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pour into his perturbed spirit the full consolations of that hope which the word of God authorizes him to cherish. It is im. possible that a minister should pay all that attention to the sick, which they expect, and have a right to expect, from Christians. He is often sent for to pray and converse with an impenitent sinner who appears to be dropping into the grave, when a previous engagement of some indispensable duty may prevent him. He longs to make an effort to save the soul of a dying fellow being by administering to him the truths of the Gospel, but his most ardent and benevolent wishes are in vain. He cannot go. If, in such a case, he can direct the messenger to some member of his church, who is both qualified and willing to undertake so trying but interesting a duty, how is his swelling, anxious heart relieved. A soul too might be saved by the timely instrumentality of a faithful child of God. vate Christians to qualify themselves, and faithfully engage in this important duty, how many stars might they add to the crown of their Redeemer. Though the hope which rests upon death-bed repentance wants the brightness and assurance of one whose genuineness has been tested by a pious life, we yet believe that many a sinner, like the thief on the cross, has found mercy and acceptance in the last hour.
6. It is an important and unquestionable duty of laymen to establish themselves in business in places where they may do most for the cause of religion. They should ascertain where their religious efforts are most needed and would most be felt. Every follower of Christ must enter his vineyard with a disposition and zeal to labor for bim. No calling or profession in life can exempt a Christian from the obligation to live for Christ. The merchant, the mechanic, and the husbandman, are as much bound to consecrate their talents and influence to the cause of truth and holiness, as the regular minister of the Gospel. They will as assuredly be called to give an account of their stewardship. If, through inattention to the extent of their religious obligations, when selecting a place of residence and business, they seek their own and not the things that are Christ's ; if, when forming their plans of life, they have no special regard to the claims which God and their fellow men have on them, they incur the guilt of wilful, actual transgression. They violate the whole of that law which requires them to love God with all their heart, and their neighbor as themselves. They appropriate to their own selfish purposes the talents that were given them for the service of their Redeemer.
It is too generally taken for granted that ministers alone are to have respect to their usefulness, in choosing a place of labor. Christians in the other walks of life acknowledge their obligation to be actively devoted to the cause of religion; but where, in what part of the country or the world, they can do most good, they seldom inquire. They do not even cast their eyes over the broad extent of the field before them. They are satisfied with performing the duties appertaining to the place and occupation, which worldly interest may have led them to fix upon; and do not regard the high and imperious duty of choosing a vantage ground of religious effort, from which they might exert a more commanding influence. But what would these same Christians say of a band of soldiers, that, when the enemy was thick around them, and their country needed all their strength and valor, should deem it enough merely to fight bravely, without any regard to their position. The skill and patriotism of a general may be as correctly inferred, from the point he selects for action, as from his adroitness and intrepidity in the heat of the conflict.
In whatever point of view we contemplate the character of our Pilgrim fathers, we behold in it much to respect and admire. Their native energy, their fortitude. their contempt of the world, and their confidence in God, fill us with wonder and veneration. But nothing gives to their name so great a sanctity, in the estimation of the devoted Christian, as the fact, that they were actuated in no small degree, by religious motives and a missionary spirit in coming to this country. They came, not as exiles only from Europe, but as heralds of salvation to America. The ignorance and savage condition of the multitudes that were then spread over this wide and wilderness continent, touched their religious sensibilities and moved them to cross the Atlantic, for the sake of doing good. In their own language, they had "an inward zeal and great hope of propagating the religion of Jesus to the remote ends of the world." They considered themselves as ambassadors of Christ to the poor Indians. They come in obedience to the divine command, “go teach all nations."
While multitudes of benevolent and devoted laymen have cɔntributed freely of their worldly substance to foreign and domestic missionary societies, and have long and fervently prayed, that the Lord would send forth more laborers into his harvest, there have been comparatively few among them, who have felt it to be a personal duty to become missionaries themselves. The work of evangelizing the heathen, has been regarded as belonging exclusively to ministers of the Gospel. They have been considered, not only as the principal, but almost the only persons, whom duty calls to leave home for the service of Chrisi.
But it is evident from the nature of the case, and experience has demonstrated it, that the influence and labors of pious laymen cannot be dispensed with. The missionary needs their presence and co-operation on the spot. There is a part of the work, which they alone can perform. The preacher may teach the principles of religion and enforce its duties, both in public and in private; he may lay down rules by which all men should be governed in their dealings and intercourse with each other ; he may explain the principles upon which trade should be conducted, and inculcate the duty of ever doing to others as we would have others, in like circumstances, do to us ; but he cannot exemplify, in his own conduct, the practical influence of Christianity upon the social condition and business transactions of life ;-at least, not to any considerable extent. The nature of his profession prevents it. He must give himself to his ministry. He has little opportunity of carrying out his religion, in all the complicated concerns of life, because his duties confine him, for the most part, to one particular mode of action. In this respect therefore, the layman has an advantage which he ought to improve.
The power of example is great every where; but nowhere greater than among an unlettered heathen people. In proportion as they are destitute of fixed principles of action, and uninstructed in the science of morals, their feelings and conduct will be controlled by the conduct of others. They cannot be made to understand the nature and importance of true religion, any farther than they witness its power over the actions and outward conduct of men. It is from the effect, that they must be taught the existence and nature of the cause.
From what has been said, we may see the importance of lay influence at and around missionary stations in foreign lands. It is absolutely essential to the practical exhibition of the power of religion. It is this alone, that can fully show to the heathen the excellence of Christianity above Paganism. This will throw the strong light of the Gospel upon the ghastly features of Idolatry, and exhibit in startling contrast the lovely fruits of true religion on the one hand, and the revolting abominations of heathenism on the other. ChrisTIAN EXAMPLE is an instrument by which nations the most fierce and intractable, may be moulded into the image of gentleness and docility. It is the lever by which mountains of prejudice may be removed, that now so greatly impede the progress of divine truth among the nations to which missionaries have been sent.
Now is it not plainly the duty of pious laymen to have a strict reference to their usefulness as Christians, in all their plans and purposes for settlement and business in life ? Ought they not to be willing to go to whatever part of their country or the world may open to them in their appropriate department of religious action, the widest and most promising field of Christian exertion ? Ought they to shrink from the hardships and self-denials incident to a residence in heathen lands, when they may there become co-workers with the regular missionaries of Christ
, in supplanting the standard of Idolatry, and erecting the standard of the cross? We hope the time will soon come, when every pious, enterprizing young man, who shall be seeking a place in which to commence business for himself, will make it a question of conscience and of duty, whither he shall go. It is not right, it is not Christian, to regard it merely as a question of self-interest.
We cannot doubt that there are hundreds of places in the vicinity of missionary stations, which would afford great facilities for lucrative business, as well as for the exertion of religious influence. Men of the world, who hate religion, tear themselves away from friends and country, and take up their abode among savages. For filthy lucre's sake, they subject themselves to toils, perils, privations, and sufferings, and not unfrequently, by diligence and perseverance, acquire a fortune, with which they return in joy to their native land. Why should the Christian be less resolute and enterprizing in business, than the man of the world? He need not expect greater hardships, or be less confident of success. The one is impelled by narrow and selfish motives—the other should go forth for benevolent and pious ends. The one has no assurance that God will bless him —the other knows that his heavenly Father will watch over all his interests. The one leaves all his friends behind the other will be constantly attended and supported by a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
We cannot contemplate the subject of Christian missions, either as it regards foreign lands, or the newly settled portions of the United States, without a firm conviction that a greater number of private Christians, and particularly of business men, ought to give themselves personally and directly to the missionary service. Their example in the multifarious concerns of active life, is the most perfect medium through which the excellence of religion may be seen, and its power felt. Their influence, like the air we breathe, readily diffuses itself through the corruptest masses of savage society, and thus prepares the way for the direct and effectual application of Gospel truth to the hearts and consciences of the vilest idolaters.
Besides, one great obstacle to the progress of the Gospel in the islands of the Pacific and other heathen lands, has been the dishonesty and vicious character of fortune-seekers, who have hitherto monopolized the trade of many tribes to which missionaries have been sent. These agents have always been found hot and fierce enemies to the Gospel. They dread its light. They know that the diffusion of its holy principles, will bring their craft to nought. They therefore oppose every effort of the missionary. They calumniate his character, misrepresent his motives, fill the minds of the natives with the bitterest prejudices, excite their fears and suspicions, and rally all the superstition and hellish malignity, with which the Prince of darkness can inspire an idolatrous people, in order to prevent the ignorant from being enlightened, and the wicked from being reclaimed. In many cases, they have had the fiendlike satisfaction of seeing the chariot of the Lord delayed by their exertions. They have gloried in their own strength, and exulted at the tears and heart-achings of the faithful servant of Christ, until God has either put them out of the way, or rendered their efforts powerless.
If these enemies of all good could be forestalled or supplanted by devoted Christians of business talents and habits, a powerful hindrance to the spread of the Gospel would be removed, and a great advantage gained to the cause of Christ. The way of truth would be cleared of one important obstacle. Missionaries, on their arrival at their fields of labor, would then find Christian love and kindness, where they now meet nothing but hatred and ferocity. They might obtain friendly counsel and assistance, where now they must guard against malignant device and open opposition.
Among the Indian tribes of our own country, the progress of Christianity has been greatly impeded by the efforts of ungodly white men. Many who have styled themselves “traders," have lived by defrauding and plundering the ignorant and unsuspecting red-man. They have uniformly opposed every benevolent exertion which the Christian or philanthropist has made in his behalf. They have occupied posts which honest and religious men ought to have possessed, and enjoyed facilities for business, from which an enterprizing and pious layman might have acquired a large estate.
In conclusion, we would suggest for the consideration of our readers, whether the times and present condition of the world do not demand, that pious laymen should survey the world, with a view to ascertaining where they can do most for Christ. Their talents, habits, and circumstances should be taken into account; but with a due regard to these, ought they