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A CONVERTED Mahometan, whose look and manner indicated some degree of impatience during the last speech, now arose.
It has been a difficult matter, said he, while attending to the remarks which have just been made, to keep in mind that I was not in a Moslem assembly, and listening again to the stupifying strains of Islamic fatalism. I did not suppose that any one who searched and comprehended the Scriptures, ever employed such anti-christian and dangerous sophistry. What! charge upon God the sins of his rebellious creatures their most palpable contempt of his righteous law! Are "his ways then unequal, and our ways equal ?? Or is there no guilt, as has been averred, in the habitual neglect of one of the most important laws of Christ's kingdom. I would inquire whether there has not been time and opportunity and means to give the gospel a wider circulation ? If so, I would ask whether Christians have not been commanded in unequivocal terms to perform this work of benevolence and mercy? And if this be admitted, I would request to be shown how the charge of
unnecessary indolence, and aggravated guilt, can be averted ? Do not the time and opportunity and means, to obey a command, render its neglect criminal? Is it possible to escape this conclusion? Can it be evaded by any plea of human inability which does not sanction Antinomianism, and convert sin into holiness? I speak not of the wilful destruction of previous power.
Even this can never cancel obligation. I speak of the neglect of present ability -- of a refusal to attempt what we are capacitated to accomplish. How did that brother know, that the same decretal or providential preventive would not keep him from attending this meeting? Was he directed hither by an intimation from heaven? And is every plan he devises, and every act he performs, a matter of immediate revelation? Or are his principles only remembered and carried out, where difficult commands have been enjoined, and serious sacrifices required, and awful consequences involved? My own deluded sect often speak the same language; but it invariably proves their want of interest in the object to be secured — where their ambition is aroused, or their zeal inflamed, or their cupidity awakened, they lay aside their folly, and reason and act like men. It is true every thing is referred to unalterable destiny ; but now they very wisely submit to experiment, what before they listlessly abandoned to the will of Heaven. They will fight like determined heroes -defying danger and death. Neither the powers of earth, nor the elements of heaven can appal them in their career.
And then when their utmost energies fail, and victory sits perched on the standard of the foe, they will coolly seek consolation in the immutable decrees of Allah. This is their philosophy when they act, whatever may be their folly when they reason.
This brother on the contrary acts on the supposition that he knows these inscrutable decrees, and " that the time is not come. - the time that the Lord's house should be built." - Talk of presumption -- what presumption can equal this? for “ who hath known the mind of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him.”
It is well to look at the practical bearing of this argument. The command of God, and the opportunity to perform it are not sufficient, it would seem, to create obligation, or enforce obedience. Something farther is necessary, and for this we must wait ; but what events are we to expect — how long must we wait? Have not many centuries of gloom and wretchedness to the heathen world, proved that God does not preach the gospel himself, and that it will never be preached by those who defer their exertions in expectation of some further intimation of his will.
The truth is, his providence by no means always precedes his servants in their “work of faith and labour of love." So far from this, the most discouraging obstacles have often been removed by persevering zeal and diligence. Even the great Apostle of the Gentiles was thrice shipwrecked, and hundreds of times opposed in executing his undoubted commission.
But though an explicit command ought to forbid the waiting for any farther revelation, yet the Lord condescends to adapt his dealings to human weakness in all its forms. He has taken away even this fancied objection to missionary effort. His providence now unites with his word in inviting and urging the church to the evangelization of the heathen world.
From many places we hear the very voices of the heathen lifted up in imploring supplication for help. In South Africa so long have these anxious expectants been waiting for promised assistance, and so frequently have they been disappointed, that they have even impeached the veracity of the missionaries. Among some of the distant tribes of aborigines in America, the same earnest desire to be taught the revealed religion of the Great Spirit, has been strikingly exhibited. They have undertaken month's journeys for the book of God. 6 Give us a teacher,” has been a common request in the islands of the South Seas. India, with her one hundred and fifty millions of souls, stretches out her hands in earnest entreaty for aid. The vast kingdoms and islands beyond the Ganges are ready for the reception of numbers of missionaries. The whole world appears to be opening for the introduction of Christianity, and nothing is wanting but instruments, and the promised benediction of God upon them, to change every wilderness into an Eden, and every desert into the garden of the Lord.
What signs of God's " set time to favour Zion" are we to expect, if these prove insufficient? Could any other expression of his will be so sig. nal and satisfactory ? Paul was invited to Macedonia, and he went. To what country is not the church now invited ?
Oh that the brother who has spoken, and the large class he represents, would seek more extensive and accurate information respecting the present condition of the nations! I am certain that from their own premises they would become the warmest advocates of immediate action.
They would find the places which the providence of God has already prepared for the reception of the gospel, sufficiently numerous to tax all their energies, while they would probably never be able in the future, to satisfy half the demands which perishing multitudes, accessible to their efforts, shall urge upon them.