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sketch of some masterpiece of the pencil, and pretend thereby to afford a just representation of that original, in which every lineament gave grace and beauty, and every touch gave life. This, therefore, we shall not attempt. Our object in these remarks it to give some account of Dr. Chalmer's plan of procedure, which we think might be extensively adopted in meetings of a similar nature, with very considerable advantage.
Dr. Chalmers is, in the widest sense of the word,-a Philosopher; and philosophy is his companion wherever he goes. He has here succeeded in introducing her into a place, where, it must be confessed, she has but seldom appeared hitherto, and where her friends expected, least of all perhaps, to find her, the meeting of a Missionary Society. If we have been at all able to guess at the scope of Dr. Chalmers' general plan, from the few of these meetings we have had the pleasure of attending, he appears to us to have taken a most interesting view of missionary operations. He seems to regard the history of Christian enterprise among the heathen, as a wide field of observation, from whence we may gather, by induction, some very important truths in reference to the Christian religion. Accordingly, while interesting selections are read from the periodical accounts of different missionary societies, the inferences that may be legitimately drawn from the facts there recorded, are set forth by Dr. Chalmers in paragraphs of his own composition, occasionally interspersed with extemporaneous explanation. These serve to connect together the extracts that are read, and thus give to the whole, the air of a continuous and well arranged discourse, where some important doctrines are advanced, which are
proved as well as deeply impressed on the mind by an appeal to very striking historical illustration. Apparently from a desire to give a more distinct view of the different spheres of missionary labor, Dr. Chalmers seems to wish to confine his attention to the operations of one body of Christians at a time. At those meetings which we have had the opportunity of attending, during this and the preceding session, the facts which have formed the ground-work of Dr. Chalmers' observations have been gleaned, chiefly from the accounts of the Moravian missions. We have been informed that during the summer months, the Church Missionary Society, and the Baptist Missionary Society, have also shared his attention.
The facts connected with the Missions of the United Brethren, that Dr. Chalmers has brought forward, have given rise to some investigations concerning the great principles of our faith, which must prove interesting, not only to the supporters of missionary societies, but to every one who feels any concern in the cause of genuine Christianity. Some of these inquiries are so interesting, and lead to results of such paramount importance, that we shall refer a little more particularly to those facts which tend to their elucidation.
The United Brethren have been at once the most successful, and the most popular of all missionaries. And it may be interesting to examine a little more closely into these two characteristics of the Moravian missions. And, First,-as to their success.-What has been the cause of it? What are their views of divine truth? What has been the mode of their instruction? And in their discourses, what are the truths which they bring most prominently forward? It is well known that
on this very subject, there is a division of opinion among the teachers of Christianity in our own land. One would think that a careful examination of facts, might lead to a satisfactory determination of this question.
Some theologians are of opinion that a few of the leading truths of the Gospel, such as the atonement of Christ, and the other doctrines that are inseparably connected with it, should hold a most prominent place in their public instructions. Others, while they may admit that these truths are contained in the Scriptures, and as such are to be received by us as matters of faith, are yet of opinion that they are a little too mysterious for the common people, and assure us that they think themselves far more likely to promote the cause of religion and virtue, if, instead of chiming on a few theoretical dogmas, they attempt to enforce on the attention of their hearers, those divine precepts, which embody the principles of a morality the purest and most perfect that the world has ever known.
Now, on perusing the accounts of the Moravian Missions, we find that, on this very subject, a most interesting experiment has actually been made. These two systems of religious instruction have been successively brought to bear upon the same people, while their circumstances remained, the same, and therefore the experiment may be deemed a fair and decisive one. What renders the case still more interesting, is its great simplicity. There are no disturbing forces, so to speak, to confuse or embarrass our calculations in this highly important question of moral dynamics. The subjects of the experiment were savages in the very lowest state of degradation, and therefore
we have no allowance to make for any state of preparation that might result from previous knowledge. If it appear from the facts to which we shall refer, that the declaration of those doctrines generally deemed too abstract to produce any practical effect on the popular mind; the doctrines, viz: Of the total depravity of all mankind,-of the vicarious suffering of the Son of God,-of justification through belief in his atonement, and sanctification through the emission of the Holy Spirit;-if it appear that the simple declaration of these truths has wrought efficiently to the moral and economic renovation of the most ignorant, and the most barbarous of the human species; then it follows a fortiori that these are the doctrines which when preached in our own country, are most likely to prove effectual in producing uprightness, sobriety, and godliness throughout our own enlightened community.
To come then to the facts. The scene of the experiment was the inhospitable region of Greenland; and the moral and intellectual condition of the inhabitants was even more barren and dreary than the scenery with which they were surrounded. Here the only plausible system of instruction seemed to be to attempt to teach the savages those truths which are of a preliminary nature. Accordingly, the missionaries set to work most assiduously, in telling the Greenlanders of the being and character of a God, and of the requirements of his law. However plausible this mode of instruction may appear, it was patiently continued in for seven years, without producing even the smallest effect on those hearts which ignorance and stupidity had rendered almost inaccessible. The first conversion, (as far as man was concern
ed,) may be said to have been accidental. Southlanders happened to visit the brethren, as one of them was writing a translation of the gospels. They were curious to know what was in the book, and on hearing read the history of Christ's agony in the garden, one of the savages earnestly exclaimed, "How was that? Tell me it once more; for I also would fain be saved." But it would be foreign to our purpose to enter into a minute detail of facts. We refer those who may wish to inquire more particularly into this most interesting passage of ecclesiastical history, to the original accounts, which may be found in the library of the University Missionary Society.Suffice it to say, that sometime after this remarkable conversion, the brethren entirely changed their method of instruction. "They now directed the attention of the savages, in the first instance, to Christ Jesus, to his incarnation, to his life, and especially to his sufferings." This was the beginning of a new era in the history of the evangelization of Greenland. Conversion followed conversion, till the missionaries could number hundreds to whom the message of God had come, not in word only, but also in power. There is still one objection that may be made to the inference drawn from these facts, and one which at first sight appears very plausible. It may be asked, How do we know how far the first mode of instruction employed by the missionaries, although it produced no immediate benefit, may not have prepared the minds of savages, for receiving with intelligence the truths that were afterward declared to them?
* See Brown's History of Missions, vol. i. p. 294–298. Crantz's History of Greenland.
+ See Brown's History of Missions.