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and they will not inquire whether the preacher preach Christ and him crucified, and watch for souls as one that must give account, but whether he can entertain and stimulate their weary and feverish faculties; and, provided he can do that, he may follow every mental vanity, he may discover unheard of meanings in the plainest texts, he may distort prophecy, he may even soar to miracles, and proceed till he and they who follow him fall into fearful delusions, and make shipwreck of their faith; yet all this will be tolerated, nay admired, because it satisfies the cravings of an excited spirit; and, instead of stilling the throbbing pulse, causes it to bound with new extasies of fever. And thus is the Spirit of God, speaking after the manner of men, straitened; because, instead of seeking him in the way of his own appointment, we wished to urge him to take the track of a vain and worthless popularity. Can we expect his blessing if, instead of keeping close to the cross of Christ, we are seeking out for specious novelties, which only lead us from it? The doctrine which lays most deeply the foundations of religion in a sense of human guilt and corruption-which leads the sinner as a penitent to the only source of hope, the only fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness-which raises highest the superstructure of all that is holy, and lovely, and of good report in the heart and life - grounded on love to God and faith in Christ; this may not be the most exciting, it may not be the most popular; but, if it do not attract idle crowds, it will interest and edify true worshippers, and be attended with that blessing without which all were vain. Under many a simple village discourse, to which men in these our excited scenes would think it scorn to listen, has the Holy Ghost shewn that he is not straitened; and repentance, and tears, and love, and joy have told that souls were wending their way to heaven. The cross of the Redeemer has never been the theme of human admiration; and if we take Christ as our portion, we must take him with his meekness and his quietude with his reproaches and his stripes —with his tears of agony and his crown of thorns.
And here, from that turmoil and excitement of spirit in the laity, which so often prevent the calm consideration of the things that belong to their peace, and impede their receiving the Gospel of the Redeemer as little children, and thus fearfully let and hinder the Divine manifestations, we might turn to the ministers of Christ, and ask, how much of the defect is attributable to themselves. When we look at the sacred records, or the lives and writings of eminent servants of God in former ages, and, not least, our own venerable reformers, what a contrast to modern times! Passing by gross errors of doctrine, and open profligacy of life; passing by Socinianism, neology, and other theological pestilences of the present day; how much, alas! even among those who, in the main, are sincere ministers of Jesus Christ, is there to check the Holy Spirit's influences! Are we as much de
voted to our blessed work as were the holy men of old? Are we as watchful, as humble, as disinterested, as anti-secular, as heavenly minded? Is Christ as precious to us, and are we as anxious for the salvation of souls ? Do we think as little of ourselves, and our own ease and worldly advantage? Do we pray as fervently, and labour as zealously, as did they? Is our preaching as faithful, as heart-searching, as full of fervour and unction? Do we deal as much in appeals to the conscience? Do we exhibit, as they did, the terrors of futurity, yet withal persuading men, by the love and mercies of Him who died upon the cross, to be reconciled unto God? Do we trust as much as they did to the gracious influences of the Divine Spirit; intensely feeling that we can do nothing, say nothing, to any saving purpose but by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven? Do we really expect, as they did, great things; not preaching merely as a matter of course, but believing what God has promised, and relying upon his word to fulfil it? Alas! the answer to such CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 375.
inquiries will shew how greatly the Spirit of God may be said to be checked by our degenerate ministrations, which fall so far short of those of the brighter and purer days of the church. Sometimes, perhaps, in the spirit of that compound of evils, modern liberalism, we suffer men to escape through the wide meshes of the net; at others, we repel them with stern denouncements, dwelling only upon the gloomy signs of the times, instead of cheering them by the glowing promises of Holy Writ, and sending them back to their families rejoicing in the blessings of the Gospel, and feeling the ways of wisdom to be ways of pleasantness, and all her paths peace. It is well if we are never betrayed into vain and subtle speculations; and, instead of correcting the evils around us, are content to sink down to the level of them, fearing the frown of man more than the displeasure of God. It is well, also, if in an age impatient of thought, we do not narrow down our discourses to the reiteration of a few points, instead of going through the good land in the length thereof, and in the breadth thereof; so as, like wise householders, to have things always new as well as old, that men may not be sated from Sabbath to Sabbath, but may ever come with raised expectations, and holy delight, to learn some blessed truth or illustration which they had never before duly considered, or tasted in its full enjoyment. In short, so many are the ways in which a defective ministry impedes (still humanly speaking) the work of the Holy Spirit in the world, that every faithful minister of Christ must instinctively exclaim, "Who is sufficient for these things?" and must feel that, whoever is, he is not. One thing, however, he may do: he may resolve, in the strength of God, that henceforth his preaching, whatever it be in other respects, shall be more emphatically preaching Christ: and this is the great secret for winning souls to God.
To add but one particular more, the Spirit of God is repelled by dissensions among true Christians. Oh, that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, to weep over this fearful evil of these our corrupt times. It was the characteristic of the early church, in the purifying days of persecution, that the disciples of Christ loved each other; and men, be- . holding the spectacle, embraced the Cross. Now, alas! how different the scene. The slightest diversities of opinion are magnified, controversy ensues, love grows cold, the world laughs or sneers, and Satan triumphs. What was said, or done, or written, perhaps with tears and prayers, is repeated by party spirit with acrimony; brother chides brother; and all must take a side in the dispute, till a man cannot live quiet in the land. These things ought not so to be. Have we not read the prayer of our Lord for his church," that they may be one, even as we are one?" Yes, he even compares this union to that which exists between the eternal Father and Himself. There cannot indeed, in a world of mistake and infirmity, be perfect uniformity of sentiment, but amongst the followers of the Redeemer there should be a knitting together of heart. For are not all believers soldiers in one army, stones in one building, members of one body, brethren in one family; and why then, in their journey to the heavenly Canaan, should they fall out by the way? Did the Father, who gave his Son for them— did the Son, who lived and died for them-does the Holy Spirit, who sanctifies and comforts them, exhibit any signs of disunion in this great work? -and they-they who are loved with that love, redeemed by that blood, regenerated by that Spirit-shall they bite and devour each other? In heaven all are one; and there are points enough of union upon earth, if Christians would but seek them out, and not magnify differences. Christians are not strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens; and, as such, it is their duty and privilege to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. They are called to be like God, and God is love. Yes; and notwithstanding many varieties of opinion, there is, after all, much of real union in the
church of Christ; and the conscientious differences of its true members have more of real brotherhood in them than the hollow compacts of worldly society; so that if one member suffer, all suffer, and if one rejoice, all rejoice. If at least it be not so, it ought to be so; and the awful signs of the times warn us that the hour is coming when Christians must unite themselves together more firmly than they have ever yet done, and sink their minor differences in their common warfare under the Captain of their salvation against the world, the flesh, and the devil-the common foe.
RELINQUISHED MISSIONS—MORAVIAN MISSION AT PILGERHUT ON THE RIVER BERBICE.
For the Christian Observer.
We are gratified to find that not a few of our readers take an especial interest in the papers which have appeared in our volumes under the title of Relinquished Missions. Relinquished missions constitute a very instructive page in the history of the church of Christ, and we purpose continuing our occasional notices of them.
The mission which we are about to record was one formed nearly a century ago by the Moravian missionaries at Pilgerhut on the river Berbice. The narrative, which is very interesting, shall be given nearly in the words of Mr. Holmes, in his valuable history of Moravian missions; introducing the account with a general statement respecting the missionary labours of the Moravian Brethren in South America.
The missionary labours of the United Brethren in South America have been hitherto confined to that part of this vast continent, which is known by the general name of Guiana. On this coast the Dutch, French, and English have several possessions; the principal of which are Surinam, Berbice, Demerara, Cayenne, and Essequibo. The climate is very unhealthy, being humid and sultry. The country is level, overgrown with impervious thickets and immense forests, the haunts of serpents and other venemous reptiles; it is also exposed to frequent inundations. The soil is unusually fertile, and vegetation is so rapid that several crops may be reaped in succession in a single year. It is watered by several large rivers, near the mouths of which the European colonies are formed, and from which they derive their names.
The inhabitants consist of European settlers and their descendants, called White People; of Negro slaves, imported from Africa for the cultivation of the land, and their descendants, who are called Creoles; of Free Negroes, who are chiefly slaves who escaped from their unjust detention, and, after various contests with the Dutch, were declared a free people, and now occupy several villages on the Surinam, south of the Dutch colonies; and of the aborigines, or original inhabitants of the country, who live dispersed through the woods and forests, under the general appellation of Indians; and, lastly, of the Caribs, who settled here after being expelled from the West Indies by the Europeans.
Each of the Indian tribes has its own language. The chief subsistence is derived from the chase and fishing. Of vegetables they principally cultivate cassabi, of which they make a kind of bread. Their general habits and mode of living differ little from those of their brethren in North America. Their ideas of God, and of divine and spiritual matters, are very limited. Their common notion is, that there exists one invisible powerful Being, the dispenser of all good; and likewise a no less mighty being, the author of every evil. They imagine they can destroy the influence of the
latter by various necromantic tricks; and as they fear nothing from the former, they never think of performing any acts of reverence, or religious worship, to secure his favour.
That part of Guiana in which the settlements of the Brethren lie, was at the commencement of the mission in the possession of the Dutch, to whom, after changing masters for a short time during the late war, it was restored at the conclusion of peace.
The excellent Moravian bishop Spangenberg, on his way to England in 1734, passed through Holland, where he held several consultations with the Directors of the Dutch Trading Company for Surinam; the result of which was, that the Brethren agreed to form one or more colonies in that country, with a view to the conversion of the heathen. Agreeably to the arrangements then made, three brethren proceeded to Surinam the following year, and spent some time in Paramaribo, in order to inquire on the spot into the practicability and best mode of establishing a mission in that quarter of the globe. After their return to Europe, a gentleman in Amsterdam requested that some of them would settle on one of his plantations on the Rio de Berbice, for the purpose of instructing his Negroes in Christianity. Considering this as a door opened to them for the enlargement of the kingdom of Christ, they cheerfully acceded to his request, and directed their first attention to the Negroes on his estates. Their exertions were, in the sequel, extended to other parts of the coast; but we pass by all the concurrent missions, confining our narrative to that of Pilgerhut, on the river Berbice.
In consequence of the offer above mentioned, two brethren, L. C. Daehne and J. Guettner, left Holland in June 1738, and arrived the following September in Berbice. As they brought strong recommendations with them from Holland, the stewards and managers of the estates suspected that they had been sent for the purpose of secretly inspecting their conduct; and on this account rendered their situation as unpleasant and difficult as possible. But God endued them with faith and patience, and blessed the labour of their hands; so that, being content with very frugal fare, they could support themselves without depending on the favour of the stewards. Their greatest grievance was, that their situation precluded the possibility of obtaining the principal object of their residence in the country. Unacquainted with the language of the slaves, they had not even a prospect of learning it, as the rigour with which these poor creatures were treated rendered it extremely difficult to have any intercourse with them.
In the midst of this perplexity it pleased God to dispose a gentleman of the Surinam Trading Company, without their solicitation, to offer them a retired and tranquil residence on his estate. Thankful for this providential direction, they moved to the place pointed out, where they took possession of a small tenement, and tilled a piece of ground, lying in the midst of a forest, about a hundred miles distant from the sea-coast, and called it PILGERHUT. This gentleman likewise procured from the President of the Surinam Company in Holland a recommendation of the Brethren so favourable in its tenor, that the governor, who had hitherto been rather inimically disposed, felt compelled to give them no further molestation.
Having thus obtained rest from without, they began to visit the Indians in that neighbourhood, some of whom understood a little Dutch. They soon gained the love and confidence of these good-natured people, who with apparent pleasure listened to the instructions they endeavoured to give them concerning God, and his divinely revealed will. But, as their ideas of God and sacred subjects were few and exceedingly obscure, the
missionaries clearly saw that very little could be effected, till they had learnt their language; and for the acquisition of this the labour necessary for their support left them but little leisure. They, therefore, requested the directors of the missions to send out a married couple, to manage the temporal concerns of their little settlement.
With this view, Henry Beutel and his wife went thither in 1739; and two years after, their number was further increased by the arrival of John Grabenstein and his wife. The brotherly love which prevailed among them sweetened all their external hardships and poverty, and rendered them cheerful amidst their incessant manual labours.
This circumstance, however, greatly retarded the progress of the mission with regard to its most important object, though Pilgerhut possessed many local advantages for obtaining it. It was situated at some distance from other European settlements; many Indians resided in its neighbourhood, and the savages were continually travelling through the place, so that hardly a day passed in which the missionaries were not visited by individuals or whole companies. But these favourable circumstances could be but little improved by them. Their number was too small for them to attend both to the temporal concerns of the settlement, and to the preaching of the Gospel, which required not only a more perfect knowledge of the language of the heathen, but also frequent visits to them in their own habitations, and demanded their undivided time and attention. Both these difficulties were shortly after removed. For, when a missionary establishment which had been formed on the Cottika was abandoned in 1745, two of the missionaries removed to Pilgerhut and two brethren with their wives arrived from Europe. This accession of numbers enabled them more regularly to distribute the necessary labour in the mission; some attending chiefly to its temporal concerns, while others devoted themselves more especially to the work of the ministry.
About the same time a gentleman presented them with a Mulatto boy, who assisted them in acquiring a more correct knowledge of the Arawak language. He was in the sequel converted to God; and they found him of great use, as an interpreter, in their attempts to preach to the heathen. They now made frequent visits among the Indians, travelling a circuit of three hundred miles through a vast wilderness. These journeys were attended with great dangers and difficulties. The missionaries were obliged to carry their provisions with them, to wade through broad and deep rivers, or hastily construct a raft across them, and often to spend the night in the forest, sleeping in their hammocks, suspended from trees. And, what was still more distressing, if they came to an Indian hut, and the men were not at home, the women, who were always terrified at the approach of White people, set up a great shriek and ran into the wood; and thus their toils and fatigues had been endured in vain. Not deterred by this, they persevered in their benevolent exertions, and their kind and affable deportment by degrees conciliated the affections and won the confidence of the savages.
Assisted by their Mulatto boy, they compiled a consise narrative of the life and sufferings of Christ, in the Arawak language, subjoining a brief summary of the fundamental doctrines of the Gospel. This tract they took with them when visiting the Indians, read it to them, and expatiated on its contents, accompanying their exhortations with fervent prayer. Mulatto youth himself now became a preacher of righteousness, and addressed the savages in so striking a manner, that they were powerfully affected, and circulated among their countrymen the news of the Great Word which they had heard.
After a residence in the country of nearly nine years, amidst many