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A Sermon preached at Northampton, before the Hampshire Missionary Society, at their annual Meeting, August 27, 1807, by Rev. Samuel Taggart, A. M. Pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Colrain.
THE preacher has chosen, for his text, these words, in Daniel xii. 4. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be in
After some pertinent introductory remarks, he proposes to notice, I. Some particulars in which the spread of the gospel effects an increase of knowledge. II. Some periods remarkable for such an increase. III. means of this increase. IV. The improvement.
knowledge. Among these the apostolic age, the time of the reformation from popery, and the close of the last, with the beginning of this century, have been distinguished. Here the preacher observes :
"The zeal for sending missionaries into different quarters of the globe, which has of late been unparalleled, could not be excited without the special interposition of Providence. Christians on both sides the Atlantic seem animated with the same spirit. Not only Europe, but many parts of Asia and Africa and of the wilds of A
merica, as well as the newly discovered Islands of the South Sea, have been illuminated with some rays from the Sun of righteousness. Many, animated with an ardent zeal for the gloThey of God, and the welfare of their fellow men, have renounced the conveniences of civilized life, and encountered the dangers of the seas and inhospitable climes, to proclaim period has the world witnessed such the glad tidings of salvation. In no a rage for travelling and making discoveries, as of late. Our enterprising navigators have been preparing the way for the progress of the Lord's work. And besides missions to the heathens, those which have been planned to our own back settlements, have been productive of much good. Churches have been established, and gospel ordinances are now regularly enjoyed in many places, where, had not missionaries been employed, the people would have been as sheep scattered on the mountains."
Under the first head he observes, that the gospel, by opening the human mind, contributes to the increase of knowledge in general; but as his text relates to religious knowledge, to this he means to confine himself. He shows, that as all true knowledge of God and religion is derived from revelation, so, in this kind of knowledge, the Jews, by means of the revelation given to them, far excelled all other nations. But the gospel far surpasses that, both in the extent and the clearness of its light. Among the doctrines elucidated by the gospel, he particularly mentions those which relate to the character and offices of Christ, the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, the nature of the atonement, and the way in which sinners find acceptance with God.
Under the second head he mentions several periods, as remarkable for the increase of
From hence the preacher looks forward to a more remarkable period foretold in scripture, when "the knowledge of God shall cover the earth, as the waters do the seas."
The third head contemplates the means, by which the gospel is spread and religious know. ledge increased. We here find the following pertinent and judicious observations.
"God, if he saw fit, could effect the spread of religious knowledge,
and enlarge his spiritual kingdom without any such institution as the gospel ministry."-"Yet it is certain, that this institution, in which ministers have a commission to publish the glad tidings of salvation to every creature, is a mean admirably calculated to diffuse religious knowledge among all the varieties of the human race.""It is true the gospel itself, however well adapted to obtain its end, will not be effectual, unless accompanied with the special operations of the Holy Spirit; nevertheless, as it is God's own institution, so it is one which he delights to own and bless."-"When our Lord, in the time of his personal ministry, sent forth his disciples, they were subjected to some restrictions. They were not to go in the way of the Gentiles; but only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. When he gave his apostles their commission, after his resurrection he removed this restriction, and directed them to preach the gospel to every creature. And we do not find, that any remarkable extension of the Christian church, or any considerable increase of knowledge ever took place, without the intervention of a gospel ministry."-" With the labours of missionaries various dispensations of providence have concurred to effect an increase of knowledge. Even such providences, as were, at the time, peculiarly afflictive and distressing to the church, have been so overruled, as to contribute to its increase and enlargement."—" As a gospel ministry has been the constant means, which Providence has used for diffusing Christian knowledge, at the first establishment, and at every subsequent enlargement of the church, so, whenever the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, it will be effected by the same means. How extensive is the
field for running to and fro! Pagan idolatry and Mahometan delusion hold, at least, three fourths of the world in the shackles of ignorance and false worship. If from what remains we deduct such parts as are covered with the darkness of antichristian superstition, with the mists of ignorance, and with the gloom of infidelity and immorality, we shall find but a small part thoroughly enlightened by the Sun of righteousness.
How many parts of those nations called Christian, are but scantily furnished with the means of instruction? For the illustration of this remark, we need go no farther than our own country. In how many places may persons travel to a considerable distance, and scarcely meet with a single indication of their being in a Christian country! We need not leave, the bounds of the United States to find room to run for the purpose of diffus. ing Christian knowledge. If ever the world is to be enlightened by the gospel, an event of which we cannot doubt, it will be accomplished by an increasing zeal for the spread of the gospel, while a double portion of the Spirit accompanies the labours of the pious and benevolent."-"They, who undertake, or encourage others, to travel abroad for the purpose of preaching the gospel, should keep in view the true intent of such missions. They, who travel, must aim to diffuse the knowledge of the truth, to plant churches, and build them up in peace, order and purity. They are to select, as the principal theatre of their labours, not places where the means of grace and instruction are regularly enjoyed, but places which are in a great measure destitute of these means. Otherwise they will divide and scatter, rather than edify and enlarge the church of Christ."
From his subject the preacher makes several important inferences. He particularly infers, the excellency and glory of the gospel of Christ; and the sin and danger of despising it. He also infers the reason Christians have to rejoice, when the true interest of the gospel is promoted. Here he observes as follows:
"Notwithstanding the dark symptoms arising from the prevalence of infidelity and immorality, the person, who has at heart the interest of Zion, may find some ground for rejoicing at the present day. Though the enjoyment of gospel ordinances is far from being commensurate with the extent of our settlements, or with what it might be, were our exertions equal to the magnitude of the object, yet we have reason to bless God, that
in some parts of our country, the privilege of gospel institutions is extending with considerable rapidity. And of this extension missionary labours have, in many instances, been the means. And in many places, there have been comfortable seasons of the outpourings of God's Spirit. From the frequency and extent of these seasons, we have reason to believe, that the number of real Christians in the world has gradually been on the increase. Our religious publications furnish us with favourable accounts from some places among the heath
He further infers, that "the true end of missionary labours is to extend and increase the doctrinal and practical knowledge of gospel truth." And that "we ought to do all in our power to render the spread of the gospel universal." "In the prosecution of this work," he observes, "opposition is to be expected. Besides undisguised opposers, many, without throwing off the mask of friendship, will endeavour to discourage every attempt by magnifying difficulties. Some will excuse themselves and hinder others, by pleading, that the time is not come. Others, to rid themselves of the business altogether, will tell us, It is the Lord's work, and he will do it in his own way. But had such objections operated in the apostles' days, the gospel would never have been published, nor the Christian religion established. We cannot pretend to know or fix the time, when the gospel will have a universal spread. Our business is not so much to pry into
futurity, as to pursue the path of present duty; and this is marked by a variety of concurrent circumstances. Now is the time when we are called to work for the Lord. We may work, without fear of intruding on the duties of future generations. The work of spreading the gospel belongs to many; and there are few but may contribute their mite in some way or other. They, who cannot aid it by their labour or substance, may help it forward by their prayers. How happy and glorious will be the day, when genuine religion in its purity shall have a universal spread; when light and truth, knowledge and holiness shall expel ignorance and vice; when men shall see eye to eye, and shall know, as they are known. Such a glorious day will be effected by the gospel, when the Lord shall arise to have mercy on Zion: for such an event no doubt Providence is preparing the way, although it may be in a manner unseen by mortal men. May the Lord hasten it in his time."
The preacher has discovered great judgment in the choice, division and execution of his subject. His arguments are forcible, his style, in the main, pure and correct. The sermon will be ap proved by the friends of missionary labours.
We recommend it
to perusal, and hope it will have a good effect in promoting the cause of religion in general, and particularly the object, which the preacher had more immediately in view.
An Account of the origin and progress of the mission to the Cherokee Indians, in a series of Letters from the Rev. Gideon Blackburn to the Rev. Dr. Morse.
Maryville, Dec. 14, 1807.
IN my last I stated the order of the school for each day. In this order
we proceeded without much deviation until the July of 1805, the school consisting of from 25 to 35 scholars. About that period the United States
had authorised a treaty to be made with that nation, and appointed the place on the Highwassee river, nearly twelve miles by land below the site of my school house, 46 from S. W. Point, 20 above the mouth of the river, and 45 from Tellico blockhouse.
At this place was an assemblage of the principal chiefs of the nation, with many of the common people; and between two and three hundred white people, among whom were Gen. Smith and Col. Meigs, commissioners for the United States, and Gov. Sevier, commissioner for the state of Tennessee. There I attended with my school, consisting then of 25 scholars. Our passage to the place was indeed romantic. Figure to yourself 25 little savages of the forest, all seated in a large canoe, the teacher at one end, and myself at the other, steering our course down the stream, a distance by water of nearly 20 miles. To see the little creatures sitting neatly dressed in homespun cotton, presented them by the females of my white congregation, their hearts beating with the anticipation of their expected examination, frequently reviewing their lessons in order to be ready; then joining in anthems of praise to the Redeemer, making the adjoining hills and groves resound with the adored name of JESUS-what heart could have remained unmoved!
On the 4th of July we arrived at the place of treaty. This was according to previous agreement, in order to give a toast of civilization, on the ever memorable day of American independence. The place of treaty was a large bower in the midst of a delightful grove, where the school was introduced, marching in procession between the open ranks of white and red spectators. Each scholar read such a portion, as was requested.
The diferent classes then spelled a number of words without the book. Specimens of their writing and cyphering were shown, and the exhibition closed by the children singing, with a clear and distinct voice, a hymn or two, committed to memory. The scene was very impressive. Few of the spectators were unmoved, and many shed tears plentifully. The Governor, a hardy veteran, who had often Vol. III. No. 9.
braved the dangers of war in the same
Having had the pleasure of your company several days at a treaty with the Cherokees on the Highwassec river, and having also had the pleasure of being present at the exhibition of the Indian children in their several lessons of spelling and reading, and having also seen sundry specimens of writing done by some of those children, whose education you superintend, we cannot do justice to our sentiments on the occasion, without expressing to you the satisfaction we enjoyed, and still enjoy, in contemplating the progress the Cherokees are making toward a state of civilization and refinement, in exchange for the state of barbarism, in which their ancestors had long been plunged. We sincerely wish you may be able to persevere in so laudable a pursuit, until you see it crowned with the desired success. We are, with sentiments of esteem, your obedient servants,
DANIEL SMITH, RETURN I. MEIGS. Highwassee River, July 13, 1805.
The effect of this exhibition was such on the red people, that they instantly requested a second establishment in the lower district of the nation. On this head I had no instructions from the committee of missions, and no appropriations for its support. My own private property was insufficient to bear the whole cost, and the necessity of extending the plan was difficulties I resolved on the meaapparent. Notwithstanding all these sure, and trusted for aid in the discharge of evident duty from sources