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Christ, but he needs great devotion to his service, glowing benevolence to the souls of men, elevated views, singleness of
purpose, and strong faith. The chief Apostle to the Gentiles was not prepared for his labors as a missionary of the cross, until he was humbled in the dust, renewed by divine grace, and fired with unquenchable benevolence to the souls of men. When he was only a moralist, a formalist, and a Pharisee, he opposed the cause of missions and the spread and influence of Christianity; and with malignity attempted to imprison, or put to death all, who espoused this heavenly cause. “When it pleased God,” says this great Apostle to the Gentiles, “who called me by his grace,—to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen, immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.” Then it was, and not till then, that he was prepared to enter upon this sacred and self-denying enterprise.
The Christian missionary not only needs genuine piety to form the resolution of spending his life in toils and sacrifices for the salvation of the Gentile world; but he needs increasing, deep-toned piety, to execute such a resolution. He needs a heavenly temper, an ardor of benevolence, possessed by few, to give himself away by solemn ordination in the presence of God, angels, and men, to "go out from his country, and his kindred, and his father's house;"—to turn his back upon every thing he holds dear on earth, and commit himself to the mercy of the waves, or of more dangerous men. What a test of the piety of Martyn, when he tore himself away for the last time from his dearest friends, his much loved country, and all hi
precious privileges;-a trial of his piety, which not only evinced that it was real, but that it must be increased for future exigencies, and, if possible, for greater trials?
The missionary needs increasing piety and more ardent benevolence, as he reaches a pagan shore, and enters a region of spiritual gloom, where the moral darkness is visible, and may be felt; where such a moral renovation is to be effected, and such a mighty work is to be accomplished, as would lead men of only ordinary attainments to sit down in despair. When he begins to sustain all the burden and toil of learning new and difficult languages, perhaps almost without books and instructors; and to learn them so, that he can read not only, but speak them fluently and impressively, and make them the vehicle of thought to minds the most benighted, he is in danger of fainting under the pressure of the task. And when he has sustained all this toil, and, after years of diligent application, is prepared to preach the gospel in the languages of those, to whom he is sent, their stupidity, their ignorance, their cavilling, their opposition, their determined adherence to their debasing superstitions and horrid idolatries, are suited to produce deep despondency, and to relax, if not interrupt, his efforts. Amidst such toils and such prospects, how much does he need elevated and glowing piety;-a zeal, which nothing can damp; an ardor, which nothing can quench; an aim, which no obstacles can reach; a benevolence, which nothing can withstand.
Contemplate the missionary in any probable circumstances of his life, and how much does he need high
moral qualifications; how much does he need that simplicity and godly sincerity, that spirituality of affection, that entire devotedness to the service of God, which none, but he who commissioned the first Christian missionaries, and made the promise contained in the text, can impart. How could he hope to possess an ardor of piety, a strength of faith, a spirit of selfdenial, a crucifixion to the world, indispensable to the labors and trials and exigencies of his future course, did he not hear the Lord of missions say, “My grace is sufficient for thee;—my strength shall be made perfect in thy weakness;—and as thy day is so shall thy strength be.”
Whatever be the talents or attainments of the Christian missionary, he will feel that his intellectual and moral qualifications are below the dignity and magnitude and sacredness of his work, not only when he devotes himself to it, but when he enters upon it, and prosecutes it with all the ardor of his soul. But his encouragement is, that the Saviour will be always present with him to invigorate his mind, to succeed him in his studies, to defend him from “the pestilence that walketh in darkness, and from the destruction that wasteth at noon day,” as long as his work is unfinished, to strengthen his faith and animate bis zeal and increase his graces, and to furnish him continually with higher endowments for his sacred office.
The promise in the text will be seen to be of great importance to the Christian missionary,
II. As it respects his CIRCUMSTANCES.
And here I can consider only bis trials, his temptations, and his discouragements.
His trials commence as soon as he seriously turns his attention to the subject of missions. As he contemplates the obligations of the Christian world to cause the gospel to be preached to all nations, he perceives that some must become missionaries, or this can not be done. He perceives, that if it be the duty of the churches to send the gospel into all the world, it must be the duty of some to go forth, and proclaim it. The question arises, “Is it not my duty to go far hence, and bear the unsearchable riches of Christ to the heathen?” This is a question of great importance, both to himself and to the cause of missions; and as it comes home to his own bosom, and presses upon his conscience, its importance rises in his view, until he is ready to sink under the pressure. To decide this question satisfactorily in the fear of God, he must examine his own qualifications; he must consider for what sphere of labor he is best fitted, where he is most needed, and can probably accomplish the most for his Lord and Master. He must watch the indications of providence, and inquire diligently at a throne of grace, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” And after he has done all this, in coming to the final decision he may bave perplexing doubts, great inward conflicts, and severe trials. And these trials are unknown to the world, and little considered even by Christians.
Having taken up the resolution to devote himself to the service of God among the heathen, he may find it painfully difficult to satisfy his friends, or be con
strained to act in opposition to the feelings of those, whom he esteems and loves. Going forth to his work, he must tear himself from his choicest earthly connexions, from all the endearments of the domestic circle, and "sacred home;" he must sunder the thousand tender ties, which bind him to the place of his nativity, the scenes and companions of his youth; he must abandon the seats of science, the circles for prayer, the institutions of Christian benevolence, and the church, the beloved church, in the bosom of which he has vowed unto the Lord, and in all the tenderness of Christian sympathy has commemorated his dying love.
And while this final parting seems so much like the separation of death, the missionary does not, like the dying saint, tear himself away to enter immediately into the joy of his Lord, where all his trials are ended, where all is fruition, all is bliss! No;—he passes through these painful scenes, that he may enter upon others, if possible, still more painful. Leaving the land of his fathers, with all its ten thousand blessings, he plants himself amidst idolaters, ignorant, degraded, barbarous. Here he must take up his abode amidst crime, and misery, and wretchedness, beyond the power of language to describe.
Thus situated, he must not only sustain the privation of almost every thing he held dear in his native land, and in the bosom of earthly friends;—but he may at some seasons be destitute of the conveniencies, and even of the comforts of life, and suffer from hunger and want, and have not where to lay his head.His life may be endangered from the ferocity of wild beasts, or from more ferocious man. He may suffer