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 13 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 13 of 31)
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the way to enhghten and convert the world. The embarrass-
ment of Missionary Societies now, is not to find places for
missionaries, but men for the places.

Since the 10th of February, 1812, the American Board
has sent forth into the heathen world 358 ordained mission-
aries, 26 medical missionaries not ordained, 138 lay helpers,
and 616 female assistants ; making one thousand one hun-
dred and thirty-eight sent from this country. The native
helpers employed would swell the number, from the begin-
ning, to 1,738.

The missionaries of the Board, now in the field, are 167
ordained ministers, 29 laymen, and 224 females ; making
420 in all. Adding the native helpers, the number exceeds

The receipts of the Board in its first year (1811) were


$1,000. Last year, they were $310,000. The amount
contributed from the beginning to this Board, exceeds

Following the lead of Providence, how widely have these
missionaries been dispersed over the world ! We find them
among the tribes of our western wilderness, — on the Sand-
wich Islands, — in Micronesia, — along the coast of Chiaa, —
in Ceylon, — in Southern and Western India, — among the
Nestorians of Persia, — the Syrians of Mesopotamia, — the
Arabs of Lebanon, — the Armenians of Turkey, — the Greeks,
— and in Southern and Western Africa.

There is not time even to glance at the history of any of
these missions. They stand connected with the great system
of efforts prosecuted by evangelical Christians of every
name, — a greater and more powerful evangelical body, than
was ever before on the earth, and a mightier system of evan-
gelical means, than was ever before put in operation by the
Chiistian church. The missions of this Board are part and
parcel of this great and mighty system. And, with rare
exceptions, the whole are one in object, one in operation, one
in spirit ; with barely enough of the animus of sectarianism
to propagate the sects ; building up a growing denomination
of Christians, — the only denomination, as I am informed, for
which the language of the Sandwich Islands has yet a
name, — the Mngdom of Christ. That, Sir, is what our now
glorified brethren prayed for under the haystack ; and God
grant that that kingdom may soon fill the whole world.

I have alluded to the remarkable and most expressive
bearing, which God's providential government is seen to
have on the missionary enterprise. We are not to suppose,
that the Most High has in any degree relaxed his hand,
since the Old Testament times, in the government of the
world. He now controls the movements of the nations so
as to help, and not to hinder, his people in their efforts to
extend his kingdom ; and a close observation of diplomatic,
commercial and civil history, since the events occurred which


we are this day commemorating, will leave no need of some
inspired sage to show the world to be full of this controlling

Now that the ' fullness of time ' is drawing near, we
begin to see more and more of those grand operations of the
divine Spirit, which characterized the first age of the Chris-
tian church. For an instance, the Acts of the Apostles
furnish no more remarkable triumph of the cross, than is
presented to our admiring view at the Sandwich Islands.
Why, Sir, this very year, the government of that young
Christian nation, after paying some $40,000 for the support
of schools for the native youth and children, pledged $10,000
towards the endowment of a College at those Islands, for the
children of missionaries and other foreign residents. And
so ready are those native Christians to help us in sending
the gospel to the insular world beyond them, defraying
indeed the greater part of the expense, that the Prudential
Committee have felt obliged to begin the building of a mis-
sionary ship, to be sent out and wholly employed in this
service. And the call in the Armenian mission is not now
met by an appropriation even of $60,000 for the year. I
remember, when walking with the venerated Jeremiah
EvARTS, many years ago, he said, with emphasis of manner,
" Some of us may live to see the time when the receipts of
the Board shall be ten thousand dollars a month ! " My
own feeling then was, it will be long first. But it was not.
And now, more than half of that sum is demanded by a
single prosperous mission, which was not in existence when
the remark was made. The Board has come to need con-
siderably more than $25,000 a month, in order merely to
live. I suppose. Sir, we shall seem to those who come after
us to be advancing with but a slow progress. But, looking
simply at what has been accomplished, we must all feel like
exclaiming, ' What hath God wrought ! ' There is no longer
need of praying, that the valleys may be exalted and the
mountains and hills brought low, but that the Spirit may


be poured out upon all flesh. Sir, when the next Jubilee
of Fifty Years is celebrated here, — and it doubtless will
be, — ^how delightful to think what wonders of grace will
then be recorded !

Mr. Field. " One of the most numerous denom-
inations of Christians in the United States, if not
the most numerous of all, is the Baptist. This body
is distinguished not only by its piety, but by its
missionary spirit, it having always maintained its
independent missionary establishments. Its repre-
sentative here to-day is a former Governor of this
Commonwealth, known to you all, George N.

Hon. George N. Briggs, LL. D., of Pittsfield,
Mass., commenced by alluding to his connection
with the American Baptist Missionary Union, of
which he is President ; and expressed his interest
in all missionary enterprises, by whatever denomi-
nation of Christians prosecuted. He continued
and said :

A day or two ago, taking up a programme of these pro-
ceedings, I was surprised to find my name among the
prophets. But as this was strictly a religious affair, and as
I was a layman, I was quite content that it should be so.
I am satisfied that in the performance of public Christian
duties it has become too much the custom to put every thing
upon the clergy. This is not as it should be. By partici-
pating with them on such occasions, we should aid and
strengthen them in the peformance of their high and appro-
priate duties. The layman as well as the clergyman should
daily, by precept and examj)le, preach the gospel. This is
the appropriate mission of every disciple of Christ. The


lawyer should preach at the bar, the physician at the bedside
of his patient, the mechanic in his shop, the farmer in his
field, and the laborer at his worlc. Each should visibly bear
the yoke of his Master, and testify devotion to his service by
imitating him in ' going about, and doing good.'

This is an impressive Christian occasion, widely different in
its character from those which welcome the conqueror, or rend
the air with shouts to the party leader. Fifty years ago, those
five young men whose names have been uttered here with such
afiectionate pathos, met on that retired spot in the Hoosick
valley to pray. The mention of those prayers has touched
me more than all things else which have been said here
to-day. How deeply, O how deeply the destiny of those
young and faithful disciples of Jesus was involved in the
prayers which went up from their hearts to the Ruler of the
Universe. And who canitell what, in the economy of divine
Providence, will be the influence of those earnest and sincere
prayers upon the destiny of the human race. Their names,
then humble and obscure, have been given to immortality.

The wish to be remembered and the love of fame, are
innate in the heart of man. I would address myself to the
young men of this College now before me, who ai-e anxious
for a name that shall live when they are gone, and ask them
to turn their thoughts to the scenes around that haystack,
which have been the theme of this day's discussion. Let
them reflect what an intelligent and fixed resolution to obey
God, and be useful to man, strengthened by ardent, humble
prayer, have done for those who participated in them. Let
them recollect that the Bible declares, " The righteous shall
be in everlasting remembrance" " but the name of the wicked
shall rotr

The names of Mills, and Richards, and their associates,
will live and be revered by the wise and good amongst men,
when the name of Napoleon and the bloody list of conquer-
ors to which he belongs, will be remembered only as the
slaughterers of their race.


Mr. Field. " In the foremost rank of churclies
which have firmly maintained the right of con-
science, is the Church of Holland. Its history is
full of interest and mstruction. In the fatherland
it struggled, suffered and triumphed. In our
country its branches have flourished and borne
good fruit. It is honored of all for its doctrines
and its disciples. And we honor it, also, because
it took by the beard Philip the Second and the
Duke of Alva. That church is not absent from
our ceremonies to-day. We have with us one of its
honored ministers, the Rev. Isaac N. Wyckoff,
of Albany, who will now speak for it." Rev. Dr.
Wyckoff responded as follows :

Mr. Chairman : — In the midst of sucli a galaxy of talent
and piety, and such a full representation of the interest and
spirit of missions — particularly as the time appropriated to
these interesting exercises is necessarily so brief — and more
especially as there are several brethren here who ought to be
heard, because they belong to that noble corps who have
fought the battle of truth on the territory of error and false-
hood — I have felt, and do feel, as if my little contribution
might easily be dispensed with ; and I would do nothing but
listen and enjoy. Nevertheless, as a worthy friend of mine,
and your fellow- laborer on the Committee, claimed some tes-
timony from me, as a representative of the good old Dutch
Church in America, I accept the charge of the Committee
with all appropriate acknowledgment. And, Sir, I may
humbly claim, that the church of my fathers has not only a
deep stake in the peculiar relations of this occasion, but had,
perhaps, quite a distinguished instrumentality in producing
them. If that instrumentality did not suggest, it doubtless


greatly promoted the purpose of that enterprise which was
formed under the shelter of the haystack. Among the
exercises of that remarkable occasion, a sermon by the
Rev. Dr. John H. Livingston, of the Reformed Dutch
Church, on the subject of the coming glory of the gos-
pel, from the glorious text, " I saw a mighty angel flying
through the midst of heaven," &c., was read and earnestly
meditated. This sermon, which in force and beauty has
perhaps no superior in the English language, greatly en-
couraged and fired the minds of Mills and his companions.
As a pupil of that venerable professor, and as a Dutchman
" to the manor born," I feel that it is both a right and a priv-
ilege to lift up my voice in the midst of those who magnify
this providence.

But, Sir, what can one say, on such an occasion as this,
but echo the expression of the universal feeling, that tliis is
the greatest day, and the grandest scene, and the most spirit-
stirring association, that we have ever seen, or may hope to
see for a long time to come. This day. Sir, if I am rightly
informed, is the semi-centennial anniversary of the glorious
inception of our American Foreign Missionary enterprise.
Fifty years ago, there were watchers in this valley of hope,
who were peering over the dark mountains to see whether
any sign of heavenly light began to appear. These hearts
were startled and fired as they saw, or thought they saw, a
feeble dawn of the day of salvation to the heathen breaking
athwart the gloomy skies. It was a star of hope to their
minds, and they could not rest till they went and told their
brethren what things they had seen, and besought that they
might be sent to explore the dark places of the earth. Their
enthusiasm kindled some confidence in the minds of others ;
and they were sent, a feeble band, to contend with the mighty
forces of heathenism. The marvelous effect of that spark
of missionary fire, both at home and abroad, we are met to
celebrate this day. And, Sir, what can we do, what can we
say this day, but to lift up our hands with wonder and grat'


itude, and cry, " What hath God wrought ? " *' A little one
has become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation."

Behold the effect at home ! Then a few young men, un-
known to fame, meditated the sublime enterprise of destroy-
ing the kingdom of Satan on earth. Touched by the kin-
dling, spreading impulse, we have here, to-day, representatives
from many States, from many denominations, from many mis-
sions. We have here the sages and great men of the coun-
try, the advocates of law, the doctors of divinity, the mighty
minds of the nation. Abroad, we have shaken the founda-
tions of the Satanic empire ; we have made Moloch to trem-
ble ; we have broken the adamantine chain of caste ; we
have set up beacon-lights on the shores of perdition, and on
the mountains of error. We have, at least, made the dark-
ness visible every where, and created beautiful centres of
light in some places that before were dark as Erebus. We
have seen the presages of victory. We have heard voices,
as from heaven, saying, Go forward and conquer. Yes,
Sir, there are already kingdoms redeemed and Christianized
by this instrumentality — a great Christian literature created
in the once miwritten jargon of heathen accents. We have
conquered the primary difficulties. Our Jonathans and their
armor-bearers have reached the summit of the rock, and the
enemy must fall.

Oh, Sir, if God has wrought such things by us in the
incipient half-century when all was doubtful experiment,
what Avill we do in the next half-century, now the tactics are
well learned and the forces are well drilled. If, to-day, you
need a tent to cover ten thousand people who rejoice in what
the Lord has done, you will then need a tent that shall cover
all the Mission Park, to accommodate the thronging multi-
tudes who will gather here, to join in the shout,

" Jehovah has triumph'd, the people are free."

If another fifty years shall widen the missionary field in the
same geometrical ratio as the past fifty years has done, then


shall heathenism and false religion scarcely retain a province
in the whole wide world. And, Mr. President, why may
we not expect that the ratio of our missionary expansion
shall be even more than geometrical. Its spirit is creative
and hehocentric. Oh it cames man upward to the source of
light. It is amazingly attractive and provocative. Think,
again, "What has it already done ? As from Jerusalem the
glad tidings of redemption flew throughout all the countries,
so from this consecrated missionary field has gone forth an
influence that waked up the dormant energies of many
churches and innumerable souls. Without presenting exact
statistics, I may venture to affirm, that the mighty and praise-
worthy hosts of Presbyterianism, the multitudes of Baptist
brethren, the armies of Methodist pioneers, and religionists
of all names and stripes in our country, have either been set
in motion, or received a tenfold impetus from the spirit and
labors of our American Board.

And I take particular occasion to rejoice and thank God,
that this example has reached the steady and unexcitable
heart of my own ancient, blessed Dutch denomination, and
given to my church an impulse that will never cease to be
felt. Standing aloof and inaccessible to the many wild isms
of the day, she felt that there was neither superstition nor
fanaticism, in concurring with the missionary spirit of the
American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.
Sir, we feel that we owe much to the American Board.
Never should we have rejoiced over our Scudders, Pohlmans,
Dotys and Talmages, had not your Mills, Judsons, Newells,
set the great example of missionary abnegation and zeal.
For long years would it have been impracticable for our small
division of the sacramental host to march out to the field of
battle, had she not been pioneered and protected by your
advance-guard, and to a considerable degree provisioned from
your military chest. Yes, Sir, we are happy in recording
our acknowledgment to the American Board of Commis-
sioners for Foreign Missions.


But, Sir, your zeal and success have stii-red up new
thoughts in the minds of some ardent brethren among us.
What think you ? Taught' by your wisdom and inspired by
your courage, they talk, even now, of going alone into the
wilderness of heathendom, or ||mewhere in sight of your
watch-fires, to pitch a camp on their own account. For my-
self, I have not yet consented to this bold adventure. I am
not persuaded that it would be good policy. I prefer to
remain in good company. A child should not even seem to
be ungrateful to its mother. But I know and am persuaded,
that you would say with the utmost cordiality, in the view of
such a bold adventure, ' If you can do more good among the
heathen ; if you can hew a wider path abroad ; or if you
can raise a more numerous company, or a bolder and more
zealous spirit at home, by going alone, or separately mto the
work, then, in the name of souls that are perishing, in the
name of our common Lord and Master, go in peace ; and
may Heaven prosper your enterprise.' I echo. Sir, God's
will be done, and I will go with my brethren ; their God is
my God, and their work my work.

But while this missionary flotilla of the American Board
has its macliinery so sound and perfect, and while under the
great Commander of the winds and waves, a noble son of
my church is the commodore, I do not wish to cut the cable
that holds our craft in company. And I would fervently
add, beloved brethren, whether alongside or not, I will
always look with veneration and love upon the American
Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, and will
never cease to cry,

Good old ship, freighted with the world's salvation. On,
fly before the wind ; Heaven favor thee with an open sea
and a smacking breeze. Amen.

Mr. Field. " There are no sects here to-day.
There are branches of the one Christian church.


whose members are scattered throughout the Chris-
tian world. Of these churches are the Church
of England, and its daughter in the United States.
One of their clergy is here, the Rev. Stephen H.
Tyng, who will now address you ; a minister of
that ancient church, at Avhose altars our forefathers
wedded then- brides, and at whose fonts their chil-
dren received the holy rite of baptism." Rev. Dr.
Tyng, of New York replied :

I am much obliged to you. Sir, for your friendly notice of
the Episcopal Chui'ch as the "ancient Church." But I do
not appear in any sense before you as a representative of
that Church. I much doubt whether I should be generally
considered by them as a suitable representative of their body
at any time, and particularly now. The Tyngs are rather at
a discount there just now. But I trust I may come as a
member and representative of that much more ancient
Church, the elect, spiritual Church of the Lord Jesus, estab-
lished in the ancient settlements of his own covenant; that
Church which excludes none who love our Lord Jesus Christ
in sincerity ; that Church which embraces all in every nation
who fear God and work righteousness. This would seem to
be an occasion on which we might all forget that we belong
to any other body than this.

I am happy to make my first visit to this beautiful valley
on such an occasion as this, and rejoiced when I received
your unexpected invitation to embrace the opportunity of
meeting so many Christian brethren on this spot. Though
the weather has driven us out of the park where we expected
to meet, I could not allow it to prevent my visiting the spot
this morning. I went there to contemplate for myself the
beautiful scene, and strive to awaken myself with some of
its recollections. It struck me there was something highly
illustrative in a missionary park for a missionary memorial.


It seems a clear type of that free salvation in the Lord Jesus
Christ, which is especially the theme and the power of the
missionary work. A field enclosed, but open to the entrance
of all, in Avhich all have an equal right ; and the beauties
and comforts of which, all who please may equally enjoy.
This free salvation — open, imconditional pardon for all who
will receive it — is the great missionary message. It is to be
connected in this work with no Church authorities or sepa-
rations, with no Gerizims or Jerusalems. We are to go out
and proclaim to all mankind unlimited dehverance in the
blood of Christ to all who will accept it. The Missionary
Gospel is " a garden enclosed," but not exclusive ; inviting
everybody, shutting out nobody. Your park will be an
appropriate memorial of the fact. And well might all im-
prove its use and enjoyment in the thought. My right to the
blessings of the Gospel is just as free, and the Gospel that I
am to proclaim ought to be just as freely offered. I may
have it, and everybody may have it, without money and
without price. The Father seeketh such to worship him.

I was much interested in the thought which you suggested.
Sir, in your opening address this morning, of the planting
there of a specimen tree from every clime in Avhich the mis-
sionary message is delivered, that will grow in our climate.
This is also our great work, to plant for the Lord, in every
land, " trees of righteousness, that he may be glorified." I
trust that all our work may be the planting of the Lord. But
when you suggested tliis thought, it recalled the disappoint-
ment to my mind which I felt this morning on the ground.
I had thought your park extended to the river-side, and, like
the walks on the Cherwell and the Cam in our motherland,
your future youth were to have the river beauties before
them too. But I see you have shut the river out, and have
left no chance for water-plants ; no token that the abundance
of the sea is to be converted unto Christ. Now, Sir, I would
say. Go buy the residue of this field down to the margin of
the river, before your own improvements have aroused the


selfish cupidity of the property-holders around you. Spread
out an ample surface for your memorial trees, and an ample
provision for the walks and meditations of your future mis-

I was quite struck, too, with the thought, while your jubilee
orator was addressing us, of the propriety of the haystack as
a memorial of our missionary work. I would keep the hay-
stack always there. Not an iron haystack, as my reverend
friend. Dr. Wyckoff, proposes. He must remember, that for
iron the Lord will bring silver. There is no iron in the
kingdom of God. I would have a real haystack, renewed
when needful. It is a beautiful emblem. The missionary
work is the harvest-work of the world. We are gathering
in the Lord's harvest. We are building the Lord's haystack.
We gather from every field, to combine in one common
assemblage. And, ah, who can tell from what field the vari-
ous straws come, but the Lord alone. They are all alike.
George Whitefield called out once, " Father Abraham, have
you any Episcopalians in heaven ? No. Have you any
Methodists there ? No. Have you any Baptists there ? No.
What have you then ? Nothing but Christians." This is
the character of our work. Missionaries belong to no
Church, but the Lord's whole Church. Who ever thinks in
reading the Life of Martyn, for whom a Congregationalist
has now furnished a sepulchre, that he was an Episcopalian ?
or the Life of Judson, that he was a Baptist ? We feel a
common property in this harvest-work. The straws are all
alike when they get into the haystack. Let us never be sat-
isfied to cock up our little rakings of hay, and leave them in
the field to mould and mildew in separation. No, Sir ! A
final haystack, but no separate haycocks ! Bring it all home,
and let us build our haystack together, gathered from every
field, by every hand, in sunshine and in rain, and sing our
harvest-song over the finished work which the Lord has been
pleased to do for us all. We have no difierences in this
work. We have one great message to deliver, one great


work to accomplish, one great harvest to reap. A free salva-
tion for sinners in the blood of Jesus, the only-begotten Son
of God, is our message. The gathering of converted souls
to Christ is our work. The building of a spiritual Church
with new-born souls, in the enclosures of grace and glory, is

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 13 of 31)