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 28 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 28 of 31)
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man is sharp ; the Brahmin is quick and keen at a sophism ; and
even the Turk can propound to you diflicult questions on the
Trinity. Your intellectual work will not be all play. Henry
Martyn carried with him the highest scholarship of Cambridge,
and left behind him the name of the man who never was beaten
in an argument. Doubt it not, even in those far-off lands, your
power for good will be increased by the whole momentum of
your intellectual weight. And often with the sword of the Spirit
and the helmet of faith, you will need the spear of Ithimel too.

Be watchful over the body, as well as the heart and the mind.
We send you as laborers, and not martyrs or victims ; sacrifices,


but living sacrifices. You have spent too many years of prepara-
tion to throw away your lives as a thing of naught. Chi-ist's
kingdom knows no such economy as that. The Master said :
" Occupy till I come." You are to use, and not bury your talent.
A late divine once published a sermon entitled " Death a duty."
But, brethren, be very sm-e death is not your duty, so long as
you can live to labor. Your sympathies will be sadly, teri-ibly
moved by the whiteness of the harvest and the fewness of the
reapers. But if you prematurely break yourselves down, you
but make the reapers fewer and the harvest sadder. Work,
work to the full extent of your powers, but not beyond. Heed
the fii-st symptoms of danger, and rescue yourselves for other
years of toU. You are too precious an oifering to have your
heart's blood spilled like water, and every year will add to your
value. Remember, at times, the minister who hoped to preach
more sermons than Whitefield, but to be longer in doing it. As
often, therefore, as you are tempted to destroy yourselves, see
that you do it not. But I will teU you what to do. Raise high
the signal of distress. Blow long and loud your trumpet to the
rescue. Let it echo from the Green Mountains to the Mississippi.
Let it reverberate through academy, and college, and seminary,
and church. Let it pierce these mothers' hearts; let it stir
the young blood in these children's veins ; let it disturb the con-
science of these sleeping Jonahs and careless Gallios ; call louder
and louder, till the answer comes. Yea, in aU your watching,
forget not the church at home. Keep fast hold of the cords ot
sympathy. Draw on the prayers and interest of your friends.
Help us rouse this young North-west. Hold on upon your fellow
students and their successors. Sufler not the missionary line — the
noblest of apostolic successions — ever to die out in this yom- alma
mater. We charge you in aU your watching for souls abroad,
watch, also, for missionaries and the missionary sj)irit at home.

" Endure afflictions" or "hardness." The day is indeed gone
by when the missionary was said to take his life in his hands, or
even when his departure was thought to be returnless. Fifty
years have wrought great changes. But the small number of
volunteers proves the work to be still distasteful to flesh and
blood. Life-long partings, exile from home and native land —
sweet words, young brethren, — loss of society, of culture, of
institutions, begin the long catalogue. Then comes the time
when you will stand tongue-tied in the face of error and sin, like

a motionless soldier before the bayonet charge. There is the
long drudgery, the halting speech, perhaps the long, fruitless
toils, the bitter disajipointnient, the half-enlightened convert, and
the hypocrite. Families are to be reared in moral Saharas ; your
comrades droop ; the harvest whitens, and beckons, and perishes ;
the churches are dull of hearing, and the young missionaries slow
in coming ; a money panic sweeps across the mother-land ; a
complication of troubles arises at your field of labor, which you
can neither cure, nor endure, nor escape. You will indeed reap
new joys ; but such as these, and many more, will be your afflic-
tions. Endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ. You have
served, the most of you, and endured well, as soldiers of your
country. One of you helped hold Missouri fast in the Union.
One marched to put down conspirators in Indiana. One has
been under fire at Memphis and at Corinth, and one of you left
his right arm at Vicksburg. Be as willing and as faithful soldiers
of the cross as of your country, and we ask no more. [Subdued

"Do the work of an Evangelist." That, brethren, is your
calling. You go to preach the Gospel of repentance and faith to
the lost. The anguish, and the search, and the joy of the old man
Chu have reached your ears from Tientsin ; the call of the dying
Chapin has been borne to you from India ; you have heard the
wail that came from Central Turkey, " begging and imploring"
for help.

And now you go to the teeming land where the civilization has
come down like a frozen mammoth from the ages past ^ to that
other land, where the first family of the great Aryan race found a
home and embalmed itself in a marvelous tongue ; and to that
other region where Homer sung, and Alexander conquered, and
the younger Cyrus began his iU-fated march, where Abram left
his father, where Paul was born, and the disciples were first
called Christians, and the seven churches had their warnings.
But it is not your errand to explore the grotesque civilization of
China, to delve in the mine of Sanscrit learning, nor to follow the
track of Alexander, or Cyrus, or Abram, or Barnabas and Paul,
nor to muse by the ruins of Troy, the banks of the Cydnus, the
temple of Diana, or the mud-hovels of the old " Queen of the
East." You walk in the footsteps of Christ. You go to pour in
the rich light and life of God's love. You go to found other
sevens of churches in Asia Minor, to call other men to he Chris-


tians in Antioch. We do not expect you to shut youi* eyes and
steel your hearts to all the scenes and associations around you,
as Howard went through Europe and saw nothing but the inside
of its prisons. And yet, in the true meaning of the phrase, you
are to know nothing but Christ, and him crucified.

It may be yom* privilege to add to the mass of obligations
with which missions have made science their debtor. Do so if
you can. But remember, these things are but the fragrance
which religioia sheds forth from her vestments, as she walks on
her high errand of mercy. Get'aU the comfort you can, diffuse
all the incidental benefits you can, abroad and at home, but ever-
more do the work of an Evangelist.

And, finally, " make full proof of your ministry." It is the
ministry of reconciliation. It rests evermore on those great pri-
mal truths — a sin-hating God, a sin-loving world, an atoning
Saviour — the only name given under heaven, among men, where-
by we must be saved. Remember, we charge you, except as
you 2)reach an atoning Saviom-, you have no errand to the heathen.
They know their sin. They feel God's anger, but they see no
hope. The world over, and time through, they have confessed it
in penance and sacrifice, in fear and despair. You go to
point them to the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the

Remember, they are to be sanctified through the truth ; and
in God's economy the regenerating Spirit foUows in the track of
the word. Whatever may be our theories as to the possibility
that men who know not of Christ, may yet be saved for Christ's
sake, if they would but believe in a loving God with a purifying
faith ; never forget this tremendous and appalling fact, that
among the countless millions of our race, the annals of history
do not record a dozen cases of such a faith, such a love, and
such obedience, except where the word of God has been made

Proclaim, then, God's word and not your own speculations.
Not merely the milk for babes, but in due time give them the
meat for men. Remember you are performing the solemn work
of laying the foundations for the far-distant futm-e. Lay them
wisely and well. Build on the only foundation, Jesus Christ ;
build with the gold, silver, and precious stones of divine truth,
broad, strong, and high. And, brethren, press home that
truth with all its practical, personal power, in the church, in the

street, in the house, and by the way. With faith and prayer,
urge it home, and then feel, with the noble Judson, that your
prospects are " bright." You can trust that truth with the same
composure amid the manifold oppositions abroad, as among the
infinite scepticisms at home. The living Christ is an ever-living
power, and the ministry of Christ a resistless agency. Make but
full iDroof of that ministry, and the end is as sure as the throne
and the promise of God.

And now, brethren, go to your work. You are among our
jewels, but we lay you on Christ's altar. Would you were more.
Sadly but cheerfully we say these parting words. We shall miss
your pleasant faces and cheerful voices in our seminary halls.
We shall miss you from our festal days, our Alumni gatherings,
and convocations of the ministry. We shall miss the warm
grasp, and the ever kindly word and look. We shall miss your
yotmg enthusiasm and your hearty cooperation in our plans of
good for this great North-west. But in Christ's name we bid you
go to your distant fields. Only, dear brethren, join hands with
us still across the continents ; let us feel your warm heart-beat
through intervening oceans ; from the antipodes let us hear your
welcome greeting, and we are content. From the banks of the
Ganges, the Yellow Sea, or the old Orontes, and from the shores
of Lake Michigan, the paths of duty all converge to the one
heavenly home ; and there are Woods, and Spring, and Newell,
and Judson, with a glorious company and a goodly fellowship,
awaiting you and us. Therefore, my dear young brethren, go on
your way to the distant nations in the calm and holy confidence
of the Master's presence, and in all " the fullness of the blessing
of the Gospel of Christ."



As the young men who have now been ordained to the minis-
try of the Gospel, are destined to the special work of Foreign
Missions, it seems proper that, in addition to the usual services of
ordination, a few w^ords should be spoken more especially conse-
crating them to that specific work ; and so, at their request, in
the name, and in behalf of the seminary from which they go


forth, and of the chm-ches of the North -west, therein rei^resented,
I now present to yon, sir, as the representative of the Board,
and through you to the cause of missions, these young men, our
pupils and our sons.

This Seminary, and the churches which it represents, could
give you, sii-, no higher proof of their attachment to the Ameri-
can Board, and to the great cause of missions, than the gift which
they bring you to-night. For it is not their silver or then- gold
which they now give you, but that which is dearer and more
precious than either — their own sons. And this they do not
from their abundance, but of their deep poverty. The value of
a gift depends somewhat on the resources of the giver ; and
whatever, in other respects, may be the resources of the Christian
Churches of the North-west, of men educated, arid fitted for the
ministry, they have none to sj)are. Never was their poverty, in
this respect, and their pressing need, greater than now. From the
great chain of lakes, on whose border we stand to-night, to the
Rocky Mountains, and thence to the far Pacific, hands are out-
stretched, and voices upraised, saying, send us me7i — men who
shaU show us the way of salvation, and break unto us the bread
of life. Send us those whom you have been educating for the
work — those whom we sent to you to be thus instructed. We
look upon this field so vast and ready for the harvest, and then
upon the little band of Christian students who to-day go forth
from om- seminary, and say what are these eighteen among so
many ? Were they multiplied an hundred fold, it would not be
enough. And yet from this little band we take out almost one-
thu'd the entii'e number, and set them apart to another destina-
tion. We say to our own destitute churches, you can not have
aU these men. For across the distant ocean other hands are up-
raised, and other voices are crying out for the bread of life, and
in that cry, borne over the seas and mountains of a continent, we
recognize the voice of the Master. It comes in at the doors and
windows, through the haUs of yonder Seminary, and we dare not
disregard it. And so to these outstretched Western hands,
empty and famishing, we tm-n and say, touch not the Lord's
anointed ; touch not those whom the Lord has called to his
more distant vineyard ; the Master hath need of them. And so,
in our poverty, and sad at heart, as we think of our own destitu-
tion, yet heartily and joyfully as we look over the field which is
the woi-ld, we give you these our pupils, our sons, our beloved
brethren in Christ, for the work of Foreign Missions.


If ever there was a generous gift, it is this of the churches of
the North-west to you to-night. But you have seen something of
these Western men, and you know that it is their way to give
generously, and to do with all their heart what they do at all.
As at the call of their country, they gave generously of their
noblest and then- best to battle for the true and the right, so now
they give of tlieii- choicest ones when demanded for Christ and
his cause. God's work must not be hindered whatever becomes
of us and our little affairs. And so here, O Lord, are we and
those whom thou hast given us.

And yet, su", though we thus speak, I have no fear that we
shall be impoverished. These churches, many as they are, and
destitute as they are, can well afford to send not these five only,
but the whole eighteen if they would go. For is it not the Divine
economy that the more we give the more we have ? Has it ever
been known in the history of missions, that the Christian Church
has grown poor by her generosity, and her devotion to the cause
of Christ ? "When the poor widow took from the last remaining
handful of meal to make a cake for the prophet, it was not
diminished-, but multiplied^ by the taking. And so will it be, sir,
with these our treasm-es. We give but to receive again. In the
beautiful vision of Ezekiel, the water that flowed out from be-
neath the temple, at the south of the altar, and flowed on into the
desert and into the east country, rapidly widened and deepened
as it flowed, and wherever it went, every thing sprang into new
life and beauty. So will it be with this little stream that starts
forth from oiu- altar to-night on its way to the desert and the
east country. It will widen and deepen as it runs. It will be-
come a mighty river. These five young men are but the first fruits
— the earnest — the beginning of what this Western land of ours
is yet to do for the work of Foreign Missions. There are not
less than thirty students, in various stages of the com-se, in our
colleges, who are already committed to this service. The stream
is only to the ankles as yet, but a little farther on it is a. river that
no man can ford, and the desert through which it passes shall
burst into verdure, and blossom as the garden of the Lord.

And what shall I say of these young men whom I now present
to you. It was a singular Providence that sent to us from our
own New England, from our own Massachusetts, your mother
and mine, two of her sons, to receive their theological training,
wholly or in pai-t, in this Western world, then to pass on to a


still more distant field of labor among the heathen. "We would
not hold them back, much as we value them. They are not ours,
but Sis. Of these five, fom' have been in the service of their
country, and go from the field of material conflict to engage in
the sterner strife with a spiritual, but not less real or less dan-
gerous foe. They know what sufiering and peril are. That
empty sleeve testifies of courage and of patriotism. That arm
that bore aloft the flag of his country, and held it firm amid the
iron hail at the capture of Vicksburg, was left indeed upon the
field ; but the arm that remains will hold aloft the standard of the
Cross on the plains of India, and never sufier it to be lowered or

But I must not speak further. It seems but a little time since
we welcomed these our young brethren to the Seminary as
students. In the few years that they have been with us, we have
come to know them and to love them. And now, as they go out
from us, they carry with them our sincere esteem, our high ap-
preciation of their intellectual and moral worth, our afiection,
and our prayers. We shall not forget them. They will not be
forgotten by the churches of the North-west. As the mother of
Samuel brought the lad to the temple, so to God's altar we come
bringing these our sons to-night. We give them to the God of
Samuel and of Jacob. We give them to Christ and His Church.
And as the mother of Samuel, in the long and solitary hours,
wrought for him with her own hands, the little garment, and
brought it to him, year by year, as she came to the temple, so for
these whom we bring to-night to the altar, willing hands shall
toil, and earnest prayers go up, while they are far away among
the heathen.



It is with great satisfaction that I receive these " first-fruits "
of your Seminary as the representative of the Board ; for them I
desire to express my cordial thanks. When, a few months ago,
our hearts were so heavily burdened, we little dreamed that the
day-spring would appear in the West. We knew that the " star
of empire " was passing by us ; but we had not learned to say :
" Westward the star of missions takes its way." During my


connection with the Missionary House (twenty-four years), nothing
has occurred in our home operations which has so cheered us as
this offering of yours. And not us only : word has gone forth to
other lands, " Wait a little longer ; the West is coming to the

But I must be allowed to tender my gratulations as well as
my thanks. It seems to me that your Seminary has ceased to be
a Western institution, and become a national institution, or rather
a world-institution. The setting apart of these young men is not
done in a corner. It will be talked about and prayed over by
four thousand churches. The patriarchs of the East will call to
mind the ordaining of the first five — that event which sent such
a quickened life through all our churches, and they will give you
their blessing. Mothers in Israel, who have scarcely heard of you
till now, will render thanks for " the grace of God bestowed
upon " you, and will invoke in your behalf the choicest benedic-

I know the value of this offering. I -know what it will be for
us. I know what it would be for the West. I fully believe,
however, that your loss will prove to be your gain. By our
earthly arithmetic, five from eighteen leave thirteen. But by the
celestial arithmetic, subtraction becomes addition. In this in-
stance, I am sure that five from eighteen will leave, not thirteen^
nor even eighteen., but many more. No. These young men are
not lost to the United States, but saved rather.

And now, my dear young brethren, with feelings which I can not
describe, I turn to you. I am commissioned by the Prudential
Committee to tender you the right hand of fellowship. In their
name I welcome you to a self-denying but honored service. I
welcome you to a jDartnership with us, in the work of saving the
world. I welcome you to the goodly company of the servants of
Christ in heathen lands. I welcome you to the joy of beholding
Emmanuel's coming glory, as it touches with silver radiance the
high places of paganism, and slowly descends to the deeper
shadows below. I welcome you to that peace, hke a river, which
the Great Missionary always keeps in store for such as truly obey
his last command, I welcome you to the ineffable smile which,
in the final apocalypse, is sure to rest on those who cordially for-
sake all for Christ.

I have not come here, you perceive, to speak in the " minor
mode." No. I regard you as called by the grace of God to the


foremost place among tlie sons of men. I honor the pastorate.
To my apprehension there is in the home field no place like it.
But you go up still higher. You have entered the Pauline band.
With the great apostle you can say, " Unto me who am less than
the least of all saints, is this grace given that I should preach among
the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ." Would you prove
yourselves worthy of your office? Let these words become " as
frontlets between your -eyes." Rather, let their spirit, as it were
the sw^eetest perfume, pervade the inmost chambers of your

In your meditations thereon, be sure to begin where Paul began.
" Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace
given." Lay the foundation of your missionary life in the truest
humility. And when you can take your place beside the Apostle
in this respect, you will be ready for those other words, " the
unsearchable riches of Christ." You will not expect me to dwell
upon this theme. I frankly confess that I have not that knowledge"
of it which I would fain possess. The more I know of the
unsearchable riches, the more unsearchable they appear. The
more I study them, the more they seem to transcend all study.

Here then we have two of the chief elements of missionary
success, I may say of ministerial success — ^the lowest views of
self, and the highest views of Christ. Chai-les Simeon revealed
unconsciously the secret of his great usefulness, when he said :
" There are but two objects that for these forty years I have
desh-ed to behold; — one is my own vileness; the other is the
glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

To what we welcome you, you have already heard. There are
some things to which we do not welcome you. We do not welcome
you to a tempting salary. What we receive ourselves, we give
to you — an economical support — nothing more. We do not
welcome you to an untroubled and smoothly-flowing life. How
much of joy or sorrow may befall you, we must leave in the hands
of the Father. We do not welcome you to length of days. We
would gladly do it, if we could ; but the Angel of Death is obedi-
ent to another will than ours. We do not welcome you to great
visible success. If you live to three score years, or three score
and ten, you will see important changes, I doubt not; some,
perhaps, that you do not anticipate. That noble missionary who
has just gone up to his heavenly home (Dr. Goodell) sailed into
the Golden Horn in the early summer of 1831. He found himself


in a city fitted by its position to be the queen of the earth. But,
alas ! what intense bigotry did he find ! What bitter hatred -of
the truth! A death penalty, sure to be enfi3rced, hung above the
head of every Moslem. "Renounce Islam and die," was the
brief formula. He, and those who joined him, toiled on four and
twenty years, guiding inqinrers to Christ, and gathering churches ;
when, lo ! that which they had not dared to hope for at first, came
to pass. That old death penalty was swept away ! How ? " War
did it," says one. " Diplomacy did it," says another. But neither
could have done it — both together could not have done it, without
the Missionary. " The poor wise man saved the city."

At times you may grieve for your poor success, just as pastors
do at home. You may bewail, for instance, the shortcomings
of your converts. But when the burden is heavy upon you, read
Paul's epistles. And remember, especially, that God seeth not
as man seeth. Ten years ago, it was the lamentation of mission-
aries in all parts of India, that their churches had so little of
Christian manliness. Just then, however, the Sej^oy rebellion
burst upon the world. And when the storm had passed by, it was
found that these feeble, sickly children of theu-s had met the shock
with a courage and firmness that became theii* wonder and delight.

No. We do not welcome you to assured success, but to just so
much as the Master shall be pleased to give you, commending his
own words to your prayerful study, " According to yom- faith be it
unto you." And there will be single scenes in your history, I doubt
not, which will amply repay you for all yotu- toil ; as when a mis-
sionary of ours stood by a dying Hindoo, and heard him say, feebly,
faintly, " Christ has taken all of mine, and given me aU of his."

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 28 of 31)