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eternal purposes. For, while the merchant sends his ship to collect the riches of the nations afar off, the church, under the direction of the Spirit, employs the same ship to carry to those nations "the unsearchable riches of Christ."
In connection with this, we may mention another important circumstance. The prophet says, "The abundance of the sea shall be converted to thee." This prediction is now fulfilling. The church has begun in earnest to convert "the abundance of the sea" to God, and in which she has been very successful, as in all other of her undertakings. The seamen of Christian nations were formerly a scandal to the truth; a cause of offence to the heathen; but as they become converted to God, they will serve as missionaries of the cross to carry the gospel to every nation which they visit. We calculate glorious results to the cause of truth from the godly example and the zealous efforts of these men.
3. The increase of the spirit of piety in almost every branch of the Protestant Church is another very favorable "sign of the times." Some persons think that the spirit of piety is declining in the church; but the observation of these persons is confined to one or a few congregations in their own neighborhoods. These are men of contracted views, of shortened vision; who suppose that when they have ascertained the state of religion in their own neighborhood, they have ascertained it throughout the world. But this is a great mistake. The remark which father Wesley made respecting Methodism in particular, may be made respecting the whole church in general:"At what times the work has declined in some places, it has increased more abundantly in others." While the Methodists have been increasing in numbers in every part of the world, they have generally preserved the purity of their doctrine and discipline, and are still zealous for God and successful in their work. In England, through the instrumentality of Methodists, the dissenters are returning to the ways of their godly ancestors. The Church of England is also rapidly returning to the spirit of her articles, liturgy, and homilies; to the evangelical doctrines of her earlier Reformers; so that her pulpits and reading-desks are not so frequently at variance as formerly. The instrumentality of the zealous Methodists in all this is generally acknowledged in that country. But, alas for truth and justice, although they have accomplished the same glorious work in this country, yet the meed of praise is still withheld. But few acknowledge it. The several evangelical churches in this country have decidedly increased in piety, and that of the aggressive kind which is needed for its spread; although among the Presbyterians and Congregationalists it is mingled with some strange doctrines, of which the weakness and inefficiency of their government does not admit a remedy, and for the final result of which we fear. But whatever may be the fate of those churches, we trust that the progress of piety, in general, will be onward. In France and Switzerland evangelical piety is increasing, especially in the latter country, where its progress is rapid and most cheering. Among the Lutherans of Prussia and Germany the work is reviving, which is greatly assisted by the labors of the eminent Professor Tholuch; and it is a very cheering circumstance, that this piety which is so rapidly increasing is of the aggressive kind. Formerly churches were con
tented to hold their own. If they met with no loss, they thought they did well. Even the pious seemed to care comparatively little for the conversion of others; and even, in too many instances, their weapons of warfare were directed against each other. The sword of the Spirit clashed with the sword of the Spirit, and the battle-axes of the soldiers of the cross rung upon the gates of Zion. The prophet, in speaking of these times, says, "Then shalt thou see, and flow together, and thy heart shall be enlarged." As the church sees the multitude of her converts in all countries, her several branches flow together, and the hearts of her members are enlarged; so that the heart, which before was so small as to hold but its own sect, now holds all of the church militant, and the whole of the heathen in addition. The several sects, instead of molesting each other, are now directing their weapons against the common foe. Yes! let it be noted that the piety of the present day is of the active kind. It is for making conquests; for pushing its victories to the ends of the earth.
4. The formation of the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1804, and of the American Bible Society in 1816, together with several other associations of a similar character, is another favorable
omen for good, for which we may "thank God and take courage." The former of these associations has translated the Holy Scriptures into more than one hundred and sixty languages and dialects of this babbling earth, comprising those spoken by the greater part of the known world. Most, if not all the nations of Europe, have the Scriptures in their vernacular tongues; and the same is the case with America, comprising also many of the Indian tribes of the northern part of the continent. The far greater part of all the nations of Asia, comprising a majority of the whole human family, have the Bible in their own language; among which we may mention that of China, spoken by between three and four hundred millions of people, perhaps a third of the whole globe. This translation was made by Dr. Morrison, at immense labor; who, like the silk-worm, soon after having finished his Herculean task, died. Most of the African nations, at least those upon the coast, have the Scriptures in their languages; those in the interior not being yet sufficiently known. However, the Arabic, into which translations have been made, is a common medium of communication, not only in the northern nations, where it is the vernacular tongue, but also in the interior, whither it has been carried by the Arabian traders and merchants. Many of the tribes inhabiting the islands of the Pacific have also the Scriptures, which have been translated by the missionaries. It is the design of these Bible Societies to supply the whole world with the word of God, in which we trust they will ultimately succeed. The invention of the art of printing, before mentioned, enables them to work wonders. Before this books were written out by hand, a very slow and tedious process, and were, consequently, very scarce and dear, wholly beyond the reach of the common people; and even many of the rich and great at one time knew but little about them. Copies of the Scriptures were not to be found but in the reading-desks of the churches, in the cloisters of the monasteries, and the libraries of the learned. The poor had them not; and to many of them they were a sealed book, even if they could have obtained them.
by means of printing, copies of the Bible may be almost endlessly multiplied. The poor man can purchase a copy for a dollar; and if he has not even that, by means of these societies he may obtain it gratis. The moral power wielded by this means is immense, and will inevitably beat down the kingdom of Satan in the world, and make it a heap of ruins. The very printing-press with which Voltaire and his associates said they would demolish Christianity, is said to be now used for printing Bibles! "So mightily grows the word of the Lord and prevails."
With the Bible societies we may perhaps be permitted to mention the Tract and Sunday School societies, faithful and able coadjutors in the same great and glorious work, and which are playing their engines with tremendous effect. They are sending forth their little winged messengers of the truth, which are flying into the uttermost parts of the earth, and scattering light and salvation in their paths. The system of religion at present prevailing in China was introduced wholly by means of tracts; and although, in the dissemination of the gospel, this can never be a principal agent, yet it may be a faithful and efficient auxiliary. Infidelity was also disseminated among the common people in France in the same way; and it was from this, we believe, that Christians took the hint to use the same powerful means for the spread of the truth. And if these means have been used to build up the kingdom of Satan, why may they not be employed to pull it down?
5. The missionary operations of the present day are also a most favorable omen for good, and which, more than any other, encourage our hearts to hope for the coming of our Lord. Modern missions were commenced by some Danish missionaries on the coast of Tranquebar, in India, in the year 1706. Although this mission was quite successful, yet but little more was done until the Moravians commenced in Greenland, and in St. Thomas, in the West Indies, in 1732. But they were so few, even at home, that although they. were remarkably zealous and devoted in this work, yet they could do but little. They rather called the attention of other Christians to this glorious enterprise by their bold undertakings, than accomplished much themselves, for the want of men and means. Dr. Coke, in 1785, was accidentally led to send missionaries to the slaves in the West Indies. From this attempt has sprung the Wesleyan Missionary Society, which is the largest establishment of the kind in the world. The doctor conducted this whole work himself till his death, which took place while on his way to establish a mission in Ceylon, with six missionaries. The zeal, the self-sacrifice, and the indefatigability of this extraordinary man knew no bounds. No individual of modern times ever undertook, and successfully carried on, such a work. What his own fortune, which was quite ample, did not afford, he begged from door to door. Upon his death, the Wesleyan connection found themselves obliged to take charge of his missions; and immediately it received a powerful impetus, principally under the labors of Watson, whom God seemed to have raised up to advocate the cause of the heathen by his powerful eloquence, and by the wisdom of his counsels to give efficiency and direction to the measures of the society. He truly opened his mouth for the dumb; and one of the most masterly performances in the English language
VOL. IX.-January, 1838. 10
is his sermon in favor of "The Religious Instruction of Slaves in the West Indies." This society has now under its care about two hundred and four missionaries, besides native assistants, teachers, catechists, and readers; and more than sixty thousand church members. Its largest, as well as oldest mission, is in the West Indies, comprising more than forty thousand members. Its most successful mission, and which is truly the wonder of modern, if not also of ancient times, is the mission to the Friendly Islands, in the Pacific. Here, in a group containing about nine thousand inhabitants, more than seven thousand have been brought to God in the course of eight years, and the work is still progressing. Among these are six hundred class-leaders, and four hundred and forty native exhorters and catechists; the king himself being a class-leader and local preacher, and his queen also a class-leader; in which instance is fulfilled the prediction, "Kings shall be thy nursing-fathers, and queens thy nursing-mothers." About seventy-five thousand pounds are raised annually for the support of this society, which is increasing.
In addition to this, there are in England the Baptist, the London, and the Church Missionary Societies, which are laboring with commendable zeal and great success in various parts of the world. There are also some societies of minor importance on the continent, who manifest considerable zeal; but who are unable to do much abroad, as there is yet so much to be done at home. In the United States the work was not begun till 1812; and, as a specimen of the feebleness with which the work was commenced, and the success which has since attended it, we may remark, when the Congregationalists sent out their first missionary, they sent to England to solicit funds to assist them; but now the missions of the American Board belt the globe. So rapidly has the work progressed.
"When he first the work begun,
Small and feeble was his day;
Now it wins its wid'ning way:
The Baptists are working wonders among the poor Karens in Burmah, to which empire they seem to be chiefly directing their attention; while some minor societies are also engaged in the same work. It was once a question with some whether the heathen could be saved. But this question is for ever put to rest by the thousands who have already been brought to God, even under the most disadvantageous circumstances ;-heathen who have been redeemed from the lowest depths of ignorance, vice, and superstition. It was at first also supposed by some, that the heathen must first be civilized before they could be Christianized. But this mistake has also been corrected. It has been found that they need no previous training of this kind, but that the simple truths of the gospel, simply preached, are of themselves sufficient to enlighten their ignorance, to subdue their savage tempers, and to change their whole natures; "the gospel being still the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth :" so that our modern missionaries may still say, ' "Thanks
be unto God, who always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and manifests the savor of his knowledge by us in every place."
6. The rapid decline of popery, indicating the certainty of its speedy downfall, is another circumstance of a most encouraging character. Popery has always imposed an almost insuperable barrier to the progress of the gospel. We still denominate it "the Church of Rome ;" but we by no means acknowledge her as a church of our Lord Jesus Christ. We believe she no longer sustains any such relation to him, but was long ago cut off from being the people of the Lord, as the Jewish Church was before her, according to the prediction in Rom. xi, 21, 22: "For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold, therefore, the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off." The Church of Rome, centuries ago, broke the covenant of God, and ceased to "continue in his goodness." So far from being the church of God, she is the kingdom of antichrist, over which reigns the "man of sin," so denominated by the apostle on account of his great wickedness; and who, on account of his savage cruelty, is also called the "beast," to whom it was given "to make war with the saints and to overcome them;" and who did the work so well as to be "drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus." This "wicked," the Lord is now "consuming with the spirit of his mouth, and destroying with the brightness of his coming." At the time of the Reformation, the Church of Rome lost a part of Germany and Switzerland, Prussia, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, and also the kingdom of Great Britain, besides some minor losses in other countries.
Since then she has suffered but little by the direct preaching of the word; but Almighty God has made use of other instruments, one of which is the very last that men would have thought of using. Infidelity has given her almost as severe a blow in later days, as true religion gave her in former times. At the time of the French Revolution, popery was prostrated by the prevalence of infidelity. Her churches were shut up, her priesthood murdered or banished, and she exhibited a most pitiable spectacle of wo and desolation; and although, upon the reaccession of the Bourbons to the throne after the battle of Waterloo, and the exile of Napoleon, she seemed to revive; yet it was to present to the world but a sickly existence, the very shadow of what she before was. But in the Revolution of July, 1830, she was doomed to another overthrow, from which she will never recover. Her days are ended in sunny France. The progress of liberal principles in politics, in connection with infidelity, has also done much to injure her. Popery has always, where she could, allied herself to the state, and lent it her power and influence to crush the people. The popish priests have always attached themselves to despots, the abhorred of the earth; and in the progress of political liberty, this is coming up in remembrance against them before the nations of the earth. In the present struggle in Spain between the queen's government and Don Carlos, the brother of Ferdinand, the church, having espoused the cause of the latter, has been prostrated, her monasteries have been abolished, and their property,