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lish and patronize, distinguished by these qualities, and attended with these consequences, rather than to see them, on account of your carelessness, few in number, ill attended, worse conducted, and with the imposing name of seminaries of knowledge or of tuition, productive of no substantial advantage either to the young or to the old of your neighbourhood? You cannot hesitate to answer in the affirmative; and this is really nothing more nor less than what we would now inculcate.”
If they think proper, or are kind enough to reprove
the wicked and to warn the careless with whom they happen to come in contact, we would say to them, “ Your intention doubtless is praiseworthy, and much benefit has often accrued from such admonitions; but we advise you to exercise caution in this display of your benevolence also, for it has not seldom happened, that harm was done where only good was aimed at, and unless you attend to times and seasons, to places and circumstances, to peculiarities of temper, and to proprieties of speech, then, in place of checking profaneness and vice, or reforming those who are addicted to them, you may, by forgetting your Saviour's exhortation, which tells you not to “ give that which is holy unto the dogs," nor to “cast your pearls before swine,” confirm the wicked in their wickedness, diminish your own influence, bring discredit upon religion, and cause the “holy name by which you are called to be more blasphemed” than ever.
If they are connected with those who circulate the Holy Scriptures among their fellow-men, we would say to them, “ You have a title to be con
sidered as the noblest of benefactors; but you have no title to despise the counsel which would enable you to perform in that capacity more than you could otherwise do, and to perform it better. And when we ask you, whether you would heap Bibles on those who are indifferent to them, or present them to such as are eagerly thirsting for the gift, and well prepared for profiting by it; and whether you would not rather give them to the inhabitants of your own country, than to the inhabitants of a distant country, if you could not give them to both; and whether you would not put them into the hands of such as would make some sacrifice of pecuniary interest in order to assist in purchasing them, in preference to those, who, though equally able, would only receive them if gratuitously imparted?—when we propose such questions as these, we suggest ideas of which you would do well to take advantage, in your attempts to disseminate the word of God, and, by reducing which to practice, you will merit respect for your understanding, without suffering any loss in the warmth of your piety or in the kindness of your heart.”
Finally, if they are busy and ardent in the missionary cause, in sending devoted men to preach to the Gentiles the glad tidings of salvation, we would say to them, “ We admire your zeal and
diligence in this glorious work; we congratulate you on the honourable service you have undertaken, and we would encourage you to persevere and to abound in it. But we do not think that when we urge you to a prudent, and skilful, and economical application of the means with which you are intrusted by your. Christian brethren, we say what is either of little
moment, or of inappropriate import. And you must not be surprised that we hold it to be foolish, in reference to your own general views, which are unspeakably excellent, to send upon your errands of mercy, men who are unqualified for doing the work assigned them, and who therefore consume the sinews of your institutions, without achieving any thing to justify the expenditure they cost you, when, for a little more, you might have substituted others, who, clothed in befitting panoply, would have waged successfully your warfare against ignorance and idolatry;-or to plant them in districts where their voice must be like that of one crying in an almost unpeopled wilderness, when there are places, as accessible at least, as these, whose crowded millions hold out a far more inviting prospect, and promise a far richer harvest of converts; -or to assign them their field of labour under the government of an unfriendly despot, (himself perhaps the slave of a jealous and intolerant priesthood,) who has only to utter the decree, and, in a moment, they are banished from his domains, and all their expectations blasted, when they might have been as easily stationed where they would have had equal materials to work upon, and such a civil protection as would have encouraged their toils and secured what they had won;—or to squander away, in providing them with those personal and domiciliary comforts, which no true missionary can grudge to be without, and which often secularise his spirit, while they seem to increase his energy, the many thousands, which would have enabled you to add to their number, and to their fitness, what both in number and in fitness they especially required;--or to occupy
their time in unprofitable conversation with old women, and in equally useless reasonings with old priests, when they ought to have been addressing themselves to the more hopeful task of initiating the young into the elements of literature, impressing their susceptible minds with religious and moral truth, and thus preparing the generations that are to come for that reception of the Gospel, to which in the prejudices and habits of the generation that exists, they will find a mighty obstruction, if not an ipsuperable bar;-or, in fine, to act with regard to your whole scheme, as if it were only at its commencement, and as if you were merely feeling your way through its untried difficulties, and as if
you might on that account be justified in making romantic experiments, and excused for falling into egregious mistakes, when you may be justly expected to walk in the light of a lengthened and instructive experience, and, by the aid of that light; to avoid on the one hand those errors which have caused many of your best-looking enterprizes to terminate in vanity, and on the other hand to pursue those measures which are as much distinguished by the wisdom that guides, as by the zeal which animates them, and by which alone it is, that, through the blessing of the Saviour, our anticipations of a speedy or an effectual spread of his religion can possibly be realized.”
5. We have scarcely left room for saying any thing on what relates to the universality of benevolence; and yet we cannot wholly pass it over without remark.
Benevolence, according to the Gospel view of it,
is quite unlimited in its objects. It not only takes within its range every species of suffering, to which mankind are subject, and every species of benefit of which mankind are capable; but it embraces as those to whom it communicates its blessings, all the members of the human family, without distinction, and without exception. The Christian philanthropist varies the expressions of. his kindness, in conformity to the relations in which he stands to them, the characters of which they are possessed, and the circumstances in which they are placed. But towards all of them his sympathies are cherished, and from none of them are his services withheld. And nothing can occur in the case of any individual, wearing the form of man, to justify him in cherishing malice, or in refusing to do good.
This most liberal doctrine stands opposed to the high-sounding and much celebrated, but self-seeking and cruel patriotism of Greece and Rome, which not only had no fellow-feeling with any other people, but systematically trampled on their rights, robbed them of their liberties and their property, and subjected them remorselessly to every severity of treatment, whenever it served to promote their own aggrandizement. It stands opposed to that hard and contracted spirit, by which the Jews of our Saviour's time were actuated in their regards to all who were not of the house of Israel, or who, though of that privileged tribe, had been so unfortunate as to offend or injure them, and which, founded on unwarranted tradition, and imbittered by the depravity which they cherished, made them often relentless to the most needy and miserable.