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infidelity had given the world a full-length portrait, in the French revolution, of her power to tear down, and tear in pieces, and drown in blood, whatever is lovely and of good report, then Christianity set out on the opposite side of the world to furnish a striking contrast, in the missions of the Pacific, of her benign influence to exterminate whatever is odious and depraved.*
* It is well known to the author, that travellers and voyagers not unfrequently bring back reports of the effects of missionary labors in the regions they have visited, which stagger the minds of many sincere friends of foreign missions. The accounts of what those honored and devoted servants of Christ called missionaries are doing, and of the advances which the gospel is making under their influence, may all be true; much more than they relate may be true; and yet it is very conceivable, yea, natural, that such men as our ordinary visitors of foreign lands should return from those regions, having neither seen nor heard any thing of the matter. Suppose a missionary were accomplishing, with his schools and his preaching, among a tribe of Indians in the centre of the state of New York, about as much as is reported of the American laborers in the island of Ceylon; how long might an intelligent traveller, with no interest in religion, no relish for its intelligence, no love for the society of its disciples, no knowledge of its journals—a man of fashion and gayety, mingling only with the literary and worldly-mindedhow long might he reside in the fashionable circles of the city of New York, and sail up the Hudson, and stop at Saratoga, and visit Niagara, and yet know absolutely nothing of that diligent missionary and his usefulness? Men who have lived all their days in a city which abounds in religious institutions and Christian labors, without having become sufficiently informed to give a stranger a correct account even of their respective characters, much less of their real usefulness, will touch at a port of an extensive pagan land, see the port population, go no further than the coast, inquire of none but the ungodly, and then come home and report that the missionaries have done nothing to civilize or
Not only has the religion of the gospel produced such fruits, but the experiment of eighteen hundred years is perfect proof, that in proportion as it shall ever be possessed in native soundness, and have room
convert the people. How should such men know? On their principles of judging, it might be reported with equal reason, that Christianity has secured no influence and done no good in the city of New York. An anecdote will illustrate how such authorities deserve to be regarded. A gentleman not long since returned to his native city in England, after having spent some three or four years in India. The pious people of his acquaintance, not considering the extent of the Indies, and his indifference to the cause of Christ, supposed that of course he had seen the missionary stations, and knew by his own observation all about the reported progress of religion in that country. They inquired of him the state of things in this respect. He assured them that the accounts they had read of missionary doings and successes in the East had no foundation-were mere traps to get contributions. He had been in India, and travelled extensively, and had seen nothing of any inroads upon heathenism, nor any changes among the people-had scarcely heard of the existence of missionary stations. The people were amazed. Much harm was doing; when a clergyman of the place, hearing of the matter, took an opportunity to converse with the traveller. Before disclosing his object, he said to him, "You are probably familiar with the national school system of instruction in this country. What do you think of it?" Why, no," answered the traveller, "I really am not acquainted with it." "But you doubtless know that there is such a system, and have probably seen its establishments, and heard much of its usefulness?" "Why, no, I have never happened to do so, though I have an indistinct idea of the existence of such a system." "Well," said the clergyman, "I will tell you. The national school system has been established for several years in England. Its schools are all over the country; its pupils are many hundreds of thousands; its influence is universally felt. It maintains more than one school in your immediate neighborhood. Almost all your life has been spent in England, a small country, and yet you know
and freedom to spread its roots and extend its branches, it will continue to bear such fruit, more and more abundantly and perfectly, to the end of time. This tree of life was planted to live through all ages, and spread its shadow over all nations. The trials it stood in its infancy, the fierce assaults of every species of enmity, which in every age of its subsequent growth have endeavored in vain to destroy it, are evidences, that as no human power could have thus protected it, so no human opposition can hereafter prevent its increase—that it must grow and spread and blossom till time shall be no more.
I am well aware, and I desire not to conceal, that it is very common with infidels to ascribe wars, intrigues, bloodshed, and persecutions to the influence of Christianity, and to assert that the world has been covered with slaughter by the hand of the gospel. The truth is, that whenever any evils such as wars or persecutions arise, though infidels by profession, or mere nominal Christians, are at the bottom of them; though they were originated and carried on out of direct enmity to the gospel, yet, because the Christian name is involved in the contest, infidels set down the whole to the account of a religion which, nevertheless, as
nothing of these interesting facts. You have been a short time in the immense region of India, over which a few missionary stations are scattered, as drops upon a desert; and because, in visiting a few prominent places, you heard or saw nothing of their influence upon the millions of heathen, you would persuade us that what we have read is all untrue. How much more should we believe that the national school system is a fable!" The traveller was silenced; the people were satisfied.
their chief men confess, has a direct tendency to make every body do his duty,* and "to promote the peace and happiness of mankind." But on the other hand, whenever any good is done in society, such as the banishment of the crimes and vices of heathenism, the promotion of virtue, peace, good laws, good institutions, benevolence, domestic and public happiness, then infidels have great difficulty in seeing how these blessings are connected with Christianity, even though, by their own acknowledgment, the life of Jesus "showed at once what excellent creatures men would be, when under the influence and power of that gospel which he preached."‡
It is freely granted that in countries called Christian, great evils remain to be cured; their history abounds with wars, some of which have been on account of the Christian religion, and have been accompanied with great slaughter and lasting enmities. But before these deplorable facts can justly be attributed to the influence of the peaceful and gentle religion of Jesus, a number of important questions, which we shall presently name, must be decided. By the confession of one of the most noted infidels, we have in Christ an example of one who was just, honest, upright, and sincere, and above all, of a most gracious and benevolent temper and behavior: one who did no wrong, no injury to any man; in whose mouth was no guile; who went about doing good, not only by his ministry, but also in curing all manner ↑ Bolingbroke. + Chubb's True Gospel, sec. 8, pp. 55, 56.
of diseases among the people. His life showed what excellent creatures men would be when under the influence and power of that gospel which he preached unto them."* But hear on this head the eloquence of the profligate Rousseau, venturing for once to speak the truth: "I will confess that the majesty of the Scriptures strikes me with admiration, as the purity of the gospel has its influence on my heart. Peruse the works of our philosophers; with all their pomp of diction, how contemptible are they compared with the Scriptures! Is it possible that a book at once so simple and sublime should be merely the work of man? Is it possible that the sacred personage whose name it records, should be himself a mere man? What sweetness, what purity in his manner; what sublimity in his maxims; what profound wisdom in his discourses. Where is the man, where the philosopher, who could so live and so die without weakness and without ostentation? If the life and death of Socrates were those of a sage, the life and death of Jesus were those of a God." Such are the confessions of a man whose vice and vanity constrained him to say, "I cannot believe the gospel." No wonder, when at the same time he was saying in his heart, I will not renounce my debaucheries.
But such confessions abound in the writings of infidels, so that "the whole Christian argument might be maintained on the admissions of one or other of the leading infidel writers; and no contest remain, unless, if it could then be called one, with * Chubb's True Gospel, sec. 8, p. 56, 57.