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And it will probably appear to you, in tlie progress of this Discourse, that you ought to adopt more effectual measures for this purpose, than have hitherto been employed. For it is manifest, that a new era in the Church hath arrived. You are therefore required to use new means.
I. IF YOU WOULD BE INSTRUMENTS OF THE LIGHT TO THE WORLD, YOU WILL DRAW IT FROM CHRIST, AND SEND FORTH PREACHERS BEARING THE CHARACTER WHICH HE HATII DELINEATED..
They must be men into whose hearts the true light hath shined ; such preachers as our own Church approves ; who “ trust that they
are moved to the work by the Holy Ghost." And, with regard to their outward deportment, they must be men whose dispositions accord with those which are described in the Sermon ' on the Mount; such as the Hindoo Chris
tians call “ Men of the Beatitudes :" that is their proper character; and there are more persons of that description in Great Britain at this day, than there were in Judea, in the time of our Saviour. This is sufficiently evident from the Evangelic History. You ought to be at no loss, then, to find fit Instruments of the Light.
But, in regard to such instruments, there are two important subjects of inquiry at this pe, riod of the Church :-first, What degree of
Learning they ought to possess; and, secondly, Whether they ought to be invested with the Sacred Character before they proceed on their mission.
1. Our first inquiry respects the DEGREE OF LEARNING, which Christian Missionaries ought to possess.
The preachers, whom our Saviour sent forth, were men of humble condition, and destitute of human learning. This was ordained, that the divine power of his Gospel might be made manifest, by the apparently inadequate means employed in its promulgation. All learning, however, of whatever kind, which was necessary for their ministry, was imparted to them supernaturally.
But the Apostle Paul-the “ chosen vessel” -who was ordained to preach to the Gentiles, was not destitute of human learning, naturally acquired. And we are taught by his Epistles, that we may avail ourselves of every human aid to dispense the blessings of the Gospel; such as rank, wealth, eloquence, and learning. For all these are blessings of God; and are means of persuading men, as much as speech itself. Has it ever been imagined, that a man could preach the Gospel without the gift of speech, by signs alone ? All these human aids, I say, are valuable gifts of God; and only x. cease to be blessings by the abuse of them. It
is true, that the Gospel may be preached with great energy by Ministers possessing inconsiderable attainments in literature. It sometimes happens, that the most successful ministrations are conducted by men of rate acquirements. And, indeed, the charac. ter of the Gospel seems to require, that, in most cases (where the true doctrine is preach. ed) it should give more honour to zeal and diligence than to genius and learning. But it is also true, that God is pleased to make himself known by the use of MEANS. And, when these ineans are used in subordination to his grace, he will HONOUR the means. This has been the experience of every eminent preacher of the Gospel, in the history of Christianity, from the time of the Apostle Paul, down to the pious, the eloquent, and the honoured Pastor, who so long and so successfully ministered in this church. * It is expedient, then, that those who
forth as preachers to the Gentiles at this day, should, like the first great preacher, have a competent degree of knowledge; that they may be able to meet the arguments of the more learned among the Heathen.
I have sometimes been ashamed to see the Christian Missionary put to silence by the in
* The Rev. William Romaine.
telligent Brahmin, in some point relating to the history of Eastern nations, or to the present state of mankind. I have felt anxious for the credit of Christianity, if I may so speak, on such occasions : for the argument from fact, and from the existing state of the world, is strong ground; both for the Christian and his adversary, in all discussions relating to a revelation from God. This is well illustrated in the history of St. Paul, who disputed with the learned at Athens on their own principles; and quoted their poets in defence of the Gospel.
Let us then honour human learning. Every branch of knowledge which a good man possesses, he may apply to some good purpose. If he possessed the knowledge of an archangel, he might employ it all to the advantage of men, and the glory of God.
Some portion of learning, is, therefore, indispensible to insure even a tolerable degree of success, in preaching to the Heathen World. But let us rightly understand what the nature of this learning is. It is not an acquaintance with mathematical or classical literature that is required. The chief use of natural science to a preacher, is, to illustrate spiritual subjects : but if other men be not acquainted with the scientific facts which he adduces, these facts no longer serve as illustrations to them. Neither is a knowledgg of the classics requi
site : for those Missionaries, indeed, who are to translate the Scriptures, a knowledge of the original languages is indispensable ; but for Missionaries in general, who preach to unci. vilized nations, classical erudition is not necessary.
The proper learning of the Christian Preacher, who goes forth to the Gentiles, is an accurate knowledge of the Bible, and a general knowledge of the history of the world. It was reported to me, as a saying of the venerable Swartz, that the foundation of extensive usefulness among the Heathen is “ a knowledge “ of the Scriptures in the vernacular language, 15 and an acquaintance with the history of na“ tions in any language.” This seems to be the testimony of truth. The History of the World illustrates the word of God; and the Book of Providence, when piously studied, becomes a commentary on the book of Revelation. But if the preacher be ignorant of the great events of the world, the “ word of s prophecy” is in a manner lost in his ministry; particularly in relation to the revolutions in Eastern Nations : for, in this respect, the East has an importance greater than that of the West; for the East is the country of the first generations of men.
To conclude this part of our subject. The Missionaries of this day find by experience the