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back to God; and to how much greater, as well as better effect, would he act? How greatly would his mind be expanded, his thoughts elevated, and his whole intellectual character changed? Before we know what men can accomplish, for each other, and for him who made them, we must see them thoroughly weaned from all their wrong or inordinate attachments to this world, and pursuing the great ends for which they were created, undiverted from their object, and unembarrassed in the pursuit of it, by remaining sinful
, earthly predilections. We must see them wholly devoted to God, having all the affections of their hearts brought under the one, great, controlling, never ceasing inclination to live and labor for Him!
6. It is scarcely necessary to add, the spirit of evangelical piety delights much in prayer.
A supreme regard for God, on the part of dependont, frail, sinful beings, such as mankind are, and such as good men feel themselves to be, will of course prompt to frequent and fervent exercises of devotion. The circumstances too, in which man is placed in this world, render the exercises of devotion pre-eminently iinportant to him; and beget the feeling in the heart of the good man that these exercises are pre-eminently important to him. At the throne of grace, therefore, he will often be found. His sense of duty-his sense of need—his filial spirit—will all contribute to dra w him thither. And there peculiarly,-in that affecting employment,—the things of God and of eternity, will arise to the view of the mind, with a force and clearness, corresponding in some measure, to their real, intrinsic weight and importance. There peculiarly, the soul that pleads in faith, must feel strengthened, and encouraged, and prepared to make more vigorous efforts for the good of mankind. For there, though weak as water in itself, it takes hold on almighty strength. There, as no where else, it finds all its better purposes confirmed, and its courage to confront difficulties augmented : and it retires thence, halting it may be, as respects its sense of its own sufficiency, but still having power like a prince to prevail with God and with man.
Now the full effect which this has, upon the right direction, and the faithful exertion, of the powers of the mind, in doing good in the world, we cannot indeed accurately estimate; but we can see, that that effect must be great and happy. Is suffering to be borne ? Is active duty to be done? Is a trial of our faith and christian constancy and courage to be met? Is self-denial or danger in any form to be encountered? Who does not perceive, that the good man, who loves to draw near to God, possesses a resource of inconceivable value, in going to a throne of grace for needed succor? What resource like this has the man of the world, to prepare him to meet the calamities of this life, and to confront the king of terrors ? His friends may cheer him on through difficulties, with the hope of acquiring some notice and distinction by surmounting them. His own philosophy or pride may suggest to him, that it is unmanly to yield io trials and glorious to conquer them. Hopes of better days to come, may help him to bear for the present what he sees that he cannot avoid, and may thus prolong the delusion a little farther. And when he can do nothing else, he can affect indifference and unconcern, even in view of the most solemn subjects ; and can so steel his heart against feeling, by the doctrines of a cold, benumbing scepticism, that he can talk of death, and of the things that lie beyond it, as if they were as unimportant, or as fabulous, as the mythological fiction with which David Hume entertained his friends, in the last hours of his life. The dignity of that scene, to speak of it in no other view, will not be very likely, we believe, to attract much imitation. How unlike to all this, is the spirit of the christian, living and dying. In life and amidst all its trials, he has a source of support and consolation, which this world can neither give nor take away. And in the near view of death, faith opens to his vision, a brighter world beyond. He thinks of Him who “has abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light.” He calls the promises to mind : he goes to the hearer of prayer who gave these promises to his people : he stays himself upon the arm that upholds the world. And has he not a ground of reliance, in life and in death, which is to be found no where else? and which too is of very great value to him, to prepare him to bear up under the unavoidable ills of life, to lead him to do and suffer the will of God, with a firmness and an energy of spirit belonging only to the praying, confiding, devoted disciple of Jesus Christ? On a principle of so much practical importance, then as that which we have now attempted to illustrate, our readers, we trust, will bear with us in submitting a few concluding reflections.
1. We are instructed by it how men are to live in order to their being eminently useful.
Does any one wish to learn, how he may apply, to the best possible effect, the talents which his Creator has committed to him, during his transient and uncertain stay on earth? Let him embrace intelligently and cordially, the christian religion. Let him, not only bear the name, but feel the appropriate motives, of “the faith once delivered to the saints." Let him cultivate within him an enlightened and an entire devotedness of spirit to Christ. Let him often commune with the word of God; and imbue his mind deeply with truth from the fountain head. Let him have the hardihood, the unblenching firmness of character, to go to the oracle of eternal truth, and to take his lessons thence, with the docility, the simplicity, the childlike confidence, which will go any where, where truth shall lead; and with the independence, and decision of purpose, which will follow no guidance but the guidance of truth. Let him, in short, be often at the throne of grace, where it most becomes a creature of yesterday to lie! The culture and improvement of his mind, let him by no means neglect ; rather let him seek to add, continually, to his intellectual acquisitions. But in doing so, let him not forget, that he is to attend with a primary solicitude to the culture of his heart; that he is to bestow his chief efforts upon the training of his affections. Let him feel, that all is amiss within him, until his Maker is enthroned there, and the will of his Maker has become the settled law of his life. When this is done ; when the heart is actively and voluntarily given to God; and the great end and object of existence is felt to be, to do his will and glorify his name; then is there the best preparation made for being useful truly and eminently useful. Then it is that the noblest motives begin to urge; the grandest objects are present to the mind; and the richest hopes and joys gladden the heart. All is great. All is interesting.' Time assumes a value unknown before-moments are precious-men are immortals—and to be saved or lost is the grand problem, which the passing hours that precede eternity, are to solve and settle for every man!
2. It shows how men should live, if they would pass their days on earth with the truest dignity.
There is no man who lives for so great as well as good an end, as he who leads a truly christian life. There is no dignity to be compared with that, which consists in being actuated by christian principle. It is truly great to serve God: it is an exalted employment. There is more than the simple worth of dignity in it; there is also the greatness, the magnanimity, which that term implies. In both respects, there is a resemblance in it to angelic natures. He is most like those spirits of light and love, whose intellect and whose heart are most entirely consecrated to God. The more fervently he adores, under the guidance of the word and the spirit of the Lord, the more does he resemble the rapt seraphim near the throne. Is it not so? What is
that constitutes the angelic character? Is it not superior intelligence and superior love? And towards this character does not he most nearly approach, who lives and labors most for God, and for the good of mankind? Go to the dwelling of the humble, devoted christian. Poor, he is perhaps, in all the wealth of this world; but, being rich in faith, and rich in those good works which are by Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of God, he possesses a treasure in the heavens, bags which wax not old. His are the favor and friendship of the Most High. His the character of a child of the skies. His the end, which is peace, and Vol. II.
the immortality, which is blessed. He pursues his unostentatious but useful course through life; and when he dies, ministering angels convey him to his rest. In life and in death, is not his course marked with the truest dignity ?
3. It shows us how to live, if we would be peaceful and happy.
To be actively and voluntarily useful, in the manner and alier the spirit of the gospel, is the way to true peace and happiness: to great and lasting peace, it is the only way. Sooner or later, all other modes of seeking to bring home to the heart of man a pure and a permanent peace, will be found illusory and vain. here, in a life of active, voluntary usefulness, from evangelical principles, is a source of peace and comfort to the soul, which will not mislead, and which will never fail. Only let the heart, and all the faculties of the soul, be devoted to those great ends, for which an intelligent nature has fitted mankind, and for which our Creator has shown, in giving to us an intelligent nature, that he designed to fit us; and what a flow of conscious peace within, might we not hope and expect, would cheer our path through this life, and prepare us to close our days on earth, in the serene hopes of a heart which confides in unfailing promises for the future.
4. In the culture of the mind, then it is of very high importance, that the temper of the heart be not neglected.
Intellectual exertion, to be most wisely and usefully directed, must be the result, as we have already seen, of christian motives, and christian feelings. The heart must be touched, and touched by the right power; or there will be little done, or attempted to be done, to make the world better or happier. Could we, therefore, be heard by those who are panting for distinction in the field of mere mental effort : could we gain for a few moments, the ear of the young and the ardent, who are laudably endeavoring to improve their minds and acquire knowledge; we would say to them, “ Have the strictest regard to your motives, and to the state of your feelings. Watch over the affections of your minds, with a supreme, an ever wakesul vigilance : for there the grand secret of your success lies. How many great minds have languished, and brought little to pass, in consequence of their not having early received the needful excitement and the proper direction. An object was wanting, of sufficient magnitude and of the right kind, to call forth their slumbering energies, and to direct them to important results. Such an object christianity offers you. It is a great, a noble object, fitted to awaken all your powers, and to keep them in untiring exercise. It is to do good to all men as you have opportunity, and on the grand scale of eternity. It is to make this life subservient to the great end, of being as useful as you can be, and as long as you shall continue to exist. Cultivate then a spirit of fervent piety. Be not afraid
nor ashamed of religion, just as the Saviorand his apostles left it to the world, in all its unadorned simplicity and plainness. Give up your minds and hearts to its control. Let it not merely divide with earthly things the dominion over youlet it govern you decisively and wholly. Feel its blessed truths. Bring home to the inner man of the heart, its great and solemn announcements. Its duties, its obligations, its sanctions, let them do more than gain a cold credence from you ; let them be living, operative realities before your eyes : and you will live to some good purpose. You will cultivate and improve your powers to some valuable end. And although your course on earth may be comparatively silent and unobserved, it will be more useful and more honorable; it will yield you a purer satisfaction in the review of it; it will impart to the closing scene of life a calmer radiance of hope, a sweeter aspect of serenity and peace, than aught else can give. And when the last tie is sundered which constitutes your connection with things seen and temporal, you will go to join the Mathers and the Henrys of a former age, whose faith and elevation of purpose you have emulated, “considering the end of their conversation, Jesus Christ the same yesterday, to-day, and forever.”
Art. VII.REVIEW ON MISSIONS TO CHINA.
A Retrospect of the first ten years of the Protestant Mission to China: By
William Milne. Malacca : printed at the Anglo-Chinese press.
1820. Memoirs of the Rev. William Milne, D. D. late Missionary to China, and
Principal of the Anglo-Chinese College: compiled from Documents written by the Deceased : to which are added Occasional Remarks. By ROBERT
MORRISON, D. D. Malacca: printed at the Mission Press. 1824. The Chinesc Classical work, commonly called the four Books; translated
and illustrated with Notes: By the late Rev. David COLLIE, Principal of the Anglo-Chinese College, Malacca. Printed at the Mission press. 1828.
We have intended, for some months past, to lay before our readers an account of the attempts which have been made, to carry christianity into the vast empire of China. Events which have recently transpired, and which are known to all, now induce us to carry our design into execution. The interesting fact, that the American churches have at length taken a part in this enterprise, ought to make the brief view which we now propose to give, acceptable to those for whom it is prepared.
The empire of China extends about eighteen degrees from north to south, and the same number from east to west. It has