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ernor of Bithynia a far-distant eastern province of the empire, testifies that the Christians “ of all ages and ranks of both sexes,” were so numerous that for a long time the heathen temples had been almost deserted, and the beasts brought to market for sacrifices to the gods found no purchasers! What an amount of missionary work must have been done in those early days to have produced such an abundant harvest of converts — enemies and persecutors being witnesses.
The Christian fathers of the first centuries tell the same story. Justin Martyr, forty years from the death of John, says, “there was no part of mankind, whether Greeks or barbarians, where there were not some Christians." Tertullian, who is supposed to have died about A. D. 220, affirms that the Gospel had been preached to all nations known to the Romans, and to many whom they had not reached in their career of conquest.
Beside the well-known provinces and peoples of Europe and Asia, he mentions Parthia, Scythia, Media, Mauritania, Egypt, the regions in Africa held by the native tribes as well as those occupied by the Romans; and many other countries and islands without names all these, he says, had heard the Word, and though unsubdued by the Romans, had submitted to Christ.
At a later period, when pagan doctrines began to make their way into the creeds, and dissensions and corruptions and parties sprang up among the believers, and the church passed into the dark ages, the missionary spirit died out, and clergy and people were given over to ignorance, corruption and selfishness.
In the age of the Reformation, and for a good while subsequently, the Protestants were too much occupied in maintaining their independence in Europe, and in dealing with the various qnestions and abuses which grew out of their sudden freedom, to think of sending out foreign missions to convert the heathen of Asia or Africa.
On the other hand, the Catholic society of Jesuits took up the missionary work in pagan lands with an earnestness and fiery zeal which astonished the world. The successes of Xavier in the Portuguese colonies of India, the rapid growth of their missions in China and Japan, as well as the multitude of their converts in Central and North America, in California and on the Pacific coast, were a wonder to themselves. But greater than all were the triumphs of these zealous and able soldiers of the papal church in Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and the Philippine Islands, where the work they wrought in
civilizing and converting the natives was so beneficient as to win even the praises of their enemies. And certainly it is only just to say that the records of Christian missions have nothing this side of the first and second centuries that surpasses or equals the self-sacrifice and courage of these Jesuits, or the cheerful readiness with which they met exposures, dangers, cruel tortures, and death, in their intense zeal for the conversion of the heathen. And to-day they are engaged in the same work, scattered all over the earth, equally zealous, and as ready as ever to encounter peril and suffering in their endeavors to extend the dominion of their church.
But now, we are rejoiced to say, fast on the track of these, and in advance of them in many places, come the Protestant missions, which have developed during the present century into such wonderful strength, and zeal, and liberality, and obedience to the Saviour's command, “ Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.” The book whose title is given above aims to tell the story of these missions, to contrast the small beginnings, and long and weary waitings for results, with the recent suilden and surprising harvest of converts ; and to show that they who long ago went out to sow the seed in tears, are now beginning to return with rejoicing, bringing their sheaves with them. We have been greatly moved by the reading of this story, and we cannot look upon the scenes it describes, por judge the labors and sacrifices of the missionaries, and the generous contributions of the evangelical churches joined in this movement, in any narrow or sectarian spirit, but only as Christians rejoicing in the work done, and believing that any form of Christianity is better than the horrible idolatries and savage barbarism out of which these hea. then are lifted by their conversion. We should be glad if they were converted to our interpretation of Christianity, but the missionaries are not of this faith ; nevertheless such as they have give they unto them freely, without money and without price. For this we are thankful, for is not any kind of Christianity, any kind of civilization, better than a system which encourages such atrocities as the follow
LONDON, Nov. 1, 1880. News is received from the west coast of Africa of the death of Chaca, governor of Whydah. The funeral is to be celebrated by the massacre of natives, after which the king announced his intention of holding the annual celebration in memory of his father. The celebration will last four months, during which 200 captured chiefs will be beheaded. The English refused to go to the celebration."
Again, in 1848 an English ship was wrecked among the New Hebrides, and the whole company was murdered, and the bodies sent round to the villages for cannibal feasts. And for many days these monsters kept up their horrible orgies with a ferocity surpassing that of the hungry beasts of the Roman amphitheatres.
And it is to be ever kept in mind that in these missions, religion, education, and civilization go together hand in hand, in their benefactions to the wretched pagans. They are not only converted from their idolatries, but through the immeasurably deep and wide-spread moral influence of the gospel, though partially crippled by false dogmas, whole tribes are regenerated, revolutionized in manners, and morals, and spirit, and aims ; lifted out of the degradation, the sensualism, and savage customs and cruelties of a thousand years' standing, into the habits and industries and arts, into the schools and home-life, into the social order and reverence for law and good government, which belong to Christian civilization. All these blessings the missionary takes along with him into heathen lands, and whenever he gets permanent foothold such shocking abominations as those mentioned above, sooner or later, give way before the gospel and disappear.
As a single example of this take the case of the Fiji islanders. A more brutal, ferocious, and diabolical set of savages were not to be found in all the Pacific islands than these blood-thirsty cannibals when Europeans first came in contact with them. We have neither disposition nor space to describe their horrible feasts of human flesh, their devil-dances, and the unparalled abominations and barbarities of their daily life; but there is no instance on record where man ever came nearer to the wild beast, or what is commonly meant by the word devil, than these Fijians. Forty years ago they dragged eleven human beings, by the neck, along the ground to the front of the Mission House, murdered, cooked and eat them ; and because the missionaries and their wives shut the windows to keep out the sight and smell, these demons told them that if they did it again they would be served in the same way!
Turning from this, let us look at them now, as transformed by the work of the English Wesleyan missionaries. And we present to our readers the picture as painted by the governor of the Islands, Sir A. Gordon, in May, 1879:
* Out of a population of about 120,000, there are now 102,000
regular worshippers in the churches, of which there are several hundred, all well built and completed. In every family there is morning and evening worship. Over 42,000 children are in attendance in the 1,534 day schools. The heathenism which still exists in the mountain districts, surrounded as it is on all sides by a Christian population on the coast, is rapidly dying out."
And to all this is to be added, the creation of arts, and manifold industries, the security of life and property, social order, and all the sanctities of marriage, parental duties, and domestic life. We should be sorry to believe that there is even one Universalist who would not join with us in rejoicing over this wondertul and beneficent change, and thanking God for it whether the work of orthodox or heterodox; thanking God for a religion which, even when yoked with many human dogmas, has the power thus to lift the savage into a civilized man, the ignorant into knowledge, and the demon into a Christian.
But we must be more brief, and come directly to the contrasts of the past with the present, showing the saving and noble work of these foreign missions. Eighty years ago there were only seven Protestant Missionary Societies in the world, now there are seventy, besides many local and native societies like those in Australia and Sierra Leone, and those formed by the converted heathen in Madagascar, the Sandwich Islands and elsewhere. At the date named these societies employed 170 male missionaries, to-day there are 2,400 Europeans and Americans, hundreds of ordained native preachers in the East Indies alone over 400, and as many more in the South Seas), over 23,000 native helpers, catechists, evangelists, and teachers, not counting numerous female assistants, private missionaries, colporteurs, and thousands of unpaid Sunday school teachers. Take one of these societies as an example of growth
- the English Church Missionary Society. In 1819 it employed 26 Europeans ; in 1880, 211; in 1839 it had two native preachers, in 1880 it employed 200 ; in all, 2,740 European and Native teachers and evangelists, 192 stations, and about 140,000 Chrirtians. In twenty years the annual income of this society had reached only $125,000; in 1880 it had risen to $1,108,000. The same thing is true of the Wesleyan, London, Propagation, and American Board. Eighty years ago the entire income of Protestant Missions was less than $250,000; now the annual receipts equal $6,500,000 ! of which England furnishes 3,500,000, and America $1,750,000.
Eighty years ago there were, perhaps, 50,000 converts ; to-day it
may be confidently asserted that the number has risen to 1,650,000. At the same date the schools under the care of missionaries were not over 70, while now there are nearly 12,000, with more than 400,000 scholars ! In Polynesia, so lately in a savage state, the Wesleyans alone have 1,705 schools and nearly 500,000 pupils ; while in Madagascar, where a few years ago such horrible persecutions and martyrdoms were of daily occurrence, the London Missionary Society alone has 784 day schools with about 44,000 scholars !
In the year 1805 the Scriptures had been translated in fifty dialects, and some 5,000,000 copies distributed. Since then, the Bible, or principal parts of it have been translated into 226 languages and dialects, and the circulation amounts to about 148,000,000 of copies ! And the thing to be remembered is that the most of this work has been done by the missionaries ; and above all it is to be remembered that these laborious, patient men have gone through the immense toil of reducing to a written language sixty or seventy of the rude and barbarous dialects of the various tribes of brutal savages to whom they were sent on this mission of civilization and religion.
These examples of what the missionaries are doing among the uncivilized races of heathendom, are only a few out of a multitude showing the kind and quality of their work, and of the success which has attended it. They certainly witness eloquently to the self-sacrifice, the persistent courage, industry, and faithfulness of the noble men and women sent out by the several churches, or by the joint action of all of them.
We say all of them, for even the Quakers are quietly, but energetically, laboring in this field, not content to stand idle all the day while others sow the seed and reap the harvest. This comparatively small and weak people entered Madagascar in 1867, and now they have a congregation of 500 at the capital, and 108 country congregations, 21 native evangelists, 26,000 converts, 85 schools, and 3,000 scholars. In Syria they have seven flourishing schools, an orphan-house and hospital. And the little sect of Moravians have for many years had their stations in Greenland and South Africa, on the Mosquito Coast, among the Indians, and in the Himalayas.
And last of all even our Unitarian friends have a foreign mission among the heathen, commenced twenty-five years ago in India, and continued to the present time, and with eminent success, as the following from the Unitarian Review shows :