Imatges de pÓgina
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DISSERTATION IV.

FOREIGN MISSIONS.

"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”—This command of the risen Saviour was addressed to his disciples, eighteen centuries ago. Upon looking at it, the inquiry naturally arises, how far has this command been obeyed ? An answer to this inquiry may be given by ascertaining what portions of the human race are still unevangelized, and what parts of the globe are inhabited by those who have not as yet embraced the gospel of Christ. This therefore, with some motives to obey the Saviour's command, is what will be attempted in this dissertation.

Pagans are unevangelized. This will appear from a consideration of their religion, which is at a vast remove from Christianity. They pay divine homage to idols, or false gods. Those of this faith worship the sun, moon, and stars, fire, water, stocks, and stones; beasts, insects, reptiles, and even plants and herbs. In India alone, it is said there are three hundred and thirty millions of idol gods. In their religious rites, ceremonies, and observances, the heathen are most horribly stupid, debased, obscene and bloody. Their religion is a yoke of cruel and wicked bondage. The most unnatural, atrocious, and barbarous practices prevail among them. In Hindoostan, China, the Pagan Islands of Polynesia, and in some of the

tribes of the North American Indians, it is lawful to destroy infants. In some nations, parents and dear friends, when they become sick or infirm, are exposed or slain. Some of the tribes in Africa and South America, as also the inhabitants of New Zealand, feed on human fesh. Thousands and thousands in India annually commit suicide, as a religious act, by drowning themselves, or burning themselves on funeral piles; by prostrating themselves under the wheels on which their idol gods are borne, or by yielding to the most agonizing tortures. Dr. Ward calculates that five thousand widows are burnt annually in Hindoosian. Females generally are doomed to the most contemptuous degradation and servility. In the language of the apostle, the heathen" are without Christ, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world." Pagan lands are emphatically dark places of the earth, full of the habitations of cruelty. They embrace the greatest part of Asia, the interior of Africa, the wilds of North and South America, and most of the islands of the

Four hundred and fifty millions of the human race are thus shrouded in moral darkness, in all its varied and horrid

appearances. Among those who are unevangelized may be reckoned Mohammedans. Their religion was framed and taught by Mohammed, the Arabian impostor, and is a mixture of Paganism, Judaism, and Christianity. Its principal characteristics are sensual indulgence, strict adherence to rites and ceremonies, and a malevolent spirit towards those of a different faith. It is absurd and superstitious; grossly indecent, and immoral. The highest reward it pretends to conser on its votaries, is a sensual paradise, where the base passions and appetites of man are gratified.. This religion so dark, delusive and wicked, has been propagated

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by the sword, and embraced by multitudes, crowding their way, generation after generation, down to the gates of eternal death. It prevails principally in Turkey in Europe, in Palestine, Persia, Arabia, Syria, Mesopotamia, Independent Tartary, Afghanistan in Asia, in Egypt, the Barbary Sates, and we interior nations as far south as the Niger in Africa. The number of Mohammedans is computed at about one hundred and thirty millions.

The Jews, too, are in an unevangelized state. This will appear from a view of their faith, or the religion they embrace.

They believe in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, as inspired truth, and in a Messiah yet to come, who shall be to them a temporal prince and deliverer, and who shall ultimately rule king of all nations. The Jews entirely reject the New Testament, with the Saviour it reveals, and depend for salvation on their own works of righteousness. They embrace, for the most part, the literal meaning of the Scriptures of the Old Testament, and consequently discard their spiritual import. Hence their religion, or, in other words, Judaism, in its present state, is chiefly external; and probably it is but little more conducive to salvation than the religion of the Koran of the Mohammedans, or of the Vedas of the Hindoos. As to country, they are scattered to the four winds of heaven, dwell alone, and are not reckoned among the nations. They are computed by some, to be about eight millions in number. .

The Greek and Latin.churches should be associated as anti-Christian, with Pagans, Mohammedans and Jews. In faith and practice, they are, in general, opposed to the gospel of Christ. The Greek church, so called, because at first embraced within the limits of the Greek division of the Roman Empire, and because its proceedings and forms of worship have been generally in the Greek language,

has numerous rites and ceremonies, many of which are burdensome, ridiculous, and shocking. This denomination of Christians, generally speaking, are in a state of gros ignorace, as it respects the doctrives and duties of religion. They practice the invocation of saints, kneeling and burning incense before pictures and relics, confession of sins to the priest, that they may obtain bis absolution, and the offering of prayers for the dead. They believe, too, in transubstantiation, or the conversion of bread and wine into the real body and blood of Christ, in the holy chrism or anointing, and in tonsure or cuiting the hair of children in the form of the cross at their baptisms. Though Christian in name, they possess but little of the spirit and form of christianity, and in this respect, are not at a great remove from heaibenism. The Greek Church is spread over a greater extent of country, than that of any other church, and exists principally in Eastern Europe and Africa, and Western Asia. About seventy millions of souls are included witbin the pale of this church, a great part of whom are subject to the jurisdiction of the Patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem.

The Latin Church, so denominated, because at first it was chiefly restricted to the ancient Latins, and because its liturgies and public transactions are in the Latin language, is in a much worse moral condition than the Greek church. Gross darkness covers the people, far more inexcusable, and almost as great as that which pervades Pagan and Mohammedan countries. All of this church, usually called Catholics, or the Roman Catholics, acknowledge the supremacy of the Pope, and the infallibility of his decisions in faith and practice. Though termed in Scripture the beast, that ascended out of the bottomless pit, and the man of sin, and the son of perdition, yet he

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claims to himself, and has ascribed to him by his subjects, the blasphemous titles, “ His Holiness," " Infallibility,"

Sovereign of kings and kingdoms," " Christ's vicegerent on earth,” yea, “God upon earth.” The people are not allowed to read, or possess the Bible. Prayers are offered in an unknown longue. They believe that their priest can pardon sins, * and of course, bold to auricular confession, and to absolution. They believe that the bread and wine in the Lord's supper, are converted ivto the real body and blood of Christ, and therefore worship ibelements in the partaking of the Eucharist. They pray 10 the Virgin Mary, and the canonized saints, and observe a vast variety of senseless, pompous, and superstitious rites. They pay great respect to the traditions, inventions, and doctrines of men, the legends and fictions of saints, and lay much, stress on masses, penances, and pilgrimages, all which are desilute of the lise and power of true godliness.f Tle Roman Catholic religion obtains pri icipally in Italy, France, Bavaria, Austria, Sardinia, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, Mexico or New Spain, the Canadas and South America. The number who embrace it is about eighty millions.

Such as have been described, are the religions of Pagans, Mohammedans, and Jews, and of the Greek and Latin churches; and such is the melancholy and awful condition of perhaps twelve thirteenths of the world's population.- Take now of the earth, and suivey the extent of its unevangelized portions, and number the missionaries who have gone forth in obedience to the cominand of the risen Saviour to preach the gospel to every creature. A sketch may be taken from Gordon Hall's affecting appeal to the American churches, written at Bombay, in 1826, only six weeks before his death. Appendix D a.

† Appendix D b.

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