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knoweth not his time: As the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them. And Job xxi. 23, 24. One dieth in his full strength, being wholly at case and quiet: His breasts are full of milk, and his bones are moistened
A Discourse before the Society for
Propagating the Gospel among the Indians and others in North America, delivered November 6, 1806. By THOMAS BARNARD, D. D. Minister of the North Church in Salem. To which is added an Appendix. Charlestown. S. Etheridge. pp. 47.
THE theme of this discourse is St. Paul's declaration, Phil. i.18. "What then? notwithstanding every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice."
The melancholy circumstances, which occasioned these discourses, are briefly related in a note, as follows;
"Joseph Brown, of Northampton, and James Jenness, of Rye, together with a man of colour, named Cæsar, had been at Portsmouth. While returning, which was late in the day, the clouds collected, and appeared very black and threatening, attended with frequent lightning, and at length a free discharge of rain. Night came on, which greatly added to the gloominess of the season. They proceeded,
After a pertinent introduction, the preacher invites the attention of his audience to the three following observations.
- I. "Permit me to observe the manner in which the Being, supremely powerful, wise and good, chose to propagate Christianity in the world, at the time of its introduction, and in the years immediately succeeding."
II. "Inattentive to the authentic history of the time, we are disposed to think discordance of opinion with respect to the Christian doctrine, could not have arisen under the authoritative and infallible instruction of an holy Apostle; and without hesitation attribute to its first preachers universally the highest purity and benevolence."
III.There is no mode of action we can adopt, which will more dignify our characters, or more rejoice our hearts in the seasons of impartial reflection, than a persuasion that we are
assisting in our humble measure, in the propagation of the religion of Christ."
Under the first head we are happy to find JESUS CHRIST introduced, as a divine teacher and Saviour. But we feel some difficulty in reconciling the following remarks with the idea of his divinity, or with the character of Him, in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the godhead bodily.
"But with all his divine abilities, he felt the infirmities of a man, and needed human assistance. He chose twelve of the number of his followers to be his confidential friends and ministers, who, being around his person, in every place and circumstance, might promptly afford him their aid." What impression, it is candidly asked, does this representation of Christ make on the mind? Is it not that of weakness and dependence? Is it not that of a leader, needing a lifeguard, rather than of him, by whom the worlds were made?
These queries are made, not that we doubt the preacher's belief of the sacred TRINITY; but because we think such a repre sentation of the Son of GOD little calculated to excite the reverence or gratitude of those whom he catne to redeem..
Under the second head of his discourse the main object of the preacher appears to be, not to prove that differences of opinion relative to doctrine, &c. have existed in all ages of the church; but to shew that the preaching of the gospel, though various and partial, has produced very beneficial effects, spiritual and temporal. In evidence of this, and as a specimen of our author's manner, the following extract is given.
their idea, preach the whole gospel, yet do they not preach parts of it? Yea, many solemn and interesting parts of it? Are not parts of it good for something? Are they not indeed, dibear the fruits of immortal life and vine seed, which may spring up, and bliss? If their stated ministers and missionaries promote, by their teaching in common, some of the most important subjects of the religion they believe, is it not their duty, in these respects, to rejoice in their labours,
"Though the instructors whom they conceive erroneous, may not, in No. 7. Vol II.
and wish them success? Let us now appeal to the fact to determine how far, in union together, they preach the truths of the gospel. Do they not unitedly preach the evidences of Christ's mission; state his gospel the only infallible directory of our faith and manners; and charge us to consult it upon all important questions with teachable minds, if we would be made "wise unto salvation?" Do they not the love and imitation of their hearers, propose, and warmly recommend to his example? An example pure and exalted beyond what poets had fanci ed, or historians, sacred or human,
described before he lived; for till then, they never beheld, nor heard of such excellence of worth, such beauty of character in our form. Do they not urge upon us his precepts, as the su because "the wisdom which is from preme rule of our temper and conduct, above, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy? Do they not affirm, in the words of the esis to render the subject more intel-, apostle, notwithstanding their hypothligible may differ, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace Jesus Christ; whom God hath set through the redemption that is in forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteous
ness for the remission of sins, that God?" Do they not, divinely taught are past, through the forbearance of by their Master, bring life (and immortality beyond the grave, into a state of clearer and more splendid light, than it had been by the philosophers of the world, and even by in-spired teachers before he came, and place it in a point of view, calculated, more than any other, deeply to im
press the human mind and passions, a scene of complete moral retribution? Do not the motives they inculcate to excite us to well doing, and to deter us from evil, exceed in weight and consequence all which any other religious instructor has ever taught for this holy end?”
If all the or missionaries." truths, which such teachers preach "in union," are here named by our author; it may well be doubted, whether the influence of Christianity on the moral character of individuals, or even on society, would much surpass that of the philosophy of Socrates, did not other preachers often exceed their limits. If we are taught in the gospel, that by nature we are morally deprav ed and children of wrath; that we are dead in trespasses and sins, and enemies to God; that we must be born again and become new creatures; that sin is atoned only by the blood of Jesus, and that this Jesus is a divine person; that justification is the work of God's Spirit, and that our salvation is wholly of grace, through faith, and that not of ourselves; these doctrines must not only be parts, but the essential parts, of the gospel, since they give to man, and to Christianity, a character and features, not merely different, but opposite to those, usually ascribed to them, in systems of theology, in which these doctrines are set aside. The Scripture constantly supposes that the truth may be preached, as well as professed, by bad men and from bad motives. Still it is truth; and this was the ground of the apostle's joy. He rejoiced, that in any way or with any disposition (even if the motive were cruel) Chris! was preached. Here is no reference, either to the nature or number of the doctrines preached. The fair import of the passage is, that those, who were actuated by envy, preached the same doctrines with those, who This preached from good will.
With our benevolent author we cheerfully admit, as a delightful fact, that "high spiritual advantages have attended the preaching of Christ, though the salutary office has been performed with varying degrees of light, ability, and success; that the Christian world is the fairest portion of this earth; and that no particular class of Christians can claim these good effects, as arising exclusively from their modes of teaching." Still, however, it seems reasonable to suppose, that the influence of the gospel would have been greater, had it been preached with more light, ability and uniformity; especially if the whole gospel had been thus preached. Admitting, with our catholic author, that instructors, deemed erroneous, "preach parts of the gospel," and that they unitedly preach the evi dences of Christ's mission," and state his gospel the only infallible directory of our faith and manners; that they warmly recommend his example and urge upon us his precepts; that they exhibit" life and immortality in a more splendid light, than any philosophers or even inspired teachers" before his coming, and inculcate "motives" to virtue, exceeding in weight those of any former religious teacher; nevertheless, if other instructions be not added, we are painfully apprehensive, that the most important parts of the gospel are not preached by such "ministers
text, therefore, does not warrant the supposition, that Paul ever rejoiced in any preaching, or system of theology, which was in his view deficient in any essential article of the Christian faith; and, it is presumed, more will not be required of us, than of him.
We now leave it to the intelligent reader to determine for himself, whether the kind of preaching, above described, tho', like the ancient philosophy, it may be useful to civil society, may not endanger the final salvation of the individual, by concealing from him his true character and the only medium of pardon, and by leading him to depend on himself, and not upon God alone.
It is a great pleasure to us, in this connexion, that we are able to except the worthy author of this discourse from the number of those superficial preachers, whom he has described. Nor would our duty, on this occasion, have been equally imperious, had the mantle of catholicism been cast by a gentleman, less respectable for talents, natural and acquired.
To the correctness and weight of sentiment, expressed by our author under the last head of his discourse, we are happy to give our cordial testimony. We rejoice to find the preacher here in his own element, while celebrating the excellencies of that
religion, which alone "gives glory to God, on earth peace, good will towards men.”
The length, peculiar structure, and consequent intricacy of some periods in this discourse, may, perhaps, have led us to mistake our author's meaning. Errors springing from this source, will not be charged to our account. With frankness we confess, that the perusal of this sermon has frequently reminded us of the old, but useful adage, Bis ad limam quod semel ad linguam.
THE Society for Propagating the Gospel among the Indians and others
The appendix to this discourse contains an account of the proceedings of the Society, before whom it was preached. The greater part of their funds, it appears, are expended in books for distribution, and in the support of missionaries and schools in the district of Maine, which, for convenience, they have divided into seven missionary districts, here described; in each district books are deposited, with some suitable person, for distribution. The instructions given by the Society to their missionaries, together with an account of the number of missionaries employed the current year, and some interesting extracts from their journals,* are inserted in this appendix, which concludes with a list of the present officers of the Society.
in North America, in their Annual Report of Nov. 1806, state, that they have employed four missionaries this year in the District of Maine. The
Journal of one only (the Rev. Mr.
Mr. Hidden completed his missionary labours, in the counties of York and Oxford, early in November. His journal has been received, from which it appears, that he has travelled about seven hundred miles, preached ninetytwo sermons, baptized seven adult persons, one by immersion, and fortythree children; received twenty-four persons into church communion, visited twenty-seven aged and sick persons, established four schools, administered the Lord's supper four times, visited eleven schools, and sixty families, and distributed about two hun. dred books. Mr. Hidden observes, that "the weather was so favourable during the whole of his mission, (of three months) that he was hindered from travelling but a single day :" that "people in general were very ready to attend on the word and ordinances of God," that "many manifested warm gratitude to God, and thankfulness to the society for their notice of them" that he found the schools, which had been begun by the society, in excellent order." Of the inhabitants in many of the towns he visited, he speaks in terms of high commenda. tion, for their industry, frugality, peace and order; and particularly for their attention and exertions in educating their children. Of the town of Lovel especially, containing forty families, all of the Congregational de nomination, he says, "there is the greatest attention to religion in this place, according to the number of people, and the least enthusiasm, I ever saw." "Sabbath, Nov. 2, preached at Lovel, and administered the Lord's supper; received nineteen persons into the church, baptized one adult and ten children. One received into the church was seventy-nine years old, another sixteen. God is doing wonders here. This was one of the most solemn and joyful days I ever saw." Though few in number, they contemplate settling a minister among them. The church in a letter to the secretary, in very affectionate terms, express their grateful acknowledgments to God and to the Society, for "sending missionaries to preach to poor, perishing sinners, the unsearchable riches of Christ." They speak of the success of Mr. Hidden's labours among
them, as "wonderfni" twenty-one have been added to their church, under his ministration, in this small set. tlement. They conclude by expressing their earnest desire that "we who send, and they who receive, may unite in our prayers to God, that he would continue the gospel among them." A letter to the Society, of like import, has been received from the inhabitants of the town of Albany.
From the acceptance and success of Mr. Hidden's labours, and the good dispositions manifested by the people to whom he was sent, the Society have great reason to be satisfied with their missionary, and much encouragement to continue their attentions to those, who so gratefully receive, and so commendably improve them,
Since our last annual report, the aged and reverend Zechariah Mayhew, long a diligent and faithful mis sionary in the service of the Society, among the remnant of Indians* on Martha's Vineyard, has deceased. The ancestors of these Indians were among the first of the aborigines of New England, who embraced Christianity; and from that time to the present, they have not ceased to enjoy the ordinances of the gospel. Though these people have at present among them, two ordained Indian teachers, by the name of Hansuit and Jeffer, (the latter a temperate, worthy man) yet as both are advanced in life, the Society contemplate making further provision for their instruction, and will not cease to contribute, according to their means, to the support of reli gious ordinances among them.
The venerable Mr. Hawley, now in the eightieth year of his age, and in the fifty-fifth of his missionary labours, and who receives annually a