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 12 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 12 of 31)
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world, was quite inadequate to supply the home demand.
Other kindred seminaries sprung up, and the missionary
revival losing by degrees its strength, the theological element
predominated, and the missionary element became less prom-
inent. So that, now, no one of these institutions, that I am
aware, professes to furnish any specific preparation to those
having the missionary work in view. Look, for a moment,
at the operation of the present system. A student, whose
heart God has touched, and who feels like Hall, " "Woe is me
if I preach not the gospel to the heathen," spends two or
three years in his preparatory course — then four years in
College— then three years in Seminary — and in all this not


one particle of discipline or instruction has he received,
different from that of a candidate for a church in Boston or

Now he repairs to some distant, perhaps to some tropical
clime. He finds himself afar off in a heathen land, ignorant
of the people with whom he is to labor, ignorant of the
language in which he is to speak and preach. Now his
specific preparation to be a missionary commences ; and it
commences under very unfavorable circumstances. His
health, originally perhaps not firm, is suffering from the
wear and tear of a long and tedious voyage. A debilitating
climate makes new draughts on his constitution. He com-
mences the study of a language, the acquisition of which is
the work of years ; and before he is able fluently to speak it,
the seeds of disease are deeply imbedded in his frame. He
drags through his work with difficulty, or perhaps, yields
a quick and easy prey to death. What I have now said,
supposes that he finds the accommodations of home where
he is to commence his labors ; but often this is not so.

Says a devoted missionary, now in the African field, " I
know not how it is in other countrie 3 ; but, here, we are
obliged to spend a great amount of our time and strength in
secular affairs. We must be ^ Jack at all trades,' carpenter,
blacksmith, cabinet maker, miller, farmer, tailor, harness
maker, and every thing else* When do we get any time for
study ? We do not find it. We now wear our lives away,
doing, for the most part, those things any uneducated man
might do as well or better than we. * * * But these are
not the worst evils of the present system. We are in this
country, alone, in the midst of heathen, in culture, in man-
ners, in feelings and actions, scarce above the beasts of the
field. We long for, we need society. We are, perhaps,
discouraged and in despair, because we need to see congenial
faces, and hear familiar voices. From what I have seen of
mission-life, I am persuaded that more missionaries lose their
health, return home, or go down to an early grave from this


cause, than from almost any other. You will make your
own inferences from these statements. You will see they
have a bearing on your scheme." One would be quite
sm'prised to count up the number of missionaries who have
been compelled to return, either from a failure of their own
health, or that of their families.

Now can a remedy be applied to the evils which have been
referred to ? The remedy for one important class of them
lies in the colonization scheme, which is thus recommended
not only by all the reasons above stated, but by this urgent
one, brought out in the letter I have just read. The remedy
for another portion of the embarrassments incidental to the
missionary work, which seems to me to be possible, I will
now explain ; and in order to do this, let me lay before you
some facts — facts which are patent, but which may not have
been pondered in their bearing on the missionary enterprise.
I remark, then, that men are to be found in the midst of us,
who are well versed in the languages of the unconverted na-
tions. The Chinese and the Japanese languages and dialects,
spoken by a third of the human family, might be thoroughly
taught among us. The Burmese and cognate tongues, the
Tamil, the Sanscrit and the Arabic have been mastered, not
merely as written, but what is still more important, as spoken
languages. The same is true of many tongues less widely
spoken ; and not only is this so, but those who have this
knowledge, are familiar Avith the manners, and customs, and
religious systems of all these nations. They have entered
into these points practically, and made them matter of pro-
found study.

Who are the persons referred to, do you ask ? They are
missionaries driven back by stress of weather. The knowl-
edge of these men is not theoretical, like that of the dead
languages, acquired in the schools, but knowledge obtained
at the fountain-head, acquired by familiar intercourse, during
half a lifetime, with heathen nations. I take it upon myself
to say, that there is abroad in the land more profound ac-


quaintance with the hving nations and the Hving tongues,
than Oxford, or Cambridge, or any foreign University can
boast of.

And where are these men, the depositories of all this
learning ? They are keeping small boarding-schools. No
longer fit for full service, they are supplying vacant pulpits,
here and there ; they are eking out a precarious living for
themselves and families, in second and third-rate parishes.
They are moving in spheres where their acquisitions, made
at such cost of treasure and of time, are actually buried !

If these statements are correct, are we not ripe for a new
movement ? Is there not room, is there not a call for com-
miuiities organized with this intent, independent and self-
supporting, to go forth bearing with them all the incidental
blessings of Christianity, domestic, civil and social, but
especially bearing with them Christianity itself? And, as
subsidiary to this, might we not bring together a vast amount
of available knowledge and experience, to aid, at least, the
leading members of such comraunities or colonies, in prepa-
ration for their work ? The time seems to have come, when
the great missionary work should be inaugurated as first and
foremost in its claims. It should not be subordinated to
systems of speculative theology. It should assume the dig-
nity of an independent movement, and command the means
and facilities requisite to its own development. The light
now diffused throughout the land should be concentrated at
some point. It should no longer be hid under a bushel, but
shine for those who need its guidance and its warmth.

Let me sketch, briefly, the outlines of an institution such as
the exigencies of the time seem to demand. Aiming at special
and peculiar ends, it would not take its type precisely from
any existing model. Such an institution should be an expo-
nent of the living present, in contradistinction from the dead
past. It should teach all the living tongues. These tongues
are speedily to become the vehicle of Christian thought ;
praises are to be sung, prayers ofiered and Christian ideas


expounded in them. A great company of nations is shortly
to be introduced to our fellowship — as says the Prophet,
" Who are these that fly as a cloud and as doves to their
windows ? " We are concerned to know them, to know
their institutions, their systems of philosophy and religion, of
metaphysics and of science, their habits and temperaments,
then* geography and forms of government. There ought to
be, somewhere in Christendom, near the great central heart
which is to throw its pulses of life out among the nations, a
grand depository of knowledge, in everything which pertains
to the living present, of those nations on whom we are to act
— whose errors we are to combat, whose false science we are
to expose, and whose false systems we are to supplant by a
purer faith.

Secondly. In such an institution, not only should there
be instruction in the points just referred to, but Nature, as a
part of the living present, should be taught. Some of our
theological students know less of the works of God at the
end, than they did at the beginning of their course. The
development, in such cases, is unhealthy and one-sided ; and
it is well if it is not skeptical. Such need to come in con-
tact with great Nature — to feel the beatings of her large
heart, and thus keep their minds healthy, as well as their
bodies. We should need a chair (if any one could fill it)
whose province it should be to interpret Nature as a system
of law, especially in its religious aspects. The nicer adapta-
tions of matter, and the higher relations of science, should
now be made familiar, as a means not merely of intellectual,
but of religious expansion.

Thirdly. The theology demanded by the times, the only
theology consonant with the spirit of the present movement,
is the theology of the Bible. We want a school for teaching
the word of God. And the teachers in this school should
be men like Apollos, " mighty in the Scriptures ; " and like
him who, " while Apollos abode at Corinth, having passed
through the upper coasts, came to Ephesus, and finding cer-


tain disciples there, said to them. Have ye received the Holy-
Ghost ? " — Bible men ; men filled with the Holy Ghost. Such
teachers are needed, and such an institution is needed. " No
one," says Professor Stuart, in his last address, " No one, who
has any adequate sense of the dangers of the church in this
country, can refrain from the most sincere and ardent wish
that some AveaRhy and noble-hearted Christians would make
themselves immortal in the churches, by founding and estab-
lishing a Seminary, on an adequate pecuniary basis, the sole
object of which should be to teach, to explain, and to defend
the word of God. Let there be a sacred spot found, where
the richest contributions of wealth and science shall aid the
student, in his efforts to scan the Infinite mind,"

In such an institution there would be a prophetical chair.
That portion of the Scriptm-e, which takes such immediate
hold of the living present and the immediate future, would
not be neglected as it now is. Who would fill such a chair ?
Who would be competent to show the interlacings of current
events with those that are shortly to come to pass ? Who
would apply the key of experience to the lock of prophecy,
unfolding to us the great doors of the opening age, and giv-
ing us a view of the scenes which lie next in order in the
g]'and march and mystery of Providence ? This is a prac-
tical question, a question appropriate to the hour, standing,
as we do, just at the eve of important and high prophetic
dates. " How is it," says Christ, " that ye do not discern
this time ? " As much as to say, it concerns you to do so.
If you are to meet its demands, you must not confound it
with other times — times whose characteristics, and conse-
quently whose responsibilities, are widely different. The
wise men of Issachar " had understanding of the times," to
know what Israel ought to do. But who will locate this
time ? If a crisis is approaching, who will define its charac-
ter ? Every thing indicates impending change. Never was
the world farther from an equilibrium than now ; or, if you
please, never was its equilibrium more unstable. What


irreconcilable theories of social order ; what angry clouds
skirt the political sky ! How widely different those systems
of faith which divide the Christian world ! What accumu-
lated materials of conflict, change and revolution are garnered
up in the elements around us ! "We need now, if ever, men
of discernment in " the times," guided to a right interpreta-
tion of them ; not by the false beacons of pif)fane history, or
the flickering light of mere outward signs ; but by the
" testimony of Jesus, which is the spirit of prophecy ; unto
which we do well to take heed, as unto a light shining in a
dark place."

The plans above suggested will require of course, in their
details, much consideration and much wisdom ; if, however,
the suggestions, in the main, meet your approval, would it
not be well to take some measures, on the spot, with a view
to give body and form to them. We are assembled, not to
'' build the tombs of the prophets," but to carry out their
principles ; to give permanence and, if it may be, expansion
to their thoughts. If we have caught their falling mantles,
let us, as the men of the haystack did, anticipate the demands
of the age about to open on us, an age which seems likely to
be eventful and critical beyond any that has gone before it.

Let us mark the occasion, if not by this, at least by some
great charity, worthy of the hour, worthy of the men whose
representatives we are, and worthy of that growing empire
whose completed triumphs we hope to share, when the great
trumpet is blown, announcing a higher Jubilee than this — a
joyful gathering of the long-lost, disinherited tribes, with the
fullness of the Gentile nations — a day when not the affairs of
a single commonwealth only, but " all things " * shall be
adjusted and rectified.

* Acts iii. 21.


The following hymn was sung to the tune of
Lenox :

Blow ye the trumpet, blow

The gladly solemn sound ;
Let all the nations know,
To earth's remotest bound,
The year of jubilee is come ;
Keturn, ye ransomed sinners, home.

Exalt the Lamb of God,
The sin-atoning Lamb ;
Redemption through his blood
Through aU the world proclaim !
The year of jubilee is come ;
Return, ye ransomed sinners, home.

The gospel trumpet hear,

The news of pardoning grace ;
Ye happy souls draw near,
Behold your Saviour's face ;
The year of jubilee is come ;
Return, ye ransomed sinners, home.

Jesus, our great High Priest,
Has full atonement made ;
Ye weary spirits rest.

Ye mourning souls, be glad.
The year of jubilee is come ;
Return, ye ransomed sinners, home.

A recess of fifteen minutes.

The exercises were recommenced by singing the
following stanzas, to the tune of Coronation :

All hail the power of Jesus' name ;

Let angels prostrate fall ;
Bring forth the royal diadem,

And crown him — Lord of all.



Ye chosen seed of Israel's race,
Ye ransomed from tjie fall,

Hail him ■who saves you by his grace,
And crown him — Lord of all.

Sinners, whose love can ne'er forget
The wormwood and the gall ;

Go, spread your trophies at his feet,
And crown him — Lord of all.

Let every kindred, every tribe

On this terrestrial ball,
To him all majesty ascribe.

And crown him Lord of all.

Hey. Chester Dewey, D. D., LL. D., of Rocliester.
. Y., who was a teacher m
1808 to 1827, led m prayer.

1^. Y., who was a teacher m Williams College from

Mr. Field. " The speakers whom we have in-
vited to address you, are representative men. The
first to be heard is, of course, the rej)resentative
of our Alma Mater. You will therefore now hear
the honored President of this cherished institution,
Mark Hopkins.'^ Rev. Mark Hopkms, D. D.,
spoke as follows :

This occasion, Mr. Chairman, draws its life from its con-
nection with the kingdom of Christ, and must mark an era
in the progress of the missionary cause. It shows the hold
which, that cause has on the sentiments and the affections of
men. The consecration of a memorial such as we set apart
to-day, has no respect to the more immediate and coarser
utilities of life. It is a flowering out of the inner and more
subtle life ; it is the perfume of that life ; it is the offering
up of incense ; it is the breaking of an alabaster box of


ointment, very precious, and pouring it out in sympathy with
the Saviour and in honor of him. Him we rejoice that we
may thus honor. Only as we honor Him will this occasion
avail anything. Not, we trust, with any spirit of pride, or
of vainglory, is this offering made ; but with gratitude, with
humility, with adoring wonder at the ways of Him who,
from the mustard-seed planted here fifty years ago, has
caused to grow so great a tree ; who, with the little leaven
that here began to work, has so leavened the nations.

But while the great interest of the occasion is thus drawn
from its connection with the kingdom of Christ, it yet has a
connection with this College ; and that is the special ground
on which I am now called to address you.

No service can be rendered to education so great as to
bring it into a closer and more vital connection with religion,
and through that, with some form of great and heroic action.
But the educating power of an institution is not solely
from what that institution is at any given moment — from its
buildings, its apparatus, its libraries, its teachers ; it also lies
much in the influences of nature and of society around it ;
in the memories of the past, and in its connection with great
interests and events. No man worth educating, ever passed
through this College without being in part educated by these
great mountains. Greylock is an educator. They are of a
style and an order of architecture that is very ancient, and,
though they cost nothing, are worth more than any ever de-
vised by man. We do not wish to educate merely the
intellect, but also the moral nature ; to control the associations
and to reach the springs of action. Surely there must be a
legitimate use of association in education, not superstitious or
idolatrous ; and we wish to associate literature and science
with all that is beautiful and grand in nature, and all that is
pure and elevating in religion. We wish to link in minds of
the highest culture, sentiments of veneration and honor with
humble prayer, and with devotion to the cause of Christ.
Oh, Sir, if this could but be, if indolence and vice could but


be banislied from this College, if there could be here two
hundred and twenty young men, fully receiving the influ-
ences of nature which God has spread around them, and fully
yielding themselves to the power of that religion which he
has revealed, I would not exchange my position for any one
upon earth.

All this we may not hope, but something we may ; and
whence, if not from linking more and more, as we here hope
to do, educated mind with Christian effort ?

Let, then, this memorial be permanent. Let the plan that
has been drawn be realized. Let there be here an Arbore-
tum with every tree and shrub that will grow in this latitude.
Let every missionary station have a memorial, of some kind,
on some part of these grounds. Let the beauties of nature,
and the attractions of science, and the associations connected
with the missionary work, be here combined as they may be,
as they can be on scarcely any other spot, and we may surely
hope there will be in all this an educating power. Who can
tell what thronging thoughts, what clustering associations, what
high resolves thei'e may be, as these walks shall be trodden,
now by the solitary muser, and now by those whose hearts
shall burn within them as they commune together concerning
the things of the kingdom of Christ ? May we not hope that
here the purpose shall be formed by many to take up the
sickle and reap in that harvest whose field is the world ?
May there not be many who shall kneel on yonder spot, and
pray as Mills and his associates prayed, and devote them-
selves to the cause of God and man as they devoted them-
selves ? So may it be. The cause of Christ is the great
central interest in this world. For that I wish this College
to stand. Because of this memorial I hope it may better
serve that cause — may be more what a College ought to be —
and therefore it is, that, in the name of the College, I thank
you, Mr. Chainnan, and you, brethren Alumni, for what
you have now so generously done. I thank all the donors
and friends, for what they have done. As an investment for


education, it will be worth more than it has cost ; as an out-
pouring of affectionate regard for the missionary work, as the
solitary public memorial on the face of the earth in honor of
the highest form of self-sacrifice and heroic effort, its value
and its power cannot be estimated. Its influence will be felt
to the remotest missionary station, and will mingle, not im-
perceptibly, with those that shall swell the ultimate triumphs
of the Redeemer.

Mr. Field. " Next in order is the Eev. Rufus
Anderson, Senior Secretary of the American
Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions,
the representative of that great Missionary Corpo-
ration which had its origin in. the influences here
begun, and which, having since gone on steadily
increasing year by year, has now its posts in every
part of the habitable globe ; posts more powerful
than frownmg fortresses ; posts of Christian Avar-
fare, centres of knowledge and civilization ; points
of radiating light." Rev. Dr. Anderson responded
as follows :

Mr. Chairman: — Less than a year ago, it was my
privilege to stand on the site of Antioch, where the first
foreign missionaries received their special designation from
the Holy Ghost. This historical association was to me the
principal charm of that beautiful and interesting spot. Next
to Jerusalem, and the Sea of Galilee, I have most pleasure
in the recollection of Antioch. But where am I now ? The
mountains yonder are not ranges of Lebanon, nor is yonder
stream the Orontes. "We are met in the new world. The
historical events we commemorate occurred within the mem-
ory of some of us. Nevertheless they are important, and
have and will have a place on the historic page. And they


make this, rather than any and all other places, the Antioch
of our western hemisphere.

We may not claim, that the foreign missionary spirit in
our American churches had its first development here. The
proof is ample that it had not. But, so far as my own
researches have gone, the G.vst jjersonal consecrations to the
work of effecting missions among foreign heathen nations,
were here. Here the Holy Ghost made the first visible
separations of men in this country, for the foreign work
whereto he had called them. The first observable rill of the
stream of American missionaries, which has gone on swell-
ing until now, issued just on this spot ; and I am thankful
the spot has been so well identified, and is so convenient of
access, and withal so beautiful ; and that it has now been
secured and consecrated as a permanent memorial.

The development and result of this movement meet our
reasonable wishes. Samuel J. Mills rests near the shores of
Africa. The grave of James Richards I saw in Ceylon.
Gordon Hall sleeps among the Mahrattas of Western India.
Hall died young ; but a life of rare and consistent devoted-
ness, illustrated by noble exhibitions of talent, give him a
place in the highest rank of missionaries.

The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign
Missions had its origin in the desire and request of young
men of the Andover Seminary, including those just named,
to be sent abroad as missionaries. These two things stand
in the immediate relation of cause and effect. I am also
persuaded, that the forming of the ' Society of Brethren '
here in this College, in September, 1808, — before even the
conversion of Dr. Judson, — and its removal to the Andover
Seminary early in 1810, or sooner, had much to do, by its
weekly conferences and prayers, in maturing the plans of its
members. Its leading object, indeed, as we are assured,
" was so to operate on the public mind as to lead to the
formation of a Missionary Society." And its members cor-
responded on this subject with the men, who actually became
the founders of the American Board.


In my exploration of the aixhives of this Board, nothing
has impressed me more forcibly, than the evidence they
furnish of the want of visible openings for missionaries in
the heathen world, less than fifty years ago. No positive
Instructions had the five brethren first sent forth, as to their
fields of labor. Their designation was simply to India, with
the hope of their gaining a foothold somewhere on its broad
surface. I presume that now we could designate five hun-
dred missionaries in difierent parts of India, easier than our
fathers could those five, with the world of heathendom
before them.

And this leads me to say, that, as yet, the prospects of the
missionary enterprise are more favorably affected by the
openings, facilities, and means for doing the work, (that is,
by the direct results of God's providence,) than by the actual
planting of churches ; though we are not without promising
results of this nature. Almost every war and revolution,
for the past fifty years, every discovery and invention, steam-
boats, railroads, telegraphs, involving together the cost of
millions of lives and thousands of millions of money, have
in some form or other been used by Providence to prepare

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 12 of 31)