of one Mohammedan empire, and the decline of another, is not of course the progress of christianity; but it is the casting down of a strong and once impregnable intrenchment of the power of darkness. The decline of popery as a political power, is not of course reformation ; but it is the opening of a door for truth to enter in and triumph. The progress of political revolution, and of civil and religious liberty, is not the progress of that kingdom which is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; but it is the casting down of the mountains, and the raising up of the valleys, to prepare the way of the Lord.

Look next at the great extension of commerce. The whole world is continually explored and agitated by the spirit of commercial enterprise. The productions of every clime and region find their way to every other. The policy of governments is changing in this respect. Formerly, trade was almost every where restricted, lest it should impoverish; each government sought to make its subjects buy and sell of one another. Now, trade, the fair interchange of commodities among different nations, is almost every where encouraged, for it is found to enrich all the parties engaged in it. Once, commerce went forth, as it were, fettered; now, she goes out free, ploughing every sea and harbor with her adventurous keel, and spreading her canvass to the breezes of every sky. Every tribe of the inland wilderness knows her. Every isle of the Pacific shouts at the earliest glimpse of her approaching sails.

Now, what are the bearings of these facts on the question before us?

1. Commerce diffuses civilization, and excites every where the spirit of improvement. It diffuses civilization, by giving to savage tribes whom it visits, new ideas of comfort, and by thus forming them to habits of industry. It diffuses civilization, by diffusing knowledge, and by imparting the improvements of the more intelligent and favored nations to those who are less so. It promotes the spirit of improvement, not only in these ways, but by bringing different nations into contact with each other, and compelling the ignorant to see their ignorance, and the uncivilized to acknowledge their inferiority. In this way, the Turk already feels, that the christian dogs of Europe, as in his barbarian pride he once called them, know more, and are better off, than himself. In this way, the Chinese must, ere long, become ashamed of his national vanity. In this way, all the Mohammedan and pagan nations on the globe, are either prepared, or are fast preparing, to listen with

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »