« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
PARIS MISSIONARY SOCIETY.
THE following is the substance of a most interesting Report presented by the Paris Female Auxiliary Missionary Society to the parent institution. It is stated to have been drawn up by the Duchess de Brog. lie; a lady illustrious herself for her many deeds of piety and charity, and illustrious in her connexions, not merely from the literary celebrity of her mother, Madame de Stael, but from the enlightened benevolence and public spirit which have distinguished the life of her husband, and the well-known piety and virtues of her brother, lately deceased, whose loss has left a void in the French Protestant Church, and in every object of Christian benevolence in France, which will not be easily supplied.—
"We some time hesitated before we could decide on making a report of the labours of our committee during the past year. These labours have been so feeble, and the results so far below our desires, that it seemed to us almost useless to render an account. Yet we thought, that if we omitted making a report, it might be imagined we were discouraged in the work we have undertaken. We considered at the same time, that the design of these reports being to make known to our brethren the real state of our religious societies, it was as useful to make them acquainted with our reverses as with our success. Why should we conceal the difficulties? Why disguise our lukewarmness and our negligence, if they exist? Would it not be a want of Christian frankness, to be silent because we are not satisfied with what we have to say? Besides, it is not in this as in buman works; it is not the number of positive facts, that give a real importance to our labours. Although we should even have collected considerable sums; although we should have acquired a great number of subscribers; if these numerous subscribers were not animated by a
true zeal for the propagation of the Gospel,-if these sums were given from any other motive than pure Christian charity,-what would it profit us? We should have failed in our object; we should be only sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.' But, on the contrary, if our associations, however few in number, have been animated by a spirit wholly evangelical; if the trifling sums we bring you have been given solely for the advancement of the kingdom of truth; we ought a thousand times to bless God in the result of our efforts.
"Even to this day the number of our associations at Paris is very small: they amount to only twentyfive. These associations are not complete, for we yet count only 180 subscribers. The sums collected during the year have been 1,578 francs, of which 517 have been applied to the particular expenses of the house of missions; and 1,061 have been paid over to your treasury.
"Our society has two different objects in view the first, altogether like the Bible Society, is to collect sums to be remitted to you for the general expenses of the Missionary Society; but the second, which belongs more especially to our society, is to assist you in the domestic care of the house of missions established at Paris.
"Our committee meet every two months in summer, and every month in winter. Every meeting is opened and concluded with prayer, to im plore the Divine blessing; and the time that is not occupied in examining the accounts, is employed in reading the interesting details we can collect of the success of missionaries in distant lands. The knowledge of the unhappy state of pagan nations is very well fitted to awaken zeal for the missionary work. There now exist several female societies in the different departments. The whole number that have come to our knowledge is eight."
Various minute but interesting the Gospel; that they can triumph details are given respecting these societies; after which the Report continues:
"These are the few facts which we have been able to collect, of the Female Societies for Missions in France. We do not attempt to conceal how feeble our efforts are, when compared with what is done in other countries: how feeble in Paris, especially, which combines so much wealth and resources of every kind; for the departments have far outstripped us. Montpellier contains as many female associations as Paris: and small, poor communes, have manifested a zeal superior to ours.
"When we reflect on the beauty, the incontestable utility of the missionary work; when we see how easy would be the exertions that are required for this work; when we think that by some trifling sacrifice of time or money, we might be able to advance that cause for which our missionaries sacrifice their health, their lives, and the endearments of friendship, we ask ourselves with astonishment, how it is possible that we have so little ardour in an undertaking at once so great and so easy. How is it possible that we neglect the opportunity of doing so much good at so little expense? We address this question to ourselves; and the answer of our hearts is invariably the same, it is, that we want faith. And if we seek a remedy for this lukewarmness, we shall find it only in the increase of faith. It is not necessary to search for secondary causes of this dulness in our efforts, and it is not necessary to seek secondary means to re-animate them. The Missionary Society will prosper among us only when we shall ourselves have a living and prevailing faith. The objections brought forward against this work, all partake of the same source. We find this undertaking too remote; we doubt of the success of our missionaries; we cannot figure to ourselves that they can lead gross savages to the purity of
over the material and moral obstacles which they will meet with in their path. And why do we doubt of their success? Because we do not ourselves believe in the power of that Gospel to change the heart; and we doubt of that power because we have not yet felt it in our own.
"No one believes that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, if he has not felt it in his own breast; and no one can doubt of that power, when he has himself experienced it. All the arguments of sound reason and experience upon the temporal and spiritual benefits that the Gospel infallibly leads after it; all those plain reasonings, so often repeated, upon the superiority of the Gospel morality, upon the necessity of drawing the unhappy pagans from their absurd and criminal beliefs; all these reasonings leave us, nevertheless, inactive and undecided. The conviction comes not forth from our understanding, to enter that living region of our being, where it would become efficacious and active. The powerful voice which alone can say to it, Rise up and walk,' is not heard; and it cannot have any real effect. But if we had ourselves experienced the power of the Gospel, we should no longer be able to doubt of its success, nor be intimidated by any obstacle. For whoever has fathomed the deep wretchedness of his own heart, and has notwithstanding felt that that heart can be united to the all-holy God by the power of the Divine Word, remains no longer in uncertainty with regard to the victory it will accomplish over all the nations of the earth.
"Is it not necessary that this same Spirit of God which is to convert the savage, should descend into our own souls, to change and purify them? that it should dissipate the thick darkness with which we are encompassed, before we can comprehend the perfect holiness and infinite mercy of God-that God
whom we have dishonoured in a thousand different ways? Is it not necessary that the same power of Divine grace should operate, in order to transport us into the invisible world which we know not, where we wish not to live, that our hearts may feel eternal truths, that they may become the continual spring of our actions, and so engross our thoughts as to give them the ascendency over the objects that surround us and lead us astray. If the Gospel had obtained this ascendency in us-if it had comforted our afflicted and burdened hearts-healed our sick and polluted souls, we should believe in its power; we should have that faith of experience which nothing can destroy, and of which it is said, that it shall overcome the world. But this faith is wanting in us, and therefore it is that our Missionary Society languishes. It can be re-animated only by the re-animation of our faith.
"It is sometimes said, that it is necessary first to think of ourselves, of our own salvation, of our country, before undertaking a work so distant. Those who make this objection, it seems to us, are ignorant of the real state of the soul and the means which God destines to reges nerate it. In truth, what is it that retards our sanctification? It is the pre-occupation of our individual interests, the engrossments of our selflove; all our defects arise from the preference of ourselves to others and to duty. What then is the means of overcoming them? It is to come out of ourselves, to transport our affections and thoughts to more worthy and more elevated objects. God, who has designed men to perfect themselves and mutually to assist each other, has so constituted us, that the best means of advancing ourselves is to labour sincerely for the good of others. The mere attempt to destroy our evil inclinations is in vain, if we do not fill our hearts with interests and sentiments more worthy to take their place'; if, as St. Paul says, 'we do CHRIST. OBSERV. App.
not overcome evil with good.' But if our treasure were laid up in hea, ven, if we could say with David, the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up,-if our heart beat for the advancement of the truth, is it not certain that it would be delivered almost without effort from the misery that oppresses it, and with which it every day vainly contends?
"Let us then labour for the salvation of our brethren, and we shall advance our own sanctification; let us extend our views; let us not trace any narrow limits for our exertions or our hopes; let us persuade ourselves of the triumph of our holy cause, even to the ends of the earth; let us participate in the joy that angels feel at the sight of an individual brought to the light, whatsoever may be his name, his family, or his country; and let us believe that thus the work of God will make its way in our own hearts.
"Let us hope that our Female Missionary Society will be pre-eminent in giving the example of evangelical zeal. Every where we see women contributing, by their efforts, to the progress of the Christian faith. The Gospel, which has drawn them from the state of inferiority in which other religions have left them, has! farther granted them an exceeding great privilege, the right of la bouring for its establishment, and of concurring in the general good of their brethren.
"The word of God shews us seve=" ral examples of women who contributed to the propagation of Christianity. St. John has addressed one' of his Epistles to a woman. St. Paul, in his salutations, thanks the Christian women who laboured with him in the Gospel. I commend unto you,' says he, Phebe, a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea; for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also. Greet Priscilla, my helper in Christ Jesus. Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us.' And there are many other passages we might quote. Should not such examples
move us? And what inconveni- "Greet Mary, who bestowed ence should women fear in em- much labour on us.' How affecting ploying themselves for the advance- is this simple expression! God calls ment of the kingdom of God? Is us to labour for him! Shall we it not to remain in the sphere of our refuse to give him some of those habitual duties to labour for that hours in which the soul languishes, great family of the Christian church often idle in the midst of occupawhich God blesses and watches over, tions which have not the power to and where each one ought to be fill it wholly? Shall we refuse to about his Father's business? Reli- labour in that cause in which sucgious truths, although the most sub- cess is certain? for we have eternity lime and the most universal of all before us, and the promise of an alltruths, are, notwithstanding, so sim- powerful God. And even should ple, so bound up in the fate of every we fail of success, our very efforts individual, that they can be reached will constitute their own reward. by every understanding, and can It is a cause in which there should take possession of all hearts. They be no discouragement; for our weakalone can give to the soul that ar- ness and incapacity only furnish addour without agitation, and that ditional reasons to hope for the aid tranquil flame, which disturbs not and the pity of God our Saviourthe incorruptible purity of a meek of the God who came to save sinand quiet spirit, which is in the ners, that he might forgive all our sight of God of great price, accord- iniquities and heal all our infirmiing to the words of the Apostle. ties." SOUTH-SEA ISLANDS MISSIONS. IN our Number for October, we presented to our readers some interesting facts connected with the Sandwich-Islands Mission, chiefly in reply to the aspersions of the Quarterly Review. We propose now, with the assistance of the official defence of the missions by Mr. Orme, to lay before them some additional details well worthy of transcription, not confining ourselves to the Sandwich-Islands, but including the South-Sea Missions in general, all of which have been the subject of hostile attack.
The Quarterly Review had quoted Captain Beechey as saying, in reference to Otaheite, "This island is still the beautiful, fertile country it has ever been represented; but it is lamentable to observe the change that has taken place among the natives, who appear to have lost what good qualities they once possessed, and are become so intolerably lazy, that, should the bread-fruit, by any accident, fail them, a famine must ensue. Indeed, they have been very near it already; and nothing but the mountain-plan
tain, and a species of fern, saved them from the greatest distress. The cotton-grounds are over-run with weeds; the looms that have been sent out are thrown aside, and weaving discontinued. The king is a child; his mother a most dissolute woman; and the chiefs divided and jealous of each other. At Tobuai, the indolence of the natives since their conversion has been such, that, out of the whole population, but two hundred remain. It will scarcely be believed, that this mortality has been occasioned by their being too lazy to cook their food oftener than once a week; in consequence of which it becomes sour and unwholesome, and produces complaints of the stomach, which carry them off. Captain Beechey gives many other details of the same character; but admits that the missionaries are, on the other hand, entitled to every credit for having succeeded in abolishing human sacrifices and the prevailing crime of infanticide, which had proceeded to such an extent that the population of the island is not more than one
half of what it was when Cook first visited it."-To these charges Mr. Orme gives a most triumphant reply: "To what period in the history of these people does Captain Beechey refer, when he speaks of the good qualities which they once possessed,' but which they appear to have lost?' If his words mean any thing, they must refer to the state of their dispositions before they professed Christianity. Their good qualities then, as thieves and child murderers, and licentious in the highest degree, are too well known to require any proof to be adduced. That these things no longer exist is admitted; yet Captain Beechey could look at their smiling villages, and neat cottages, and lovely children, and European manners, and gravely tell the people of England that the natives have lost the good qualities they once possessed!
Again, the inhabitants are re presented as having 'become intolerably lazy.' Does Captain Beechey mean to say that they were formerly industrious and enterprizing? That in their savage state they cultivated their lands, and did not depend on their bread-fruit trees? Does he forget all at once that they have now houses instead of huts? That in place of a few rude vessels, they have now numerous culinary utensils, a variety of furniture, and working tools of all sorts? And that instead of being naked, or half naked, they are now decently and even respectably clothed?
"In the island of the Huahine, when the missionaries landed in 1819, there were not more than ten houses in the district of Fare, which were partly open and partly screened on the sides with cocoa-nut leaves. Now there is a good road, a number of quays, 400 plastered houses, a place of worship one hundred feet by sixty, and two school-houses. Many of the chiefs of the islands have large boats, between thirty and forty feet long, which the natives have learned to build. They have
besides been taught to burn lime to boil salt, to saw timber, to work iron at the forge, to make hats and bonnets, to turn wood, &c. &c. For all these things which could not exist without a measure of application and industry, they have been indebted to the instructions of the missionaries; and yet Captain Beechey would persuade us that Christianity has made the people intolerably lazy!
"To occasional famine or scarcity the natives have been always exposed. When the missionaries first arrived, the king told them, as the people were bringing a number of presents, not to expect that they would always be so plentifully supplied; for they sometimes had long and severe famines. The traditions of the islands state, that the people have often been obliged to eat the roots of a particular plant-nahe. It was a common proverb among them, when a scarcity continued long, This is indeed a man-eating famine.' In some of the islands the fern root has always been an article of food on such occasions. In every country which produces so luxuriantly and spontaneously as the SouthSea Islands, a considerable degree of indolence may be expected. With this, as well as many other difficulties, the missionaries have had to contend; and it is not so surprising that the effects of former habits and manners have not been entirely overcome, as that they have been subdued to the extent which has taken place.
"Captain Beechey refers to the cotton grounds, as overrun with weeds,' and to the looms, as thrown aside,' and to weaving, as discontinued.' Now who taught the natives to cultivate cotton? The missionaries. Who sent out the looms? The Missionary Society. Who instructed the people to weave? The missionary artizans. Yet would Captain Beechey insinuate, that the low state of the cotton manufactory is owing to the raissionaries. That difficulties have occurred in the