John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) Abbott.

An address to the Christian public, especially to the ministers and members of the Presbyterian, Reformed Dutch, and Congregational churches, throughout the United States : on the subject of the proposed union between the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions and the United Foreign Mi online

. (page 11 of 31)
Online LibraryJohn S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) AbbottAn address to the Christian public, especially to the ministers and members of the Presbyterian, Reformed Dutch, and Congregational churches, throughout the United States : on the subject of the proposed union between the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions and the United Foreign Mi → online text (page 11 of 31)
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whose benevolence is without a bond to check, or a limit to
confine it. Here I intend he shall stay until next spring, if
he is contented, and I trust he will be. Thus, you see, he is
likely to be fairly fixed by my side. What does this mean ?
Brother Hall, do you understand it ? Shall he be sent back,
unsupported, to attempt to reclaim his countrymen ? Shall
we not, rather, consider these Southern islands as a proper
place for establishing a mission ? Not that I would give up
the heathen tribes to the Westward. I trust we shall be able
to establish more than one mission in a short time, at least in
a few years. I mean, that God will enable us to extend our
views and labors farther than we have before contemplated.
W^e ought not to look only to the heathen on our own conti-
nent. We ought to dii'ect our attention to that place where
we may, to human appearance, do the most good, and where
the difficulties are the least. We are to look to the climate,
established prejudices, the acquirement of languages, means
of subsistence, &c. &c. All these things, I apprehend, must
be considered,

" The field is almost boundless, in every part of which
there ought to be missionaries. In the language of an emi-
nent writer, but I must say he is of another country, ' O that
. we could enter at a thousand gates, that every limb were a
tongue, and every tongue a trumpet, to spread the joyful
sound.' The man of Macedonia cries, ' Come over and help
us.' This voice is heard from the North and the South, from
the East and the West. O that we might glow with an
ardent desire to preach the gospel, altogether irresistible.
The spirit of burning hath gone forth. The camp is in
motion. The Levites, we trust, are about to bear the vessel,
and the great Commander to say, ' Go forward.' Let us, my
dear B., rely with the most impartial confidence on those
great, eternal, precious promises, contained in the word of
God, Mark x. 29.


" Be strong, therefore, and let not your hands be weak, for
your work shall be rewarded. Gird thy sword upon thy
thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory, and thy majesty, and
in thy majesty ride prosperously, because of truth and meek-
ness and righteousness, — for the heathen shall be given to
Christ for an inheritance, &c. &c. Let us exclaim with the

' Come, then, and, added to thy many crowns,
Receive yet one, the crown of all the earth.
Thou Avho alone art worthy ! It was thine
By ancient covenant, e'er Nature's hirth ;
And thou hast made it thine by purchase since ;
And o'erpaid its value with thy blood.' Amen and Amen. " *

* The above extract was read by Mr. David Scudder, theological student
at Andover. Our Society of Inquiry had no original manuscript of Mills
to present on the occasion, much to their regret. But this lack is now
supplied, in a manner somewhat singular and interesting. Last even-
ing, (August 31,) a small package reached me from the Sandwich Islands,
containing two manuscript sermons of Father Mills, of Torringford, also
an original letter from the son, Samuel J, Mills, dated at Andover, in
which is contained the germ of the American Bible Society, Thirdly, the
Pocket Compass belonging to Mills. It was a matter of no small interest,
on opening it, to see the little needle trending to the pole — not having been
touched, probably, by a magnet, since it guided Mills in his wanderings
in Africa nearly forty years ago.

The donor. Rev. Samuel C. Damon, seaman's chaplain at Honolulu, having
heard of our Park and haystack movement, sent on these interesting relics
to the Mills Society, together with Jive dollars, constituting himself, his
lady, and their three boys, stockholders in the Park. Our friends from
abroad, who may see this pamphlet, need not be deterred from taking
stock, under the idea that it is too late. For after the Park is paid for,
(.$1,875 towards the $2,500 originally due, having been now paid in,) the
no less needful work of planting and embellishing must go on, and that
for a considerable time, if we intend to make it, as we do, the finest Park in

It should, perhaps, have been mentioned above, that the Andover
brethren sent up to the Jubilee, together with the letter of Mills, a copy of
the Constitution of the Society, formed here by him and his associates, and
transferred, afterwards, to Andover. This document, written in cypher,
was handed by the President of the day to Dr. Cox ; but neither he nor
any of the Daniels on the stage were able to decyjjher it.


Said Gordon Hall, on receiving a flattering invitation to
settle in tlie ministry, (and never, remarks Dr. Porter, can I
forget with what a glistening eye and firm accent this youth-
ful pioneer of foreign missions, full of faith and the Holy
Ghost, said it,) " No ! I must not settle in any parish in
Christendom. Others will be left, whose health or pre-
engagements require them to stay at home ; but I can sleep
on the ground, can endure hunger and hardship ; God calls
me to the heathen ; — wo to me if I preach not the gospel to
the heathen." Such language justifies the declaration of
Mills, that " Hall was ordained and stamped to be a mission-
ary by the sovereign hand of God."

I will now repeat to you some of the words of Richards.
Richards came down to us from Plainfield, where his pastor,
the venerable Mr, Hallock, for a series of years, fitted young
men for College, giving them good mental training, and what
was of greater value, the influence of a most excellent exam-
ple. Such training will account, in part at least, for a char-
acter hke that of James Richards. He was one of the five
under the haystack ; and in connection with Hall declined to
affix his name to that celebrated document, presented by
Judson, Nott, Mills and Newell, to the Association at Brad-
ford, for fear that, if more than four candidates presented
themselves, the churches would be intimidated, and thus
might be led to withhold their aid altogether.

The words of Richards, which I shall give, are few but
precious. They are his dying words — ^not before repeated,
so far as I know, in the hearing of American Christians.
" I am writing," says the Rev. Mr. Sanders, in a letter recently
received, " by the grave of James Richards. Though I look
upon it, and walk by its side every day, I always feel that I
am upon hallowed ground. A whole generation has passed
away since he rested from his labors. Even before I was
born, the wild flowers of Tillipally had shed their fragrance
upon his grave. Thirty-three years of wet season and dry,
have thirty-three times clothed these flelds with living green,


and as often have they been laid bare beneath a scorching
sun. But the influence of the good man still remains.
Only a few days ago, I was going from house to house, in
our village, and met a man whom I asked if he remembered
Mr. Richards. ' Oh ! yes,' he replied, ' I was present when»
he died, and heard his last words.' ' What did he say ?'
* Oh ! what glories I see,' was his reply. I was deeply inter-
ested in a description of the death of Richards, at the meet-
ing of the American Board at Oswego, by our late father
Poor ; but I get a higher and nobler view of his character^
when mingling with those for whom he labored, and in
whose minds his last words are still fresh. His life and death
were every way worthy an associate of Samuel J. Mills.

" I see by American papers that you have found the iden-
tical spot where Mills, Richards and company were wont to
pray, and that it has become the property of Williams
College. Thinking that you would be interested in seeing
the monument which stands upon Richards's grave, I have
had a sketch of it taken, and send it herewith. It is now
our wet season, so that the grave is covered with green grass
and wild flowers. The tree is a Margosa. The monument
itself is very ordinary, made of chunam, or common mortar,
and did not probably exceed five dollars in expense. The
drawing is not good, in every respect ; it gives, however, a
better appearance than the original. Upon it is the follow-
ing inscription, viz :



American Missionary,

Who died August 3d, 1822, aged 36 years and 3 months.

One of the projectors of the first missions from his country,

He gave himself to the work.

A physician hoth to the soul and body,

He was

In health laborious,

In sickness patient,

In death triumphant.

He is not ; for God took him.


" I enclose a leaf from the Margosa, and a tiny flower from
the grave."

Those men live in their conservative influence on the
churches at home. Without specifically intending it, they
applied a corrective at the point of greatest exposure.
" Pride, idleness and fullness of bread," these are the mill-
stones which drag down a prosperous church. Our danger
is from plethora and stagnation -, and had not the men of the
haystack opened veins and sluices for our surplus wealth and
means of luxury to flow oif in fertilizing streams to others,
moral congestion would have ensued as a matter of necessity.
The medical faculty resort less to phlebotomy than they once
did. This may be wise in them, but in the social body this
practice cannot be dropped — cease to bleed here, and the
patient dies.

The men of whom we speak live in the seasoning effect
which they exerted on our higher institutions of learning.
We are told that the end of education is discipline, and
"under the shield of this plausible theory we come to feel that
men are educated when they are well drilled, when we can
turn out thorough linguists, able naturahsts and astute meta-
physicians ; but if, whilst discipline is not relaxed, we can
incorporate into our mental training the influence of great
thoughts, — if, whilst the logical faculties and powers of ob-
servation and discrimination are educated, and even taxed
within proper limits, our youth can feel, at the same time, that
great benevolent and holy enterprises await their support, and
call loudly for their co-operation, — who does not perceive the
immense advantage of an educational system combining such
elements, regarded simply as a means of mental expansion.
Exercise our young men to grapple with the great problems
of the age, and let them feel that, if their education is good
for any thing, it is to aid in the solution of these problems,
and you have applied a mighty stimulus to the entire ma-
chinery of the mind — the man feels, now, that he has found
an object worthy of himself. You have not only secured


the highest •development intellectually but morally. Dissua-
sives from vice and idleness will not now be called for. In
reaching the greater good^ you have secured all that is subor-
dinate. It is not by charters and legal instruments that we
can inscribe on the walls of our institutions, "Christo et
ecclesise ;" but by filling their halls with young men imbued
with a spirit of holy enterprise, the representatives and suc-
cessors of those who, fifty years ago, on Wednesday and
Saturday afternoons, used to retire to this grove and the
meadows by yonder stream, to pray for a perishing world.
Woe be to our institutions when they come to feel that edu-
cation consists in mere scholarship, when they cease to apply
those elements of growth and mental expansion which have
just been referred to, to those whom they profess to indoc-
trinate and train for action in an age like this.

The men of the haystack taught a dull, material age, the
value of ideas ; that an age is glorious, not in proportion to
its material wealth, but in proportion as it finds its life in
thought and principles ; in proportion as it is swayed by
them and is the exponent of them. With such examples to
stimulate them, be not surprised if New England young
men are found willing to traverse half a continent, and
encounter bowie knives and border ruffians, for the sake of
principles !

These men live in those forms of associated benevolence,
now spreading like a net-work over the American church,
and which have all ramified out from that slender filament
woven under the haystack.

It only remains, now, to apply the subject, which we pro-
pose to do, fourthly, by considering our relation to the move-
ment whose origin we have been contemplating. It is a
fitting time to do this, brought as we are by a singular coin-
cidence, it would now seem, to the very week, perhaps the
very day which closes a period of fifty years, a cycle origi-
nally of divine appointment, the oldest of all the cycles —
old when the cycle of Meton and the Olympiads of the Greeks


were young. It was foreseen by the divine wisdom that
various abuses would be liable to creep in, which would need
to be rectified as often as once in fifty years. The machinery
of society would then require to be looked over. It would
be time to wind up the clock and start anew. The Jubilee
thus set limits to the encroachments of selfishness, and
revealed the judgment of God in reference to fraud, injustice
and oppression. It was a period of adjustment and rectifi-
cation. It was more than this. It placed the succeeding
age on higher vantage ground, whence the great experiment
of human progress could be renewed under better auspices,
with the lights of past experience to guide, and its beacons
to warn.

Under what new aspects, then, does the problem of the
haystack present itself, now that half a century has rolled
away ? From our present vantage ground, what new modes
of attack are we prepared to recommend to those who are
now preparing themselves for the conflict ? The problem
remains the same — the question is, whether any new light can
be thrown on the mode of its solution. Certainly there is
new light. Every discovery in science is so much available
power towards replenishing, subduing and subjugating the
world to God. It is in vain for us, brethren, to suppose that
we can unlink religion from the general cause of human
progress and the arts of life — as though religion were an
independent and heavenly power, disdaining all handmaids,
and not needing the appliances of civilization to accelerate
its march. If this were so, why did the wisdom of God
select the crowning, culminating epoch of ancient civilization
as the starting point of Christianity ? — and that, too, when
there were gifts of healing, gifts of tongues, and interpreta-
tion of tongues ? We do not suppose, indeed, that the
divine form of our blessed religion needs to be bolstered up
by philosophy, science or art ; to halt on crutches of human
workmanship, or remain a helpless cripple. There is in
Christianity a vitalizing, central force, like that which reigns


in the human body, which seizes on the particles of ordinary
matter, wrests them from the grasp of those chemical affini-
ties which natm-ally bind them, and subordinates them to the
various functions and ends of the animal ; and yet this vital
force, in which the dignity and power of man as a physical
being may be said to reside, is not independent of materials
and chcumstances. We detract nothing from the mystery
and dignity of this force when we allow that materials stmted
in measure, or unduly combined, may give us a dwarfed or
monstrous form, in place of the beautiful symmetry of a
perfect body. So the honor of religion, the maintenance of
its essential dignity and divinity, does not require an absolute
independence of human agisncy. Indeed, every discovery
which gives expansion to human agency, furnishes a new
condition on which wider results may be predicated. What
disparagement is it to Christianity to employ the printing
press ? Who does not see that this product of human
invention, whilst it leaves the vital religious force intact, gives
enlargement to the sphere over which it operates? The
same may be said of steam. What was this gigantic power
in the days of the haystack, and where was it? It was
grinding in mills, and pumping in mines. The first rail-road
car moved in 1806, (the summer of the haystack,) in Wales;
and it was in the latter part of the same year, that the engine
was transported by Fulton, destined for his grand experi-
ment on the Hudson, which settled the practicability of steam
navigation. This great revolutionizing force received its
commission to break down the mountains and fill up the
valleys just as " swift messengers " were preparing to go
forth among all nations. And if there are forces in nature, yet
latent and occult, as doubtless there are many such in her vast
laboratory, the time of their development will be when their
energies are called for by the unfoldings of Providence, and
the exigencies of the church. These forces, developed by
human reason and applied by human skill, become potent
engines of moral, as well as physical power. Those wonder-


ful achievements of the human intellect, embodied in the
great circle of the exact sciences, the labor of rigid and
profound analysts, — these are not to be set down for nothing,
as not entering into the conditions of victory in the great
struggle now waging with the empu'e of darkness. We
must preach to the nations from that elevated stand-point
to which we are raised by a profounder science than heathen-
ism ever gave birth to, and by applications of science to art,
in which we wield and control the great forces of nature to
purposes of utility which they never dreamed of. It will
not do to approach the astronomer of India with tables less
perfect than his own. But if we can show him that ours
come down to seconds, where his reach to hours — if the great
dial-plate in the heavens tallies with our chronometers, he
will come to us to get his regulated. He may not, at once ;
we must give time for pride and vanity to die slowly and
respectably— but he will be obliged to come. And so our
natural philosophers and engineers must present not abstract
principles, illustrated by diagrams, but working models, and
the nations will come to respect our philosophy through
our arts. This has occurred to some extent, already, as
Mr. Winslow told us the other night. Those old stolid
Brahmins, buried in their philosophic repose, affected to
despise Europeans, till the snort of the steam-horse was heard
among them, and they found they had to gather up their
long togas and " scamper out of the way." Then they began
to feel some respect for Christian civilization.

These people need to be waked up. They need to have
their minds galvanized. If a man does'nt know that the
world turns on its axis — ^if he supposes it is poised on a
turtle's back — if he imagines thunder to be the yawling and
scratching of a great black cat, and lightning the flashing of
her eyes, as we are told the Japanese do, — ^such a man needs
to be taken hold of, and have his intellects shaken to pieces ;
or at least shaken to purpose. What can you make out of
men wedded to such puerilities and crudities — such degrad-


ing theories, in reference to this subhme and beautiful system
— this " Cosmos ! "

Now in what way — and this is the problem we wish to
propose — in what way can we make our enthe civilization,
the outgrowth of our Christianity, our science, oui- art, our
refinement, our perfected systems of civil and social order,
with the domestic virtues, yes, all the holy charities of
home, — how can we bring these great teachers together, so
that the nations can learn their lessons and profit by them ?

The way is simple. It is to go forth in an associated
capacity, bearing all these things in our hands ; to transport
a working model of what we recommend, and what we
would re-produce ; set it down where it can be examined,
and let it tell its own story. When we wish to annex a
broad realm to the area of freedom, what do we do ? Do
we send a few ministers to explain the principles of liberty
there ? No ! we send colonies of men, women and children
there, who hate slavery. This is good policy. It is not only
good pohcy, but it is absolutely vital to the success of the
enterprise. And the same policy will be found not less
good, when applied to an enterprise infinitely more arduous.
"We must make the whole force of our civilization bear on
the conversion of the world to God. Our steam engines and
our ploughs must preach ; but, if they do so, they must be
wielded and managed by skillful hands. Patient, dexterous
and pious young men must volunteer to use them. Abbott
Lawrence said, that what Cambridge wanted was the sons of
the yeomanry. Yes, and one who has a higher claim, the
Lord of Cambridge and our Lord, wants them, and they are
well qualified to go. Understand me, my friends, I do not
hold it necessary that men should study ten years before they
are fit to teach the heathen. Any of our good New Eng-
land farmers or tradesmen, with a thorough common school
education, are qualified to be missionaries, and the best kind
of missionaries too ; especially in Papal and Mohammedan
countries, where the cloth of a man's coat renders hira an


object of suspicion, and every benevolent effort is resolved,
at once, into a spirit of proselytism. Such persons, if they
are pious, are qualified not only to teach, but to preach in a
very high sense ; they are qualified to preach by example,
and that is the most effective kind of preaching. How many
of us were converted by preaching in the technical sense ?
Very few. It was through the effects which we saw wrought
by religion embodied in character, rather than inculcated by
precept, that we were won over. Why was Paul so anxious
to work at tent-making, and earn his living by handicraft ?
Why, but because he saw the immense influence of such a
course ? When we preach through our industry, oiu- frugality,
and our honesty, this is loud preaching, and men do not need
to go to College to preach in this way. Let it be seen, let the
nations see, that the religion which we inculcate makes much
of the homely, every- day virtues, that charity, benevolence,
humanity and kindness are among its common, every-day
fruits. Let them witness the order of a well-regulated
Christian family. Let them see a model kitchen, (and such a
woman as I could name moving about in it,) and much would
be gained. If good housewifery is not a part of religion,
neatness, tidiness, economy and all the little numberless com-
forts of home, — if they are not a part of Christianity, why
do they not abound among the heathen nations ? These, too,
should enter into our means ; every thing which is the legiti-
mate outgrowth of Christianity should preach. It has come
to be fashionable to speak of civilization and Christianity as
antagonistical forces. A greater mistake could not be made ;
as though Christian civilization were not a part of Christian-
ity itself — the natural outgrowth and expression of it. The
times demand an expansion in our methods like that now
suggested. Such a movement would no more than meet the
language of Mills, who, in a letter I think to Hall, says, " I
wish we could break out upon the heathen like the Irish
rebellion, forty thousand strong." So much did this idea of
an independent associated movement interest the minds of


onr young men three years ago, that they were willing to
raise five hundred dollars, out of their abundant poverty, to
send out a suitable person to explore and locate for them.

Do we propose then, it may be asked, to dispense with
missionaries expressly trained and educated for the work.
This is not proposed ; such men we must have. We would
have men, and the means of training them for their work,
which we have not now. The Seminary at Andover was
originally intended to meet this case. This Seminary sprung
up in the days of the haystack. It was only a few months
after the meeting held here, in the month of December, 1806,
that Dr. Spring, having received some pledges in favor of
a Theological Academy, went to Salem to present the cause
to Mr. Norris, a rich merchant residing there. Mr. Norris
at first declined giving. Having made his wealth in India,
he felt bound to contribute something in that direction. On
being told, however, that in giving to Andover he was virtu-
ally giving to the cause of missions, (for how could they
hear without a preacher ?) he gave ten thousand dollars on
the spot ; to which thirty thousand dollars were afterwards
added by Mrs. Norris. It seems to have been zeal for the
cause of missions, primarily and mainly, which prompted
these large benefactions. It was soon found, however, that
Andover, so far from meeting the wants of the heathen

Online LibraryJohn S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) AbbottAn address to the Christian public, especially to the ministers and members of the Presbyterian, Reformed Dutch, and Congregational churches, throughout the United States : on the subject of the proposed union between the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions and the United Foreign Mi → online text (page 11 of 31)